Avant... A Safe Pair of Hands?

Avant was a wide receiver that many had down as being cut by Chip during the off-season. Whether it is his natural talent or the fact that the Eagles WR corps is thinner than a piece of paper Avant still finds himself in the roster and he will undoubtedly be that ‘go-to’ Receiver on crucial third downs.

Everyone knows Avant for having a sure set of hands and being a sure thing on third downs. Just how good is he at keeping an Eagles drive alive and who in particular utilises him the most, Vick or Foles?

I had a quick breeze through the 2012 season and had a look at each passing third down, noting who the QB was (excluding Edwards) who the Receiver was and whether or not the pass was a completion or an incompletion and here’s what we got.

What can we take away from this?

1. Foles didn’t like Jackson on 3rd downs as is plainly obvious. You can perhaps see why considering Foles only threw his way three times, and Jackson didn’t catch a single one of them. That will be in the back of any QB’s mind as he watches his receivers run their routes.

2. Foles really liked Avant. Jackson was Vick’s number one target whilst 81 was Foles’.

3. Don’t forget the TE’s, both Celek and Harbor put up great numbers on third down. Even though we know Harbor was only targeted on nine occasions he managed to catch over three quarters of them.

4. Ultimately Avant was still the Eagles ‘go-to’ guy on third down receiving the largest majority of passes. Maclin wasn’t far behind but don’t forget Avant was statistically speaking 13% better when thrown to than Maclin.

5. Whilst Foles utilised Avant more often what’s interesting is that his production was better when Vick threw to him. Perhaps Defenses’ knew that Avant was Foles’ favourite and kept a close eye on him. Where-as Vick seemed to throw it all over the place with Celek, Johnson and the RB’s all getting just as much of a look-in as Avant did.

6. Production wise I’d probably say that Cooper was Foles’ best target. Whilst Johnson had a 100% completion rate he only caught two balls. Cooper was used by Foles on eleven passes, catching nearly three quarters of them.

Ultimately Avant was easily the most targeted WR on third downs and whilst he wasn’t the most productive, considering how many times he was thrown too he did a great job catching so many crucial 3rd downs.

Despite the topic being about Avant the one theme I’ve come away with reading through the figures is how worried I am with Brent. You could argue that he was in fact the most productive 3rd down Receiver (20 atts, 13 completions) and yet all we are hearing from camp is ‘Celek dropped a pass’. Not ideal especially considering both Vick and Foles used him a lot and generally speaking he delivered, I hope he gets his hands sorted come September 9th.

I’ll be doing a more in-depth piece in the next few days looking at 3rd down yards after catch, actial conversion rates and also looking at drops, what happened on the 11 Avant incompletions? Either way judging by these figures I wouldn’t be overly impressed if Avant was indeed cut, not that there’s any risk of that now considering the WR corps injuries sustained in recent weeks.

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