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Projecting T.J. As An Eagle

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Right now, T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the talk of the town; both literally and figuratively.  I thought it would be an interesting exercise to take a closer look at T.J.’s body of work and examine just what kind of production we could expect from him if the Eagles were to go out and pull the trigger and sign him. 


It seems that, for better or worse, sometimes the media in Philadelphia take the possible acquisition of a shiny new wide receiver and look at it as a simple plug and chug.  It’s almost as if they say, “Well Receiver X almost always produces at least 1000 yards and X touchdowns, so if we were to acquire him, we could just simply assume the addition of those numbers to the Eagles’ offense.”  Is it right to think along these lines?  I doubt it.  There are far too many moving parts for an exercise like that to provide valid reference for either picking up a new player or not picking up the same player. 


Before we proceed any further, let me caution you by being completely honest with my assessment.  First, there are a great many assumptions that went into this analysis; which I will cover in due time.  Second, take this projection for what it is; a projection of possible outcomes, nothing more, nothing less.


Here we go.  First, let’s get some of the problems with doing this analysis into the light.  To make this possible, I had to break down total completions by season by X, Y, and Z receivers.  The inherent problem with this is Andy’s constant receiver merry-go-round throughout the years.  I tried to tackle this problem the best way I could.  Second, I’m working with completion numbers, not targets.  It wasn’t possible to break all of this down by targets and try to figure out if Reggie Brown happened to be the Y versus an X.  This leads to some issues with catch rate not being totally accurate, but for our purposes, I think this is a fair concession.  Additionally, one of the really difficult hurdles is actually DeSean Jackson.  We only have one year of work, and that’s a rookie season.  This leads to an extremely poor sample size, and some logic issues when dealing with TD receptions.  We’ll cover those when we get to them.  Finally, a good chunk of the statistics used in this were from other offensive systems.  I’m sure the problem there is obvious. 


Okay, now onto the assumptions that will be present.  First, I’m assuming that Jackson, Houshmandzadeh, and Curtis would be the X, Y, and Z receivers respectively.  Second, I’m assuming that our play calling philosophy would remain constant.  Brian Westbrook is still our bread and butter, and everything flows from there.  Finally, I’m assuming that our progressions within the passing scheme will remain constant.  For example, if the X receiver has always been the primary target in Play Q, then he will still be the primary.  This allows me to kind of generalize the percentage of total completions that go to each receiver. 


Let’s venture into the data I used a bit.  As I said, I broke down the percentage of completions for our X, Y, and Z receivers.  Our offensive system is set up such that our X receiver gets about 27% of the total completions, the Y about 21% of the total completions, and the Z about 15%.  This shouldn’t really be a surprise.  We use lots of receivers and we spread the ball around a lot.  The remaining 37% go to running backs, tight ends, and other wide outs.  Donovan McNabb averages about 303 completions per 16 games, so we’re going to assume another fully healthy season and use that as our mark. 


I used DeSean Jackson’s YPC statistic from this season; which was 14.7.  His touchdown per reception figure is putrid.  Due to some rookie mistakes and other such instances, he should have had a few more TDs.  Also, he was only a rookie.  Typically, top tier WRs have much better TD production following their first year so when I project his TDs, that number is simply a gut feeling.  Houshmandzadeh is used to playing the X, so I used his YPC and TD/reception figure from the past three years with the Bengals.  I wanted to get a good sample size, but a recent sample size to account for any trend in production drop.  Finally, just using Curtis’ numbers as the X or Y in the Eagles offense wouldn’t be valid, so I went back to his final three seasons with St. Louis, where much of his production was from the Z and used those YPC and TD/reception numbers.  At this point, I just projected everything over a sixteen game season.







Jackson (X)





Houshmandzadeh (Y)





Curtis (Z)











There you have it.  Like I said, it’s only a projection, but the numbers seem to fit.  McNabb’s total yards per 16 games is about 3500, and this is about 70% of that production.  Again, this projection is assuming that Andy continues what he started the last half of the season and uses his top 3 receivers more consistently.  Westbrook averages about 583 yards per 16 games, taking us to 3043, and the tight ends and occasional sub receiver/4th receiver take up the rest.  The blessing and curse in our offensive scheme is how much we get the ball to our 3rd WRs and Brian Westbrook.  They take catches away from the top two wideouts.  In our offensive system, it’s pretty important for our Y receiver to have a good YPC average, and I’m not certain if mid 10’s is going to cut it.  As a quick substitution, if you put in a 13 in the YPC column for the Y receiver, the yards value changes to 832.


I’m not saying that Houshmandzadeh isn’t a good receiver, I’m just not certain that he’s the kind of player we should target if we’re looking for an upgrade in that department.