Any offensive season in the NFL begins and ends with the Quarterback. The guys in the middle, the skill position players, can be just as important. Calvin Johnson is easily the most important player on the Lions offense, but without looking at what Matthew Stafford could do, I couldn’t even begin to project his numbers.
With Stafford out of the way, I was free to find some formulas that worked for projecting his receiving corps and where they’d end up. Any team with Calvin Johnson already has a good start to their receiving, but how will Golden Tate and Eric Ebron shake out statistically?
Getting the boring part out of the way early, I used my previously projected stats for Matthew Stafford to get me started. Once I knew how many completions and for how many yards and TDs he would throw, I could start looking at where those balls were going. To find these numbers, I calculated the percentage of catches, yards, and TDs the WR1, WR2, TE1, TE2, etc. received in several offenses.
Like before, I kept the Lions’ stats for the past two seasons to account for natural development and personnel trends. I also used the past two seasons for Baltimore and New Orleans, to account for play-calling trends from both head coach and OC. Finally I used Caldwell’s last two seasons in Indianapolis to account for ideal (2010) and…less than ideal (2011) circumstances.
These numbers were averaged and then scaled (due to wildly varied results for each team, percentages added up to more than 100%). I then projected those percentages against the numbers I had used earlier for Stafford and BAM! Results! Due to some rounding, I was a few yards (3) and a TD off, so I just gave those to Calvin (We all know it’s going there anyway!). How did we shake out in the end? I projected most of the players below, but the positions are right by the numbers regardless of who is playing there.
Those numbers are none too shabby. Just like Stafford’s numbers, I’m sure some people will take exception that the numbers aren’t higher. Megatron’s numbers fall below his career averages. As much of an impact as some predict Tate will have, I feel his numbers are about right, as they’re all right around his career averages or above.
Ebron’s numbers would be a coup. Though it seems low from what many fans think, those numbers are better than Rob Gronkowski’s rookie numbers. They’re also better than Tony Gonzalez’s first AND second seasons. The rest kind of fall the way you’d expect them to in an offense that spreads the ball around. Obviously if Stafford exceeds the calculations I used (Which were admittedly conservative), these numbers would go up.
How far up? Well, to figure that out we’d need a separate set of crazy new calculations. If only we knew someone who liked to math…