Along For the Ride: Shiny Hood Ornament Wide Receivers In Week 1

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 09, 2013



 

The Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law galloped gloriously into Week 1, proving yet again that wide receiver is the most overvalued position in football – and maybe in all of North American sports.

The Shiny Hood Ornament Man Laws tells us that wide receivers are nothing but nice shiny emblems adorning the engine of NFL offenses. We marvel at them as they sparkle and glisten in the autumn sun.

But at the end of the day, Shiny Hood Ornaments don’t make the machine run any better if the man behind the wheel can’t drive.

The foundation of the Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law is that quarterbacks make wide receivers better; wide receivers do not make quarterbacks better – especially if he’s a really bad quarterback.

Yet year after  year, NFL coaches, executives and hard-core fans – people who should know more about the sport – foolishly convince themselves that the only thing standing between their third-rate quarterback and the playoffs is a “weapon” at wide receiver.

It pays to keep in mind that wide receivers are really not weapons. They’re targets. Moving targets. But targets just the same.

They’re utterly useless without a real weapon – a quick-triggered, accurate quarterback – to deliver them the ball. More importantly, wide receivers are universally OVERVALUED. Even a great wide receiver touches the ball five or six times a game. Their impact is minimal.

And don’t give us this cliché about “stretching the field.” There are few guys in history truly capable of “stretching the field.” Randy Moss is one. Not a lot of others.

In reality, there are a whole bunch of really fast guys playing WR in the NFL running 4.4 40s or thereabouts. The difference from one to the next, especially in the 2 to 3 seconds a quarterback has to release the ball, is nearly non-existent.

The 2012 season proved an epic fail for Shiny Hood Ornament wide receivers

And, naturally, so too did Week 1 of the 2013 season. Here's why:

 

Anquan Boldin

Fresh of a Super Bowl win with the Ravens, Boldin lined up for the 49ers, the team the Ravens beat in February. And he was spectacular: he caught 13 passes for 208 yards, both Week 1 bests.

Wait a minute, you might say. "Anquan was a beast!"

Yes he was.

"But that refutes everything the Shiny Hood Ornament Man Laws tells us!"

No it doesn’t. Boldin’s performance proves the Man Law.

Boldin was a value acquisition paired with an emerging star quarterback. That's a perfect storm. That's how it SHOULD be done.

He had the benefit of joining a team with what most of us believe is already a hugely legit quarterback: Colin Kaepernick was one of the most highly rated passers and quarterbacks in football last year, during his breakout season, playing without Boldin.

Boldin wasn’t going to catch 13 passes for 208 yards playing with Blaine Gabbert.

Here’s the best part: the 49ers stole him out of Baltimore for the small price of a sixth-round pick.

The 49ers, in other words, did not chase a wide receiver and place him with a bad quarterbacks. They did quite the opposite. Good value paired with great quarterback. That’s the way you operate with wide receivers, according to the Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law.

 

A.J. Jenkins

Remember him? The 49ers made him the No. 30 overall pick in the first-round of the 2012 draft. He barely touched the field and failed to catch a single pass last year. In fact, he dropped the one ball thrown his way.

The 49ers reached the Super Bowl just fine without him, behind two hugely effective performances from Alex Smith and Kaepernick.

They didn’t need no stinking first-round wide receiver to get there. We can only wonder if the 49ers would have won the big game had they only drafted a real game changer in the first round and not a Shiny Hood Ornament.

Jenkins was traded to the Chiefs this summer. He was a non-factor Sunday – but the Chiefs, with a new driver behind the wheel of offense, were just fine without him.

 

Larry Fitzgerald

Want to see more of the Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law in action? Look at the fate of Boldin’s former teammate in Arizona. Fitzgerald is widely believed by most everyone to be one of the great receiving talents of his era. We agree.

But his production has fizzled since Hall of Fame talent Kurt Warner was last throwing him passes in 2008 and 2009. Fitzgerald hauled in 25 TD passes in those last two seasons paired with Warner. He scored 18 in the next three seasons, because nobody could get him the ball.

His production bottomed out last year, with 71 catches, 797 yards, a career low 11.2 YPC and career low 4 TD receptions.

The Cardinals still had the great Larry Fitzgerald. But they had the worst quarterbacks in football. So they ranked No. 32 in every major Quality Stat that measures passing efficiency.

Fitzgerald was paired with a legit NFL quarterback in Carson Palmer Sunday for the first time in years. He produced his first 2 TD reception game in years, too: his first 2 TD performance since November 2011.

QB makes WR; WR does not make QB. Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law.

 

Michael Floyd

The Cardinals made Floyd the No. 13 overall pick in the 2012 draft. They foolishly thought Floyd and Fitzgerald would give them a potent 1-2 punch at wide receiver.

They were, of course, mistaken.

Floyd and Fitzgerald proved nothing by Shiny Hood Ornaments on the engine of an NFL offense that had no driver behind the wheel.

 

A.J. Green

The Bengals have a great third-year wide receiver in Green. They drafted him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2011.

Green was one of the NFL leaders in Week 1, with 9 receptions for 162 yards and 2 scores. A big-time performance for a Shiny Hood Ornament!

The Bengals lost to Chicago, 24-21.

Cincy’s young quarterback Andy Dalton, meanwhile, is considered a bright young gun. But the reality is that he’s a mediocre quarterback. The Bengals last year were No. 15 in Real QB Rating; and No. 11 on Sunday.

The Shiny Hood Ornament will not lead the Bengals deep into the playoffs until Dalton improves his game.

 

Danny Amendola

The brand new Patriots slot man produced just two 100-yard receiving days in 43 career games in St. Louis, most of them paired with ineffective Sam Bradford. 

He's 1 for 1 100-yard efforts paired with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady in New England. In fact, his 104 receiving yards in New England's narrow win over Buffalo Sunday were the second most of his five-year career.

 

Tavon Austin

The Rams were the first team in the 2013 draft duped into chasing a wide receiver high in the draft (No. 8 overall).

It was an effort to help Sam Bradford improve his piss-poor passing skills.  He certainly appeared improved on Sunday, in the Rams 27-24 win over Arizona. In fact, it was one of the top 10 games of Bradford’s career statistically.

But it wasn’t because of the speedy but pint-sized rookie. He caught 6

passes for 41 yards, a dismal average of 6.8 YPC.

Demaryius Thomas

The Broncos game breaker caught 5 passes for 161 yards, 32.0 YPC and 2 TDs that were part of Peyton Manning’s historic 7-TD effort Thursday night.

We defy anyone to tell us that Thomas makes Manning a better quarterback and not the other way around.

Thomas, the No. 22 pick in the 2010 draft, caught 54 passes for 834 yards and 6 TDs in two seasons paired with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow.

Last year, sparking on the engine of an offense with Manning behind the wheel, this Shiny Hood Ornament caught 94 passes for 1,434 yards and 10 TD.

Keep in mind that Thomas had two games in his career in which he was even more explosive: he averaged 51.0 YPC against Pittsburgh and 36.0 YPC against the Vikings while playing with Tim Tebow in 2012.

 

Vincent Jackson, Jerome Simpson

These Shiny Hood Ornaments, playing for Tampa and Minnesota, were among the league leaders in Week 1 with seven catches each and for 154 and 140 yards, respectively.

Both comprised the bulk of their team’s passing yardage: Simpson produced 140 of Minnesota’s 236 passing yards (59%); Jackson produced 154 of Tampa’s 210 passing yards (73%).

Both Shiny Hood Ornaments are adorning the bridle of horses with bad jockeys. Both lost, despite their sparkling efforts.


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