The past two years,
Andre Johnson has averaged an incredible 94.6 and an astounding 98.4 yards per game for the Houston Texans. As he enters this season in his prime at 28 years old, he is deservedly getting a lot of attention as a top receiver in the NFL. Matt Schaub also enters this season as a 28-year-old who put up over 3,000 yards passing in just 11 games in 2008 and is looked at as a QB sleeper who could put up big numbers if he can manage to stay healthy for a full year. After taking a deeper look at their numbers, I am concerned that many are taking these players to high in drafts this year and am tempering my own expectations of these two players.
Johnson is consistently going as the No. 2 WR off the board, and yet in six seasons has yet to record double-digit touchdowns despite having two 100-catch seasons to his credit. While the nine games he played in 2007 had him on pace for over 14 TDs over a full slate, his eight TDs in 16 games with 115 receptions was enough for me to look a lot deeper at what was going on. The conclusion I came to is that there is cause for concern that
Schaub is limited in his effectiveness inside the opponents’ 20, the blessed and dreaded redzone. In 22 games over two years, Schaub has thrown 101 passes in the redzone, which have led to a paltry 16 TDs, which is an easy stat to calculate. That’s under 16 percent of his passes, a ratio that is bested by the forgettable tenure of
David Carr who manage to score 35 TDs on 198 passes in his time with the Texans – over 17 percent of his passes leading to touchdowns. Am I leaping to the conclusion that this is Schaub’s fault? Perhaps it’s the play calling, or the lack of a goalline RB to keep defenses honest. A quick look at
Sage Rosenfels’ production makes me believe that this isn’t true. Rosenfels has thrown a pass in 15 games the past two years to the same receivers with the same offensive line, coaching staff and running backs, and he has thrown 15 TDs in 53 passes for a 28 percent line that embarrasses Schaub’s numbers. Rosenfels would have to throw an additional 40 passes without completing a single TD inside of the redzone to fall to Schaub’s level.
If these numbers indicate an issue which is preventing Schaub from scoring when up close and personal with the chance, be it the inability to throw the fade or to squeeze it in a tighter spot or a lack of arm strength, it gives the A.J. and Schaub drafters reason to pause. Reduced redzone production would effectively put a hard cap on production for both, and that cap is likely low enough to make these players expensive at their current draft positions. I would advise caution in drafting these two.
I leave you with one last thought. In 10 starts and 414 pass attempts, Rosenfels threw seven TDs to Johnson, while Schaub has 22 starts and 669 attempts and has thrown eight total TDs to