I've been dabbling around in the dark arts lately (stats. yuck) and have been
looking at things like offenses, defenses, running backs, receivers,
quarterbacks, and the like, and Cruz, without a shadow of a doubt, is having a
But I'm not totally sold on the Cruz hype, and I do believe I have the stats
to back up my opinion. Take the jump with me and we'll break it down.
Football Outsiders has Cruz as the 4th highest receiver in DYAR. Jordy Nelson
is #2, so take that how you want. FO states that they have been unable to
separate the play of the WR from the play of the QB, so QBs having better
seasons would, theoretically, produce higher rated WRs.
This post is more of why I think we can handle Cruz rather than whether he's
good or not. You don't accrue nearly 1600 yards receiving by being bad, but I
don't put him on the level of Larry
, even if he has better numbers than them, because...
1) The Giants are the only team to have TWO WR in top 10 DYAR.
it's safe to say that if one WR is good, it opens up opportunities for other WR
on the field. The other WR is Hakeem Nicks, who is no slouch in his own right.
Cruz, by NFL standards, started only 7 games this year, which would suggest to
me he is NYG's slot receiver and not the #1 receiver (I say this partially
because I don't know and partially because that's what the stats tell me).
This also suggests that, if my assumption on good QB season = higher rated WR
is correct, that Eli probably had something to do with this as well, which would
lead to inflated (if only a little) stats.
2) Jake Ballard.
He is/was hurt for a little while, but when he was playing, he was ranked #6
in DYAR. That's really high, considering he didn't play the entire season.
Correction, he finished the season #6 in DYAR. Before anyone shouts "He was
hurt", his replacement, Bear Pascoe
had a low DYAR due to lack of pass receptions, I believe, buuuuuut....) his DVOA
was a positive 22.0%. To compare, Tony Gonzalez's DVOA (he was 4th in DYAR) was
a positive 22.6%.
3) Receivers like Calvin Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald received zero help from
anyone else. Matthew
had a great season - perhaps even greater than Eli's, but there is
not a DET receiver/TE to be found within 5 miles of Calvin Johnson. Aside from
CJ, the next two receivers on DYAR? Titus Young
and Nate Burleson
#s 55 and 56, respectively. To compare, Giants fans, that's two 2011 Mario
Manninghams (He's #59. Also production-wise, not injuries and whatnot).
Fitzgerald received even less help, receiving passes from the likes of John Skelton
and Kevin Kolb
yet this dude still made it happen). Fitz's helping hand was Early Doucet
#68 in DYAR. Andre Roberts is listed, but his DYAR was negative, which I think
means he was worse than an average college replacement. Eww.
DET's two primary TEs were #19 and #26 in DYAR, which Scheffler's numbers
being similar to Pascoe's, and he was the highest rated TE for DET. ARI's best
TE was Jeff King
toasty #23 in DYAR, again similar numbers to Pascoe. All three aforementioned
TEs played the whole season, save for one game missed by Scheffler.
The only thing that might could be said in Fitz's case is that their running
game wasn't horrible, but their QB play wasn't helpful in any way, shape, or
4) His Effective Yards are negative.
Effective Yards, as explained by
FO, is a way to tell (generally) whether a person played above or below their
stats. Cruz's effective yards are negative, which would suggest that he played
below his stats. The difference is very small, but it is still negative, and I'm
trying to make my case, here.
To compare, Hakeem Nicks's
EYards were +139 (if my quick mental math is right). In fact, every receiver in
the top 14 (Darn you, Steve Smith, for making this a weird number) had EYards
that were higher than their generic yards. All of those were not close.
To compare for Falcons
fans, Roddy White
#19 in DYAR and was #46 in DVOA (eww), but his EYards were +207 (if mental math
is correct again), suggesting he played well over his stats, which is safe to
say that's probably correct, since it seems like he got open way more than his
stats give him credit for, except that dropsie stat. Those tell it all.
Of my 4 points, this is the only one I'm not sure about, because I may be
interpreting this statistic incorrectly.
In conclusion, I think you'll find that Victor Cruz, in spite of his great
season, is not on the level of Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, who are on
the "He'll get his" level of play by a WR. There are very, very few WR who reach
this level of play, and even fewer who are able to produce great numbers in
spite of having little or no assistance from his teammates.
I do not think Cruz is a bad WR and, if not respected, could easily burn us.
We could say the same about Julio Jones
who does not show up on advanced stat sheets, but has similar averages to Cruz
in about 5 fewer games worth of playing time. I do not think Julio Jones will
"get his" this week, in spite of my personal high regard for him, but if anyone
has been paying attention to the past few weeks of Falcons football, the Julio
Jones highlights have been coming in droves.
However, due to the nature of Brent Grimes
think Cruz can be mostly a non-factor. Brent Grimes, when healthy, is the best
athlete on the entire
team, as showcased by this video here.
I can assure you all that, in spite of the
age of that video, Grimes (when healthy) is perfectly capable of reproducing
Victor Cruz is not particularly tall, nor is he particularly big. He is fast,
but so is Grimes. Grimes's only real flaw is that he can't be but 5'6", but he
can run with anyone, and I'm sure there are more than just Falcons fans that
would tell you that.
That, combined with the stats I have shown above, is why I do not fear Victor
Cruz. I would actually expect Hakeem Nicks to beat us before Cruz, if only
because ATL is horrid against #1 WRs. I do expect our defense to prepare amply
for both of those players, but again, these are only my words, I have no idea
what will happen.
I mean no disrespect. I'm not that kind of guy. I just try to tell it like it
is, and from the resources I have and from the players the Falcons have, I think
Cruz can be shut down. Will it happen? Who knows. That's why we play the