Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why LaFell should start over Naanee for Panthers

Welcome to another edition of Panthers' "By the Numbers," my weekly look at some of the statistics surrounding the team.

One of the most important -- but hidden -- statistics for a receiver is how many yards they average when the quarterback targets them with the football.

Based on my analysis of this number in particular through the first quarter of the season, I think it's time Brandon LaFell starts in front of Legedu Naanee at wide receiver for Carolina.

Simply put, bad things -- or nothing -- seems to happen when Cam Newton is throwing at Naanee. I compared Naanee's averages in several ways to LaFell and also to Steve Smith and tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey, who have been Carolina's three most productive receivers so far this season. (For this exercise, I have excluded running backs since they generally aren't down-the-field receivers).

First, here's how often Newton has thrown at each man this season, and how many they have actually caught for how much yardage:

Player Targeted-Caught-Yds

Smith -- 41-24-530
Olsen -- 27-17-219
Naanee -- 24-8-75
Shockey -- 20-11-178
LaFell -- 16-12-161

So while LaFell has caught 75 percent of the throws directed toward him, Naanee has caught only 33.3 percent of the ones Newton has thrown at him. Now this isn't all Naanee's fault. Newton, for instance, once missed a wide-open Naanee in the end zone in the Arizona game.

But the numbers are pretty glaring. Here's the amount of yardage the Panthers have gained on average per play when each receiver was targeted (this includes both completions and incompletions):

Smith 12.9
LaFell 10.1
Shockey 8.9
Olsen 8.1
Naanee 3.1

So far this season, Naanee has been an "almost" sort of player, as in he "almost" had a touchdown here or he "almost" caught that critical fourth-down pass against Chicago there.

I know Naanee is more familiar with the offense than LaFell, based on his time in San Diego, and I think Naanee can still be useful to the Panthers in all the three-wide sets. He obviously can get open or Newton wouldn't be throwing to him an average of six times per game. (I asked Panthers coach Ron Rivera Monday if LaFell should get a chance to start over Naanee Monday, and he did not commit either way, saying both had played "well").

But to me, the most prudent move now is to try LaFell as the starter for awhile. Based on the numbers, he deserves it.

45 comments:

Little Cat said...

I agree Scott. Nanee is not showing me enough. I would move LaFell into the starting spot and put Edwards in as the third or Pilares. I think Nanee needs some time on the bench.

Anonymous said...

I'm absolutely with you until the part about him having some value in some sets. I think Ninny needs some time in the unemployment line. Being really fast is great in a track meet, but wide receivers also need to catch the ball. It also helps to be able to stay on your feet.

Anonymous said...

A season of "what-ifs":

What if Cam had a normal off-season?

What if Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, and David Gettis were healthy?

But...

What if the Panthers had drafted Patrick Peterson or Blaine Gabbert?

3 years from now it will be the start of a new era of QB: Newton and Luck.

jwrenn29 said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one to have noticed this. I actually think Lafell should have been starting over Nanee from game 1!

Nanee is not actually getting open that much, and that's why he's not catching the balls. When he's targeted, it seems to be Cam's last resort, and Cam has to throw it high since Nanee is covered. Name a time other than the missed touchdown throw to the right flat, that Nanee was not closely covered when thrown to.

And on top of that, balls that make it through the defense to Nanee are not being caught. Lafell is taller, and can fight for those jump balls. It's very clear to me that Nanee should be the 3rd receiver and move Lafell to the 2nd starter with Smith.

Anonymous said...

The argument over whether or not we picked the right QB ended abount 4:00pm on the day of the Arizona game. Yes, he will make mistakes...he's still a rookie. Wow, what a rookie he is. I can see him doing this for the next decade. We jsut need to learn how to win again as we are still young. That will come. We could get more from the 2nd receiver, so Scott is right. But, we scored 29 points and lost. Mucho work to do on special teams and defense.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad this is getting some attention. For the life of me I could not understand why we keep throwing to this guy. Sure its not all his fault, but the INT cam threw Sunday went right through LA's hands. You have to catch those balls when they are thrown your way.

Anonymous said...

Where are Shockey's numbers? It was Naanee's fault in Arizona, too. He was supposed to cross the goal line and stop, if the defender backed off. Cam read it right, Legadu didn't.

Anonymous said...

Who is the moron who keeps bringing up Andrew Luck's name? Listen and listen close, Andrew Luck will not be drafted by this team even if we have the #1 pick next year. It's really not that difficult to see or understand. Please stop it with Andrew Luck and him being drafted by the Panthers. We have our QB in case you haven't been watching.

Anonymous said...

Agree 110%, LaFell should be starting with Pilares as third. Armanti needs to be in on the wildcat-(mountaineer) Pkg. I'm sure he will or in with a four WR pkg which would raise some eyebrows.

Scott Fowler said...

Good call anon 11:38. Have now added Shockey's numbers, too -- as you would expect, they are similar to Olsen's.

jrice21 said...

draft justin blackmon next year!!!

mike said...

Naanee's a bum! He should be there for the young recievers to talk to when they come off the field and that's about it. I was surprised to see that he actually has any catches so far this year. Waaay to many drops for a vet WR.

Anonymous said...

Nanee cant catch your right. However he can block. I have seen him make running lanes this year. Maybe thats why he gets the nod over LaFell...

Anonymous said...

Nanee has absolutely sucked through the first four games. I agree that he "almost" makes a lot of plays.I never thought I would see the day when I would be advocating for LaFell to start, but here I am!

Anonymous said...

leggodaball Naanee = Keary Colbert

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. Until this week for some reason I thought LaFell WAS starting, he seems be in there as much as Naanee, and is definitely playing better. Cam's pick-6 was thrown a little high maybe, but Naanee made the worst effort I've ever seen jumping for that ball. All he did was tip it to the DB; it looked like he was afraid to jump because he thought he was going to get hit. I don't know if it's a loyalty thing from Rivera and the San Diego days or a seniority thing, but I've seen enough from Naanee to send him to the bench.

Anonymous said...

How about the same analysis on the CO writers...Scott & Tom. If I were that interested in calculating the number of articles written this year vs those I thought interesting, would look something like below. Although I admit to liking this one.

Tom 102 / 92
Scott 120 / 71

Scott is more prolific, but Tom scores more. :)

TLHB70 said...

Scott, I agree with you 100%. LaFell should play before Naanee.

Mike said...

Scott, thanks for being vocal about benching Nanee. I've been saying this for weeks. The guy has shown us nothing in game situations.

The coaching staff insists that Nanee is performing. My question is WHERE? It's definitely not on the football field.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see Lafell starting so that Pilares can get some looks as the #3 WR. Lafell and Nanee both have the measurable but are either inconsistent or just don't have that great of hands. Armanti isn't very explosive still. From what Pilares showed in the preseason, he is explosive, strong, and most importantly, he looks like a fluid receiver with good hands, something Lafell and Nanee don't have. I'm looking forward to are starting 3 being Smitty, Gettis, and Pilares next year, unless we bring in a monster FA.

Josh said...

3:44, I would love to know what you're smoking. Where do you get your base for saying LaFell doesn't have great hands? He's made some pretty crazy plays this year, while making the routine catches. He's our possession guy, no questions asked. Pilares? Has he even seen a snap in the reg season? But you say he's #3? What is wrong with some Panther fans?

Anonymous said...

Sean McDermott will be fired at seasons end. His deffensive game plans are not working. I see Rivera calling the deffense near the end of the season. Yes our two best LBs are out, but if you put in a good DEF gameplan we can get it done.
LaFell is a better WR than "Naanee", but that is not our problem, the deffense is. Yes "Naanee" could have made a better effort to catch that pick 6, but that didnt lose us the game. The deffense will not get better until next year, when McDermott is not there. Why do you think he was fired in Philly. we need a "true" D-cordinator, like Rivera calling the shots on deffense. McDermott is the same thing Ron Meeks is, a DBs coach not a D-cord. We will get one next year, because we wont get a hand-me-down like this year.
That being said, who is Andrew Luck? I think we already have a STUD at QB, Luck will not be as good in the NFL, who ever he is... LOL!
WR IS NOT THE ISSUE, its DEFFENSE and SPECIAL TEAMS. Why do they call him "LA" (Legadu Naanee)? They should call him "Legs" because he has no hands.

Anonymous said...

Let's remember Lafell has his issues too. He has good hands but he stepped out of bounds 2 yards short of a first down on Sunday for absolutely no reason. It was third down and we had to punt! You have to use your head and be more aware of what's going on if you are going to start.

I would like to see Pilares get some time. We could have another Steve Smith type player in him. Who knows? Edwards has shown himself to have the same "brick hands" that Nannee has unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. Hey, how many drops does Naanee have over Lafell? That I think would be a good stat to compare the two as well. Thanks

John said...

Hey, let's not forget to notice this refreshing stat: Cam Newton is throwing to THREE WRs, TWO TEs and TWO RBs! How many years have we only had Steve Smith to go to?

Newton is spreading the ball around and that IS going to pay huge dividends down the road!

Anonymous said...

Was it you who also said that DeA should sit and let JStew play? Or was that Sorenson? Whichever, he ran very well Sunday and looked explosive. Maybe say that about all of them and maybe they'll all play the way DeA did Sunday.

Anonymous said...

One day, one day, Cam will take us to the SuperBowl, and win it!

Anonymous said...

Scott, in order to do this analysis you really have to look at every single pass attempt thrown this year to both Naane and Lafell. You can't just look at statistics. If Newton made poor throws on 50% of the passes to Naane, and good throws to 100% of the passes to Lafell then it's not really a fair analysis of Naane's ability. You also have to look at who's covering each player. If Naane's the #2 and Lafell is the #3, then Naane is going to have a better corner covering him. I don't personally have a preference for either player staring, I just want the Panthers to play the right guy. If you're going to sit back and play Monday Morning Quarterback you better know exactly what you're talking about and not just run a few numbers to write a provocative article.

Anonymous said...

Tom 102 / 92
Scott 120 / 71

Scott is more prolific, but Tom scores more. :)

This was hilarious! I am still rolling on the floor with this one. =0)

Anonymous said...

What I want Ron Riviera to understand is that we want this team to win. We do not need another John Fox with his stubbornness to move players around to get a better result. Even in Denver, they are complaining about Fox and it is only 4 games into the season. I hope RR will continue to evaluate and cut players as needed. There was no excuse for those 2 players that missed Hester when he started his run back. I'd be cutting players, too!

Will Cooke said...

Here's a possible troubleshoot problem solver. Let Nanee return kicks and punts, he's got good size and speed and once he has the ball he doesn't drop it, no no no, not with those big ol' banana hands.Send Armanti on his way and let Goodson get some time at back. Also, Scott, what's the latest on Pilares? If you put Smith and Pilares on the same side and let them race down the field, the receiver who wins is guaranteed to be open, both these guys are insanely fast and need to be on the field together. I heard his ankle is broken and he might not come back this year.

Rbortins said...

Nanee hasn't showed us anything except he can drop balls... let LaFell start! Best blog post ever... actually did some research!

Anonymous said...

What makes me really mad is to see Naanee in the game during critical downs and red-zone situations instead of Shokey or Olsen! I guess even Coach has to work out his rookie mistakes because the insanity of that was obvious to me, even without knowing the facts you just highlighted!

Anonymous said...

We, meaning the fans, are paying Ron Rivera and his staff an obscene about of money to coach the Panthers. Let them do it! We know what Ron Rivera can do on Defense, he's proved it twice in the past few years with two different organizations. This team and these coaches have only been working together for about two months and four days now. What did anyone expect? Contrary to what the press is reporting, Cam Newton isn't a one man team, it takes 53 of them, dancing to the same tune, to succeed in the NFL. Considering the ground they've had to cover they are making visible progress every week. The Gods of the schedule have not been kind to the Panthers and yet they've been in every game they've played. Now we can say we lose one we shouldn't have and that's progress. It's only a question of time, until the coaches have the bugs worked out and the Panthers start surprising some of the teams on the schedule.Right now we can play any team in this league 80% of the time. When that figure gets to 90% the panthers are going to unwelcome wherever they go. they will allways be welcome at BofA stadium, however.

Anonymous said...

I agree!! Nannee can't catch fly.. definitley does not have the game breaker abilty like Lafell.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Anon at 7:01 is back with his jibberish...

Anonymous said...

wasn't Nanee let go from SD???

Health Dish Delish said...

New Orleans’ Lance Moore and Devery Henderson and Carolina’s Brandon LaFell are the only other NFC South receivers who have been targeted at least 13 times and don’t have a drop. -ESPN

I agree, START BRANDON LEFELL NOW!!!

Anonymous said...

Why LaFell should start over Naanee?...Cuz Naanee sucks...the numbers don't lie man...nice breakdown Scott.

Anonymous said...

Great article. People can knock it all day like the comment of looking at all of the plays, but the fact is production is what counts & Nanee doesn't have it, even tho he's been starting. Get LaFell in there!

heartoworship said...

I would like LaFell & Pilares over him. And MAYBE even Edwards. Pilares ran his only play for a TD!

aaronp58 said...

I said this since training camp come on rivera start lafell

Anonymous said...

I took notice of this following the Chicago game. To the point that I started a Facebook Fan page calling for the Panthers to replace Naanee with a veteran receiver who is currently dying to get back in uniform for any team. Terrell Owens, great hands, great body of work, and humbled by his current position (outside the league looking in) would be a great addition to the Panthers receiving corps.
Although, to support your point, many would agree that LaFell deserves a start over Naanee. Hell, just give him some run during those crucial downs-distance moments in the game and I guarantee he'd be a better option than Naanee.

Runescape Gold said...

Now i'm totally along prior to the element about him having a number of value in most units. I do think Ninny wants a while inside the unemployment line. Getting actually fast is great in a course satisfy, yet broad stereos also have to get the ball. It assists to in order to stick to feet.

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