Friday, October 15, 2010

Santana Moss and Chris Cooley catch a lot of passes

Do the Redskins rely too much on Santana Moss and Chris Cooley? Do defenses fear anyone in the Skins passing attack besides those two? Who is going to step up and be that third receiving threat? Those three questions, and many more, are ones that Redskins fans have likely heard multiple times over the course of the season (and even before the season started, to be honest).

There's no denying that Moss and Cooley are a strong receiving tandem. Heading into this week's matchup against the Colts, Moss (29 catches) and Cooley (23 catches) have combined for 52 receptions for 711 yards and three touchdowns. Donovan McNabb looks for them often -- about 47 percent of his targets are to Moss and Cooley. They've also made eight more catches than the rest of the Redskins receiving options combined (52 to 44). And just to hammer the point home, the next highest reception total on the team is nine by Mike Sellers. So yeah, not that anyone's arguing otherwise, but Moss and Cooley are fairly important.

Is this really a problem? Not necessarily. There's no question that McNabb should be looking to get the ball to Moss and Cooley, especially if other receivers aren't getting open. It would be nice if perhaps Armstrong or someone else develops into a third option to help open the offense up more, but who knows if that's really possible right now with this current Redskins roster.

Anyway, let's take a quick look at other current top receiving duos and see what percentage of their team's receptions they're hauling in.

Percentage of receptions caught by top two receivers

1. Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White/Tony Gonzalez (55.9%)
2. Miami Dolphins: Brandon Marshall/Davone Bess (55.8%)
3. New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks/Steve Smith (54.4%)
4. Washington Redskins: Santana Moss/Chris Cooley (54.1%)
5. Indianapolis Colts: Reggie Wayne/Austin Collie (52.0%)
6. New England Patriots: Wes Welker/Aaron Hernandez (51.7%)
7. Cincinnati Bengals: Terrell Owens/Chad Ochocinco (49.5%)
8. St. Louis Rams: Danny Amendola/Mark Clayton** (48.6%)
9. San Francisco 49ers: Frank Gore/Vernon Davis (48.3%)
10. Oakland Raiders: Zach Miller/Louis Murphy (47.9%)
11. Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald/Steve Breaston (47.0%)
12. Baltimore Ravens: Anquan Boldin/Todd Heap (46.9%)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Williams/Kellen Winslow (46.7%)
14. New York Jets: Dustin Keller/Braylon Edwards (45.7%)
15. Houston Texans: Andre Johnson/Kevin Walter (45.0%)
16. San Diego Chargers: Antonio Gates/Malcolm Floyd (43.9%)
17. Cleveland Browns: Ben Watson/Peyton Hillis (43.8%)
18. Denver Broncos: Jabar Gaffney/Brandon Lloyd (43.2%)
19. Pittsburgh Steelers: Hines Ward/Heath Miller (43.1%)
20. Kansas City Chiefs: Tony Moeaki/Dwayne Bowe (43.1%)
21. Philadelphia Eagles: LeSean McCoy/DeSean Jackson (42.9%)
22. Dallas Cowboys: Miles Austin/Jason Witten (42.8%)
23. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Thomas/Marcedes Lewis (42.0%)
24. Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin/Adrian Peterson (41.8%)
25. Green Bay Packers: Donald Driver/Jermichael Finley** (41.4%)
26. Chicago Bears: Matt Forte/Greg Olsen (39.7%)
27. Buffalo Bills: Steve Johnson/Lee Evans (39.5%)
28. Detroit Lions: Brandon Pettigrew/Jahvid Best (39.2%)
29. Tennessee Titans: Nate Washington/Kenny Britt (38.1%)
30. Seattle Seahawks: John Carlson/Deion Branch* (34.6%)
31. New Orleans Saints: Marques Colston/Jeremy Shockey (33.8%)
32. Carolina Panthers: Steve Smith/David Gettis (33.8%)

* Traded to Patriots
** Out for the season

Now, this list may not mean a whole lot. Some teams don't throw a lot to their tight ends; some teams prefer to throw a bunch of dump-off passes to running backs. Some teams in the top 10 or so are similar to the Redskins in that they don't really have many other options in the passing game. But most of the teams at least have pretty good third and fourth options that 1) simply don't get thrown as many passes and 2) are still good enough to force other teams to account for them and allow their team's top receivers to have more space to work with.

And then, there are teams in the 20s like the Cowboys and Packers who spread the ball around and have plenty of receiving options. Must be nice.

In the end, the Redskins will likely need someone to step up to take the pressure off of Moss and Cooley, but that's not really breaking news. I guess I'm just trying to say this: Both of those guys are really good.

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