2014 Preview: What To Expect From Torrey Smith

Posted on August 26, 2014 by Zeyd Khan


Photo Credit: Zimbio.com



An offensive overhaul can be difficult on the development of key players in the offense such as WRs, QBs, and RBs. While analysts have raved about Joe Flacco’s near-perfect fit in Kubiak’s system, Ray Rice’s re-emergence, and the prowess of Bernard Pierce, little has been said about what to expect from Torrey Smith. In this article, I compare Torrey to 2 other NFL players (they will remain unnamed for now) who also dealt with the addition of a new system relatively early in their careers. While this sort of analysis inevitably lacks statistical significance, my hope is that some insight can be gleaned from other players’ past experiences.


Player A

Receptions

Targets

Yards

Average

TDs

Year 1

50

95

841

16.8

7

Year 2

49

110

855

17.4

8

Year 3

65

139

1128

17.4

4

Player B

Receptions

Targets

Yards

Average

TDs

Year 1

16

19

167

10.4

0

Year 2

69

123

1108

16.1

2

Year 3

66

105

787

11.9

5

Player C

Receptions

Targets

Yards

Average

TDs

Year 1

29

-

446

15.4

3

Year 2

30

66

506

16.9

0

Year 3

83

137

1202

14.5

6


This table shows the season statistics of three NFL wide receivers during their first 3 years. Since every reputable Ravens fan knows that Torrey set the Ravens rookie record for touchdowns, I won’t even pretend that the identity of Player A is a secret – so let’s focus on the other 2 stat-lines for a moment.  

Let’s start with Player B. In his first year, he was hardly utilized by his team, but by his sophomore season, his targets sky-rocketed, leading to far more substantial production. This of course makes sense: a player can only be more productive if given increased opportunities. In his third season, however, you see a decline in his production across the board (other than TDs), though he came down with a near identical number of catches. Player B is Antonio Brown, and in his third season, a new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, was brought in to bolster the offense. As you can see, the first year of the new system was a struggle for Brown, but check out his Year 4 stats:

Player B

Receptions

Targets

Yards

Average

TDs

Year 4

110

165

1499

13.6

8


In 2013, Brown exploded onto the scene with an exceptional year, ending in his first All-Pro nod. Last year was also the first year that he made the Pro Bowl as a receiver, and has been viewed by some as the greatest season for a WR in Steelers history. I know, it stings to think about, but Brown’s second year in that system launched him into the elite stratosphere of NFL receivers. More on that later; let’s take a look at Player C.

Player C

Receptions

Targets

Yards

Average

TDs

Year 1

29

-

446

15.4

3

Year 2

30

66

506

16.9

0

Year 3

83

137

1202

14.5

6

Year 4

88

148

1382

15.7

7


This table shows Player C’s first 3 years as well as his fourth season. Analyzing this quickly, one can see that the first two seasons were pretty slow before an eruption in the third. This is usually the trend with receivers in the NFL: struggling early on and coming into their own by their third effort. His numbers in the fourth season paint the picture of a high-volume receiver, and indeed this chart represents the early years of Roddy White’s career. I included Roddy because his fourth season coincided with the arrival of Mike Smith and a new offense (and QB) to Atlanta. Surprisingly, this new system brought about even better production from the powerful wide-out!  

Looking at the progression of White and Brown under new offensive regimes allows us to form an idea of what to expect from Torrey in his first season under Kubiak. The addition of Steve Smith, the return of Pitta, and the resurgence of our offensive line will all likely play critical roles, but in order for Torrey to thrive, he will need to be given opportunities ie. targets. While we of course need to establish our run game, getting Torrey involved in the offense should also be in the forefront of the coaches’ minds.

Last season, many of Torrey’s 139 targets were on inaccurate passes down the field that he had very little chance of getting to in bracketed coverage! This year, Kubiak has spoken publicly about using receivers running through zones and wide receiver rubs in order to open things up for playmakers underneath.  With those sorts of adjustments, perhaps we can rest easy, thinking that Torrey will go the way of Roddy White in his fourth season.

And yet, as preseason game 3 showed us, our offense still has a tendency to sputter and then stop. If our efforts to set a tone running the football fail, then Torrey will also fail to build on his first 1000 yard season. But even in that there is hope, because with another year under a new system, his fifth season has the potential to be like Brown’s 2013. I can only speak for myself, but I would be absolutely thrilled to have a 1500 yard receiver on our roster. And a nod to attend the Pro Bowl? That would just be icing on the cake for a player who has, as John would say, “maximized his potential”.


next up:

Ravens Trim Roster Down to 75 Players

August 25, 2014

First round of cuts comes a day early

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