Jacksonville Jaguars Advanced Stat of the Week: Marcedes Lewis Bounces Back

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistFebruary 1, 2013

Lewis watches it in.
Lewis watches it in.Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Marcedes Lewis came back strong from a lackluster 2011 with a solid year in 2012.

Cited by many Jaguars fans as part of the problem in 2011, Lewis showed that he can still be one of the best tight ends in football thanks in part to an increased catch rate.

This week, Advanced Stat of the Week looks at catch rate.

Catch rate is a deceptively simple stat that can lead to very wrong conclusions about wide receivers if misused.

I first encountered catch rate on the Football Outsiders wide receiver pages. Catch rate is easy to calculate. Take the number of times a wide receiver catches the football and divide it by the number of times he is "targeted" by the quarterback. The ratio of catches to targets is his catch rate.

Catch Rate = Receptions / Targets

Catch rate divorced from the overall context of a receiver's profile is meaningless. You can't simply say, "Wes Welker has a catch rate of 71 percent and Calvin Johnson has a catch rate of 61 percent." Without more information, you cannot judge players with this stat.

However, if in addition to catch rate you add yards per reception, targets and quarterback overall completion percentage, you can get a more complete view of the skill set and effectiveness of the pass-catcher.

After an outstanding year in 2010, Lewis seemed poised to make the leap to stardom. He signed a big deal with the team, but just as quickly as he ascended, he came crashing back down to earth.

The Football Outsiders had him ranked as the worst tight end in football in 2011. He had plenty of drops and didn't score a touchdown.

Many put part of the blame for Blaine Gabbert's struggles on Lewis. After all, his receiving numbers were down across the board.

Then in 2012 the numbers rebounded. Thanks in part to a late-season change at quarterback, Lewis wound up having a solid season. From the Week 10 ascension of Chad Henne as starter, his numbers picked up.

Through nine weeks, Lewis had 26 catches for 234 yards. Over the final seven games with Henne, his yards per reception increased by nearly three yards a catch and he added 26 more catches for 306 yards.

On the season, Lewis' overall catch rate increased beyond where it was even in his stellar 2010 campaign. The effect of an improved catch rate on his final numbers is obvious. He surpassed all of his 2011 totals with ease, despite 12 fewer targets on the year.

Catch rate isn't always about the target. Lewis cut down on the drops, which obviously helped, but better accuracy from the thrower made a big difference. Catch rate is never useful in a vacuum, but given the right surrounding context it can help reveal where and how an offense has gone off the tracks.

In this case, it would seem Lewis' depressed numbers may say more about who threw the ball than who was catching it.

The silver lining for the Jaguars is that there are talented offensive players in place. With the right quarterback, it's not hard to see a bounce-back year for the entire team, and not just one player.