While Owens can still be a premier receiver in the NFL, he's been unreliable when the temperature drops.
Tim Graham writes, "In six career games with the game-time temperature at 35 degrees or below, Owens' teams went 1-5. He averaged 3.5 receptions for 52.0 yards and 0.33 touchdowns. In two playoff losses, he averaged two catches for 20 yards."
It feels like the cold-weather Favre reports all over again. Thank goodness it's not at the Jets' expense this time around.
I was among the few who didn't blink when the Bills signed Owens. Graham's work makes me even more confident that he won't be the difference maker in Buffalo.
I thought Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish were doing just fine on their own as their receivers.
The Bills needed linemen, a smarter offensive strategy, and for a QB to make better decisions on a consistent basis. Oh, and uh, maybe another running back now, right, Marshawn?
But I digress. Here's what Graham found when he took a look at T.O.'s production in unfavorable weather conditions:
- 22 degrees: Dec. 7, 2008; Owens had three receptions for 32 yards and one touchdown in a 20-13 loss at Pittsburgh.
- 28 degrees: Jan. 13, 2002 (playoffs); Owens had four catches for 40 yards and no touchdowns in a 25-15 loss at Green Bay.
- 30 degrees: Dec. 14, 2003; Owens had his best cold-weather game with eight catches for 127 yards and one touchdown, but lost 41-38 at Cincinnati.
- 34 degrees: Jan. 4, 1997 (playoffs); Owens was held without a catch in a 35-14 loss at Green Bay.
- 35 degrees: Dec. 21, 2003; Owens made one reception for 20 yards in a 31-28 victory at Philadelphia.
- 35 degrees: Dec. 30, 2001; Owens had five catches for 93 yards and no touchdowns in a 27-21 loss at Dallas.
That's a critical preview of what fans can expect from T.O. when the winter arrives in Buffalo.
But I wasn't completely convinced yet. One of the things with cold-weather games is that the passing game is expected to be inconsistent. When the temperature drops, the running game is supposed to be the bread and butter.
Freezing temperatures make the pigskin harder to grip, and turns the ball into a high-speed brick for receivers.
Unfortunately for Owens, that belief doesn't reflect the reality of his cold-weather games.
On Jan. 4, 1997, Elvis Grbac threw the ball 37 times. In 2006, Grbac made 310 attempts in 10 regular season games, averaging out to 31 attempts per game.
On Dec. 30, 2001, Jeff Garcia threw the ball 36 times. In 2001, Garcia made 504 attempts in 16 regular season games, averaging out to 31.5 attempts per game. This can be rounded up to 32, if you like.
On Jan. 13, 2002, Garcia went to the air 32 times in the playoffs following the 2001 season. His 32 attempts remain consistent with his 31.5 (or 32) attempts per game average from the regular season.
The 49ers' Dec. 14, 2003 victory over the Bengals saw Garcia throwing 33 times. In 2003, Garcia made 392 attempts in 13 regular season games, averaging out to 30.1 attempts per game.
On Dec. 21, 2003, Garcia threw the ball 29 times. This is the only game where Owens' quarterback threw below his average for the season. But it's not significantly lower than the norm.
On Dec. 7, 2008, Tony Romo threw 36 passes. In 2008, Romo made 450 attempts in 13 regular season games, averaging out to about 35 attempts per game, rounded up from 34.6.
Clearly all of Owens' teams remained consistent to what they had attempted in warmer temperatures.
There was no deviation from the norm, as his teams stayed true to their typical game plans, despite the wintry conditions.
Simply put, it's Owens who falters when the temperature drops.
And now he's in Buffalo.
While it's not exactly a frozen tundra in the north, the end of the season is going to be a tough one for him—especially if the Bills are in a position to entertain the notion of a playoff run.
Can anyone else see another fast start in 2009 with the same results in 2008 for the Bills?
Thanks to S-Dubb (NYJetsFan) for the heads up on the Tim Graham article!
He can be reached here.