In an effort to add to the reams of data that we already collect at PFF, we took the passing game to a whole new level in 2013.
Instead of just tracking each receiver’s targeted route, we went ahead and charted every route run on every pass play in the NFL and continued this work in 2014. We can now tell you how often each receiver ran a particular route, at which depth he ran it, and whether or not he was targeted.
This data becomes quite useful when analyzing each receiver’s role, but it’s also handy when determining passing concepts for each team. The ante was upped further this past season as we added exact WR splits as well as shifts in motions to our charting data. We now have the data to break down how often teams run their favorite plays, and the corresponding tendencies that come with them.
How often did Peyton Manning run his staple “levels” concept? How often did Chip Kelly have a built in bubble screen for his slot receivers? Which team’s receivers run the deepest routes? This is the type of data that can only be found in the PFF database, and it’s a big reason why NFL teams are adding our information into their weekly scouting reports.
While much of this data remains exclusive for NFL team usage, we’re pulling back the curtain to show some of the passing game trends, starting on a route-by-route basis.
Here’s a look at crossing routes.
Our route charting is extremely detailed, but for the sake of this exercise, routes will be sorted into the basic families above. So while we can tell you if a wide receiver’s “go” route had an inside or an outside release, or if it was run up the seam or with a back shoulder throw, all of these unique routes will be lumped into the “go” route category for simplicity sake.
The Crossing Route
The crossing route is separated from the dig route due to its lack of a vertical stem. The depth will vary from short drag routes to deep crossers, and also includes variations such as a receiver throttling down to settle between zones.
Here’s a deeper look into the players who ran crossing routes most often and most efficiently.
– Antonio Gates leads the way by a fairly wide margin as 22.1% of his routes ran were crossing routes.
– Gates was one of five tight ends to make the top of the chart, the most of any route family.
– Of the five wide receivers, only T.Y. Hilton did not line up in the slot for at least 60% of total routes ran.
– A tight end leads the way again as Coby Fleener had the most targets and receptions despite being just outside the Top 10 in total crossing routes.
– The Patriots and Colts both featured a pair of teammates in the Top 10.
– Jason Witten and Delanie Walker both ran over 90 crossing routes, but were targeted just 12 times each.
– Over one-third of Jordan Matthews’ total receiving yards came on crossing routes.
– Eddie Royal’s 243 yards came on just 15 targets. His 16.2 yards per target on crossing routes was the highest among receivers with at least 10 targets.
Yards per Route Run
– Clay Harbor caught only eight crossing routes on 24 targets, but managed to pick up 108 yards to edge out DeAndre Hopkins for the top mark. However, Hopkins caught just five passes and still topped Harbor in total yards with 137.
– Ladarius Green cracked the Top 10 after being targeted on 42% of his crossing routes, the highest percentage in the league.
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