T.Y. HiltonIND2525623844167.8 Doug BaldwinSEA487321627167.4 Weighted overall rank comparison of wide receivers, 2014-16 Allen RobinsonJAC242083684165.1 RECEIVERTEAMTARGET FREQ.AVG. DEPTHCATCH RATERUN BLOCKAFTER CATCHWEIGHTED SUM Antonio BrownPIT457151944105.2 Emmanuel SandersDEN1423413175130.1 Odell BeckhamNYG751371517115.5 Steve SmithBAL1064345333166.3 Julio JonesATL240302728103.0 Rishard MatthewsTEN2936332056143.5 Larry FitzgeraldARI208214164142.9 DeAndre HopkinsHOU122769390139.1 Demaryius ThomasDEN35949432123.9 RANK Jordy NelsonGB1942292241128.5 Jarvis LandryMIA896111612135.6 Eric DeckerNYJ224645583149.0 Brandon MarshallNYJ183572980161.7 Mike EvansTB6681796126.0 Rankings are out of the 98 wide receivers with a minimum of 500 receiving yards in 2016 or 900 yards from 2014 to 2016.Sources: ESPN Stats & Information Group, ProFootballFocus.com Willie SneadNO398018225164.5 Let’s get this out of the way at the top: Julio Jones was the best receiver in football this season. Just about any way you slice it, whether using traditional stats,1Yards per game, for instance. advanced metrics2Like FootballOutsiders.com’s defense-adjusted yards above replacement. or even play-by-play grades,3Such as the ones compiled by ProFootballFocus.com. Jones was the receiver who kept defensive coordinators up at night worrying about all the havoc he could wreak. His explosiveness and diversity of skills enabled offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to build the one of the best offenses in NFL history.But what makes Jones so good?At the most basic level, Jones dominates because of an unmatched combination of size and speed. Posting a 4.34-second 40-yard-dash before he was drafted, Jones ran the ninth-fastest combine time of any wideout who had at least 400 receiving yards in the 2016 season.4One limitation to this approach is that combine data is a snapshot of speed at age 21 or so. Needless to say, that number is probably a tad outdated for an NFL veteran like, say, 37-year-old Steve Smith Sr. Still, for most players, combine times give a decent approximation of their pure speed. All of the faster receivers are also smaller — nearly 5 inches shorter than the 6-foot-3 Jones, on average. While Jones was one of the fastest at the position regardless of height, most NFL wide receivers as tall as Jones ran the 40 slower than the overall position average of 4.47 seconds. A.J. GreenCIN531312961109.4 Wideouts that big and that fast are very difficult to cover. Think of Randy Moss (who, at 6-foot-4, ran an “unofficial” 4.25 second 40 in 1998) or, more recently, the two unrelated Johnsons, Andre (6-foot-2, 4.40) and Calvin (6-foot-5, 4.35), who used that formula to dominate the league’s receiving leaderboard in recent years. Moss in particular showed that a receiver who can stretch the field in all directions with speed, and then pluck balls from over defenders’ heads, can make an offense run far more efficiently than its individual components suggest it should.But Jones’s dominance is more than just a product of “big guy runs fast.” Since he returned from a foot fracture that cost him most of the 2013 season, no receiver has put those gifts to better on-field use than Jones — across every aspect of the position, from the flashy to the technical.We can measure how good Jones has been by breaking down what makes a great all-around receiver:The guy has to get open, so we’ll look at how often the ball comes his way (targets) as a percentage of his routes run.Ideally, receivers can go deep, so we’ll look at how far the ball travels before it gets to him (air yards per target).Then he still has to catch the darn ball, so we’ll look at his catch rate. (Air yards and catch rate are usually at odds with each other,5In my sample of top receivers from 2014 to 2016, the correlation between those two metrics was -0.7. since it’s harder to catch deep throws than short ones.)Once he’s open, has run a long ways and has caught the pass, it’d be nice if he could keep running without being tackled. So let’s also look at yards after the catch per reception.Oh, and one more thing — being a receiver isn’t all about receiving, so let’s look at blocking ability by using ProFootballFocus.com’s run-blocking grades.If we rank every active receiver6With a minimum of either 500 receiving yards in 2016 or 900 total yards from 2014 to 2016. in those categories over the past three seasons and add up the ranks (with some weighting based on the relative importance of each category7Specifically, the ranks for air yards per target and catch rate were assigned no special weight; targets per route was given 50 percent extra weight; yards after the catch was given 75 percent less weight; and run blocking was given 15 percent less weight. These weights were determined by regressing the first four categories against adjusted catch yards per route, an overall measure of receiving effectiveness, and running a separate regression against PFF’s “overall” grade to determine the relative value of blocking.), Jones rates as the most complete wide receiver in the NFL. Among the 98 receivers in our sample, he ranks 40th or better in every area of the game — the only receiver in the league who can make that claim.8Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson ranks in the top 42 in each category. Alshon JefferyCHI173268942143.7 Jones’s impressive combination of size and speed shows up most notably in his ability to get free of defenders — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan targeted Jones on 30 percent of the routes he ran, the second most of any receiver (behind Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill at 31.5 percent) — as well as in his rare talent for keeping his catch rate up even as he goes deep. Based on the length of Jones’s average target — 11.9 yards beyond the line of scrimmage — we’d expect him to have caught only about 60 percent of the balls thrown in his direction; instead, he caught nearly 66 percent, a difference that amounts to 26 extra catches, many of the big-play variety. (Jones has 20 total receiving touchdowns over the past three seasons.) In other words, Jones mixes the reliability of a possession receiver with the big-play potential of a deep threat.And once he catches the ball, he’s frequently off to the races:So what hope do the New England Patriots — specifically, their defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia — have of containing Jones on Super Sunday?For their part, the Patriots had the NFL’s 10th-worst pass defense during the regular season and the 13th-worst D against No. 1 receivers like Jones. But they also boast two of the 12 highest-rated cover cornerbacks in football (according to PFF) in Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, plus Devin McCourty, PFF’s top-rated coverage safety. And in the playoffs, they’ve also held both Antonio Brown (No. 2 in our receiver rankings above) and DeAndre Hopkins (No. 10) to relatively tame performances.In Jones and Atlanta’s high-powered offensive “buzzsaw,” however, the Pats face their toughest challenge yet. The Falcons have had a startling offensive breakout this season: They easily led the league in expected points added (EPA) through the air — and offensive EPA in general — during the regular season, QB Matt Ryan enjoyed one of the most efficient passing seasons in league history, and the offense has only improved in the playoffs.9During the regular season, Atlanta averaged 11.5 more offensive EPA per game than an average team, 9.0 of which came in the passing game. After adjusting for the defenses they faced, the Falcons are averaging 21.5 offensive EPA above average in the playoffs, 20.9 of which have come via the pass.At the center of that offense is Jones. “Nobody can stop us but us,” Jones told reporters after the NFC title game. Whether that’s true or not will largely depend on whether New England can slow down the game’s most uncoverable receiver. Based on Jones’s performance these past few seasons, that’s a pretty tall (and fast) order.
OSU sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) during a game against Rutgers on Jan. 13 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorFollowing Ohio State’s 76-75 loss to No. 20 Purdue on Thursday night that dropped the Buckeyes to 10-5 and 0-2 in the Big Ten, it appears the team’s uphill climb to the NCAA tournament just got a whole lot steeper.OSU coach Thad Matta said in the postgame press conference that junior forward Keita Bates-Diop will undergo surgery on a stress fracture on his shin next week. Bates-Diop did not play against the Boilermakers. He had missed five games earlier in the season with a high-ankle sprain he suffered on Nov. 17 against Providence.Bates-Diop originally suffered this injury in the summer and after attempting to play through it, the injury kept reoccurring, Matta said.“That’s definitely a punch in the gut to us,” he said. “It is what it is and we got to move forward.”Matta called the 6-foot-7 Bates-Diop the team’s best defender considering his length and his ability to rebound with the taller players in the country.The Normal, Illinois, native played just nine games this year, starting three times. He averaged 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in an average of 23.3 minutes. Matta said that Bates-Diop will receive a medical redshirt.1/5 Correction: Matta said Bates-Diop will have surgery next week. It was originally printed as Friday.
Penn State is not the Ohio State basketball team’s most intimidating opponent. The Nittany Lions, who the Buckeyes will play Wednesday, come into the game with a 10-11 record overall and a 2-6 record in the Big Ten. But the Big Ten has five teams ranked among the top 25, which is more than any conference in the nation. Coach Thad Matta said that in the Big Ten this year, there are no easy games, no matter the record. “I don’t think there’s a coach in the Big Ten that feels good about the next game that they’re playing and that’s just documented by who has beaten who,” Matta said. “Records or ranking or where the game has played really has not much relevance. You have to play in this league and know at the conclusion of one game you’re going to another battle the next game.” The Buckeyes are 5-2 in the conference this year with both losses coming on the road. Wednesday’s game against Penn State will be at home in the Schottenstein Center where the Buckeyes have an undefeated 14-0 record this year. The Nittany Lions come into Wednesday’s game having lost four out of the their last five contests. The lone win in that streak came against Illinois, who the Buckeyes lost to Jan. 10. Penn State point guard Tim Frazier is considered by many the best point guard in the Big Ten. The junior has averaged 18 points and more than six assists on the year. Matta said containing Frazier will be a “challenge.” “He makes them go, there’s no question about it,” Matta said. “The ball is in his hands a lot so it’s not on (sophomore guard Aaron Craft) or (sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith) or whoever is on him at the particular time. It’s going to have to be really all five guys somehow, someway give support and help him out.” Smith said Matta told the team that Penn State is not to be taken lightly and the team needs to play a complete game. “The first thing he told us is they probably play harder than any team we’re going to play this year,” Smith said. “Watching them a little bit on film, it’s obvious. They crash the boards … They’re going to play 40 minutes of good hard basketball.” Smith said the key to beating Penn State is their focus and intensity on the defensive end of the floor. “Whenever we find ourselves playing great defense, our offense just carries off,” Smith said. Eleven games remain on OSU’s regular season schedule and six of those games come against opponents who are currently ranked. Despite more high-profile matchups on the horizon, Matta said he’s not worried about his team looking past Penn State. “It is strictly Penn State,” Matta said. “I want our guys focused on one thing and one thing only and that’s Penn State. If you find yourself looking too far ahead, it will come back and get you in the end.” Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is set for 6:30 p.m.
Yaya Toure has thanked everyone at Manchester City for a “very special night” after playing his final home game for the club in their 3-1 win against BrightonThe 34-year-old will be leaving the Premier League champions at the end of the season after eight years.City paid tribute to their long-serving midfielder by starting him for their final home game of the season against Brighton at the Etihad Stadium and made him the captain for the night, as Toure led the club to breaking three Premier League record that were all previously held by Chelsea.Prior to his last home match, Toure was presented with a framed shirt, a mosaic plaque and a lifetime season ticket with his older brother, Kolo Toure, at his side and has now taken to social media to thank everyone.Report: City are stunned by Norwich George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Manchester City was stunned by Norwich City in todays Premier League clash.Much has been made in recent days of the potential impact of Aymeric…“Thank you to everyone for a very special night at the Etihad! It really means a lot,” wrote the Ivorian on Twitter.Thank you to everyone for a very special night at the Etihad! It really means a lot. ??#ComeOnCity ???? pic.twitter.com/tbMN2ZvOGT— Yaya Touré (@YayaToure) May 10, 2018
The German national men’s football team have begun life after an embarrassing outing at the just concluded FIFA World Cup in Russia with a draw against France, according to DFB.de.The Die Mannschaft held the current world champions to a goalless draw at the Allianz Arena in Germany.After much debate, Joachim Low decided to stick with majority of the team that underperformed in Russia with Manuel Neuer started between the sticks for Germany, behind a back four of Matthias Ginter, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Antonio Rüdiger. Joshua Kimmich started at defensive midfield with Leon Goretzka and Toni Kroos in front of him.Thomas Müller, Timo Werner and Marco Reus completed the starting XI as a front three. The German side started with purpose and soon got on the front foot, albeit without creating a clear-cut chance. For the majority of the half, the teams were in deadlock and headed into the changing rooms for half time with no more than a couple of shots on target to reflect on.Top 5 Bundesliga players to watch during the weekend Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 11, 2019 With the international activity cooling down for the next month, we go back to the Bundesliga’s Top 5 players to watch next weekend.The German…Low’s team continued to try to carve out opportunities in the wider areas but they couldn’t open up the French defence with the crucial final pass. In the 34th minute, for example, Rüdiger nearly got on the end of a dangerous cross from Kroos before Olivier Giroud tested Manuel Neuer with a header at the other end. The captain then parried a Kylian Mbappé free-kick from 20 metres out in the 43rd minute. The last chance of the first half fell to the world champions as a heel flick from Giroud went wide of the goal.Didier Deschamps’ French team started the second half as the better side as an Antoine Griezmann shot was saved by Neuer (48’). Timo Werner then tested Areola’s reflexes in the French goal from an acute angle (57’). Neither team could create many clear opportunities in front of goal with much of the game being contested in midfield. The next chance also fell to Griezmann, who attempted a shot from long distance (64’). At the other end, Areola spectacularly denied Reus with a fingertip save around the post (65’).A lack of cutting edge from both sides saw their first competitive meeting since 2016 end in a goalless stalemate.
The Everton Marco Silva was unhappy after receiving a goal and then seeing how Kurt Zouma was sent off.A single goal by Andre Gay gave Watford the 1-0 victory over Everton in the English Premier League on Saturday.And the Blues are now in the ninth position of the table with 33 points, after only nine wins, six draws and 12 defeats.This has led coach Marco Silva very frustrated.“When you do not achieve the result and do not score goals with the chances we created, it is a big frustration for us,” Silva told the club’s official website.“The first half was balanced, they created one good chance and we had a very good chance with Cenk Tosun.”“Second half was the same again. They started to create more problems with their long balls,” he commented.“I felt Andre Gomes and Gana were getting tired after we played on Wednesday night. Watford had one week to prepare for the game.”“I changed Andre and was preparing to put on Bernard when they scored,” Silva continued.“We reacted [to going behind].”Liverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.“We had two balls off the bar and one clear chance for Dominic,” the manager said.“We created enough chances to score but were not effective [with our finishing]. Sometimes in these moments, something can happen – but it is only us who can work more to change things.”“When you play away and create the chances we did – and clear chances in some moments – we have to be more effective,” the Everton boss commented.“In one moment they will start to go in and we’ll start to win matches.”“But there is just one way: work more, become more confident and look forward and try to change things,” he added.“It is a good moment to rest the players, then bring them back to prepare for the next match against Cardiff and the derby against Liverpool.”💬 | The boss delivers his post-match verdict: A frustrating afternoon. #EFCawayday— Everton (@Everton) February 9, 2019