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Michael Clayton’s decline

Posted by Doug on April 6, 2006

This generic feelgood article on the Buccaneers caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, it talks about how beneficial it is to have stability in your personnel from year to year. I'd like to investigate that, but it might take awhile before I get around to it.

For now, I wanted to ponder the case of Michael Clayton, who had one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history and followed it up one of the biggest declines in NFL history. From the article, here is Jon Gruden's take:

"We've talked privately a lot about that," Gruden said. "He did not have the same kind of year for a lot of reasons. I think the injuries, the surgeries, all those things caught up with him. The lack of any offseason? You've got to practice, man. These guys go year-round. You see the bodies of some these guys, it's insane what these guys go through to get themselves ready to play.

"And once you sacrifice half of that, or most of that preparation -- the physical preparation, mental preparation -- it catches up with you. 'Cause the other guys are just as good physically as you are. It's a fine line. And I think Michael has learned from that."

Gruden said Clayton has had "a great offseason. He's been in there every day. He's upbeat. He's alive. He got married, OK? So I'm really excited about joining forces again with him this year."

The Institution of Marriage has no bigger fans than the guy typing this (and don't think I'm sucking up; my wife wouldn't read this blog on a dare), but if I'm a Buc fan this doesn't fill me with confidence. What I want to hear is

People don't understand the magnitude of the injuries he was playing through. We were having to drain his knee twelve times a day. The fact that he was even walking, much less giving 110% as a decoy for us, was remarkable. The doctors say they've never seen anyone play on a knee so messed up.

I probably wouldn't believe that if Gruden had said it, but it'd be more comforting than "He got married, OK?" But who knows, maybe this is just the thing. Ladies of San Francisco, please monitor this situation. If Clayton turns it around, I'm going to be introducing you to a nice young man named Rashaun Woods.

For historical perspective, here are the biggest yards-per-game declines from one year to the next since 1978 (minimum 1000 yards in year one, minimum 12 games in year two).


Good year Bad year Next year
age G YD G YD G YD
Wes Chandler 27 | 8 1032 | 16 845 | 15 708
Derrick Alexander 30 | 16 1391 | 14 470 | 8 134
Michael Clayton 23 | 16 1193 | 14 372 | ? ?
Irving Fryar 36 | 16 1316 | 16 556 | 16 254
Stacey Bailey 25 | 16 1138 | 15 364 | 6 39
Roy Green 28 | 16 1555 | 13 693 | 11 517
Johnnie Morton 31 | 16 1154 | 14 397 | 16 740
Randy Moss 27 | 16 1632 | 13 767 | 16 1005
Mark Carrier 25 | 16 1422 | 16 813 | 16 698
Muhsin Muhammad 32 | 16 1405 | 15 750 | ? ?
Rob Moore 30 | 16 1584 | 16 982 | 14 621
Joe Horn 33 | 16 1399 | 13 654 | ? ?
Jerry Rice 34 | 16 1848 | 16 1254 | 2 78
Eric Metcalf 28 | 16 1189 | 16 599 | 16 576
Carlos Carson 30 | 12 1044 | 14 711 | 13 107
Nate Burleson 24 | 16 1006 | 12 328 | ? ?
John Jefferson 25 | 16 1340 | 13 632 | 8 452
Brett Perriman 32 | 16 1021 | 13 392 | 0 0
Brian Blades 25 | 16 1063 | 16 525 | 16 1003
Qadry Ismail 32 | 16 1059 | 14 462 | 0 0
Gary Clark 26 | 12 1066 | 16 892 | 15 1229
Henry Ellard 36 | 16 1014 | 16 485 | 7 115
Drew Pearson 29 | 15 1026 | 16 568 | 16 614
Robert Brooks 28 | 15 1010 | 12 420 | 0 0
Bruce Hill 25 | 14 1040 | 16 673 | 13 641
Anthony Miller 31 | 14 1079 | 16 735 | 16 645
Brandon Stokley 29 | 16 1077 | 15 543 | ? ?
Lionel Manuel 27 | 16 1029 | 16 539 | 14 169

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 6th, 2006 at 4:18 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.