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Deion Branch and spreading it around

Posted by Doug on September 5, 2006

Of all the interesting stories that will unfold during the next six months, the one that intrigues me most is that of the Deion Branch-less New England Patriots. It's an interesting situation, both on the field and off it.

The Patriots have cap space, but have apparently decided that they'd rather spend that cap space on, well, nothing, than to pay Branch more than what they think he is worth. I understand their position. It's one that might help them in the long run and it's certainly hard to argue with they way they've done business over the last half-decade. But I have to believe that attitudes will change very quickly --- in the media, in the bleachers, and in the locker room --- if and when the Patriots start losing.

I know that The System in New England is more important than any individual, but there has to be a limit to the number of defections it can withstand. The down year in 2005 seems like a hint that they are near that limit. I happen to agree that Branch probably isn't worth what the Jets are pretending they want to pay him, and what Seattle apparently really is willing to pay him. But he is a talented player, and the Patriots might be too close to a tipping point to be able to afford the loss of another talented player.

Now on to the trivial, but interesting, matter of who is going to be catching passes while Branch watches. The Patriots have always been a spread-it-around team, and this year they will probably take that to a whole new level. Just for fun, I created a spread-it-around index and applied it to all teams since 1978. According to my measure, the team with the highest index was the 1989 Chicago Bears. Here were their top 6 pass receivers (by yards):

Ron Morris 486
Dennis Gentry 463
Neal Anderson 434
Dennis McKinnon 418
Wendell Davis 397
James Thornton 392

On the other end of the spectrum is the 2001 Denver Broncos:

Rod Smith 1343
Desmond Clark 566
Dwayne Carswell 299
Eddie Kennison 169
Chris Cole 128
Scottie Montgomery 99

[If you must know how I ranked them, here are the details...

I looked at the top six receivers on each team, and computed a simple average of their receiving yards. Then I took a weighted average of the same six receivers, with the top guy getting a weight of one, the next guy a weight of two, and so on down to the sixth guy, who gets a weight of six. Divide the weighted average by the simple average (and multiply by 100 to make it easier on the eyes) and you've got the index. The maximum possible index --- which would be attained if all six players had the same receiving yardage --- is 100.]

Last year, the teams that spread it around most and least were Minnesota and Washington, respectively. New England had the 8th-highest index in the league last year. Here are the top 10 and bottom 10 teams from 1978--2005, and you can see the full list right here.

chi 1989 96.2
Ron Morris 486
Dennis Gentry 463
Neal Anderson 434
Dennis McKinnon 418
Wendell Davis 397
James Thornton 392

kan 1995 94.0
Willie Davis 527
Webster Slaughter 514
Lake Dawson 513
Todd McNair 501
Keith Cash 419
Kimble Anders 349

was 1997 93.9
Leslie Shepherd 562
Michael Westbrook 559
Henry Ellard 485
Jamie Asher 474
Brian Mitchell 438
Larry Bowie 388

sdg 1984 93.0
Charlie Joiner 793
Pete Holohan 734
Bobby Duckworth 715
Wes Chandler 708
Kellen Winslow 663
Eric Sievers 438

atl 2001 91.6
Terance Mathis 564
Tony Martin 548
Shawn Jefferson 539
Brian Finneran 491
Bob Christian 392
Alge Crumpler 330

ind 1985 91.3
Wayne Capers 438
Matt Bouza 381
Pat Beach 376
Ray Butler 345
Mark Boyer 274
George Wonsley 257

det 2003 90.9
Az-Zahir Hakim 449
Mikhael Ricks 434
Bill Schroeder 397
Shawn Bryson 340
Scotty Anderson 325
Cory Schlesinger 247

mia 1992 90.9
Mark Duper 762
Mark Clayton 619
Keith Jackson 594
Tony Martin 553
Bobby Humphrey 507
Tony Paige 399

bal 2004 90.6
Travis Taylor 421
Kevin Johnson 373
Randy Hymes 323
Todd Heap 303
Clarence Moore 293
Daniel Wilcox 219

ari 2002 90.6
David Boston 512
Marcel Shipp 413
Frank Sanders 400
Jason McAddley 362
Freddie Jones 358
MarTay Jenkins 250

[. . .]

hou 1988 61.5
Drew Hill 1141
Ernest Givins 976
Curtis Duncan 302
Willie Drewrey 172
Leonard Harris 136
Alonzo Highsmith 131

was 1984 61.3
Art Monk 1372
Calvin Muhammad 729
Clint Didier 350
Charlie Brown 200
Don Warren 192
Mark McGrath 118

pit 1996 61.2
Charles Johnson 1008
Andre Hastings 739
Yancey Thigpen 244
Mark Bruener 141
Jerome Bettis 122
Erric Pegram 112

det 1995 60.9
Herman Moore 1686
Brett Perriman 1488
Johnnie Morton 590
Barry Sanders 398
David Sloan 184
Ron Hall 81

det 1996 60.1
Herman Moore 1296
Brett Perriman 1021
Johnnie Morton 714
Barry Sanders 147
Pete Metzelaars 146
David Sloan 51

pit 1997 59.9
Yancey Thigpen 1398
Charles Johnson 568
Courtney Hawkins 555
Will Blackwell 168
Mark Bruener 117
Jerome Bettis 110

was 2005 59.7
Santana Moss 1483
Chris Cooley 774
David Patten 217
Clinton Portis 216
James Thrash 194
Robert Royal 131

jax 1999 59.7
Jimmy Smith 1636
Keenan McCardell 891
Kyle Brady 346
Damon Jones 221
Reggie Barlow 202
Tavian Banks 137

stl 1996 58.9
Isaac Bruce 1338
Eddie Kennison 924
Harold Green 246
Ernie Conwell 164
Jermaine Ross 160
Aaron Laing 116

den 2001 58.0
Rod Smith 1343
Desmond Clark 566
Dwayne Carswell 299
Eddie Kennison 169
Chris Cole 128
Scottie Montgomery 99

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 5th, 2006 at 3:53 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.