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Statistics 101: The Tight End Edition

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPER GONZO!
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPER GONZO!

In this series, we're looking at some of the commonly-used and less-commonly-used foozbah statistics available over the interwebs. Last week we discussed RB statistics. And this week we're taking a closer look at TE statistics.

The "which came first: the chicken or the egg?" debate is old news. But when it comes to the Falcons offense, Pat Yakinsas is still sipping Haterade we're still trying to pinpoint the blame. Is it just poor pass blocking? Is it inconsistent play by Turner? Is Ryan's 62% completion percentage holding us back? Or is Gonzo v. 14.0 just not-that-impressive?

I'm not one to complain when my team is 4-1, but let's be honest y'all, we have some work to do/room to grow. At least if we want to really compete this year.

Join me after the jump for an icky, grape-tasting dose of some luke-warm half-truths.

True or False: Tony Gonzalez's career is on-the-decline. False. Read what follows. And then thank Vishnu (or whatever deity you pray to) when you realize Gonzo is still football royalty. 

Just a quick disclaimer. Most of what follows is about Gonzo. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not arbitrarily zeroing in on #88. With 4 combined receptions between them this year, there's simply not much to say about Peelle and Palmer.

There are six stats that I strongly recommend if you're looking to evaluate a TE's performance (or lack thereof). TD total is not one of them.

The more traditional TE stats (yards/attempt, YAC, receptions, 1st down percentage, and yards/game) can be found in sortable form here. DVOA/DYAR and Catch Rate can be found here.


(1) Catch Rate

I heart catch rate. Like a lot. Catch rate is very simply the percentage of passes thrown to the TE that the TE actually catches. It is not defense-adjusted (obviously) and it does not account for poor line or QB play, but at a certain point, catch rates can be a HUGE red flag. Luckily we don't have that problem, at least at this point.

Gonzo's catch rate this year (through 5 games) is 67%. Better than '09 (62%), '08 (62%), and '07 (64%) so far. His TD total is not Antonio Gates-like (7 already), but it isn't because he's not catching the ball.

(2) Yards/Attempt Average

Gonzo is averaging 10.3 yards a catch this year. His yards/attempt was slightly higher seven or eight years ago (and it has declined ever since), but the man will be 35 this February. Let's give him a break re: this statistical category.

(3) Receptions and 1st Downs (1st Down Percentage)

62.5% of Gonzo's receptions (24 total) were first downs in the first give games. Only three TEs have more 1st down receptions than he does this year. Can you say "possession receiver"?!?!?!

(4) Yards/Game

Gonzo is averaging 49 yards/game. Doesn't seem particularly high. Except it's the 13th highest TE yards/game average in the league. And the TEs with the second and third most yards/game this year are averaging 68 yards/game (Zach Miller) and 62.6 yards/game (Vernon Davis) respectively.

(5) DVOA and DYAR

Gonzo's DYAR in weeks 1-5 was 49 (9/39 ranked players with minimum of 8 passes). Gonzo's DVOA in weeks 1-5 was %13 (14/39 ranked players with minimum of 8 passes). Not bad ... not bad at all.

(6) YAC Average

Gonzo's week 1-5 YAC average is only 2.8. 2.8 is really really really low, but his '09 and '08 YAC averages were - more or less - in that range too. At the end of the day, Gonzo is just not much of a shake-and-baker, but I'm not convinced that diminishes his value much, if at all.


So what say y'all? Will our offense regress-like-whoa when Gonzo hangs up it up? Are next-level stats nerdier than Bill Nye at a surge protector convention? Discuss!

Next week you'll throw your computer out the window in disgust we'll discuss QB stats. In the interim, go forth and BE STATISTICAL!