Matt Harmon shows exactly where Titans WR A.J. Brown thrives.
Tennessee Titans fans have been enamored with A.J. Brown since his first game where he posted 100 yards despite getting very little preseason practice.
The thing is, over the last decade or so Titans fans have a tendency to pump up average or above-average players because that is all that they have been able to get excited about. However, A.J. Brown is NOT one of those players getting pumped up by the fan base for no reason.
In his historic rookie season, Brown was one of the best receivers in the NFL after the catch and on a per-target basis. But it isn’t just what he did with the ball in his hands, Brown did a great job of constantly winning the one-on-one battle with the CB to get open.
Enter Matt Harmon and “Reception Perception”.
Clicking on that shows you two graphics. The first breaks down which routes he ran while the other shows how often he won in coverage vs those routes.
Too long; did not look
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In case you don’t want to click on that or can’t get it to work, let me highlight some of the most important parts to you.
His three best routes when you take away screen passes and flat routes (where he was 100% successful) are the slant, the dig and the curl.
I’ll talk more about the slant in a second, but it is important to look at the curls and comeback for Brown because with his strong frame his ability to box out defenders on these routes will go a long way to determining how well he can become a 3rd down target that the team relies on.
We already know that he has the makings of a superstar receiver, but there are different versions of that. He is so difficult to tackle once he gets the ball which explains his YAC success, but being able to run that quick curl on 3rd and 8 when the other team blitzes is huge.
I want to talk about the slant and the dig routes for a second. These two are Brown’s absolute bread and butter and they are the two routes he ran the most.
The dig route just barely missed the top-3 list of route success (79.3% success beaten out by the 80% success rate of the curl and comeback), and that slight dip is probably because Brown ran it 15% of the time.
Why are these routes important? Well, both are in-breaking routes that allow Brown to take advantage of linebackers who are supposed to be dropping into coverage. The reason they aren’t where they are supposed to be is because this offense forces them to pay extra attention to the running backs.
All 2nd round players aren’t going to turn into stars like A.J. Brown, but this is a situation where the Titans found a receiver that thrived running the routes that this offense is built to exploit. Then it was just a matter of getting him on the field and not trying to make him do too much before he was ready.
Great scouting and coaching leads to great fits and players, and Titans fans are getting to see that pay off immediately with Brown.