New York Jets second year receiver Robby Anderson was the team’s best offensive player in 2017. After an encouraging rookie year as a UDFA in 2016, Anderson clearly focused on his game’s weak spots and improved on them in second year. Despite a recent arrest, Anderson will be on the team’s 2018 roster and is likely only facing a suspension of 1-2 games depending on how the legal process plays out. When he is on the field, he will arguably remain their top weapon in the passing game depending on how Quincy Enunwa’s recovery goes. Let’s review where he made progress in 2017 and how he can keep growing his game on the field…
A quick glance at the statistics show that Anderson increased not just his production but efficiency across the board (all advanced statistics are via Pro Football Focus). Most impressively, he increased his yards per catch by nearly a full yard despite receiving 36 more targets, nearly tripled his YAC, didn’t drop any more passes than he did in 2016 and ran nearly three times as many routes from the slot. He also tripled his touchdown total, improved his catch rate on deep passes and did not lose any fumbles. The numbers show a player who was given a bigger, more diverse role and responded by improving his production rate substantially.2016 Statistics:
- 16 games played, 717 offensive snaps
- 42 receptions, 78 targets (54%), 587 yards, 14,0 YPC, 2 TDs, 1 lost fumble
- Via PFF: WR Rating – 62.5
- Receptions of 20 yards or longer: 10 (32.1 catch rate)
- 118 yards after catch
- 52 routes from the slot
- 6 dropped passes
- Yards Per Route Run: 1.29
- 16 games played, 812 offensive snaps
- 63 receptions, 114 targets (55%), 941 yards, 14.9 YPC, 7 TDs, 0 lost fumbles
- Via PFF: WR Rating – 87
- Receptions of 20 yards or longer: 17 (46.2 catch rate)
- 291 yards after catch
- 138 routes from the slot
- 6 dropped passes
- Yards Per Route Run: 1.91
Improvement Area: Yards After Catch
Anderson was weak after the catch as a rookie. He was unable to break tackles with any consistency and struggled to get north and south with the football. In 2017, he ran with more aggressiveness and decisiveness. This is never going to be the bread and butter of his game but if he runs downhill like this, more YAC will be created because of his speed and size. Instead of tip-toeing towards defenders like he did in 2016, Anderson put his head down and worked to pick up every available yard.
Minor thing but Anderson doesn’t get this first down last year. Better YAC ability all throughout sophomore season #Jets
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) December 4, 2017
Improvement Area: Hand Strength
A common (and exaggerated) complaint about Anderson is he has weak hands and can’t catch the ball in traffic. He alleviated those concerns throughout his sophomore season by showing improved hand strength and an ability to protect himself while catching the ball while being hit. There is no way 2016 Anderson makes the catches below with the amount of contact he is receiving. He still needs to work on his releases off the line of scrimmage but he has made impressive progress at the catch point and is now a receiver who attacks the football in the air, rather than one who waits for it to come to him.
Improvement Area: Route Diversity
The only routes Anderson seemed to run his rookie year were nine routes and comebacks off those routes outside the numbers. This changed in 2017, as the Jets nearly tripled the amount of snaps he took from the slot and diversified his route tree. Anderson was regularly put in motion before the snap to help free him up and showed an ability to be productive on speed outs, short drag routes and in-breaking routes like a dig or curl. Basically, the middle of the field has now opened up for him as a consistent option, which only makes his life easier on the outside because defensive backs have more to prepare for.
2018 Focus Areas: Anderson still needs to improve his releases off the line of scrimmage when dealing with press coverage. Teams are going to give him a clean release less and less frequently with how much damage he did on nine routes in 2017. While he has made improvements catching the football in traffic, you’d like to see his overall drop total decrease. Anderson still has work to do on in-breaking routes, particularly slants, which are not really part of his game yet. Finally, he has to avoid emotional breakdowns on the field, similar to what happened at the end of the Jets first Miami game that resulted in a personal foul.
Anderson showed in 2017 he was more than a one trick pony. Yes, he is one of the best young, vertical threats in football but he was able to produce on a wide variety of routes as a team’s lead receiver for an entire season, despite mediocre quarterback play. There is no reason to think Anderson cannot be a perennial 1,000 yard receiver who hovers around 8-10 touchdowns per season, if he can stay out of trouble off the field and the Jets can upgrade the offense around him.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com