The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Welcome back to the Poll Rewind series!
As you probably know already, each 5 o’clock club post ends with a poll question. Usually, the results are forgotten within a day or two, but no longer!
Over the course of the off-season (From now to July 2018) we will be re-visiting some (not all) of the results of polls that were published from June to December 2017.
Several of the writers on Hogs Haven — Ken, Mark, James Dorsett & Cadillactica — have agreed to help me out with the poll reviews by adding commentary so you aren’t stuck with my voice all the time.
Today we’ll not only be getting James Dorsett in the 5 o’clock club — we’re serving up a double shot!
I invited James to partner with me on this article by putting together between 200 and 400 words, and he got to work. He loved the topic so much that he churned out 1,100 words of clean golden prose that goes down as smoothly as a Ryan Grant ran pass route, so we’re serving it up as a double!
Here’s the first half of James’ finest.
Today we go back to the poll on 7 July 2017 which asked which NFC East team would lead the division in passing yards in 2017
Comments from James Dorsett
The Redskins captured 61% of the votes and were easily top choice to lead the NFC East in passing yards.
Once again, our readers were spot on, as the Skins led the division with 3,751 yards through the air, which was good for 12th in the NFL. The Hogs Haven faithful made a wise choice here, as the Redskins had finished top-12 in passing yards in each of the last 3 years (2014-2016), including a 2nd-place finish in 2016.
When we dig deeper, though, we find that the Skins didn’t win in a landslide on the field the way they did in the poll.
They didn’t overtake the Eagles, who received the lowest share of the votes (5%), in passing yards until Week 10, and they only beat out Philly by a total of 14 passing yards at the end of the regular season.
Praise for Philly’s passing attack
The Super Bowl champions boasted a much more efficient passing attack, as well. The Eagles led the division and ranked in the top-10 league-wide in passing touchdowns (1st), interceptions (6th), adjusted net yards per attempt (10th), passer rating (7th) and passing DVOA (5th).
They also led the division in passing targets (315), yards (2,269) and touchdowns (20) to the wide receiver position.
Focusing on the division’s wide receivers
The division’s top receivers were a major focus of the original July ‘17 article, so let’s stick with this theme and go further down the rabbit hole.
Roughly two-thirds of the Eagles’ WR production came from Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor.
Jeffrey ranked top-3 among NFC East wideouts in targets (2nd), yards (3rd), first downs (1st) and touchdowns (1st).
Slot-man Agholor not only put up high totals, he was hyper-efficient while doing so. He ranked top-5 among the division’s receivers in virtually every receiving counting stat and efficiency metric. Few receivers made a bigger jump from 2016 to 2017 than Nelson Agholor did.
Surprisingly, the Redskins finished 2nd in the East in terms of receiving yards by wide receivers.
What’s not shocking is that the Burgundy and Gold wide receiver corps was led by diminutive slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, who ranked top-3 among the East’s receivers in targets (3rd), receptions (2nd), receiving yards (2nd) and first downs (3rd).
He accomplished those feats despite playing through injuries which limited him to just 670 snaps, a number which ranked 7th among the division’s wideouts. Only Odell Beckham posted a higher yards-per-route-run average (2.08) among NFCE receivers than Crowder did (1.74).
The Skins were also the beneficiaries of huge improvements from Josh Doctson and Ryan Grant in 2017.
A healthy Doctson saw his snap count increase by over 700, but his wildly inefficient play kept him from posting impressive totals.
Grant, on the other hand, made the most of his opportunities and was one of the biggest 2017 surprises in the division. He only trailed Sterling Shepard in catch percentage and led the division’s receivers in yards per target (8.82) and receiving DVOA (16.6%). Who saw that coming? I know I didn’t.
Week 5 proved pivotal for the Giants receivers and their passing game
Something else that couldn’t have been easily predicted was the Giants, who received the second most votes in our July poll (27%), losing three of their receivers, including both starting outside receivers, to season-ending injuries all in one game.
New York was actually leading the division in passing yards through the first four weeks of the year, before they lost Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris to injuries in Week 5.
Instead of Beckham and Marshall, it was Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis, who led the Giants’ wideout corps.
The Giants got the fewest receptions, yards and touchdowns from the position enroute to a lowly 3-13 final record.
Somehow, though, Eli Manning and the Giants still finished with over 300 more passing yards than the Dallas Cowboys did.
Cowboys bring up the rear
Dez Bryant led division receivers in targets (132), receptions (69), receiving yards (838) and first downs (44), but that wasn’t nearly enough to carry the Cowboys who didn’t get much from the rest of their WR corps (114 receptions, 1,273 yards and 7 touchdowns total).
The All-NFC East lineup of receivers
Bryant’s raw totals earn him a spot in my All-NFC East starting lineup with Alshon Jeffrey and Jamison Crowder.
Agholor just missed beating out Crowder for the slot role, because he didn’t produce as much with more opportunities. I won’t quibble with anyone who would go the other way on this decision, though.
Agholor joins Sterling Shepard and Ryan Grant on the bench of this hypothetical 2017 All-Division team.
Where will the Alex Smith-led Redskins end up in the division in Total Passing Yards for 2018?
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Of these Redskins CURRENTLY signed to a 2018 contract will have the most receiving yards in 2018?
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No player in the NFC East eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in 2017 (after the Redskins had two players on one team do it in 2016). How many NFC East players will have 1,000 or more receiving yards in 2018?
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none, same as 2017
5 or more
Which NFC East team will be the first to select a wide receiver in the 2018 draft?
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