Sunday, November 16, 2014

Where was this the last couple years?

If you want to shake your head in wonderment (and a little nausea), read this article (with video highlights) posted on the Denver Broncos' website.

Titled, "Emmanuel Sanders on the Art of the Spectacular Catch," it gushes about how wonderful Sanders has been this year for the Broncos.

The article pronounces, "Sanders has secured 62 of 63 catchable passes this season (according to Pro Football Focus), good for the second-lowest drop rate (1.59 percent) of any receiver with at least 50 targets. He has at least 14 more receptions than any player who PFF has not credited with a drop this season."

Emmanuel Sanders, dropping the ball in Baltimore
Anybody who watched Sanders with the Steelers last year remembers his maddening propensity to come up short in clutch situations. He had key drops in numerous games, starting with the season opener vs. Tennessee, when he dropped two perfectly thrown long passes, and -- most infuriatingly -- in the end zone against Baltimore in a must-win game late in the season. He makes that catch, the Steelers make the playoffs. He was not clutch for the Steelers.

Sanders's 62 receptions this year puts him close to last year's total of 67 for the Steelers. He has six touchdowns. His designated primary replacement, Marcus Wheaton, has 35 receptions so far this year, and two touchdowns.

Still, Sanders's performance for the Steelers last year left a lot to be desired. His drops last year came at crucial times -- remember the dropped two-point conversion on Thanksgiving night vs. Baltimore? ... the nail-in-the-coffin loss when he choked repeatedly, dropping several passes, as noted the next day on this blog:
"Sanders topped his first-quarter drop of a long pass right on the numbers by failing to catch another long pass right on the numbers, with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter and looking stupid doing it. Then, Sanders bungled the two-point conversion that would have tied the game. 
If the definition of "clutch" is to thrive and get better in the bigger moments, Sanders ain't clutch."
Emmanuel Sanders, after the infamous
dropped two-point conversion vs. Baltimore.
This point was reiterated over at Behind the Steel Curtain:
"Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders choked throughout the game, dropping several passes, including a two-point conversion with a minute and change left on the clock that would have tied the game."
For all his shortcomings, Sanders was slippery, showed some flash on occasion and came up with enough catches to end up with 67 receptions in 2013 for a pedestrian 11-yards-per catch average (740 yards), a long catch of 55 yards for a TD, six touchdowns, 12 catches of 20 yards or more, three catches of 40 yards-plus. He had 10 kick returns for a very decent 28.6 yard average, with the longest return being 46 yards.

Sanders is gone, now, of course, and lighting it up for the Broncos. But, as Scott Brown at ESPN noted before the last game of the 2013 season, "Sanders' well-documented drops have raised questions about his consistency, and his high opinion of his skills will price him out of the Steelers' range if another team agrees with him."

While Sanders is doing well this year, Steeler Nation has to ask, "Where was this sort of consistency and reliability last year?"

No comments: