Could go in a couple different directions here but picking Sammie Coates for my X Factor in Sunday’s showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.
I was going to dedicate an entire article to it but Matthew Marczi outlined things better than I could earlier this week. Coates is far from a complete receiver but is doing his best Martavis Bryant impersonation. The sample size is small, just four catches, but it’s enough to qualify him for the yards per reception category.
An area he’s blowing away the competition. On those four catches, Coates is averaging 38.3 yards per catch. His reception yardage: 42, 14, 44, and 53. That’s a “short” of 14 yards. It’s more than 12 yards ahead of his closest competition, Tyrell Williams’ 26.4 average.
Of course, don’t expect that number to hold serve or be remotely close to his figure by season’s end. The career record for single season average is a whopping 32.6, which, yes, Coates exceeds, but only once since the turn of the century has a receiver finished in the top 44 all-time list. That was Devery Henderson’s 24.8 mark in 2008.
Per Pro Football Focus, Coates is the head-and-shoulders leader in depth per target.
Average depth of target leaders
Sammie Coates, PIT 34.3
Kenny Stills, MIA 27.1
Phillip Dorsett, IND 22.9
Corey Coleman, CLE 21.5
min 5 tgts
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 24, 2016
We pointed out the Eagles problems keeping things in front of them, tied for the fourth most in the league with three completions of 40+ yards. Their top cornerback Leodis McKelvin has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, inserting 7th round rookie Jalen Mills into the lineup as a base corner. Last week, he gave up this 49 yard completion to Alshon Jeffrey and what would’ve been a touchdown had it not been underthrown.
You can see the play, with Jeffrey’s double-move that got the rookie to bite, below.
If Coates can play with full effort and to his size – two areas he has yet to show consistency in – he should be able to take advantage of a guy like Mills all the same. Mills, who I watched coming out of LSU, is at his best driving downhill on underneath routes, and struggles when asked to flip his hips and turn and run.
The Steelers love chunk plays. And the Eagles are ripe for the picking. If they can pull a couple of those off, the offense will hum. And when it hums, they score, and Pittsburgh wins.