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Contextualizing James Washington’s College 3rd Down Targets In 2016 & 2017

While drilling down into the college stats registered by new Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington, the team’s second-round draft pick this year, I noticed that only 36 of his 225 total receptions over the span of four seasons at Oklahoma State came on third downs and that low amount caught me by surprise. Because of that umber sticking out like a sore thumb, I decided to contextualize Washington’s third down pass targets over the course of the last two seasons in order to see if anything jumped out at me.

As you can see in the table below, Washington was targeted a total of 44 times on third downs over the course of his last two seasons at Oklahoma State. His 20 total receptions during those two seasons means he only had a 45.5% reception percentage and that’s a little alarming being as his quarterback Mason Rudolph posted some nice third down passing statistics during his college career. In fact, in 2016 and 2017 combined, Rudolph completed 57.8% of all third down pass attempts for an NCAA passer rating of 157.0. However, his passer rating was 138.0 on third downs when targeting Washington those two seasons.

After going through the tape of these 44 targets to Washington, which are all charted and linked to below, it became evident that quite a few of the 24 failed third down connections between Rudolph and Washington were a result of poor throws by the quarterback. In fact, quite a few times Rudolph was too high to Washington. You could also probably argue that in total, Washington is to blame for failing to make the catch on six of these failed attempts to Washington. It’s also worth pointing out that Washington probably made just as many combative catches on these 44 third down targets over the course of the last two seasons. There were also a few imcompletions where Rudolph and Washington didn’t appear to be on the same page with each other.

For the most part, and as we saw during our previous big play breakdowns of Washington, the wide receiver lined up on the right side of the formation. As for the kinds of routes that Washington mostly ran during these 44 plays, there were quite a few up deep gos, posts and quick slants. There were also a few quick screens. You really don’t see any short underneath crossers.

Of the 406 yards receiving that Washington registered on these 20 receptions, which by the way averages out to a stellar 20.3 yards per catch, 126 of them came after the catch, by my observations. That an average YAC of 6.3 yards, which is also stellar.

One other thing that stuck out to me while compiling this data is the fact that Washington was targeted just five times behind the first down marker. In short, Rudolph mostly targeted Washington past the chains and that’s a great sign when it comes to the quarterback’s play on third downs.

OPP YEAR PLAY BY PLAY QRT DWN DIST LOS RES YDS PDIST YAC CONTEXT
SELA 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 1 3 3 OKST 48 INC 0 7 0 Slant pass slightly behind dropped
SELA 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 7 SELA 15 INC 0 17 0 Miscommunication corner EZ throw
CMU 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 5 CMU 36 INC 0 32 0 Under-thrown right sideline
PIT 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 43 yds 1 3 5 OKST 30 C 43 40 3 Contested catch deep pass right sideline
PIT 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 50 yds 2 3 10 OKST 20 C 50 43 7 Nice deep pass and catch down right side
PIT 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 4 OKST 43 INC 0 15 0 Nice post route pass dropped
PIT 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 3 3 15 OKST 20 INC 0 34 0 Deep right side pass caught OOB
BAY 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 13 yds 3 3 9 BAY 48 C 13 10 3 Comeback right side
TEX 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 4 yds 1 3 1 TEX 34 C 4 -1 5 Screen pass right side
TEX 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 54 yds for a TD 1 3 9 OKST 46 C 54 16 38 MOF catch and broken tackles
ISU 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 24 yds 1 3 9 OKST 26 C 24 22 2 Back shoulder deep right side contested catch
ISU 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 6 OKST 28 INC 0 21 0 Contested right side
ISU 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 13 yds 2 3 2 OKST 33 C 13 9 4 High throw and nice catch
ISU 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 6 MID 50 INC 0 12 0 Throw got away from QB uncatchable right side
KAN 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 4 3 7 KU 7 INC 0 16 0 Slightly behind post route should have been caught
WV 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 33 yds 1 3 2 OKST 43 C 33 9 24 Nice slant route pass and great YAC
WV 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 1 3 12 WVU 16 INC 0 30 0 Overthrown out of end done
WV 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 7 yds 2 3 4 WVU 30 C 7 6 1 Quick slant, nice pass, nice contested catch
WV 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 3 3 2 WVU 42 INC 0 23 0 Off outside hand deep right side tight coverage
KSU 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 1 3 1 KSU 37 INC 0 7 0 High throw
KSU 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 5 yds 2 3 1 OKST 41 C 5 -1 6 Quick WR screen
TTU 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 22 yds 3 3 6 TTU 39 C 22 20 2 Nice back shoulder throw and catch
TCU 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 7 TCU INC 0 8 0 High throw, maybe should have been caught
TCU 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 3 yds 2 3 4 TCU 8 C 3 3 0 Out-breaking rought
OK 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 8 OKST 33 INC 0 6 0 Short throw under duress
OK 2016 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 4 3 4 OKLA 37 INC 0 9 0 Very high throw and uncatchable
COL 2016 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 9 yds 3 3 7 OKST 32 C 9 9 0 Quick out-breaking route
PIT 2017 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 23 yds 2 3 1 OKST 27 C 23 10 13 Nice slant route pass contested catch and great YAC
PIT 2017 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 31 yds 2 3 7 PITT 47 C 31 29 2 Great bucket throw deep right side and better catch
TCU 2017 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 13 yds 4 3 10 OKST 35 C 13 13 0 MOF throw and catch
TTU 2017 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 9 yds 1 3 6 TTU 49 C 9 8 1 Nice slant throw and catch
TTU 2017 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 20 yds 4 3 7 OKST 44 C 20 19 1 Tight window throw
TEX 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 1 3 9 OKST 39 INC 0 10 0 High throw tight coverage
WVU 2017 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 13 yds for a TD 1 3 5 WVU 13 C 13 0 13 WR screen to left side for TD
WVU 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 9 OKST 40 INC 0 14 0 Nice PBU
WVU 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 3 3 9 WVU 32 INC 0 13 0 Pass tipped second level and uncatchable
WVU 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 3 3 2 OKST 48 INC 0 2 0 Left side WR screen thrown slightly ahead
OK 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 1 3 6 OKST 40 INC 0 10 0 High and outside to right
KSU 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 1 3 6 OKST 37 INC 0 44 0 Overthrown deep right side double coverage
KSU 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 9 OKST 29 INC 0 15 0 Little high but catchable MOF
KSU 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 3 3 10 KSU 49 INC 0 12 0 Wide right throw & maybe miscommunication
KSU 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 3 3 10 OKST 25 INC 0 17 0 Behind WR
KAN 2017 M.Rudolph pass complete to J.Washington for 17 yds 2 3 7 OKST 36 C 17 16 1 MOF pitch and catch
VT 2017 M.Rudolph pass incomplete to J.Washington 2 3 8 OKST 27 INC 0 20 0 Wide right and maybe miscommunication
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