I was reading a post at Pro Football Focus regarding wide receivers and dropped passes, and was stunned by one of the names I saw on the list as being among wideouts with the highest percentage of drops in 2010. Steve Smith of the New York Giants had the 15th-worst ratio of drops to catchable passes in the NFL, missing six of 54 catchable balls, meaning he dropped 11.11 percent of passes judged catchable.
We all know how valuable Smith has been to quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants offense. While setting a franchise single-season record of 107 receptions in 2009 Smith was thrown at 151 times and dropped only six balls. No stats on how many of those 151 passes were judged 'catchable.' In 2008 he dropped seven balls while being thrown at 80 times. So, he seemingly had on off year in terms of catching the ball a season ago.
Throw in 11 drops by tight end Kevin Boss -- who muffed 16.6 percent of the balls thrown at him -- and you see that two of the Giants most reliable pass-catching targets did not play up to their standards. I know how much time Smith missed to injuries, but the drop numbers indicate his play was not as crisp in 2010 even when he was healthy.
You know who did have a great season in terms of drop percentage? Mario Manningham. He dropped just three of 63 catchable balls, placing him seventh-best in the league at 4.76 percent. You don't always think of Manningham as a beacon of reliability, but he was in 2010.
I dug a little deeper into these numbers. In all, Giants wide receivers and tight ends were thrown at 422 times in 2010, acorrding to PFF. They dropped 32 balls, or 7.6 percent of what was thrown at them. No stats on how many of those were catchable overall. That indicates that one of every 13 balls Manning threw to a wide receiver or tight end was dropped. That seems like too many. Add the 42 turnovers to the 32 drops and it's easy to see where the Giant offense came up short a season ago.