Route Breakdown: Go Routes
Gordon McGuinness looks at the 2014 Go Route data to see which receivers ran the route most often and which did the most damage with it.
Route Breakdown: Go Routes
In an effort to add to the reams of data that we already collect at PFF, we took the passing game to a whole new level in 2013.
Instead of just tracking each receiver’s targeted route, we went ahead and charted every route run on every pass play in the NFL and continued this work in 2014. We can now tell you how often each receiver ran a particular route, at which depth he ran it, and whether or not he was targeted.
This data becomes quite useful when analyzing each receiver’s role, but it’s also handy when determining passing concepts for each team. The ante was upped further this past season as we added exact WR splits as well as shifts in motions to our charting data. We now have the data to break down how often teams run their favorite plays, and the corresponding tendencies that come with them.
How often did Peyton Manning run his staple “levels” concept? How often did Chip Kelly have a built in bubble screen for his slot receivers? Which team’s receivers run the deepest routes? This is the type of data that can only be found in the PFF database, and it’s a big reason why NFL teams are adding our information into their weekly scouting reports.
While much of this data remains exclusive for NFL team usage, we’re pulling back the curtain to show some of the passing game trends, starting on a route-by-route basis.
Here’s a look at the slant route.
Our chart routing is extremely detailed, but for the sake of this exercise, routes will be sorted into the basic families above. So while we can tell you if a wide receiver’s “go” route had an inside or an outside release, or if it was run up the seam or with a back shoulder throw, all of these unique routes will be lumped into the “go” route category for simplicity sake.
The Go Route
The go route is fairly self explanatory, and is the main route where receivers and quarterbacks connect on big plays downfield, with the receiver generally bursting straight ahead. The route itself has several variations however, and not all on these need to be routes that are run 20-30 yards downfield. Back shoulder throws and fades, for example, are throws which can go for as little as one yard if thrown from the one yard line and can make life very difficult for opposing defensive backs, particularly against physical receivers.
– With 215 routes run by Terrance Williams, and 200 by Dez Bryant, go routes were a staple of the Cowboys’ offense in 2014, they were two of only three players to run 200 or more of this particular route.
– Another interesting note about the Cowboys use of go routes is how they used tight end Gavin Escobar. With 64 go routes run, that made up 44.4% of his total, the third highest percentage in the league, and most for a tight end.
– The highest percentage of go routes run however, belongs to James Wright. Despite running a go on 47.9% of his routes however, Wright had just one reception from the 57 routes he ran in 2014.
– He ranked tied for 32nd with 149 go routes run, and 49th in the percentage of his route tree they made up, but no player saw more targets on than Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans at 45.
– Evans was one of three rookies to crack the top 10 in targets on go routes, with Kelvin Benjamin seeing 43 targets, and Odell Beckham Jr., 35.
– With Vincent Jackson seeing 35 targets too, the Bucs threw to their top two receivers on 80 occasions in 2014, the best mark for a duo last season.
– Evans turned his targets into leading all players in yards and receptions on go routes too, with 507 yards on 20 receptions.
– Jordy Nelson may have only ranked ninth with 191 routes run, but he made the most of them, with the second most yards at 471.
– Peyton Manning struggled in the second half of 2014, but he and Demaryius Thomas still connected for 370 yards, the seventh most on this particular route in the league.
Yards per Route Run
– Perhaps a sign of things to come as his role in the Steelers’ offense grows, Martavis Bryant picked up a whopping 3.88 YPRR on go routes in 2014, the best mark in the league.
– He might not have been able to crack the top spot, but Evans once again stood out here, coming in second at 3.40.
– Two tight ends were in the top four here, with Rob Gronkowski and Jared Cook picking up 3.14 and 2.90 YPRR respectively.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.