The League

Jon DeNunzio
Sports Editor

Jon DeNunzio

A Sports Editor and lead blogger for Playback.

Bills Sign Declining Star


This may seem somewhat disingenuous coming from one of the people who edits The League and helped come up with this week's T.O.-focused question, but I'll say it anyway: Everyone's making too big a deal over Terrell Owens.

He may help the Bills get a little better -- or contribute to them becoming fractious and a lot worse -- but really, the upside is not that high. Why? The 35-year-old Owens is not the player you remember torching defenses in years past.

Without looking at the numbers, you know this if you watched the Cowboys last season. Didn't it seem like he came up small in all the big situations -- either he wasn't open or he dropped the ball?

And whaddya know, if you look at the numbers in a serious way -- like our friends at Football Outsiders do -- they back that up. Here's an excerpt from Bill Barnwell's analysis on F.O. this week (Headline: "Is T.O. Done?" -- one we considered using, as well):

If you look at Owens' traditional statistics from 2008, the figures aren't all that bad. He accrued 1,052 yards and ten touchdowns, figures that were 12th and ninth in the league amongst all wide receivers, respectively.
However, if you're thinking that those numbers don't jibe with how Owens really played and what it meant to the team, you're right. Owens only had two 100-yard games all season, with a 213-yard performance against a mediocre 49ers' pass defense joined by 103 meaningless yards in the season-ending disaster against the Eagles. He only had three other games above 80 yards, two of which came against the woeful pass defenses of Seattle and Cleveland.
There was also a noticeable dropoff in other metrics as well. Despite being thrown virtually the same amount of passes (140 in 2008 as opposed to 141 in 2007), Owens saw his first downs drop from 69 to 38. His catch rate went down from 57 percent to 49 percent.

Using Football Outsiders' DYAR stat (which "performance against the league average on a cumulative basis after adjusting for down, distance, opponent, and situation"), Owens was ranked No. 2 in the league at wide receiver in 2007. In 2008, he fell to 46.

I understand why newspapers, television outfits, talk radio blowhards and relatively new Web panel discussion platforms were all about T.O. this past week: He's one of the game's all-time greats and a celebrity who also has a knack for being a knucklehead on (and reportedly off) camera.

But if I had to predict, I'd say there's a good chance he's done truly scaring NFL defenses -- and that makes it hard to imagine him turning the Bills into a contender.

By Jon DeNunzio  |  March 7, 2009; 10:13 PM ET  | Category:  Buffalo Bills , Dallas Cowboys Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Help, Hype, Hurt? | Next: Smart Move, Bills

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