The Baldwin Effect? … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

How much of an impact will Jonathan Baldwin have on the Chiefs 2011 offense?

History tells us the Baldwin effect will be limited. Rookie wide receivers have the toughest time making a production mark on NFL offenses, maybe tougher than any other position save quarterback.

Pull back the numbers on rookie wide receivers and their ability to produce in the National Football League and it’s not pretty. Every situation has different circumstances that effect a player’s baptism to pro football, so it would be folly to say that results are pre-determined based on position on the field or position in the draft.

And, while history is re-written on an everyday basis, it doesn’t happen very often with rookie wide receivers and their productive impact.

EXHIBIT #1

Since the AFL-NFL’s first combined draft in 1967, there have been 137 wide receivers selected in the first round. Five of those 137 first-round WRs were able to top 1,000 receiving yards in their rookie seasons. That’s 3.7 percent that were able to reach that long-time standard for production.

EXHIBIT #2

In the last five NFL Drafts (2006-2010) there were 15 wide receivers selected in the first round. None topped 1,000 receiving yards as rookies. The closest first-year receiver to that mark in the last five years was Dwayne Bowe, who had 995 yards on 70 catches in the 2007 season for the Chiefs. That group averaged 39 catches for 546.3 yards. That’s 0 percent of the first-rounders.

EXHIBIT #3

Since the AFL joined the pro football world in 1960, there have been only 12 rookie wide receivers that topped 1,000 receiving yards. That’s less than one-half of one-half of one percent of all rookie wide receivers that passed through the AFL and NFL over the last 51 seasons.

With one exception among those 12 that topped 1,000 yards, they were their team’s leading receiver that season. The only one that was not was Ernest Givins in 1986, when he joined the run-and-shoot offense of the Oilers and where Drew Hill was Houston’s leader in receiving yardage.

The Chiefs 2011 offense should have Bowe and second-year TE Tony Moeaki on the field, making the chances slim that Baldwin becomes Matt Cassel’s most productive and/or popular receiver as a rookie.

Those are all the reasons why Baldwin won’t make a big splash in his first season. But there are factors that could change the landscape. Injury, to Bowe or Moeaki or both could force Baldwin into a bigger role in the ’11 offense. Forces within games and the offense and defense could push the passing game into being a bigger factor in the offense. Example: with a tougher schedule in ’11, the Chiefs may find themselves trailing in the second half more often than last year.

Last year in 17 games, the Chiefs offense ran 1,103 plays that were split 52 percent running plays and 48 percent passing. One of the reasons they ran as often as they did was the fact they were seldom behind on the scoreboard. Only four times in 17 games did the Chiefs begin the fourth quarter with a significant deficit – at Denver, at San Diego, along with Oakland and Baltimore at Arrowhead Stadium. Those occasions are normally times when the passing game throws up a lot of numbers. In those four games, they had 56 passing plays in the fourth quarter. On the season they had 528 passing plays. That was 11 percent of the passing plays in one percent of the quarters played on the season (4 fourth quarters out of 70 total quarters.)

Exhibit #1 and #3

Rookie Wide Receivers w/1,000 Receiving Yards

 Yards

 Receiver

 Season

 Team  College

 Draft

 Lead Rec.Y/N

 Team Record

 Playoffs Y/N

1,473

Bill Groman

1960

Oilers Heidelberg

FA

Y

10-4

Y*

1,377

Anquan Boldin

2003

Cardinals Florida State

2/54

Y

4-12

N

1,313

Randy Moss

1998

Vikings Marshall

1/21

Y

15-1

Y

1,193

Michael Clayton

2004

Buccaneers LSU

1/15

Y

5-11

N

1,132

Terry Glenn

1996

Patriots Ohio State

1/7

Y

11-5

Y**

1,131

Billy Brooks

1986

Colts Boston Univ.

4/86

Y

3-13

N

1,062

Ernest Givins

1986

Oilers Louisville

2/34

N

5-11

N

1,039

Joey Galloway

1995

Seahawks Ohio State

1/8

Y

8-8

N

1,038

Marques Colston

2006

Saints Hofstra

7/252

Y

10-6

Y

1,009

Cris Collinsworth

1981

Bengals Florida

2/37

Y

12-4

Y**

1,003

Bob Hayes

1965

Cowboys Florida A&M

7/88

Y

7-7

N

1,001

John Jefferson

1978

Chargers Arizona State

1/14

Y

9-7

N

*-League champions;  **-lost in championship game.

Exhibit #2
First-round wide receivers rookie production 2006-2010

YEAR

R

#

Receiver

Team

College

G/S

Rec.

Yards

TD

2010

1

22

Demaryius Thomas

Broncos

Georgia Tech

10/2

22

283

2

 

1

24

Dez Bryant

Cowboys

Oklahoma State

12/2

45

561

6

2009

1

7

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Raiders

Maryland

11/11

9

124

1

 

1

10

Michael Crabtree

49ers

Texas Tech

11/11

48

625

2

 

1

19

Jeremy Maclin

Eagles

Missouri

15/13

55

762

4

 

1

22

Percy Harvin

Vikings

Florida

15/8

60

790

6

 

1

29

Hakeem Nicks

Giants

North Carolina

14/6

47

790

6

 

1

30

Kenny Britt

Titans

Rutgers

16/6

42

701

3

2007

1

2

Calvin Johnson

Lions

Georgia Tech

15/10

48

756

4

 

1

9

Ted Ginn Jr.

Dolphins

Ohio State

16/9

24

230

1

 

1

23

Dwayne Bowe

Chiefs

Louisiana State

16/15

70

995

5

 

1

27

Robert Meachem

Saints

Tennessee

14/3

12

289

3

 

1

30

Craig Davis

Chargers

Louisiana State

14/1

20

188

1

 

1

32

Anthony Gonzalez

Colts

Ohio State

13/9

37

576

3

2006

1

25

Santonio Holmes

Steelers

Ohio State

16/4

49

824

2


15 Responses to “The Baldwin Effect? … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 12, 2011  - Chris says:

    I agree with the premise Bob but I think Baldwin will have a big effect on the offense because defenses will have to respect him and it will help open up the rest of the field.


  • May 12, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    I hope Balwin’s presence will affect Bowe’s competitive juices.


  • May 12, 2011  - GB says:

    The player who Baldwin reminds me of is Hakeem Nicks, and I would be very happy if he had similar numbers as a rookie.


  • May 12, 2011  - St. Paul 1 says:

    Interesting post by Bob as usual, but I think the premise is flawed. The question is not whether Baldwin will reach 1,000 yards, but rather how much better will he be than the #2 receiver from 2010.

    Even more so, given that unless Baldwin is the second coming of Randy Moss, Bowe undoubtedly will continue to be the #1 target. Let’s face it, it’s pretty rare that the #2 receiver gets over 1,000 yards. (I’ll be ecstatic if Bowe and Baldwin both have 1,000+ yard seasons, but not holding my breath)

    I wouldn’t disagree it’s unlikely he’ll have a huge impact (there aren’t that many veteran receivers in the league who can be considered true game changers), but using the 1,000 yard benchmark almost guarantees it.


  • May 12, 2011  - SG says:

    Chris is right on point. Does our total offense get more 1st downs on average per game, more average total offensive points per game?

    One other thing – how many game changing plays does he make? Dexter McCluster didn’t have a huge impact on the season, but I doubt anyone can successfully argue that his touchdown return in that 1st game against the Chargers didn’t have a huge impact on that game.


  • May 12, 2011  - John says:

    Bob,

    I would like to imagine how many yards Bowe would have had his rookie season if the Chiefs hadn’t also had the best pass-catching TE in the history of the league (Tony hauled in 99 catches for 1172 yards in 2007)


  • May 12, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    Dear Bob; Are there any satistics on how many times last year Baldwin was thrown to and how many he “dropped”???? Remember when the Chiefs went thru a few games last year where everybody had a case of the “dropsies”??? It would just be interesting to know if he has hands of glue or hands of oil.


  • May 12, 2011  - TimR says:

    All he has to do is do an adequate job this year & it will open up a lot more opportunities for Bowe & Moeaki. Having 2 large targets might force people to adjust there coverage. We can now create larger “throwing windows” because we can put 3 pretty tall guys out there in 3 receiver sets: Bowe, Baldwin & Tucker. Don’t forget Urban isn’t small either. This is what San Diego does…play over the top of people with larger “throwing windows”.


  • May 12, 2011  - vincent says:

    If you look at the production of our receivers not named Bowe, we need to have someone to take double teams away from Bowe. Even if Baldwin has between 35 and 40 catches and either Urban, Tucker or a free agent catches 20-30 balls, the field will be stretched. Baldwin will also be a red zone threat that the other team has to pay attention to.


  • May 13, 2011  - cowboyChief says:

    Baldwin doesn’t have to hit 1,000 yards! But how about 70 catches and 995 yards, Bowe’s rookie totals. I think I would be quite happy with that.


  • May 13, 2011  - PAChiefsFan says:

    I think with defenses knowing they need to shut Bowe down that will give Cassel a reason to look Baldwin’s way. He may have more opportunities to be productive than we think.


  • May 14, 2011  - ED says:

    I’m with Chris from a numbers standpoint he may not have a huge effect but its the intangibles he’s going to bring where he’ll have a huge effect. A guy that big and fast playing opposite of Dwayne Bowe defense are going to have nightmares about loading the box on Charles or bringing double coverage on Bowe. This is another threat they would have to worry about. If he can stay healthy I can see his presence elevating our offense into top 5 offense in the league. With all the new toys pressurs falls back on Matt to deliver another pro-bowl season, which I think he will.


  • May 14, 2011  - Tokyo Tim says:

    I think that the effect of Baldwin will be to balance out the offense and complete the roster overhaul the Chiefs have done over the last several years via the draft. I think the Chiefs will probably throw the ball about 300 times this season and imagine it will be about 75 to Bowe, 60 to Moeaki, 50 to Charles, 35 to Dexter McCluster/slot rec, 20 to FB, 10 to blocking TE, and remainder of about 50 to Baldwin. The Chiefs offense reminds me of the 1991-1994 period for the Dallas Cowboys when they finally put all of the pieces together for their roster and saw multiple pro bowlers in those years from Michael Irvin, Jay Novacek, Emmitt Smith, Daryl Johnston, and Troy Aikman. I think Baldwin is going to be like the addition of Alvin Harper to that group- ie, a big fast downfield threat with good hops. Depending on how talented Baldwin is, he could probably eventually get more catches relative to the #1 receiver. The 1991 Cowboys catches were Irvin 93, Novacek 59, Smith 49, Johnston 28, Harper 20 and Kelvin Martin 16. By 1994 those became Irvin 79, Novacek 47, Smith 50, Johnston 44, Harper 33 (24.9 yards per catch with 8 TD), and Kelvin Williams 13. I think the balace of those Cowboy teams is what Pioli is trying to achieve with the Chiefs offense. They have come long way since the last two years with Gonzales and Larry Johnson as the primary offensive weapons in 06 and 07 with not many other real offensive threats ofther than Bowe as a rookie in 07. In 2010, the Chiefs catches were Bowe 72, Moeaki 47, Charles 45, McCluster 21, Castille/Cox 14, and Chambers 22. In Tony Gs last few years, he had about 100 catches from a tight end.


  • May 14, 2011  - Tokyo Tim says:

    Just to slightly modify, I would expect about 300 total team cathches next season (imcompletions and drops not included). Also, Baldwin likely a little less than 50 catches depending on productivity of Urban, Tucker and other WR, and as Bob noted, increased by the possiblity of injury/availability of Bowe and Moeaki.


  • May 17, 2011  - tom says:

    This is a paradox of a team. IF baldwin doesnt have great stats Bowes stats should be off the hook. But I would guess after last year bowe should see many double teams leaving baldwin pretty much open. With his height and leaping ability, all he needs to do is catch the ball. On a lot of teams he might struggle, but the Chiefs were built to bring a guy like him in. He will be the rookie MVP this year, adn yes there willb e a playoff win.




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