The Rundown: Mr. Edwards? Let Me Introduce You to Your Broom.

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“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.”
-Goethe

Steve Politi connects with someone who knows Braylon Edwards pretty well, and who voiced his concern on Edwards’ continuing wrap as a guy who drops passes on the reg.

He was not an angry Jets fan, or a frustrated talk-radio host, or even Brian Schottenheimer disguising his voice. This was someone with a much more personal connection to the Jets receiver.

His dad.

“Am I worried about him getting a reputation for dropping the football?” Stan Edwards asked this week from suburban Detroit. “No. Because let’s be honest – he’s earned it.”

As a preamble, no matter what his ability to catch a ball is, as the team is currently constituted, I do believe that this is a better team with Braylon Edwards than without. The offense can do things that teams haven’t feared from the Jets for a long time.

While we’re glad that Edwards feels like he’s put some issues behind him with his no contest plea in Cleveland on Tuesday, and said as much to the press yesterday, he feels like this will help to clear his mind and get the drop issue settled. We’ll see.

“It clears me,” Edwards said. “It would’ve been a distraction if there was a trial. Now it’s over and I can concentrate 100% on football. I’m able to fully step out of Cleveland.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Edwards has six drops (the most of any starting receiver in the AFC playoffs). Against the Bengals, Edwards should’ve made a 41-yard touchdown catch, but he dropped the pass in the end zone. He acknowledged that he’s “thinking too much,” and he promised to be mentally right before Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff in San Diego.

“It’s not the player I am,” he said, recalling last week’s drop. “It wouldn’t bother me if I was an average player, but that’s not the kind of guy I am. It bothers me.”

In 13 games with the Jets, he’d had only one 100-yard receiving day, and that came in the Week 15 loss to the Falcons. He attributed the relatively low production to a lack of opportunities.

“It’s hard to (have big games) when you’re getting two passes a game,” he said. “I’m not complaining because we’re winning, but … when it calls for them to throw me the ball, Jets fans will get to see that. They’ll get to see that Braylon … when it’s called upon.”

Actually, Edwards was targeted 94 times in the regular season, with 45 receptions … a 47% catch rate. That’s the third-lowest percentage of the wide receivers remaining in the playoffs, according to Elias.

The problem is that he’s been called upon, and we’ve had spotty results. His amazing catches in the Dolphins games along with some of his first down plays this year have shown me his ability is off the charts. Now, we will have no proof that this looming court case will get his mind right until this Sunday should he suddenly go 7/8 in targets to receptions. So color us dubious until then.

First let’s talk about the targets per week. Here’s Sanchez’s targets to Edwards broken down week by week since he was acquired.

Edwards Targets / Catches by Week

Wk 5: 9 / 5
Wk 6: 9 / 3
Wk 7: 2 / 1
Wk 8: 8 / 4
Wk 9: BYE
Wk 10: 5 / 3
Wk 11: 5 / 1
Wk 12: 4 / 3
Wk 13: 6 / 3
Wk 14: 5 / 3
Wk 15: 7 / 5
Wk 16: 5 / 2
Wk 17: 7 / 2
Wildcard: 4 / 2

We all knew that Sanchez was locking on Edwards much more in the early part of the season than he has done since the bye, so I think that’s progress for Sanchez. In some ways, having Edwards as a binkie for Sanchez might have caused some of the regression that we saw, but it wasn’t the only factor. While we consider the lower targets progress, Edwards might not agree.

The truth of the matter is that with a 47% catch rate, and drops like he had in Toronto and last week, only proves why he’s seen the ball less than he did when he first game on board. To whom much is given, much is required. Edwards needs to sweep his own stoop, as Geothe might say.

Sure, the Jets are trying to get the ball to Edwards, and calling plays for him, but until he gets that catch rate up to a respectable figure, the team can’t afford to “waste” plays on him, it only proves to defenses that putting him in man or with little help over the top was the right call. Edwards has never been a guy to catch the ball at an impressive target to reception rate during his career, and I’ll gladly take the good with his bad.

But for him to try and swear off drops and chide the press for asking him about it, like he did earlier this season, is commendable, but he’s not backing it up, so until he does, he’s going to be asked about it, again and again and again.

A guy with a mediocre or worse catch rate is exactly who Edwards has been during his NFL career. To put it lightly, a 47% catch rate for a receiver is not good, especially for a starter. It’s an interesting dichotomy though, some top guys who would be considered top talents (Calvin Johnson, Roy Williams., Antonio Bryant) had terrible years in terms of catch rates right in lockstep with Edwards. For a receiver to have a good year in terms of catch rate, a mid-60s percentage would be a great goal, but for Edwards and what he’s asked to do, that’s an unlikely total. Obviously, those oftentimes are possession style receivers, who get the high percentage passes … still if Edwards was in the mid to high 50s, he’d be an assassin.

To be fair, I do think that you have to factor in who’s throwing the ball. Last year Cotch caught at a 64% rate, while this year he was down at a career low with a 59% rate since becoming a starter. I think that Edwards could have a very strong year in 2010 if he does comes back to the Jets and continues to work with Sanchez.

But Edwards has an issue, and if he wants elite money, then he needs to play like an elite player and that starts with catching the ball when it does come his way. So when it comes to what the team should do in the offseason with him, I do think they need to get a “fair” contract, but it’s clear that they’re going to have to pony up a little more than the team would like to, to keep him.

Braylon Edwards Career Catch Rates

2009 – 47%
2008 – 40%
2007 – 52%
2006 – 49%
2005 – 54%

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJq1hdPk74Y

(video via Toni Monkovic at Fifth Down)