Jacksonville Jaguars Advanced Stat of the Week: Cecil Shorts Stands Alone

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistMarch 1, 2013

Shorts ran away from the competition (and the other Jaguars).
Shorts ran away from the competition (and the other Jaguars).Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

For the 2012 Jaguars, there was Cecil Shorts, and then there was everyone else.

While no one needs a fancy stat to tell them Shorts was fantastic, this week's advanced stat of the week helps put in perspective just how good he was.

Yards per target (YPT) is a player-specific derivative of the single most important stat in football: yards per attempt (YPA). There is no number more important for evaluating an offense or a defense than measuring yards per attempt.

YPT is just YPA isolated to a particular wide receiver. To calculate it, simply divide a player's receiving yards by his total number of "targets." As I discussed when looking at catch rate, knowing how often a player was thrown to matters when evaluating his overall play.

It's not always possible to get a perfect look at YPT, as we can't always tell for sure who a quarterback was targeting on a play. While we know if a pass is attempted, we can only guess at who it is intended for. Obviously, batted passes often have no intended target associated with them.

Still, looking at how many yards are gained every time a wideout is targeted by the quarterback, we can get a snapshot of his effectiveness in getting open downfield.

Shorts nearly had a 1,000-yard season before head injuries cut short his campaign, so he's anything but a secret in Jacksonville.

Still, because of his missed time, Justin Blackmon nearly caught him for the team lead in receiving yards, finishing with 865 on the year.

When you compare their YPT, however, the gap between them stands out. On average, Shorts gained 9.3 yards when targeted. This ranks among the better marks in the league, placing him in the top 20.

Blackmon's number improved mightily as the season wore on, but his final total was nearly three yards less a throw than Shorts. Much of that can be traced to the problems he and Blaine Gabbert had working together.

Over the first nine games of the year, Blackmon's YPT was an insanely awful 4.4. Over the same stretch, Shorts was nearly at 10.

Once Chad Henne took over in the Houston game, Blackon finished the year at 8.5 YPT over the final seven games. Shorts didn't play off of them, but his numbers stayed strong, and superior to Blackmon's.

Efficiency matters in football, and while YPT doesn't tell the whole story of how important a six-yard catch on 3rd-and-5 is, it can help us understand just how much better Cecil Shorts was than everyone else on the Jaguars roster.