Tennessee Titans Advanced Stat of the Week: The Underappreciated Washington

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistMarch 1, 2013

Nate Washington was the best receiver on the Titans in 2012.
Nate Washington was the best receiver on the Titans in 2012.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Some players get taken for granted by a fanbase and the media.

Nate Washington is one of those players.

Kenny Britt gets all the attention and Kendall Wright gets all the hype, but this week's advanced stat of the week illustrates that it's Washington who is the best wideout on the Titans.

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.

No one will be surprised to see that Wright had one of the worst marks in the league. His yards per catch was low as well. Wright got a lot of looks and relatively few yards to show for them.

What might surprise casual fans is how much more effective Washington was than the other Titans receivers.

Since joining the team in 2009, Washington has more yards, catches and touchdowns than any other Titans receiver. While a big factor has been his durability, he showed in 2012 that he can efficient too.

Washington was tied for second on the team in targets, getting 90 passes thrown his way. This is the same as Britt. He put up over 100 more yards than Britt did on those 90 targets.

Whereas Washington's YPT of 8.3 was respectable. He was 34th in the league. That's not outstanding, but it places him in the "solid starter range".

Britt's paltry 6.5 was good for 76th in the league, and Wright wound up 79th.

Given that Britt and Wright got as many and more looks than Washington, it's no wonder offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired.

Moving forward, the Titans need to realign their passing offense to give more targets to their most dependable wideout.

He might not get the attention his teammates do, but Washington is the best the Titans have.