Newcomer Lance Moore Has A Clutchness Level That Emmanuel Sanders Lacked

The Pittsburgh Steelers allowed unrestricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to run off to the Denver Broncos uncontested during the offseason and in all likelihood he won’t be missed one bit.

While Sanders is regarded by many as being an above average route runner that managed to catch 67 passes in 2013, it’s his lack of clutchness that likely resulted in him not being offered a long-term deal from the Steelers.

So let’s define that lack of clutchness.

During his time in Pittsburgh, Sanders only caught 55.6% of the passes thrown his way on third downs. As a means of comparison, Antonio Brown has caught 66.9% of all third down passes thrown his way during that same span. Even Heath Miller (66.7%) and Jerricho Cotchery (60.4%) easily out-shined Sanders on third downs during that same span of time.

To make matters even worse, Sanders only caught 51.8% of the passes thrown his way on all downs with the Steelers trailing on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter of games. While he certainly had his warts during his time in Pittsburgh, even former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace managed to catch 65.2% of the balls thrown his way in the fourth quarter while behind.

Being as Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a career completion percentage of 61.7% when behind in the fourth quarter, it’s not hard to find where the weak link in the chain has been.

So now that Sanders is gone, how is the level of clutchness of the players that will be asked to replace him?

It’s too early to tell with Markus Wheaton, who has all of six career catches so far. It should be noted, however, that he only caught 46.2% of the 13 passes thrown his way during his rookie season. A lot is expected out of him in 2014, so we should know real quick if he will indeed be an upgrade over Sanders. Rest assured, it’s hard seeing him being much worse when it comes to clutchness.

If Wheaton is not an upgrade over Sanders, newcomer Lance Moore should be.

During his eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Moore caught 65.8% of the third passes thrown his direction. As a means of comparison, all-everything tight end Jimmy Graham has caught 62.4% of the third down passes thrown his way since coming into the league.

So what about Moore in the fourth quarter with the Saints trailing? How does a 63.3% completion percentage sound? In fact, dating back to 2006, there’s only six other wide receivers that have a higher completion percentage than Moore has in that situation that have been targeted more than 80 times. Also, of those six players ahead of him on that list, Moore’s 13.27 yards per catch in those situations is second only to his former teammate Marques Colston.

  • Busforever

    That’s a very good acquisition. I guess your analysis is shared by Big Ben, who has nothing but positive things to say about Moore since he’s throwing to him.

  • dennisdoubleday

    Those stats make you wonder why they targeted him for the 2 point conversion against Baltimore. He was clearly the primary target, since Ben threw quickly.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Wheaton and Moore are both upgrades to Sanders. We’ll see if Sanders continue his timely drops on big plays when covered. I like the change and think we got the best receiver out of that Young Money Crew.

  • steeltown

    That last part is especially true, when considering he is also a pro bowl returner

  • mem359

    Since they ran the same play for the touchdown, Ben was probably figuring the Ravens would not make the same mistake twice.

    (But as Alex’s analysis showed, they happened to find a different way to mess up the coverage on the right side.)

  • Jacque Strappe

    Bet that % won’t go over well with P.Manning

  • cencalsteeler

    Lance Moore should be a pleasant surprise.

  • dgh57

    I think Moore will do a fine job when it comes to clutch time. With the added bonus of both Moore and Wheaton keeping their focus in games so yes that alone makes either guy a upgrade over Sanders.

  • walter mason

    Can you show the stats of Hines Ward for comparison?

  • dennisdoubleday

    We really have no evidence yet that Wheaton is superior. Let’s hope so.

  • Dan

    While I have no doubt that Sanders will (if healthy) put up good numbers this year, listening to the talking heads on the sports networks, you’d think he was the second coming of Jerry Rice. He’s good, not great. Some players shine and some fall apart after changing systems, we’ll see….for both Sanders and Moore.

  • treeher

    Many times Ben’s passes looked off target to Sanders, but mostly that was due to Sanders not being where he should have been.

  • Matt Manzo

    100% probably!

  • chris ward

    Amazing stats on Moore, always nice to have a guy that can be reliable on 3rd downs.

  • Madi

    Drew Brees gushed over Moore when he left, well beyond normal levels. He’s going to be a big pickup.

  • CrazyTerry

    Steelers biggest mistake last year was not taking the pick we would have gotten from NE and save us some cap money. I am glad to see him go to another team. It’s a pity because he seemed like a clutch guy his rookie year.
    He was underused on returns last year where he could have given you some of his money’s worth.

    Our WRs corps is improved and I am looking forward to it.

  • IckyD

    Hines sure could catch ’em across the middle on big downs….

  • Jacque Strappe

    Totally agree on all counts.

  • John21

    I predict that Sanders will have a huge year in Denver for two reasons: (no not Manning-too obvious) (1) He will be playing outside and will get more 1on1 coverage. He didn’t like the Hines role of playing slot and going inside where he knew he would get hit. (2) He is just maturing as a professional receiver. He sat behind Ward Wallace & Brown; fought through injuries; he is just learning his craft at this level. And yes, Peyton will help him.
    He would have gotten better with the Steelers too. But I get it you can’t pay everyone. In the end you have to wish him well. Did you hear him on Sirius? Very respectful of Ben & the Steelers. Very thoughtful. All part of becoming a pro.

    I like Moore and wish him well. No offense but I wish we would have been more aggressive and signed Cotchery. There’s a true PRO!