Breaking down Gresham's dropped catches against Houston last year

This is sort of random, but in reflection of last year's disappointing ending...

Perhaps the biggest goat, not named Rey Maualuga, in last season's playoff loss to Houston was Gresham. Though targeted seven times, he only had two receptions and several dropped passes. Another target of ridicule was also Kyle Cook, who many claim allowed interior pressure on Dalton.

After carefully reviewing the game, I'm not buying it.

The following images recap six of the seven targeted plays for Gresham (the seventh being a simple uncontested flat route).

Target #1 - Incompletion
On the second offensive play of the game, Dalton clearly has great pass protection with a wide open Gresham coming across the middle on a quick slant...

...for what should have been a simple pass, Dalton throws high and slightly behind Gresham. Though this pass was certainly catchable, Dalton should have been able to hit him in stride in the chest and deserves some blame.Dalton-gresham1b_zps08a0996d_medium

Target #2 - Incompletion
On the very next play, Dalton targets Gresham again. Notice the clean pocket Dalton has to throw from...

...on this third down play, it's tough to tell who should have been targeted. Jones, who is not shown in the pic below, seemed to be covered on the left side. Leonard is open across the middle, but probably would have been stopped short of the first down marker. Green at the top of the screen looks open, though probably would have been picked off by the nearest defender who had turned towards the pass. Hawkins (on the left side of the picture) running a post into open territory probably would have been the best option. Instead, Dalton tries to force it into Gresham at the 50 yard line who is draped with a defender for a contested incomplete pass.Dalton-gresham2b_zps79641f8b_medium

[Target #3 not shown - 3 yard reception on a flat route]

Target #4 - Incompletion
Later in the second quarter, Dalton again with no pressure in the pocket has Gresham running a post pattern (down the right seam) clear of any defenders undercutting his route...

...and once again, Dalton throws high and slightly behind forcing Gresham to turn around and leap for a poorly thrown ball resulting in an incompletion. I'll concede this is another pass Gresham should have caught, but Dalton made it unnecessarily difficult.

Target #5 - Incompletion
Dalton with plenty of time to throw looks deep to Gresham (to the right of the picture) who has beaten his man....Dalton-gresham4a_zps9369e531_medium

...however under throws for a broken up pass.Dalton-gresham4b_zps55261f15_medium

Target #6 - 6 yard completion
Finally Dalton connects with Gresham over the middle...Dalton-gresham5a_zps822fa582_medium

...though the pass was still a little high requiring Gresham to leap for it.Dalton-gresham5b_zps5c4eff57_medium

Target #7 - Incompletion
For the second to last offensive play of the game, Dalton with great protection targets Gresham one final time...

...who is heavily covered resulting in a deflected pass, while Hawkins remains wide open to his left..

In summary, just based on these plays, I'd make the following conclusions:

  • Pass protection was not Dalton's Achilles's heal. In every one of the aforementioned plays, Dalton had great protection, in part by Kyle Cook.
  • Gresham did not drop any easy (in my opinion) passes and has perhaps been unfairly criticized as a scapegoat.
  • Dalton seems to struggle at keeping the ball down to targets over the middle, which could be due to his shorter height, three-quarter delivery, and typical deep drop in the pocket. Essentially, Dalton has to throw the ball upward over the line with enough arc to avoid being batted down while dropping enough to be caught - which is tough to do with his limitations. Perhaps Eifert with his long 6'6" frame will make it a bit easier to throw over the middle, but not much versus Gresham at 6'5".

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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