Before the start of the season, there was a lot of discussion about potential targets to be the number two receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald for the Arizona Cardinals. Here on this site, we looked at the possibilities of Braylon Edwards, Malcolm Floyd, Jerricho Cotchery, Lee Evans, among others. It appears that Edwards was the only one that the team actively pursued, but in the end it was decided to roll with the younger guys on the team, namely Andre Roberts. Roberts looked good in camp and in the preseason, but the regular season has been disappointing, at least until recently.
Pro Football Focus noted an interesting stat in their observations about the Cardinals in their rundown of Week 15 for every team.
The stat notes that Roberts has the lowest yards per pass route of all receiver that play at least 25 percent of their snaps. He gets a whopping 0.95 yards per route that he runs. How does that stack up with other players?
Larry Fitzgerald gets 2.06 per route. Early Doucet has 1.64. New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz has 2.62. Malcolm Floyd has 2.32. Even Anquan Boldin, a guy who is not a deep threat, has 1.61
Now, why is Roberts so invisible? At the start of the season it was almost comical how little Kevin Kolb looked his way. That can likely be attributed to Kolb not being confident in his reads and where players are going to be. Or it could have been personal. Who knows?
Likely it was because he was not running good routes and not getting separation, because that should have been happening, as teams have been had laserlike focus on Larry Fitzgerald in their schemes.
In his first seven games this season, he logged only 13 receptions.
He has since been playing better. Since then, in his last seven games, he has 28 catches, and a touchdown in each of the last two weeks.
This coming on stronger later in the season is a pattern. He looked awful in his first training camp and preseason in 2010 and was thought to be in danger of being cut despite being a third round pick. But by the end of the season, he was taking Steve Breaston's place on the field and had a huge Christmas Day game against the Dallas Cowboys.
It is good that he has been productive as of late, but if the team is going to look to him to be a real number two guy, he will have to keep it up for the final two weeks of the season and start strong next season.
The team must get production from receivers other than Larry Fitzgerald and Roberts is a big key in that. Let's hope he is more consistent from Day 1 next season and that he can keep up the strong play these final two weeks (that hopefully turns into more).