TAMPA – The Buccaneers pass catchers did a miserable job of adding to the initial gains they made once they caught a pass from quarterback Jameis Winston last year.
With Mike Evans doing the least by gaining an average of just 1.8 yards after his 96 catches last year, second-worst in the NFL, the Bucs as a team ranked 29th overall in the league with a 4.04 YAC average.
Were it not for Adam Humphries they would have been far worse.
Humphries led all Bucs pass catchers with 402 yards after the catch last year, producing a 7.3-YAC verage that was fourth best in the league among pass catchers with at least 55 receptions.
To anyone but the casual Bucs observer, the reason may seem obvious. Of the 55 passes Humphries caught last year, all but five were thrown to him within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, according to ESPN stats.
And a lot of those were thrown behind the line of scrimmage, where Humphries was easily one of the most targeted players in the Bucs screen game, which coach Dirk Koetter has thankfully made a big part of the Bucs attack.
The reason we bring this up is because the folks at Football Outsiders have come up with a new stat that they refer to as YAC+ that even further details just how successful Humphries was in gaining extra yards after the catch.
YAC+ is described as an estimate of how much YAC a receiver gained compared to what should be expected from an average receiver catching passes of similar length in similar down-and-distance situations, which may be a bit hard to follow.
It does seem a little convoluted, almost as if Foootball Outsiders is reaching a big here, but suffice to say that according to this metric, Humphries is anything but an average receiver, because he ranked second overall in the league in YAC+ last year with a +1.6 mark.
Now, we encourage you to look at the whole Football Outsiders story to get a better understanding of what it is they’re detailing here, but again, it strongly suggests the Bucs have something special in Humphries, who is seldom mentioned whenever the conversation turns to Winston and his most potent weapons.
That discussion of course centers around the likes of Evans, DeSean Jackson and tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard and rightfully so. But the Bucs clearly have a true short-range weapon in Humphries, who could wind up benefitting as much as anyone from the arrival of their newest long- and intermediate-range weapons, Jackson and Howard.
Think about it: if Jackson is dragging a safety out of the box and down the field with him and Howard is taking a linebacker out of the box with him, that should open even more room for Humphries to turn short passes into much longer gains.
The fact that he’s already as good as almost anyone in the league at that should only result in more big plays for the Bucs offense and more headaches for opposing defenses.