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Was it a mistake to let David Moore leave? Let’s look at the numbers

NFL: NOV 24 Seahawks at Eagles Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’m going to start this article by answering my own question.

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Maybe, but probably not, and if it was a mistake to let David Moore leave then the Seahawks would have probably re-signed him by now (given the fact that he’s sitting at home watching NFL games on TV).

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Full transparency: I originally started this article 4+ months ago when, as part of a larger discussion in the Comments section of a random article, jlrhino asked how many teams had a more productive WR3 than Seattle did last season.

That’s obviously a loaded question and a large part of how someone might answer the question depends on how you define “more productive”.

For example . . .

One could argue that “productivity” is best evaluated by the QB’s passer rating when targeting a specific receiver. If one made that argument, David Moore’s 142.8 QB passer rating when targeted would be pretty hard to beat.

In fact, among receivers with at least 20 targets in 2020, David Moore finished 3rd in this metric, behind only LAC’s Tyron Johnson and Cleveland’s Donovan Peoples-Jones - neither of whom was among their team’s top 3 wideouts.

Personally, I think passer rating is a measure of efficiency, not production, and tend to look at targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns as better measures of production (with passer rating when targeted being more of a “bonus”).

Amusingly, I spent a boatload of time (several months ago) combing through stats for all 32 teams and organizing them in what I felt was “a meaningful way” (as the ~4,700 word “Bonus Coverage” at the end of the original article would have attested).

And then I sort of lost interest.

Until a few days ago.

Right after news broke that OBJ was signing with the Rams, someone asked me (offline) about why the Seahawks didn’t claim him ($$) or sign him (sigh), even if it was just so a division rival didn’t (SIGH), and then followed up with a question about how our WR3 this year compares to David Moore last year.

Cue the stats and analysis for the incomparable David Moore.

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images


2020

David Moore was the clear WR3, finishing ahead of every player on the roster except D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Moore appeared in all 16 games. He had 35 receptions on 47 targets for 417 yards (11.9 YPC) with 6 touchdowns, 5 BIGs (plays of 20+ yards), and 18 first downs. He averaged 26.1 yards per game.

And, as mentioned, RW3’s passer rating when targeting David Moore was 142.8.

For comparison, Russell Wilson posted a passer rating of 119.7 when targeting Tyler Lockett last year and a passer rating of 115.1 when targeting D.K. Metcalf.

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Here are the full stats for Seattle’s top 5 pass catchers last year, regardless of position:

Seattle Seahawks (12-4)

  • WR1 = DK Metcalf: 83 of 129 for 1,303 (15.7 YPC); 10 TDs; 17 BIGs; 63 FDs; 81.4 YPG (x16)
  • WR2 = Tyler Lockett: 100 of 132 for 1,054 (10.5 YPC); 10 TDs; 10 BIGs; 57 FDs; 65.9 YPG (x16)
  • WR3 = David Moore: 35 of 47 for 417 (11.9 YPC); 6 TDs; 5 BIGs; 18 FDs; 26.1 YPG (x16)
  • WR4 = Chris Carson: 37 of 46 for 287 (7.8 YPC); 4 TDs; 2 BIGs; 14 FDs; 23.9 YPG (x12)
  • WR5 = Jacob Hollister: 25 of 40 for 209 (8.4 YPC); 3 TDs; 1 BIG; 14 FDs; 13.1 YPG (x16)
  • Number of players with receptions in 2020: 15
  • Target distribution, top-5: 132-129-47-46-40

Worth noting: Both Greg Olsen (24 of 37 for 239) and Will Dissly (24 of 29 for 251) had more yards than Hollister, but Hollister had more targets and receptions (in part because Olsen only played in 11 games) so he gets the nod as WR5.


2021

Before diving into this, let’s take a moment to acknowledge that D’Wayne Eskridge was drafted in the second round of this year’s draft (#56 overall) with the clear intention of having him assume David Moore’s role in the Seahawks’ offense.

  • Week 1: 12 snaps
  • Week 10: 4 snaps

‘Nuf said.

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Numbers-wise, Gerald Everett is Seattle’s WR3 this year. At least so far. But he’s a tight end so most folks would say “he doesn’t count”. If you happen to disagree, here are Everett’s numbers:

  • 7 games played
  • 22 catches on 25 targets for 198 yards (9.0 YPC, long of 41)
  • 1 touchdown, 1 BIG, 10 first downs
  • 28.3 yards per game
  • Passer rating when targeted = 113.0

Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

If we extrapolate Everett’s totals through 9 games (7 games played) and project them across a 16-game season (14 games played), he compares pretty decently to the 2020 version of David Moore.

  • 44 receptions on 50 targets for 396 yards (9.0 YPC)
  • 2 touchdowns, 2 BIGs, 20 first downs
  • 28.3 yards per game

As a reminder, here are David Moore’s numbers from 2020: 35 of 47 for 417 (11.9 YPC); 6 TDs; 5 BIGs; 18 FDs; 26.1 YPG (x16)

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Freddie Swain is the more natural / literal / obvious choice for WR3 - since he’s actually a wide receiver. Here are Swain’s numbers thus far this season:

  • 9 games played
  • 16 receptions on 27 targets for 169 yards (10.6 YPC, long of 68)
  • 2 touchdowns, 2 BIGs, 6 first downs
  • 18.8 yards per game
  • Passer rating when targeted = 102.2

Tennessee Titans v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Projected over a full season (16 games, not 17 - for the sake of comparison), Swain’s numbers would come out as follows:

  • 28 receptions on 48 targets for 300 yards
  • 4 touchdowns, 4 BIGs, 11 first downs
  • 18.8 yards per game

Again, here are David Moore’s numbers from 2020: 35 of 47 for 417 (11.9 YPC); 6 TDs; 5 BIGs; 18 FDs; 26.1 YPG (x16)


A side-by-side-by-side comparison

So that this isn’t just a recap of the previous section, let’s project the numbers for Freddie Swain and Gerald Everett over the full 2021 season, all 17 games, and see how they match up with David Moore’s production last season.

Games Played:

  • Moore: 16
  • Swain: 17
  • Everett: 15 (Missed Games 4 & 5)

Targets, Receptions, Yards:

  • Moore: 35 of 47 for 417 yards
  • Swain: 30 of 51 for 319 yards
  • Everett: 47 of 54 for 424 yards

Averages:

  • Moore: 11.9 YPC, 26.1 per game
  • Swain: 10.6 YPC, 18.8 per game
  • Everett: 9.0 YPC, 28.3 per game

Touchdowns, BIGs, First Downs:

  • Moore: 6, 5, 18
  • Swain: 4, 4, 11
  • Everett: 2, 2, 21

Passer Rating When Targeted:

  • Moore: 142.8
  • Swain: 103.3
  • Everett: 111.7


A few caveats

While the numbers I have shared would seem to imply that Seattle hasn’t gotten as much out of their WR3 option(s) in 2021 as they did last year, it’s important to remember that:

  1. Seattle’s offense started the 2020 season at a record pace.
  2. Three of Seattle’s 9 games this year were played with Geno Smith as the starting QB.
  3. None of Seattle’s games this year have featured more than 2 quarters, maybe 2-1/2 quarters of “good” offensive football.
  4. Seattle is still in the process of implementing a “new” offensive scheme - one which is expected to feature tight ends more than Seattle has in years past.


Final Thoughts

Since I started this article by answering my own question, let’s finish with a poll.

Was it a mistake for Seattle to let David Moore leave?

Poll

Was it a mistake for Seattle to let David Moore leave?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Yes
    (145 votes)
  • 63%
    No
    (408 votes)
  • 14%
    Magic 8-Ball says, "Ask Again Later"
    (91 votes)
644 votes total Vote Now