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Jay Cutler's Targets

CHICAGO - AUG-21: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears drops back to pass against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 21 2010 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - AUG-21: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears drops back to pass against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 21 2010 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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With the switch to Mike Martz's offense, the question for most fans & media was: who would see the targets in the passing game & how would Jay do with another new offense?  Can Martz utilize the tight end position as more than a blocker?  During the first day of training camp, the Bears seemed to go out of their way to showcase the tight ends.  Was that done to just quiet the critics?  Or are the tight ends going to be big players in the Martzfense? 

The Chicago Tribune detailed every pass Jay Cutler threw in training camp in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

The Tribune charted the quarterback throughout training camp to get a sense for how he was settling into Mike Martz's offense and to learn how the ball was being distributed.   LINK

Before we get to this years' training camp, first let's look at Jay Cutler and the rest of the Bears last season:  Cutler was 336-of-555 for a 60.5% completion percentage with 26 interceptions. 

His receivers last year (Note: I dropped some off the list so Jay's attempts/completions don't all add up to what's below):

2009 Receiving Stats      
Name Targets Targ % Recpt. Catch %
Greg Olsen 108 20.1% 60 55.6%
Devin Hester 91 16.9% 57 62.6%
Earl Bennett 88 16.4% 54 61.4%
Johnny Knox 80 14.9% 45 56.3%
Matt Forte 72 13.4% 57 79.2%
Devin Aromashodu 43 8.0% 24 55.8%
Dez Clark 34 6.3% 19 55.9%
Kellen Davis 13 2.4% 9 69.2%
Rashied Davis 8 1.5% 5 62.5%
TOTAL 537 100.0% 330 61.5%


First off, Greg Olsen was targeted 20% of the time last year.  The Tight Ends, as a group, were targeted nearly 29% of the time.  The Wide Receivers were targeted nearly 58% of the time.  The RBs are at 14% (when Bell & Wolfe are added in). 

Historically, Mike Martz does not target tight ends nearly as often as the Bears & Jay Cutler have.  Mike Clay of Fantasy Depth Chart and did an extensive breakdown of every season of the Mike Martz offense.  (Go here to see the results, and here for my analysis.)

Looking at ten years of data on Martz: wide receivers received 64% of the targets, TEs just 9%, and RBs 25%.

That brings us to this year's team.  This training camp, overall, Jay Cutler was 323-of-475 for a 68% completion percentage.  He threw 10 interceptions.

His targets & receptions breakdown:

2010 Training Camp      
Name Targets Targ % Recpt. Catch %
Greg Olsen 86 19.2% 55 64.0%
Devin Aromashodu 77 17.2% 51 66.2%
Johnny Knox 77 17.2% 50 64.9%
Devin Hester 76 17.0% 59 77.6%
Rashied Davis 39 8.7% 20 51.3%
Matt Forte 38 8.5% 27 71.1%
Chester Taylor 31 6.9% 23 74.2%
Dez Clark 23 5.1% 16 69.6%
TOTAL 447 100.0% 301 67.3%


The pass distribution to the TEs is at 24%, the WRs at 60%, & the RBs at 15%. 

This training camp's target distribution is very similar to last season's and not at all like Martz's previous seasons.  What can we make of all this to predict how this season goes? 

My uneducated guess has the TE targets probably dropping down to 17-20% and the RB targets to go up to at least 20%.  With talented receiving running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor both getting lots of playing time, they will be used both in pass play design and as safety valves or check-downs.

As for the wide receivers, the Bears went to them 58% last year, 60% in training camp and Martz likes to go to them 64% of the time.  I think its safe to say they will get around 60% (+/- a couple %) of the targets during the season.

One other thing to note, which is definitely a good thing, is that all the main receivers' catch percentages during training camp are higher (and in some cases much higher) than their regular season #'s.  This is to be expected because of the contact limitations and the nature of 7-on-7, but it's still encouraging to see it in the stats.  Looks like Hester, both last year and in training camp, among WRs & TEs with alot of reps, catches the highest percentage of balls thrown his way... interesting.

Go Bears!