Think Cam is 'locking on' to Steve Smith? Think again. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
One of the critiques I've heard leveled at Cam Newton is that he 'locks on' to Steve Smith too much. Roughly two years back I looked at this notion as it pertained to Jake Delhomme who was routinely charged with the same thing. At that time I went and looked at some of the top QBs around the NFL and found that in the case of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers all three QBs targeted their #1 receiver (whether it be a WR, or TE in the case of Rivers) roughly 34% of the time.
What I found with Jake Delhomme is that he went to Smitty roughly 32% of the time, and Matt Moore targeted Smith 31.2% of the time. Both QBs actually went to their #1 less often that those top three QBs did with their respective players. This morning I went and pulled the data for Cam Newton, and it's pretty interesting.
After the jump you can see how Cam is distributing the football.
Cam Newton- 83 pass attempts
Steve Smith: 24 targets, 14 receptions- Targeted 29% of the time.
Legedu Naanee: 12 targets, 3 receptions- Targeted 14.5% of the time (Side note: Catch the ball Naanee!)
Jonathan Stewart: 11 targets, 10 receptions- Targeted 13% of the time
Brandon LaFell: 10 targets, 8 receptions- Targeted 12% of the time (Side note: Hands of stone become hands of glue)
Greg Olsen: 10 targets, 5 receptions- Targeted 12% of the time
Jeremy Shockey: 8 targets, 6 receptions- Targeted 9.6% of the time
DeAngelo Williams: 6 targets, 5 receptions- Targeted 7.4% of the time
Mike Goodson: 2 targets, 1 receptions- Targeted 2.5% of the time
What's so dramatic about this is that Newton is forcing the ball a little too much to Smith. When you see that disparity between targets and receptions that's what's happening... but when Smitty is leading the league in yards can you really blame him? Despite forcing the ball too much, really he's not 'locking on' to Steve Smith, as indicated by his sub-30% target rate.
The more dramatic trend is seeing basically five other receivers being targeted over 10% of the time (Naanee, LaFell, Olsen, Stewart, Shockey). As it stands it's near impossible to find a way with how Cam Newton is sharing the ball with his receivers.