Is Jason Witten Starting to Decline?
In 2007, Jason Witten pulled in 96 receptions for 1,145 yards and 7 TDs. His
average per reception was 11.9. His presence over the middle helped to open
things up for Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton, and few teams could slow him
down. He had six or more receptions in 10 of 16 games and had four games where
he gained more than 100 receiving yards.
Witten’s numbers in 2008 took a hit, but they were still respectable. He
finished with 81 receptions and had at least six receptions in 9 of the 16
games. His average per reception of 11.8 was nearly the same as it was in 2008.
His performance in 2009 has been another matter entirely. During a season
where Witten should have been a central focus of the offense, he has been
limited to 49 receptions for 438 yards, averaging only 8.9 yards per reception.
He has had exactly five receptions in five of the games this season, and he has
had more than five receptions in only two of those games. He has recorded just
one touchdown reception, and that came during the second week of the season.
Against the Packers, Romo tried to force the ball to Witten on a quick out near
the goalline, but Green Bay corner Charles Woodson stepped in front of the pass
and picked it off at the goalline.
To be sure, Witten’s numbers have not quite reverted to pre-2007 numbers. In
2006, for instance, he averaged only four receptions per game and never
had more than six receptions in a single game. His average in 2006, however, was
11.8 yards per game. In fact, the only season during which Witten has averaged
less than 10 yards per game was 2003 when he averaged 9.9 yards on 35 receptions
as a rookie.
Here’s a look at his performances in 2009:
vs. Tampa Bay: 5 rec., 71 yards
vs. N.Y. Giants: 5 rec., 33 yards, 1 TD
vs. Carolina: 9 rec., 77 yards
vs. Denver: 4 rec., 31 yards
vs. Kansas City: 5 rec., 47 yards
vs. Atlanta: 5 rec., 53 yards
vs. Seattle: 4 rec., 36 yards
vs. Philadelphia: 7 rec., 43 yards
vs. Green Bay: 5 rec., 47 yards
So, these stats raise some questions: are Witten’s skills starting to decline? Is this a symptom of a problem with the Dallas offense?