For Lance Moore, the first eight weeks of the 2013 season has to be filled with disappointment and frustration.
Following a 2012 season where Moore averaged 7 targets, 4.3 receptions, 69.4 yards, and 0.4 TDs per game, the 8th year veteran has only averaged 3.75 targets, 1.75 receptions, 19.5 yards, and 0.25 TDs per game in 2013. Considering that Brees' passing numbers through 7 weeks this season are almost identical to what they were at this time in 2012, Lance Moore simply has not be given the opportunities when healthy to try and duplicate what he was able to do a year ago. While a struggling offensive line has to accept some (or even most) of the blame for this, Drew Brees and the passing offense clearly needs to find a way to get the ball in the hands of his wide receivers.
Through seven games, Brees has targeted his running backs and tight ends at an usually high 64.7% of the time while targeting his wide receivers with only 35.3% of attempts. These percentages improve for wide receivers when Moore has been on the field, meaning that the wide receivers are targeted 38.2% of the time when Moore is active versus 31.2% of the time when he is not. So while Moore has not been targeted as much as he was in 2013, one can argue that his presence on the field helps to give more opportunity to the other receivers on the team.
Marques Colston may be a great example of this. In his first 3 games, Colston started the season with a respectable 14 receptions out of 21 targets, 202 yards, and 1 TD. In the following three games without Moore, Colston had 10 receptions out of 13 targets, 122 yards, zero TDs. Is Colston truly declining or did he miss Lance Moore a little more than we think?
As a Saints fan, it is quite a privilege to have so many weapons to choose from on offense. The running backs and tight ends have picked up the slack by doing a great job in the passing game. Three of the top 40 reception leaders in the NFL are Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, and Pierre Thomas. To give you an idea of what an accomplishment this is, only 12 of the top 40 reception leaders are running backs and tight ends and three of them are Saints.
As the Saints approach a tough stretch to the schedule, Drew Brees and the passing game have to find a way to get the wide receivers involved. With Jimmy Graham most likely to be on a "snap count" for the next few weeks and with the encouraging emergence of rookie Kenny Stills, this may be as good of a time as any for Lance Moore to step up and perform closer to what we saw in 2012. Brees still considers Moore to be the best route runner on the team and we all know that the guy has great hands. I would not be surprised at all to see Lance targeted more in the next few weeks while making plays to keep the chains moving.
So while we sit around and discuss how Jimmy is a marvel at tight end, and how Colston may be gassed, and how Kenny Stills is the next great big play wide receiver, let's not forget about old reliable Lance Moore. He could be a big key to this offense in the second half of the season.
Predicting Lance Moore's Stats For The Final Nine Games: 37 receptions, 460 yards, 5 TDs