In a season marred by injuries and COVID cases in the New Orleans Saints receiving room, often-maligned Tre’Quan Smith had some moments where he stepped up in guy’s absences.
Finishing the season (regular and playoffs) career high’s in receiving yards (533), touchdowns (six) and catch rate (72.5%), Smith’s best games seemed to always come when they were needed most.
For instance — Michael Thomas is out after Week 1 with an ankle injury, and Smith responds by catching 13 of 16 targets for 182 yards and two TDs in Weeks 2-4.
Then, just as Emmanuel Sanders and Drew Brees start to click and get on the same page In Week 5, Sanders gets COVID and is out for two weeks. In those two weeks, Tre’Quan catches nine of 11 targets for 97 yards.
Michael Thomas returns for a few weeks shortly after that, and Smith’s production falls off a bit, before missing Weeks 16, 17 and the Wild Card game due to injury.
But in his first game back in the Divisional Playoff game, Mike Thomas is a no-show, and the offense is desperate for playmaking. So, Smith catches all three of his targets for 85 yards and 2 TDs, even though it was in a losing effort.
He might not have always had his number called often, but when it was called, he typically produced.
In fact, quarterbacks had a 145.3 passer rating when targeting Smith in 2020 (including the playoffs), which according to PFF was the highest of any receiver in the league with at least 30 targets.
He had a few tough drops towards the end of the season that threw people off his scent, but he quietly was a key factor to the offense staying afloat all season through various injuries to key positions.
Tre’Quan Smith - At a Glance
- Offensive Grade: 61.9 (23rd out of 34 offensive players on the team)
- Receiving Grade: 61.8 (10th out of 18 receivers)
- Total Snaps: 705 snaps on offense
PFF receiving grades can be a bit spotty with a player like Smith, because he doesn’t have a huge sample size of targets to work with, but considering 60 is an average grade, his would indicate he was close to an average level player in 2020.
He definitely isn’t the most dynamic guy, but I would say he’s usually reliable.
And he made some strides when it comes to route-running early in the season.
Tre’Quan Smith’s route-running is so much improved.— Andrew Bell (@AndrewBell_98) October 4, 2020
Check the deep out on 3rd down at the top of the screen. He runs out of the screen-view for a split second, but the defender has outside leverage, and he still manages to break outward and create separation pic.twitter.com/gRR6QuJVAy
Smith is entering the final year of his rookie deal with a cap hit of $1,124,256 in 2021, and a lot of his first three seasons has been taken away from him due to injuries. If he wants to get a second contract with the the Saints after next year, he’s going to have to show he can play a full season and keep growing on some of the splash plays we’ve seen over the years.
What did you think about Tre’Quan Smith’s season? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AndrewBell_98.