Kenny Britt Evaluation: A Monster Lurking

Al Messerschmidt

In revisiting the 2012 tape of Kenny Britt, the progression from the beginning to the end of the year is shows the potential for a breakout season in 2013.

(This is Part 2 of the evaluation of Kenny Britt. Part 1 can be viewed here.)

In analyzing Britt's performance in 2012, I elected to look at three different games during different points of the season. Week 3 versus Detroit, Week 7 versus Buffalo, and Week 14 versus Indy. This more or less divided the season up into early, middle and end. The thought there being that we might be able to look for progression as the season went on.

Detroit

My takeaway from this game was less about Kenny being physically limited and more about him not looking football ready. He looked like a guy still trying to get a feel for the game again. There were times where he showed an unwillingness to plant, but it was his lapses making catches in tight coverage and inability to locate the football at times that stood out to me more than anything else.

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Kenny runs a quick in here.

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Ball is out and Kenny awaits it's arrival. You typically don't want to see this out of the receiver, though sometimes ball placement dictates what you can and can't do. Ideally you'd like the receiver coming back to the ball, aggressively attacking the pass.

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Hand placement is good out and away from the body. In 2011, this is a catch almost every time.

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Kenny drops the ball here from a lack of concentration, and likely reps too.

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Jump ball situation. Kenny is isolated on a corner near the endzone. If you had to pick a situation that highlights Kenny's skill set, this is it. Kenny begins his stem outside, readying himself for the fade.

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Ball is out, and Kenny begins to locate. At this point, Kenny should be working to position himself so he can high point the ball or rotate and catch it over his back shoulder.

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Kenny ended up getting too much depth on the route, something uncharacteristic for a receiver that's generally an asset in these types of situations. I suppose it's possible that he didn't track the ball. Whatever the case, the poor and unnecessary depth results in Kenny playing defender at the end of this play. Totally out of position. 2011 Kenny potentially catches this for 6.

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Britt runs a slant pattern here. Kenny's initial shake fails to turn the corner's hips.

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Leverage is fine, even if it's not perfect. Ball is placed in a spot that's catchable. Hands are away from the body, which is good.

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Again, though, a lapse in concentration. He ends up catching the ball, but the momentary juggle slows his momentum that might have taken him to a first down. That may seem nitpicky, but his ability to convert 1st downs and work in tight coverage is what makes Kenny such an asset, especially in shorter distances.

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Britt runs a curl route here against soft coverage.

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Ball sails on Locker and Kenny makes an athletic play to go up and grab the ball.

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Defender breaks on the ball and lowers his head to make a tackle on Britt.

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Kenny flashes the athleticism we all know him for. Breaks the tackle and turns the play upfield. In most games this year, you'd see a play or two like this where Britt would flash his ability. However, he was largely inconsistent. I think a lot of his issues were psychological early in the year and/or related to being away from the game for an extended period of time.

Buffalo

Despite being closer to the middle of the season, Britt seemed even more hesitant to test his knee when he played Buffalo. There was a clear unwillingness to plant and cut.

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Kenny faces man coverage against Gilmore here.

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Kenny begins his stem outside, and drives well upfield. He's sold the vertical stem and the corner has his hips open to the side line. A major key to winning shorter routes (or even deeper digs/posts) is getting the defender's hips turned in man coverage. By forcing leverage to the sideline, it allows better positioning when you get into your break.

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At this point, Kenny begins to plant. Again, look at the corner's hips. Kenny is "winning" in this still. If he can plant well, he should be able to slap away the defender's field side shoulder and back to the ball.

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Kenny begins to plant, but as you'll see in the next frame he takes one extra step before working back to the ball.

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Defender is playing catch up here. It is Kenny's lack of momentum back to the ball that allows the corner to get back into the play.

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Only now is Kenny breaking and he's given the corner time to close.

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The pass ends up being contested and results in an incompletion.

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This play is less technical, but really highlights Kenny's hesitancy in testing his knee in the open field. He runs a shallow cross.

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Kenny catches the ball and is isolated against a defender in the open field.

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It's hard to illustrate without showing motion, but Kenny has stopped lateral movement. His unwillingness to plant and change direction has resulted in him being a stationary target for the defender who's now squared his shoulders.

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Kenny tries to break the tackle with a stiff arm, but it's too little too late.

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Easy tackle.

Indianapolis

It was this game that really got me excited about Kenny. He looked like a different player. I think, for various reasons, the last three games of the season presented challenges from an evaluation standpoint. I only mention this because this was his best statistical game of the year. It was chosen, however, not for that reason, but because it had his highest number of targets in the last few games. For obvious reasons, that provides a better environment to assess his level of play.

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Kenny (at the top of the screen) runs a quick in here. Great play to start off with because of the contrast it shows against the last play we examined in the Buffalo game.

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Kenny is open against soft coverage underneath.

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Kenny catches the ball and the corner breaks to make a tackle.

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Plant. Cut. The plant is on his right leg, which isn't the knee that had a torn ACL, but it still did get worked on in the offseason. And, the theme for the year isn't necessarily his physical capabilities, but his willingness to push himself physically. Britt plants with authority and reverses direction, something we rarely saw earlier in the year.

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Stiff arm. Accelerate and turn up field.

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Play goes for a solid gain, and a first down.

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Britt is isolated at the bottom of the screen in a 3x1 set. The ability to win these matchups is crucial. It forces a team to always account for the weak side of the field with special attention, which in turn allows better numbers to the strong side of the field. Britt's stem begins to the outside. He's going to just run a basic Go route.

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Britt has beaten his defender off the LOS and now works to separate.

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Kenny does that here. In a short period of time, Britt has separated and has the corner out of position behind him. He's taken an outside release on his stem, but not so much that he's left him self no room on the sideline. Note the good area he's allowed for his quarterback to to drop the ball into.

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Kenny secures the catch.

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He maintains momentum and picks up additional yardage on the play. Result is a huge gain.

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Similar play here, though he's not isolated.

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Kenny works outside and gets into a go route again.

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Note that he's stride for stride with the corner here.

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Just 10 yards later he has a step on the defender.

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Now two steps. The ball is out and he's tracking.

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Kenny extends to catch the ball and has his field side arm held by the corner.

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Despite this interference, Britt maintains concentration and makes a great one armed catch. Stark contrast from the mental lapses displayed in the Detroit game.

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Britt is isolated at the top of the screen. He's going to run a slant pattern. In the initial step, he gets the corner slightly turned to the sideline, though not dramatically.

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Kenny breaks hard into his slant. Corner isn't totally out of position here, but Kenny has done a great job of providing a good clean target for his quarterback.

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Locker delivers the ball to Britt who makes a contested catch in traffic.

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Tackle is immediately broken, and Britt works laterally looking for more room.

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Britt ends up getting tackled from behind, but it still results in a nice 6 yard gain that allows for 3rd and short.

Conclusion

Wide receiver evaluations can be difficult. The position produces volatile statistics from game to game even among the best receivers, so much of the evaluation comes down to how the player is executing in the opportunities he's given. When I watched Kenny early in the year, I saw mostly inconsistent play. There was not only an unwillingness to test his physical limits, but also maybe a lack of confidence from being away from the game. As the year progressed, you saw his comfort and confidence grow along with his physical ability. Britt looked like a totally different player when comparing 2011 to the 2012 Detroit game. When examining the Colts tape, however, he looked back to 100 percent.

There are a number of things that still need to happen in 2013. Locker will need to keep up his end of the bargain. Even the best receiver can only be as good as the passes delivered to him. More important than that, Kenny will have to prove that he can stay healthy enough to play a full 16 game schedule. Given what I saw towards the end of the season, and the fact that Kenny is in a contract year, I think Britt could be in for a monster year in 2013.

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