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Target Practice: Who was Tom Brady’s favorite (and most dependable) target this season?

01.03.12 at 8:09 pm ET
By

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were a solid connection this season. (AP)

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an imperfect stat — a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback — it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game for the 2011 season:

Kevin Faulk: 7 catches on 9 targets (78 percent)
Rob Gronkowski: 90 catches on 124 targets (73 percent)
Wes Welker: 122 catches on 172 targets (71 percent)
Aaron Hernandez: 79 catches on 113 targets (70 percent)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 9 catches on 13 targets (69 percent)
Stevan Ridley: 3 catches on 5 targets (60 percent)
Danny Woodhead: 18 catches on 31 targets (58 percent)
Deion Branch: 51 catches on 90 targets (57 percent)
Tiquan Underwood: 3 catches on 6 targets (50 percent)
Julian Edelman: 4 catches on 8 targets (50 percent)
Chad Ochocinco: 15 catches on 32 targets (47 percent)
Matthew Slater: 1 catch on 3 targets (33 percent)
Taylor Price: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
Dane Fletcher: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)

By position:
Tight end: 169 catches on 237 targets (71 percent)
Running back: 37 catches on 58 targets (64 percent)
Wide receiver: 196 catches on 309 targets (63 percent)
Other: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)

When you compare this year’s numbers to the last two seasons, it’s clear the New England passing game has evolved from one that relied heavily on the work of wide receivers like Wes Welker and Randy Moss and one that has started to turn more toward tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. It’s also interesting to see the decreased numbers of the running backs in the passing game — all three years, their production has dropped off. Here’s a look at the target numbers from 2010 and 2009.

2010
Danny Woodhead: 34 catches on 44 targets (77 percent)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 12 catches on 16 targets (75 percent)
Taylor Price: 3 catches on 4 targets (75 percent)
Rob Gronkowski: 42 catches on 59 targets (71 percent)
Wes Welker: 86 catches on 122 targets (70 percent)
Aaron Hernandez: 45 catches on 64 targets (70 percent)
Fred Taylor: 2 catches on 3 targets (67 percent)
Deion Branch: 48 catches on 74 targets (65 percent)
Sammy Morris: 7 catches on 12 targets (58 percent)
Alge Crumpler: 6 catches on 11 targets (55 percent)
Kevin Faulk: 6 catches on 11 targets (55 percent)
Brandon Tate: 24 catches on 46 targets (52 percent)
Julian Edelman: 7 catches on 14 targets (50 percent)
Randy Moss: 9 catches on 22 targets (41 percent)

By position:
Tight end: 93 catches on 134 targets (69 percent)
Wide receiver: 177 catches on 282 targets (63 percent)
Running back: 61 catches on 86 targets (71 percent)
Totals: 331 catches on 502 targets (66 percent)

2009
Laurence Maroney: 14 catches on 17 targets (82 percent)
Wes Welker: 123 catches on 162 targets (76 percent)
Chris Baker: 14 catches on 19 targets (74 percent)
Benjamin Watson: 29 catches on 41 targets (71 percent)
Kevin Faulk: 37 catches on 53 targets (70 percent)
Sammy Morris: 19 catches on 27 targets (70 percent)
Julian Edelman: 37 catches on 54 targets (69 percent)
Fred Taylor: 2 catches on 3 targets (67 percent)
Randy Moss: 83 catches on 138 targets (60 percent)
Sam Aiken: 20 catches on 42 targets (48 percent)
Isaiah Stanback: 3 catches on 7 targets (43 percent)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 2 catches on 5 targets (40 percent)
Joey Galloway: 7 catches on 20 targets (35 percent)

By position:
Tight end: 43 catches on 60 targets (72 percent)
Wide receiver: 273 catches on 423 targets (65 percent)
Running back: 74 catches on 105 targets (70 percent)
Totals: 390 catches on 588 targets (66 percent)

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