How good has Darrius Heyward-Bey been this year? This question came up and so I decided to take a look at each of his targets in the games from week 1-7 (excluding week 2 when he was inactive due to an injury).
What is noticeable is that there is steady improvement in his route running and his catching. He is now really forcing CBs to commit to a move and then he's breaking against it, often going wide open b/c the defense has to respect his downfield speed. He is also noticeably sharper in his cuts and running with confidence.
He's also showing FAR improved catching ability. Even early in the season, he's body-catching quite a bit and leaving his feet unnecessarily sometimes for balls. Later on, he's really snatching the ball out of the air more often and that is helping him do something after the catch.
Another thing is that quite often, it appears that the ball is a bit late or thrown behind him. Sometimes he's body catching because the ball is not thrown out in front of him, but rather back into his body. There are other times when he makes his break and has to wait on the ball. On many of these patterns, you'd love to see him not have to slow down or break stride to make the catch.
Reviewing the video on DHB has really given me lots of confidence in him and has me really optimistic about his future. What I'm looking for is the Palmer-DHB connection becoming a really good one, with the ball thrown on time and on the downfield shoulder, letting him explode and get more yards and make some big plays. I hope we see it this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a full offseason for this to really come to fruitiion, but watch for a huge game sometime soon for our #1 WR.
Here are my breakdowns:
Week 4 : Pats : http://www.raiders.ninjagoro.com/?p=1035
- Goro -