The Penn State Nittany Lions have a talented wide receiver in Jahan Dotson, and many fans are clamoring for him to be targeted more in the offense. However, the question arises: are they right to think so?
Dotson, a junior, has consistently shown his playmaking abilities on the field. With his speed, agility, and precise route-running, he has proven to be a reliable option for the Nittany Lions. Last season, he recorded 52 receptions for 884 yards and eight touchdowns, earning himself a spot on the All-Big Ten Second Team. Dotson has continued to impress in the 2021 season, already racking up 25 receptions for 372 yards and four touchdowns through four games.
The argument for targeting Dotson more stems from the belief that he has the potential to be a game-changer for the Nittany Lions. His ability to create separation from defenders and make difficult catches in traffic makes him a reliable option for quarterback Sean Clifford. Fans argue that with more targets, Dotson could have an even greater impact on the team’s success.
On the other hand, targeting Dotson more frequently could also lead to potential drawbacks. The Nittany Lions boast a deep receiving corps, with other talented players such as Parker Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith. By focusing too heavily on Dotson, they risk neglecting these other capable receivers, potentially limiting offensive diversity and predictability.
Furthermore, opposing defenses would likely catch on to the increased targeting of Dotson and adjust their gameplay accordingly. They could assign extra coverage to him, making it harder for him to get open and limiting his impact on the game. This could potentially hinder the overall effectiveness of the offense.
In conclusion, while it is understandable that fans want Jahan Dotson to be targeted more, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks such a strategy might have. The coaching staff must strike a balance between utilizing Dotson’s talents and ensuring offensive diversity. By doing so, they can maximize his impact on the game while keeping the opposing defense guessing.
When Jahan Dotson was targeted just once in a Week 6 win over the Falcons in Atlanta — a ball he dropped — alarm bells went off. Things were not going as expected. Dotson started a bit slow in ’23, and many were expecting him to “get it right” against the Falcons.
Jahan Dotson started his rookie career strong, with 4 touchdowns and 152 yards in his first 4 NFL games. He also finished strong, with 3 TDs and 344 yards in his last 5 games. In between, he was on IR or limited due to injury.
Before this season, Dotson was a trendy pick for fantasy football owners, who expected the powerful right arm of Eric Bieniemy and Sam Howell to be a double boon for receiver production. In the first five weeks, fantasy owners were mostly disappointed that Dotson’s production lagged far behind his rookie season. Through 5 weeks of the ’23 season, Jahan Dotson only scored 1 touchdown and had 140 receiving yards.
Getting out of the box in Atlanta last week was too much. The cry and cry went out to the leaders Do something. Gahan needed more goals. They should have thrown him the ball!
It turns out that they have, in fact, actually thrown the ball to him more often this season than they did last season; He was targeted 25 times in his first 4 games this season compared to 22 goals in his first 4 games as a starter before his injury.
The difference is even starker if you look at six games: 31 goals this season compared to 25 goals in his injury-plagued first year.
Jahan was targeted, but the targets in Eric Bieniemy’s offense with Sam Howell as the shooter didn’t translate into the kind of yards and touchdowns that Han Solo produced in Scott Turner’s system with Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke throwing to him.
Some attributed this, at least in part, to Scott Turner seeing Gahan as a red zone threat, which doesn’t seem to be true for EB.
Others have suggested that poor offensive line protection this season means the team simply hasn’t been able to target Gahan effectively on long, deep shots. There may be some statistical evidence to support this theory.
Under Eric Bugemi, Gahan Average depth of target (ADOT) dropped from 13.5 yards in 2022 to just 8.1 yards in 2023. Additionally, Yards before the catch per reception It decreased from 11.0 last year to 6.3 this year, and it has Yards after the catch per reception Decreased from 3.9 to 1.9.
The truth is that Gahan hasn’t been particularly successful as a receiver this season, and that may have something to do with the scheme. However, he is scoring and was contributing to the offense prior to last week.
- Here is a list of his longest receptions in each game through the first five weeks of the season: 14 yards, 15 yards, 18 yards, 10 yards, 14 yards.
- He also converted 7 first downs on 17 receptions.
- Prior to the Atlanta game, Dotson was targeted at least 4 times per game, and his catch rate was 56.7%.
Frankly, if he had scored his lone touchdown against Atlanta, which he hit into his hands about 25 yards downfield with a two-yard run from the pursuing defensive back, it seems unlikely anyone would have questioned Dotson’s use. But he didn’t catch it, and here we are.
In this week’s Reacts poll, we asked Hogs Haven readers a simple question: Should Jahan Dotson be targeted more often?
paying off DraftKings Sportsbookthe official sports partner of SB Nation
More than 4 out of 5 fans answered “yes.”
Ron Rivera was asked a similar question in one of his media sessions this week, and he tried to explain that Dotson’s dearth of goals against Atlanta was not due to any lack of confidence, but Ron did so in his typically clumsy way:
It’s just one of those things that men are targeted for more sometimes. I promise you back in the day when (former Washington coach) Gary Clark and Art Monk and (former Washington coach) Ricky Sanders were there for (former Washington coach) Coach (Joe) Gibbs, you guys were probably wondering how he only got three balls and everyone else got six or seven. ? it will happen. When a guy can’t get balls now, it’s just a matter of time. I think that’s something we all have to be patient with.
On his website, Pollock Film RoomMark Pollock breaks down some of Jahan Dotson’s film in an attempt to understand and explain the second-year receiver’s lack of production through six games:
Jahan Dotson has captured the attention of Washington Commanders fans and media this week due to his lack of production so far this season. Much was expected of the 2022 first-round pick entering his second year in the NFL after a promising rookie season and encouraging signs of a strong relationship developing between him and Sam Howell during training camp and the preseason. Some even went so far as to suggest that he could catch more passes than star receiver Terry McLaurin this year.
However, through six games so far this season, Dotson only has 17 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. This puts him closer to running backs Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson in terms of pure production than fellow receivers Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. This was further highlighted by the fact that he caught none and just one goal in the Leaders’ win over the Falcons this week. So what exactly is going on with Dotson?
(If you’d like to read Jahan Dotson’s full Pollock analysis, you can do so. He’s made this post freely available to everyone, so you don’t have to be a subscriber to read it from beginning to end. Click here to read)
Bullock, as a result of his review of the film, made the same conclusion as Ron Rivera, although Mark was more organized and detailed in his thinking. In his article, he mentioned several issues:
- Dotson hasn’t regressed from last year in terms of on-field skills like route running
- Howell may turn to a different receiver because of the matchups and leverage made before the snap
- Howell may be sent to a different receiver due to coverage reads
- Howell can make some mistakes, and misses Dotson when he has to throw to him
In the end, Bullock’s message to Commanders fans is the same one that Aaron Rodgers made famous a few years ago: Relax.
(Jahan Dotson) didn’t back down; His running route is still strong and he is able to separate when he needs to. Sometimes it is not the first reading in progress. Sometimes he would win by roads but Howell would look to McLaurin or Samuel first because he liked the matchup between them a little more.
We’ve seen Dotson win in ways only for the pass to deflect at the line of scrimmage or for Howell to make a foul and not throw it to him. There are times when Dotson gets unlucky as an isolated defender chooses to cover him instead of the other receiver in the zone, and sometimes it’s Dotson’s role to occupy coverage and open things up for others.
Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that go into why a receiver does or does not get the ball on any given play.
With so many weapons, the offense doesn’t have to be forced into just one or two guys because they are all capable of making big plays. Dotson’s turn will come and I’m sure it will be sooner rather than later.