Just how bad has Pierre Garcon played this season?
He is probably having the single worst season of any wide receiver since 1999 for the Colts.
There aren't a lot of 'bad' seasons by Colts receivers. Most guys who come to Indy post great numbers. To pick out the real bad ones, I selected the WRs who posted a negative DVOA for the season with the Colts since 1999. There were only 15 player seasons that qualified. Of those 15, 7 of them were targeted 22 or fewer times on the season. That takes guys like Aaron Morehead (made the list four times), Aromashadu, and Hank Baskett out of play. Here are the 8 contenders for single worst season by a Colt wideout (stats are explained below):
Catch rate: Easy enough. It's the percent of times a player catches the ball when it's thrown to him. Targets are number of times he's thrown the ball.
DYAR: Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement. How many more or less yards a player gained on the season than the league average player would.
DVOA: Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. On a per play basis, what percent better or worse is a player than the league average.
EYAR: Effective yards. Compare the EYAR to the Yards. If EYAR is higher, the player was a little better than standard stats indicate. If they are lower, he was a little worse.
Right off the bat, we can trim the list. 2009 Garcon was basically just average, not awful. 2001 Wayne and 2001 Wilkins (who had several very solid years) were like-wise not awful.
2008 Marvin Harrison ate up a BUNCH of targets, but he wasn't terrible, just bad. He still had a positive DYAR and EYAR indicates he was a little better than his numbers imply. 1999 EG Green was bad, but Pathon was worse the same year, so he's out.
That means without question the three worst WR seasons for the Colts since 1999 are:
1999 Jermone Pathon, 2002 Qadry Ismail, and 2010 Pierre Garcon.
Cumulatively speaking, Garcon is there. His DYAR is already the worst on the list. His catch rate is worse than Ismail's, and his EYAR implies he's even worse than his conventional numbers show. The only player with a worse DVOA than Garcon is 1999 Pathon, but Garcon has already been targeted almost twice as often in just half the season.
Make no mistake: Garcon is not "struggling". He is having a historically terrible season. This isn't 'growing pains', it's a cataclysm.
The Colts have to get more production from Garcon. He is a wonderful young man. Every Colts fan is rooting hard for him. There won't be any calls to bench him, simply because there is no one else to play. The good news is that Pathon went on to have some positive seasons in Indianapolis. There is still time for Garcon to turn this around.
If he just plays average over the final 8 weeks, we should see an immediate improvement from the offense.
Garcon started slow last year and finished strong, so he has the capability.
He doesn't have to be great.
He just can't be among the worst wideouts in the game.