Andre Johnson Is Actually a Good Pickup for the Tennessee Titans

Johnson isn't the receiver he used to be, but he can play a key role for the Titans in 2016.

The Tennessee Titans, one of five teams in the NFL to fail to score 300 points in 2015, need help on offense.

They brought in two new running backs -- DeMarco Murray after a letdown year in Philadelphia and Derrick Henry via the NFL Draft -- but they made another headline by bringing in veteran receiver Andre Johnson just before the end of July.

Does Johnson have anything left to give the Titans?

Johnson's Career

Let's get right to it. Since 2000, Johnson is one of just four receivers to tally at least 1,000 catches, along with Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin.

And among 38 receivers with at least 500 catches since 2000, he ranks sixth in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP), the points he added above expectation level for his offenses with his catches.

The reason he doesn't rank as high in Reception NEP as he does in catches is because his Reception NEP per catch of 1.08 ranks a lowly 33rd among those 38 receivers. On a per-target basis, his Reception NEP (0.66) ranks 30th.

Part of the reason why his metrics don't quite match the flashy play he's provided is because of his inefficient offenses in Houston, and just 86.80% of his catches actually led to expected points gains for his team in his career, which ranks him 26th in the high-volume group.

It can only be worse in recent seasons, right?

Johnson's Recent Play

If we compare Johnson to his teammates, we can get a better idea if he's been playing well.

Here are his marks against his fellow receivers, both on his team and in the NFL as a whole.

Year Team Rec Tar Rec NEP/Rec Team Avg NFL Avg Rec NEP/Tar Team Avg NFL Avg
2012 HOU 112 162 1.09 1.14 1.15 0.76 0.70 0.66
2013 HOU 109 181 0.98 1.01 1.14 0.59 0.59 0.66
2014 HOU 85 146 0.65 0.90 1.10 0.38 0.53 0.66
2015 IND 41 77 1.18 1.26 1.13 0.63 0.70 0.67

Johnson's workload dropped in 2015, but he had his most efficient season recently on a per-catch basis just last year. His Reception NEP per catch of 1.18 outpaced that of the rest of the receivers in the league on average but was a step behind his Indianapolis teammates.

Per target, Johnson still struggled to live up to his teammates and fell behind the NFL average, but if he can play more like his 2015 season (or even 2012 and 2013) and less like his abysmal 2014 outing, then the Titans are getting about a league-average pass catcher to add to their team.

Is that an upgrade for them?

Tennessee's Pass-Catchers

When adjusting for schedule strength, the Titans had the second-worst passing offense in the NFL in 2015 on a per-play basis.

Their receivers didn't really help. Only four of them saw more than 30 targets in 2015, and some of them were NEP killers.

PlayerRecTarRec NEP/RecRec NEP/TRec SR%
Harry Douglas36721.050.5386.11%
Dorial Green-Beckham32671.670.80100.00%
Kendall Wright36600.860.5283.33%
Justin Hunter22311.050.7486.36%

The team's most-heavily targeted receiver, Harry Douglas, wound up significantly below the league average Reception NEP per target (0.67) with a mark of 0.53, which ranked him 65th among 74 receivers with at least 60 targets last season. Kendall Wright ranked just behind him at 66th.

Wright ranked 68th in Reception NEP per catch (0.86), and Douglas ranked 51st (1.05). Neither were efficient.

Dorial Green-Beckham, conversely, ranked fourth in Reception NEP per catch (1.67) in this group and 18th in Reception NEP per target (0.80). Plus, all 32 of his catches added expected points for the Titans, evidenced by his 100% Reception Success Rate. Only 10 receivers since 2000 have maintained a perfect Success Rate with at least 30 catches, and he did this while his teammates were performing well below average on the 31st-ranked passing offense according to our metrics.

There's clearly a need in the offense even if Green-Beckham can build on his success in 2016.

We can't gloss over tight end Delanie Walker, whose 133 targets were the 13th-most a tight end saw since 2000. His 0.98 Reception NEP per catch ranked 11th among 28 tight ends with at least 50 targets and outpaced the league average for tight ends of 0.91.

Per target, Walker (0.70) ranked eighth and again outproduced in terms of the league average rate of 0.59.

Johnson's Fit

Walker excelled in 2015, and Green-Beckham showed signs of blossoming. Aside from that, the Titans really lacked a league-average receiver.

Although Johnson's metrics don't match his name recognition at this point, he proved able to be at least a league-average pass-catcher in three of the past four seasons, and he certainly isn't a step down from the rest of the options on the depth chart.

The Titans were the 11th-most pass heavy team in the league by pass-to-run ratio in 2015, but it's evident that they want to keep the ball on the ground in 2016. There won't be plentiful targets for Johnson, Green-Beckham, and Walker, but the trio gives them at least three average pass-catchers entering the season, something they didn't have in 2015.