If Ted Ginn, Jr. is consistent at anything, it's his inconsistency as a pass catcher. As what would have been the winning touchdown bounced clumsily out of Ginn's hands, the frustrations mounted for him and anyone watching, including Cam Newton. Ginn has always had the one thing that can't be coached, speed, but he's also struggled with one of the harder things to coach--catching. It's an important skill for receivers, and let's face it, Ginn has stone hands. Sure he's very talented, as all professional athletes should be, but catching the ball hasn't ever been his strong suit. Some say it's focus, some say it's butter fingers, some could say it's the pressure of the moment, but whatever it is, Ted Ginn is still the same guy he's always been, inconsistent.
Ted Ginn has dropped 23% of catchable balls thrown his way. That's really bad. Devin Funchess is at 46%. That's "are his eyes even open?"— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) November 4, 2015
For the last three years, Panther fans have talked up some Ted Ginn, Jr. Carolina, they say, is the one place he flourishes. He had his most productive season as a Dolphin in 2009, but other than that, Ginn has struggled to establish himself as a long-term viable receiving option. He's a helpful guy, but not the guy, nor the guy he should be.
Signed by the Cardinals as a free agent and discarded promptly at the end of the season in 2014, Ginn returned to Carolina to become the Panthers most productive receiver in Kelvin Benjamin's absence. That's the problem, however. He's Carolina's most productive receiver, outside tight-end Greg Olsen, but he shouldn't be. Yes, Ginn returned stability to Carolina's special teams and forces defenses to compensate for his elite speed, which always threatens to unleash Cam Newton's cannon of an arm. The problem, however, is that he's still the same guy he was in 2007 in Miami, 2010 in San Francisco, 2013 in Carolina, and 2014 in Arizona. He's fast as the wind, but he struggles to hall in the deep ball consistently. It's frustrating for him, Cam Newton, the coaching staff, and for fans because even when he does all the little things right, run good routes, contribute on special teams, go over the middle, excel in game preparation, and even outproduce most receivers on the Panthers roster, he can't do what he should do best--punish defenses with big plays downfield.
In 2013, ProFootball ranked Ginn 99th in deep pass efficiency. He dropped 30% of passes over twenty yards that year on a team that struggled to generate big plays. His value to Carolina may have improved since 2013, but his inconsistency is still consistent, and even more troubling, he may be getting worse. Ginn had a 7.69% drop rate in 2013. This season that figure has tripled, dropping passes 23%. He's struggled even more with the deep ball, dropping 50% of catchable passes beyond 20 yds. PFF ranks Ginn 90th in deep passing effectiveness, and to put that in perspective, Philly Brown is ranked 25th and hasn't dropped a pass over 20 yds, despite his horrid preseason. Now I'm no mathematician, but it seems as if a #9th overall pick, selected for his big play explosiveness, should be more effective than an undrafted rookie free agent known for dropping passes.
The real problem with all of this is that we know who Ginn is, and it doesn't matter, Carolina needs him desperately. To head off those who will say "but Ginn plays better in Carolina than anywhere else," or that "for all the big plays he blows, he makes big plays on big stages," I agree. He's better in black and blue than in red and black, and yes, I was ecstatic when he took that hitch route to the house on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots in 2013. He's even been important to Carolina's success this season, but still his value is inflated because it isn't dictated by what he does on the field alone. No, Ginn's stock is high because of what other Panther receivers don't or can't do. Ginn isn't a bad player, he's just not as good as he should be.
Now I know my criticism for Ginn is overt, and I fully admit that I give other players much more leniency than I do Ginn. I'm not entirely sure of why that is either. Maybe it's because of his ability to field punts so well under pressure, but his trouble reigning in the deep ball simply confuses me. He's clearly better at catching the ball when he is running at it than under it, and that's about all we can figure. Likely, however, I'm just jaded by the thought of how great Ginn could be if he was truly a deep threat. Maybe as that Freak'n Pueto Rican suggested, Cam should try kicking it to him instead.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
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