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Chris Olave and Air Yards Records
Since 2009 — when air yards began to be tracked — there have only been two receiver games with more total air yards than the 334 that Chris Olave saw in his second NFL game. (Josh Gordon had 356 against Jacksonville in 2013. DeAndre Hopkins had an insane 414 against Atlanta in 2015.) It’s one of only 10 games in the last 13 seasons (plus two weeks) to go for at least 300 air yards. The other players on the list are names like Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson.
There are a couple of things that make Olave’s performance particularly special. First, he and Beckham (in 2014) are the only rookies in the 300-air-yard club. Second, he had fewer targets than any other receiver on the list, giving him the highest average depth of target.
Unfortunately the other thing that distinguishes Olave’s performance is that only two players with at least 300 air yards finished with fewer receiving yards. It doesn’t help that he caught only five of his 13 targets.
Winston and Olave’s Missed Connections
While it takes a lot of deep targets to rack up 334 air yards, not all of Olave’s targets were thrown far downfield. He was targeted six times within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage, and he caught four of those passes. This explains why he had so few receiving yards despite the high air yard number. He caught only one of his seven deep targets. His only catch on a deep ball came with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, and he promptly fumbled. Jameis Winston overthrew him on several other deep passes, and underthrew him on one that was intercepted. So the question naturally arises: Do Olave’s air yards signal bigger receiving days are coming, or is the Saints offense going to hold him back?