About this time every year, we take a crack at projecting out what we think some of our favorite Pittsburgh Steelers players will accomplish statistically in the upcoming season. Unlike the PECOTA system used by stat geeks to project how the Major League Baseball season will play out, I am just essentially pulling numbers out of the air. There is no math involved in my analysis or anything really scientific to how I see his season playing out. Feel free to do the same about in the comments section.
Here were my projections for Holmes last year:
66 receptions, 1040 yards, 15.75 YPC, 8 TDs
2008 Actual Numbers:
55 receptions, 821 yards, 14.9 YPC, 5 TDs
Things To Consider Before Projecting Holmes' 2009 season:
Expectations: Many folks, myself included to a certain extent, thought Holmes would have a breakout season of sorts last year, his third year in the NFL. If you look at my projections again though, I didn't exactly think Holmes would put up the kind of numbers that compare to those of the game's top statistical accumulators at the wide receiver position. Holmes struggled for much of the 2008 regular season before turning it up in the playoffs. His incredible performance in Super Bowl XLIII earned him MVP honors and had fans clamoring to see what he might have in store for an encore during his fourth professional season in 2009. Will Holmes be demanding the ball like we saw him do on the sidelines during the Super Bowl? Will he stay patient if the Steelers offense undergoes similar struggles in 2009? What if the running game is even more prominently featured this year now that Rashard Mendenhall is healthy?
Can He Stay On The Field?: Last year was the first season that Holmes did not miss a game during the regular season due to injury. So don't think I'm calling Holmes injury prone necessarily, even though last year was the first he was able to stay healthy throughout the entire year. Holmes did however miss the Steelers home matchup against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants after being suspended one game by the organization for getting slapped with a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Live and learn, but it's worth noting that another run in with the law could bring about a more lengthy suspension from either the Steelers or even the NFL league office.
Big Ben's Play: Wide receivers need good quarterback play to put up big numbers. Will Ben Roethlisberger A) get the pass protection necessary to throw the ball more consistently than he did a year ago; B) shake off whatever mental turmoil this latest off field development has brought him to lead the Steelers offense?; C) stay healthy and keep the inexperienced Dennis Dixon and the aging and largely ineffective (at this point in his career) off the field? I sure hope so on all accounts.
- Replacing Nate: I think Limas Sweed and/or Mike Wallace can fill the void left by Nate Washington just fine, but it's worth remembering just how much Washington forced defenses to remain honest with his ability to stretch the field vertically. Furthermore, Washington was more than just a decoy if you consider just how much Big Ben liked to look his way. Decoys only work if you semi-occasionally throw them the ball. Will Ben feel comfortable enough with Wallace or forget about Sweed's struggles last year and look their way enough to get Holmes and Hines Ward open at other times?
With all that said, here's my projections for Santonio Holmes in 2009...
72 receptions, 1,115 yards, 15.48 YPC, 8 TDs