Commanders fans want Jahan Dotson to be targeted more, but are they right to think so?

Jahan Dotson’s Lack of Production: A Closer Look

When Jahan Dotson dropped the only pass targeted at him in the Week 6 victory over the Falcons in Atlanta, it raised concerns. Dotson’s performance in the early part of the ’23 season had been lackluster, and fans expected a breakout game against the Falcons. Dotson had a strong start to his rookie career, with 4 touchdowns and 152 yards in his first 4 NFL games. He finished the season on a high note, with 3 TDs and 344 yards in his final 5 games, but was hampered by injuries in between. Fantasy football owners were hopeful that Dotson would shine this season with the help of Eric Bieniemy and Sam Howell. However, Dotson’s production fell short in the first five weeks of the ’23 season, with only one touchdown and 140 receiving yards. The disappointment grew when he was shut out of the box score in Atlanta.

The demand for the Commanders to do something escalated. It seemed that Jahan needed more targets to prove himself. Surprisingly, Dotson has actually been targeted more often this season compared to last season. In his first 4 games as a rookie prior to his injury, he was targeted 22 times, while this season he was targeted 25 times in the first 4 games. Looking at six games, the difference is even more noticeable, with 31 targets this season compared to 25 in his injury-affected rookie year. Despite the increased targets, Dotson has not been able to replicate the success he had in Scott Turner’s system last season with Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. Some attribute this to Scott Turner seeing Dotson primarily as a red-zone threat, unlike Eric Bieniemy. Others suggest that weak offensive line protection has hindered the team’s ability to target Dotson on deep shots.

Statistical evidence supports these theories. Under Eric Bieniemy, Dotson’s average depth of target (ADOT) has decreased from 13.5 yards in 2022 to 8.1 yards in 2023. His yards before catch per reception have also dropped from 11.0 last year to 6.3 this year, along with his yards after catch per reception falling from 3.9 to 1.9. While Dotson hasn’t been entirely unsuccessful this season as a receiver, it appears that the scheme may be limiting his productivity.

Prior to the Atlanta game, Dotson had been regularly targeted and had a catch rate of 56.7%. If he had caught his only target against Atlanta, there would likely be no question about his usage. However, the drop has sparked a debate among fans. In a recent survey conducted by Hogs Haven, more than 80% of fans responded that Dotson should be targeted more frequently.

Ron Rivera addressed the issue when questioned by the media, emphasizing that Dotson’s lack of targets against Atlanta was not due to any lack of confidence. He compared it to situations in the past when certain receivers only received a few passes, while others received more. Rivera urged everyone to be patient, as it is just a matter of time before Dotson’s involvement increases.

Mark Bullock of Bullock’s Film Room analyzed game footage to shed light on Dotson’s lack of production. He confirmed that Dotson has not regressed in terms of skills, such as route running. Bullock identified a few possible reasons for Dotson’s limited involvement, including Howell’s pre-snap matchups and coverage reads. Howell may also miss opportunities to throw to Dotson due to mistakes or liking the matchup with other receivers better. Bullock reassured fans that Dotson’s turn will come, highlighting the abundance of talented weapons on the offense that allows for a diverse distribution of targets.

In conclusion, Jahan Dotson’s slow start to the ’23 season has raised concerns among fans and fantasy football owners. While he has been targeted more frequently than in his rookie year, the yards and touchdowns have not materialized. Dotson’s usage and lack of production may be attributed to the offensive scheme and other factors. Nevertheless, fans and experts believe that Dotson’s time to shine will come, and they eagerly await his breakout performance.


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