In 2017, Brandin Cooks was on the New England Patriots and in the postseason he caught 10 passes for 155 yards as his team fell shy of a Super Bowl win vs the Philadelphia Eagles. A year later he was on the Los Angeles Rams and Cooks caught 19 passes for 292 yards over three games; again, his team fell shy of a Super Bowl championship, this time against his former team, the Patriots.
In 2017, Sammy Watkins was on the LA Rams and in one postseason game, he caught one 23-yard pass. The next year, Watkins was on the Kansas City Chiefs and they reached the AFC Championship game. He had 10 catches for 176 yards that season. Then last year, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, with Watkins catching 14 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown during their run.
For these two receivers, their postseason efforts — thanks mostly to them being moved around to and from mostly good teams — landed them with the second and third-most playoff receiving yards since 2017. I did this because the Rams have played in four postseason game in the last three years and this is a sample size that is four games larger than anything the franchise could produce from 2005 to 2016, so why not take advantage of it while we can?
After all, I think postseason performance is a great indication of how a player performs against better competition than a random spin of the wheel in the regular season that could just as easily land on the Cleveland Browns as it could the Patriots. And eating a four-course meal in New England is a lot more impressive than in Cleveland.
(No, this has nothing to do with lobster.)
Watkins and Cooks both sit behind Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints (Cooks’ former team before New England), who has 493 yards in only five postseason games. Four of the top-10, including Cooks, are Patriots, and three of the top-10, including Watkins, are Chiefs. There are also two members of the Eagles.
But these are just totals and obviously better teams deliver greater totals to their players because they are in more games.
If you break it down into players who’ve had at least 20 targets, Watkins is third in yards per target (after Davante Adams and Tyler Lockett) and first in yards per catch. The former fourth overall pick who went ahead of Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr has been largely a disappointment but in the playoffs he’s been an unreal fit for Patrick Mahomes and the KC offense. That being said, it is his teammate, Travis Kelce, who has the most touchdown receptions in the playoffs since 2017, with six.
This is an area where the LA Rams would like to see improvement, should they reach the postseason next year.
Jared Goff is fifth in postseason attempts since 2017, but his two touchdown throws in four games ranks tied for 15th with Case Keenum, Alex Smith, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Cam Newton. Only Goff and Garoppolo have more than two games played and only Goff has played in four. Out of 11 players with at least 75 postseason attempts since 2017, Goff ranks 10th in completion percentage, ninth in passer rating, and ninth in yards per attempt.
The Rams are able to move the ball in the playoffs, but they didn’t finish drives nearly as often as they needed to. Postseason narratives can always change though, sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity.