Welcome back to the film room! By request, this week I’ll be taking a look at Breshad Perriman and his struggles this year. By now, many fans look at Perriman as a bust for his lack of production. While part of that has more so to do with opportunity, a wide receiver is also impacted by the variables around him, which we’ll take a deep dive on now.
I’m not going to spend too much time talking about drops, but they’re a part of his game, as they are any wide receivers. This issue is when you’re not seeing a lot of volume, you have to make the most of your opportunities. Above Perriman runs a simple curl route and drops what likely would’ve been a first down catch.
If you are a card carrying member of the Joe Flacco fan club, close your eyes because it’s about to get rough.
So I used the search function on NFL Gamepass to get the best look at every Perriman target. I came away with the impression that while he has struggled, Joe Flacco has compounded those struggles by putting Perriman in tough spots, even jeopardizing his health.
A common fault fans have found with Perriman this year is that two interceptions have been a result of the ball going off of his hands. In the play above, that happens but as a receiver there’s nothing you can do here. Perriman is aligned at the top of the screen and Flacco throws the ball to him with a safety rotating overtop. If Perriman alligator arms this ball, it’s potentially intercepted by the safety and he’s criticized one way or another. The pass lacks velocity and the flight dies, forcing Perriman to go low and make a play on it. He gets whacked while doing so and the ball bounces off of his hands for an interception. Perriman gets the worst of all of this here because he ended up sustaining a concussion on the play, missing the rest of the game and the Ravens’ matchup with the Vikings.
The second interception this year that goes off of Perriman’s hands comes on a poorly designed play. For some reason both Breshad Perriman and Jeremy Maclin were running routes within five yards of each other downfield. When a ball is going to hang in the air, as it does on shot plays, there needs to be spacing downfield and there isn't here. Flacco again leads Perriman down the field into traffic where he's going to take a brutal hit in all likelihood. The defenders puts his shoulder into Perriman’s hands, eliminating the catch possibility and it bounces up in there. Perriman has been receiving blame for these interceptions, and while they have gone off his hands, they’ve been ill-advised decisions from his quarterback.
Here, Joe Flacco wants to hit Perriman on the deep post, which is fine because Perriman has the speed for that. Perriman establishes inside position down the field, giving Flacco the option to throw the ball across the field because the safety has come up on the route just below Perriman’s. The correct decision is to lead Perriman more across and up the field. Instead he leads him up the field, and too far up the field at that. The Ravens trade a potential touchdown for an incompletion.
For a good example of this, watch how Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz leads Torrey Smith across the field on this throw.
The ball needs to be placed like that for Perriman so he at least has an opportunity to make a play on the ball.
I apologize for the quality of the clip, but Perriman is lined up at the bottom of the screen. Ryan Mallett is the quarterback and goes deep for Perriman. Perriman gets a step on the cornerback, but Mallett’s pass goes too far towards the sideline and out of bounds. Even if Perriman could make the catch, it still would've been out of bounds.
I think this one speaks for itself. The ball goes behind Perriman, instead of leading him across the field.
At this point you have to wonder what Breshad Perriman did to Joe Flacco to deserve this kind of punishment.
The play above goes down as a target for Perriman who’s running a comeback route, but the pressure flashes off the edge and Flacco’s just attempting to get rid of the ball here. This went down as a target, but given the context of the situation, it didn't seem like this was more than a throwaway to avoid a sack.
While Perriman hasn't necessarily been put in the best spots to succeed, he again doesn't help himself.
He doesn't do a great job of turning around and adjusting to the ball in the air, although you can argue QB error again here, but Flacco appears to be trying to keep the ball where only Perriman can get it. Passes aren't always going to be easy to catch, but that doesn't mean they aren't catchable. If they are, you have to haul them in.
While Perriman has rightfully been criticized for his lack of production, pinning it mostly on him is wrong. Opportunity has to be there to produce, and as of right now he’s not seeing volume or given legitimate opportunities to succeed. Marty Mornhinwheg’s offense and Joe Flacco’s ineptitude have hampered Perriman’s opportunity to succeed. This isn't to say Perriman is amongst the league’s most respectable wide receivers, but the Ravens’ need to identify his strengths and scheme accordingly. Jeremy Maclin’s production will be brought up in comparison to Perriman’s but Maclin is more talented and has seen 15 more targets than Perriman.
While Perriman is talented, based on the current situation in Baltimore, I don't believe he’ll find success with the Ravens. He may end up coming in as a potential cap casualty next year, or maybe a team will swap a late-round draft pick for him, but the scheme and quarterback don't mesh and utilize him with a combination of route concepts that will provide success.