There is a very good reason why Jarvis “Juice” Landry and Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins are both having down years for the Cleveland Browns
There is an obvious explanation why two highly reliable Cleveland Browns receivers, Jarvis “Juice” Landry and Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins, are both having poor years statistically, and it has very little to do with advancing age and diminishing skills.
The buzz for both players has been the opposite of the Odell Beckham, Jr., buzz. Baker Mayfield has great chemistry with both players and knows every little move that each player is going to make. Because of that, he can throw the ball with pinpoint accuracy into a small window where only the receiver can make the catch — and an interception is nearly impossible.
The problem is that Baker Mayfield is playing with a brace that holds his left shoulder together, and despite protestations to the contrary, it interferes with his natural throwing motion and he has lost that pinpoint accuracy.
Mayfield still has one of the strongest arms in the game and can launch the deep ball to speed demons like Donovan Peoples-Jones who, given time, can outdistance opposing defensive backs with his speed.
Landry and Higgins, by contrast, are looking to make a move to get open for just a split second so that Mayfield can drill them with a ball thrown into a small window. That’s why Higgins was totally ineffective for the Browns in 2017 when DeShone Kizer was the quarterback.
Kizer had a strong enough arm, but he was looking for a window the size of Macy’s Department Store window. Since Higgins could not provide that, he was rarely targeted and was unproductive. He was vastly improved when he hooked up with Mayfield and has done well ever since, with the exception of 2019, when he managed to land in the doghouse of coach Freddie Kitchens.
The problem this season is that Mayfield has lost his pinpoint accuracy due to injury (though not everyone agrees with this assessment, obviously). It cannot be a coincidence that the performance of both Landry and Higgins have dropped off at the same time.
Since Mayfield started throwing with the brace, Landry’s stats are 21 catches for 36 targets, or a catch percentage of 58.3, well below his career average of 66.6 percent. Landry’s best game was the season opener versus Kansas City, in which he has five catches out of five targets, with 84 yards from scrimmage in 51 snaps.
He had only two snaps versus Houston the following week with a catch for nine yards before suffering an MCL sprain. Mayfield suffered his torn labrum injury in the same game.
Landry’s total yards from scrimmage per snap was 92/53 or 1.74 TYFS/snap, which is All-Pro territory. Following his return to the lineup, his TYFS/Snap has been 0.85. That is not enough to hold a starting job in the NFL.
Higgins had only one catch in one target before Mayfield’s injury. The number of snaps Higgins took before and after Mayfield’s injury is not readily available, but overall since Mayfield’s injury, he has 14 receptions on 30 targets, for a catch percentage of 46.7. For the season, he has 185 TYFS in 356 snaps, or 0.52 TYFS/snap. This is by far the worst statistical season of his career.
So, for you talent sleuths out there, what do your eyeballs say? Has Jarvis Landry lost his mojo at age 29 only two years after making the Pro Bowl for the fifth consecutive time? We can argue about how much of Landry’s poor numbers are due to Landry’s injuries versus Mayfield’s.
However, the eyeball test tells this fan that Landry still has it. He has never had the speed to catch the bomb, but he has always had the quickness to get open for a quarterback who can deliver a surgical airstrike. Mayfield has just lost that ability because he has to throw his passes while wearing a straitjacket. When they repair that shoulder surgically and he can lose the brace, he will be his pinpoint accurate self.
Similarly, Higgins has been healthy this season and is only 27. It doesn’t make sense that his performance should just fall off a cliff due to incipient old age. He has a similar skill set as Landry, though not at the All-Pro level. He needs an accurate quarterback in order to be productive in a ball-control offense.
It’s very likely, a healthy Mayfield who could throw with pinpoint accuracy would double the production of both Juice Landry and Hollywood Higgins. The current version of Mayfield, with the torn labrum and shoulder brace, cannot adequately take advantage of the skill set that these receivers offer.