Part of what makes Andre Johnson one of the NFL’s best receivers is his work on long throws.
John Hyun Choi of ESPN Stats & Information passed along some numbers that tell us just how reliant the Texans have been on Johnson.
Since 2008, he leads the league in receptions and receiving yards on passes of 15 yards or more downfield. He caught 91 balls for 2,448 yards on such throws, 16 more catches and 396 more yards than the next best guy. He’s also first in receptions per targets (59.1 percent) and yards after the catch (450) on throws over 15 yards.
Since 2008, quarterback Matt Schaub has played 10 games against the Raiders, Ravens and Titans -- the next three teams the Texans face. Johnson missed one of those, last year's game against Oakland.
In that game, Schaub missed on both of his throws over 15 yards. It was the only game since 2008 in which Schaub didn’t complete such a pass.
Against those three teams, Johnson’s been targeted on 41 percent of the Texans’ throws, 44.7 percent of their receptions and has accounted for 45.4 percent of their receiving yards.
So far this season, Schaub has thrown to Johnson 35 times in 113 pass attempts (31 percent). Only Wes Welker (35 percent) and Jacksonville’s Mike Thomas (33.9 percent) have more targets in proportion to team’s total passing attempts this season.
The Texans are talking about several players taking up the slack for the missing Johnson.
It’s an awful lot of slack.