Putting a Stop to the Edwards vs. Bryant Debate
Over the last couple of days the Seattle Seahawks have searched the scrap heap for receiving help and come up with formerly productive receivers Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards. These recent arrivals represent just another component of Pete Carroll’s philosophy about bringing in competition at every position whenever he has the opportunity. One could argue the presence of Edwards and Bryant shows a lack of faith in the young receivers currently on the roster but I think this is merely how the Seattle front office likes to do business. There is virtually no risk involved with signing the duo and one or both of them could potentially be useful complimentary pieces on offence. These signings also have the potential to be utterly inconsequential if the talented young receivers on the squad step up to the plate, but during the off-season fans will inevitably find a way to get excited about any minor transactions. There is already debate as to which of these two players Seahawks fans would rather see on the 2012 squad. In this post I hope to put an end to that debate. The answer is that both sides are right. Or wrong, depending on how you look at it. The reality is that the more you look into Bryant and Edwards, the more it seems they are exactly the same player.
The first and most obvious similarity between the two is the fact that neither reached their physical potential due to a penchant for mental mistakes and attitude issues. Both have had the “diva” label slapped on them and in both cases it seems to fit. In Antonio Bryant’s case the fact the he never lasted on any team for more than two and a half years despite his immense talent should be a telling sign. Bryant put up over 1000 yards in 2005 at the age of 24 for the Cleveland Browns and yet they let him go in free agency despite him being the sort of piece one would think a rebuilding squad would want to build around. He signed with the 49ers and was run out of town almost immediately. Bryant has had problems with almost every coach he has played for as well as numerous run-ins with the law. Braylon Edwards is the same story. Legal problems. Dropped balls. Being shied away from despite good production. Edwards had 904 yards in 2009 and wasn’t able to get anything better than a one year 1 million dollar deal from San Francisco (with incentives to be fair). Both of these players passed through both Cleveland and San Francisco with unceremonious exits and both teams were happy to see them leave. These two seem to epitomize the concept of the talented guy who just doesn’t get it. Whether they get it now remains to be seen.
The fact that Bryant and Edwards have played in a couple of the same cities and share the same sort of questionable reputation is not enough for me to declare them officially the same player. To make that declaration one must look at the stat sheet. Let’s start with the basics: Edwards has 341 receptions to his name for 5323 yards and Bryant has 372 catches for 5685. These numbers are fairly similar but the separation between them can be accounted for by Bryant’s longer career. He is two years older after all. Where the stats get scarily similar is on a per game basis. Edwards has 3.4 receptions a game for 58.6 yards and Antonio Bryant has managed 3.5 receptions for 58.3 yards. On a per reception basis they sit at 15.6 and 15.3 respectively. The production is quite simply the same. I suppose that on average Braylon Edwards will catch you .1 less balls per game but when he does get the ball in his hands he is .3 yards more dangerous each time. That is the sort of difference that defines the word trivial.
Braylon Edwards may have a little size on Antonio Bryant and Bryant may be a little bit older but I think it’s clear that they both bring the exact same thing to table. Knowing that we can avoid getting too emotionally attached to one or the other and just let the situation play out. Perhaps Seattle will catch lightning in a bottle with one of them and we could witness the next Mike Williams career revival (Is that analogy less effective now?). More likely, neither will factor enormously into the Seahawks’ plans going forward. The track record for attitude-challenged receivers in the decline phase of their careers isn’t brimming with heat-warming success stories. That being said it will be fun having a couple of clones on the team for however long it lasts.