Demise of Ball-Hogging Diva Wideouts

Real Clear Sports
National Football Post

This story originally appeared on  It is reprinted here with permission.

Before we get to this week’s slate of games – and tell you which games will Probably be worth watching, which games will be of Doubtful worth, which games will be of Questionable worth, and which game will be of interest to Brandon Weeden fantasy owners – let’s talk about the relative stability of wide receiver records.

Last year three quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford) surpassed Dan Marino’s long-standing mark for passing yards in a season. They were among 10 quarterbacks who eclipsed 4,000 yards through the air, a number that’s reflective of an era in which all the rules seem to favor the offense, and defensive players are made to feel shame and insecurity at the lives they have chosen.

It’s not surprising that passing totals have taken off. What’s surprising, however, is that certain receiving records remained unchallenged. Sure, Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham set records for the most yards receiving by tight ends last year. But no one approached the receiving yardage records for a single season or a single game. Apparently quarterbacks have too many options, so no one’s hogging the ball.

The single-season record for receiving yards is held by Jerry Rice (1,848), set in 1995. The single-game record is held by – you guessed it - Flipper Anderson, who put together 336 yards in an overtime game in 1989. His quarterback that day was the irrepressible Chris Jim Everett.

I love that Flipper Anderson holds this record. It’s the kind of random factoid that usually happens in baseball. Well, screw you baseball, this charming bit of marginalia belongs to the NFL. But can we expect it to survive this era of unparalleled passing? Well, only two receivers had more than 200 yards receiving in a game last year – Wes Welker, 217 yards; and Calvin Johnson, twice, 214 yards and 244 yards.

So in his best game, Johnson was still 92 yards shy of tying Anderson. That’s a little less than an average game TOTAL for Megatron, who led the NFL with 1,681 yards last season. Will he or someone else ever break Flipper’s long-standing record? Let’s look at some of the candidates.

Calvin Johnson: Megatron would seem to be the proverbial favorite to break this record. Not only has he amassed several 200-plus yard games in his career, but he is Matthew Stafford’s favorite wooby.

Odds he breaks the record: The same as him breaking something else because he’s on the cover of Madden 13.


Rob Gronkowski: A tight end that catches more than 336 yards in a game? The only way that’s happening is if the Patriots are facing the Bills. (*Checks schedule*). Nov. 11 at home!

Odds he breaks the record: Pretty good. After watching the Patriots score 48 points on Buffalo in one half last week, I think he might be able to set the record in two quarters.


Brian Hartline: Last week Hartline amassed 253 yards receiving against the Cardinals, a total made all the more remarkable by the fact that Hartline is a white wide receiver for the Dolphins.

Odds he breaks the record: The same as Dan Marino winning a Super Bowl.


Kenny Britt: Britt had a 225-yard game against the Eagles in 2010, the type of breakout performance that prompted fantasy owners to invest their hopes in him over the last two seasons. In his career Britt has surpassed 100 yards receiving games six times – just two fewer times than he’s been arrested since entering the league in 2009.

Odds he breaks the record: The same as him becoming a driver’s education instructor.


Backup quarterback ratings

From time to time we’ll look at the top backup quarterbacks in the league. We arrive at these rankings using a complex algorithm that accounts for many things, including the won-loss record of the starter, the potential of the backup quarterback, and the possibility that sports columnists will talk out of their ass when discussing the intangibles of the backup quarterback.

1.Tim Tebow. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three kinds of NFL fans: 1) Those who love Tim Tebow, 2) Those who hate Tim Tebow, and 3) Those who love watching people hate Tim Tebow. I am in the last group.

Anyone with two working eyes knows that Tebow is incompetent at quarterback, and that last year’s playoff win against the Steelers – in which Tebow was a pedestrian 10-of-21 and threw the pass of his life to Demaryius Thomas in overtime – was an anomaly. Yes, the Broncos had been pulling wins out of their wazoo in amazing ways all season, but even the wine at Cana had to run out at some point – which it did the following week, when the Broncos got waxed by the Patriots 44-10.

Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow

US PRESSWIREIs Tim Tebow the best, second best, and third best backup QB in the NFL?

That was more in line with what you’d expect with Tebow - under center. So don’t put him under center. Put him in the wildcat. Put him at tight end. Put him at running back. Put him somewhere where he touches the ball on every other play. Hell, put him at center so he touches the ball on every play. Just keep him on the field, as a constant threat to maybe throw the ball.

God willing he’ll somehow lead the Jets to a victory over the Texans this week. Will that mean he’s a good QB? Hell no, he sucks, and any sentient creature with a kindergarten education knows that. But he drives certain people batshit crazy, and watching that is good, clean fun.

2. Tebow, Tim.

3. Tim to the Tebow. Why does he occupy the top three spots? I don’t know, why is there a Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Some things are just self-explanatory.

4. Matt Flynn. Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary pass to Golden Tate temporarily masked the fact that Russell Wilson is having some difficulty grasping this NFL quarterbacking thing. The Seahawks’ offense is Marshawn Lynch running the ball, Leon Washington returning kicks, and the Seattle defense creating turnovers that Lynch can turn into touchdowns.

Wilson is averaging a league-low 148 yards per game passing, and has thrown just one pass of more than 40 yards on the season. Yes, he’s completing a respectable percentage of passes (60 percent), but the only person who thinks his 5.9 yards per attempt is respectable is Blaine Gabbert, and that’s because Gabbert (5.8) is the only quarterback with a lower YPA average.

Put in Matt Flynn. He might be the difference between a truly great Seattle team (think their 7-9 division winners from 2010) and a merely pedestrian incarnation.

5. Brady Quinn. Kansas City is last in the NFL in turnover margin, quite a ways behind the next nearest team (Dallas, -7). Some of this can be blamed on Matt Cassel, who has thrown seven interceptions and lost three fumbles through four games. And some of this can be blamed on Jamaal Charles, who coughed up the ball twice last week against San Diego. None of this can be blamed on Brady Quinn, who has yet to take a snap for the 1-3 Chiefs this season.

What a waste. You don’t bring in a former Browns quarterback and let them pickle away on the bench. You need to recognize that the same skill this guy exhibited in Cleveland - running for his life behind a crappy offensive line – is perfectly suited to the situation in Kansas City. 

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