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Position Series: Wide Receiver - Three NFL Receiving Records That May Or May Not Be Broken In 2013
This just in--Calvin Johnson didn't just beat the Madden Curse, he annihilated it! With Jerry Rice being one of the most recent ex-NFL wide receivers to lose one of his records this past season, who might be next? This is a look at three of the more difficult NFL records for a wide receiver to break, as well as which players could top these marks, and their chances of doing so.
RECEIVING YARDS - Calvin "Megatron" Johnson - WR - Detroit Lions - 1,964 - 2012 - As the Madden NFL video game celebrates its 25th year anniversary in 2013, there has always been one constant: if you are on the cover, you are cursed! It has truly been strange watching player after player have one of their worst seasons ever, or deal with injuries, sometimes season-ending, once their picture makes an appearance on the cover. But even after Calvin's slow start last year, he finished with 1,964 yards, breaking Jerry Rice's 17-year mark.
A big part of this was Detroit's complete lack of a running game, as well as getting themselves behind in most games, which lead them to pass, pass, pass. This was evident when quarterback Matthew Stafford set the NFL single season record for most pass attempts with 727. No QB had even broke the 700 barrier before Stafford did in 2012. Running back Reggie Bush has joined the team, and is due to catch 60-80 passes this season, according to coach Jim Schwartz. It is doubtful that he can stay healthy enough to grab all those passes, but with Reggie now in the mix, and a healthy Nate Burleson returning from injury, Megatron's opportunities should be slimmed down a bit.
Houston Texans' receiver Andre Johnson managed his third 1,500 yard season in 2012, which is truly impressive, but he has yet to break even the 1,600 yard mark, let alone get close to Megatron's new record. At this stage, there just doesn't seem to be any player, outside of Calvin himself, who has a chance to threaten this one. He should be able to sit back and enjoy his record not being broken for quite some time.
Best Chance: Calvin Johnson - Very Slim
RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS - Randy Moss - WR - New England Patriots - 23 - 2007 - Since setting the rookie record for receiving touchdowns in 1998 with 17, Moss has gone on to lead the league in receiving TD's four more times. With Tom Brady at the helm in 2007, the New England duo both set NFL records that season (Brady - 50 TD passes). Arguably the NFL's greatest receiver of all time, Jerry Rice, had his 1987 record of 22 TD receptions bested by one that season.
With the way the NFL quarterback has mastered spreading the field a.k.a. "sharing the wealth" these days, this is another tough goal to accomplish. Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots managed 17 TD's in 2011, an NFL record for a tight end. Even while setting a record of his own, Gronk's total still falls six short of Randy's 23 TD's. Calvin Johnson is a beast of a receiver, recently setting the receiving yards record, but his best TD season has only totalled 16 in 2011.
Of the 18 times an NFL receiver has surpassed 15 TD's in a single season, only Moss, Calvin Johnson, Gronkowski, and Braylon Edwards are currently playing, with "currently" a loose term used with Moss, since he is "currently" without a team, and at age 36, might not get a chance to join one this year. Calvin Johnson really has the best shot to go after a record like this, but opposing teams always pay extra attention to him once his Lions get inside the red zone. A lot of times it still does no good, as he can haul in nearly every pass thrown his way, but teams still try. Unless Randy Moss discovers the Fountain of Youth this off-season, his record will stand.
Best Chance: Calvin Johnson - Incredibly Slim
RECEIVING RECEPTIONS - Marvin Harrison - WR - Indianapolis Colts - 143 - 2002 - Very rarely does an NFL receiver have the pigskin tossed in his direction over 200 times in a single season. That is what happened in 2002 when Harrison had 205 opportunities to make a catch. Last season, Calvin Johnson had 204 chances for a reception, yet only finished the season with 122 catches. This left Megatron with a 60% completion percentage on passes thrown his way. Harrison's completion percentage in 2002 was an astounding 70%.
In 2012, Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears was targeted 192 times - he caught 118 of them. Wes Welker, formerly of the New England Patriots, caught 118 of his 195 targets. Welker has also had seasons with receptions of 123, 122, 112, and 111. Now these were all seasons where he had the future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady throwing him the ball. Welker has since moved on to Denver, where another future HOF quarterback sits - Peyton Manning. But with the multitude of targets also in Denver, and the NFL's easiest schedule in the upcoming 2013 season (which means they won't have to pass as much), Welker will be lucky to reach the 100-mark.
Marvin Harrison was the king of the 5 to 15 yard passes, being more of a possession receiver. These days, even the possession receivers have the ability to take each catch to the end zone. This results in fewer plays per drive which means fewer opportunities to get the ball thrown their way as well. Most teams' third receiver can even catch as many balls as the #2 guy.
Calvin Johnson runs such deep patterns at times, that it would be very difficult for him to ever haul in over 140 passes in a season. Even Brandon Marshall's numbers should drop a hair from a season ago, as teams should key in on him more this year. Bottom line: until Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, gets his way and adds another 2 games to the NFL season, most receiving records will not be greatly challenged.
Best Chance: Calvin Johnson - Very Slim
Copyright May 1st, 2013 by Scott Barr