I know that after my last Friday Five being about rookie receivers and now this one being about young receiver tandems you’re going to start thinking that all of my Friday Fives are going to be about young receivers, but I promise they won’t be. I got the idea for this one when I was talking to Bryan earlier this week about if it’s better to have two big receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, etc), two small receivers (Steve Smith, the other Steve Smith, DeSean Jackson, Santana Moss, etc), or one of each. Then we thought about the receivers that don’t really fit into either category like Reggie Wayne, Hines Ward or Chad Ochocinco. So this got me thinking about what the best receiver tandems of all time are. Then as my mind started wandering off in this direction I found myself wondering what are some of the best receiving tandems of all time that were two young players. That is how this list came to be.
I’ll start by saying that I had to make my criteria clear cut. First I made the decision to say that I would only be considering those that were in 1978 or later, because that was the first year for the 16-game regular season, which made it easier to compare statistics. I also decided that in order for a tandem to be considered “young” the average age of the two had to be under 26. I thought that I was going to need further criteria (ie: neither of the two could be over the age of 28 or something like that) but one I started narrowing it down I found that what I already had in place was just fine. So here is the list:
5. Andre Rison and Michael Haynes (1991 – Atlanta Falcons)
For the 1991 season Andre Rison was 24 years old and Michael Haynes was 26. This young receiving duo combined for 131 receptions, 2098 yards and 23 touchdowns that year. The Falcons went 10-6 that year finishing just one game back in the old NFC West behind the New Orleans Saints, who they went on to beat in the Wildcard round of the playoffs 27 to 20. In that playoff game the two together totaled 10 receptions for exactly 200 yards and three touchdowns, which were the Falcons only three touchdowns in that game. That is an amazing playoff performance from two young wide outs. A really good year for these two got them the number five spot on my list.
|Michael Haynes (26)||1991||ATL||WR||50||1122||22.4||70.1||80T||11||18||11||38||76|
|Andre Rison (24)||1991||ATL||WR||81||976||12||61||39T||12||13||0||51||63|
|Rison + Haynes||1991||ATL||131||2098||16.02||131.1||80T||23||31||11||89||67.9|
4. Kellen Winslow and John Jefferson (1980 – San Diego Chargers)
This is the only pair on the list that has both players under the age of 25. Kellen Winslow was 23 and John Jefferson was 24 and the two of them were a terror for defenses to try and matchup against. Winslow is also the only non-wide out to make it on the list. The two of them pulled in 171 receptions for 2630 yards and 22 touchdowns and Winslow led the league in receptions that year with 89. The two led the team to an 11-5 record, a AFC West division title and a first round bye in the playoffs. They beat the Buffalo Bills 20 to 14 and lost in the AFC Championship 34 to 27 to Oakland Raiders, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
|Kellen Winslow (23)||1980||SDG||TE||89||1290||14.5||80.6||65||9||—||—||—||—|
|John Jefferson (24)||1980||SDG||WR||82||1340||16.3||83.8||58T||13||—||—||—||—|
|Winslow + Jefferson||1980||SDG||171||2630||15.38||164.4||65||22||—||—||—||—|
3. Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress (2002 – Pittsburgh Steelers)
It’s easy to forget that Plaxico Burress played his first five years in the NFL for the Steelers after going on to be a Super Bowl hero with the New York Giants and then shooting himself in the leg but in 2002 when Plax was just 25 years old and fellow wide receiver Hines Ward was 26 these two made quite the impact on the league. The two of them teamed up to haul in 190 passes for 2654 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Steelers went 10-5-1 that year and won the AFC West. They beat the division rival Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round 33 to 36 before losing to the Tennessee Titans in the next round 34 to 31. In those two games Ward and Burress combined for a ridiculous 26 catches for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
|Hines Ward (26)||2002||PIT||WR||112||1329||11.9||83.1||72T||12||19||2||66||58.9|
|Plaxico Burress (25)||2002||PIT||WR||78||1325||17||82.8||62T||7||21||5||64||82.1|
|Ward + Burress||2002||PIT||190||2654||13.97||165.9||72T||19||40||7||130||68.4|
2. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin (2005 – Arizona Cardinals)
What is commonly considered the best wide receiver in the NFL right now was showing their potential in the 2005 season. Larry Fitzgerald was just 22 years old and Anquan Boldin was 25. These two gave defensive coordinators fits, because they couldn’t stop Fitz. Unfortunately for the Cardinals this wasn’t enough. The team only went 5-11 that year, finishing third in a weak NFC West division, but at least you knew you’d always be in for a treat watching these two play. They teamed up to get 205 catches for 2811 yards and 17 touchdowns. It is crazy how close their number were to mirroring eachother exactly. Fitz had 1450 yards from scrimmage and Boldin had 1447. The next highest on the team was 706. They didn’t exactly have a lot of help.
|Anquan Boldin (25)||2005||ARI||WR||102||1402||13.7||100.1||54T||7||21||5||68||66.7|
|Larry Fitzgerald (22)||2005||ARI||WR||103||1409||13.7||88.1||47||10||27||4||67||65.0|
|Boldin + Fitz||2005||ARI||205||2811||13.71||188.2||54T||17||48||9||135||65.9|
1. Mark Clayton and Mark Duper (1984 – Miami Dolphins)
These two were sick. Mark Clayton was 23 and Mark “Super” Duper was 25. They had 144 receptions for 2695 yards. So they didn’t have as many receptions or yards as Fitz and Boldin but can you say 26 touchdowns? Twenty-six! They also had and average of 18.72 yards per reception between the two of them. They went 14-2 in the regular season, absolutely owning the AFC East. Then after a first round bye in the playoffs they went on the decimate the Seattle Seahawks 31 to 10 and then dominated the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers 45 to 28. They then lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl 38 to 16. This was the closest Dan Marino ever got to getting a ring. In the two games that were on the road the the Super Bowl though Clayton and Duper combined for a disgusting 17 catches, 350 yards and four touchdowns. Two playoff games and putting up numbers like that especially after the amazing regular season they had certainly earns them the top spot on this list.
|Mark Clayton (23)||1984||MIA||WR||73||1389||19||92.6||65T||18||—||—||—||—|
|Mark Duper (25)||1984||MIA||WR||71||1306||18.4||81.6||80T||8||—||—||—||—|
|Clayton + Duper||1984||MIA||144||2695||18.72||174.2||80T||26||—||—||—||—|
Filed under: Friday 5, NFL | Tagged: 1980, 1984, 1991, 2002, Andre, Anquan, Arizona, Atlanta, Best, Boldin, Burress, Cardinals, Chargers, Clayton, Dolphins, duo, Duper, Falcons, Fitz, Fitzgerald, Haynes, Hines, Jefferson, john, Kellen, Larry, Mark, Miami, Michael, NFL, Pittsburgh, Plax, Plaxico, receiver, Rison, San Diego, Steelers, Super, tandem, Top, Ward, wide, Winslow, Young |