Last time we took a look at the quarterbacks for Super Bowl winning teams and teams that had the best record in the league. Clearly, most teams that had a quarterback that performed like a franchise quarterback. We went through some of the outliers. The same kind of phenomenon has happened with wide receivers and tight ends. Successful teams typically had really good receivers even more often than dominant running backs.
It is pretty safe to say that the Houston Texans next great true number one receiver is not on the roster yet. Coming into the draft, the Texans were looking to add an edge rusher, franchise quarterback, and a number one wide receiver. Obviously, you can’t get everything you want in the draft. We kind of knew this would be a two year project.
Just like with the quarterbacks, we will look at each Super Bowl champion’s top receiver (or tight end if they led the team in receiving). We will look at their catches, yards, and touchdowns over the past 21 years and then the past ten years to see if the position is evolving. We also will look at how receivers on the best regular season did.
21 Year History
Again, we will look at both the mean and the median for all of these numbers. The idea is to see what the aggregate is before we can start to look at the outliers. Just like with the quarterbacks, the outliers can teach us something about team building and what the Texans have done the past decade or more.
Super Bowl Champion Mean Receptions— 82
Super Bowl Champions Median Receptions— 76
Super Bowl Champion Mean Yards— 1,124
Super Bowl Champion Median Receptions— 1,074
Super Bowl Champion Mean TDs— 8
Super Bowl Champion Median TDs— 8
So, it would seem that the typical wide receiver or tight end gets to 80 catches and 1,100 yards. As I said with the quarterbacks, it becomes more instructive when we take a look at the outliers. However, before we take a look at the outliers we should take a look at the receivers from top teams (considering that the top teams usually did not win the Super Bowl).
Top Team Mean Receptions— 83
Top Team Median Receptions— 82
Top Team Mean Yards— 1,135
Top Team Median Yards— 1,106
Top Team Mean TDs— 9
Top Team Median TDs— 9
There wasn’t a whole lot of difference between the Super Bowl winning teams and the top teams in the league. Before we get to our outliers we should take a look at the numbers from the last ten seasons. If we expect passing numbers to increase then it would make perfect sense that the more condensed years will create better numbers.
10 Year History
Passing numbers have increased over the past few seasons and we have the 17th game, so maybe the receiving numbers for the best receiver on the team will also go up. Anecdotally, receivers are garnering more money and draft positioning. Teams that acquire them through trade certainly surrender more than they do for franchise running backs.
Super Bowl Champion Mean Receptions— 92
Super Bowl Champions Median Receptions— 89
Super Bowl Champion Mean Yards—1,163
Super Bowl Champion Median Receptions— 1,113
Super Bowl Champion Mean TDs— 9
Super Bowl Champion Median TDs— 7
So, obviously the findings do show more, but we have to remember the 17th game plays a role in part of those numbers. When all things are considered, the numbers are fairly stable. We will have to see what happens when we look at the teams with the best records in the league.
Top Team Mean Receptions— 92
Top Team Median Receptions— 95
Top Team Mean Yards— 1,205
Top Team Median Yards— 1,115
Top Team Mean TDs— 9
Top Team Median TDs— 10
If you look at the history of the Texans, the biggest difference are the touchdowns. Deandre Hopkins had some big seasons, but Andre Johnson never seemed to be able to get into the end zone. The same was true for Brandin Cooks in the two really good seasons he enjoyed as well.
There were five seasons for Super Bowl winning teams where the winning team did not have a wide receiver (or tight end) with 900 or more receiving yards. The Patriots had three of those five receivers. Of course, the Patriots won more titles than any other team during the 21 year period, but we have to remember that this started in 2002, so it didn’t even include the Patriots first titles.
This is what I was talking about in the last edition. Modeling yourself after an organization that brought in more outliers than all of the others was probably not the wisest thing to do. Two thirds of these teams had receivers with 1,000 or more yards. It would seem that having a primary go to wide receiver makes the process so much easier on a quarterback.
If we count Brandin Cooks’ output from 2020 and 2021 then we would see 12 different seasons where a Texans receiver has produced 80 or more catches with 1,100 or more yards. Andre Johnson will absolutely be in the Hall of Fame some day. We would have to think the Deandre Hopkins will be there some day too. So, the Texans have had a fairly good history of wide receivers.
The same will be true when we look at front seven defenders. Simply put, the Texans have never enjoyed a big time quarterback performance at the same time as a top receiving season and a dominant defensive season. They have had one of those more often than not. They’ve had two of three a few times. They’ve never had all three and that is ultimately the difference.