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Andre Johnson’s Career in Houston

For a change, Colts fans won't hate this guy

For a change, Colts fans won’t hate this guy

In twelve seasons in Houston, Andre Johnson gained 13,597 receiving yards. Johnson was drafted by the Texans with the 3rd overall pick in 2003, and has played every game of his career with Houston. That will change in 2015, as Johnson signed with the Colts in March.

Does that sound like a lot of yards to you? Put it this way: only Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison have ever gained more yards in a 12-year period with one team. And Johnson is as synonymous with Houston as any wide receiver has been with any team (including Reggie Wayne, who Johnson will be replacing in Indianapolis).

In 2012, Johnson was responsible for 39.5% of Houston’s receiving yards. In 2006, he gained 37.8% of all Texans receiving yards. Since 2004, the only players to record two seasons with a larger percentage of their team yards are the incomparable one himself, Steve Smith (44.8% in ’05, 43.2% in ’08), and Calvin Johnson (40.3% in ’08, 38.2% in ’12). Johnson has almost always been a one-man show in Houston, with last year being an extremely notable exception.

Since 2004, Johnson has gained at least 32% of all Houston receiving yards a whopping six times. Johnson also, incredibly, gained 32% of the Texans yards in the seven games he was active in during the 2011 season, despite missing three-quarters of one game, and about half of two others.1 Over that period, no other player has gained at least 32% of his team’s receiving yards six times: only Smith and Chad Johnson have done it five times, and only Megatron has done it four times.

The table below shows the 76 instances since 2004 when a receiver has gained at least 32% of his team’s receiving yards. As always, the table is fully searchable and sortable.

RkReceiverTmYearRec YdsTmYdsPerc
1Brandon MarshallCHI20121508329845.7%
2Steve SmithCAR20051563348544.8%
3Santana MossWAS20051483334644.3%
4Steve SmithCAR20081421328843.2%
5Lee EvansBUF20061292305142.3%
6Joey GallowayTAM20051287317140.6%
7Calvin JohnsonDET20081331329940.3%
8Roddy WhiteATL20081382344040.2%
9Andre JohnsonHOU20121598404639.5%
10Vincent JacksonTAM20131224318138.5%
11Calvin JohnsonDET20121964513938.2%
12Andre JohnsonHOU20061147303237.8%
13Josh GordonCLE20131646437237.6%
14Roddy WhiteATL20101389372537.3%
15Anquan BoldinSFO20131179321036.7%
16Joe HornNOR20041399381036.7%
17Dwayne BoweKAN20101162318936.4%
18Chad JohnsonCIN20051432393536.4%
19Reggie WayneIND20071510417236.2%
20Javon WalkerDEN20061084299536.2%
21Chad JohnsonCIN20041274352036.2%
22Muhsin MuhammadCAR20041405388936.1%
23Larry FitzgeraldARI20111411395435.7%
24A.J. GreenCIN20121350380735.5%
25Brandon MarshallMIA20111214342535.4%
26Jimmy SmithJAX20041172331535.4%
27Joey GallowayTAM20061057299435.3%
28Dwayne BoweKAN20111159328835.2%
29Brandon MarshallDEN20071325375935.2%
30Andre JohnsonHOU20081575447435.2%
31DeAndre HopkinsHOU20141210346035%
32Larry FitzgeraldARI20101137326434.8%
33Antonio BrownPIT20131499430634.8%
34Chad JohnsonCIN20071440417134.5%
35Braylon EdwardsCLE2008873253734.4%
36Eric MouldsBUF20041043303234.4%
37Jordy NelsonGNB20141519444734.2%
38Steve SmithCAR20111394408934.1%
39Muhsin MuhammadCHI2005750220134.1%
40Steve SmithCAR20071002294134.1%
41Antonio BrownPIT20141698499734%
42Jerricho CotcheryNYJ20071130333033.9%
43Demaryius ThomasDEN20141619477933.9%
44Hines WardPIT20041004297033.8%
45T.J. HoushmandzadehCIN2008904267733.8%
46Chad JohnsonCIN20061369406633.7%
47Roddy WhiteATL20071202357333.6%
48Andre JohnsonHOU20131407418333.6%
49Brandon LloydDEN20101448430733.6%
50Derrick MasonBAL20081037308533.6%
51Julio JonesATL20141593475833.5%
52Brandon LloydSFO2005733219033.5%
53Steve SmithCAR20061166348633.4%
54Chad JohnsonCIN20091047313433.4%
55Vincent JacksonTAM20121384414433.4%
56Torry HoltSTL20071189356133.4%
57Braylon EdwardsCLE20071289386633.3%
58Larry FitzgeraldARI20071409422833.3%
59Tony GonzalezKAN20071172352533.2%
60Pierre GarconWAS20131346405733.2%
61Calvin JohnsonDET20111681507133.1%
62Laveranues ColesWAS2004950287433.1%
63A.J. GreenCIN20131426431833%
64Antonio BryantTAM20081248378832.9%
65Dez BryantDAL20141320400832.9%
66Derrick MasonBAL20071087330832.9%
67Donald DriverGNB20061295394732.8%
68Rod SmithDEN20051105337332.8%
69Laveranues ColesNYJ20061098335232.8%
70Andre JohnsonHOU20091569480332.7%
71Chris ChambersMIA20051118345832.3%
72Mike WallacePIT20101257389032.3%
73Darrell JacksonSEA20041199371532.3%
74Plaxico BurressNYG20051214376232.3%
75Andre JohnsonHOU20041142354732.2%
76Calvin JohnsonDET20131492465032.1%

Johnson’s run in Houston was historic on many levels. But let’s end it with this stat: he’s gained more receiving yards than the combined number of receiving yards gained by the second, third, fourth, and fifth ranked receivers in Texans history.

  1. Oh, and then Johnson gained 201 yards in two playoff games. []
  • sacramento gold miners

    Andre Johnson is a HOF lock, and he’s done it with mediocre QBs. Will be interesting to see him team up with Andrew Luck this upcoming season. Receiving yards are one of the categories we look at when talking about the WR position, but we should always keep in mind teams with more than one serious receiving option affect these results. Also, many of the receivers on this list put up big season numbers on losing clubs, meaning a portion of those yards came after games were already decided. So often, it’s not the yardage total, but when those yards occurred which really tells the whole story. Getting those key first downs on 3rd and 8 type situations, can be huge in determining the outcome of a game.

    • Bryan Frye

      I think AJ is worthy of HOF induction, but I would hardly call him a lock. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are locks. Ray Lewis is a lock. Johnson will have to contend with Harrison, Owens, Moss, Wayne, Smith, Bruce, and Holt, at the very least. I can’t call him a lock when I can’t trust voters to do the right thing or even make sense.

      Fair or unfair, I can see voters looking at his paltry touchdown numbers and saying “no thanks.” Irvin had 65, and Monk had 68, but no other WR to begin his career after 1980 has fewer than Reed’s 87. I personally believe WR and RB touchdowns are largely a function of offensive effectiveness and are less due to individual talent than most fans would suggest (so a guy like Megatron can break the season record for yards and only turn it into 5 scores).

      Again, great player and I think the best in the league for a few seasons, but HOF voting history makes me hesitant to call him a lock.

      • sacramento gold miners

        I meant a HOF lock in terms of production, but the HOF process can take longer. Andre Reed, Chris Carter, and Tim Brown all deserved to get in earlier. There’s no perfect receiver, the entire resume must be considered as well, including the postseason, which will definitely help Hines Ward.

        I do place important value on TDs at the WR position, because of the lack of space really benefits the defense in the red zone area. Often, the receivers with great speed just don’t have the space to operate, while a slower, more physical receiver is more effective in those situations.

        • Bryan Frye

          I also think the weird, irrational trumpeting of Hines Ward’s blocking ability will help him out. Having played line and studied blocking for most of my youth, I really don’t get the zealotry. Ward made some highlight reel blocks that took big name players out of the game (some would argue he took cheap shots, but I really don’t care to get into that argument). Aside from his highlight blocks, he wasn’t any better than Terrell Owens, who also happened to be a great blocker. Frankly, neither blocked as well as Brandon Marshall.

          A big ado was made about Ward’s blocking, so it became popular to tout him for it. However, almost every time I have asked anyone to name the second and third best blocking receivers, I have gotten blank stares (in person) or nonsensical retorts (online). However, the narrative is in place and doesn’t look like it will change. For media purposes, Ward is the greatest blocker in the history of wide outs.

          I wonder if playing without ACLs will garner him the same attention as being a fat guy garnered Jerome Bettis.

          • Richie

            ” However, almost every time I have asked anyone to name the second and
            third best blocking receivers, I have gotten blank stares (in person) or
            nonsensical retorts (online).”

            Haha nice. Good point.

            Almost any time I hear people start talking about skills like interior line, blocking in general, route running, defensive backs, I am skeptical if they really know what they are talking about. I don’t think these are things you can really evaluate without repeatedly watching “all 22” tape.

            • sacramento gold miners

              I don’t know which media has touted Ward as the greatest blocker in history at the WR position, such things are difficult to quantify. But during his era, Hines Ward did change the game, as blocking from receivers became more of a focus. NFL Films did a great segment on Ward, and they’re about as objective as it gets. And I just don’t think all the analysts and writers came up with a narrative for no reason, and the countless isolation replays from Steelers games showed the blocking ability.

              I’ve seen some occasional good blocking from Owens and Marshall, but not the consistency, and I don’t know if those players were in the slot as often as Ward was. Owens and Marshall also had off field baggage, which took away from their teams ability to win. While I believe Owens is a HOF player, his childish antics on the Philadelphia sideline is a drawback.

              Ward is a polarizing figure to be sure, but if we objectively look at his career, it compares with peers and others already enshrined in Canton. And it’s worth mentioning the rarity of northern HOF receivers, along with the fact Ward didn’t have a good/great QB throwing to him until his seventh season. In terms of recently retired receivers, he’ll get in eventually, and like Bettis, I think the career will gain more traction with the passage of time. Also, the prestige of being a franchise leader by a wide margin will help, the yards per catch is misleading since Ward was a possession receiver for most of his career.It’s a diverse resume, but he was great, and great more often in big games than many more talented receivers.

              • Skyler Montgomery

                It’s hard to think of another receiver who is more simultaneously overrated (as a blocker) and underrated (as a pass catcher). Muhsin Muhammad was a far better downfield blocker than was Ward, and the best I’ve seen since I began watching football in the early 90s. Ward was really good at in the box crack back blocks on unsuspecting defenders. Probably the best ever at it. Basically Bill Romanowski as a wide receiver.

                • sacramento gold miners

                  Muhammad was an excellent player, but I don’t remember him lining up in the slot position, and blocking larger players closer to the line. Those type of blocks were legal for a long time in the NFL, I remember Art Monk executing those types of blocks in the 80s.

                  • Nitpicker

                    I honestly don’t believe that you, Bryan, or Skyler have watched wide receiver blocking attentively enough to make worthy value judgments. I haven’t either, but I’m not arguing about it and pretending to know WTF I’m talking about.

                    • sacramento gold miners

                      We’re all entitled to our opinions, and I’m not a player or coach. But when I see countless replays of good blocking in by a player in position not usually known for it, that’s significant. When countless analysts and former players consistently bring this up about a specific player over the course of his career, that’s significant. And when NFL Films goes the extra mile to produce a segment with their strong reputation, that can’t be ignored either. I just don’t think the mounds of video evidence is wrong and somehow all the experts have been lazy. If Ward wasn’t as proficient as a blocker, wouldn’t that have been revealed during his 1998-2011 career, at some point? It feels odd that when the subject of the HOF comes up, this is now an issue.

                      As the NFL Films piece says, along with many insiders, Ward did change the game, as blocking became more important at the WR position. I get it, there are no stats for people to measure, and that’s a problem.

                      I just don’t see the conspiracy, and when insiders who have broken down miles of game video, tell me someone is outstanding at a particular skill, I’ve got to respect that.

                    • Bryan Frye

                      I cannot speak for anyone else because I only know my own experiences with certainty. During film study, our coach would have us watch cutups of WRs on running plays to show us who to emulate. He specifically pointed to Ward as a guy not to copy, because Ward often just took shots in the box that were borderline cheap while not often maintaining blocks on quicker DBs in open space. I do recall coach praising Muhammad, but only with like three pillars, tops.

                • sacramento gold miners

                  Agree with your point about Ward being underrated as a pass catcher, this goes back to the style of play.

                  It wasn’t pretty, and while other HOF receivers are usually remembered for a 30 yard graceful catch, Ward’s signature play was the 11 yard reception over the middle on 3rd and 8, and then getting blasted in the process. Not that exciting, and when some fans look at the ypc as the only important stat, it gives a misleading perception to Ward’s career.

              • Bryan Frye

                I’d like to see that NFL Films segment, if you happen to have a link to it. Right now my Google efforts have yielded me a segment about Hines Ward on The Walking Dead, which I do not at all care about.

                • sacramento gold miners

                  The segment was several minutes long, and aired on the NFL weekly show that runs during the football season. It was produced around 2007, and might be on the league website.

                  • Bryan Frye

                    Thanks man (I assume based on football fan probability). I’ll keep looking.

                • JeremyDeShetler

                  Searched out of curiousity. This is all I found, but I doubt it is the right video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQhHIlmHdqQ.

                  • Bryan Frye

                    It’s hard to tell from such a brief segment, but it does have an NFL films feel to it. Thanks for sharing that with me.

              • Steve

                And even in Ben’s first couple seasons Ward didn’t get as many opportunities as others. There were a number of games where the team would throw a decent amount during the first half, build up a 14+ point lead and take the air out of the ball for most of the second half. You do a good job of laying things out. Really, his blocking ability should be an afterthought.

      • Steve

        He’s a lock. From the list you posted, at least Harrison, Moss and Owens will all likely be in by the time Johnson’s even eligible and perhaps one of Holt and Bruce. Yes, Monk’s, Irvin’s and Reed’s TD totals no doubt were considered, but all still ended up getting in and all played on teams much better than any Johnson has played on to this point.

        • Bryan Frye

          John McClain better be pretty persuasive.

          • Steve

            McClain may well be retired by then. Just to be clear, are we talking about him being first-ballot or getting in at all? If the latter, then, again, I say yes. Again, a number of the wrs named above will be off the ballot by the time he’s eligible. Looking at some of the others, do guys like Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne have clearly more compelling cases? Who knows, maybe having Luck throwing him the ball and Hilton to take the primary coverage heat will recharge the batteries for Johnson and he’ll add enough TDs that it will no longer really be an issue.

            • Bryan Frye

              I think you and I just have a different opinion regarding the voting committee making the right decision.

  • Receivers with 1500+ yard seasons:

    Jerry Rice: 4
    Marvin Harrison, Andre Johnson: 3

    • Richie

      Receivers with 1483+ yard seasons:
      Rice: 6
      Harrison: 3
      Johnson: 3
      Johnson: 3