One of my first posts at Football Perspective was one of my favorites: the top receivers and the men who threw it to them. I like referencing that post from time to time, so I decided to update the numbers through the 2013 season.
I looked at all regular season games since 19601, and calculated the percentage of passing yards produced from each quarterback. Then, I assigned that percentage to the number of receiving yards for each receiver. For example, in this Raiders game from 1995, Vince Evans threw for 75% of the Raiders passing yards, and Jeff Hostetler was responsible for the other 25%. Therefore, since Tim Brown gained 161 yards, 121 of those yards are assigned to the “Brown-Evans” pairing and 40 to the “Brown-Hostetler” pairing. Do this for every game since 1960, and you can then assign the percentage of career receiving yards each receiver gained from each quarterback.
For example, 32% of Brown’s yards came from Rich Gannon, 26% from Hostetler, 12% from Jeff George, and 9% from Jay Schroeder. That breakdown isn’t too unique: in fact, of the six receivers with the most receiving yards since 1960, all six (including Brown) gained between 29% and 37% of their career receiving yards from their top quarterback.
The table below lists the top 7 quarterbacks for each receiver, although I only included quarterbacks who were responsible for at least five percentage of the receiver’s yards. It includes the 200 players with the most receiving yards since 1960.
- It always kind of surprises me to see that Marc Bulger was the top quarterback for both Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.
- Marvin Harrison picked up 87% of his career receiving yards from Peyton Manning. Of course, Harrison was about as dominant statistically as any wide receiver not named Rice or Hutson, which is what you would expect from a HOF wide receiver who got to play with Manning.
- Harrison gained 12,753 unofficial yards with Manning. Only one other WR-QB pairing has topped 10,000 yards using this methodology: Reggie Wayne and Manning. Six other pairings have hit the 8,000-yard mark, and four of them are pretty obvious: Andre Reed-Jim Kelly ranks 4th (9,360), Steve Young-Jerry Rice is 5th (8,577), Dan Marino-Mark Duper is 6th (8,451), and Marino-Mark Clayton is 7th (8,352). The other two were a little surprising, at least to me. Troy Aikman-Michael Irvin ranks third on the list with 9,384 unofficial yards together, while Drew Brees-Marques Colston is 8th (!) with 8,322 yards.
- Cris Carter played with some very good quarterbacks, but he’s one of only six of the 200 players on the list that didn’t catch at least 22% of his yards from one quarterback.
- Irving Fryar had about 1,000 fewer yards than Carter, but his top quarterback was Marino — at just 18%. And Joey Galloway topped 10,000 yards despite his top quarterback being Quincy Carter, who was responsible for just 14% of his yards. In an alternate universe (you know, one where Galloway had good quarterback play), who knows how good Galloway could have been. Carter, a 41- and 42-year old Warren Moon, Rick Mirer, Chris Simms, John Friesz, Brian Griese and a 37- and 38-year old Jeff Garcia is a pretty brutal slate of passers.
The table above is easily searchable — just type in the name of a quarterback or receiver, and let the fun commence. Leave your fun findings in the comments. I’ll start it off: Jeff George was responsible for at least 5% of the receiving yards for 11 different receivers.