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Yesterday, I measured the age of each team’s passing attack by calculating the yards-weighted age of each player who gained either a passing or receiving yard. Today, the historical results.

I’ve written a bit about Terry Bradshaw and his terrible rookie season of 1970, mostly in the context of number one picks taking a long time to break out. But here’s something that often gets lost in the mix: Bradshaw was just one of many inexperienced players on the ‘70 Steelers.

Bradshaw played as a rookie that year at age 22 (Terry Hanratty also started 6 games, and was also 22). The top 6 players in receiving yards on the ’70 Steelers were wide receiver Ron Shanklin (age 22), wide receiver Dave Smith (23), tight end Dennis Hughes (22), fullback John Fuqua (24), wide receiver Hubie Bryant (22), and wide receiver Jon Staggers (22). Incredibly, five of those six players were rookies, with Frenchy Fuqua being the sole exception — and he was drafted in 1969! In the ’70 draft, Pittsburgh took Bradshaw with the 1st overall pick, drafted Shanklin at 28, Staggers in the 5th round, and Smith in the 8th round, while both Hughes and Bryant were undrafted free agents that year. That’s unbelievable, and makes the ’70s Steelers passing attack akin to an expansion team — or rather, an expansion team with almost no access to the veteran market. As a result, Pittsburgh’s 1970 passing attack ranks as the youngest in history:

RkTmYearYdsAge
1pit1970462422.9
2pit1938183223.0
3ram1939284623.3
4buf1968342823.4
5tam2015808423.4
6cra1946379623.5
7crd193463223.5
8pit1942137323.6
9mia1967548223.6
10cle1986803623.7
11mia1968568623.7
12sea1977491823.7
13chi1976341023.7
14cin1969544023.7
15pit1971489223.8
16clt1982322623.8
17crd1937248623.8
18nyj1978591623.8
19bba1947393023.9
20jax2015885623.9
21phi1936120623.9
22sfo2006578023.9
23nwe1994916623.9
24crd1955304023.9
25nwe1993682423.9
26ram1940316623.9
27jax2014690624.0
28buf1970583224.0
29dal1989626124.0
30clt1955359024.0
31crd1941331424.0
32nwe1975553724.0
33min1962541024.0
34clt1956442024.0
35sdg1962537224.1
36sea1976574824.1
37rai1961502824.1
38nwe1971441224.1
39ram2010702424.1
40det1941170824.1
41clt1983532624.1
42gnb1952537624.1
43rai2008527824.1
44nyj1977457224.1
45tam2010712824.1
46ram1938272624.1
47htx2002527224.1
48min1963537424.1
49pit1972391624.1
50bba1948537724.1

Note that the 2015 Bucs rank as the 5th youngest passing offense ever, while the 2015 Jaguars are the 20th youngest. It may have flown under the radar in a season chock full of storylines, but those two teams fielded very young and pretty good passing offenses.

The oldest? That’s probably not going to be very surprising. It’s the 2002 Raiders, followed only by the 2001 Raiders. Rich Gannon was 37, while Jerry Rice at age 40 led the team in receiving yards. Charlie Garner (30) and Tim Brown (36) were the other two key receivers on the offense. Rice being so old was more than enough to offset the more marginal contributions of young players like Jerry Porter and Doug Jolley.

RkTmYearYdsAge
1rai2002937834.5
2rai2001772434.4
3dal2004727233.8
4rai2003597633.6
5den1998761633.4
6was1974595633.3
7sdg2001737033.3
8sea1997837433.1
9nyj2008703333.0
10tam2008757633.0
11rai2000686032.9
12min1978706132.8
13den2014955832.7
14clt1971430432.7
15nwe2015962432.7
16was1973512332.7
17min1995900132.6
18den1997740932.6
19sfo1998902032.4
20tam2003788732.4
21clt1969628632.4
22min2009880832.4
23kan1994818432.3
24gnb2006789432.2
25nyg1993636632.2
26nyg1963711632.2
27kan2005802832.1
28mia1998716432.1
29tam2007715832.1
30nyg1962689232.1
31den20131114432.0
32buf1996711732.0
33buf1994742832.0
34min2010665432.0
35kan1993676831.9
36gnb2007892231.9
37nyg1961607031.9
38nwe1966556831.9
39kan2006649231.9
40den2012934231.9
41den1996732531.9
42oti1993829031.9
43gnb2005792831.8
44kan2004926631.8
45atl1998748831.8
46den1979686631.8
47nyj2001574231.8
48den1981798431.7
49was1975618431.7
50buf1999696231.7

As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.

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  • ODBrunizz

    Did you pull these abbreviations out of thin air?!

    • Richie

      Those are the standard team abbreviations from pro-football-reference.com

      • ODBrunizz

        pro football reference sucks then

  • sacramento gold miners

    After the 1971 season, it appeared both Ron Shanklin and Dave Smith had bright futures, but neither player developed as expected, hence, the drafting of Swann and Stallworth in 1974.

    • John

      They also had Frank Lewis as well. However, according to ex-Steeler scout Bill Nunn, Lewis wasn’t as demanding of the ball as Swann and Stallworth would be (even though he said that he was better than them). Frank should have been more like Keyshawn or TO. I don’t know if he was as great until he went to Buffalo.