These past few weeks have been all about the wide receivers for Redskins fans. First it was Art Monk and the annual campaign and then subsequent disapointment in his chase for the Hall of Fame. Santana Moss completed a great season and, just a week ago, represented the Redskins at the Pro Bowl. Of course there have also been the constant rumors of Reggie Wayne, David Givens or any number of free agent receivers signing in Washington. So while the team focuses its attention on acquiring a future Redskin receiver, let’s take a look back at the top ten seasons by Redskins’ wideouts.
A few notes before we get to the top ten. Once again we are using the adjusted numbers to accurately compare stats from 1964 to the stats in 2006 (for a full explanation of the adjusted numbers, please see The Case for Art Monk – Part Two). The numbers are adjusted to 2005 figures. Also note that this only includes seasons from 1960 onward, the stats prior to 1960 aren’t easily available nor are they very reliable. The ratings are explained in the footer below the article.
On to the list:
11. Santana Moss, 2005
Actual Stats: 84 receptions, 1483 yards, 9 touchdowns
Adjusted Figures: 84 receptions, 1483 yards, 9 touchdownsMoss just misses the cut and finishes as the 11th best season in Redskins history. His ranking was hurt because of his relatively low reception totals compared to the players listed below. His yardage figure rates as the 4th best in Redskins history.
10. Ricky Sanders, 1988
Actual Stats: 73 receptions, 1148 yards, 12 touchdowns
Adjusted stats: 88 receptions, 1287 yards, 13 touchdowns
Most fans only remember Sanders for his huge Superbowl performance in 1986 against Denver. Many forget that for the latter part of the 1980s Sanders was one of the best receivers in the NFL. The 1988 season was his best and the only season where he outplayed the rest of the Posse. In 1988, Sanders ranked 8th in the NFL in receptions, 5th in yards and 2nd in touchdowns. He followed up his great 1988 with a strong 1989 where he had a career high 92 receptions.
9. Charley Taylor, 1969
Actual Stats: 71 receptions, 883 yards, 8 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 115 receptions, 1187 yards, 8 touchdowns
The 1st of many times that you’ll see Taylor on this list. In 1969 Taylor ranked 2nd in receptions, 7th in yardage and tied for 9th in touchdowns. This year in Redskins history is best known as the year Vince Lombardi coached the team. In a related story, this was also the 1st year since 1955 that the Redskins finished above .500. And you thought the late 90s were bad.
8. Charlie Brown, 1983
Actual Stats: 78 receptions, 1225 yards, 8 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 100 receptions, 1373 yards, 8 touchdowns
On one of the most dominating teams in Redskins history, it was one of the Smurfs, Charlie Brown, who put up one of the best years in Redskins history. Brown is a great story, going from an 8th round pick to being a Pro-Bowl receiver in his second year. 1983 represented the peak of the Brown’s career as he ranked 6th in receptions, 6th in yards and tied for 7th in touchdowns. Brown’s career declined quickly, and he was out of football by 1987.
7. Charley Taylor, 1974
Actual Stats: 54 receptions, 738 yards, 5 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 112 receptions, 1323 yards, 8 touchdowns
If you don’t like reading about Charley Taylor, you should probably just stop reading here because he’s on this list a bunch more times. Taylor was the 1st pick in 1964 draft out of Arizona State. He actually began his career as a running back and finished 6th in the league in rushing as a rookie. In 1974 Taylor ranked 6th in receptions and 7th in yardage.
6. Charley Taylor, 1967
Actual Stats: 70 receptions, 990 yards, 9 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 106 receptions, 1228 yards, 9 touchdowns
Guess who? The reason this season ranks ahead of 1974 is because touchdowns are valued highly in this ranking system. You’ll also notice that receiving offense was much more scarce in 70s than in the 60s, hence a bigger adjustments in Taylor’s stats from 1974. In 1967, Taylor led the league in receptions, was 6th in yards and 5th in touchdowns.
5. Gary Clark, 1990
Actual Stats: 75 receptions, 1112 yards, 8 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 93 receptions, 1295 yards, 10 touchdowns
The 2nd most famous receiver from the Posse is also the 2nd receiver from that group to make an appearance on this list. Before adjustments, Clark’s 1991 season looks nearly as good as 1990; however the lower reception total drops it to 13th on this list. In 1990, Clark was 5th in receptions, 4th in yards and 6th in touchdowns. The Redskins finished 10-6 and lost to the 49ers in the playoffs.
4. Art Monk, 1984
Actual Stats: 106 receptions, 1372 yards, 7 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 134 receptions, 1496 yards, 7 touchdowns
This is where the list gets a little controversial. The touchdowns really hurt Monk’s score here, and it could be argued that any of these top 4 seasons should be ranked 1st. After the adjustments, Monk’s 1984 ranks 1st in Redskins history in receptions and 3rd in yardage. To put this into perspective, after the adjustments, Monk’s yardage total is higher than Santana Moss’ yardage from this past year. For the season, Monk led the NFL in receptions and was 4th in yardage.
3. Charley Taylor, 1973
Actual Stats: 59 receptions, 801 yards, 7 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 118 receptions, 1339 yards, 10 touchdowns
We can use the stat lines above as a reason why adjusted stats are useful. A young fan today would look through the record books and see Taylor’s 59 receptions and 801 yards and wonder how this guy got into the Hall of Fame. As mentioned before, passing numbers were way down in the 1970s, making this an extraordinary year despite the ordinary numbers. Those 59 catches ranked 2nd in the league, and ranked 7th in yards and 8th in touchdowns.
2. Charley Taylor, 1966
Actual Stats: 72 receptions, 1119 yards, 12 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 111 receptions, 1398 yards, 13 touchdowns
That’s right, Taylor again. He has 5 of the top 10 receiving seasons in Redskins history (post 1960). If anyone asks you who the best receiver in Redskins history is, well now you know the answer. Remarkably this was also Taylor’s first season as a full time receiver and he still managed 87 carries and 3 rushing touchdowns. Taylor ranked 1st in receptions, 3rd in yards, and 2nd in touchdowns. The adjusted 13 touchdowns are tied with Sanders for 1st overall on the Redskins all time list. This was an outstanding season.
1. Bobby Mitchell, 1962
Actual Stats: 72 receptions, 1384 yards, 11 touchdowns
Adjusted Stats: 106 receptions, 1664 yards, 11 touchdowns
What’s the best way to convince a racist owner to de-segregate a team? Having the best season ever by a Redskin receiver certainly doesn’t hurt. The adjusted yardage total is tops in Redskins history, add to that the 7th highest receptions total and the 4th highest touchdown mark, and you’re on top of this list. Mitchell ranked 1st in the NFL in receptions and yards and was 3rd in touchdowns. As for the Redskins themselves, they actually started the year 4-0-2 but lost 7 of 8 to finish out of the playoffs. If you are curious, Mitchell’s 1963 season ranks 15th on the list, only hurt by a low touchdown total.
The seasons were ranked as follows: I took every season that had 50 catches (after adjustments) and ranked them in order in catches, yards and touchdowns. I excluded yards per catch to attempt to even the playing field between possession receivers and guys who stretch the field. If you ranked 1st in receptions, you got one point, 2nd place got 2, etc and then did the same for receptions and touchdowns. After adding the 3 rankings together, whoever had the lowest scores came up with the best ratings for this list.
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