The Marks Brothers Duper & Clayton
Hello there folks. I know I have been gone for a while but I have come back to once again spread some NFL History knowledge of little known facts and figures.
As you can tell from any of my past blog posts I love to research some of the strangest oddities that just come to me while even looking up something completely different. Such as for today’s topic of just how often, especially in the world of the West Coast Offense, have teammates finished a season with 1,000 yards receiving and averaged at least 18 yards per catch.
A Receiver has gained 1,000 yards at a clip of at least 18 yards per catch 132 times since Jim Benton became the first in 1945 for the Los Angeles Rams. However, for a pair of receiving teammates to accomplish this in the same season it has only happened SEVEN times. What got me looking into this statistical anomaly was a chance glance at the 1999 Washington Redskins while posting on my Twitter Page (@scotthall82) some NFL Birthdays. Albert Connell’s birthday was this past Wednesday May 13th and as I was looking up information on Connell, I went to the team page for 1999 as I was pretty sure that both he and Michael Westbrook both had 1,000 yard seasons. As I was checking my facts I happened to notice that both Connell and Westbrook averaged over 18 yards per catch as well for the season. And so that got me thinking and off on another wild statistical chase, How many times have teammates finished a season with 1,000 yards receiving and more than 18 yards per catch in NFL History?
That big season in 1999 for Westbrook and Connell was the last time that this has happened in the NFL. Only 16 players since 1999 have finished a year with more than 1,000 yards and at least 18 yards per catch and none of them were teammates. Westbrook finished with 65 catches for 1,191 yards with 9 scores and 18.3 yards per catch. Connell was right behind him with 62 receptions for 1,132 yards with 7 touchdowns and also 18.3 yards per catch. Both receivers were major deep threats for Washington all season long in what
Westbrook & Connell hug after another long score.
proved to be the best season for both of their careers. Westbrook finished the season with five 100 yard games in which he averaged better than 17 yards per catch in all five, including over 20 in three of those games, and more than 30 yards per catch in two ball games. All nine of his touchdown catches were longer than 10 yards and five went for more than 20. For Connell, he ended the year with four 100 yard games with three of those going for over 20 yards per reception. Connell also nearly had half of his games averaging more than 20 yards per catch. All seven of his scoring grabs were from long distance as the shortest touchdown of the season for Connell was for 19 yards. The combination of Westbrook and Connell gave Quarterback Brad Johnson a tall and speedy pair to trust through the air. Teaming up with reliable Larry Centers out of the backfield (led the team with 69 receptions) and a pounding running game with Stephen Davis rushing for 1,405 the Thunder and Lightning offense of the Redskins helped carry the team to the NFC East Title at 10-6 and a trip into the playoffs. Washington beat the Lions in the Wild Card Round then dropped a 1 point loss to the Buccaneers in the Divisional round.
Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell were able to succeed as consistent deep threats in the age of the West Coast offense when most teams were running some sort of version of the quick slants and screens, get rid of the ball quickly offense. In fact, they were the first pair to get back to 1,000 and 18.0 in 10 years. Since the days of the speed demons of Henry Ellard and Willie “Flipper” Anderson of the Los Angeles Rams.
Henry Ellard and Flipper Anderson
In 1989, defenses had a hard time slowing down Ellard and Anderson as the two Receivers blew past opponents and gained yards in huge chunks. Henry Ellard led the way with 70 catches for 1,382 yards with 8 touchdowns and an average of 19.7 yards per catch. Flipper Anderson finished with 44 grabs for 1,146 yards and 5 touchdowns at an average of 26.0 yards per catch. Anderson also set the record that still stands for most receiving yards in a game. The 2nd year Wideout torched the New Orleans Saints in a Sunday Night Primetime matchup for 336 yards on 15 catches. Anderson caught the game tying 15 yard score to send the game to OT where the Rams would win it with a Mike Lansford field goal. Ellard the old pro was in his 7th season and coming off a year in 1988 in which he led the league in receiving yards with 1,414. He followed that season up in 1989 with five 100 yard games averaging better than 19 yards per catch in each. Three of Ellard’s touchdown catches covered 40 yards or more. For Anderson, he only had two 100 yard games but yet for the entire season the deep threat had only one game that he did not average more than 19 yards per grab. The yardage came so easily to both Ellard and Anderson that the pair had two of only five 200 yard receiving games during the entire 1989 season for the whole league (oddly enough the Rams participated in another record breaking receiving game as John Taylor of the 49ers became the 1st player to have two 90 yard scoring grabs in the same game). The 1989 Rams featured a 4,000 yard passer in the strong armed Jim Everett and a 1,000 yard rusher in Greg Bell and a tough D that helped the Rams to an 11-5 record and a Playoff berth. The Rams explosive offense led the team into the NFC Championship to face the 49ers. San Francisco learned from past experiences and slowed down the two fire burning targets to the point that Fullback Buford McGee led the team in receiving with 7 catches in the 30-3 loss.
You don’t have to go back to far to find the next pair for 1,000 and 18. And in fact these are the only two players who did it twice.
Mark Duper and Mark Clayton
The Mark’s Brothers of Duper and Clayton for the Miami Dolphins accomplished this rare feat in both 1984 and 1986. The High Flying Act of Duper and Clayton provided a young flame throwing QB by the name of Dan Marino to torch defenses every Sunday. The first time these two went for 1K and 18 per was in Marino’s record setting season of 1984. The youngsters were only in their 2nd season together as teammates. Clayton in his 2nd season the NFL and Duper in his 3rd. Clayton was the leader that year going for 73 catches for 1,389 yards with 18 scores and averaging 19.0 yards per grab. Duper was no slouch with 71 receptions for 1,306 yards and 8 trips to the end zone and 18.4 yards per. Clayton went over 100 yards in a game six times with five of those games averaging over 19 yards per catch. Half of his NFL record setting 18 scoring grabs covered 20 yards or more. Three of Clayton’s touchdown catches went for more than 60 yards. Duper finished with four 100 yard games and averaged more than 20 yards per catch in each. Four of Duper’s scoring catches went for more than 20 yards including long gainers of 74 and 80 yards. Miami made it all the way to Super Bowl XIX on the arm of Marino and the speed of Clayton and Duper. However the 49er Defense tightened up on the two targets as neither went for 100 yards or scored a touchdown in the loss.
The Mark’s Brothers did it for the 2nd time in 1986. This time Duper led the way with 67 catches for 1,313 yards with 11 touchdowns and averaged 19.6 per catch. He went over the century mark eight times with six of those games averaging over 20 yards per grab. Eight of his 11 scoring grabs covered 20 yards or more with three scores of over 50. Clayton chipped in with 60 receptions for 1,150 yards with 10 scores and 19.2 yards per catch. Clayton ended the season with three 100 yard games and each one averaging over 20 yards per catch. Six of his scoring catches were for more than 20 yards including a 68 yarder against the Raiders. The Dolphins finished the season 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
Before the Mark’s Brothers did their double time of 1,000 and 18, the New England Patriots had a pair of deep threats in the late ’70’s that helped get big gains.
Harold Jackson and Stanley Morgan were deep burners for the Pats in 1979. Both receivers averaged over 22 yards per catch. Harold Jackson at the age of 33 led the Patriots with 45 catches for 1,013 yards with 7 TDs and averaged 22.5 yards per catch. Jackson in his 12th season with his 3rd team had four games in 1979 averaging better than 29 yards per catch and had three scoring grabs of over 40 yards. Stanley Morgan in only his 3rd season caught 44 passes for 1,002 yards with 12 touchdowns and averaged 22.8 yards per catch. Morgan had six games at better than 25 yards per grab and an astounding EIGHT touchdowns of over 30 yards. The Patriots finished the season 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Both Jackson and Morgan finished their respective careers with over 10,000 yards receiving. Jackson became only the 3rd receiver to ever cross the 10,000 yard barrier in 1981. When Morgan retired in 1990 he ranked 5th All-Time in receiving yards with 10,716.
There was an 11 year gap between Jackson & Morgan going back to the previous time of this rare feat.
In the old AFL in 1968 we find Hall of Famer Lance Alworth and Gary Garrison of the San Diego Chargers
with 1K and 18. In 1968 Lance Alworth was already well on his way to Canton with his 6th straight 1,000 yard season, 6th straight Pro Bowl and 6th straight All-Pro selection. Gary Garrison was the young kid on the outside for San Diego in only his 3rd season. Alworth led the team as he always did with 68 catches for 1,312 yards with 10 scores and 19.3 yards per catch. He added six 100 yard games all at over 17 yards per grab and three of his touchdown catches covered over 70 yards. For Garrison he set career highs with 52 receptions for 1,103 yards with 10 touchdowns and an incredible 21.2 yards per catch. Garrison finished the season with seven games averaging over 20 yards per catch. He also added three scores of more than 50 yards each. The Lightning quick striking Chargers even featured a Tight End Jacque MacKinnon who averaged 19.6 per reception. However the Chargers finished 9-5 and missed the playoffs. By the end of Alworth’s career he became the 2nd in NFL History with over 10,000 yards receiving (behind the Jets Don Maynard). At the time of Garrison’s retirement in 1977 he was 16th All-Time in receiving yards with 7,538.
And now we go back to 1961 and the first time that this feat was accomplished. Staying in the old AFL with the high flying Houston Oilers.
Charley Hennigan and Bill Groman were the 1st teammates
to both gain 1,000 yards at over 18 yards per catch in the same season. In 1961 the Houston Oilers enjoyed its 2nd AFL Championship in only the 2nd season of existence (that was the last title for the Oilers/Titans Franchise until the Titans won the AFC Championship in 1999 but lost in the Super Bowl). Hall of Fame QB George Blanda at the age of 34 had two amazing targets to throw the ball. Charley Hennigan set the league record that stood til 1995 of 1,746 yards. His record breaking performance came on 82 catches with 12 scores and averaged 21.3 yards per grab. Ten of his 13 games totaled over 100 yards and even three went for more than 200. Nine of his games Hennigan averaged better than 20 yards per catch. Nine of his scores covered 30 yards or more. Groman had led the league as a rookie in 1960 with over 1,400 yards. He now added 1,175 yards on 50 catches for 17 scores and 23.5 yards per catch. Groman finished with eight games at over 20 yards per grab and eight of his touchdown catches covered 30 yards or more. In those first two years Groman set a rookie record with 1,473 yards (which still stands), set the mark for most TD receptions in the 1st two years of a career with 29 (which also still stands) and led the league in eight different categories. Groman’s best days were now behind him. He did win two more AFL Titles with the Buffalo Bills in 1964 & 1965. Hennigan saw some more success as he became the 1st player History with over 100 catches grabbing 101 in 1964. A record that stood 20 years until Art Monk nabbed 106 for Washington in 1984. When Hennigan retired following the 1966 season he ranked 10th All-Time between both leagues and was 1st in AFL History with 6,823 yards. However, what Hennigan and Groman did together in 1961, combining for 2,921 yards, was a mark that stood for a pair until 1995. The Chargers became the first team to have a trio of players over 1,000 yards each in 1980. But yet, for a pair of receivers to combine for more than what Hennigan and Groman did, the Lions Herman Moore (1,686) and Brett Perriman (1,488) finally broke the record with 3,174.
It has been 15 seasons since Westbrook and Connell were the last to accomplish 1,000 yards and 18 yards per catch each. Who will be the next pair? Or, in this day of quick passes will it happen again? Since Hennigan & Groman in 1961, this is the longest gap with previously going from 1968 to 1979 the longest before. If I had to take a guess I would say the New York Giants with Odell Beckham and a healthy Victor Cruz could have a good shot at being the next. But can they go long enough times to get to 18 yards per catch? We shall see. It’s all part of the fun.
Charley Hennigan and Bill Groman at a reunion