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Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson Form Best QB-WR Tandem in the NFL

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Anyone who reads LBS knows we’ve been fans of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson for a long time. Only injuries to either player (mostly Stafford) limited what they could accomplish together. Now that both players are healthy, we’re seeing how dominant they are. They’re currently forming the best quarterback-wide receiver partnership in the NFL. Let’s take a look at the best current tandems in the league.

Top 5 Quarterback-Wide Receiver Tandems

1. Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson

Stafford and Johnson have combined for nine touchdowns through five games. That’s the most touchdowns any player has scored the first five games of a season. Calvin is threatening Randy Moss’ 2007 record of 23 receiving touchdowns in a season (he’s on pace for 29 touchdowns). He’s fifth in the league in receiving yards with 451, and tied for eighth with 29 receptions.

The tandem has combined for 31% of Detroit’s passing yards this season, and 56% of the team’s offensive touchdowns.

Ready for this? In the 17.5 games they’ve played together, they’ve combined for 16 touchdowns. Few combinations in history can compete with that kind of success.

2. Tom Brady-Wes Welker

When passing records were set by New England in 2007, it was the Tom Brady to Randy Moss combination that entered record books. Now that Moss is out of the picture, and Welker has recovered from a 2009 knee injury, it’s been all about the little guy for the Pats.

Welker is blowing away the field with 45 receptions in five games this season. He’s on pace for 144 receptions, which would top Marvin Harrison’s single-season record of 143 achieved in 2002. Welker also has 740 receiving yards, 131 more than the next closest receiver. He’s on pace for 2,368 yards which would shatter Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 set in 1995.

Brady to Welker has accounted for 39% of New England’s passing yards, and 20% of the team’s touchdowns.

3. Ben Roethlisberger-Mike Wallace

Roethlisberger to Wallace has been one of the more underrated tandems in the league. Wallace enjoyed a breakout season last year, catching 10 touchdowns and gaining 1,257 yards. He’s the focal point of the passing game and Ben’s go-to guy. No longer strictly a deep specialist (although he’s averaging over 17 yards per play), Wallace is tied for fifth in the NFL with 31 receptions. He’s third in the NFL in yards with 536, and he has three touchdowns.

Big Ben and 60 Minutes have connected for 39% of Pittsburgh’s passing yards, and 27% of their touchdowns. Wallace has also posted at least 76 receiving yards in 13 of his last 14 regular season games. Now that’s consistency.

4. Cam Newton-Steve Smith

Of all quarterback-receiver tandems to make the list, this was by far the most improbable. Smith was coming off a miserable 46 catch, 554 yard, two touchdown season a year ago. He’s battled some injuries the last few years, possibly lost some explosiveness, and most importantly, he didn’t have a quarterback who could get him the ball. After a shaky preseason, it didn’t look like having Cam Newton at quarterback would be any different. But it has been.

Newton is fourth in the NFL in passing yards this season 1,610, and Steve Smith has been his favorite target. Smith is tied for 14th in the league with 27 catches, second with 609 yards, and behind just 10 players with three touchdowns.

The two have combined for 38% of Carolina’s passing yards, and 23% of the team’s touchdowns.

5. Matt Schaub-Andre Johnson

Not even a hamstring injury to Johnson could keep him off the list. Dre Day has asserted himself as one of the best receivers in the league, averaging at least 93 yards per game and scoring at least eight touchdowns each of the last four seasons. It’s no coincidence that Johnson’s streak began when Matt Schaub arrived in Houston in 2007.

Schaub has back-to-back 4,000+ yard seasons and he’s thrown 53 touchdowns the past two years. In three and a half games, Johnson recorded 25 catches for 352 yards and two TDs. He’s out with a hamstring injury, but you can’t leave this dynamic tandem off the list. Without Johnson playing, Schaub posted his worst passer rating of the season in week five against the Raiders.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Rodgers-Greg Jennings, Drew Brees-Jimmy Graham, Matt Cassel-Dwayne Bowe

Photo Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE



Around The Web

  • http://twitter.com/bpackey Packey

    Nitpick alert! November 2010 is considered a long time? That’s not even a year. Even though most Lions fans knew Stafford-Calvin would be the future of Detroit from the moment Stafford was drafted in April 2009, I’ll allow one of my favorite sites to suggest they’ve been on the wagon “for a long time.”

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I was hosting on WXYT the night before the draft when it was announced that the Lions would be taking Stafford. Most of the fan reaction was negative, so I disagree with that. 

    And at the time I wrote that story, they had only played over 11 games together. I’d say that’s pretty early on to declare that they were going to be a Pro Bowl combination for years to come. Most people haven’t caught on until this year.

    Also, I’ve been a big Calvin fan since college and thought he was an excellent pick from the start.

  • http://twitter.com/The_Real_Kishan Kishan Vashee

    Rogers and Jennings???

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Put that on honorable mention. Only reason they weren’t in top five is because Rodgers throws to so many receivers, that you could arguably put Rodgers-Finley on here too.