Great Receivers, Great Returners, and Ted Ginn

So, listening to the radio today, all of the “Ted Ginn the returner vs. Ted Ginn the receiver” talk got me thinking. I couldn’t name a single game-changing return man who was also a game-changing receiver. To verify this, I looked at to see if there are any players dating back to 1994 with multiple return touchdowns who also led their team in receptions, receiving yards, or receiving TDs in the same year. This is what I found:

2008: Johnnie Lee Higgins - 3 punt return TDs, led Raiders with 4 receiving TDs.

2007: Nate Burleson - 1 punt return TD, 1 kickoff return TD, led Seahawks with 9 receiving TDs.

2003: Brian Westbrook - 2 punt return TDs., led Eagles with 4 receiving TDs.

2002: Steve Smith - 2 punt return TDs, led Panthers with 872 receiving yards.

2001: Troy Brown - 2 punt return TDs, led Patriots in receptions, yards, and TDs with 101/1199/5.

1998: Joey Galloway - 2 punt return TDs, led Seahawks in receptions, yards, and TDs with 65/1047/10.

1998: Jermaine Lewis - 2 punt return TDs, led Ravens in receiving yards and TDs with 784/6.

1996: Eddie Kennison - 2 punt return TDs, led the Rams in receiving TDs with 9.

If I didn't list a year, it's because nobody met the criteria that year. Off the bat, we can ignore Brian Westbrook because he’s a RB, not a WR. Out of the remaining players, only Steve Smith and Joey Galloway had multiple 1,000 yard receiving seasons and only Steve Smith made multiple Pro Bowls as a receiver. Let’s call those 2 players both game-changing returners and game-changing receivers. That’s 2 players in the past 15 years that have been both.

Complicating the analysis are the following notable players:

-Santana Moss returned 2 punts for TDs in 2002 (his second season) and later on had 3 1000-yard seasons.

-Randy Moss returned 1 punt and 1 kick for TDs in 2003. He’s arguably a first-round Hall-of-Famer.

-1996 Rookie Amani Toomer had 2 punt return TDs and was #1 quality for the Giants later in his career with 5 straight 1000-yard receiving seasons.

-1994 Robert Brooks of the Packers had multiple return TDs and eventually had 2 1000-yard receiving seasons.

These players were arguably game-changing returners earlier in their careers and became game-changing receivers later on in their careers.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? This is what I can come up with:

1. Coaches do not let their game-changing wide receivers return kicks and punts, even if they are game-changing returners as well.

This is obvious. With the exception of Randy Moss in 2003, all of the players I mentioned as both game-changing receivers and game-changing returners made the lion’s share of their multiple 1,000-yard seasons or Pro Bowls AFTER they had their multiple return TD seasons. This means that, potentially, many of the game-changing WRs out there would also be game-changing returners given the chance (I mean, who wouldn’t love to see Andre Johnson or Reggie Wayne returning kicks?)

2. Players with the body type to be great returners are generally not big enough to be great receivers.

This becomes clearer when you look at some of the WRs who consistently showed up as multiple return-TD scorers in the last 15 years. For example: Devin Hester (5’10”, 185), Tamarick Vanover (6’, 220), Dante Hall (5’8” 187), Josh Cribbs (6’1, 192), Desmond Howard (5’10, 185), Mel J. Gray (5’9”, 167) are/were all great returners, but not great receivers. Contrast this with the top receivers from that time: Randy Moss (6’4”, 215), Larry Fitzgerald (6’3”, 225), Isaac Bruce (6’, 188), Jerry Rice (6’2”, 200), Michael Irvin (6’2”, 207), Terrell Owens, (6’3”, 226), Tim Brown (6’, 195), and Marvin Harrison (6’, 175). For the most part, the great returners are under 6’ and under 200 lbs (biggest exception being Tamarick Vanover) and the great receivers, regardless of weight, are at least 6’ tall. This suggests that Steve Smith (5’9”, 185) is the exception, not the rule.

3. Ted Ginn-related conclusions

Ted Ginn is not a game-changing receiver. This isn’t a shocker. Statistically, at 5’11”, 178, he does not have the size to be a game-changing receiver. To anyone who has watched him drop passes over and over again the last few years, this is no revelation. However, he is the perfect size for a game-changing returner. Thus, I wouldn’t advocate cutting him from the roster completely this offseason unless his salary makes it absolutely necessary.

More interesting to me is that Coach Sparano and staff have continued to let Ginn return kicks. Since it seems that, in the last 15 years, coaches do not want their great receivers returning kicks, this shows that the Dolphins do not see Ginn as a #1 receiver. Again, this may be obvious by the fact that Ginn didn’t start this last game. However, the benching can be seen as a motivational ploy. A willingness to expose Ginn to injury by allowing him to return kicks cannot be explained as anything other than a realization that Ginn is not going to be a game-changing receiver. Look for the Dolphins to either sign a WR who fits the body type of the majority of great receivers (Brandon Marshall? Steve Breaston?) or to draft one in an early round (Brandon LaFell from LSU? Arrelious Benn from Illinois? Eric Decker from Minnesota?).

Finally, I have way too much time on my hands. And most importantly, GO DOLPHINS!!!

Game Day Post

Clearly I wasn't the only one too disgusted by last week to even talk about it... but that's the past now. This week it's the bleepin' Jets! This is as big as it gets too. If we can manage to win the next two weeks we can still win the division by doing nothing but winning. If we lose though it's probably all but mathematically over.

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Christopher Wolstenholme

Game review

I'm surprised no one has made a post about the game yet, especially since we not only won, but crushed the Bills. Let me start off by saying that Cameron Wake was the best thing the Dolphins did this past offseason. He's a beast. Three sacks and he seemed to be pressuring Edwards every play he was in. Jason Taylor played very well on the other side for the first time since he returned.

The run offense and run defense has been solid all year. It's really disappointing that it has only turned up one win so far. The pass defense improved this game. There were a couple of miscues by the rookies (they gave up a couple of long passes which seemed to be close enough for them to break up), but overall, they were pretty solid with their three INTs.

Chad Henne, who had a terrible debut last week, really showed that he was ready for this game. He wasn't Marino (overthrew and underthrew a few balls to seemingly open receivers from time to time), but he was very smart and knew when to throw and when to run with the ball. I could see how much Pennington has influenced his development. The only problem I saw was that he needs to know how to protect the ball from fumbles (I think he had two fumbles, that were fortunately recovered by the OL).

Overall, the Dolphins played like we expected them to play going into the year. I'm really excited to see them play the Jets on Monday Night.

Game Day Post

Henne's first start ever today. Maybe for a change, Phins fans will give a QB a chance instead of condemning him or treating him as the next coming after one game. Hopefully everyone (Ginn especially) is going to step up and help him out. I hope we also take advantage of his skill set and try to throw a few balls deep. Buffalo's D is hurting and it isn't all world anyway.

Also, I made the ultimate sacrifice today and shaved, so it better work dammit!!!

Keep it here! :)


Watching the game recap on ESPN, they did in fact mention Pennington was out with a shoulder injury. Most likely for the season.
EDIT: For the season.
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Random Thoughts

Just a few things I'm thinking about our team lately.

First of all, let's not be ridiculous about Henne. No matter what you thought of his play yesterday, it was the first time time he got some real game action in a game that mattered. Yes, that INT was stupid, but no one else helped him either. Stupid penalties and drops. I'm not saying Henne has no blame, but let's be realistic here. I will admit, I like Henne, I think he can be a good QB (and no I'm not a Michigan fan) that said, I wouldn't be shocked at all if this week doesn't go well. It will be the first start of his career and let's get serious, if the run game isn't working, we have pretty much nothing else. With it looking like Pennington may be done for the year we'll get a chance to get a good look at Henne this year. If the internet had existed for Elway's first season everyone would of wanted that bum run out of town. No easy task this week against Buffalo either, they've slowed down much better offenses than ours.

Second, and I mentioned it in another post, but who bad is Wilson? And even more so, how bad is he backup? Wilson can't tackle, and he can't cover. He is completely pathetic. Bell looks like he has lost a step too. We're putting all the pressure on our CBs to shut down WRs and they have no help. I know on at least one of the bombs yesterday, and maybe both Wilson and Bell were behind the WR and CB. Oops.

Why did we resign Crowder? I will never understand this. He literally does nothing all game every game. He has never made a play of any significance and he misses or is out of position on as many tackles as he makes.

It's unfortunate that our ILBs and Safeties are so week on our defense, because the rest is pretty good. Our rookie CBs are holding their own, and the rest of the front seven is putting the hammer down on the run. It would be nice if we got more consistent pressure on the QB, but until we start having someone cover a TE or provide help over the top, it won't matter how many yards we run for or how much time we hold the ball.

I know it's early but it's pretty clear that WR has to be our top priority on offense this off season. Ginn has been given plenty of time and has failed us when we needed him most. Every other WR on the team can make the plays he's made so far this year. He is supposed to go down field and hit the HR, but we all know he failed at the most crucial moment Monday night, and he was a no show last week too. As a third year guy he has to be ready to help out a QB being thrown in the fire and did nothing but drop the ball. At this point I can't think of Ginn as anymore than a low end #2, top end #3 WR, and that's sad.

Also have to talk about the play calling. Are we scared to use the Wildcat inside the 5? I don't know why we quit using it then. I know a lot of the media hates on us for it, but the results can't be argued with, it works. And we need to try passes longer than 10 yards, even just some medium passes to loosen up the defense. Of course, we also have to complete them, but we can't do that if we don't try. I'm sure we can get Bess 20 yards down field, he doesn't drop anything.

This is a very disappointing start, not because we've lost, but because we could have won all three of these games if we played our mistake free, solid defense style. A lot of people thought we might take a step back this year, and it looks like we may have, but we aren't going 0-16 or anything. Hopefully we can get our first W this week and go from there.

That's all I got for now, what say you?

Game Day Post

I know it's a little early to do this for a 4:15 game, but I'm thinking about it now.

Huge game for us today, definitely a must win in my mind. SD's run defense has been crap so a similar game plan to last week should win it for us. If anyone in the middle of our defense decides to cover and/or tackle someone this week. Good week for Taylor and Porter to put it together as well.

Game Day Post

I am so jacked for this game I can't stand it. If it wasn't for this job thing, I'd totally be there tonight. I can't wait to beat the fuck out of Indy!!!!!

Keep it here, everyone!

Game Day Post

Finally. It's back. I can't wait to go out there and kick ass and take names. I expect our RBs will have good days today.

Like usual keep all your comments, rants, raves, questions, suicide notices here so we don't flood everyone's friend page. Look forward to hearing from you all after the game! (Or maybe even during it!)
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