With Matthew Stafford having already broken the Detroit Lions’ single season touchdown record and positioned to break the single season passing yardage record on Saturday, it is worth taking a look at his season so far in comparison to Scott Mitchell‘s record setting 1995 season.
Just as Stafford and Johnson are enjoying career years in 2011, Scott Mitchell and Herman Moore did the same in 1995. When looking at the percentage of Mitchell’s numbers that came as a result of passes to Moore we see that Mitchell was much more reliant on Moore than Stafford is on Johnson.
The difference between Stafford and Mitchell is even more striking when comparing each passer’s reliance on his top two targets. It is easy to forget that Brett Perriman also had a career year in 1995 in the shadow of what Herman Moore accomplished. Add his numbers into the mix and it is amazing how little Scott Mitchell did apart from throwing to Moore or Perriman. For this comparison, Brandon Pettigrew‘s numbers get added with Calvin Johnson‘s and divided by Matthew Stafford‘s totals.
In what might amount to a chick and the egg scenario, does a quarterback have a big season as a result of a receiver’s season or vice versa? In truth, there is probably a symbiotic relationship between the two, however if we’re comparing these two season from Matthew Stafford and Scott Mitchell and wondering which is “more real”, I have to say Stafford’s.
It is easy to discount Mitchell since we have hindsight to tell us what the rest of his career went like, but the fact that he relied on two receivers so heavily while Stafford will best him by spreading the ball around leads to that conclusion quite nicely. Now, it’s up to Matthew Stafford to prove me right.