All Manning Era Team: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

All Manning Era Team: We take a look at the greatest single seasons by position in the Peyton Manning Era (1998-2011).  Today, we look at the:

 Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: 

Just to be clear, this does not mean the receiving core as a whole.  That would be without a doubt the 2004 squad.  This is the three greatest single season individual performances by a wide receiver in the Manning Era, just grouped into one post. 

First, we have Marvin Harrison’s 2002 season.  There are so many great seasons that Marvin Harrison had in his brilliant career, but his 2002 season was undoubtedly the best.  The future hall of famer caught an NFL record 143 passes for a career high 1,722 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Marvin averaged 12.0 yards per reception and contributed 92 first downs to the Colts offense without fumbling.  

Before the emergence of Reggie Wayne in 2004, Marvin Harrison was really the only receiving threat that Peyton Manning had.  That is why his numbers in 2002 are so huge.  Marvin Harrison was so good in 2002. 

 Reggie Wayne is the second wide out on the All Manning Era Team.  His best season came in 2007, when the Colts went 13-3 and Reggie was already established as one of the best in the league. Wayne caught 104 passes for a career high 1,510 yards and 10 touchdowns.  He averaged 14.5 yards per catch and got 72 first downs.  

In 2007, Marvin Harrison was dealing with injuries and was basically never a factor again in the Colts’ offense.  Reggie Wayne stepped up in a big way and he was rewarded, with his 2007 season making the list of the greatest Colts’ seasons in the Manning Era. 

The third wide receiver and the slot receiver spot on the All Manning Era Team is occupied by Brandon Stokley’s 2004 season.  Stokley in 2004 caught 68 passes for 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns (including Peyton Manning’s record breaking 49th touchdown).  Stokley averaged an astounding 15.8 yards per reception and gained 59 first downs.  

As far as slot receivers come, not much more could be expected than what Brandon Stokley was in 2004.  That was easily his best season of his career, and it was good enough to earn a spot on this list. 

Finally, the tight end spot.  The Colts have had three very good tight ends during Peyton Manning’s career: Ken Dilger, Marcus Pollard, and Dallas Clark.  Despite how good the other two were, Dallas Clark took the tight end position to an unprecedented level and his 2009 season ranks among the greatest seasons ever by a tight end.  

Although Peyton Manning was the NFL’s MVP in 2009, a case could be made that the Colts’ best player that year was Dallas Clark.  He caught a TE franchise record 100 passes for another TE franchise record 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 11.1 yards per catch and gaining 59 first downs.  The league had no answer for Clark.  In the Colts’ super bowl loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Saints game planned around Clark, treating him as the Colts’ best player.  And in many ways, he was. 

2011 was called the year of the tight end.  Before Rob Gronkowski’s 2011 season, however, there was Dallas Clark’s 2009 season.  And just as his quarterback preceded the eruption of passing in the NFL, Clark was the forerunner of tight end dominance in the league.  

Really, there was no other option for tight end on this list. 

And really, each of these seasons belonged on this list.  No doubt.

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About Josh Wilson
Follow Josh on twitter @jwilsonWL, on Facebook at the Operation: Freedom page, or you can reach him by email at operation.freedom@yahoo.com.

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