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NFL morning after: Jerry Rice or Calvin Johnson?

Calvin Johnson AP

Ask me who the best receiver in NFL history is, and my answer is Jerry Rice, and no active receiver is close. So please understand that I’m not suggesting that Calvin Johnson has had a better career than Jerry Rice.

But I want to ask a different question: Has anyone — even the immortal Jerry Rice– ever played the wide receiver position better than Calvin Johnson is playing it right now?

With all due respect to Rice, I believe the answer to that question is no. The level of play Megatron has achieved over the last few years exceeds that of any wide receiver in the history of the game, even including Jerry Rice at his best.

From the start of the 2011 season through yesterday’s insane 14-catch, 329-yard game against the Cowboys, Johnson has 4,466 receiving yards. Over the best 2.5-season stretch of Rice’s career (the second half of 1993 and all of 1994 and 1995), he had 4,102 receiving yards. Johnson had 1,964 receiving yards last year, breaking Rice’s NFL single-season record. Johnson now has topped 200 yards six times in his last 27 games, counting the playoffs. Rice topped 200 yards five times in 332 career games, counting the playoffs.

But I don’t want to go too far down the statistical comparisons because there are a lot of respects in which the stats don’t tell the story. Johnson’s numbers are inflated by the fact that he’s playing in a better passing era than Rice was, and also by the fact that the Lions are a worse team than Rice’s 49ers were, which means they’re throwing late in games a lot more than Rice’s 49ers were. The flip side of that is, Rice was catching passes from Hall of Famers (Joe Montana early in his career, Steve Young starting in 1991) and had excellent teammates like John Taylor, Ricky Watters and Brent Jones preventing the defense from putting everything into stopping him. Johnson is catching passes from Matthew Stafford, who’s a promising young quarterback but nowhere near the type of passer that Montana and Young were, and this year’s arrival of Reggie Bush marks the first time Johnson has ever had a top-flight talent playing with him on the Lions’ offense.

So aside from stats, what makes me say Johnson is playing better football now than Rice ever did? It mostly comes down to their physical differences. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson makes plays that the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rice did not. Rice was a genius for running perfect routes and getting open, but Johnson is so physically imposing that he makes plays even when he’s not open. The catches like Johnson’s 50-yard touchdown last week against the Bengals, when Stafford launched the ball deep into the end zone and Johnson went up and grabbed it despite being surrounded by three Bengals, are the plays that no one else at the wide receiver position has made.

And games like Johnson’s performance on Sunday are the games that no one else at the wide receiver position has had. How can Johnson, the guy every defensive coordinator in the NFL knows he has to stop, catch 87.5 percent of the passes thrown to him for 20.6 yards per attempt, as he did on Sunday? The answer is that he’s playing the wide receiver position right now better than anyone has ever played it.

Johnson was my favorite player in any of Sunday’s games. Here are some other thoughts:

Hard-luck player of the week: Reed Doughty. Doughty, a Washington safety, grew up in the Denver suburbs, and so he bought 40 tickets for friends and family to Sunday’s game against the Broncos. It should have been a great “local boy makes good” moment for him, except that he suffered a concussion last week and ended up not playing against the Broncos and not even making the trip to Denver. I hope his friends and family enjoyed the game anyway.

The Jaguars aren’t just bad, they’re historically bad. After Sunday’s 42-10 loss to the 49ers, the Jaguars are 0-8, and they’re getting blown out, week in and week out, like no team since the 1944 franchise that merged the Cardinals and Steelers because players were scarce during World War II. I thought before the season that the Jaguars were the worst team in the league, but they’re even worse than I thought they’d be. I figured they’d be your run-of-the-mill lousy 3-13 team. In reality, your run-of-the-mill lousy 3-13 team would be a double-digit favorite over these Jaguars.

Best block of the day belonged to Larry Warford. A rookie guard for the Lions, Warford got out in front of running back Joique Bell on a screen pass and planted Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee into the turf. It was a textbook example of the right way for an offensive lineman to play a screen pass.

It’s amazing that the Patriots keep winning. There comes a point when no team can withstand the loss of too many good players, and the Patriots seem like they should have reached that point. They lost Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead and Aaron Hernandez before the season. They’ve lost Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork to season-ending injuries. Aqib Talib was out Sunday. Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola have missed most of the year. You just can’t lose that many good players. And yet New England is 6-2 after Sunday’s win over the Dolphins. Bill Belichick is a coaching genius.

What happened to Chip Kelly, offensive genius? I know the Eagles have had injuries to both first-string quarterback Michael Vick and second-string quarterback Nick Foles, but shouldn’t an offensive innovator like Kelly be able to manufacture some points anyway? Here’s how every single Eagles offensive drive has ended in the last two weeks: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, punt, field goal, interception, interception, interception, interception, interception, punt, punt, punt, fumble, downs, punt, punt, punt, downs, interception. Yes, in the last two weeks the Eagles have had 15 punts, five interceptions (on five consecutive drives), one lost fumble, one missed field goal and one made field goal. And the one made field goal came on a drive that started in field goal range. If you were flipping back and forth between the Lions and the Eagles on Sunday, you got to see Megatron playing the receiver position at its best, and the Eagles playing offense at its worst.

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111 Responses to “NFL morning after: Jerry Rice or Calvin Johnson?”
  1. remyje says: Oct 28, 2013 7:02 AM

    Randy Moss

  2. wryly1 says: Oct 28, 2013 7:04 AM

    I’m inclined to go with the guy who had a long, consistently productive career and won playoff games and championships as Jerry Rice did. When Megatron has accomplished any of those things, his gaudy stats in an October, non-divisional, regular season game will be icing on the cake

  3. ad2k13 says: Oct 28, 2013 7:07 AM

    Megatron = GOAT

  4. doctorrustbelt says: Oct 28, 2013 7:16 AM

    Jerry Rice would destroy all in this pass friendly anti-defense NFL.

    Also… Jerry Rice’s blocking in the rushing… AND…. passing game was unmatched.

  5. roadbiscuit says: Oct 28, 2013 7:24 AM

    Coughed up the ball 2x.

    With an accurate QB, take Rice. With Stafford, Johnson’s a necessity.

  6. doctorrustbelt says: Oct 28, 2013 7:29 AM

    Jerry Rice 33 100-yard games in his first 99 regular season NFL games.

    Calvin Johnson 35 100-yard games in his first 99 regular season NFL games of pass happy anti-defense NFL.

  7. greenejoemean says: Oct 28, 2013 7:32 AM

    Prisoners of the moment.

    Rice is the G.O.A.T.

    Rice put up his numbers while his QB spread the ball around.

    Rice played in a more physical era also.

    CJ gets a ton of targets because Detroit has no other reliable receivers. Not his fault but it’s a factor.

    CJ plays at least 10 games a year inside a dome.

    The NFL today is a pass happy league. QB’s today are throwing 40-50 times a game.

    CJ is great but let him finish his career before we start crowning him the king.

  8. rhabdodontidae says: Oct 28, 2013 7:32 AM

    CJ > Randy Moss.

  9. getatmeplease says: Oct 28, 2013 7:33 AM

    “With an accurate QB, take Rice. With Stafford, Johnson’s a necessity.”

    Stafford seems to get a lot of heat for this despite his receivers leading the league in drops. Aside from that, wouldn’t a more accurate passer make Megatron even better? What a moronic comment.

  10. doctorrustbelt says: Oct 28, 2013 7:34 AM

    Calvin Johnson = 13 fumbles in 99 regular season games.

    Jerry Rice = 27 fumbles in 303 regular season games.

  11. ryanburns1324 says: Oct 28, 2013 7:35 AM

    Maybe not better than Rice. However, Calvin is bar far the most physical and athletically gifted and talented WR ever.

  12. rocctheworldtv says: Oct 28, 2013 7:36 AM

    You owe an apology to Randy koss for saying you never seen someone “Moss” 3 or more people in the endzone.

  13. bwisnasky says: Oct 28, 2013 7:38 AM

    What cracks me up with these “morning after” threads is the lack of consistency in what they decide to “follow up with”…. Had the Steelers won, they certainly would have mentioned how they are “back in the thick of the WC race”. Instead, they call the Raiders victory “ridiculous”, even though you had 2 teams that had the same record playing, and they were playing in Oakland. Don’t get me wrong.. the Raiders aren’t a good team. The coaching staff seems content to get a lead and then depend on the defense to try and hold on for a win. Think that is more a product of them not trusting in the offense right now than anything. That said, to consider any loss in the NFL “ridiculous”, especially on the road is in itself ridiculous. Both sides get paid to try to win the game. And for the media in general to act like the Steelers were much better than the Raiders at this point was just as ridiculous.

  14. niccstyles says: Oct 28, 2013 7:38 AM

    Randy, Calvin, Irvin, Jerry

  15. otistaylor89 says: Oct 28, 2013 7:40 AM

    They are different players. Rice could get open at will, catch on the run and score whereas Johnson seems to have more trouble getting open (OK, half the team is shaded towards him), but will catch it when he’s covered.
    The Lions also have had some bad injury luck to teammates over the years and what I believe is average at best coaching. On the plus side, Stafford does have a gun for an arm and can get it downfield like only a handful of QBs.

  16. ljansen05 says: Oct 28, 2013 7:43 AM

    “Rice was a genius for running perfect routes and getting open, but Johnson is so physically imposing that he makes plays even when he’s not open”

    So, tell me again who is/was the better WR in the game? Stats are irrelevant, as it’s much more a pass-first league right now.

    Imho, Calvin Johnson is the best athlete at the position (much like Gronk for TE, except for his injuries), but Rice still is the GOAT at the position!

  17. doctorrustbelt says: Oct 28, 2013 7:45 AM

    Rice and Irvin = GREAT BLOCKERS

    T-E-A-M Players

  18. geniusry says: Oct 28, 2013 7:51 AM

    If you think Jerry Rice is better than Calvin Johnson, you’ve never seen either of them play.

  19. disturbedshifty says: Oct 28, 2013 7:56 AM

    Belichick isn’t a genius. He just pays off the right refs.

  20. bdluckyshot says: Oct 28, 2013 7:56 AM

    The one stat for which there is no comparison is the most important one. Unlike Megatron, Jerry Rice didn’t make a habit of getting tackled at the one yard line. The greatest of all time got into the end zone.

  21. chalkruz1989 says: Oct 28, 2013 8:00 AM

    Hard to ever compare players becuase of variables such as: time in which they played, health and supporting cast among others.

    Calvin Johnson is a rareity, he’s unlike any receiver that has ever played the game. He has size and speed and the ability to go up and get it over any defensive player.

    Jerry Rice was the epitome of workhorse. Not the biggest nor fastest but his crisp routes allowed him to really make people look childish.

    At the end of the day JR has won super bowls, can’t argue with that.

  22. overweightman says: Oct 28, 2013 8:07 AM

    Not even a fair comparison. The league is totally different. Look at all these QB’s stats. You’d have to say that the top four: Rodgers, Manning, Brady, Brees are all better than some of the greats from the Jerry Rice time frame, like Montana, Marino, Elway, and Young. LB’s could blow up QB’s then and safeties could blow up receivers a decade ago. Now there’s flags and fines for chest bumping Andrew Luck in the back…

  23. jbeagles23 says: Oct 28, 2013 8:11 AM

    Ill tell ya what argument ended yesterday was anyone saying dez is better than megatron

  24. bleedgreen says: Oct 28, 2013 8:12 AM

    If you’re saying that Stafford isn’t accurate, watch the game yesterday. He put the ball right where it needed to be, multiple times. He threaded a needle through 3 cowboy defenders to his receiver at one point as well.

  25. patriotinvasion says: Oct 28, 2013 8:13 AM

    Rice played in a league where DB’s were allowed to actually play defense.

  26. truthfactory says: Oct 28, 2013 8:16 AM

    I think anyone who knows and watches football would agree that if you were starting a team and were drafting a Wr, you take Megatron.

    Actually, think about it this way, if you are a QB, who do you want as your WR? Rice was great and amazing, but success depended on great routes and accuracy by the QB. But Megatron gives his QB an enormous target and greatly increases the margin of error that a QB has when throwing it to a WR. Just get the ball near him (even when covered) and he’s most likely to come down with the ball.

  27. overweightman says: Oct 28, 2013 8:17 AM

    Let’s see Calvin do it for as long and as consistently as Jerry and then there will be merit.

  28. exhelodrvr says: Oct 28, 2013 8:23 AM

    Johnson’s best is better than Rice’s best. (BTW, I’m an long time 49ers fan.)

    What really made Rice stand out more than anything else was that he was able to maintain the exceptionally high level for so long. Will Johnson be able to do that? Probably not, but it’s (obviously) too soon to tell.

  29. joetoronto says: Oct 28, 2013 8:27 AM

    niccstyles says:
    Oct 28, 2013 7:38 AM
    Randy, Calvin, Irvin, Jerry
    ***********************************************
    You don’t really believe that, do you?

  30. richiebburg says: Oct 28, 2013 8:34 AM

    All I know is I have never seen anything like MEGATRON. The guy can be triple covered, get a ball thrown to him, and he catches it and makes it look routine.

  31. TBaySlim says: Oct 28, 2013 8:36 AM

    I’d take Randy moss over either one of these guys, Johnson and rice were/are both great, Moss changed the way defenses play against a great receiver (advanced form of a cover 2). Also i would like to point out that Johnson for as fast as they claim he is got caught from behind on that 85 yard catch, that is something I NEVER saw from Randy moss…that said he are the stats from Moss , Rice and Johnson 1st 6 seasons (since calvin is just in his 7th)

    Moss- 525 rec 8375 yrds 77TD
    Rice 446rec 7866 yrds 79td
    johnson 488 7836yrds 54td

    Out right the stats say super freak is better then both (i also would point out Rice and Johnson had for the most part much better QB’s then moss had)

  32. csbanter says: Oct 28, 2013 8:38 AM

    OK this author must have been born sometime in the early 90s. Megatron is good but please don’t compare him to Rice.

  33. tmac4454 says: Oct 28, 2013 8:44 AM

    Jerry Rice is the best wide out that ever played the game. Honestly, I love CJ’s game. He is the best in his era in todays game and even make other Wide Out’s on opponent teams have melt downs (Dizzy Bryant). I am just happy as hell they put those Cowgirls in the lost column. On the other side, Stafford and Johnson for President this week. Good game Lions…..

  34. ma5terbla5t3r says: Oct 28, 2013 8:44 AM

    Chip Kelly = Steve Spurrier

    Who is actually surprised that his college offense is lousy???

  35. poridge1214 says: Oct 28, 2013 8:58 AM

    Jerry Rice played on a well balanced offense most of his career. CJ is probably the best physically talented receiver ever, period. However, lets stop with the “over this short sample size of his career” comparison stuff. Talk to us in CJ’s 10th year…..15th year…..20th year.

  36. clebrowntown says: Oct 28, 2013 9:08 AM

    What happened to Chip Kelly’s offensive genius?
    Genius brought in Pat Shroomhead as his OC…that’s what happened….Stooge move by the “Genius”

  37. wtfchiefs says: Oct 28, 2013 9:12 AM

    I’m really not sure if Rice or Johnson are humans.

    I don’t think Johnson is better than Rice but he sure is right there with him there’s no doubt. The thing that will always separate Rice is not only numbers, but the winning and success he had along with it. It will be interesting to see how they stack up against each other once Johnson is retired.

  38. rajbais says: Oct 28, 2013 9:16 AM

    Jerry!!!!!!

    He played in a way rougher era and thus better for this offensive liberty NFL.

    Plus, he rarely had those moments like Calvin did where he fumbled the pass and was an avid TD catcher nearly every season he played from 1986-1998.

    Touchdowns matter because the object of any team sport is to score more points than the opponent, defense not withstanding.

    Calvin has had two 5 TD seasons since 2008 and it takes a great ingredient to be an awesome TD scorer.

    Calvin needs to have that secret ingredient more often, but he’s a great player on the road to an illustrious career.

  39. cooklynn17 says: Oct 28, 2013 9:21 AM

    Here let me help you…

    Rice 3-time SuperBowl Champion!!!

    …–GAME OVER–…

  40. stew48 says: Oct 28, 2013 9:24 AM

    Don Hutson

  41. ickky says: Oct 28, 2013 9:26 AM

    Randy Moss

  42. godofwine330 says: Oct 28, 2013 9:42 AM

    Can’t say that Megatron is the GOAT. Rice did it for too long. Rice had 13 seasons with at least 1130 yards (also had another 1078 yr for 14 1000 yd seasons career). He also had two in Oakland after the 49’ers thought he was done and would have had another if Gannon hadn’t have gotten hurt. Megatron is top 5, but will never surpass Rice.

    And I’m glad the Browns got Chud as the coach and not Chip Kelly. Yet another overrated college coach, though not a cancer like Schiano. Still no college coach has been successful in the NFL since Jimmy Johnson, and no Switzer doesn’t count.

  43. giantsfanlewis says: Oct 28, 2013 9:52 AM

    Ill help you answer that question. Rice is better. Yards are great but in todays league they are not impressive.

    For example of why rice is better

    In rice 3rd year he put up 22 tds and in his first 7 had 6 1000 yard seasons, only missing 10 tds twice (9 one season and 6 his rookie season) in rices time period only one qb had thrown 40+ td passes or 5000 yards.

    In cjs time he has had 3 seasons with less than 10 tds and 2seasons without 1000 yards. This is in a time period where mutiple qbs a YEAR pass for 5000 yards. Average qbs pass fot 4000 easily and bad qbs still manage 3500. Can we please stop obsessing over yards and remember tds are all that matter

  44. tshirttom says: Oct 28, 2013 10:13 AM

    I saw Jerry Rice play many years and he was great but he never had the amazing ability that CJ has of catching passes in heavy traffic. He is bigger, stronger and faster than Jerry. I ask myself if I was a QB which I would rather throw to. The answer is Megatron and that is no slight to the great Jerry Rice.

  45. derek1800 says: Oct 28, 2013 10:28 AM

    I don’t think Jerry Rice ever saw the coverage CH sees on a regular basis. I doubt CJ will match Jerry’s longevity and playing for so many years at a high level. However I don’t remember Jerry ever getting a two player jam at the line of scrimmage with a safety over the top and a lb taking away the underneath. The best coverage Calvin sees is a safety over the top along with his cb. Most teams also move the lb underneath. That’s why you see so many catches with 3 covering him.

  46. serkeljerks says: Oct 28, 2013 10:31 AM

    Put up the years…..put up the numbers in those years….and afterward it can be discussed. Until then it’s not even a question that Rice is the best ever. Plus Rice wasn’t even a freak of nature like Megatron is. Bush is just bad at history.

    Clearly Megatron had an incredible game. But nobody is asking if Flipper Anderson is/was the best ever after his 300+ yard game (and simmer down ‘tron apologists….it’s not a comparison of Anderson and Johnson).

  47. immafubared says: Oct 28, 2013 10:36 AM

    OK, Is CJ that good or is it the dbacks are that bad.
    Yes he is fast, tall and strong and good hands, good feet. So he should be able to catch some passes, but if you watched that game you have to wonder how two guys right next to him aren’t smart enough to just bat the ball down???? Why are they trying to outcatch him, just bat the ball down.

    In the packers game last night there was a horrendous call on Shields. He barely had his hands on the back of the receiver who was running away from him, and they called interference.

    When you look at the Rice era and other great receivers they didn’t have interference like today.

    CJ is a good receiver who is a great receiver in todays rules.

  48. historyisyourfriend says: Oct 28, 2013 10:38 AM

    I’m always entertained when people bring up stats from now and compare them to yesteryear. As long as you are doing that, make sure you include that guys like Calvin Johnson in today’s flag football era don’t have to worry about getting nuked on a catch like you did in yesteryear’s game. Defensive players also could hold/push more in the past. Nowadays if you sneeze on a WR a flag is hitting the turf.

    So yes, at first blush it looks like today’s offensive stats means that these guys compare to yesteryear, but once you dig in and realize its not because the talent is so much better as you aren’t allowed to play defense anymore and there you go.

  49. aces79 says: Oct 28, 2013 10:50 AM

    how can you compare Calvin to Jerry there is no comparison its like comparing a Corvette to a Ferrari

    Jerry Rice 4 superbowls

    Calivin Johnson o superbowls

  50. stew48 says: Oct 28, 2013 10:56 AM

    Again, Don Hutson!!!!

  51. possumsauce says: Oct 28, 2013 11:00 AM

    Stew is right, it’s Hutson. Look at his stats in the context of his era, and he was quite literally to the forward pass what Babe Ruth was to the home run.

  52. lks311 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:02 AM

    aces79 says:
    Oct 28, 2013 10:50 AM
    how can you compare Calvin to Jerry there is no comparison its like comparing a Corvette to a Ferrari

    Jerry Rice 4 superbowls

    Calivin Johnson o superbowls
    _____
    First, the above comment is dumb—no further explanation needed. Second, as a Lions fan, Rice was the best I ever saw period. Just like Barry was the best I ever saw. Period. But that doesn’t mean Calvin is not great. He is. But, he’s not Jerry Rice.

  53. dwarftosser says: Oct 28, 2013 11:07 AM

    The Pats keep winning at 6-2, despite Tom Brady putting up mediocre numbers and a lot of injuries… and that is impressive. What is more impressive is the Packers have suffered the same (if not more) amount of injuries to impact players, yet they are also 6-2 and Aaron Rodgers numbers are still amazing.

  54. topcide says: Oct 28, 2013 11:20 AM

    here is the facts we know

    1. Jerry rice has generally been considered the greatest WR ever to play up to this point.

    2. joe montana is considered one of, if not the best QB to ever play the game.

    3. Steve young is also considered one of the greatest Qb’s to ever play.

    4. some of thos niners teams are considered some of the best teams ever.

    5. bill walsh is generally considered one of the greateswt coaches ever, and his subsequent tree of coaches carry a pedigree as well.

    5. calvin johnson is the most physically gifted WR ever.

    It’s really hard to compare players from different era’s, or even different teams.

    If you took calvin johnson and threw him on those niners teams, i am confident that he would dominate still. I understand that Db’s could basically beat the tar out of offensive players then, but CJ is such a inhuman physical speciman that i really don’t think that would matter.

    If you put rice into the lions offense right now, he would still get his, but i don’t think he would do the damage he did then.

    really, rice did it with technique, he ran perfect routes, had great hands, and he outworked everyone in the film room and in his offseason training. Calvin does it with sheer physical talent that you can’t coach.

    Stafford seems to be turning into a pretty good qb, but he is no montana or young by any means, calvin has never had the likes of someone like that throwing him the ball.

    Can you imagine the kind of numbers calvin would be putting up right if he was on 16-0 regular season patriots team, or paired with peyton manning, or aaron rogers, or drew brees? it would be even more eye popping.

    So is calvin or jerry better, it’s hard to compare the 2 from different era’s and it’s really hard to say.But, i do know this, even taking my lions bias out of it, If i am drafting a team assembled from all time great players in their prime from any era, I’m going to pick Calvin over Rice.

  55. randomguy9999 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:24 AM

    If you were faced with drafting Rice or Cj …. It would be Rice hands down….. Work ethic, longevity, and especially heads up play… When protection broke down, Jerry was able to instantly get open 90% of the time…

  56. dowhatifeellike says: Oct 28, 2013 11:24 AM

    Different eras, different rules/application of rules, difference in style of play. It’s nearly impossible to compare the two directly.

  57. whatwhat2013 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:28 AM

    Calvin Johnson would be Herman Moore in Rice’s era of football.

  58. thetruthcampaign says: Oct 28, 2013 11:31 AM

    CJ is undoubtedly the most physically-gifted WR in history over anyone. If Rice were playing today, I’d rather have CJ. If Peyton Manning were the QB, I’d rather have CJ. There’s no set of conditions today where I would take Rice over Megatron.

  59. kane337 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:34 AM

    I’ll take Calvin over Jerry. No question.

  60. whatwhat2013 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:44 AM

    Rice, 3 Super Bowl Championships, Super Bowl MVP.

    Johnson, 0 thus far.

    Rice inspired his team to always work harder. His offseason workout program with teammates like Roger Craig were legendary. Consummate team pro. Asked which catch was his favorite, he replied his teammate John Taylor’s catch in Super Bowl XXIII. Jerry Rice hands down in any era.

  61. thetruthcampaign says: Oct 28, 2013 11:47 AM

    @whatwhat2013, that’s fine, but you would not want Rice over CJ on your team today. Be honest.

  62. pflynn20 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:51 AM

    Comparing CJ to JR is apples and oranges. Totally different set of rules. Rice played when the DB’s could play defense and actually hit people.

  63. niccstyles says: Oct 28, 2013 11:53 AM

    JOETORONTO… of course I wouldn’t have sd if I didn’t… All these receivers everyone is talking ant had one thing in common. very good to great/hof qbs… that takes nothing from them but it’s fact. Randy had Culpepper. he sent culpepper to pro bowls. what be do afterwards…. and when Moss got a hof qb they put up madden like numbers. Moss is also the only verb in the group… Irvin played on a team who ran 35 plus times a/game… the longevity of Rices career and lack of time on dl speaks to his work ethic. But Moss is best WR.

  64. whatwhat2013 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:54 AM

    thetruthcampaign says: Oct 28, 2013 11:47 AM

    @whatwhat2013, that’s fine, but you would not want Rice over CJ on your team today. Be honest.

    —————————————————————

    No knock on CJ. But it’s the greatest football player (not just WR) of all-time. Jerry Rice.

  65. sportnorcal says: Oct 28, 2013 11:54 AM

    Megatron is fantastic, humble and fun to watch.

    But can we please just stop there.
    Jerry had 23,000 yards and over 200 Tds.

    You teenagers with the “I’d take CJ every day over Rice” crap look so foolish.

    Megatron would have to have TWO MORE CAREERS equal to what he has done thus far just to reach Jerry, and still fall 30 TDs short. And those Niners teams were balanced and didnt have to throw to one guy for 150 yds a game to compete.

  66. nativeraider says: Oct 28, 2013 12:08 PM

    If Randy Moss had Rice’s work ethic he woulda been the GOAT. Its so sad that he didn’t want it enough. That said Calvin is the best WR. Jerry Rice had Montana, Young, Garcia and Rich Gannon throwing him the ball.

    Megatron has Stafford (whos no slouch) but he always sees double teams and even triple teams. He has no WRs or TEs to take pressure off him. Rice had Taylor, Waters, Craig, B.Jones and even a young TO taking pressure of him.

  67. TheWizard says: Oct 28, 2013 12:08 PM

    If Brandon Lloyd were such a good player, he’d be on someone’s team.

  68. patriotinvasion says: Oct 28, 2013 12:09 PM

    Meh. Talk to me when he helps Detroit not go 4-12 after a promising season the year before.

  69. buffalomook says: Oct 28, 2013 12:17 PM

    49ers Attempts per game with Jerry Rice 29

    Lions Attempts per game with Calvin Johnson: 42

    % difference in Attempts Per game 44.83%

    Jerry Rice though 99 career games
    Catches 480
    Yards 8484
    YPC 17.68
    TDs 87

    Rice adjusted Production @ 42 attempts per game vs 29 if production remains similar:

    Games 99
    Catches 695
    Yards 12287
    YPC 17.68
    TDs 126

    Calvin Johnson
    Games 99
    Catches 535
    Yards 8657
    YPC 16.18
    TDs 61

    We can never truly compare the two because of different styles of play in different era’s. But If you adjust Rice’s production during his career up to the level of attempts that Calvin Johnson’s see’s, the production of Rice would outpace Johnson’s by a significant amount. As it stands, Johnson has 55 more catches through 99 games, and 173 more yards, but 26 fewer TDs. And in the NFL, regardless of era, TDs win games, not yard and catches, and no one was better than Rice. Johnson had 5 TDs last year in his nearly 2000 receiving yards. This is the 3rd time in Johnsons 6 full seasons that he has been held to 5 or fewer TDs for a season. Rice had a nose for the endzone, it seams Calvin Johnson can not match the production of the most important stat TDs. My vote goes for Rice.

  70. ray0414 says: Oct 28, 2013 12:20 PM

    I see alot of people saying that rices best attribute was his route running. if that is the case, taht means he would NEED to an elite/HOF reciever to deliver the ball exactly where it needs to be, so without young/montana jerry rice is nowhere near the stats monster he was. in 2008 when the lions went 0 and 16, calvin johnson still put up 1700 yards with FIVE different starting quarterbacks. now the team was horrendous and calvin couldnt do it alone, so there was alot of turnovers which took the ball out the offenses hands thus taking away TD chances, so that does affect his numbers in the redzone becuase they werent getting into the redzone as much. or his crappy qbs would throw INTs. rice NEVER had that problem. so give CJ a qb like joe montana over his first 7 seasons and he probably puts up better numbers than rice because tron can catch it around 2-3 defenders nad just out muscle them.

  71. ray0414 says: Oct 28, 2013 12:21 PM

    i seen someone say about how calvin got caught on the 87yd run, remember he IS playing on a bad knee that he missed 1.5 games just 2 weeks ago and even schwartz said after the game he isnt 100percent. that said, i personally think he let up becuase he didnt think theyd catch him, at that point its hard to speed back up with a bad knee.

  72. nativeraider says: Oct 28, 2013 12:21 PM

    Top Wrs To Me
    1.Rice, hands:10, routes:10, speed 8, jumping 8, attitude 9, health 10.
    2. Megatron, hands 8, routes 8, speed 8, jumping 10, attitude 10, health 8.
    3. Moss, hands 9, routes 8, speed 10, jumping 10, attiude 5, health 8.
    4. Brown, hands 10, routes 10, speed 8, jumping 6, attitude 9. health 7.

    Moss should been #1 but his work ethic stopped that. Browns up there for putting up solid #s despite NO QBs during his prime.

  73. giantsfanlewis says: Oct 28, 2013 12:39 PM

    I have the be all end all to this.

    Montana (considered the goat at qb) had 5 seasons where he didnt see 3000 yards passing (8 but 3 he didnt play) and never had 4000 yards (3900 twice)

    In comparison stafford has thrown for 5038 and 4967 yards the last two years. Whos better

  74. afcdomination says: Oct 28, 2013 12:42 PM

    does he have games like this with consistency? no? of course not

    so then look at the stats

    until he hits rice’s career numbers, No. point blank, no. jerry rice was able to have over 80 catches past the age of 35.

  75. afcdomination says: Oct 28, 2013 12:43 PM

    stats these days are so blown up with the changes to the NFL, they promote offense, hence why KC allowing 17 points max through half the season is so crazy. even if you have a great D, its just really hard to stop teams from moving the ball

  76. steelersaregodsteam says: Oct 28, 2013 12:43 PM

    This shouldn’t really be a debate. Megatron may be the most physically gifted wide receiver of all-time, but no one can match Rice when you combine physical and mental prowess (as well as work ethic) at the position.

  77. thestrategyexpert says: Oct 28, 2013 12:49 PM

    Good golly, I’d take CJ over Rice any day. Rice couldn’t play in today’s game with the same kind of impact. CJ is just flat out better and Jerry can’t do a ton of stuff that CJ can. No comparison.

  78. therolandobottom says: Oct 28, 2013 12:53 PM

    Jerry Rice is the greatest player that ever lived. Forget WR. Player, period. Coming from a Raider fan. much respect #80

  79. sdbolts says: Oct 28, 2013 12:59 PM

    The truly great players like Jerry Rice put team first. That is why he finished with 3 Super Bowl rings, and why Calvin Johnson will not. Rewrite your article again in 10 years when Johnson has retired, and your opinion will be different.

  80. ronnielottspinky says: Oct 28, 2013 1:06 PM

    truthfactory says: Oct 28, 2013 8:16 AM

    I think anyone who knows and watches football would agree that if you were starting a team and were drafting a Wr, you take Megatron.

    Actually, think about it this way, if you are a QB, who do you want as your WR? Rice was great and amazing, but success depended on great routes and accuracy by the QB. But Megatron gives his QB an enormous target and greatly increases the margin of error that a QB has when throwing it to a WR.

    —————-

    When Rice has 10 yards of separation, you can chuck it behind the back and complete it. That’s a pretty large target to miss as well.

  81. thetruthcampaign says: Oct 28, 2013 1:21 PM

    You can talk about CJ’s career when his career is over. For now, no one would take Rice over CJ at their peaks in a game right now.

  82. jetsarestacked says: Oct 28, 2013 1:22 PM

    i am honestly surprised how so many are dismissing just how good randy moss was. he was ridiculous.

    156 TDs! and he didnt have hall of famers chucking him the ball his entire career.

  83. brutus9448 says: Oct 28, 2013 1:25 PM

    The pats keep winning because the refs keep handing them games.

  84. nyjetsfan08 says: Oct 28, 2013 1:30 PM

    1. Rice. Then it gets crowded.

    2. Hudson (by a small, small margin to Rice)

    3. Calvin Johnson

    4. Randy Moss.

    5. Cris Carter.

  85. ike1973 says: Oct 28, 2013 1:41 PM

    MDS, I take back everything I ever said about you always being so negative towards the Lions. It’s an interesting comparison, and really you couldn’t go wrong with having either guy on your team. But I agree with everything you’ve said, nobody has every played the game the way Calvin is right now.

  86. sportnorcal says: Oct 28, 2013 2:05 PM

    2. Hudson (by a small, small margin to Rice)

    Hahaha, wow.
    It’s not even worth reading the entire post after reading that.

  87. trollaikman8 says: Oct 28, 2013 2:07 PM

    This is getting ridiculous. Jerry Rice will always be #1.

    Always.

  88. steelersaregodsteam says: Oct 28, 2013 2:10 PM

    1. Hines Ward
    2. Jerry Rice
    3. Randy Moss
    4. John Stallworth
    5. Lynn Swann

  89. lionshawk says: Oct 28, 2013 2:12 PM

    The only way to compare these players is clear. I’ll get to that in a second. First let’s mention that the supporting cast around Jerry made it so occasionally he saw double coverage but Craig, Waters, Taylor, Rathman, Brent Jones, John Taylor, Made sure that he never saw a triple team or Punt gunner coverage in the end zone like Megatron does.

    Second the only way to compare is to ask how they would preform if they switched teams. I think its awesome that we are trying to project Megatron as the best ever and who knows what he would achieve the the talent jerry had but we won’t know for another 8-10 years of Calvin Johnson highlights if he will surpass Flash 80!

  90. mward5508 says: Oct 28, 2013 2:20 PM

    Interesting theory, but respectfully have to disagree. The Niners teams of the 80’s and 90s stressed balance on offense The team not only had an incredible passing attack, but an equally deadly running attack. Because they had balance, they had options. Take the 1989 season for example. The Niners threw early and often not only to Rice, but to John Taylor, Brent Jones, Rodger Craig and Tom Rathman a FULLBACK, who caught 73 passes that year. Detroit does not have that luxury, nor do they have the Super Bowl rings.

  91. mward5508 says: Oct 28, 2013 2:25 PM

    The Niners had balance. There was no need to just target Jerry. In fact, in 1989, Tom Rathman, a fullback, had 73 receptions, not to mention passes that went to Roger Craig, John Taylor and Brent Jones. End result, Super Bowl win.

  92. usdcoyotesfan says: Oct 28, 2013 2:37 PM

    The big passing and receiving stats of today are a sham; it is against NFL rules to play defense now. It would be interesting to see Johnson play in Rice’s era.

  93. joshm5683 says: Oct 28, 2013 2:40 PM

    As a 49ers fan, I am biased. However this reminds me of the Jordan/Kobe/Lebron argument. All of them are insanely talented and driven. The old guard wants to believe back in the day was the best it was and best it will be (Rice/Jordan) the new in the now would go with Lebron/Kobe/Megatron as being the best. Its a fun argument and no right or wrong answer. I will say Megatron benefits greatly with how the rules make players play defense and regards of hitting.

    However Megatron like Lebron is just an absolute physical freak. Its a really dumb commercial, the one with Calvin and Puff Daddy, or Diddy or whatever he calls himself……..but at the end when they show Megatron running, the dude is covering like 5 yards in about 1.5 strides haha.

    While arguments for GOAT I think will always need to consider championships and post season success. I mean Megatron if I’m not mistaken has never even won a post season game let alone sniffed a championship. Megatron is now and by far ever the most physically dominant receiver we’ve ever seen. Just as fast as Randy, but a lot stronger, not to mention a way better work ethic

  94. theawkwardyears says: Oct 28, 2013 2:40 PM

    This is like comparing Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughn. Jerry Rice was a groundbreaking player but Calvin Johnson is setting new precedents. Jerry could never do what Calvin can Physically but without Jerry laying the groundwork Calvin would have never had the blueprint. Physically Calvin is a specimen and the level of science that goes into training has gone up significantly. Therefore, I say they are equals. You couldn’t have Calvin without Jerry.

  95. joshm5683 says: Oct 28, 2013 2:59 PM

    nativeraider how do you have Calvin listed as an 8 for speed? I mean overall your list is pretty good but Calvin ran a 4.3 coming out of college and at 6’5 240………thats insane

  96. nyjetsfan08 says: Oct 28, 2013 3:22 PM

    2. Hudson (by a small, small margin to Rice)

    Hahaha, wow.
    It’s not even worth reading the entire post after reading that.

    —–

    Just started watching the NFL, huh? That’s okay you don’t know your history, I won’t hold it against you.

  97. deltaoracle says: Oct 28, 2013 4:22 PM

    Obviously he wasn’t as large, fast, and strong as Johnson (or probably Rice), but Don Hudson STILL holds a lot of NFL receiving records. That deserves a bit of respect.

  98. nativeraider says: Oct 28, 2013 4:27 PM

    nativeraider how do you have Calvin listed as an 8 for speed? I mean overall your list is pretty good but Calvin ran a 4.3 coming out of college and at 6’5 240………thats insane

    Ya I also gave Brown a 9 for heath. I thought he was hurt for 2 years instead of 1. Errors are errors…

  99. justice072013 says: Oct 28, 2013 7:38 PM

    Stafford probably throws it 20 times more per game on average than Montana and Young did, so that gives Megatron that many more chances to be great and accumulate stats. Stafford averaged 700 throws the previous 2 years, the most Montana ever threw was 520 and the most Young ever threw was 517. So if you’re throwing it to a guy twice as much, it’s going to skew the results. That coupled with the rules changes makes it even less comparable.

  100. thetruthcampaign says: Oct 28, 2013 7:48 PM

    patriotinvasion says:
    Oct 28, 2013 12:09 PM
    Meh. Talk to me when he helps Detroit not go 4-12 after a promising season the year before.

    How much more than 2000 receiving yards can he do to help the team win? Would doing what Torrey Smith did be enough to get the Lions to the Super Bowl? At some point, the rest of the team has to perform. Were Barry Sanders yards and performance any less relevant because the team sucked. No. He’s among the greats. Your argument is stupid. Next.

  101. mrlaloosh says: Oct 28, 2013 7:57 PM

    Jubilee Dunbar.

  102. bobsnygiants says: Oct 28, 2013 9:46 PM

    Rice could’nt take the hits Calvin take, so in today’s game I take Mr Calvin

  103. ray0414 says: Oct 28, 2013 11:46 PM

    thats a good point, could a smaller rice take the punishment of todays monster players on defense? would injuries from those hits have greatly hurt jerrys “amazing stats”? its a valid question.

  104. nbt88 says: Oct 29, 2013 12:54 AM

    Calvin Johnson is really good, but this is absurd.

    1) Jerry Rice was a fantastic player who used the elite situation he found himself in to have the greatest career of any player ever.

    2) Randy Moss’s skills trump Calvin’s across the board with the exception of strength. Size is a wash, but Moss was faster, quicker, better routes, better hands (knock Calvin doesn’t hear enough), better jump balls.

    Calvin might be a top 3 guy all time when said and done, but right now he is still not near the level of these two receivers.

  105. nbt88 says: Oct 29, 2013 12:59 AM

    “Calvin Johnson is unlike any receiver that has ever played the game. He has size and speed and the ability to go up and get it over any defensive player.”

    Huh?

    You just described Randy Moss, except Moss was faster, could jump higher, and had better hands.

    I think a lot of people are letting their views of Moss as a person cloud the fact that YOUNG, PRIME (pre 2002) Randy Moss was a lot more talented than Calvin Johnson.

    Didn’t young Randy Moss catch like 45 touchdowns from 6 different quarterbacks through his 1st 3 seasons?

    Take everything you youngsters are saying about Calvin, up it by a level (aside from strength, which you downgrade by 5 levels) and you Randy Moss.

  106. dodohead418 says: Oct 29, 2013 2:10 AM

    Rice was outspeeding his opponents, and that is hard to do.

  107. bfc2224 says: Oct 30, 2013 2:22 AM

    For everyone bringing up superbowls, stop! Jerry Rice didn’t win those superbowls, stacked 49’rs teams with two hall of fame QBs did. All the guys who believe Johnsons large number games are from a pass happy QB and era, stop! He’s got 1 100+ reception season, I think Rice and Moss both had more receptions through 7 years in the league.

    Everyone also wants to talk about how the rules have changed so much, they had to, todays athletes are too big, too fast and too strong to be able to hit you however they feel at the time. Calvin Johnson undoubtedly takes just as much punishment as Rice, if not maybe even more, seeing as it takes more than one hit to bring Johnson down every time the catches the ball.

    I believe athletes of the 90’s were just as big and strong as today, on the defensive side of the ball. But most wide outs don’t take 3-4-5 hits every time they touch the ball. This guy gets the hell beat out of him every time he catches it. Jerry’s stats wouldn’t be even close to Johnsons had he been triple teamed for 16 games of every season he played in. They couldn’t double and triple him every play because they had running backs and a qb that could spread the ball out all day. They double and tripple team this guy every game and he puts up big numbers.

    Bringing up receptions, yes Stafford threw it 700 times, only 122 of which Johnson was onnn the receiving end of, which only matches Rices best, doesn’t beat it. So everyone who says its because he’s targeted more should research. He may not be greater than Rice with all the numbers by the end of his carrer, but prime vs prime, Johnson would make Rice look mediocre. The pass game was just growing then, its been huge for over a decade now and they still can stop a guy like Calvin, knowing they’re going to throw the ball kver and over again with only ONE star receiver on the team should make it easy. Put Rice in uniform today and he wouldnt match it.

  108. sfsale2000 says: Oct 30, 2013 4:28 AM

    Are you guys kidding me???

    Jerry rich was so great they invented a STAT for him: YAC

    That’s yards after the catch.

    Not only was Rice a great route runner, but he routinely turned 5 yard catches into 80 yard touchdowns.

    Players like CJ and Moss get by on sheer physical stature. The QB just tosses the ball up and it’s jumpball. They are basically basketball players.

    Rice however could catch a short pass and take it all the way down the field for a TD. When have you ever seen CJ take a slant pass over the middle in traffic and evade the entire defense and run 80 yards for a TD???

  109. thestrategyexpert says: Oct 31, 2013 12:34 PM

    Good defense of CJ on the show just now MDS!

    These people are nuts and have no idea what they are talking about. Heck I picked CJ over Rice in my post and shortly after you still have people saying NOBODY would pick him over Rice. His claim couldn’t even last 1 second, it was refuted before he could even post it!

  110. docboss says: Nov 2, 2013 7:12 PM

    Rice=Beatles
    Johnson=Mumford and sons

    Different times, age, rules, market.
    One is a classic for all times. The other is talented and very successful.

    My question: what kind of stats would Unitas, Montana, and Marino put up in this era, with the current restrictions on coverage and tackling? Scary.

  111. 4ever9er says: Nov 4, 2014 9:53 PM

    @niccstyles says: Oct 28, 2013 11:53 AM

    JOETORONTO… of course I wouldn’t have sd if I didn’t… All these receivers everyone is talking ant had one thing in common. very good to great/hof qbs… that takes nothing from them but it’s fact. Randy had Culpepper. he sent culpepper to pro bowls. what be do afterwards…. and when Moss got a hof qb they put up madden like numbers. Moss is also the only verb in the group… Irvin played on a team who ran 35 plus times a/game… the longevity of Rices career and lack of time on dl speaks to his work ethic. But Moss is best WR………………………………………..
    With that HOF QB, Moss had 1 great season, 1 good season, 1 ok season and then he was gone! So please stop with the Madden like numbers! Yeah yeah I know, Moss broke Rice’s single season TD record but it took Moss 4 extra games and you probably won’t mention that so I did it for you.
    I can tell that you’re a young guy, because of the fact that you’re impressed with someone got Mossed! You probably thought Allen Iverson was better than Jordan…LOL…the only verb in the group…smh

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