They have probably been written about too much the past couple days, but Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's recent satellite radio comments regarding his quarterback-receiver tandem are the subject of this Tuesday factoid.
Apparently, as we've hit the news-starved portion of a mostly quiet offseason, the comment was big news. It has been linked from more football blogs than I knew existed. Which begs the question: why?
Seriously. It's not like Jackson hasn't made such claims before (he has; albeit with much greater subtlety). Besides, he had to say what he did, especially considering how he was all but baited into making the revelation that Green and Dalton were indeed the best quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL. I mean, what else is a coordinator supposed to say when a radio host asks "I'm not trying to start no mess ... but I'm trying to think of a better duo, or at least one that's comparable to Dalton and Green?"
Was Jackson supposed to say, "Ah, you know. My guys are good, but they aren't as good as this guy and this guy in [insert another city]. Now that's a combo I'd like to have."
Absolutely not. He would be let go quicker than the words "you're fired" could leave team president Mike Brown's lips. No coordinator is in the business of trashing his players. So he has to stand up for them and proclaim them the best in a situation like that; even when it isn't true.
Tuesday's factoid shows that very fact. While good, Dalton and Green aren't the top quarterback-receiver tandem in the league. Here is one number to illustrate that: 3,705.
That is the number of yards Dalton and Green have hooked up for in the regular season since their careers began in 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In that time, one quarterback-receiver tandem has connected for more yards: Detroit's Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Surprise, surprise. (For those of you with your sarcasm detectors turned off, I'm not really surprised)
That is one duo that probably deserves to be considered the best in the game right now.
Along with leading the league's quarterback-receiver tandems in yards (5,066) since 2011, the Stafford-Johnson connection also had the most completions, with Johnson catching 298 passes from Stafford. Only Wes Welker has more overall receptions in the same period, catching 313 passes from a combination of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Where does the Green-Dalton connection rank on that list? Not far down. The Bengals pair comes in fourth in receptions with 256 since 2011, just behind New Orleans' Jimmy Graham and Drew Brees, who have hooked up 267 times in that same stretch.
Those numbers suggest the Dalton-Green connection is a strong one, and should be considered among the best in the game. But clearly, using the above metrics and a host of others, we can tell the pair isn't the absolute, unequivocal, without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt best. Apologies to coordinator Jackson.
Is there really a way -- aside from using statistics the way we did here -- to establish a true modern-day quarterback-receiver hierarchy, though? Probably not. Such lists are more conversation starters than anything else. I will say this, though. Dalton and Green's relative youth (they're 26 and 25, respectively) makes them candidates to become the top future passing tandem post-Stafford/Johnson. That is, of course, assuming the Bengals are able to keep the two together well into the future. Dalton, as you know, is in the middle of contract talks, and Green, who had his fifth-year option exercised this offseason, is around at least through the 2015 season, although he could be wrapped up long-term in the coming years.