At the prime of his career, Randy Moss was the game's best receiver, hands down. He was a freak athlete who was a match up nightmare and nearly impossible to defend. In today's NFL, Calvin Johnson is the elite receiver. Johnson is the game-changer and the closest thing to resemble Moss in his glory.
Moss was a monster since the first time he touched the field with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. However, his best season came in 2007 with the New England Patriots, when his career appeared to be dead. Johnson broke out just last season and caught the football world by storm. He has a 5,000 yard quarterback in Matthew Stafford and there are no signs of him slowing down.
Here are the numbers for Moss in 2007 and Johnson in 2011.
Statistically speaking, Moss had the superior season. His record setting season should be the most impressive year for a wideout in the 21st century.
But statistics aren't everything. Johnson had smaller numbers but possibly a bigger impact on the game. He didn't put up 23 touchdowns, but his circumstances in Detroit can not compare to Moss' in New England.
Provided below is support for both Moss and Johnson. All I can do is provide the stats, circumstances and analysis. You, the reader, should sound off in the comments and offer your opinion after reading each player's case.
Case for Randy Moss
Moss went from a three touchdown season in 2006 to an NFL record 23 in 2007. His 23rd touchdown was also quarterback Tom Brady's record 50th touchdown toss. He helped the Patriots to a 16-0 record and Super Bowl appearance. Moss out-jumped defenders to catch bombs. Moss was able to beat double coverage and make plays down field. Though he was the "home-run" receiver in New England, he could be used as a possession type guy, resulting in 98 catches, third most in Patriots history. Moss earned his sixth Pro Bowl and caught a personal best four touchdowns in a game against the Buffalo Bills. He finished with nine 100+ yard games, 13 games with at least a touchdown and eight games with multiple touchdowns. Moss was an absolute beast who made plays down-field at a never before seen level. His production across the board helped the Patriots set the NFL scoring record with 589 and the highest point differential with 315. Moss also claimed the Week 9 and 11 AFC Player of the Week award and was the AFC Player of the Month in November.
Case for Calvin Johnson
Johnson started 2011 on absolute fire as the Detroit Lions were a force in the NFL. Johnson tied an NFL record with four consecutive games with multiple touchdowns. After five games, Johnson already had nine touchdowns, a record for receiving touchdowns that early in the season. Though Johnson "cooled" off and had seven touchdowns over the remaining 11 games, he was still an absolute monster. In the season finale against the 14-1 and Super Bowl Champion Packers, Johnson caught 11 passes for 244 yards and a score. In his playoff debut, he caught 11 passes for 211 yards and two scores. But Johnson didn't have a Super Bowl MVP throwing to him. He didn't have a Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth to spread the field and reduce coverage. Johnson was instrumental in sending Detroit to its first playoff appearance in over a decade. He caught touchdown bombs in triple coverage and made plays with defensive backs left and right. Moss had the luxury of a 100+ reception receiver in Welker and a variety of playmakers on the field. Johnson was the main threat for Detroit but was able to produce game after game. His impressive season led to an eight year $132 million contract extension, making him the game's highest paid wideout. He also won a fans' vote to grace the cover of Madden 13.
Both Moss and Johnson had stellar seasons and stellar stats in 2007 and 2011. However, stats alone don't prove who had the more impressive season. Both players came from different backgrounds and faced different circumstances.
But which do you think was more impressive? Reply in the comments and let the debate begin.