Commentary

Miles Austin has seized the WR crown

Andre Johnson isn't even the best receiver in his state anymore

Originally Published: July 22, 2010
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesIf the Cowboys are to reach a Super Bowl in their stadium, Miles Austin needs to play a huge role.

One of the methods that former college football coach Bear Bryant used to settle positional battles early in his coaching career was the "challenge system." This allowed any player to call for a one-on-one battle with a starter. The two would go head-to-head in a variety of areas (blocking, tackling, receiving, etc.) to see who was the best at executing the key responsibilities of the position. The winner would claim the prize as starter.

If such a system existed in the world of statistical analysis, there would be many potential challengers to Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson for the title of best wide receiver in the NFL. Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne all would serve as worthy foes for Johnson, but surprisingly enough, none of them would rank as the No. 1 contender.

The real competition for Johnson as the NFL's premier wideout comes from within the state in which he plays pro football. Many might not consider Miles Austin to be an elite wideout yet, but he actually had a better set of metrics than any of the three other aforementioned contenders this past season.

So did he do enough last season to beat the perceived champion for the belt?

To find out, let's do it like Bryant's players and run a 10-stage challenge. We'll compare both Austin's and Johnson's yards per attempt (YPA) metrics in 10 main receiving categories. At the end, whoever has the most victories will win the honor of best wide receiver in the NFL.


This is an argument some might be reluctant to make, given how Austin came on near the middle of last season. For the full debate and the ability to join it yourself, you must be an ESPN Insider.