Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate the Best WR Combo in the NFL?


Are Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate the best wide receiver combo in the NFL?

For the first time in the seven-year career of Pro Bowl wideout, Calvin Johnson, the Detroit Lions have a legitimate No. 2 receiver. Golden Tate has exploded on the scene in the motor city early on in 2014. Through nine games, the former Seattle Seahawk has 909 receiving yards.

Here’s a look at how the No. 2 receivers of years past have faired:

"2014: Golden Tate (909 yards)2013: Kris Durham (490 yards)2012: Titus Young (383 yards)2011: Nate Burleson (757 yards)2010: Nate Burleson (625 yards)2009: Bryant Johnson (417 yards)2008: Shaun McDonald (332 yards)"

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Some of Tate’s success can be attributed to his shift into the No. 1 receiver role while Johnson was battling a high ankle sprain. Johnson missed a total of four-weeks of action. When he went down in week five, during the Lions eventual loss to the Bills in Detroit in looked like an injury that may have been insurmountable for the team.

Since week 6 however, Tate has made his case to be considered the best free agent acquisition in the NFL last year. He played an intricate part in Detroit’s week 7 and week 8 comeback wins and has came trough when the team needed him most.

"“All he does is make big plays because of his quickness and his ability to catch the ball,” coach Jim Caldwell said this week. “He runs a variety of different routes for us, and has a real awareness. That first down that he converted there (on the final drive against Miami) was huge. He knew exactly where he had to get to, and obviously made it by the smallest of margins.”"

Now with Johnson healthy and rested, Matthew Stafford and the rest of the offense can really get to work.

Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 receiver duos through 10 weeks:

"1. Denver 1,854 yards (Demaryius Thomas 1,002, Emmanuel Sanders 852)2. Green Bay 1,539 (Jordy Nelson 889, Randall Cobb 650)3. Pittsburgh 1,506 (Antonio Brown 1,070, Markus Wheaton 436)4. Indianapolis 1,441 (T.Y. Hilton 937, Reggie Wayne 504)5. Detroit 1,370 (Golden Tate 909, Calvin Johnson 461)6. Atlanta 1,344 (Julio Jones 853, Roddy White 491)7. Philadelphia 1,279 (Jeremy Maclin 828, Jordan Matthews 451)8. Houston 1,247 (DeAndre Hopkins 684, Andre Johnson 563)9. Washington 1,242 (DeSean Jackson 784, Pierre Garcon 458)10. Dallas 1,219 (Dez Bryant 793, Terrance Williams 426)"

The fact that Johnson and Tate still rank fifth, even though Johnson has only played in six games is quite remarkable. Tate ranks fourth in the NFL, Johnson 45th. Expect Johnson to climb the ranks quickly in the coming weeks.

That begs the question; are Johnson and Tate the best wide receiver duo in the league?

We will find out in the weeks to come!

(Analysis Kyle Meinke and MLive.)

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