NASHVILLE – Do as I say? Or do as I have done?
It is not a choice Tennessee Titans wide receivers Corey Davis and A.J. Brown need to make.
With one game remaining, each is within reach of 1,000 receiving yards for the season. To help them get to this point – and possibly across the finish – they have a position coach in Rob Moore who has been part of a 1,000-yard receiving tandem as a player as a player and a coach.
“Fortunately, I had that experience at Oakland with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree [in 2016],” Moore said Tuesday. “Both those guys went over 1,000.”
Cooper, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, has reached the milestone in five of his six NFL seasons and has been a part of two 1,000-yard tandems. Under Moore’s tutelage, he led the Raiders with 1,153 receiving yards while Crabtree with 1,003. In 2019 with Dallas, he finished with 1,189 and Michael Gallup had 1,107.
As a player, Moore topped 1,000 yards three times, including 1997 when he led the NFL with 1,584. That year, he was with the Arizona Cardinals and his teammate Frank Sanders finished with 1,017.
The possibility that Davis and Brown might accomplish the feat has been discussed for weeks. However, like the Titans’ pursuit of a playoff spot, whether or not they do it won’t be settled until the final week of the regular season. Davis still has a team-leading 945 yards, the same as a week ago after he was shut out Sunday at Green Bay. Brown is not far behind with 924.
“We all know that – for whatever reason – 1,000 yards is like the litmus test, so to speak, in terms of whether a receiver has arrived or had a decent season or whatever the case may be,” Moore said. “Especially, if it’s one of your player’s goals, you want them to achieve that experience and let that be the barometer for every year.”
For the franchise, this represents something of a high-water mark. In 2004, Derrick Mason and Drew Bennett each topped 1,000 yards receiving. Then from 2005-18, only three players – wide receivers Nate Washington (2011) and Kendall Wright (2013) and tight end Delanie Walker (2016) – got there.
Davis, the fifth overall pick in 2017, did not top 891 in any of his first three seasons. He is within reach of 1,000 this year despite the fact that he missed two contests early in the season while he was on the COVID-19 reserve list. Five times in the 13 games he has played, he has topped 100 yards, and those games account for 634 yards.
Brown, a second-round choice in 2019, finished his rookie season with 1,051 yards and has a chance to become the first Titans wide receiver since Mason (2001-04) to top 1,000 in consecutive years. He also missed two games early in the season, due to a knee injury in his case but has topped 100 yards three times.
“We talk about it, but we know [running back] Derrick [Henry] is going to do his thing,” Brown said. “You know when he is hot, he is going to kind of take the ball out of our hands. So, we most definitely talk about making the most of every opportunity and making the play when our number is being called.”
That is just the way their position coach likes it.
So far, 12 players across the NFL have gotten to 1,000 receiving yards this season. Five have caught at least 100 passes and all but two have at least 80 receptions. Only four average at least 15 yards per reception.
Davis and Brown have 60 receptions apiece, and their respective averages are 15.8 and 15.4 yards.
“They key is, like I tell my guys, the (yards after contact),” Moore said. “The key is, can you get to 1,000 yards with 50-something catches or with 60 catches? If it has to take you 100 to get to 1,000 [yards], then that’s not quite as productive.”
That comes from a voice of experience.