I added a little more information about Hines Ward’s rankings that I thought was interesting.
A little over a week ago, I wrote a post showing how high Hines Ward ranks among NFL WRs in playoff yardage. So far this year, he and Ben Roethlisberger are having historic seasons in terms of passing and receiving yardage. As of the time of this writing, both are leading the league in respective passing and receiving yardage. I wrote in the previous post on Hines that he was on pace to have over 1400 receiving yards. After his game on Sunday against the Browns, he is now on pace to have nearly 1600 receiving yard this season, which would be a career high and a Pittsburgh Steelers record (currently held byYancey Thigpen with 1398 yards in a season). Ben is on pace to have over 5000 passing yards this season, which also would be a Steelers record (currently held by Terry Bradshaw with 3724 yards in a season). With two Steelers on such a historic pace, for this franchise, at least, I wanted to see how they compared with other players’ performances after the first 6 games of the season.
First, I’ll take a look at the Hines’s and Ben’s rankings against former Steelers players. Then, I’ll address their rankings against all players in NFL history (or since 1960, actually). All numbers in this post are taken from the Player Game Finder at Pro-Football-Reference.com. Since I’ve written so recently about Hines, and he’s performing so much above what many people expected at this point in his career, let’s take a look at his numbers first. The table below shows a list of Steelers players with 550 or more receiving yards through the first 6 games of a season.
In Steelers’ history, Hines’s first six games this season have been the second most prolific of any player in history, behind only Buddy Dial in 1961. Buddy holds 3 of the top five positions on this list, with John Stallworth being the only other. In NFL history, Hines’s numbers this year rank 60th after the first 6 games of a season. You can click this link to see all of the WRs with 550 or more receiving yards after 6 games. By the end of this season, Hines Ward should be in or near the top 20 in NFL history for every receiving category.
Updated Portion: I was just thinking that I’d like to see where Hines ranks among WRs who were his age (or just over 30). Here is a Table showing the WRs aged 33 and above with 550 or more receiving yards in the first 6 games of their season.
Pretty impressive. Hines is the highest on the list for a team with a winning record after 6 games. Among any WRs aged 30 and above, Hines is 14th in receiving yards. For that full list, click here.
Next, let’s take a look at Ben’s numbers. The first table shows where his season ranks after 6 games in Steelers history.
Well, it’s the best start to a season, statistically, of any quarterback in Steelers history. He’s the only Steeler QB to ever throw for over 1500 yards in the first 6 games, and he has nearly 1900 so far. He has a much higher completion percentage than Bradshaw or Maddox and the top passer rating by a significant margin. His yards per attempt are also tops, though not by quite as big of a margin. Of this list, only Bradshaw has a season with more TDs after 6 games and few INTs (different seasons, though).
How does this start rank compared to the rest of the league over the years?
Pretty good. Ben has the 11th highest passing yardage total after 6 games since 1960. His TD total is a little below the average for the players on this list, but his INTs total is about the average. His completion percentage is second only to Daunte Culpepper in 2004.
So far this year, Big Ben and Hines Ward’s production has been nothing short of amazing. When you consider the Steelers’ tradition of being a smashmouth running team, for them to be putting up numbers like this is historic. However, the one area where they obviously need to improve is in scoring TDs and protecting the ball. So far this year, that has proven to be the difference between being 4-2 and 5-1 or 6-0. It certainly hasn’t been just Ben and Hines that have turned it over, but I know we all remember the two pick-6’s and Hines’s fumble down near the goal in the Titans game. Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall showed that they can turn it over too, this week against the Browns. Those turnovers have kept the Steelers’ offense from being elite so far this season. But, once they gain just a little more cohesiveness, Steelers fans should be in for a lot of points being scored as the season goes on. It should be exciting!