Is the Moss Effect Unique?

Yesterday, I chronicled the Moss effect.

Numbers within a vacuum don’t mean much, however. The question was rightly raised as to how unique the Moss Effect is? Did Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens or Marvin Harrison have a similar impact as quarterback makers? Do all the great wideouts boost the productivity of quarterbacks, or was there something special about Randy Moss. Owens, Harrison, Rice and Moss are the four best wideouts since 1995. Studying their effect of on the quarterbacks they played with is illuminating.

Jerry Rice:

Joe Montana played 89 games without Rice for a rating of 90.6. These games were at the beginning and end of his career.

In his prime, Montana played 75 games with Rice for a rating of 94.2.

Rice Effect: +3.6

Steve Young played 19 games for a terrible Tampa team, and spend the rest of his career in San Francisco playing with the 49ers. Obviously, it’s not fair to make that comparison. However, we do have the 1997 season in which Rice played 2 games and caught 7 passes. That year, Young made the Pro Bowl with a rating of 104.7.

Jeff Garcia had a rating with Rice of 86.2.

His rating without Rice was 86.8

Rice Effect: -0.6

Rich Gannon with Rice had a rating of 92.5.

Without Rice his rating was 80.5

Rice Effect: +12

However, Gannon had two Pro Bowl seasons in Oakland before Rice arrived. His Rice Effect in Oakland took his rating from 89.3 to 92.5 for a gain of just 3.2. Most of the ‘Rice Effect’ is mitigated by the system he played in in Oakland.

Matt Hasselbeck with Rice had a rating of 83.1

Hasselbeck without Rice had a rating of 89.0

Rice Effect: -5.9

As you can plainly see, the “Jerry Rice Effect” is not nearly as pronounced as the “Randy Moss Effect”

Marvin Harrison:

Jim Harbaugh‘s passer rating with Harrison: 80.6

Harbaugh without Harrison 76.7

Harrison Effect: 3.9

Harbaugh’s best year came in 1995 the year before Harrison arrived when he posted a rating of 100.7 to lead the NFL.

Paul Justin played briefly with Harrison, posting a rating of 81.4

Without Harrison, his rating was 59.9

Harrison Effect: 21.5

Note that Justin threw 113 passes in games without Harrison and 267 in games with Harrison. The samples are very small.

Peyton Manning‘s passer rating with Harrison: 95.0

Peyton Manning‘s passer rating without Harrison: 94.6

Harrison Effect: +0.4

Note: These numbers include the games Harrison missed with injury in 1998 and 2007 as games played without Harrison.

Terrell Owens:

NOTE: I forgot Steve Young initially.

Steve Young with Owens: 98.5

Steve Young without Owens 96.1 

TO Effect: +2.4

Jeff Garcia with Owens: 88.3

Jeff Garcia without Owens: 86.2

TO Effect: +2.1

Donovan McNabb with Owens: 99.5

McNabb without Owens: 83.5

TO Effect: +16.0

Tony Romo with TO: 94.7

Romo without TO: 96.8

TO Effect: -2.1

Ryan Fitzpatrick with TO: 69.7

Fitzpatrick without TO: 73.8

TO Effect: -4.1

Carson Palmer with TO: 82.4

Palmer without TO: 87.9

TO Effect: -5.5

Conclusion: the Randy Moss Effect is unique among the four elite receivers of the last 20 years. His boost to quarterbacks goes far beyond Rice, Harrison and TO. Owens actually had a negative effect on many of his quarterbacks. There is almost no difference between Manning’s numbers with Harrison and without him.

For more amazing data on how effective quarterbacks were when targeting Moss, check out this amazing spreadsheet from Scott Kacsmar. Note especially Culpepper to Moss in 2004.

1985 24 TAM qb 8 5 5 1-4-0 72 138 52.2 935 3 2.2 8 5.8 59 6.8 4.6 13.0 187.0 56.9 21 158 4.9 3.0 13.2 4
1986 25 TAM QB 8 14 14 2-12-0 195 363 53.7 2282 8 2.2 13 3.6 46 6.3 5.1 11.7 163.0 65.5 47 326 4.8 3.7 11.5 9
1987 26 SFO 8 8 3 2-1-0 37 69 53.6 570 10 14.5 0 0.0 50 8.3 11.2 15.4 71.3 120.8 3 25 7.6 10.3 4.2 4
1988 27 SFO 8 11 3 2-1-0 54 101 53.5 680 3 3.0 3 3.0 73 6.7 6.0 12.6 61.8 72.2 13 75 5.3 4.6 11.4 4
1989 28 SFO 8 10 3 3-0-0 64 92 69.6 1001 8 8.7 3 3.3 50 10.9 11.2 15.6 100.1 120.8 12 84 8.8 9.1 11.5 5
1990 29 SFO 8 6 1 0-1-0 38 62 61.3 427 2 3.2 0 0.0 34 6.9 7.5 11.2 71.2 92.6 8 41 5.5 6.1 11.4 2
1991 30 SFO QB 8 11 10 5-5-0 180 279 64.5 2517 17 6.1 8 2.9 97 9.0 8.9 14.0 228.8 101.8 13 79 8.3 8.3 4.5 14
1992*+ 31 SFO QB 8 16 16 14-2-0 268 402 66.7 3465 25 6.2 7 1.7 80 8.6 9.1 12.9 216.6 107.0 29 152 7.7 8.1 6.7 22
1993*+ 32 SFO QB 8 16 16 10-6-0 314 462 68.0 4023 29 6.3 16 3.5 80 8.7 8.4 12.8 251.4 101.5 31 160 7.8 7.6 6.3 23
1994*+ 33 SFO QB 8 16 16 13-3-0 324 461 70.3 3969 35 7.6 10 2.2 69 8.6 9.2 12.3 248.1 112.8 31 163 7.7 8.2 6.3 23
1995* 34 SFO QB 8 11 11 8-3-0 299 447 66.9 3200 20 4.5 11 2.5 57 7.2 6.9 10.7 290.9 92.3 25 115 6.5 6.3 5.3 14
1996* 35 SFO QB 8 12 12 9-3-0 214 316 67.7 2410 14 4.4 6 1.9 52 7.6 7.7 11.3 200.8 97.2 34 160 6.4 6.5 9.7 12
1997* 36 SFO QB 8 15 15 12-3-0 241 356 67.7 3029 19 5.3 6 1.7 82 8.5 8.8 12.6 201.9 104.7 35 220 7.2 7.5 9.0 14
1998* 37 SFO QB 8 15 15 11-4-0 322 517 62.3 4170 36 7.0 12 2.3 81 8.1 8.4 13.0 278.0 101.1 48 234 7.0 7.3 8.5 19
1999 38 SFO 8 3 3 2-1-0 45 84 53.6 446 3 3.6 4 4.8 53 5.3 3.9 9.9 148.7 60.9 8 63 4.2 2.9 8.7 2
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