Two things are impressive about Chris Cooley’s new Redskins record for receptions by a tight end (422 and counting). The first, obviously, is the record itself; and the second is that he played with the team long enough to break the mark, which was still standing 34 years after Jerry Smith, the previous holder, retired in 1977. In the free agent era, that’s easier said than done.
As Cooley put it in my column Tuesday, he plans to keep adding to that number, and “in today’s football, it will be a hard record to break. Someone will have to play football for this team for a long time to break what I’m going to do.”
Will he wind up with 600 hundred catches? Seven hundred? More? Cooley, remember, is still just 29. His ceiling could be pretty high.
But back to my earlier thought: His longevity with one club (nine seasons so far, at a time when players do a lot of moving around). It’s always been a big factor in breaking a team record, but today it’s even bigger. Take Art Monk’s all-time Redskins mark of 888 receptions. Is anybody going to stay in a Washington uniform long enough to break that one? Heck, it took Monk 14 years – which brought him, interestingly, right to the cusp of free agency in 1993. (At that point, the Redskins decided to go younger at the position, and he finished up with the Jets and Eagles.)
The current Redskins who’s closest to Monk’s total is Santana Moss, and he’s barely halfway there (448). Why? Well, for one thing, because he spent his first four seasons with the Jets. (No, he didn’t come here as a free agent, he was traded for a player who did come here as a free agent, Laveranues Coles.) So unless Moss comes up with an anti-aging elixir – he’s 32 – he isn’t likely to catch Art.
Free agency – or player movement, at least – is what’s protecting many club records from obliteration in this era of wide-open offenses. Never mind Monk’s 888 catches. Good luck surpassing his 12,026 receiving yards (or Charley Taylor’s 79 touchdown grabs, for that matter).
Which brings us to Fred Davis. He had 105 yards receiving in the season opener against the Giants, and a 100-yard game by a tight end is a rarity in Redskinsland. According to my research, it’s just the 15th in team history (or rather, since 1960, which was around the time the position was invented). The only Washington TEs with more than one 100-yard game are Smith (7), Cooley (2) and Fred Dugan (2). The others were by Preston Carpenter, Terry Orr and Craig McEwen. (McEwen might have lined up as an H-back, but he functioned essentially as a tight end in Joe Gibbs’ offense.)
Anyway, here’s the list of 100-yard games by Redskins tight ends:
Yds Tight End Opponent Date
168 Fred Dugan vs. Eagles, 9-24-61 (6 catches, 1 TD)
145 Jerry Smith vs. Eagles, 12-3-67 (9 catches, 2 TD)
137 Smith vs. Eagles, 12-11-66 (7 catches, 2 TD)
120 Dugan vs. Browns, 10-8-61 (7 catches, 0 TD)
120 Craig McEwen vs. Bears, 11-13-88 (3 catches, 0 TD)
117 Preston Carpenter vs. Giants, 11-29-64 (7 catches, 1 TD)
116 Smith vs. Cowboys, 11-28-68 (6 catches, 1 TD)
109 Chris Cooley vs. Eagles, 10-5-08 (8 catches, 1 TD)
105 Cooley vs. Packers, 10-14-07 (9 catches, 1 TD)
105 Fred Davis vs. Giants, 9-11-11 (5 catches, 0 TD)
104 Smith vs. Eagles, 10-4-70 (8 catches, 1 TD)
104 Terry Orr vs. Cowboys, 12-11-88 (3 catches, 1 TD)
103 Smith vs. Browns, 12-8-68 (7 catches, 1 TD)
102 Smith vs. Rams, 10-22-67 (7 catches, 3 TD)
102 Smith vs. 49ers, 11-12-67 (9 catches, 2 TD)
Two random observations:
1. Boy, those Eagles must have been fun to throw against in the ’60s.
2. Two of Smith’s efforts came in tie games (the 145-yarder against the Eagles and the 102-yarder against the Rams).