Jason Witten: 2nd Best TE of All-Time; Stats Don't Lie ✭
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Jason Witten: 2nd Best TE of All-Time; Stats Don’t Lie

Jason Witten

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Jason Witten: 2nd Best TE of All-Time; Stats Don’t Lie

Jason Witten: 2nd Best TE of All-Time; Stats Don’t Lie

I recently replied to the great Ed Werder (formerly of ESPN) regarding Jason Witten’s potential as a first ballot hall of famer.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

@EdwerderRFA True, but when you’re in the elite of elite company at a position, it makes sense. Maybe only 1 TE better than Witten in the history of NFL.

And I got killed for it.

Ed Werder on Twitter

Kellen Winslow? Tony Gonzalez? Shannon Sharpe? Rob Gronkowski? https://t.co/3syd39p9y3

Ben Millett on Twitter

This….. now this is a HOT take! https://t.co/LzeZ8WfWCh

Anthony Nash on Twitter

There’s a lot more than 1. https://t.co/GAwzdhfGtV

Jon on Twitter

Lmao Witten is the only Cowboy I respect but he’s not even close to the 2nd best TE of all time man https://t.co/UqsMKjH1S1

Jason Witten just might be the Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Cowboys, vastly underrated and highly disrespected. He isn’t flashy or fancy, but his numbers speak for themselves.

So let’s look at those numbers.

In receptions, Witten has the second most receptions by a tight end of all-time. Including wide receivers, Witten currently ranks 7th in career receptions behind; Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez,  Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown. He’s sitting in front of Terrell Owens, Reggie Wayne, and Randy Moss.

Witten has averaged 70 catches per season over the last three seasons and needs only 14 receptions to move up to 4th all-time in career receptions.

To Mr. Werder’s point about Kellen Winslow, he has less than half as many receptions as Jason Witten has. When it’s all said and done, Witten will have 300 more receptions than Shannon Sharpe.

In career receiving yards, Witten sits only behind Tony Gonzalez at the tight end position.

With a modest 700 receiving yards in 2017, Witten will sit 21st among all pass catchers in receiving yards. Antonio Gates, who came into the league the same year as Witten, sits roughly 700 yards behind Witten.

Touchdowns is where Witten falls behind some of the great tight ends of his era. He’s fourth at the position in touchdown receptions behind Gonzalez, Gates, and Rob Gronkowski. Witten, however, scored more touchdowns than Winslow and Sharpe.

Here is what separates Witten from the rest: Availability.

Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys History: Jason Witten Is Easily Greatest 82 Ever 2

Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten #82

Of the possible games that Witten could have played since his rookie season in 2003, Witt has played in 99.5% of those games. He’s only missed one game in his entire career. Witten has played in every game since week five of 2003. That’s 219 consecutive games played. No active non-kicker has played in as many games in a row as Jason Witten.

Since 2004, Witten has started all but two games. He played in those games, just wasn’t part of the starting lineup. He’s been a starter for 99% of his team’s games since 2004 and has started a total of 95% of the games since he’s been drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

Tony Gonzalez started 94% of his possible games and missed two games during his illustrious career.

Antonio Gates has missed 20 games throughout his career. Meaning he’s only played in 91% of his team’s games, starting only 82.5% of those games.

For Rob Gronkowski, the cream of the tight end crop today, the numbers are a bit more alarming. In seven seasons Gronkowski has only played 16 games twice in his career. He’s only played in 78% of his team’s 112 games since coming into the league. While he has been a dynamic player, his lack of availability–to me–hurts his status as one of the greats of all-time.

Regarding Winslow again, he missed a ton of time in his career. He played in only 75% of his team’s possible 144 games over his nine-year career. You can’t be considered one of the greatest if you aren’t on the field. Three times in his nine-year career Winslow played nine or fewer games.

Shannon Sharpe started only 75% of the games that his teams played and was only available for 91% of those games.

Jason Witten has never been the flashiest player at the tight end position. He isn’t going to dunk on the goal posts like Tony Gonzalez or Jimmy Graham. He isn’t going to make headlines for Gronk being Gronk antics. He is going to be steady and available.

What Witten has been over the course of his career is one of the most reliable players in the history of the NFL.

Just ask Tony Romo.

John Williams

I didn’t start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I’ve now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America’s Team.

  • Fatfan

    For those who don’t get blinded by the bright lights of the glit and the glam, they can truly see the value of Jason Witten, AND not only on the field, but from all the reports from the media, and the players, he’s an MVP even in the offseason. It was Witten who helped Demarco Murray reach his full potential, and Murray has given him credit for it. Murray has gone as far as to tell young guys coming in, “if you wanna be successful, mirror Jason (paraphrased). Witten is the guy who leads in the locker-room, and everyone baller worth his weight follows him. Prescott learned that early on while still battling showers for the 3rd Qb position. Witten wasn’t always good at blocking; but he worked at it tpo become the complete TE, unlike the other TE he is compared to. He has never been fast; but he gets open and gets first downs by outsmarting the D. The NFL made up a rule about plays being dead once the helmet comes off, just so he wouldn’t embarrass and posterize the NFC East chumps anymore. (ok, a little hyperbole, but not much) Witten deserves Ring of Honor accolades the moment he retires, and Hall of Fame accolades 5y later. No question about it for me.

    • John Williams

      Not too much Hyperbole, imo.

      Witten has been killing the league for a decade plus and that Eagles moment will be the key highlight in the Jason Witten Hall of Fame highlight video.

      For anyone to consider him anything less than top 2 has some Cowboys blinders on.

  • Kevin Black

    I find it interesting that all the players people consider better than Witten are all pass-catching tight ends. TE is not a glorified tall receiver. TE requires more than that and I say he’s the best TRUE tight end in the game… ever. Gates, Winslow and even the great Tony Gonzalez all remarked about how complete Witten is and how much they admired that about him. Witten made himself into the best player on the field most Sundays and played almost every stinking down of them. You only want pass catchers, then Witten is still in the top 5, but you add everything else he does on the field and he’s top 1 or 2. You add his off-the-field stuff and there’s no competition.

    The reason no one talks about it outside of Dallas fans is Witten doesn’t blow his own horn. That’s on us as fans. We need to fix this. Witten deserves no less.

    • John Williams

      You’re absolutely right. Witten has been so under the radar by the average fan because he doesn’t make a ton of big plays, especially at this point in his career.

      He does everything well.

      • Kevin Black

        He might not make a ton of splash plays, but when you need that first down or a sure-handed reception, he always comes through.

        • John Williams

          absolutely. He has been the epitome of clutch. I think back to the Pittsburgh game. Time and again on the final drive, Dak was finding Witten in the middle of the field.

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