A Permanent 1-2 Punch
By Jonah Lee
November 11, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd (80) is congratulated wide receiver Danario Alexander (84) after catching a pass for a touchdown during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Only a few short years ago we struggled at wide receiver, but in present day we may very well be the deepest at the position amongst all NFL teams. Currently, we have Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown, Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal. Not to leave out guys like, Richard Goodman, Dan DePalma and Mike Willie who will compete to take a spot from these top named veterans on the team.
– 2006 – Our #1 and #2, Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker didn’t register a single touchdown between them and combined for only 1,096 yards. It’s no surprise but it was Ladainian Tomlinson (508 yards) and Antonio Gates (924 yards) producing all the big numbers.
– 2007 – With the release of McCardell and the early camp injury to Parker, the Chargers leaned heavily on 1st round pick Buster “Busted” Davis before injury caused the Chargers brass to act quickly in trading a 2nd round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Chris Chambers.
– 2008 – Vincent Jackson would record his first 1,000 yard season. Chambers filled in admirably, but with only 33 receptions and 462 yards, he proved to be a low standard #2 wide receiver.
– 2009 – We saw the emergence of Malcom Floyd as the incumbent #2 wideout which made Chambers expendable. This would be the last season the Chargers would make the playoffs.
– 2010 – We saw Vincent Jackson sit out the first 10 games in a contract dispute with then General Manager AJ Smith. Floyd and a makeshift wide receiving corps would shine under a primed Philip Rivers. Rivers threw to 17 different receivers, 10 of which had at least 200+ yards.
– 2011 – Jackson’s final season with the Chargers pulling in 60 receptions for 1,106 yards, his third 1,000 yard season. Floyd would record a career high 856 yards.
– 2012 – We expected Robert Meachem to hold down the #1 receiver spot while Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown competed for slot receiver. Meachem and Royal hardly made an impact on the season and Brown was out with an ankle injury. It was only after desperately salvaging the career of Danario Alexander did Rivers have a potent aerial threat. Alexander, in seven starts pulled in 37 catches for 658 yards and seven touchdowns.
With the exception of 2009 and 2011, the Chargers have been hard pressed to find a consistent one-two punch when it came to the wide receiver position. Only when Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd were both sober, injury-free and not distracted was when Rivers was given the opportunity to succeed. Over the years quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and tight end Dallas Clark while Tom Brady has had Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Deion Branch, Brandon Lloyd and not to mention pass catching tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Many of these are reputable names, pro-bowlers and all-pro players. With the exception of Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson (with a single pro-bowl alternate selection as a Charger) Rivers was never given an all-star cast quite like the other big name quarterbacks have. If you believe Rivers shouldn’t be named in the same category as Manning and Brady, consider this, they too have had bad seasons in their respective careers:
2001 – 26 TD, 23 INT, QB rating = 84.1. Manning missed the Pro-Bowl three times in his 14 year career, his rookie season, 2011 due to a neck injury and 2001.
2002 – 27 TD, 19 INT, QB rating = 88.8. Manning managed to make the pro bowl with a lackluster 2002 campaign but it was after this he returned to an all-pro form in 2003.
2006 – 24TD, 12 INT, 3,529 yards, QB rating = 87.9. These numbers aren’t too bad, but this is Tom freakin’ Brady. Brady would shake off this terrible season by posting 50 TD to 8 INT, 16-0 regular season in 2007. The same year we met the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
2011 – 27TD, 20INT, 4,624 yards, QB rating = 88.7. Yet, a pro-bowl berth!
2012 – 26TD, 15INT, 3,606 yards, QB rating = 88.6. In the past two seasons, Rivers was sacked 79 times compared to his first five seasons as a starter, sacked 137 times. On average, Rivers was on his back 12 times more per season since his questionable decline in performance.
Many are saying this is Philip’s last audition. Sure, say what you want, yet this is finally a year in which we can have multiple quality and capable wide receivers on the field at the same time. Alexander displayed chemistry with Rivers that’s been missing since V-Jax skipped town. DX has the potential to become a pro-bowler and with a full season as a starter he will breakthrough 1,000 yards receiving. Our always reliable Malcom Floyd should still produce decent numbers and what you have to respect about the guy is that he loves playing for the Chargers, ever since being an undrafted practice squad player climbing the ranks, Floyd persisted and made it to where he stands today. Brown, many are anticipating a break out season and to bypass Floyd as the #2 WR.
Allen was projected to be a 1st round pick and a steal in this year’s draft, updates are saying Allen wants to be a starter, an attitude we proudly desire in San Diego. Young guys with star potential like Brown and Allen are going to push us to the top. Meachem, will likely be given a spot due to contract obligations, releasing him now will cost the Chargers more than to keep him on. I don’t expect Richard Goodman to give up his seat without putting up a fight after two seasons as our primary kick returner.
Also, news has been prevalent that Dan DePalma was catching every ball thrown his way during the offseason. Could he be the next Wes Welker? Although Eddie Royal has the working relationship with Mike McCoy and outperformed even Meachem I doubt he’s safe. There is far too much talent at wide receiver to invest on a guy that’s been playing the back-end of his career since his second season in the NFL.
The 2010 Super Bowl Champs, the Green Bay Packers had one of the worse offensive lines in the NFL. Yet, Aaron Rodgers had wide receivers Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones who each caught over 500 yards. These four men would do it again in the 2011 season with the exception of Greg Jennings with only 445 yards. In comparison, we have a handful of wide receivers (DX, M80, Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen) that can catch and put up big yards.
We also have an all-pro tight end in Antonio Gates who is still a threat when given the opportunity. Our make shift line is much better than last year. I expect to see our #1, #2, #3 and #4 receivers each putting up 600+ yards. Lofty expectations? Maybe, but not impossible as long as the rookie Allen remembers to wear the correct team jersey when we play the Raiders!