2014 was supposed to be the year when San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green became an offensive weapon. That wasn’t the case, as Green had a dismal season with only 19 receptions for 226 yards and zero touchdown catches. Definitely, not the type of production expected when the Chargers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
If the Chargers are going to get out of the AFC West basement, then its essential for quarterback Philip Rivers to get Green more involved in the passing game. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich must call plays that take advantage of coverage mismatches against him downfield.
Green has excellent straight-ahead speed and uses his height (6-6) perfectly to beat defenders for position on high passing attempts. This alone should make him a viable receiving target in the red zone. Becoming a featured option in the offense isn’t something new for Green, as he was a big-time playmaker during his collegiate days at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Often, Green’s roadblock for more playing time has been Antonio Gates, who at the age of 34 had another stellar campaign in 2014. The future Hall-of-Famer caught 69 passes for 821 yards, with 12 touchdown receptions. Unfortunately, 2015 has been less than memorable for Gates.
First, he was suspended for the first four games due to testing positive for PEDs, now Gates is struggling with old man’s disease—constant knee pain—that has limited his production on the field. All of San Diego figured with Gates out of the lineup that the stage was set for Green to shine in the offense, and that hasn’t been the case.
Symptoms from a lingering concussion has limited his time on the field, as Green was injured in practice prior to the season home-opener against the Detroit Lions. What has team doctors concern is that this is his second concussion since last December.
You can’t imagine the level of frustration Green going through right now, as his ego was pumped by all of the hype being deemed the heir apparent to Gates then suddenly suffering another career setback. He must stay positive because there is still time left in this season to become a weapon in the passing game.
Professional football is a young man’s sport, as “potential” is the most dreaded moniker for all unproven talents. Green has shown flashes of potential, but as the season moves forward, an offense must evolve to what their playmakers do best. Often, his inconsistencies have left him out of the mix.
The question that still remains for the Chargers is how good can Green become? Its time for him to become an offensive weapon, especially when Green and Gates are on the field together at the same time.
If not, then the Chargers might be playing for a high draft pick next spring.