More often than not, the will of a person to achieve success comes from their inner desire to be the best. By nature people want to win, to be the first to do…anything. Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd showed everyone their will and crushed all the doubters with their performances last season. Keenan Allen, many of whom labeled him to be the Chargers number one receiver, did not have the type of season most thought he would have. Is he able to be the frontman of the Bolts receiving core or are the Chargers in dire need to bring in a receiver who would be the clear-cut number one guy? Perhaps the more realistic explanation for Allen’s shortcomings, was primarily due to his inability to get separation in the milliseconds that Philip Rivers had in the pocket. With Eddie Royal’s future not yet known, fans have been voicing for San Diego to bring in a super star receiver.
In theory, adding a young and/or established top wide out to play along with our current receivers, might provide a boost to an offense that sputtered in the second half of last season. However, do the Bolts really need to spend a big chunk of change on a free agent wide out – or a top draft pick – that potentially could not live up to expectations, i.e. Robert Meachem, or perchance spend time on the injured reserve?
Around the NFL there are unequivocal wide receivers who are their teams #1. Here are a few of them in no particular ranking order:
Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions
Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys
A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals
Brandon Marshall – Chicago Bears
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers
Looking at this list, it would be phenomenal if one of those players bore the lightning bolt insignia. What magic could happen when any one of these players was on the receiving end of a Rivers pass!! Now awaken from the dream of pairing Rivers to any of those, and wipe away the drool thinking about them on any fantasy football team. Let’s look at reality and what those players’ teams have done.
Over the past three seasons, Detroit has a combined record of 22-26 with one playoff appearance; losing to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round last year. Atlanta had gone 23-25 in that span with one playoff appearance; making it to the Conference Championship in 2012. The Bears showcase a record of 25-25 with no playoff games.
Conversely, those with winning records in the past three seasons are the Cowboys, Steelers and Bengals. Dallas sported a 28-20 record and went to the playoffs once; last season losing to the Packers in the Divisional Playoff game. Pittsburgh’s mark is 28-21 with a lone playoff entrance – last season in which they lost to Baltimore in the Wild Card round. Cincinnati, on the other hand, exhibited a 31-16 record and played in the playoffs in all three seasons; losing in the Wild Card round each time. If you noticed, not one of those teams played for the NFL title.
“When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.” – Joe Paterno
Here is a list of the Super Bowl participants over the last three seasons: Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Outside of Demaryius Thomas of Denver, do you see any teams that have that clear-cut, top 10 wide receiver on those rosters?
Specifically looking at the New England Patriots, and recent Super Bowl Champion team, they don’t have a top-tier receiver. Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell are good receivers, but would you take any of them over Allen, Floyd or Royal? What the Patriots have vested in is a solid front line unit that is there to not only create lanes for their running backs, but to protect Tom Brady and give him the time to pick apart defenses. In my opinion, it does not matter who is out there catching passes from Brady, because he is given enough time to watch the receivers run their routes and hit them in stride. Of course in addition to that, they have a solid defensive unit; put those two things together and you win championships.
“A bridge is not built from one piece of wood” – Chinese Proverb
Perhaps instead of vesting in a large salaried receiver to pair up with Allen, Floyd, and others, the money would be better spent on fixing the structure of the bridge; not just slap an expensive band-aid on it. More specifically, enhancing the o-line will allow Philip to breathe and be comfortable in the pocket. Once he is in that space and is able to step up and follow through on his throws, he will make all of our receivers into top-tier players. In turn, the offense will once again flourish all because we started acknowledging the infrastructure’s demise and built that bridge to a championship caliber level.
(Thanks to www.zimbio.com for the pictures)