5 Explosive WR Tandems We Can't Wait to See
In today's pass happy National Football League, 4,000 passing yards barely merits a golf clap, and it's no longer surprising in the least to see not one, but two receivers on the same team have big statistical seasons.
We all know about the "usual suspects" duos. Tandems such as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz with the New York Giants, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson with the Green Bay Packers and Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles have shown the ability to ravage opposing defenses in the past, and there's no reason to think they can't do so again.
However, whether through free agency or the draft there are some teams that have assembled potentially explosive wide receiver duos of their own for 2012, and it's those newcomers to the wideout two-step that we'll examine here.
Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall
Since Marty Booker racked up nearly 1,200 yards for the Chicago Bears there have been over 180 wide receivers that have topped 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and they all have one thing in common.
None of them played for the Chicago Bears.
The Bears took significant steps towards ending that drought in 2012, adding mercurial wideout Brandon Marshall in a trade with the Miami Dolphins and selecting South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round of April's draft.
Marshall topped 100 receptions and 1,000 yards in both 2007 and 2008 with Jay Cutler as his quarterback in Denver, and Jeffery was the SEC's leading receiver in 2010.
With any luck a very long dry spell for Windy City wide receivers is about to end.
Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd
Larry Fitzgerald is one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League, topping the 1,000 yards mark in each of the last five seasons.
However, the Arizona Cardinals have lacked a number two wideout to complement Fitzgerald since Anquan Boldin left following the 2009 season, and while Fitzgerald's stats haven't suffered significantly, the Cardinals' aerial attack has.
Some of that is no doubt attributable to the retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner, but things are looking up in the desert with the arrival of first-round draft pick Michael Floyd, who caught 100 passes for Notre Dame in 2011.
New England Patriots: Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker
When wide receiver Brandon Lloyd signed a three-year deal with the New England Patriots in March, a thudding sound could be heard all across the AFC East.
It was the sound of defensive coordinators banging their heads against their desks.
The 30-year-old Lloyd, who gained nearly 1,500 receiving yards in 2010 with the Denver Broncos, gives the Patriots passing game the one thing it was lacking a season ago...a true vertical threat.
Lloyd joins Pro Bowler Wes Welker and fellow newcomer Jabar Gaffney at wide receiver alongside record-setting Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at tight end in what has to be the NFL's deepest and most terrifying cadre of pass-catchers.
With that bunch, Drew Brees' freshly set record for passing yardage in a season may not last long.
San Francisco 49ers: Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree finally showed some signs of life in his third season in the NFL, topping 70 catches and 800 receiving yards for the first time in his career.
However, the wide receiver position was a weak spot for the San Francisco 49ers last season, as evidenced by the fact that 49ers wideouts caught all of one pass in the team's loss in the NFC Championship game.
The team took major steps to address that weakness in the offseason, adding veteran wide receiver Randy Moss in free agency and selecting A.J. Jenkins of Illinois with their first pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Jenkins has struggled in organized team activities, but the 35-year-old Moss has reportedly shined.
It will be fascinating to see if Moss can recapture any of the ability that once made him the NFL's most feared player at his position, and the effect that will have on the conservative San Francisco offense if he does.
Denver Broncos: DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker
There wasn't a great deal of change in the depth chart at the wide receiver position in the Mile High City this offseason, as Eric Decker and DeMaryius Thomas will once again serve as the starting wideouts for the Denver Broncos.
It's safe to say that Manning is a slightly more accurate passer than Tebow, and with Thomas as the home-run threat and Decker as the underneath option, the Broncos passing game could easily be the most improved in the NFL in 2012.