San Diego Chargers: 4 Reasons Why Eddie Royal Will Breakout in 2012
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Royal, who had a tremendous rookie season, has struggled through the last three years of his career. Therefore, in 2012, he will be looking to get back on track as San Diego looks to add some more charge to its offense.
Royal had a terrible time playing within the Tim Tebow offense that the Denver Broncos ran last year. He had career lows in almost every receiving category. The 26-year-old hit the free-agent market following the 2011 season and looked to be a lock to sign with the Washington Redskins. However, after a meeting with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, Royal decided to stay within the AFC West and join the Chargers.
With a fresh start in an offense that fits his skill set, Eddie Royal appears poised to have a career year in his first season with the San Diego Chargers. Here are four reasons why.
Fills a Need Within the Chargers Offense
San Diego sports fans have grown accustomed to seeing their favorite players blossom into stars and then bolt (no pun intended) to a new team with more money. As a result, it was not a big surprise when wide receiver Vincent Jackson left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when free agency began.
Jackson, who had wanted a new contract for years, was never granted one by Chargers GM AJ Smith. His departure leaves a big hole for the Chargers to fill.
Smith filled this quickly by signing former New Orleans Saints receiver Robert Meachem. The Chargers then added more depth to the receiver position with the signing of Eddie Royal.
Royal has the ability to line up at any position on the offensive side of the ball. He can play slot receiver, outside receiver and is even comfortable carrying the ball. This is the type of player the Chargers have been looking for since Darren Sproles left town last offseason.
The Chargers will likely use Royal like Sproles. They will line him up all over the field and use his explosiveness and speed in the screen game. Sproles found his biggest use with the Chargers in the screen game on third downs. Make no mistake, they will look for Royal to be deadly in this scenario as well.
New Season, New Beginning
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Eddie Royal had a tremendous rookie year for the Denver Broncos in 2008.
The former Virginia Tech Hokie burst onto the NFL scene by hauling in 980 yards receiving on 91 catches for five touchdowns. Royal was also very dangerous in the return game, where he accumulated over 600 yards. It was a dream season for an NFL rookie and Royal seemed destined to be a future star.
However, he would never put up those types of numbers for the Denver Broncos again. Furthermore, in his last season with the team, he hit a career low. Royal only had 19 catches for 155 yards and found the end zone once.
A change of scenery is exactly what Royal needs if he wants to get back to his 2008 form. He is entering a system that fits his game far more than what they ran in Denver—a statement true for any receiver in the Tebow offense.
In addition, he gets to stay in the AFC West, and will be familiar with the defenses that he will see. He will also be able to bring information to the Chargers' attention that he picked up while playing for the Broncos.
Norv Turner’s Compliments
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Eddie Royal has only been with the San Diego Chargers for a little over three months, but he has already won over head coach Norv Turner.
Turner recently told Tom Sheridan of the North County Times:
He is a real smooth receiver, he reminds me of Charlie Joiner and reminds me of Henry Ellard, guys that I’ve been around. He’s very deceptive. And sometimes he doesn’t look like he is going that fast, and he is hauling.
Being compared to Charlie Joiner and Henry Ellard is a tremendous compliment. Joiner is a Hall of Famer and one the greatest Chargers of all time. Ellard was a three-time Pro Bowler who was known as a great route runner.
Norv Turner has been in the NFL long enough to know a great player from a good player. If he thinks that Royal is ready to have a breakout season, the Chargers will make sure that they are putting together a game plan that will allow Royal to be great.
Philip Rivers Is His Quarterback
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Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Chris Simms—these are the four quarterbacks that Eddie Royal has caught balls from in the NFL.
He had his best year under Cutler, which will not surprise those who realize the level of the other quarterbacks he has played with.
Philip Rivers will be the best quarterback that Royal has ever teamed up with, and this should excite both the Chargers organization as well as their fans. Cutler is the only quarterback that has the talent that Rivers has, and Royal flourished with him.
Royal's decrease in numbers does not mean he was a one-hit wonder. It happened because he has not had an elite quarterback to get him the ball since Cutler.
The 26-year-old comes to San Diego hoping for a quarterback who can get him the ball consistently, whether on a short screen play or down the field. Rivers will be able to make all the throws that Royal will need to have a career year in 2012.