San Diego Chargers: Why Malcom Floyd Is Team's Most Important Veteran
After missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season last year, many can say that this is a "make it or break it" year for the Chargers.
It seems that Norv Turner is on the hot seat once again, as another missed playoffs will certainly be considered a bad season.
Let's face it. With so much talent on this roster, if the Chargers were to miss a third consecutive playoffs, fans won't be looking for Turner to return next year.
Of course, players must perform also, and we know that veterans like Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle are vital components to this roster. We all know the type of energy these guys will bring day in and day out.
Another important veteran this season is receiver Malcom Floyd and his contributions to the offense. His production on offense may be vital if the Chargers look to be in the top 10 in passing this season.
Without further ado, here is why Floyd should be talked about as one of the most important veterans heading into the 2012 season.
1. Vincent Jackson's Departure
Arguably Philip Rivers' favorite target next to Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson left San Diego and signed a five-year, $55.55 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Jackson gone, that leaves Floyd to fill the void left by the Pro Bowl receiver. With over 4,000 yards and over 35 touchdowns in his career at San Diego, Jackson was a vital component to that offense. Floyd will have some big shoes to fill.
Jackson's departure creates an opening at the top of the WR depth chart, and at 6'5", 225 pounds, Floyd has the imposing size and speed to be a premier deep threat.
However, Floyd has yet to have a 1,000-yard receiving season, as he has been bothered by injuries in past seasons.
Floyd certainly has a prime opportunity to step up as a No. 1 receiver this season if he can stay healthy.
2. Robert Meachem and Philip Rivers Lack Chemistry
By leaving New Orleans, wide receiver Meachem will finally get to prove himself away from the aerial weapons that limit the targets of Saints' receivers.
It's been reported early on in camp that the chemistry of Rivers and Meachem have been an issue. In the preseason, Rivers is 1-3 when targeting Meachem with two interceptions. Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that "on passes not intended for Meachem, Rivers is 15-for-17 for 139 yards, a touchdown and an interception."
Unfortunately, according to Scott Bair of the North County Times, Rivers will sit the last preseason game on Friday as Norv Turner looks to protect his quarterback's health.
What this means is that we cannot see the progression that Rivers and Meachem have reportedly made in a real-time game situation.
With the chemistry of Rivers and Meachem still a work in progress, Rivers may look to Floyd, a teammate since 2004, for consistent completions.
This puts more responsibility on Floyd to show up day in and day out to help this offense run efficiently.
3. Antonio Gates Injury Problems
At age 31, tight end Antonio Gates is heading into his 10th NFL season. A sure first ballot Hall of Famer, Gates may easily be the best tight end in Chargers franchise history.
With over 7,500 receiving yards and 76 touchdowns, Gates has truly put up a great resume.
However, Gates has battled a series of injuries and is still battling that nagging plantar fasciitis (foot) injury.
Even with these injuries, Gates has seemed to contribute. In the past two years, he has only played in 23 games but still managed to haul in 17 touchdowns.
There's no doubt that with the talent Gates has and his incredible work ethic he will contribute. You still have to believe that Rivers will still target Gates, as he is still an incredible red-zone threat. However, battling injury and at the age of 32, he may not be the same player he was a few years ago.
That being said, Floyd may just be Rivers' new favorite target.
4. Experience with Philip Rivers
The only wide receiver (this does not include Antonio Gates) who has been with the Chargers since Philip Rivers was named starter in 2006 is Malcom Floyd.
In each of the past three seasons, Floyd was able to catch for more than 700 yards, and in 2011, he averaged 19.9 yards per reception with five touchdowns.
As great as talent is, it can only take you so far without chemistry. Because he has played with Rivers since '06, Floyd has more experience and chemistry with Rivers than the others listed on the depth chart.
Floyd could play a huge role in the offense thanks to his already-established chemistry with Rivers and more in-depth understanding of the offensive scheme.
At age 30, you can only hope Floyd's experience in the NFL will help him have a breakout year this season.