Vincent Jackson: Is He The Spark The Chargers Need To Be A Playoff Contender?

Nathaniel UyFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2010

Vincent Jackson: Is He The Spark The Chargers Need To Be A Playoff Contender?

0 of 11

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Vincent Jackson is set to make his debut for the Chargers this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. 

    After sitting out the first half of the season because of a contract dispute, Jackson was forced to report to San Diego in order to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

    Now that the Chargers are back at .500 this season and only a game away from the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs, his return could possibly boost the team.

    However, there's still a little bit of uncertainly about if he could actually hurt the squad instead of helping it.

    Will he be the spark needed to propel San Diego to the playoffs?  Let's find out.

5. No—One Man Can't Make a Difference

1 of 11

    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Jackson has been gone for the first 10 games of the season and the Chargers are only one game away from leading Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.

    Without Jackson, they already have the best passing attack, averaging 306.5 yards per game.  They also lead the league in pass defense, allowing only 183.5 yards per game.

    The Chargers have managed to put up impressive numbers except in the win-loss column this year.

    Their problems include costly in-game errors and untimely penalties, not a slumping offense.

    If Jackson returns, how can he bolster an already potent passing attack?

5. Yes—He's a Pro Bowl Receiver

2 of 11

    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    The Chargers may be the best in the league in terms of passing yardage earned, but anytime a Pro Bowl -receiver is added to a roster, it gets bolstered.

    Malcom Floyd, Patrick Crayton, and an array of other receivers have been dependable in his absence, but Jackson brings more proven production to the table than his counterparts.

    Last year he tallied 1,167 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

4. No—He's Going To Misbehave

3 of 11

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Jackson never got the contract he really wanted from the Chargers and threatened to sit out the entire season.

    Although he was forced to return, it's tough to believe that he's really going to be a happy camper.

    He's already served a three-game suspension for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. 

    This Pro Bowler just might be a little huffy and puffy on the field after being forced to sign a $600,000 contract from the Chargers instead of a possible $3.8 million deal.

    Moreover, knowing that his stint is San Diego is going to be limited, he could take plays off and conserve himself for the next season.

4. Yes—He's In a Contract Year

4 of 11

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    After the NFL Players Association informed him that he needed another season of eligibility to become an unrestricted free agent, he was forced to report to the Chargers

    Jackson knows that he will have to shine in the remaining six games in order to make a lasting impression. 

    He's in a contract year and big free-agent money is on the line.  That's enough incentive for him to play well.

    No one wants a grumpy receiver with attitude problems.  We've already learned that from Randy Moss.

3. No—Too Many Injuries

5 of 11

    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Chargers have been suffering from injuries all season long.

    It's been difficult to shake the injury bug and the absence of key players, such as Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews, could ultimately hurt them.

    They've been fortunate to win without them so far but, with only six games remaining this season, every win counts.

    San Diego will be going against a very solid Colts team in Jackson's debut, but the possibility of playing without Gates or Matthews could finally catch up with the team this weekend.

    Even Vincent Jackson can't carry all the workload, with injuries still preventing the team from fielding their ideal roster.

3. Yes—They're Just Getting Healthy

6 of 11

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Gates may have sat the last two games but he's expected to recover soon.

    Thus, it's only going to get better.  You can count on that. 

    The Pro Bowler's return can help Antonio Gates carry less of the passing workload and help open things up for Malcom Floyd.

    Considering that the Chargers have bounced back to win three straight games, they're at a very good place to make a run for the playoffs.

    They're tied with the Raiders and are a game behind the Chiefs for the AFC West crown.  Jackson's presence will help the team in key games against both rivals later in their schedule.

2. No—He'll Ruin The Chemistry

7 of 11

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    After starting the season with a 2-5 record, the Chargers have finally managed to go on a three-game winning steak.

    They've managed to win without some of their best players.  In fact, their overall statistics have been among the league's best.

    Jackson may be a talented pass-catcher but with his early absence, his return this weekend could affect team chemistry.

    The Chargers may try too much to get him involved in the offense and inadvertently hurt the production of Malcom Floyd or Patrick Crayton. 

2. Yes—They Have an Easy Schedule

8 of 11

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Looking ahead at the Chargers schedule, only two of their next six opponents have a record over .500 going into Week 12.

    That means, outside of the Colts and the Chiefs, they're expected to meet sub-par competition.

    The road to the playoffs should be reasonably manageable for the team.  Jackson's return only improves their chances.

    He may affect the team chemistry at first, but the easy schedule affords the luxury of throwing Jackson right back in the mix right away.

1. No—Phillip Rivers Doesnt Need Him

9 of 11

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Phillip Rivers is making the best out of what he has.

    He's made stars out of Seyi Ajirotutu, Malcom Floyd and Patrick Crayton at times.

    Adding another receiver to the mix could just throw off the passing attack.  Jackson shouldn't be counted on to spark the squad.

    This is Phillip Rivers' team and he's the reason the team has been playing at a high level.

1. Yes—Phillip Rivers Does Need Him

10 of 11

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers could be on the verge of an MVP-type season if he helps lead San Diego back to the playoffs.

    The team's running game has not been as potent as in year's past when LaDainian Tomlinson was in his prime. 

    As a result, they've been relying heavily on the passing game to carry the load.

    Another able-bodied receiver will help.  There's already a proven rapport between Jackson and Rivers and there's no reason to believe they won't be able to relive their success from 2009 in the remaining six games.

Conclusion: He Can Only Help

11 of 11

    Harry How/Getty Images

    There's no other way to put this:  Vincent Jackson can only help.

    Yes, he was causing trouble to start the season because of his desire for more money.

    But that same desire for a big payday could be the reason he plays his heart out in the final year of his contract.

    He was a Pro Bowl receiver a year ago and one of the reasons the Chargers made the playoffs.  His teammates know what he can contribute to the squad and they should be expected to welcome his return.

    The Chargers are already playoff contenders without him.  With him they only become better.

    Yes, he'll definitely help spark them to the playoffs.