The day football fans having been waiting for all offseason has now come and gone. The Seattle Seahawks beat the San Diego Chargers 24-17 in front of a nationally televised crowd to kickoff the 2011 NFL preseason.
While the return of football was incredibly exciting, the return of San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson was very bittersweet.
Jackson, who on Thursday played in his first preseason game since the 2009 season, looked to be healthy, fit and in outstanding form.
On the Chargers first possession of the game, Jackson caught two passes from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers for 54 yards, including a 48-yard pass that he could have broke for a touchdown had it not been for a last-effort tackle by Seahawks defensive back Kelly Jennings.
Jackson clearly had Jennings beat, and Rivers knew exactly where to put the ball.
Jackson has consistently posted solid receiving numbers. He led the Chargers in receiving yards in back-to-back seasons (2008 and 2009), however, 2010 was somewhat of a disappointment for Jackson.
With a full 2011 season ahead of him, Jackson could once again be the Chargers top receiver.
Which begs this question?
If Vincent Jackson performs well this season, should Chargers' general manager A.J. Smith reward him with the big money long-term deal he desires?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Yes!
With just two catches in a preseason game, the Chargers need to realize how much of an offensive weapon Jackson is and how much better the Chargers passing game is with him rather than without him.
Thursday night's game also showed how incredibly stagnant the Chargers' rushing offense is right now.
Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (who in my mind had an incredibly subpar season for a first-round draft pick) needs to start playing with a chip on his shoulder and prove to fans the he has the ability to be a top-tier running back in the NFL. Otherwise rookie running back Jordan Todman may be out to claim the starting spot.
Should the Chargers' running game not pick up speed, look for the return of the "Air Coryell" offense to take hold of the San Diego Chargers once again.