Black and Gold X's and O's | A Debate: Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston?

Will Osgood@@BRwillosgoodAnalyst IJune 3, 2009

LONDON - OCTOBER 26:  Vincent Jackson of the San Diego Chargers catches for a touchdown during the Bridgestone International Series NFL match between San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium on October 26, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

This is the second of a three part series asking which Saint or Charger you would rather have.

All statistics taken from Player Pages.

Besides the fact that I'm a student at San Diego State and have played basketball alongside Vincent Jackson, I am completely unbiased on this question.

I have a Marques Colston Saints jersey, yet consider Jackson my favorite receiver (other than Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, but they don't count).

I love big receivers.

It's probably no secret given the players I have as my four favorite receivers. Plus, Andre Johnson is my fifth favorite.

The numbers say Colston has been a more productive receiver in his three seasons in the NFL than Jackson has in his four. When looking at the statistics, Colston had only 12 fewer catches, roughly 400 yards less, and three fewer touchdown receptions despite missing five full games and parts of another in 2008.

But a closer look at the statistics tells us a different story.

Jackson has improved steadily each season he's been in the league. He went from just three catches in his rookie season out of Northern Colorado, to 27, 41, and finally 59 a season ago.

I personally believe Jackson was worthy of a Pro Bowl berth a season ago, or would have been had he reached the end zone a few more times. I say this because 18.6 yards per reception is one of the highest figures in the entire league.

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Truth be told, Jackson almost always catches the ball at least 10 yards down the field, which helps his ratio.

An even deeper look at the stats shows Jackson to be a very clutch receiver.

On completions where the play began inside the Chargers own twenty yard line, Jackson averaged 28.3 yards per reception and had two plays of 40+ yards.   

When the pass was completed in the red zone, Jackson caught eight passes for five touchdowns.

Even more impressive though, is that 35 of his 59 catches occurred in the Second Half of games, and 20 of those were in the fourth quarter. He had four touchdowns in the Second Half and three of them were in the fourth quarter.

Finally, one should note that 49 of his catches occurred when the Chargers were behind or tied with the other team. Before you pull that old argument, "well they had to throw the ball because they were behind," remember that the Chargers played very few games in which either team was significantly ahead of the other.

This means these catches came in key situations under a lot of pressure.

An extra little nugget to throw in there is that Jackson is generally regarded as one of the better blocking receivers in the NFL, and is the guy in the single-receiver sets who is placed in the lineup both because he is a threat to drop a bomb on the defense or punish them with some physicality to open up holes for Sproles and LT.

As for Colston, he of course was a no-name out of Hofstra in 2006, he has become New Orleans' most well known receiver and one of the best red zone targets in the game.

A closer look at the numbers shows Colston to be very balanced over the course of a season and his career.

In '08, he caught 26 passes in the first half and 21 in the second. Half of his receptions came when the snap was taken between the Saints 21-to-the-50 yard line, but in no other quadrant did Colston stand out.

Looking back to 2007, Colston really excelled in the same region, (21-to-50) catching 49 of a total 98 passes in said area of the field.

I don't need a calculator to figure out that's exactly 50 percent or half. And in 2007, more than 75 percent of his receptions took place when the team was either tied or behind.

In both seasons used for Colston, the numbers indicate that he does his best work in the second quarter.

Perhaps most telling is that Colston is not the guy the Saints want in the game in obvious run downs.

That guy, as crazy as it may seem, is Robert Meachem.

He is the primary single-receiver when the Saints go to two tight end and two back sets.

Finally, both receivers are used at times in the slot position.

This is advantageous as it gives the play caller for each team—the head coach for both teams—an opportunity to gain matchup advantages on smaller defensive backs or safeties/linebackers.

It also could force defenses to choose a coverage which puts more defenders inside the hashes, opening up the outside for players such as Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Chris Chambers, and Legedu Naane.

So, the question is...who would you rather have?

The numbers seem to point to Marques Colston being slightly overrated. Likewise, Vincent Jackson appears to be slightly underrated.

The fact he can do all the same things as Colston and is a better blocker actually makes me think Jackson is the better receiver.

Both teams have great options to compliment these players, so the more a player does and the more clutch they are, the better they my opinion.

But tell me what you think.