Vincent Jackson: 10 Bold Predictions On Chargers Offense Without Him
With Vincent Jackson out at least 3 games to begin the season, and probably more with him threatening to hold out until a new contract is reached (including regular season games), the San Diego Chargers offense has more questions than it's had since Phillip Rivers took over for Drew Brees in 2006.
With those questions in mind, we bring you 10 bold predictions for the Chargers offense while Jackson is out of commission.
10. This Situation Will Become Permanent
I realize this doesn't directly relate to the Chargers offensive performance without Jackson, but it's necessary to establish this in order to make the other predictions.
The Chargers aren't budging on this, and Jackson appears content to let things play out until he gets his way. Which means, the Chargers will trade him. Or just release him outright at the end of the year. Either way, he's gone.
9. The San Diego Saints
Think about it: the Chargers currently have one proven receiver (Antonio Gates). They have a bunch of talented young receivers and backs who have the potential to be great (Floyd, Naanee, Richard Goodman, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles), none of whom could be the go-to guy right this second.
Why not become Saints west? The Chargers thought Rivers was better than Brees, so why not prove it by sticking him in a similar system and letting him go? I think, by the end of this season, their offense will look similar to that of the Saints.
8. Randy McMichael Becomes a Big Part Of The Offense
The Chargers snagged McMichael from the Rams this year to serve as Antonio Gates' backup. He's got good hands, and has proven himself a decent receiver at every stop he goes to.
That right there makes him a solid option for Rivers in Jackson's absence. Look for San Diego to run some sets with Gates as a wideout and McMichael as the tight end. 500 yards and 4 touchdowns is within reach.
7. Legedu Naanee Fulfills His Potential
Naanee is a fourth-year wideout from Boise State, with good hands, instincts and size. He's built like a tank, and he's got decent speed.
Naanee's been a bundle of potential since he joined the league. With Jackson gone, he's got the tools to be a number one type receiver, or at least a 1b type guy. Look for 750 yards and 6 touchdowns this season, as Naanee proves he deserves to be here.
6. Malcom Floyd Asserts His Number One Status
Of everyone on the Chargers' roster, it is Floyd who stands to gain the most from Jackson's departure.
Standing 6'5" and weighing in at 225, Floyd has the size to be an elite receiver in the NFL. If Rivers develops a rapport with him, he could easily produce Jackson-caliber numbers this season and make it that much easier for the Chargers to send Vincent packing. I'm talking 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
5. Darren Sproles Breaks 650 Yards
Sproles is a sixth-year player out of Kansas State, and is by far one of the fastest, most dynamic runners in the NFL.
But he's yet to get a chance to start, because of his size and stature. This year, he finds himself behind rookie Ryan Mathews, despite Mathews being unproven.
With Jackson gone, the Chargers could throw the ball less, meaning Sproles will naturally get more carries. If they throw the same, he's a better receiver than Mathews, meaning he could play a Reggie Bush-type role in the offense.
4. Ryan Mathews Breaks 1,000 Rush Yards
This is him. This is the man the Chargers felt so comfortable handing the keys to the offense to that they sent franchise leading rusher LaDanian Tomlinson packing.
With an offense lacking proven weapons, Mathews will be given every chance to shine as a rookie. I don't think he'll be a fantastic back, but if Norv Turner ("Mathews will be given 300 carries this year") is to be believed, then 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns are well within reach.
3. Antonio Gates Has a Career Year
Gates is by far the most talented receiver in San Diego. He's big, fast and has fantastic hands. He also has developed a rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers.
That's more than any other back or wideout on the Chargers roster can say. Until someone else emerges, Gates is the number-one receiving option on the team.
That means career highs in catches (89) , yards (1,157) , and touchdowns (13). That's right. I said it.
2. Josh Reed Fulfills His True Destiny
Like McMichael, Reed was acquired by the Chargers in the offseason. He was a speedy receiver in Buffalo, whose shaky hands and poor rapport with J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards cost him.
But, in San Diego, Reed can actually do what he was designed to do: be an incredibly dangerous deep threat and slot receiver. He's got the speed to be a deep threat, and as a slot man, his shaky hands are forgivable, since he's the team's third or fourth option on most plays. 450-500 yards and 3 touchdowns are definitely in his range this year.
1. Philip Rivers Has a Career Year
Yes, San Diego will run the ball more this season, cutting into his attempts. Yes, his best wide receiver could be gone for good. Yes, he's got unproven guys and underacheivers around him.
But, I say Rivers throws for more yards than ever (4,254 is his career high), and more touchdowns than ever (34 was his career high) on fewer pass attempts.
Look at Drew Brees; he threw the ball 40 or more times just thee times last year, and came close to eclipsing those marks. If Rivers was supposed to be better than Brees, he should be able to do it to, right? Right. So, career year from Philip Rivers. Bold enough?