In this week three edition of Gotta Do Better, we take a look at a few Wide-Receivers who are facing a crucial season in 2016.
Golden Tate: Detroit Lions
This name shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. After the early retirement of the NFL’s single season receiving yards champion Calvin Johnson became official, Golden Tate’s shoulder-boulder just got a lot heavier.
Tate proved in 2014 he has the ability to be a number one guy while filling in for an injured Calvin Johnson for a portion of the season, when he put 1,131 yards for an average of 13.4 yards per catch. Though his numbers took a dip in 2015 with Johnson being a much more consistent presence on the field, his ability to stretch the field could be the make or break point for his chemistry with the strong-armed Stafford.
All in all, Tate has to prove he can step up into a permanent number one role and be ready to compensate for a sometimes errant quarterback. Johnson isn’t going to be waiting in the wings on the injury report anymore, waiting to swoop in and salvage an otherwise forgettable season.
Michael Floyd: Arizona Cardinals
Since eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in 2013, Floyd has struggled to break the 800 mark ever since. It’s not that the young wide out from Notre Dame is devoid of talent, quite the opposite in fact. Floyd remains a player with all the ability in the world to make game changing plays.
Floyd’s problem the last few years has been plain old inconsistency. During the 2015 season, Floyd had five games over 100 yards, while the total for games under 20 yards was six. Everything in-between wasn’t exactly flashy either.
The emergence of John Brown, along with Larry Fitzgerald’s overshadowing presence can make it easy for somebody like Floyd to fade away into the background as new and younger talent begins to emerge. If Floyd wants to remain in head coach Bruce Arian’s plans, he has to find a way to separate himself from the pack in 2016, otherwise he could find himself looking for work elsewhere.
Brandon LaFell: Free Agent
A year after winning a Super Bowl in his first season with the New England Patriots, the drop off for LaFell was steep. After missing the first few weeks of the season recuperating from a foot injury, he was never fully able to get himself back up to speed in Josh McDaniel’s pass-heavy offense.
In 2014, LaFell had a career year catching passes from Tom Brady, posting 953 yards to go along with 7 touchdowns. 2015 told a much different story unfortunately, as LaFell regularly struggled to find separation from coverage, particularly in the end zone, which was a large factor in the receiver experiencing the first ever scoreless season of his career.
Bellichick and company ultimately decided it was best to move on from the 29 year old LSU product in favor of signing veteran deep threat Nate Washington. However, I don’t foresee this being the end of the road for the former Super Bowl champ.
The Bengals have been among the teams looking to bring LaFell in. If he can prove that he can still be productive a year removed from the foot injury, he should be just fine. But, he has to actually show it.
DeSean Jackson: Washington Redskins
After missing a portion of this past season due to injury, the one they call ‘D-Jax’ was much less of an impact on opposing defenses than in years previous. In total, Jackson put up a total of 528 yards to go along with 4 touchdowns.
Jackson continued his role as a deep threat wide-out, posting an average of 17.8 yards per catch, however, the number may be helped along by a shockingly small reception count. Out of 10 total games played in 2015, he posted five games with two or fewer catches. If you’re only going to score four total touchdowns in a season, you need to at least do your part in the middle of the field.
Jackson remains the best receiver on the Redskins roster. But, if he wants his team to make the leap with 2015’s breakout passer Kirk Cousins, he needs to stay healthy, and become a much larger factor in the receiving game other than just deep balls.
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