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Backup Receivers, Who and How Many?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by mgteich, Jul 27, 2008.

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  1. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    IMHO, we only need TWO backups. We have four current candidates in Jackson, Washington, Slater and Aiken.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Moss, Welker and Gaffney should get almost all the reps at wide receiver. There will also be many receptions by our tight ends and running backs. We don't need a fourth wide receiver for four or five wide receiver sets. Faulk and the tight ends can fit the role of 4th or 5th receiver in a game situation.

    Then, barring injury, what is the role of the backup wide receiver and how many do we need? Here are some possibilities for the use of these two or three roster spots.

    BACKUP IN CASE OF INJURY (this is a role for an inactive wide receiver)
    SPECIAL TEAM TACKLER
    PUNT RETURNER
    KICK RETURNER
    DEVELOPMENTAL FUTURE HOPEFUL
     
  2. JoePats

    JoePats In the Starting Line-Up

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    Jackson would have to be absolutely hideous not to make the team. I'd be surprised if Washington didn't make it. I'd say it's Slater and Aiken for one spot, unless they want to keep Slater strictly as a kick returner.
     
  3. spacecrime

    spacecrime Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    The four WRs are Moss, Welker, Gafney and Jackson. Washington, Slater and AIken are not on the same level and are no more WRs that Larry Izzo is a LB. For emergency use only.

    If any of those three make the team, it will not be as WRs, it will be as STers.
     
  4. wdkantro2

    wdkantro2 Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    First of all, I disagree with your overall premise that we only need two backups. It's not as simple as you lay out. We play multiple 4 receiver sets. Carrying three recievers plus 2 STers (which is what Washington, Aiken and Slater essentially are) is SUICIDE. One little knick on any of the starters and all of a sudden opposing defenses can double Moss and/or Welker.
    I think they will carry a minimum of 6 recievers. The three big guys (Gaffney, Moss, Welker), the backup WR (Jackson) and at the least 2 ST/versatility guys (Slater and Washington). There is NO way in hell they cut either Slater or Washington. Aiken looks to be the odd man out at this point, but I am not convinced he is a cut. They could easily take Slater and put him on the depth chart as a safety and keep Aiken as the last WR. If Andrews were still around, I would say Aiken would have no chance, but given that we need another gunner to go opposite Washington I think he will have a shot.
     
  5. patsfaninpa

    patsfaninpa In the Starting Line-Up

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    I only have 5 on my projection. But, given Slater's versatility it seems like there
    is a good chance he finds his way on to the roster. May not carry 7 dl. I have 6 cb's.
    Maybe, Slater can beat one of them out since he can play a little db.

    3 qb Brady, O'Connell and Cassel
    5 rb Maroney, Faulk, Morris, Evans and maybe L.Jordan or Eckel.
    5 wr Moss,Welker,Gaffney, Jackson and Washington.
    3 te Watson , Thomas and Spach/Pollard
    8 ol Koppen, Light, Mankins, Neal, Kaczur, Britt, O'Callaghan and Hochstein.
    7 dl Wilfork,Seymour,Warren,Green, Wright, Smith and S.Thomas
    9 lb A.Thomas,Mayo, Bruschi, Vrabel, Crable,Woods,Hobson, Alexander and Izzo.
    10 db Hobbs,Bryant,Harrison,Sanders,Merriweather,T.Williams,T.Wheatley,C.Webster
    Wilhite and M.Richardson
    3 special team, p,k and Long snapper Gost,Hansen and Paxton.
     
  6. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    Before I answer the question, it is surprising that people don't consider the different WR positions on the field. While Gaffney is the 3rd best WR in terms of production, he is not an ideal fit wide opposite Moss. CJack is much better suited for that position in his ability to threaten deep, power off of press coverage and take a WR screen and get some YAC. While Gaffney will line up outside in some formations, if CJack is not getting some serious snaps opposite Moss that is a major indictment of his development.

    That being said, there are 4 major roles to be filled:
    1) Split End - Moss
    2) Flanker - CJack
    3) Slot - Welker
    4) Anywhere on the line in 4 WR set - Gaffney

    Since WR can be a pretty fragile position, you need to have a plan to deal with injuries at any of these positions:
    1) Split End - Washington
    2) Flanker - Gaffney
    3) Slot - Gaffney
    4) Anywhere on the line in 4 WR set - ???? Lots of options

    So Moss, CJack, Welker and Gaffney probably get all of the WR catches, with Washington and Gaffney getting enhanced roles in case of injury. Anyone else needs to catch on with the special teams unit. I wouldn't even count Slater on the WR depth chart. Aiken is a capable WR but his value is almost exclusively on special teams.

    Contrary to my final camp battles roster, I really think Aiken is going to stick. That would mean 6 WR:

    Split End - Moss, Washington
    Flanker - CJack, Gaffney
    Slot - Welker, Gaffney
    4 WR Set - Gaffney
    Special Teams - Washington, Aiken
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2008
  7. RayClay

    RayClay Pro Bowl Player

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    Kelley Washington is as good of a receiver as most also rans around the league. Had 31 catches on a wr dominated team in Cinci. He decided to go to a winner instead of playing on a crap team. He could have started for us 2 years ago.

    He was a consensus 1st round pick drafted in the third round mostly because of injury (neck) concerns.

    What information do you have to back up your claim?
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2008
  8. RayClay

    RayClay Pro Bowl Player

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    Jackson is a star if his head's on straight. Kelley Washington could be higher than a fifth on most teams. Add his special team talent and he's gold.
     
  9. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I strongly agree that Washington is capable of playing wide receiver in this league. He has demonstrated that more than Jackson. I also agree that Jackson could be star.

    However, for now we have a fine top three, and a fine set of two backup receivers who are fine special teamers.

    And we have Slater, a fifth rounder, who is likely headed for the Practice Squad, unless he can win one of the final ST spots and push out Wilhite, Izzo or Alexander (my three STers). Others may have a different set of the final three STers.

     
  10. dhamz

    dhamz In the Starting Line-Up

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    I think you have 4 roster locks - Moss, Welker, Gaffney, and Washington because of his ST prowress.

    Jackson is likely to make it but if Washington beats him out at WR which is possible, he really serves no purpose. There are far better ST options. Of course on this board, Moss and Brady would be cut before Jackson who can no doubt throw perfect spirals 60 yards down the field AND then run down and catch them.

    The Aikens and Slaters of the world are competing for ST spots, not WR spots.
     
  11. PatsFan37

    PatsFan37 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    The opinion of so many here is that Washington sucks as a WR because, in his first year with the Patriots, he couldn't break into the lineup of Moss, Welker, Stallworth, and Gaffney, the best starting WRs in the league last year.

    It's foolish to say that he's no more of a WR than Izzo is a LB. If Izzo was competing for LB, he'd be cut from most teams in the league. Washington would make the WR roster on many if not most teams. It's tough for him here, with Moss, Welker, Gaffney and golden boy in front of him. Particularly Moss, who as Metaphors points out, is his real competition.

    Washington is not only good at STs, but he backs up at Split End and Tight End. He can catch and he is a willing and capable blocker.

    When they rest Moss this year, which they undoubtedly will (I personally think one of their biggest mistakes last year was to work Moss as hard as they did), Washington will get his snaps.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  12. PatsFan37

    PatsFan37 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Question for Metaphors: you've repeatedly noted the differences between split end and flanker, which I appreciate. I'm no expert, so I looked up the positions and understand at least enough to know that the SE is on the line and has to beat the jam and the flanker is on the strongside, off the line and does not have to beat the jam.

    Now to venture into areas that I don't know: is the SE expected to be the faster receiver, a Lee Evans type, who can beat the jam with quickness and take the coverage downfield. While a flanker is bigger, a Terrell Owens type, who can block in the running game? Or do I have that completely backwards. Flankers are fast and light? SE's are bigger and slower?

    So what makes CJack a flanker body type while Washington is not. Speed alone? They otherwise have similar body types.

    This is where I need to know more. There may be lurkers out there as confused as me. And lurkers who know the answers. TIA for your help.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  13. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    All great questions and Moss makes the answers a little fuzzy for the Pats. Moss is a unique WR in that his skill set doesn't restrict him to any of the WR positions...even playing inside. So when I put Moss at SE, take it with a grain of salt because he also plays off the line (flanker) depending on formation.

    Just a quick primer...
    Split end is counted as being on the LOS along with the 5 OL and another receiver (usually the TE). Since he is at the LOS, press coverage can be use to hold him up or redirect. SE needs to be able to beat press coverage with strength, quickness/moves and/or the ability to threaten huge areas of the field (making press coverage dangerous).

    Flanker is wide opposite the SE but set off the line. The flanker has room to get into his routes and avoid the press corner. He needs to be able to get into his routes quickly and make fast/accurate route adjustments when necessary. Often this is a hot receiver on blitzes, so the ability to take a WR screen or quick slant and get lots of YAC are an important skill.

    Slot guy is also set of the line and is the guy you often see in motion along the LOS. Got to be quick and smart to navigate the traffic in the middle of the field. Also needs to be on the same page as the QB since the decisions are super fast and mistakes in the middle of the field can result in turnovers or getting lit up.

    Moss and CJack have the skills needed to play SE or flanker so the difference isn't overly important. I generally put Moss at SE since he is scary enough to keep a CB out of press coverage. CJack has the strength to turn a screen or short route into a big play if he is single covered (which should be the norm)...but he also has the speed to threaten deep and keep the safety on his side from sneaking up and helping with the TE or pinching Welker's routes.

    Welker is a prototype slot guy so no real additional explanation needed.

    Gaffney has the flexibility to play anywhere, but he really doesn't provide much of a deep threat which limits his effectiveness outside. His comfort level with Brady makes him a solid backup for Welker or the other inside WR in a 4-WR set. Outside, he would play better off the line as a flanker.

    Washington has great strength, but it takes him a while to get up to speed. He can beat the press coverage and get downfield, which makes him a better SE (or even TE at PF37 mentions...which I didn't consider but is a good point). As a flanker, he is a couple of additional steps from getting downfield and he really isn't much of a threat to get much YAC on screens and quick passes.

    While folks like to put the WRs in a nice depth chart order (Moss, Welker, Gaffney, CJack/Washington), there are other considerations. That is why I see Moss (SE), Welker (Slot), Watson (TE) and CJack (Flanker) as the ideal standard receiver formation. Gaffney gets lots of work all along the line. Washington is a solid WR but has a more focused skill set that will make it difficult for him to get on the field without some kind of injury.

    If Gaffney is lined up at flanker opposite Moss for the majority of the base formation snaps, that is more of an indictment of CJack's development than it is an indication of Gaffney winning the spot. While Gaffney is a good receiver, he can be left with single coverage which allows others to shade Moss and Welker even more. A healthy and productive CJack keeps the defensive back 7 more balanced which opens up space for others (probably Welker/Watson more than Moss...Moss gets attention regardless) to operate.
     
  14. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I was with you right up until this paragraph, where our opinions began to diverge. For all that people have spent a lot of the offseason insisting that Jackson's a bust (and the other side saying he's a monster talent), this is Jackson's first healthy training camp. He's at a huge disadvantage trying to crack this lineup because he's competing against the best wide receiver in the game, the best slot receiver in the game and a third receiver that Brady seems to be supremely comfortable with.

    I'm not looking for Jackson to knock Gaffney off the perch at his spot during training camp. What I'm looking for out of Jackson, at least at the start of the season, is for him to take the 'rest' plays when the team gives Moss, Welker or Gaffney a play off. If he's out there on those plays and looking as if he's getting more confident and comfortable, everything else will be gravy.

    Of course, that's just my take on it.
     
  15. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I say the Pats keep 5 WRs, no more and no less. I think it is fairly safe to say that all of Moss, Welker, Gaffney, Jackson, and Washington are locks. Jackson was a second round pick that has yet to be given a chance to show what he can do due to injuries. If the Pats could stand by Bethel Johnson for as long as they did, no way are they giving up on Jackson without giving him a shot to prove himself especially since he showed flashes in his rookie season and can do return duty. Washington is a special teams ace and signed a new deal with the Pats during the offseason. I can't see the Pats giving him a 2 year deal with a $400k signing bonus this past offseason if they were planning to cut him in the preseason if Chad Jackson worked out and they decide to only carry 4 WRs.
     
  16. PatsFan37

    PatsFan37 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Thanks, Metaphors, that's a big help. I'm starting to figure this out.

    The things that stick out are:

    (1) flanker is to Brady's right, so it would seem that Moss would be there as the preferred target.

    (2) from your description, it seems flanker requires better reads and more intelligence than SE, which also favors Moss and I would think does not favor CJack. OTOH, Moss is no longer the best, anymore at taking "a WR screen or quick slant and get lots of YAC." Frankly, I'd rather he turtled on contact.

    Overriding all of it is BB's desire to put the best guys on the field. If CJack gets his consistency to where Brady trusts him, they'll find a way to get him out there with Moss and Welker in 3 WR sets
     
  17. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    You are right on with every point. The flanker is generally thought of as the #1 receiver and he typically lines up on the QB's "strong" side. That smells like Moss and he does line up there (the triple pass play against the Steelers for example).

    You nailed the reason why I put him at SE...don't want him to take the hits associated with some of the more common flanker routes. Though CJack didn't have many catches his rookie year, he did get a good number of WR screens. This leads me to believe Belichick thought CJack was capable of solid YAC in 2006.

    The potential downside for CJack at flanker? You got that one as well. He probably has multiple reads depending on the post-snap movement of the defense. Missed reads not only result in failed plays, but they also frustrate Brady and get him out of a rhythm. This is more damaging IMO than the incompletion. When Brady is in rhythm, the Pats generally have scoring success and the defense wears out quicker.

    It is all guesswork at this point, but it should make the preseason games interesting to watch.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  18. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    I see where you are going, but that seems like a fairly low estimation of the impact of a 2nd round receiver in the 3rd year of a 4 year contract. The haters are generally too harsh on CJack due to injuries/circumstance. Dude has all the talent in the world and if he doesn't play himself into a more significant role than you describe above, you have to wonder if he is going to reach his potential with the Pats (and I'm a CJack backer).
     
  19. spacecrime

    spacecrime Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I agree that Washington is a much better receiver than Izzo is a linebacker. Imeant that on the Pats squad he is as much a WR as Izzo is a LB. Less, actually, as Izzo does play LB, albeit rarely.

    I meant that Washington's only shot at the team is on STs not WR, just as Izzo's only shot is on STs, not LB.

    I meant that our WRs are Moss, Welker, Gafney, and Jackson. If a fifth player lines up at WR, it will likely be Slater, but he is still a STer primarily.

    We are likely to have two STs on the team (Washington & Slater) who could be pressed into service, but barring multilple WR injuries they will not be playing any offensive snaps.

    Maybe, maybe not. Ask Pats1 how many people vied for Patrick Pass's services after he was cut (both times). We tend to think more highly of our players, and that is a good thing - we are fans, but Washington was a free agent for a while and no one picked him up until the Pats did. Likewise no one came knocking when the Pats cut him last spring (though it is possible he prefers playing STs on the Pats for vet minimum to catching passes on "many if not most teams").
     
  20. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'd love to see Jackson and Slater as the 4th and 5th receivers. Jackson, I think, would line up opposite Randy Moss due to his size and speed. He'd be a great compliment to #81 if he gels in the system this year. As for the 5th, I'd like to see Slater. He's got decent size, he's quick, and he's shifty. He's someone that, even if you get the ball into his hands at the LOS, he's shifty enough to take it to the house. I'd actually like to see Washington remain on STs even if he is better at receiver than Slater is because Washington is a STs ace whether it's batting the ball down at the one yard line or making a big, head hunting hit on a returner.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
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