As a general rule, players aren’t supposed to be able to lose their starting position due to injury. For the San Diego Chargers at wide receiver however, that may not be the best rule to abide by.
Sometimes the best thing for a team struggling the way the Bolts were heading into their Thursday night tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs is a change. Any kind of alteration to break up the monotony that had been perpetuating the stagnant losing vibe taking hold of the team would do the trick.
That adjustment was provided at the wide receiver position where both of General Manager A.J. Smith’s prized free agent signings from this past offseason were sidelined. Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal have been battling hamstring issues and were unable to go in the game with Kansas City. This opened the door for two players who were out on the street until just two short weeks ago in former Charger Seyi Ajirotutu and former St. Louis Rams pass catcher Danario Alexander. What transpired as a result was what the team has to hope is a sign of things to come.
For an offense that has struggled mightily at times this season including two touchdown-less performances already, things clicked early for quarterback Philip Rivers and his new targets. Clearly his familiarity with Tutu aided that quick assimilation as the two played together during the 2010 season in San Diego. Altogether, Alexander and Ajirotutu totaled four grabs for 89 yards in the contest and some of the catches were drive-changing.
On the first offensive possession of the game, the Bolts kept a drive alive on a 28-yard catch from Ajirotutu. A 30-yard grab from Alexander sustained another march for the Bolts later in the game that resulted in points.
While this isn’t the way the Chargers drew up the depth chart at receiver to begin the year, this new configuration is working. There is absolutely no reason to force either Royal or Meachem back into the lineup whenever they are healthy. Clearly money plays a much larger role than it should in the decision making process, but if Rivers maintains a rapport with these two newcomers, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Obviously GM Smith’s intent by bringing in both Meachem and Royal was to stem the loss of big-play receiver Vincent Jackson who left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason. The amount of money that each received in order to try and fill those large shoes was a hefty sum and in hindsight seems a bit desperate.
Still these new additions could actually enhance the value of both Meachem and Royal in the long run. With the New Orleans Saints, Meachem always played in the slot with a big target (Marques Colston) on the outside to keep the coverage honest underneath. That role could be filled by Alexander who has the build at 6’5” 217lbs. to be that style of receiver while Royal could be the dynamic, short-passing threat that Darren Sproles used to fill in San Diego and now does with the Saints.
There are still some obvious kinks to work out as everything needs to jell together properly, but the components are all present to really open up new avenues for the San Diego offense. Meachem was signed as a number one receiver, but doesn’t seem to have that type of game to really carry the torch for a receiving corps. Adding in these new parts will hopefully help him feel more comfortable in his role with the team and increase his production as a result.
Now it’s your turn! What do you think of Danario Alexander, Seyi Ajirotutu, and their value to the offense moving forward? Can the receiving corps co-exist with this many pass catches in the mix and will the egos all be okay with sharing the load? Do you think an arrangement similar to the Saints style of offense would work for the Chargers? Please fill up the comments section below with your thoughts!
Follow Anthony on Twitter: @AnthonyMBlake
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