For the last several seasons, the San Diego Chargers top two wide receivers went 6’5″ 230 lbs., and 6’5″ 225 lbs (not to mention tight end Antonio Gates who is 6’4″ 260 lbs). Clearly the team favors tall, strong pass catchers. Going into this season, however, Vincent Jackson, is both suspended and holding out. That leaves Malcom Floyd as the only deep threat on the active roster. After a season in which he caught 45 passes for a very impressive 17.2 yards-per-reception, Floyd is poised for a breakout season. But who else will be able to aid quarterback Philip Rivers in the downfield passing game?
Whoever steps up will likely be a very different type of player than Jackson. Legedu Naanee is the next guy on the depth chart, but he is a 6’2″ 220 lbs. former running back. Former first round pick Craig “Buster” Davis is shorter, smaller and even less productive to-date. No other players at the position top 6’3″ or 220 lbs. Especially with teams focusing on Floyd and a rookie running back (Ryan Mathews) in the backfield to try to pick up blitzes, watch for Rivers to make far more use of short, quick passes to get his smaller play-makers open in space. It will likely mean that the offense is not nearly as explosive as it was last season when the Chargers scored 28.4 points a game and a league-high 8.7 yards-per-pass.
Malcom Floyd joined Darren Smith on XX Radio in San Diego to discuss his role in the passing game for the upcoming season, which wide receivers could step up in the absence of Vincent Jackson, rookie Ryan Mathews’ impact on the offense, how he was treated as a rookie, singing ‘I Want to Be Like Mike,’ how to approach preseason games and his personality.
On how he would characterize his role:
“I thought I was looked at as a deep threat last year, especially starting those last eight games. We started seeing the defenses change their defenses according to me and Vincent stretching the field. They were bringing two safeties and just playing them over the top of us, opening up the run game and opening up the middle of the field and giving us opportunities there.”
On a guy who is going to step up at receiver:
“I say Jeremy Williams and (Seyi) Ajirotutu. They really came in and (Richard) Goodman’s come in really hot right now too as well. Goodman is doing a great job on special teams. You need to watch him run down on kickoffs when he’s there. He’s one of the first guys there.”
On how Ryan Mathews changes who the Chargers are on offense:
“I don’t think he really changes much. I mean, he’s doing a great job of picking up the offense, especially as a rookie. He looks fast. He looks quick. He’s catching the ball great out of the backfield. That’s what we really need, especially with LT being gone. We really need him at that position to come out of the backfield and be able to catch and get those short-yardage gains for us on third-and-short.”
On how he was treated as a rookie:
“I got treated pretty well I thought. We go through the initiation process where we have to go up and sing and we do our rookie show. But, I think the main thing is that when you go out there and prove yourself, you go out and make plays, you earn the respect of the guys. I was really fortunate to do that… I did the ‘I Want to Be Like Mike’ commercial where I sang the whole song and I did Michael Jordan moves when I was singing it. It was pretty funny. To this day, me and Nate Kaeding still joke about it. It was one of the funny ones.”
On the approach to preseason games:
“I think you approach it both ways. You have to try go out there and win. But you also have to prepare for the regular season… It’s totally different from the regular season where we are scouting a team all week. We probably have their roster in front of us and just watch a days worth of film. During the regular season, we are watching film on them four days during the week.”