Wide receiver is an isolated position on the football field. You spend the majority of the game on an island with another individual, separated from the cluster around the football. This location requires a receiver to be strong mentally and consistently focused. The film doesn’t lie, especially when you are a receiver. Every step you take can be easily analyzed and picked apart by your coaches. The mental strength is needed to stay sharp in the gaps of action when you aren’t involved in a major way during the play being run, which happens the majority of the time in a standard NFL offense.
There will be running plays where your block on the corner or safety is crucial. There will also be plenty where it isn’t. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hustle, it just means by the time you engage your block the play could already be over, especially if it is a 2-3 yard run. There is going to be pass plays where you are running a decoy route, or are the fourth or fifth option for a quarterback. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run your route hard, as any play can break down and lead to a scramble and a reception. What I am getting to is that over the course of a game, it requires mental discipline to stay entirely focused at the receiver position.
This process can be eased by an early reception to get into the flow of the game. The simple process of a short catch and being tackled, engages the receiver. Despite double teams or different types of coverage being shown by the defense, the Jets can find a way to get Plaxico Burress a catch in the first quarter. Throw him a quick hitch, a smoke screen, or a short slant. Let him get that 6 or 7 yard reception under his belt early. Burress can play the good soldier all he wants and it is a great thing that he is, but no receiver enjoys taking 40 straight snaps without receiving a look from the quarterback. It isn’t natural and he shouldn’t enjoy it. Burress is too talented of a playmaker for that scenario to ever occur any way.
Forcing Burress the ball is one thing and isn’t productive. Yet, subbing out a running play for a smoke screen to Burress on the first offensive drive is another. If you are looking for 5 yards on first down, aren’t you better off throwing it to Burress in space, letting him run 3 yards, get tackled, fall forward and finish with a 5 yard gain because of his massive height instead of handing it to Shonn Greene and his 2.9 yards per carry right up the middle behind a rookie center? It is also on Brian Schottenheimer to occasionally move Burrress out of the split end or “X” role and get him into the slot or send him in motion to free him up.
I would love to break down the film to prove this but I bet a receiver who catches a pass on the first drive is more effective as a run blocker and route runner the next 20 snaps, than a receiver who doesn’t. It is human nature. Frustration builds from not being involved and then it leads to pressing to get somebody involved late in a game, which almost got Mark Sanchez hurt last week.
It is isn’t a hard process. You have a 6 foot 5 wide receiver who is a proven playmaker. Find a simple, short route to throw him on the first drive to get him into the flow of the game and your offense.