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Just The Sports: Understanding Wide Receivers

Just The Sports

Friday, March 24, 2006

Understanding Wide Receivers

Over the past several years, while wide receivers like Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, and Chad Johnson have become more about themselves and less about the team, the criticism of these receivers has grown exponenially leading to numerous questions being asked by the sports media and sports fans. Why do wide receivers always think of themselves as underpaid and why are they constantly demanding the ball be thrown their way are two examples of the aforementioned questions. While there is no denying that the majority of wide receivers are self-centered and egotistical, their abrasive personalities are not entirely their fault. They are simply a product of their position. In this post, I will point out four aspects of the wide receiver positions that contribute to the assholic attitudes you see in the NFL and every other level of football.

1. Where Wide Receivers Line Up

Football is the consummate team sport and yet, wide receivers line up on an island, isolated from the rest of the teammates. It is no small wonder then that they do not comprehend what their teammates have to go through on any given play to make it work. When this sort of isolation occurs, football becames a game of 1 vs. 1 or 1 vs. 2 rather than 11 vs. 11 as football was probably meant to be. In additon, lining up on an island means wide receivers don't even have to know what the snap count is. All they have to do is watch the ball and when it is snapped, they perform their job. There have been numerous instances where wide receivers have left the huddle early because they see not point in sticking around with the rest of their teammates when they don't need to know the specific snap count. Subtleties like that reinforce the thinking of wide receivers that they are alone on the field and can only depend on themselves.

2. Wide Receivers Are Always Open

At least in their minds, they are always open. I have yet to hear any receiver who will admit he or she was covered. Even when they are double covered, they still think they are open and wonder why the ball is not coming their way. Then they start to demand it, not taking into account it is not as easy to get them the ball as they think. This leads to arguments with the quarterback or the offensive coordinator or the head coach as to why he is not getting more balls thrown his way. As destructive as the receiver's thinking might prove, this mentality is best suited for success. The truly great players at this position have to think of themselves as superior or else they will not have the confidence necessary to perform at the highest level. It is really a catch-22 situation.

3. Getting Open

When wide receivers get open. the only people they have to thank for that is themselves. Running backs need good blocking from the linemen to break up a long run. In the same vein, quarterbacks also need adequate production from their teammates in order to get off a pass. But not wide receivers. When they get open, it becomes more along the lines of look at what I did in getting open. Look at how I burned that guy with no one else's help. Therein lies the root of the "me, me me" mentality you see time and time again.

4. Having Their Backs To The Ball

Having their backs to the ball does not allow wide receivers to witness the intricacies of line blocking and all the other protection schemes that are going on behind them. Basically all the things that make a play work So, for the most part, when a play does not work out or does not develop, wide receivers really don't know why. It is this ignorance that causes anger at the rest of the teammates leading to wide receivers questioning their teammates' abilities and further fracturing themselves from the rest of the team.


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