On Monday, I posted this picture along with this caption:
The 2010 San Diego Chargers are the first team to be ranked #1 in both offense and defense this late into the season in 23 years.
Each of us high-fived ourselves that we root for an awesome team when we read this, but this morning I had a weird thought.....if the offense is better, who is replacing Vincent Jackson? Everyone was so sure that the offense would take a step back without him....but now they're ranked #1. Has the rest of the league taken a step back in the first four weeks, or is somebody mysteriously out-producing Jackson while he sits at home?
Let's do some Math!
Overall Offensive Performance
First, let's look at the team numbers and see if the Chargers have gotten better or the rest of the league got worse:
Overall 2009 (1st 4 weeks): 1,379 yards, 101 points
Overall 2010 (1st 4 weeks): 1,803 yards, 113 points
So the offense has definitely gotten better. Oh, and the record of the 2009 team after 4 weeks? 2-2. So, all of the people that contact me on a daily basis talking about how the team "needs Vincent Jackson"....what do you have to say now? The team is statistically better offensively no matter how you slice it.
Vincent Jackson vs. Antonio Gates
I don't know about you, but I'm a curious person. I'd like to figure out where the extra yardage and points are coming from. Let's start by figuring out exactly what Jackson did in the first four weeks of 2009:
@OAK - 5 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD
BAL - 6 catches, 141 yards, 1 TD
MIA - 5 catches, 120 yards
@PIT - 4 catches, 56 yards
Total: 20 catches, 373 yards, 2 TDs
Those are some pretty hefty numbers. Now, I say all the time that VJ was the Chargers #2 wide receiver and Antonio Gates is the #1. With Gates having a great start to 2010, let's see how much of the VJ slack he's been picking up.
2009 (1st 4 games): 24 catches, 349 yards, 2 TDs
2010 (1st 4 games): 24 catches, 386 yards, 6 TDs
Goodness, he's awesome. Also, we're at +4 in TDs just comparing these two guys right now. However, there are still about 330 yards unaccounted for. Maybe it's in the running game....
The Rushing Game
Chargers Rushing 2009 (1st 4 games): 215 yards (yikes), 3 TDs (1 for each Rivers, Sproles and LT)
Chargers Rushing 2010 (1st 4 games): 529 yards, 4 TDs (3 for Tolbert, 1 for Mathews)
Well, there's a difference of 314 yards right there.....and that's with playing 1/4 of the games thusfar while trailing and trying to throw the ball to get back into it. Add in that the Chargers just went up another TD.
Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee, Buster Davis, Patrick Crayton = Chopped Liver?
Let's check in with the non-VJ wide receivers (I'm leaving TEs and RBs out ) and see how they've fared with Jackson out of the lineup:
Non-VJ WRs 2009 (1st 4 games): 22 catches, 313 yards, 1 TD
Non-VJ WRs 2010 (1st 4 games): 39 catches, 694 yards, 3 TDs
The Difference/Improvement of non-VJ WRs: 17 catches, 381 yards, 2 TDs
Vincent Jackson 2009 (1st 4 games): 20 catches, 373 yards, 2 TDs
Well, that explains it. The reason the offense is better without Vincent Jackson is for the exact same reason Norv Turner planned on it being better: The production from the WRs hasn't dropped off even when Jackson was taken out of the lineup, Antonio Gates is just as good if not better than 2009, and the running game is greatly improved.
This concludes the case of the missing WR.