How do you define a breakout season for two guys that haven't caught more than 36 passes in a single year? That could be catching 50 passes, 700 yards and 5 TDs. Relatively pretty good production but nothing that's going to inspire fear into D-Coordinators around the league.
I don't doubt both Jenks and White are going to have "breakout" years, where my opinion differs is whether either are elite caliber WRs. I don't believe they are. Some do. Some think Roddy White in a year or two is going to be jockeying with the likes of Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, and Marvin Harrison for best receiver int he league. I personally think that's crazy, but you know, to each his own.
I don't think either of them have the potential to be elite receivers. First and foremost, I don't think either of them are that talented. The guys that I would consider potential elite receivers taken in '04 and '05 are guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Williams, Roy Williams, and Braylon Edwards. Then you have "2nd tier" guys like Mark Clayton, Mike Clayton, and Lee Evans, that have the potential to be No. 1s in the NFL, but probably won't be considered the best of the best. Not to mention Rashaun Woods, Troy Williamson, and Reggie Williams, players that haven't quite panned out as hoped, but I still think they were better players coming out of college than either of Jenkins or White.
To me their maximum potential is to be a Keenan McCardell-type WR. A guy that is ideally the No. 2 target, but when he has to be the No. 1 guy, he is capable.
Secondly, you have to look at what kind of offense they play in and the supporting cast, to think that they'll never be considered elite receivers. I know stats don't mean everything, but it's hard for me to imagine anybody making the argument that someone is an elite receiver when they are catching only 60-65 passes a year.
We can basically estimate the range of passes that Jenkins and White will have thrown their way by looking at Vick's numbers from last year. First we must break down Vick's numbers based on how efffective the running game was:
Over 200 yards: 4.5 games*, 56 for 106 (52.8%) for 634 yards, 5 TDs, 6 INTs, 63.2 rtg
Under 120 yards: 4 games, 56 for 110 (50.9%) for 531 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs, 48.7 rtg
121-199 yards: 6 games, 102 for 171 (59.6%) for 1247 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 94.8 rtg
* I'm counting the Vikings game as a half game
There's obviously a sweet spot where the running game isn't dominant but effective when we rush between 120 and 200 yards that Vick plays at his best. Let's assume that the offense produces at that level for 16 games. So that would mean 456 passing attempts for the year. We can basically assume in this offense, that is the MAX amount of passing attempts he'll throw in a given year.
Now, looking at how Vick spread the ball last year, you'll see that 49.9% of his pass attempts were thrown to either Roddy White, Jenkins, or Finneran. 26.5% were thrown to Crump, and the rest were spread out amongst the other players. Now, basically I see that as about par. 50% of his balls will go to the top 3 WRs, 25% to Crump, and 25% to the rest of the unit. I say this because Schaub's broke down similarly (51% to Top 3 WRs, 30% to Crump, and 19% to everyone else).
So of his 456 attempts now, Vick will throw 50% to our Top 3 guys, which amounts to 228 pass attempts.
Now last year, among those 3 guys, the pass attempts were about even. Finneran was thrown to 69 times, White 60, and Jenkins 58. Now let's assume that Finneran's are cut in half, so that he only sees about 1/6th of those passes. Now you have 83% of the 228 pass attempts getting split between White and Jenks, which equals about 190. So that's 95 each right. But frankly, most receivers will only catch 60% of the balls thrown their way. Last year, White caught 43% and Jenkins 51%. Last year, the 2 WRs who caught the most percentage of the passes thrown their way were Eric Parker (71%) and Darrell Jackson (69%). Even if you factor that in, that White & Jenks catch 70% of the balls thrown their way, it still totals to about 133 receptions between them. if they split that 50/50, as you know that's only 67 and 66 receptions on the year for them. Obviously, you could have one catching 80 passes and the other 53, but point is that we don't have an offense that is likely goign to allow 2 receivers to catch more than 70 passes.
Now obviously from 1998, we know that you can have 2 1000 yard receivers that only catch about 65 passes. Do I think Jenkins and White are capable of that sort of production? Yep. I think if we can get some steady offensive production over the next 3-4 years, each of those guys will probably produce at that level at least once. But I'm not expecting that to happen this year.
It's true that if Jenkins and White averaged the same yards per catch as they did in 2005 with 66 catches this year, they would be at 930 and 1015 yards, respectively. But again, i don't expect that to happen this year. I expect their YPCs will drop probably to around 11-13 range, because they will take more of the role from Crump of being the "possession" receivers in the offense.
And again, we must indicate that we're talking about Vick probably playing at his absolute best. I truthfully expect that Jenkins and White will instead combine for about 110 catches for about 1300-1400 yards and around 10 TDs. Good production, great when you consider what they did last year, but not what I'd call potential elite production that is goign to have me mentioning either of those two in the same breath as Randy Moss, Steve Smith, or whomever else you consider an elite wideout.
Very good breakout, but I do want to make one comment about Finn's attempts dropping dramatically.
I do not believe that they will be dropping off that much, they will a little I believe, but not a dramatic drop, maybe from 69 down to about 60. Here is why.....
Finneran was all set to sign with Philly this offseason. They offered him a good contract, told him he would be their #2 WR, and he had faith in their QB. Atlanta came and offered him a contract equal to the one Philly gave him, and although Finn loves Atlanta and wanted to finish his career, the equal contract itself wasn't enough. He went in and had a heart-to-heart talk with Mr. McKay & Mr. Blank. They then sent for Mora to have him join the conversation, then eventually Bill Musgrave. Several things were discussed during that meeting, but in the end it boiled down to this:
1. Finneran felt that he wasn't in Mora's vision of the Falcons future & that Mora didn't really care if he stayed or left. He wasn't given as much work in practice & plays were not called for him as much as the season went on. This was resolved at this meeting and Mora assured him that even though White was going to be our #1 WR, Finn's role wasn't going to be diminished the way it seemed it was being at the end of last season.
2. Finneran said he wanted to play in a place where the QB knew the playbook AND would run the plays/audibles that were called. Although he likes playing with Vick & in no way was trying to say that Vick couldn't learn the playbook, he believed that there was too much "playground" going on out on the field. Musgrave allieved those concerns saying he was going to ensure Vick made every effort this offseason in regards to learning the offense. We've seen evidence of that already this offseason with Vick being at Flowery Branch much more and working with the WR's more already this offseason than he did all of last offseason.
If there was more to the reasons Finn almost left this year I don't know them. I was just told about Finn feeling squeezed out by the coaching staff at the WR spot & Vick reverting to the playground type play the last half of the season last year.