Long and arduous days in the weight room are necessary for football players to be successful, even at the wide receiver position. Speed at the wide receiver position is important, but stamina, which comes from strengthening your upper and lower body, is equally important.
By improving their physical strength, they will be able to perform at the top of their game, be it the fast quarter of the first game of the season, or the fourth quarter or overtime in Week 15 or 16.
When your body becomes stronger, you don't lose your concentration due to fatigue. You don't allow balls to be stripped away from you. And you don't allow defensive backs to tackle you in the open field. How many times have we seen these things happening this year?
As much as football is a physical game, the mental part of it is what separates the great players from the average ones. It is hard to be mentally tough if your stamina is not there, especially late in the game when you need to be focused. It is like any job, the more tired you are, the harder it is to do your job effectively.
All players who reach this level are very comparable in terms of physical talent. The difference comes from those athletes who fine-tune them selves to make themselves better.
That happens by going that extra mile, by running those extra 10 sprints when you are alone in the off-season. It comes when you refuse to allow yourself to take the easy way out when there aren't 70,000 people in the stands watching your every move. It starts the fast day after the end of the season, not in July when training camp is in swing.
The off-season is not all about wind sprints and weight training. It is also about film study. You become a better player by watching guys like Jerry Rice and Cris Carter, veterans who have been around the NFL for many years. Those are the guys whose films you should be watching. You analyze them and catch the small things they do which, in turn, make your game better. Right now, Kevin Johnson is the veteran receiver on this team, even though he is just finishing his third year in the league. Kevin has shown a lot of strength in terms of catching and securing the ball while taking a lot of hits. He's playing like a veteran.
This team would be in a world of trouble without him, but he needs a better supporting cast. The wide receivers around him have enough talent, but this off-season will prove who is really ready to step up and make the commitment to be a better football player by staying around Cleveland in the off-season and working hard in the weight and film rooms.
Morgan needs to catch the ball and do a better job of securing it because he's had his problems. I'm not sure if it's because he's been thrown into a key role due to injuries suffered by other players, but I think his being in critical situations early on his career has affected him. Maybe his confidence has dropped a bit. I do know he has made some bad mistakes in big games and that's something you simply cannot do in the NFL.
As for Dawson, he's a guy I've always liked. Why he's not playing more is something 1 cannot answer All I know is that in the limited situations in which I've seen him, he's proven himself capable of making big plays.
Obviously, someone in the organization wants Morgan to be in the game, but right now the rookie out of Kansas State is not holding up his end of the bargain.
I hate to point fingers in any one direction, but right now the receiving corps is allowing games to be decided in the wrong manner, in the replay booth. They are a main reason this team has ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard so many times this year They need to make more big catches. They need to break more tackles. They need to do the things which prevent problems rather than cause them. They need to hit the weight room to make themselves stronger physically and mentally. And finally, they need to be a positive rather than a negative. Right now, aside from KJ, they are not getting it done.