Profile of a Playmaker

Football is a simple game. Ignore all that talk about complex blitzing schemes and west coast passing attacks. Football is all about finding players who make plays, and then putting them in position to do so. A player who can produce big plays on a regular basis eventually earns the title of playmaker. Teams with the most playmakers win the most games. It is a simple game. <br><br> The San Diego Chargers do not have enough playmakers to be a winning football team.

LaDainian Tomlinson, David Boston and Donnie Edwards are all stars to be sure. However, as the Chargers 2-10 record clearly shows, more playmakers are needed.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, their roster is so devoid of talent that not enough playmakers can be brought in during the course of one off-season to undo the years of draft day reaches and free agent busts. What this means is if the Chargers hope to be competitive anytime soon, they need someone on the roster already to step up and be a playmaker.

Although many players must raise their game in order to raise the Chargers from the ashes of pity, none must do so more than second year wide receiver Reche Caldwell.

Caldwell is a former University of Florida Gator, meaning he was a risk when drafted by the Chargers with the forty eighth overall pick in the 2002 draft. However, when the Chargers saw him on the board at number forty eight, they jumped at the opportunity to grab him. Many teams were impressed by Caldwell because of his size (six feet tall, one hundred and ninety four pounds), and because of his ability to make defenders miss in the open field.

However, what caught Coach Schottenheimer's eye upon drafting Caldwell was his speed. "We made a trip to Florida," Schottenheimer said in his post-draft press conference, "and he insisted on running again. We said, ‘You're running fast enough.' He said, ‘I want to run.' He was not going to be denied. He really blew the thing away from a timing standpoint. He ran 4.35 or something like that."

Knowing they had their hands on a raw talent, the Chargers injected Caldwell into their line-up as the slot receiver during his rookie campaign. He responded with 208 receiving yards and three touchdowns, including the game winner over the Kansas City Chiefs in week six. This season, Caldwell wrestled a starting job away from incumbent Tim Dwight in training camp, only to lose it due to injury (a broken wrist) with the season only two weeks old.

Now Caldwell is back, and has four games to show he can get the job done opposite playmaker David Boston. He has all the ability in the world; the only concern is whether he has the confidence. Caldwell's usually reliable hands have betrayed him on numerous occasions this season, and as a result his quarterbacks have lost faith in him.

When starting quarterback Doug Flutie was asked by Jim Trotter of the Union Tribune if he had begun to throw away from Caldwell during Sunday's loss to the Chiefs, Flutie answered, "I did the whole second half."

Caldwell has shown he can make plays. He won all-nation recognition as a prep star at Jefferson High School in Tampa, Florida, and at quarterback no less. At the University of Florida he became only the ninth player in school history to exceed one thousand receiving yards in one season. And now in the National Football League, his stat line is incomplete.

He has already hurt his chances with talk of Kassim Osgood getting the start this week.

Caldwell has four games to prove he is better than his play this season has indicated. If he wants to be successful, he needs to simplify things. He must run the crisp routes taught to him by current Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier. He must look the ball in and worry about making plays after he has possession. He must go back to having fun, and doing what he has being doing since his sophomore year with the Gators.

Reche Caldwell is a playmaker. Now he just has to start making plays.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at ReneesGaydo@yahoo.com

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