The Impending Explosion of Boston

Here's a question for San Diego Chargers fans everywhere to ponder. How frustrated would you be if the Chargers had a quarterback who was a dynamite passer, but could not execute a simple handoff? Maybe it was the fault of the center during the exchange, and maybe it was the fullback getting in the way. But for whatever reason, this quarterback just could not get the ball in the hands of superstar LaDainian Tomlinson.

That would be bad, but imagine it got worse. Imagine this team's inability to get the ball in LaDainian Tomlinson's hands actually put Tomlinson under the microscope. The adjectives that typically preceded his name then transformed from explosive and unstoppable to overpaid and decoy. The receivers would then get credit for carrying the offense, and the all-world talent Tomlinson would take the blame for the offense becoming one-dimensional and thus predictable.

Now I ask you -- shut down your imagination and alter your focus to your powers of hindsight. In doing so, I think you will feel that same sense of injustice you would have felt Tomlinson can just as easily be applied to Chargers receiver-extraordinaire David Boston.

I have never seen a talent such as Boston so underappreciated in all my days. He spent last season being deemed, "the league's most expensive decoy." He suffered while playing in an offense in which the down field passing game never had a chance to succeed. I truly believe Drew Brees will develop into an excellent quarterback in this league, but his most glaring weakness is his inability to throw a consistent deep ball. Not to mention the offensive line kept only Kelvin Garmon healthy all season, and he was the weakest pass protector of the five opening-day starters. So blame Boston all you want, but the fault should not fall on his shoulders.

This is still the same David Boston that posted 1,598 receiving yards during the 2001 year, on his way to starting in the Pro Bowl that same season. This is the only NFL receiver with a playing weight of over two hundred and thirty five pounds, and one of the few to be able to consistently run the forty yard dash in 4.3 seconds. And at six foot two, he has the size to create red zone mismatches. This is shown by the seven touchdown grabs he hauled in last season despite missing two games and significant portions of at least three others.

David Boston needs the team to open up the passing game in order for him to even have a chance to succeed. Chargers fans clamor that the team must be run-oriented in order to build around Tomlinson, who they cite as the team's most talented player – justly so. First of all, the running backs in the open passing offenses run by the Rams, Chiefs and Vikings never seem to lack for touches. And second of all, in the right offense David Boston could prove he is just as talented as any one on his team, let alone in the league.

David Boston does have his flaws. He tends to shut down when he is hurt, and his effectiveness is greatly diminished when he is forced to play despite injury. He has a quiet personality, and is not a dynamic locker room presence or a vocal leader on the field. But when he is on his game, there is no receiver in the National Football League today that can dominate a game like he can. And with the exception of the game in Jacksonville (against a team that ended the season as the number six ranked defense in the league) the Chargers vastly underutilized that ability.

Chargers fans cannot tell for certain, as of yet, who will be their starting quarterback at the outset of the 2004 season. Nor do they do know who will be on the line protecting his blind side. But, to ease the burden of so much uncertainty, I can guarantee you one thing. David Boston will return to his dominant form and will carry this team with his play.

David Boston will end the season with at least one hundred receptions, 1,200 receiving yards, and eleven touchdowns. And he will do this despite the lackluster talent he continues to be surrounded with. And how do I know this? Because two seasons ago he was held back by a knee injury, and last season he was held back by the handcuffing circumstances he was placed in. But no matter what happens next season, there is nothing that can hold a dominant and proud performer like Boston back any longer. You can take that to the bank, just like he did.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at BenLeber51@yahoo.com

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