Chiming in on Chambers

Wide receiver Chris Chambers has been a hot topic in Miami in recent days, whether it be in newspapers or on sports talk radio. The fifth-year veteran has come under a lot of scrutiny following the Nick Saban comments about the Dolphins having "decent" wide receivers and then Chambers' up-and-down day against New England. A lot of the focus has been on Chambers failing to come up with Gus Frerotte's fourth-down pass in the end zone, and unjustifiably so.

Look, yes, Chambers could have caught the ball, which is what he said after the game. But, then again, would you expect any wide receiver to say he can't make a catch on a ball that doesn't hit the ground three feet in front of him or isn't three feet over his head?

So let's use what we saw and not what Chambers said to determine whether the last play was a drop or he simply couldn't make what would have been a tremendous catch.

And the answer is pretty clear. That was not a drop. If you want to place blame on anyone for the fourth-down play, place it on Frerotte, who threw off his back foot and fired a really low pass when it looked like he had time to set his feet.

Frerotte played a very good game overall against New England, but his two attempts at a fade pass on first and second down were poor and he failed on the fourth-down play.

But this isn't about Frerotte, it's about Chambers.

He's getting paid big money after signing a contract extension last year and a lot of people would like to think he'd be a top-tier wide receiver if only the Dolphins could get a good quarterback.

Sorry.

Chambers is not a top-tier wide receiver. In fact, when it comes to the No. 1 receiver on each team, he's probably in the bottom tier in the NFL.

Think about it. Let's first start with guys who clearly are better than Chambers. OK, Chad Johnson in Cincinnati, Hines Ward in Pittsburgh, Marvin Harrison in Indianapolis, Jimmy Smith in Jacksonville, Andre Johnson in Houston, Rod Smith in Denver, Randy Moss in Oakland, Terrell Owens in Philadelphia (whatever you might think of him), Santana Moss in Washington, Javon Walker in Green Bay (even though he's on IR), Steve Smith in Carolina, Joe Horn in New Orleans, Torry Holt in St. Louis, Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin in Arizona.

That's 14 names right there.

Now, let's throw in some names and you can decide whether Chambers is better, even or lesser than. Deion Branch in New England, Eric Moulds in Buffalo, Derrick Mason in Baltimore, Keenan McCardell in San Diego, Terry Glenn in Dallas, Muhsin Muhammad in Chicago, Roy Williams in Detroit, Joey Galloway in Tampa Bay.

OK, so where do we put Chambers now?

The bottom line is that Chambers is a good wide receiver. But for anyone to expect him big games from him every week because from time to time he makes a spectactular catch just isn't realistic.

There are two things keeping Chambers from reaching the next step. First, he has a very low-key personality and he plays that way, meaning he's not someone who fights for the ball a whole lot. Second, he also drops too many passes.

Will those things change? He's been in the league for four and a half years, so why should we expect that to change?

Remember, the Dolphins got him a second-round pick. There was a reason he went in the second round.

Chambers was quoted as saying that because he played in a run-oriented offense at Wisconsin he's still learning, but the apprenticeship really should be over by now.

And the Dolphins sure didn't pay him last year like someone who still had a lot to learn.

Look, the Dolphins could do worse than Chris Chambers at wide receiver. But it might time to stop thinking he's ready to become a full-blown star and accept that -- to borrow from Nick Saban -- he is what he is.

He's a solid, not great, wide receiver. And until he really steps up his game, he shouldn't worry about Saban calling the group of wide receivers -- not singling out Chambers, mind you -- "decent."


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