The title of this particular entry is not something you're used to seeing, I'm sure. Last year, it would've been something like "How Oven Mitts Sucks: A Retrospective" or at the very least "Michael Jenkins Is Mediocre." Yet with an aging Joe Horn, a bunch of rookies and useless players clogging the receiving corps, and a quarterback situation that's likely to remain unsettled into the regular season, suddenly Jenkins does look like a key. How does a guy with a 39 catches and only 436 yards qualify as one of the most important cogs in the offense?
The answer has a lot to do with the improvement he displayed during the latter half of the last season. It wasn't anything significant in terms of numbers (as this ESPN season log shows), but it was important in terms of confidence. As Roddy White became a shittier and shittier excuse for a wide receiver, Jenkins started to make some more acrobatic catches and run smarter routes. This finally took a little bit of pressure off Alge Crumpler, who was basically being asked to carry a dubby passing game by himself. It's important to remember that Jenkins is only 25, as well, and will have the luxury of being the #2 guy this year. What's clear to me is that the team needs Jenkins more than ever. Teams are going to aim to take away Joe Horn with tight coverage and double teams, which basically dares Vick or Harrington to look elsewhere.
If Jenkins can display more of the improvement I saw at the end of last season, he's going to give whichever QB is throwing to him a hell of a lot more confidence. I have a misgivings about an aging Dunn and a banged up Crumpler, but a boost from Jenkins would help this team out a lot. If they get another year where he only gets like 30 receptions...well, then I expect the receiving corps is going to look pretty gruesome again.
Totally Random Prediction: 51 catches, 770 yards, 6 TDs.
Where do you all think Jenkins will end up?