There has been much ado about the WR's clear struggles lately, so I decided to lift and expound upon my comment from a previous thread to attempt to iron out the issue. It's not time for Reed or Easterling to leave the team, it's time for them to be put in a position to succeed, which is the same thing Bud and others rightly criticized the previous defensive staff for not doing. Doing that requires a few things to change, primarily one thing...
We don’t have it. We have 2 Jr. receivers that are complimentary guys, not primary receivers. Reed is a good speed/slot guy, and he dropped something like 3 passes all year last year because he wasn’t relied on to be that guy. He also finished the season a close 2nd in receptions and yards, so he has talent. Easterling is a possession receiver, but he only gets open when he isn’t getting all the attention of the secondary. And he's tough and apparently country strong, as I watch him drag defenders downfield.
Bottom line with these 2, you can’t run a passing game with only Wes Welkers on the field, but if you have a legitimate big guy, your Welker will lead the team in receptions and sometimes yards. See Welker's sudden increase in productivity when he went from Miami to NE, where there were other legitimate receivers around him. All of a sudden, the middle of the field opens up for those crossing routes, and your QB now has 2 short options, slot WR and TE. That's how you open up a defense, but it doesn't work without quality big men to stretch the field.
As for the Soph’s: Haulstead didn’t earn his way onto the field, but he is improving. Unfortunately, every time I watch him I think Fortson, i.e. big plays but big drops and wasted potential. He does seem to show marked improvement from the beginning of the season, so that is encouraging. Smith, on the other hand, is just not worth the time he gets right now, but he gets it because there isn’t much other choice. I don’t know that he will ever get there at this point.
So why aren’t the Soph’s playing as well as we had hoped? PT on the cheap. Nobody is legitimately in front of them to force them to improve. Our freshmen aren’t seeing much time because they are being forced to improve before they do, which will pay dividends in the future. But until that point, the Jr’s are going to look worse than they are because we have to ask too much of them, and the Soph’s will only improve at their own pace, no matter the coach, because there’s nobody they have to compete with for PT.
Like Fisher said in today's press conference, if you throw some guys into the fire too soon, you will ruin them. We want to build for the future, and in the meantime, you use the same process that you would normally use to gain success. It will happen, but it doesn't happen when you panic and hedge your bets on freshmen that haven't yet earned that spot. We know Fisher is more than willing to play the younger, more talented player (see Ponder over Weatherford) if he shows promise and can handle the PT and the pressure that comes with it. It's all about risk/reward. Just be patient, you will see plenty of Dent and Shaw next year, and if Reed keeps dropping passes at this clip, they will see a lot of time this year too.
Step away from the cliff, jumpers, and stop focusing on results. The future is bright at WR, but it is still that at this point... the future.