This is an on going series of articles on key players for the Jaguars in 2009. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? Should we be happy with their performance? We'll look at that here.
Entering the 2009 season, Mike Sims-Walker looked like he would join the the Shack Harris Bust club. The 2007 third round pick had missed 26 of a possible 32 games because of various injuries. While he had flashed talent during the club's OTAs and in the Sunday Night Game against Pittsburgh in 2008, his lack of production meant he may well have been in his last training camp as a Jaguar.
This was compounded when he suffered a high ankle sprain while making a spectacular touchdown grab. The injury prompted several on BCC to refer to him as Mike "I need a" Walker. Many were surprised when Walker made the final roster on cut day, saying this was his last chance. He certainly made the most of that. After Troy Williamson was lost for the year in Week 2 in Arizona, Sims-Walker stepped up.
Mike Sims-Walker's 869 yards receiving is easily the most by any Jaguars WR since Jimmy Smith retired. He only did that while playing in the majority of 14 games. If he had played in all 16, he numbers would've been 72 receptions and 993 yards.
At times, he appeared to on the level of his AFC South mates of Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. He was good enough that Rex Ryan had All-World corner Darrell Revis shadow him for the majority of the game against the Jets.
When he was a factor in the offense, he forced defenses to take the eight man out of the box. The Jaguars we're 6-2 in games where MSW had either 6+ receptions or a touchdown.
He gives the Jaguars a talented, young receiver that can become a very good/elite talent.
He did have several prima-donna receiver moments. These include his transgresions in Seattle that led him to be deactivated and his "I don't know why I get the ball more" comment on his twitter.
After a fast start, Sims-Walker cooled down with the temperature. Excluding his performance against the Colts, MSW only had six receptions for 65 yards after Week 12. He did have 6 receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. His TD against the Colts was his only TD after scoring the game winner vs Buffalo.
It was either boom or bust for Walker. Just as I said the Jaguars were 6-2 if he had 6+ receptions or a touchdown, the Jags were 1-7 when that didn't happened. In those eight games, he only had more than 2 receptions twice and never accounted for more than 49 yards receiving.
Mike Sims-Walker showed flashes of being a true #1 wide receiver for the Jaguars. That's far more than I could've ever said about Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, and every other post Jimmy Smith WR the Jaguars have had. That being said, he extreme lack of production at times is troubling. I'll chalk up the late season drought as a symtom of the much larger problem of the team collapsing in December, but it's still a bummer.
Next year should be a breakout year for Sims-Walker. With a full year of NFL action finally under his belt, he'll look to show he can be the man.