clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why Devin Thomas & Malcolm Kelly "Can't Get Separation"

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

As announced previously in this space, XFINITY from Comcast has generously agreed to support the best NFL community around -- us! As part of that effort, between now and the end of the 2010 NFL season XFINITY will be sponsoring a variety of special editorial and interactive features on our site.

I know a lot of fans have started to lose their patience with Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. Devin has shown flashes, but he has struggled with consistency and is buried in Shanahan's depth chart as a result of a mediocre training camp. He's had a brilliant morning in camp today, so that shows his resolve. Malcolm Kelly, of course, has been hindered by injuries, but even healthy he has struggled to make plays. Matt Vollono, a family friend of mine, was a 3rd string QB at UCONN and started at Campbell University. He knows his X's and 0's like the best of them, so he breaks down what it means "a WR can't get separation" and how fixable these problems are:

In my opinion, when I hear that the WR can't get separation I think of two things...

1.) Their start out of the blocks is slow. When I say the start is slow, I mean that when a WR is getting jammed or pressed at the LOS (line of scrimmage), they are not properly getting that one or two step jump on the CB. This means their hands aren't as fast as their feet.  The WR should have quick hands to swipe the hands of CB away before he has a chance of putting his hands on the WR. If this is not done properly or fast enough, this will slow the WR down and knock him off his route.

2.) Route running. A lack of separation can be from poor route running. If you don't cut your 15 yard hitch on the money and effectively, then there are little tips that the CB can catch onto and watch in order break on the ball before you do. Sloppy route running can be a big factor in a lack of separation, especially when you're playing studs like Champ Bailey or Revis Island who are film freaks and know more about the WR then the WR knows about himself. Translation - they are going to recognize your littlest habits or mistakes that they can take advantage of. In short, you might not even know that you are screwing up or hinting to what you are going to do before you do it.

This makes me wonder how much the previous regime, specifically WR Coach Stan Hixon, worked with Devin and was able to point things out. It certainly makes things clearer why it's so hard to draft WRs out of college - all the top WRs are so much better than the CBs at the college level. So I asked Matt,  "It's not a speed thing?"

Matt:  I'm sure they are fast enough because that is what the NFL has become, SPEED. Balance at that level separates a decent college WR and a great WR, which gets them to the NFL. It's definitely fixable. They just need to really work on it and pay close attention to the basics and fundamentals. They have to properly know their mechanics. It's really tough because they might have already formed these bad habits since they were kids and were always just more athletic than the guy across from him (so they were able to get by). When you get to this level, everyone has to be great and it is the little and basic things that make the difference.

Well, I know what I'll be watching for on Friday night.

XFINITY from Comcast is a proud supporter of Hogs Haven. You'll get your Redskins games as a part of over 120 NFL games XFINITY provides in HD, as well as On Demand game recaps from every NFL game every week, faster Internet speeds, and stunning HD. With XFINITY and NFL RedZone, you get every touchdown from every game every Sunday afternoon! Call 1-800-XFINITY or visit