After 50 catches on 81 targets for 631 yards and three touchdowns, expectations for year two need to be tempered a bit — unless you are Fleener himself.
“There’s definitely a level of comfort that comes along with it being the second year,” Fleener told NOLA.com. “It’s a relearning as opposed to learning a whole new offense and language.”
Fleener told the site that “to imagine that I would have the same statistics as [Jimmy Graham] the first year out, I think would be a challenge and I appreciate that challenge, I appreciate the high expectations from the fan base. I think they should have those, and so hopefully we can meet or exceed those.”
It seems difficult to project how anyone in the New Orleans’ offense will perform except for Brees, who has consistently hovered around 5,000 passing yards each of the last six seasons. Since 2012, there has only been one repeat leading receiver with Brees — Brandin Cooks, and even then, he was nearly overtaken by rookie Michael Thomas last year before being traded.
So with Fleener, perhaps the most important thing for fans will be breaking down expectations and understanding there is no plug-and-play in this system. Even a slight improvement over last year would make for a fairly effective third option, despite what our wildest imaginations might have conjured up.