On April 18th, the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders announced they have cut nose tackle Dan Williams. The release comes two seasons after picking him up as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. The L.A. Chargers should be interested in this development as they sorely need depth along the defensive line, particularly at nose tackle. Williams would be a solid backup to starter to Brandon Mebane and give the Chargers two legitimate veteran run stoppers in the middle of the line.
Williams is currently listed at 6’2″, 330-pounds. In Arizona, he was a cornerstone of their defense, consistently occupying two blockers and plugging running lanes. As a result, pass rushers such as Karlos Dansby, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Bertrand Berry and Daryl Washington feasted on quarterbacks. With the uprising of young, hungry pass rushers and linebackers on defense, having wily veterans like Mebane and Williams is just the type of anchor needed to make the defensive line unstoppable.
Bringing in Williams also finally rectifies an egregious mistake that is seven years old.
I take you back to the 2010 NFL Draft.
The San Diego Chargers had closed a 13-3 season with a humiliating loss in the divisional round to the New York Jets. All-Everything running back Ladainian Tomlinson asked for and was granted a release. Seated at the 28th spot in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chargers sacrificed their first- and second-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to move up 16 spots and select…
Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews…(insert rim shot here)….
The heir apparent to Tomlinson, like a bottle rocket, had a few flashes…and fizzled out. In five seasons, he had 24 touchdowns and 15 fumbles lost. Mathews missed 25% of the teams’ regular season games with injuries (20 out of 80). Mathews has logged a full 16-game season only once in his career (2013). That includes his current stint in Philadelphia.
And the injuries….soooo many injuries. Hamstring. Quadriceps. Groin. Thumb. Both collarbones. Concussion. Both ankles. And on and on and on….
Back to the 2010 NFL Draft. With the 26th pick in the draft the Arizona Cardinals selected Dan Williams and he became their keystone nose tackle. Aside from a broken arm in 2011 in which he missed the last six games he has only missed four games his entire career. Williams hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons. The only reason he’s a free agent now is because of his salary cap number. Cutting Williams took $4.5-million off the Raiders’ ledger.
Perhaps the Chargers thought Mathews was the only worthy replacement in the draft. Jahvid Best, Dexter McCluster and Ben Tate were all selected after the Chargers’ original draft slot. Brain Westbrook, Thomas Jones, Willie Parker, Jamal Lewis and Pierre Thomas were all available in free agency.
What other names were missed in the first round? There was Safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15), G Mike Iupati (17), C Maurkice Pouncey (18), WR’s Demaryius Thomas (22), Dez Bryant (24) and CB Devin McCourty (28).
As far as that second round pick goes, that was the year Rob Gronkowski was drafted. What’s Gronkowski up to these days? Dude has so much game he’s bodychecking pro wrestlers at Wrestlemania and cutting in on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during an official press conference!
And that’s only this month…
Take a moment and envision a two-tight end set of Antonio Gates and Gronk! The Chargers wouldn’t have needed wide receivers and Philip Rivers would’ve been smashing passing records. DT Linval Joseph (46), LB Daryl Washington (47), DE Carlos Dunlap (54), LB Sean Lee (55) and WR Golden Tate (60) all heard their names called that round.
As much as that day in 2010 will live in infamy for me and many other Chargers fans, bringing Williams into the fold will add some salve to the wound. It makes sense and there’s history there. While Williams was in Arizona his head coach was current Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Don’t be surprised if a visit isn’t already in the works.
Moral of the story is do your homework. Stick to your board. Don’t let one great year of college football eclipse a checkered injury history coming into the draft. In short…
Don’t Mathews it up!
The Greg One
At long last, the San Diego Chargers have signed their first-round draft pick Joey Bosa today. The selection shocked everyone from all the media pundits to the Bolts fanbase themselves. The four-year deal is worth $25.8 million with a $17 million signing bonus according to Chargers.com and various major media outlets.
While waiting for his contract to get done, Bosa was a full participant in all training activities and impressed teammates with his work ethic. Newly-acquired defensive tackle Brandon Mebane had this to say about Bosa on Chargers.com:
“He’s a good guy. He asks questions. He always soaking up knowledge. He’s a little quiet right now. I can see he’s got a little nasty side in him so that’s a good thing. I think he’s a great player. I think he’s going to be a real help on our defensive line.” said Mebane.
“He don’t get tired out there. I’m thinking I’ve got to get my cardio up man. “Mebane joked. “He has great technique from what I’ve seen on the field. For a rookie he has great technique already. Seeing how good he is now compared to how good he’s going to be…once we get more and more reps every day, I think he’ll probably be a Pro Bowler.” Mebane added.
Linebacker Jerry Attaochu also had glowing words for Bosa. “He’s a great kid. Looks like he is going to give us a lot of help up front.” Attaochu said.
Offset language became the biggest point of contention holding up the deal. Offset language is simply if Bosa is cut or released during his rookie contract the Chargers are off the hook for any remaining salary he was scheduled to make.
Bosas’ management didn’t want any offset language in the contract. It means if Bosa did get cut or released before his rookie deal is up he would still get paid his full rookie contract. Players call it double-dipping, meaning a player is making full salary from his old team and his new team simultaneously.
The contract standoff deprived Bosa of needed training camp time and has also cost him the first three games of the preseason. The longest contract holdout since the inception of the next salary-slotted rookie wage scale, the Chargers’ and Bosas’ management team dug their heels in. Neither side was willing to budge over the offset language.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune and ESPN, a change in agents was the key element in breaking the contract impasse. The two sides returned to their seats at the bargaining table after the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings and two days later, Bosa is finally a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Growing frustration over Bosas’ high-profile absence raised the ire of the fanbase and his teammates were beginning to voice their disapproval as valuable training and bonding time dissipates with each day passing.
Only 13 days remain until the start of the regular season.
The Chargers’ private jet went to Bosas’ hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida last week only to return empty. Cooler heads have finally prevailed and the two sides have come to a compromise. Bosa got what he wanted, his $17 million signing bonus is fully guaranteed. He will get 85% up front and the other 15% in 2017. The Chargers got what they wanted, the offset language clause is in effect.
The deal is done. It’s time to ball. Here’s a quick look at the man who is all the buzz (both good and bad) of the Chargers’ offseason. Looking forward to seeing lots of shrugs on the field in 2016!
Welcome to San Diego, Joey Bosa!
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers’ private plane landed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday. The mission: Bring back the Chargers’ number one draft pick, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Escort him from his childhood home to his adult home, San Diego, as a signed, sealed and delivered star of the future.
Armed with their best and final offer, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco presented the offer on Tuesday. The offer was rejected on Wednesday. The plane returned to San Diego with the same names on the passenger manifest that it left with.
The mission had failed.
To that end, the Chargers front office released a official statement detailing the specifics of their offer before pulling the offer from the table. Paraphrasing the release, future offers will be adjusted based on the looming reality that Bosa will not get sufficient practice and classroom time to make playing the week one road game against the Kansas City Chiefs a possibility. The more games Bosa misses, the less money he will make out of the gate.
Not to be outdone, the management team of Joey Bosa, CAA, issued a response to the Chargers’ statement. Their statement reads as follows:
It is unfortunate the San Diego Chargers have decided to manipulate facts and negotiate in the media. The team surely is not strengthening its relationship with Joey Bosa by taking this stance and making their position public.
We have decided that we will not engage in public negotiations or discuss numbers and/or terms in this negotiation.
We will say, that it is ironic that the team now takes issue with the timing of Joey’s arrival, since the Chargers unilaterally decided to remain silent for the first 14 days of training camp instead of replying in a timely fashion to the proposal we made on the eve of training camp on July 28th.
At this point, all we can do is continue to fight for a fair contract on behalf of our client, as we do for all of our clients. The Chargers can focus on trying to sway public opinion, but our focus will remain on our client and securing a contract for him that is fair and consistent with his draft position.
This is the typical, We’re-taking-the-high-road response we’ve seen before. If Bosa’s management had gone public first, this would have been the Chargers’ response. Once again, both sides look to be entrenched with no end in sight. At the same time, these situations can turn overnight.
This deal will happen. Bosa will be in lightning bolts before week one is underway. Simply put, there is too much money on the table for the parties to walk away from and have Bosa re-enter the 2017 draft.
1. There’s no way to ever make that money back. Even if Bosa plays for 15 years and is paid handsomely, there is no way he will account for the millions he passed on by sitting out a year. This season will always represent millions more dollars that could have been in the bank.
2. Bosa will not be picked third in the 2017 NFL Draft. The top stars of the 2017 draft class will be taken ahead of Bosa. Bosa may fall into the middle of the first round or lower due to the fact that since the Chargers own his rights, he will not be able to visit, work out for or speak to other teams. The uncertainty will cause his stock to fall and even if he is selected in the first round, he will not make as much as he will by signing with the Chargers this season.
3. Perception of owners and players. Fairly or unfairly, this ordeal casts an unflattering shadow on Bosa. Other NFL owners may pass on him after seeing how the situation unfolded in San Diego. Telesco isn’t the only GM who doesn’t waive offset language or guarantee the full signing bonus before the end of the calendar year. Players may see Bosa as an entitled diva unwilling to earn his paycheck.
In the end, Bosa’s value will never be higher than it is right now. He only hurts his pride and his bottom line if he decides to sit out and re-enter the draft. That decision would run counter to the whole purpose of these frustrating negotiations.
Bosa will not make endorsement money sitting on the couch. He will not become the next big thing in football watching the games on Sundays. The only solution is to suit up, ball out and soak up the adoration of his teammates, the fans, the city, the media and cash in on Madison Avenue as he creates SportsCenter highlights on a weekly basis.
The shrug was local at Ohio State. If he performs up to his ability and shines, it will go viral in the NFL. That’s how you get paid.
It’s go time, rookie.
The Greg One
The lines in the sand in San Diego aren’t only on the beach volleyball courts. Through this offseason, the San Diego Chargers’ front office and management team of first-round pick Joey Bosa have drawn multiple lines in the sand to see who would flinch first. The holdout is the longest since the inception of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, which implemented a rookie wage scale. The wage scale slots a first-round pick’s salary based on where they were selected from 1-32.
The only sticking point that is possible is how much in guarantees and bonuses a player will receive over the life of his rookie deal. The issue is over offset language. Offset language can be simplified as such: If Bosa is cut or released during his rookie contract the Chargers are off the hook for any remaining salary he was scheduled to make.
Bosa’s management didn’t want any offset language in the contract. It means if Bosa did get cut or released before his rookie deal is up, he would still get paid his full rookie contract, fifth-year option included. Players call it double-dipping, meaning a player is making full salary from his former team and his new team simultaneously.
On Tuesday, the Chargers’ key front office personnel flew to Bosa’s hometown in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to get the deal done. They returned to San Diego at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time without Bosa on the plane. Bosa’s camp rejected the Chargers’ final offer.
Shortly thereafter, the Chargers’ front office issued a press release detailing the specifics of their offer to the public. Taken directly from the Chargers’ official Twitter page, the statement is shown below. Click on the image to enlarge.
Statement from the San Diego Chargers on defensive end Joey Bosa. pic.twitter.com/BayBGeN22x
— San Diego Chargers (@Chargers) August 24, 2016
While fans will be on either side of this ordeal, the Chargers have let the record show — for their fans and, more importantly, for those in the locker room — that they went to Florida to get a deal done and were still rebuffed by Bosa’s management. Both sides are culpable in this standoff.
The Chargers’ publicly stated they knew Bosa was their man since the beginning of the 2015 college football season and his performance in 2015 only solidified their stance. Contract negotiations could have taken place long before the draft to ensure this scenario wouldn’t happen. Such a practice, however, hasn’t been necessary since the new CBA was ratified in 2011.
On the other hand, it can be viewed as arrogant and selfish that Bosa demands his full signing bonus in year one and his contract fully guaranteed regardless of whether he is still on the team at the end of his rookie contract. What does he have to hide? If he is as good as he thinks he is and the Chargers’ are as high on him as they have stated in the past, the chances of him getting cut or released are minuscule at best.
Everyone understands the shelf life of an NFL player is short and by all means, negotiate to maximize as much of your perceived worth as possible. In the end, you’re only worth what a team is willing to pay. Bosa is going to get the worth of his full rookie contract anyway; just over time. To ask for what no other Chargers’ player has (full signing bonus up front and no offset language) is setting a bad precedent for the present and the future.
More lines in the sand…
With their best offer shot down, the Chargers’ have pulled the offer from the table and will henceforth revise the deal based on the viewpoint that he will likely not be ready to take the field for Week one on the road in Kansas City. Now, the choice for Bosa is to sit out the season, miss out on millions of dollars and re-enter the draft in 2017 or sign and begin rebuilding a damaged relationship with the team, fans and front office.
All of a sudden, a shrug seems to be a perfect personification of how this negotiation has gone for both sides…
The sooner Bosa realizes he’s still a rookie that hasn’t played an official NFL down the better off he will be. In my opinion, he needs to swallow his pride, get on the field and prove his worth. When it’s time to negotiate the second contract, make all the demands you want. What do you think Bolt Nation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Football is finally in the air again as the San Diego Chargers take the field for their first training camp of 2016 in less than 24 hours. The camp will be free and open to the public. Rookies and veterans report Friday for physicals. On Saturday, ninety men will take the field at Chargers Park ready to make a name for themselves.
That is, all but one.
The saga surrounding the Chargers’ first round draft pick, defensive end Joey Bosa, continues. Bosa will continue his holdout and will be a no-show at training camp opening day. ESPN Chargers reporter Eric Williams posted the story below less than an hour ago detailing the particulars of the holdout. The story also includes an ESPN Cover 2 segment moderated by Trey Wingo about the Bosa holdout.
The issue is money. Bosas’ management team, CAA, wants Bosa to have no offset language in his contract. In short, he wants to be paid his full guaranteed monies regardless of whether he is still a member of the Chargers at the end of his rookie deal or not.
If for some reason Bosa is released and signed by another team before the end of his contract, without offset language, the Chargers would still have to pay Bosa the full value of his contract even if he is playing for another team and getting paid by said other team. The Chargers have not allowed this provision to any player on the roster and don’t plan on starting now.
The negotiation continues but by holding his stance and holding out as camp opens, Bosa puts himself behind the eight-ball when it comes to performing on the field when the games count for real. His teammates will forgive him as every player in the locker room understand trying to get as much money as possible while you can.
Where Bosa will sour himself to his teammates and fans is if he shows up and underperforms or is slow adapting to the playbook. If he plays and provides 8-10 sacks and a proficiency for bringing down the ball carrier, al will be forgiven. Time will tell.
Saturday, the clock starts ticking.
The Greg One
In less than 24 hours the 2016 San Diego Chargers will take the field for training camp. Bringing you continual coverage of the names in the program we don’t know, today, I focus my player spotlight on tight end prospect Matt Weiser.
Weiser signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent the day after the 2016 NFL Draft. He played for the Buffalo Bulls of the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Listed at 6’5″, 241-pounds, Weiser is the ideal size preferred for a San Diego Chargers tight end. He comes in on the heels of a breakout senior year in which he posted a school-record for catches and receiving yards by a tight end. He was also a Coaches’ selection to the All-MAC Conference First Team in 2015.
Weiser lit up the MAC with 63 catches for 625 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. For his career, he logged 92 catches for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns. Weiser concluded the 2015 NCAA season with the fourth-highest receiving grade among tight ends.
At the Buffalo Pro Day, Weiser ran the 40-yard dash in 4.80-seconds, posted 18 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, a 30-inch vertical jump and broad jumped nine feet, six inches. Watching the video below, it’s easy to see what the Chargers’ war room saw in the young prospect. He has performed well against big name opponents and was versatile enough to play both sides of the ball.
The competition at tight end will be fierce in training camp. Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry are already slotted in as the top-two tight ends on the depth chart. After that, there is a logjam for the third tight end slot. Also in the mix with Weiser are veterans Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, Sean McGrath and fellow undrafted free agent rookie Tim Semisch.
Not everyone will make the cut. One more name can be expected to make the 53-man roster and a couple others will be moved to the practice squad. A couple others will play in a different uniform. One thing for certain, the race to be the heir apparent to the Hall-of-Fame bound Gates is on and it will be one of the most intriguing position battles to watch as training camp is set to open Saturday.
Weiser will be catching passes wearing number 46. Follow him on Twitter: @mweiser89.
Good luck, Mr. Weiser.
The Greg One
In my ongoing attempt to bring you expanded coverage of the San Diego Chargers 2016 training camp roster, I cherry-pick another candidate vying for a spot on the 53-man roster. Today, we’ll take a look at a position that has been long on talent and short on stability.
Cornerback Trevor Williams signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft. He is a four-year product out of Penn State. Standing 5-foot-11, 191-pounds, Williams looks to crack a crowded field of contenders. To his advantage, cornerback is a position in need of quality depth as injuries have wreaked havoc on the starters in recent seasons.
Interestingly, Williams came to Penn State as a wide receiver. In his sophomore year, Williams switched to cornerback, where he would play the final three seasons of his collegiate career. In two of those three seasons at corner, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Last season he posted 33 tackles, four passes defensed, three tackles for loss and one interception.
At the Penn State Pro Day, Williams ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.44 seconds and had a 35.5-inch vertical jump. Considered a quiet leader by his teammates and coaches, he has the size, speed and intangibles needed to make it at the pro level. His coach spoke glowingly of him after hearing of his signing with San Diego.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for Trevor,” Penn State coach James Franklin said in a release to the media. “Trevor was a mainstay on our defense for three seasons. His speed, length and intelligence will give him a chance to continue his career. He earned his degree in just three and a half years while leading our defense with a quiet confidence.”
Like many of the other undrafted free agents, Williams is high on potential, playing to live out his dream of making an NFL roster. He has impressive size, the speed you look for in a cornerback, wide receiver-skilled hands and as you can see in the video above, he seeks contact and plays well against the run. Call it surname bias if you like, but I like his chances of making the team as a backup cornerback and special teams ace.
Good luck, Mr. Williams.
The Greg One
The countdown to training camp continues, as only 10 days remain until we get our first glimpse of the San Diego Chargers’ full 90-man roster. Of course, I’m optimistically saying 90 because we know 89 of them will be there for sure.
In an ongoing effort to introduce Chargers Nation to players in the program we haven’t heard of, I shine my player spotlight on Tyler Marcordes.
Marcordes signed with the Chargers immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound outside linebacker played in the ACC for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. After redshirting his first year in 2011, Marcordes did not miss a single game the following four seasons at Georgia Tech.
He finally became a full-time starter in his senior season in 2015, posting an impressive 51 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. In his four seasons on the field, he compiled 102 tackles (67 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two interceptions, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. More impressively, of his 53 games only 21 were starts with 19 of those starts in his redshirt junior and senior seasons.
Marcordes greatest moment of glory on the field came during his junior year versus Elon. The play is held in high esteem as an ACC Must See Moment. Check out the footage below.
Marcordes had a great showing at the Georgia Tech Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds. That time would have placed eighth among linebackers at the NFL Combine. Marcordes posted a 35-inch vertical jump and broad jumped nine feet, ten inches. He comes from a football bloodline as his father, Bill Marcordes Jr., played linebacker for Illinois Wesleyan. His grandfather, Bill Marcordes Sr., played defensive end at Bradley University on the way to being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 18th round of the 1965 NFL Draft.
Marcordes will have ample opportunity to make a name for himself in training camp, working to crack a very crowded field of linebackers. He showed he can make plays when he’s on the field in college. Here’s hoping he can do the same on the field at Chargers Park and in the preseason. San Diego nailed it with an ACC linebacker last year (University of Miami product Denzel Perryman).
Will Marcordes prove them right again?
He will be #44 in your program. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@TylerMarcordes).
Good luck, Mr. Marcordes.
The Greg One
Only 14 short days remain until the San Diego Chargers open their 2016 training camp with a practice that’s open to the public on July 30th. Hopefully, we’ll get our first look at the full 90-man roster competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. The first man selected by the Chargers with the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Joey Bosa, is still not under contract. In this piece we take a look at the last man selected by the Chargers in the draft, Donavon Clark.
With their seventh-round draft pick (224th overall), the Chargers sought to add more beef to the offensive line. Clark is a hulkish 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard out of Michigan State University. Clark was highly praised for his versatility. When injuries arose along the MSU offensive line, Clark filled in seamlessly.
At the MSU Pro Day, Clark recorded an impressive 26 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.17 seconds and broad jumped 8’6″. Coaches and scouts love his football IQ, leadership skills and wide body.
After redshirting in 2011, Clark played in six games in 2012 as a redshirt freshman. From his sophomore season on, he played in every game and was the full-time starter in his junior and senior seasons. In all, he started 33 of 47 games at Michigan State.
In his four-year career, Clark recorded nine starts at right tackle and six starts at left tackle. His normal position on the offensive line was right guard. ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper had glowing words for Clark after the Chargers selected him.
“What you like about Michigan State offensive linemen is they come in NFL ready. It’s a pro offense,” Kiper said. “This is a kid that shows he can move defenders off the line of scrimmage. Adequate in pass protection. Has some versatility. When you come out of this offense, Jack Allen, Jack Conklin, these kids are ready to step in. It’s not a learning curve with the Michigan State offensive line.”
Check out the video to see why Kiper was so bullish on Clark:
The Spartans were one of the Nation’s best offensive lines in 2015. Clark shows excellent lateral quickness, ability to read and react to rushers and block them out of the play or away from the ball handler. (And how can you not love the added bonus he brings to the table at the 3:04 mark of the video?) Clark was a Coaches’ selection for All-Big Ten third-team in 2015.
The Chargers need as much quality offensive line depth as they can get, and Clark is a huge upside prospect. He is durable, can play guard and tackle and comes from a big-time program with a pro-style system. This man (#63 in your program) will be one to watch as he challenges for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Follow Donavon on Twitter @donavon76
Good luck, Mr. Clark.
The Greg One
Excitement and enthusiasm is in the air for the 2016-2017 edition of the San Diego Chargers. At this time in the offseason, it’s in the air for the fans of the other 31 NFL teams as well. With the free agency, NFL Draft period over and what looks to be a loaded 90-man roster in place, hope for a successful season is renewed.
Time to take off the rose-colored glasses for a moment and look at the team from an analytics standpoint. The Chargers do look like they have helped themselves immensely this offseason. To take a closer look I am going to dissect the offense and assign each aspect of the offense a point value. These will be the points I expect that aspect of the offense to generate every game. Of course that number is subject to change based on injuries, offseason acquisitions etc…
The points will then be added and that will be the expected points-per-game expectation for the offense. Some of you will think I’ve graded too harshly while others will think not harshly enough but it’s a jumping off point and that’s the objective. I’ll be looking forward to reading your views in the comments below.
The offense begins and ends with Philip Rivers. The Chargers’ iron man, Rivers has not missed a single game in ten seasons. His streak is second-longest in the NFL behind Eli Manning of the New York Giants (183). Rivers only trails Manning because Rivers didn’t start until his third season while Manning started in his rookie year.
Over the last three seasons, Rivers has averaged a stat line of 398-591 for 4,518 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and two fumbles lost. What’s more, he has averaged 56 passes of 20-yards or more and slightly over seven completions of 40-yards or more. This impressive stat line comes despite woeful offensive line play that has him getting sacked an average of 35 times over that same three-season period.
Last season, Rivers threw for career-highs in attempts (661), completions (437) and yards (4,792). The running game was non-existent and the Chargers went through 25 offensive line changes. The weight of being the only reliable offensive option took its toll on Rivers and the Bolts record. This year, a more balanced offense will yield better results on the scoreboard and in the standings.
Points-per-game expectation: 14
Running backs and fullbacks
Franchise running back Melvin Gordon had a disappointing rookie season. The Chargers, the fans and Gordon himself expected better than the 184 carries for 641 yards he accumulated in 14 games. Gordon is still awaiting his first NFL regular season touchdown and needs to improve his ball security. Four of Gordons’ six fumbles were recovered by the defense.
Danny Woodhead was the most consistent running back and the leading receiver for the Chargers last season. Woodhead had 98 carries for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Receiving, Woodhead amassed 80 receptions for 755 yards with six touchdowns. Take away the 2014 season in which Woodhead missed all but three games with a broken leg; in 2013 and 2015 Woodhead has averaged 382 yards and 2.5 touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts and 680 yards and six touchdowns on 78 receptions.
Branden Oliver was rarely seen in 2015 but showed his worth in 2014 after the injury to Woodhead where he emerged to lead the Chargers in rushing in 2014 as a rookie. Last season he had 31 attempts for 108 yards rushing at 13 receptions for 112 yards receiving. The coaching staff has expressed their desire to add Oliver in the mix in 2016 which is an intriguing prospect. Time will tell.
In the sixth round San Diego selected Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt. The significance of this selection is Watt was Gordons’ blocking fullback each of his three seasons at Wisconsin. It’s reasonable to expect the two already have a chemistry and understanding of one another that will translate to the field.
The new rule that chop blocks will not be allowed on the line of scrimmage will make having a good fullback on the field more important. This will also slowly bring about the re-emergence of Power-I formations. Not coincidentally, the Power-I is the formation Watt and Gordon ran to NCAA record-smashing success. There is change brewing in the run game and it will only help the offense as a whole.
Points per-game expectation: 6
At 36 years young, Hall of Fame bound Antonio Gates enters his 14th NFL season after re-signing with the Bolts for two more seasons. The eight-time Pro Bowler began the 2015 season on the suspended list, missing four games for taking a banned substance. He played well in the eleven games he saw the field afterward, tallying 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Gates contemplated retirement before the end of last season but after the Chargers dismal season, Gates opted to return. He told the media “I didn’t want to go out like that.”
Gates finds himself on the precipice of NFL history this season. With eight touchdowns, Gates (104) will surpass Tony Gonzalez (111) into first place for touchdowns scored by a tight end. Over his brilliant career, Gates averages eight touchdowns a season. He is the most reliable part of the passing game. Starting the season from week one, expecting a better statistical season than 2015 is almost a certainty as long as he stays healthy.
The Chargers did draft the heir apparent to Gates when they drafted Hunter Henry our of Arkansas with their second round pick. The 6’5″, 250-pounder was a first-team All-SEC selection and winner of the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end in 2015. Henry collected 51 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns. As sure-handed as they come, Henry did not drop a single pass last season.
Vying for a slot on the roster are Sean McGrath, Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, and undrafted free agent Matt Weiser. All fit the mold the Chargers like at standing 6’5″, 260-pounds. The most intriguing prospect may be Tim Semisch, a one-year pro who stands an imposing 6’8″, 267.
Points per-game expectation: 4
Come back tomorrow for part two of my breakdown including the wide receivers, offensive line, coaching staff and final summary. I hope you have enjoyed my analytical breakdown. Do you agree or disagree so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
The Greg One