Monthly Archives: February 2014
As we all know, the draft is approaching, and even quicker than we are used to due to the new offseason schedule. With that in mind, be sure to check in with me and my partner Matthew Stanley. We will be doing draft profiles on possible Chargers, top prospects, as well as sleepers.
As an appetizer to your draft hunger, I will present you with some players I have an eye on as far as the first round goes. Expect some profiles to be done on these players as they are all potential candidates as San Diego sits at 25 in the draft.
One player I can not get enough of is CB Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State. Not only does Gilbert have exceptional ball skills and speed, he also has the talent in special teams to match. Given this ability, there is no reason he does not see playing time in San Diego, should we be his landing spot.
Another player who is giving me a hard time declaring Gilbert as my favorite corner in this draft is Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard. This Rose Bowl champion has no lack of experience as a senior coming out of college. He won the Thorpe award which is awarded to the most outstanding defensive back in college football. Dennard is also great potential to be a significant upgrade within our corner corps.
Last, but surely not least, I will take stray from DBs, but not too far as it is still a defensive player in Ra’Shede Hageman, DE out of Minnesota. When I think of Hageman, the term “Monster of a man” comes to mind. His frame draws comparisons to J.J Watt. Who doesn’t want J.J Watt?
These are just a few players I’d love to see get called at 25. While being realistic, I’m prepared to see none of these players go to San Diego.
Here’s to Tom Telesco having a great off-season
In a recent article published by Bleacher Report ( http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1953277-redditor-creates-geographically-based-nfl-divisions ), there was a suggestion for realignment of the AFC and NFC based on pure geography. It is, to be blunt, a terrible idea.
While this proposal would save teams in travel costs, that is the only benefit to such a notion. Let’s focus on why this is a bad idea.
First off, it’s bad for Charger fans because it breaks up the long-standing (since 1960) rivalries with Kansas City and Denver. This idea would not have us going head to head twice a year. This proposal would create a western division of the Chargers, Raiders, 49ers and Seahawks. Really?
Secondly, it’s bad for other cities for the same reason. No longer would you have the rivalry between Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia and the New York Football Giants, as the suggested realignment would pull the Cowboys and Giants into other divisions.
Other long-standing rivalries that would be broken up would include the Jets, Patriots, Dolphins and Bills. Also the Saints and Falcons rivalry would go away as would Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The only rivalries that would go undisturbed would be the NFC Norris with Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota.
Last, but certainly not least, this would blur the line between the old legacy AFL teams and NFL teams. Enough of that was done to create balance in the 1970 AFL/NFL merger when the Colts, Steelers and Browns were moved to the newly formed AFC for balance.
Roger Goodell has caused enough harm to the game we all know and love. Let’s not help him with stupid ideas.
Chargers fans finally had something real to cheer this season as the team, surprisingly to most, got the last golden ticket into the playoffs and made it into the divisional round. The reappearance on the hallowed ground of the playoffs signaled a complete turnover from the calamitous end of the AJ Smith/Norv Turner era and the beginning of the Tom Telesco/Mike McCoy era.
The Chargers were seen as big winners in last year’s draft as they got three first round skill level talents that fell as late as the third round. First round pick right tackle D.J. Fluker, third round pick and rookie of the year candidate, wide receiver Keenan Allen and second round pick, linebacker Mantei Teo were integral parts of the Chargers success. Sixth round pick, linebacker Tourek Williams, saw the field in 13 games and was an important piece of the Chargers defense with his hustle. That’s four of the Chargers seven draft picks stepping in right away and making an immediate impact.
Building on last season’s draft success will be important as the Chargers are finally facing the right direction following three straight seasons without a playoff appearance. The Chargers biggest need areas are the same as last season. There is still a lot of work needed to solidify the offensive line. The secondary is a disaster and the Chargers are woefully thin at wide receiver.
Keenan Allen was thrust into the starting lineup after Malcolm Floyd suffered a season ending disc injury to his neck in week two. Danario Alexander was lost for the season in preseason and has recently had his second ACL surgery. Floyd’s injury is career threatening and so is Alexander’s. Vincent Brown was primed to have his breakout season but the promise we saw before he was lost for the season in 2012 never materialized last season. Eddie Royal played great at the beginning of the season before fading into the woodwork around midseason. The Chargers need a legitimate threat to play opposite Allen.
The Cleveland Browns are a ship without a rudder. They had the look of a team that is rebuilding but then they started getting rid of their best players. The Browns drafted Trent Richardson with the third pick in the 2012 draft only to trade him to Indianapolis after two games this season. Richardson ran for 950 yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie campaign and showed all the promise in the world. In addition, they waived key players on offense and defense. Stud wide receiver Josh Gordon was being shopped at the trade deadline although a deal was not achieved.
Even without a good quarterback under center, the 6’3, 225-pound Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns. He averages 19 yards per catch, will be entering his third year as a pro and will only be 23 years old when the season starts. Among his many accomplishments, Gordon is the first player in NFL history to have back-to-back 200-yard games. The sky is the limit for Gordon and it looks like the Browns could let him go to the highest bidder.
With that in mind, should the Chargers give up their first round pick in this year’s draft to get Gordon?
If there was one player who could solve the Chargers receiver issues, its Gordon. Gordon is a bona fide number one receiver. With Allen on the opposite side, defenses wouldn’t be able to key on just one of them. The other will be left to roam against single coverage. The extra attention to both wide receivers would open up the middle of the field for tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. Teams would not be able to crowd the box, leaving running lanes for Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. Gordon’s addition punches the Chargers ticket for the AFC Championship game. With a quarterback like Rivers at the controls, the Chargers would have an offense reminiscent of this year’s Broncos.
If the Chargers had done what most figured they would do and fail miserably then the pick in the top half of the draft might have changed the answer to that question. However, with the Chargers unexpected run through the postseason, they are picking 25th in May. Giving that pick to Cleveland for Gordon is money in the bank. The blue chip offensive tackles are already going to be taken. Gems are going to have to be discovered through thorough research. The same can be said for the top cornerbacks and safeties. Benefiting the Chargers is the fact that this is going to be a very deep, talent-rich draft. There are going to be plenty of gems in the later rounds. Gordon is a game changer and his addition would pay dividends immediately.
Those of us desperate enough for football to watch the Pro Bowl saw the Rivers to Gordon connection work for a touchdown. The only question is how much more will the Browns ask for? A pick and a player? A first this year and a conditional high pick next year? Two picks this year?
If it’s at all possible I trust in Tom Telesco to get the deal done without costing the Chargers a fortune. We’ve seen what he can do in the later rounds and I trust he will do just as well in rounds 2-7 this year. The time is now for the Chargers to go for the gold and adding Gordon would be the biggest get of the offseason.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Is a first round pick too high for Gordon?
The Greg One
Since the “Air-Coryell” days of the 80s, the San Diego Chargers have been famous for having high powered, up-and-down the field passing offenses. Quarterback Dan Fouts led an aerial assault that was exciting and unrelenting. During that era, a few pass receivers stand out: wide receivers Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson, Wes Chandler and, of course, tight end Kellen Winslow. Winslow revolutionized the position by demonstrating that tight ends, usually used primarily for blocking purposes, could be used as impact receivers. Kellen posed a match-up problem for opposing defenses because of his size, speed and phenomenal catching ability. Does a defensive coordinator place a safety on him to match up size and strength, knowing that the safety is going to have difficulty running with him? Does he dare try to cover him with a nickel cornerback as a better speed match up and chance the defender being manhandled after the catch? Winslow’s dominant career has forever altered the NFL landscape- as most tight ends today are viewed more like wide receivers than offensive lineman. It is with this in mind that I take a close look at the players at tight end on the Chargers’ roster heading into the off-season.
The undrafted basketball player from Kent State University has been a fixture in the Charger passing attack for 11 great seasons. The future Hall-of-Famer is the Chargers all-time leader for career touchdown receptions with 87. In fact, the Rivers to Gates combination is the NFL’s all-time leading QB-to-TE touchdown scoring tandem with 60 scores. Rather than continue listing the myriad of accolades bestowed upon Gates, let’s take a closer look at the here and now. Surprisingly, Gates was able to stay healthy for an entire season, something he had struggled to do for several years in a row. Nagging foot issues have hampered him and limited his effectiveness when he was able to play. For the first time in years, Antonio felt 100% for most of the season. Production rebounded as a result as Gates improved upon a 49 reception season in 2012, finishing with a team high 77 catches in 2013. He racked up 872 yards and scored 4 touchdowns. Not bad for an aging star at 33 years old. It wasn’t all good news however, as Chargers fans witnessed numerous dropped passes from the perennial all-pro…something rarely seen from the big guy throughout his career. He also coughed the ball up a couple times by not securing the ball properly after the catch. Despite these missteps, the season was a breath of fresh air for fans that had begun to accept the thought that this legendary player was on the decline. Last season showed that, though he isn’t as shifty and quick as he once was, Gates is still a viable threat in the passing game. Despite a price tag of $5 million entering 2014 , expect “Gatesy” to be the starting tight end in his 12th season with the Bolts.
In the 4th round of the 2012 NFL draft, ex-General Manager A.J. Smith selected a 6’6″, 240 pound tight end out of Louisiana-Lafayette. I remember pumping my fists wildly and grinning ear to ear. This was the guy I had hoped we would snag on day two of the draft. Being from the Midwest, I had actually seen a couple ULL games on television and I remember being amazed at what Green was capable of. At the time, Antonio Gates was having injury issues and his absence from the lineup was devastating. I felt like it was time to begin grooming an heir-apparent for our superstar tight end. Not only does Ladarius have a tall frame, he possesses unbelievable speed for someone that big. He ran the 40 yard dash in 4.53 seconds at the 2012 combine. This young man presents a huge match-up problem for defensive coordinators. The knock against Green was his blocking ability. To say it was inadequate would be putting it mildly. He needed serious “coaching up” in that area, which is likely what kept him from being selected sooner in the draft. Year one as a Charger was uneventful, as former Head Coach Norv Turner barely utilized the rookie. Green accounted for only 56 yards on 4 receptions that season. 2013 brought a new group of coaches and a new offensive philosophy. As a result, Green played in all 16 games and totaled 376 yards on 17 receptions. Those modest gains may seem unnoteworthy, but Ladarius scored 3 touchdowns and had a fantastic average per catch of 22.1 yards! He established himself as a big play threat while playing behind a future Hall-of-Famer. His blocking has steadily improved, but it is far from being considered good yet. We all got a glimpse of the game changer that Green can be last season, and that has the fan base very excited. Green is not scheduled to become a free agent until 2016, so we can look forward to watching his continued development next fall.
Despite finishing the season on the injured reserve list, I still have high hopes for what John Phillips brings to the team. Unlike Gates and Green, Phillips is a solid run blocker that can be counted on to help seal the edge for outside running plays. General Manager Tom Telesco signed Phillips away from the Cowboys last year as added insurance in case of another injury-laden season for Gates. Though not a target in the passing game last year, accounting for just 30 yards on 4 catches, John’s value to the team seems secure. He is signed through 2015 and is scheduled to earn $1.1 million this season. I expect him to make be on the roster on opening day this season.
This young man is intriguing. Ryan was signed last spring by the Jaguars, but finished the year as a member of the Bolts’ practice squad. He has prototypical measurables for the position, standing 6’6″ tall and weighing 241 pounds. He has only average speed, running the 40 in 4.7 seconds, but his long arms and big hands make him an interesting receiving prospect. He demonstrated nice route running ability while at San Jose State and excelled at catching the ball in traffic. His run blocking must improve if he hopes to make the 53-man roster next fall. Still, remember the name next preseason…
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Philip Rivers amassed nearly 4,500 yards through the air in 2013. This couldn’t have been accomplished without good pass blocking and, of course, solid pass catchers. The Bolts had an unexpected dose of both last season. We’ll take a closer look at the offensive line in a future article. Today, we’ll be looking at the Chargers’ stable of receivers and examining how each fits (or doesn’t fit) into the team plans heading into next season. Injuries early in the season forced General Manager Tom Telesco to add some new faces and some old friends, and challenged one highly-touted rookie to elevate his play much sooner than expected. In the end, there were lots of ups and a few downs along the way. The aforementioned injuries will impact Telesco’s off-season plan when addressing team needs. This position was considered a strength heading into the 2013 season, but now big question marks remain about the health of the receiving corps.
Coming into the 2013 season, the Chargers third round pick in last year’s draft was expected to see occasional time at the slot position. Playing behind Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander was supposed to afford Allen a chance to get used to playing football at NFL speed. Even so, there was a prevailing feeling that he may be able to chip in some big plays within his limited role. He had a fantastic career at Cal and many draft “experts” felt Telesco had the steal of the draft after Keenan slid to the third round due to concerns over a knee injury suffered in college. Potentially career-ending injuries to Alexander in preseason and Floyd in week two thrust Allen into the spotlight early. It took a few games for Keenan to really take off, but when it clicked, it was something special to behold. Allen’s style is not that of a speed demon threatening to get behind the defense quickly, but rather a quick, agile route-runner that can turn a 7 yard crossing pass into a 40 yard gain with his running ability. This rookie shouldered the burden as the Bolts #1 wide receiver and flourished. He displayed a confidence rarely seen in rookie receivers and a flair for the big play. He finished the season with 1,046 yards on 71 receptions, scoring 8 touchdowns. His efforts landed him the Pepsi Next Rookie of the Year award and the respect of players and coaches throughout the league. We’ll all continue to expect big things in the future and I am confident that he will deliver.
2013 was cruel to Danario. Coming off a solid 2012 campaign, expectations were through the roof. Many felt like this would finally be the season that Alexander would become the elite wide receiver the Chargers hoped he could be. The issue dogging Danario was repeated knee problems that have plagued him since the Senior Bowl in college. He has all the physical tools to be a superstar, but his knee kept failing him. Then on August 6th of last year, Alexander suffered a torn right ACL to the same knee during practice. His entire season was lost. It was made public earlier this week, that Danario has undergone a 2nd surgery on the knee. Despite the high hopes heading into last season, it looks like it may have been his last with the Chargers. The odds of him returning are incredibly low and I for one do not expect him to be on our roster next fall. Heartbreaking.
The man known as “M80” in San Diego had really come into his own. Having signed a four year, $13 million contract in September of 2012, Malcom had finally made it to the top of the ladder. Watching this young man go from distant back-up to starting wide receiver over the years has been especially gratifying for me. It harkened back to the old adage “work hard and great things will come of it”- a belief my parents instilled in me as a child. Malcom isn’t particularly fast, but he is very tall (6’5″) and has truly magical hands. He’s made some of the greatest circus-style catches I’ve seen in San Diego since the great John Jefferson and Wes Chandler donned lightning bolts. The team was counting on him to provide the security blanket that Philip Rivers needs on critical 3rd downs. Unfortunately, a blow to the top of his head on a crossing route against the Eagles ended Malcom’s season in just the second week of action. The scene was very scary as the trainers carefully removed Floyd’s face mask from his helmet and strapped his entire body to a board. Everyone watching knew that this was a bad situation. The resulting neck injury, thankfully, didn’t result in a life-long injury- but it did sideline M80 for the remainder of the season. Now Tom Telesco and company will need to take a very close look at Floyd’s future with the team. If doctors clear Floyd to return (which is still in question), the cost versus reward equation may come into play. Malcom is 32 years of age and scheduled to earn $2.75 million for the upcoming season. There is little doubt that a healthy Malcom Floyd is a solid player and can help the team for at least one more season. The real question revolves around his ability to stay healthy. Do we roll the dice or look at getting younger? Being the M80 fan I am, I’m hoping they give him another chance.
Eddie Royal had a very solid season. He caught 47 balls for 631 yards and scored 8 touchdowns. He started opposite Keenan Allen after the injuries to Alexander and Floyd. Eddie was on fire early in the season, scoring twice in the season opener against the Texans and then three more times the following week against the Eagles. What started out looking like a monster year for Royal soon faded away as his impact was felt less and less as the season moved on. The harsh reality of Eddie’s contract situation is that he is due $4.5 million dollars this year. Will Telesco and McCoy feel that Royal is simply too expensive for what he provides the team? Royal is only 27 years old and did show the potential to be a game changer. It’s a tough call for Telesco. My gut tells me that Eddie will likely be a cap casualty.
Vincent returned this season from an ankle injury suffered during the preseason in 2012 and had a moderately successful season- all things considered. Hauling in 41 balls for 472 yards and 1 touchdown may seem like a poor season to some, but for a youngster trying to return to form after a severely broken ankle, it provides hope. Like Alexander, Brown has shown flashes of greatness at times. These glimpses of what he could be have elevated expectations to levels that are going to be difficult to attain. He doesn’t show the same explosiveness out of breaks that he once had. His jumping ability appears to have taken a hit as well. The good news for Vincent is that he is under contract, he’s young and he’s relatively inexpensive- earning $645 thousand for the upcoming season. I believe his roster spot is safe. Here’s hoping that he can find a role within Frank Reich’s offense that he can grow into.
Seyi Ajirotutu, Lavelle Hawkins, Dontrelle Inman, Tobais Palmer
General Manager Tom Telesco was forced to bring in a number of receivers to fill out the depth chart as the season progressed. He brought back Seyi Ajirotutu midway through the season, a move that paid huge dividends when Seyi hauled in a last minute game winner against the Chiefs in Kansas City. Tutu finished the year with only 64 yards, but had a gaudy 21.3 yards per catch average. Hawkins was brought in to provide some depth in the kick return game. He averaged 22 yards per return, but wasn’t much of a factor in the grand scheme of things. Telesco really likes his potential however. Both of these players were “band-aid” type signings and both are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this spring. Dontrelle Inman and Tobais Palmer spent the season on the practice squad and both will be given a shot to prove themselves next preseason. Inman is a big receiver at 6’3″ and 203 pounds, while Palmer is more of an Eddie Royal type of receiver at 5’11” and 178 pounds. Keep an eye out for these two next August!
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With the NFL offseason fully upon us, it is now time to start analyzing players that will do our favorite team a service with their abilities. The Chargers head into the offseason needing help in the same areas they needed help in last season. The Chargers can still use improvement in the secondary, receiver, defensive line and most importantly, offensive line.
Last season with the additions of King Dunlap, Chad Rinehart, Johnnie Troutman, Rich Ornhberger and first round draft pick D.J. Fluker the Chargers line looked more solid than they have since the Tomlinson era. The line allowed 19 fewer sacks (30) than they did in 2012 (49). As a result, Philip Rivers was ranked fifth overall in the league quarterback standings. Surprisingly to most, the Chargers made the playoffs as a wild card and won their way into the divisional round largely on the backs of rookies and starters who filled out the second string on their previous teams.
The season was a success for the Chargers but there is still much work to do and the offensive line is an area that needs more solidification. To that end, disgraced Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito will be looking for new teams. Neither of the two have been cut but Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has said neither man will be on next year’s Dolphins roster.
We all know of the bullying scandal that rocked the Dolphins franchise and made them national news for the better part of a month during the season. Regardless of whose side you’re on in this scandal, both will have damage control to do if and when they join another locker room. The question is what team will give them an opportunity? Should the Chargers consider either player?
The Case For And Against Jonathan Martin:
Jonathan Martin committed the ultimate locker room sin when he took his conflict with Incognito out of the locker room and into national media headlines. Martin made public instances of Incognito threatening him and members of his family as well as releasing voice mail of Incognito using derogatory and racist language to him. Incognito was the bully and he was the victim.
Anyone who has competed in a team sport knows the golden rule of the locker room. Just like Vegas, what happens in the locker room, STAYS in the locker room. Beefs between teammates don’t go outside to the public. The situation may escalate to coaches and management but it’s still handled IN HOUSE. Martin’s issues with Incognito should have gone to the coaching staff and if a satisfactory resolution wasn’t achieved, escalated to the suits in upper management.
On top of making his beef public, Martin did the one thing worse than that when he walked out on his teammates after seven games. Martin allowed his issue with one teammate to come before the team and his ability to make a living. In doing so, Martin will never fully regain the respect of the locker room, even if Ross were to allow him to return. In any locker room he enters to resume his career, players will wonder if he’s mentally strong enough to play the game. Players will wonder if he will walk out on them as he did with the Dolphins. It will take him seasons of solid play just to regain the respect reserved for a practice squad player.
On the plus side, Martin is a player who has upside. Martin is a 24 year old, 6 foot 5, 300 lb. offensive left tackle out of Stanford. Martin was a high draft pick, drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, 42nd overall. He anchored the Dolphins line for all 16 games of the 2012 season and did the same for the seven games he played in the 2013 season. There is time for Martin to get coached up by the right staff, potentially developing into the long term starter the Dolphins drafted him to be. A team with a veteran offensive line will be useful in teaching Martin how to conduct himself as a pro.
The fact that he is a pariah on his own team and frowned upon by other teams for his actions will keep his asking price low. Ross will be looking to unload Martin at all costs. This is close to uncharted territory: A high draft pick at a need position such as left tackle, virtually free to the best offer. A low draft pick could do the trick. Chargers GM Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy would do well to meet with the Chargers offensive line and couple their opinions with their observation after a face to face interview with Martin.
The Case For And Against Richie Incognito:
The antagonist in this piece, Incognito is busy telling his side of the story and doing his best to debunk the ‘bully’ image he has been tagged with since this debacle began. Very shortly, NFL appointed investigator Ted Wells will deliver his findings on the situation. Text messages between Martin and Incognito have been released and in the end, only the two of them know if this was standard locker room banter or if Incognito was harassing Martin.
It seems unlikely Martin would give up his dream of playing in the NFL if the level of mental and verbal abuse hadn’t escalated to a level he figured he couldn’t handle. Incognito is culpable for his actions. Some say he was charged with toughening up Martin but no one will admit to it. Whether he was or not, his tactics crossed the line. In Miami, the leader of that offense was not the quarterback. In 2012, the Dolphins started first round draft pick Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill took the reins again this season. The leaders of the offense was the offensive line and on that line, Incognito was one of the captains. Only the ones in that locker room know if Incognito took his power too far but there’s no doubt he was one of those at the top of the pecking order.
Like Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Terrell Owens, Cortland Finnegan or Ndamukong Suh, the 30-year old Incognito is one of those players who you hate unless he’s playing on your team. A nine-year veteran, Incognito has a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. He has earned the respect and fear of his peers. Any defensive lineman lining up against him knows they are in for a long day at the office. The nastiness he plays with keeps your quarterback clean and helps your team win. On a team with a clear leader and other tenured veterans on the offensive line, Incognito could be a valuable piece even now.
In San Diego, Philip Rivers is clearly the leader of the team. On the line, Center Nick Hardwick is an 11-year veteran and guard Jeromey Clary is a 7-year veteran. The leadership on the line is already set and all Incognito has to do is fall in line and play as he always has, nasty and physical. Keeping Philip Rivers clean is the main thing and Incognito could help do that.
The Martin/Incognito story revives the age old question. Would you rather have a proven, experienced player or a young player with all the potential in the world to use as a building block for the future? Incognito was ranked in the top 20 in pass blocking efficiency and made the Pro Bowl in 2012. Martin can be a great bookend tackle if he can stay healthy, accept coaching and somehow prove himself worthy of being in another locker room.
The Chargers aren’t new to scandalized players. Bringing in the media firestorm surrounding last year’s second round pick, Mantei Te’o, was a calculated risk. The media vultures hovered around Chargers Park for a while but disappeared when nothing of interest occurred during training camp, especially after Te’o was injured midway through camp. In San Diego, both players can avoid the circus they would attract should they end up in a place like New York, Chicago or New England. The leadership from the strong front office and coaching staff would be a welcome change of environment from the soon to be former Dolphins.
Both players have their positives and negatives but given the uniqueness of the situation and the fact that either of the two would prove to be an upgrade to the Chargers offensive line, it would behoove the front office to evaluate both and see if they would be a good fit. This writer favors Incognito but can also see Martin as the ideal young stallion left tackle to compliment Fluker at right tackle.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Should the Chargers take a look at Martin or Incognito?
The Greg One
So often in movies, the sequel fails to live up to the original. If the first movie in a series is successful, sometimes just the pressure to exceed it can set the sequel up for failure. Tom Telesco and his staff are feeling that pressure right now.
Tom Telesco’s (or “TT” as many people have started calling him) first offseason as GM was one of the most successful the Chargers have seen in years. In Free Agency he was able to bring in some guys who played large rolls such as new fan favorite Danny Woodhead. He was also able to bring in pretty good “band-aid” players such as Reggie Walker, Richard Marshall, Seji Ajirotutu, and Lawrence Guy.
Then in the Draft TT scored big, bringing in the best Draft the Chargers have seen . In the first round he grabbed D.J. Fluker who had an extremely good rookie season, starting at both Right and Left Tackle over the course of the season. In the second round Manti Te’o became a Charger and despite missing almost all of the offseason with injury, he improved each week once he got on the field. Then in the 3rd round TT grabbed the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and Pepsi Next Rookie of the year WR Keenan Allen.
Telesco did have a few misses in his first offseason. Derrick Cox was the “big money” FA Telesco signed and wound up being dropped out of the starting line up by the end of the season. I included Te’o in the successes, however he was considered by many to earn a failing grade in his Rookie season due to lack of playing time and lack of impact plays.
So will this year’s sequel live up to the hype of the original? Will Telesco follow the recipe of the Marvel movies by bringing in some “big names” to sell the story? Or will he bring in some hot new youth and let “director” Mike McCoy shape the story?
Only time will tell, but for some clues keep checking in with boltblitz.com as the offseason picks up and our staff keeps you updated.
Follow me on Twitter @boltfanindenver for all of my articles and @boogap for all of boltblitz.com’s latest.
The 2013 season has come to a close and the off-season has begun. A nine win season, combined with a playoff victory at Cincinnati, has the Chargers fan base excited once again. Head Coach Mike McCoy and General Manager Tom Telesco have the Bolts franchise on the fast track to reopening a championship window that, under former Head Coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith, seemed to have slammed shut. Looking back at the season, one could argue- with a little more maturity by the players and coaches- the Bolts could have finished with at least 12 wins. Some early season stumbles against Houston, Tennessee and Washington handed the Chargers some painful last minute losses. Conversely, the Bolts finished the season like studs by winning 5 of their last 6 games – beating the Chiefs twice and the Broncos in Denver during that stretch. To say things are on the upswing under McCoy and Telesco would be an understatement. With this in mind, I humbly submit the first article in my six part series documenting my thoughts and feelings regarding the state of the franchise.
The 10-year veteran had a rebirth under Mike McCoy in 2013. Recently departed Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s plan was to balance the offense and ask Philip to make quicker decisions in the passing game. “Take what the defense is giving us” was the mantra. Rivers seemed to flourish with this approach and his statistics dramatically improved across the board from the previous season. He completed 69.5% of his passes finishing with 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. There is no question that Rivers still has plenty of fire in his belly and strength in his arm to compete at an elite level through the remainder of his current contract, which expires in 2016. He remains the unquestioned leader of the team.
“Clipboard Jesus” as he is affectionately known by Bolts fans, has been Philip’s right hand man on the Chargers sideline throughout most of Rivers’ career. They bounce thoughts off of one another throughout games and it seems to help Rivers maintain his focus. The fact of the matter, however, is that Charlie’s contract is up and we have what appears to be a better back-up option in 1st year quarterback Brad Sorensen. Whitehurst’s only real game action occurs in the preseason, so Telesco will need to make a tough decision regarding Philip’s security blanket. Will Charlie accept a significantly lower contract offer to stay in San Diego? I have a feeling that’s what it will take for him to be in a Bolts uniform come this fall.
The rookie signal caller from Southern Utah opened a lot of eyes last preseason by making big play after big play with both his arm and his legs. Sorensen’s agility in the pocket and his ability to run when necessary was exciting. He made numerous throws downfield in the clutch under pressure, all with accuracy and zip. Sure, those throws were made against the opponent’s 2nd and 3rd stringers, but he had 3rd stringers blocking for him too. Charger fans haven’t seen this kind of mobility since a little guy named Doug Flutie donned lightning bolts. There is no question that Brad needs coaching up, but he seems to have that something that playmakers have to have. He’ll give McCoy and Telesco plenty to contemplate as they try to decide what they want to do in regards to Whitehurst.
There is no bigger question mark on the Chargers roster than Mathews. Coming into the season, many experts questioned if Ryan was the long-term answer at halfback for the Bolts. With a long history of fumbling and an inability to stay healthy, it seemed as though Mathews was on his way out of San Diego. Former Head Coach Norv Turner publicly questioned Ryan’s field vision and heart, while former General Manager A.J. Smith boldly stated he would be “somebody else’s fumbler” if his play didn’t improve. Those assessments may have been warranted at the time but I doubt they did much to help solidify a young back’s confidence in himself. 2013 presented Mathews with a fresh start. He embraced the new coaching style of Mike McCoy and had a very solid season in the Whisenhunt offense. Mathews ran for 1,255 yards and added another 189 yards as a receiver. He scored 7 total touchdowns and ran the ball with authority all season. He remained relatively healthy and showed toughness by trying to play through a high ankle sprain in the playoffs. It was a season that showed everyone what he is capable of. Is he the long-term answer after all? That is the million dollar question…
Ronnie’s contract is up this off-season. He has been a decent back-up over the past couple of seasons. His contribution this past season included 157 rushing yards, 60 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. His value has dropped because of the stellar play of Danny Woodhead. The thought heading into the season was that the team ought to hang onto Brown due to questions regarding Woodhead’s small frame being able to take the pounding as a full-time starter if Mathews went down with an injury. As the season progressed, and Woodhead’s workload increased, it became apparent that those concerns were unfounded. Unless we can sign Brown cheaply, I doubt he’ll be on the roster next season.
Coming over from New England, Woodhead was pegged as “the guy who would fill the void left by Darren Sproles”. Sproles is a remarkable, multi-faceted threat out of the backfield. Rivers himself admitted being “depressed” when the Bolts let Sproles sign with New Orleans. Woodhead inherited these high expectations and accepted them from day one in San Diego. It didn’t take long for Danny to rise up and do Sproles-like things on the field. In addition to being small in size (he is listed at 5′ 8″ on the Chargers website), he has the same quickness and low center-of-gravity that Sproles possesses. Danny’s agility while running makes it difficult for defenders to lay a solid lick on him. Lastly, Woodhead has become as big a threat in the passing game as Sproles was as a Charger. Looking at Danny’s 2013 statistics, his dual-threat nature becomes very apparent. He rushed for 429 yards, averaging a respectable 4 yards per carry, and scored 2 rushing touchdowns. He hauled in 76 receptions for 605 yards and 6 touchdowns! He also contributed on special teams averaging 21.8 yards per kickoff return. He was the steal of last year’s free agency crop and a rather large feather in Tom Telesco’s hat.
McClain had another uneventful season. There are few “people-in-the-know” out there that would deny his blocking prowess. The fact of the matter is that most NFL offenses are going away from the traditional two-back set. Being the old-school football purist I am, I was really excited when we signed McClain a couple years back thinking that it would allow Mathews a real shot at becoming what we all envisioned he would be. In reality, his impact has been minimal to say the least. In 2013, Le’Ron carried the ball just 11 times, gaining 32 total yards. Does that level of production justify the 2.5 million dollars he is scheduled to make this upcoming season? If he is unwilling to restructure his deal in some way, I have a hard time visualizing him on our roster in the fall. His cap space will be too valuable as Telesco moves forward rebuilding the team.
Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for part two of this series… Your comments are always welcomed!
Take heart Charger fans – the Bolt is back!!
We all have our own reasons for who we follow on Twitter and why. I tend to follow people with a high level of football acumen coupled with a sense of humor. Sprinkle in several accounts that are non-football related and you have my Twitter follow base in a nutshell.
But I think that as I move throughout the Twittersphere, I am losing out on some solid Charger fan follows. I don’t know this for sure but I can only assume that I am missing out on the same people who may miss out on being forced to read my tweets, so to speak.
We all have our own “needs” regarding social media and what we would like it to do for us. In this post, I’ll be listing the individuals that enhance my experience on Twitter as a Charger fan, yet they may not receive enough credit on Twitter for the incredible insight, respectable opinion, hilarity, bluntness and overall factually solid information.
Without further ado, here is my first annual Top Ten list of the most underrated #BoltFam follows on Twitter.
This is a guy that has a more than a decent opinion on the goings-on of the Bolts, and yet he maintains a funny perspective on certain things pertaining to our team. Ignore his inability to spell and you’ll be VERY happy you followed him.
This dude is a younger cat that just calls it like he sees it. He may have a “hazy” opinion at times but most of us can relate to that as well. I like his ideas involving where the Bolts should go in the draft. He drops some seriously laughable bombs on the state of the team. Follow him for a season and provide me your thoughts.
Ironically enough, this kid has almost 5 times more followers than I do. BUT, he tweets out some gems that are Charger-related that peak my interest and get me thinking. So how can a dude make this list but have an incredible amount of followers? He’s just that good and that hilarious.
A classic case of, “I used to write somewhere prominent, but I don’t anymore.” Cam has an opinion that seems to be consistent and strong regarding all things football. Whether it be for BoltBlitz.com or another site, I hope Cam takes the next step and makes time for an article or two. The football world would enjoy hearing his opinion.
Awwww, Murph. He’s big into the #DraftTwitter crowd ( which I didn’t know existed until recently). His expertise on incoming prospects is almost unrivaled. I kinda dislike how strong he’s been at pegging prospects since I’ve been following him. When I say that, I mean that he’s had an opinion different from mine and nailed it. He seems like a cool guy that has my respect…. THE MURPH!
Although this guy might flash more love for the Lions than the Chargers….. just kidding! His most noted tweets seem to always be for the Bolts. Craig is one of the people who I have the utmost respect for on Twitter. He seems like a cool, family oriented man who really, REALLY knows football. Proud to call him one of my followers. Do yourself the favor, follow him now and form your own opinion.
I’m not sure where to start with this one. He does not currently write for the site. But he has one of the better plans for the entire San Diego Charger team that I can even begin to elaborate on. Lee is money and you should do yourself the favor of following him. He is a solid contributor to our comment section at the site and I always look forward to hearing his feedback.
If there was an award for a Charger fan to have improved/learned the most between seasons, Charlie not only would have taken it hands-down, he would have embarrassed those that he left in his wake. Charlie seems to be an up-and-coming fan that is delving deeper into the game that he loves. Give him a follow and jump on board now.
I have damn near given up on bringing him to BoltBlitz. My most serious recruiting efforts to the site have been with this gentleman. His knowledge is only trumped by the effortless attitude that he seems to put into it. He doesn’t tweet often, but when he does, it is worth reading. Just follow him now. You’re welcome.
Ummmm. Yeah. Give him a follow. He should have more followers than all of us that tweet intelligently about football. Football at any level, by the way. His knowledge of the game is unmatched.
So there you have it. I apologize to those of you that believe you should have been on the list. Perhaps Thomas Powell and Jason Ciano should have been honorable mentions. Be sure to leave me some comments below regarding your favorite #BoltFam follows on Twitter.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve become familiar with the Seattle Seahawks. One of my first memories after moving up here was seeing the concrete truck below.
It read: 2006 NFC Champions. See much like the Chargers, the Seahawks had only been to one Super Bowl. It ended about as well as ours and was somewhat controversial for some play calls. So sure, the truck says NFC Champion, but now that truck can say 2014 Super Bowl Champion.
Just four years ago, the Seahawks finished with a record of 5-11. Just two years ago they were 7-9. This team was built through the draft and bringing in some key free agents to round out their pass rush. It’s a team that is built off of a dominating defense and an offense that beats you with the run and pass and thrives on being efficient. The Chargers defense may not have been anywhere near as dominant as the Seahawks, but the offense was more efficient and dangerous.
Much like the Seahawks, the Chargers hired a new coach and GM that seem to really work well together. It was a winning formula for the Seahawks, and one that I’m optimistic will work out well for the Chargers. I’m excited to see what Coach McCoy and GM Tom Telesco can do in year 2, and I’m hoping that the Chargers will follow the same path the Hawks did, and win a Super Bowl in year 4.
Every off-season I’m filled with optimism that this is our year. Watching the Seahawks march down 4th avenue in Seattle gave me an even higher sense of hope. That championships aren’t always won by the same teams from the big cities. Sure, it was fun to see a Super Bowl parade. But I can tell you, when MY Chargers win it all…man that’s gonna be special.
Thanks for reading.