Monthly Archives: May 2016
The San Diego Chargers will be keeping a watchful eye on many positions during camp over the next three months. Many perceived improvements have been made, but as with any team relying on an influx of high-upside yet inexperienced talent, the truth will be revealed once the helmet and pads are donned.
One of the most closely watched positions will be at running back. It was revealed two weeks ago that Melvin Gordon had microfracture surgery on his left knee in January. Gordon is expected to be a full participant when the Chargers begin their full training camp in July. A heavy weight sits on Gordon’s shoulders to be the franchise running back the Bolts traded up to acquire in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Behind a patchwork offensive line that endured 25 lineup changes throughout the course of the year due to injury and inconsistency, Gordon found little room to run. On the year, Gordon compiled 181 carries for 641 yards and 33 receptions for 192 yards. A concern that arose during the season was ball security as Gordon fumbled six times (five fumbles on runs, one fumbled reception). Mathematically, that translates to one fumble every 36 touches.
Almost equally as disturbing is the fact Gordon did not find the end zone once during his rookie season. That can be attributed to the offensive line woes and an offensive running scheme he was ill-equipped to excel in. Gordon set NCAA records at Wisconsin running in a traditional Power-I formation with a lead fullback opening the first hole. Last season, then Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich plugged Gordon into his pistol formation and ignored the recipe that made him a Heisman Trophy finalist.
This season Reich is gone and in his place is Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator the last time San Diego made the playoffs in 2012. A return to a running scheme Gordon can thrive in has been a priority and it became very evident when the Chargers selected fullback Derek Watt with one of their sixth-round picks in last month’s NFL Draft. Watt was Gordon’s fullback at Wisconsin, leading the way for Gordon to lead the nation in rushing his senior season. The selection of Watt sends a message to Gordon and the Chargers’ faithful that a return to power football is at hand.
One more positive sign for Gordon is the fact that despite the offense’s constant state of flux, he still had six runs of 20 yards or more. His yards per game (45), yards per carry average (3.5) and touchdowns can be expected to improve significantly this season.
All eyes will be on Gordon’s knee in training camp but he is firmly entrenched as the starting running back barring any complications.
Danny Woodhead is next on the depth chart. Now two seasons removed from a broken leg, Woodhead is the swiss army knife of the Chargers backfield. Last season he was the leading receiver on the team in catches (80) and receiving yards (755). He was also the second leading running back on the roster with 336 yards on 98 carries. Woodhead led the team in touchdowns with nine, (six receiving, three rushing). He will resume his role as pass-catching specialist and third-down threat.
As for the third spot in the rotation, the coaching staff has indicated a desire to get Branden Oliver back into the mix. Oliver saw very little action in 2015 with 31 carries for 108 yards and 13 receptions for 112 yards. In 2014, with Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead out with injuries, Oliver stepped into the lead role and excelled immediately. The 5-foot-8, 208-pound bowling ball notched back-to-back 100-yard games, earned NFL Rookie of the Week honors and led the Chargers in rushing. If the staff is sincere in its plans to create a three-headed monster in the backfield, this will be a unit to be reckoned with.
The remaining contenders in the running back competition consists of Dreamius Smith and Kenneth Farrow. Smith spent last season on the Chargers’ practice squad after making the team as an undrafted free agent. Farrow is also an undrafted free agent from the University of Houston who signed with the team after the 2016 NFL Draft.
Barring injury the running back lineup is set. We’ll know the progress Gordon is making by the front office’s actions on the waiver wire. If another veteran is picked up, he’s not where they want him to be. Expect Telesco’s first call to go to former Texans four-time Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster if that is the case. Foster is the biggest named, most highly decorated running back still available. A litany of injuries have led to the unraveling of his career. If Gordon is on schedule, a running back acquisition won’t be made. There are many other areas that are bigger concerns than in the backfield, which looks to be stocked better than it has been in years with the running backs and fullbacks that will make the roster.
Do you like what you see in the backfield or should the Chargers make a move to add more depth? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
As a part of their ongoing boycott, members of The San Diego Stadium Coalition and Save Our Bolts demonstrated outside a fundraiser for Mayor Faulconer on Thursday night. The event was hosted by hotelier Bill Evans (owner of The Bahia, Catamaran and Torrey Pines Lodge) at his garage on Pacific Highway where Evans stores his high-end car collection.
Approximately thirty concerned citizens demonstrated, holding signs that read “For Sale Mayor” and “Stop Hotelier Cabal.” Participants voiced their concerns that a few hoteliers have had a tremendous negative impact on San Diego. They were particularly concerned that mayor Kevin Faulconer is beholden to the interest of a few hoteliers who prefer a contiguous expansion of the Convention Center over the Chargers’ plan for a multi-use facility stadium downtown that would include a non-contiguous expansion.
Jason Riggs, Founder of the San Diego Stadium Coalition said, “What started as an effort to expose the Hotelier Cabal and their obstructionist maneuvering against a downtown convention center/stadium project, has grown into something much more significant. It is now abundantly clear that this particular special interest group has wreaked havoc on the entire civic landscape of San Diego in a way that goes well beyond one specific issue.” He added, “It’s time to shine a bright light on this systemic plague that has permeated almost every corner of City Hall for more than a decade.”
Marc Angelo, who runs NorCal Dolfan, promised his support of the boycott. “We are coming to San Diego with about 300 or so people. I have already asked for a list of hotels that are cooperating with your guys’ mission. We will book rooms at those hotels only. If there was a hotel that would actually help you guys, I would rather be loyal to them.” Angelo talked about the past spending habits of his group when visiting San Diego. “Almost every night we were hanging in the lobby, spending money in the lobby. People were going into the bar ordering beers. Each person is probably $200 a night.”
Riggs continued, “This boycott has already touched a nerve with the Hotelier Cabal and the politicians who represent them. We’ve barely begun.”
San Diego mayoral candidate Lori Saldaña took note of the protest and shared it on her campaign page. The Saldaña campaign wrote the protest was bad timing for mayor Kevin Faulconer who just two days earlier claimed the hoteliers had no influence over him in a debate.
David Agranoff, co-founder of Save Our Bolts said, “It is not too late for the Mayor to show leadership, but it is impossible for us to ignore a big money fundraiser being organized for the Mayor by Bill Evans who has influenced so many civic failures. This event highlights the underlying problem in San Diego politics and who is really calling the shots. We want the Mayor to prove us wrong.”
Save Our Bolts along with The San Diego Stadium Coalition and their combined 42,000 members have joined forces and received support from various civic leaders and fan groups in solidarity for their boycott against several of the hoteliers hosting Thursday’s fundraiser.
For more information San Diego’s destructive Hotelier Cabal, please visit HotelierCabal.com.
Let me get right to the point: Mike McCoy should be on the hot seat this year.
The 2016 campaign begins his fourth year as the Chargers’ head coach and the team has steadily gone backwards under his watch. I really thought he was the antithesis of his predecessor, but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
In 2013 (his rookie year as a head coach), we saw the Chargers (barely) make the postseason with a 9-7 record. They beat Cincinnati in the Wild Card round before falling to the Broncos in the Divisional Round. Frankly, the team exceeded my expectations.
Conversely, the Bolts failed to make the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 season saw the Chargers mimic their 9-7 record. In 2015, the wheels fell off the bus and the Bolts finished with a pathetic 4-12 record.
A lot of people have given McCoy multiple passes. The destruction of the offensive lines because of injury. Every team sustains injuries. Nick Hardwick’s injury in ’14 was devastating, but good teams overcome those injuries. Add to that the fragility of Ryan Mathews and injuries to Jason Verrett, Jeromey Clary, and a host of other offensive linemen, Philip Rivers was running for his very life. The running game was largely ignored by the predictable and unimaginative play calling of Frank Reich. Even Norv Turner had a better imagination than Reich.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Reich was let go after the 2015 campaign where the Chargers finished 4-12. The blame doesn’t rest there.
McCoy is a terrible clock manager. Several times during his three-year tenure, he has left points on the board by failing to properly manage the clock at the end of the first half. Normally, when confronted with his failure to use timeouts (you can’t bank ’em), his response was a cliché of some babble about doing what was in the team’s best interests.
Not scoring is in a team’s best interests?
And not overruling Reich on his play calling? Draw on third-and-18, anyone?
Yeah, yeah. Philip Rivers could have called out of said stupid play selection. That’s assuming you have a personnel package you can change out of a play with.
After the 2014 season, which many consider to be a renaissance for Philip Rivers, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was hired away from the Chargers to be the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans. Guess what, kids? The Whiz is back as the Chargers OC, so I look for improvement in many facets of the Bolts’ game. I also take this as a sign from heaven. McCoys days are numbered. Why else would they bring Whiz back after being dealt the short straw in Nashville?
If the Chargers falter, if McCoy continues his, dare I say, Belichickian arrogance and cliché-ridden, no-answer answers with the media, they have his replacement waiting in the wings. Mike McCoy should be feeling the heat this year. The last thing the Chargers need is a crappy team while they’re trying to rally support for a downtown stadium.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments!
Stadium advocacy groups Save Our Bolts and the San Diego Stadium Coalition have made unified political endorsements that best support development of a new stadium and convention center expansion downtown. These endorsements include both opponents to mayor Kevin Faulconer.
“In this primary there are three elections of critical importance to Chargers fans and the future of a downtown San Diego stadium and Convention Center,” said Chairman of the San Diego Stadium Coalition Jason Riggs. “Based on their voting records, public comments, action and/or inactions with respect to the Chargers, the following are the most ardent anti-Chargers officials in this election.
- NO – Mayor Kevin Faulconer
- NO – Councilman Scott Sherman
- NO – Candidate Ray Ellis”
While Faulconer hasn’t taken a position opposing the Chargers initiative or plans for downtown, it is clear where he stands by the actions of those closest to him and by what stadium groups are hearing from those that are engaged with the mayor.
District 1 city council candidate Ray Ellis and accountant April Boling have been two of the most outspoken voices opposing the Chargers’ downtown vision. Both have deep connections tying them to Faulconer.
Boling served as the treasurer for multiple Faulconer campaigns. When Faulconer ran for mayor, Boling was not just the treasurer of the campaign, but also treasurer both super PACs that supported the campaign.
Ellis recently received a $100,000 donation from the political PAC “Neighborhoods, Not Stadiums.” The phone number for this PAC is owned by Boling.
Tony Manolatos, former spokesman for the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG), is the communication director for the Ellis campaign. Last week, Manolatos sent out a press release touting Ellis’ anti-stadium stance.
Faulconer’s allegiances clearly lie with the hoteliers. These same hoteliers are hosting a fundraiser for Faulconer this Thursday at Evans Garage, a venue owned by hotelier Bill Evans. It has become abundantly clear Faulconer’s stadium effort, which include CSAG, was designed to protect the interests of a select few hoteliers that favor a contiguous expansion of the Convention Center.
If Faulconer remains mayor, he will have many opportunities to block the Chargers plan from ever being realized. Hurdles to development would include failing to move the MTS bus yard or not acquiring Tailgate Park, for example.
In addition, sources at City Hall have been actively working to sabotage positive efforts to support a downtown stadium. On Friday, a contact at City Hall leaked a false story to NBC San Diego probably to create chaos among fan groups and delay the endorsements given today. The story indicated that the mayor and the Chargers struck a stadium deal in Mission Valley and was quickly shut down as reporters reached out to those in contact with the team. This serves as another example of purposeful deception targeted against the downtown effort.
The Chargers are currently circulating an initiative with hopes of getting it on the November ballot for the general election. The two pro-stadium organizations would ideally like to endorse candidates that have backed the Chargers plan, but no candidate for mayor has gone that far yet.
“No one has earned our vote,” said co-founder of Save Our Bolts David Agranoff. “Not one candidate has taken action or shown an understanding of what is needed to give San Diego the kind of effort needed in the years to come. Most importantly our fear is that a majority in the primary ends Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s need to campaign. We feel the issues facing the city whether it is downtown, 911 delayed response, the harassment of the homeless with inhumane policies need more discussion than a primary election allows. We are asking San Diegans to vote in the primary for Ed Harris or Lori Saldaña for the primary to ensure that we have more time to weigh the candidates. If in November you choose to change your vote we understand. The future of San Diego is too important to decide as early as June 7th.”
In addition to Harris and Saldaña, Save Our Bolts and the San Diego Stadium Coalition have endorsed councilman candidate Justin DeCesare. All three of these candidates have endorsed the Citizens’ Plan that provides a clear path for a stadium and Convention Center expansion downtown. All three of these candidates have indicated through their campaign management a willingness to implement the Chargers plan when it passes
Harris has promised to facilitate a downtown solution. “The days of Qualcomm are nearly over,” Harris said. “Now, we need to make a path for a downtown stadium, expanded Convention Center, and a public park along the San Diego river. As mayor, I will never stand on the sidelines when real leadership is required to tackle major issues.”
Saldaña echoes this solution-orientated message. “As a native San Diegan and a lifelong Charger fan, I am proud to have the support of my fellow Charger fans,” Saldaña said. “In the absence of leadership from the Mayor who called this his ‘number one issue in San Diego’ I am proud of my fellow San Diegans for taking up their cause and engaging in our political system to achieve what they believe is best for our City. As your Mayor, I will be committed to supporting your efforts and keeping the Chargers in San Diego.”
DeCesare is running against Scott Sherman in District 7. Sherman suggested the Chargers stadium plan is a con in a Voice of San Diego op-ed published on Monday. In a meeting with Riggs and myself, Sherman made it clear his stadium plan for Mission Valley is really a development plan. DeCesare opposes major development in Mission Valley. He favors the Chargers moving to downtown for the positive environmental impact that can be made with the Mission Valley land after the move.
“I’ve always thought that if a new stadium is to be built, downtown would be a far better location in order to protect the environmental concerns of the San Diego River and minimize the traffic impacts on the already overburdened residents of Mission Valley,” DeCesare said. “Once elected, one of my top priorities for the residents of District 7 will be protecting the Qualcomm site from condo development, and instead turning it into a major public park that can be enjoyed by all San Diegans while protecting SDSU’s football program.”
The June 7 primary election will have an impact on the future of the Chargers in San Diego. Its magnitude cannot be underestimated. “It is critically important that all Chargers fans vote. Fans must get their family and friends to vote as well,” Riggs said. “Abstaining in this election is actually casting a vote for the politicians who are trying to drive the Chargers out of San Diego.”
Full List of Save Our Bolts and San Diego Stadium Coalition endorsements for June 7th primary
Mayor: Ed Harris and Lori Saldaña
City Council, District 1: Barbara Bry
City Council District 7: Justin DeCesare
City Attorney: Bryan Pease
Since it’s still difficult for many Charger fans to talk about the safety position without mentioning Eric Weddle, or at least the lack thereof, I wanted to say that the goal of this article is not to bemoan his absence, or discuss who was at fault or not at fault in his departure. Weddle has moved on, the Chargers have moved on and I think we as fans should move on, as well.
What we will be discussing is some confusion around this position as a whole, who is currently on the roster and how they can help the team get back to the playoffs.
So let’s talk about the draft.
First, allow me to toot my own horn a bit in saying that I was one of the few who was openly advocating on Twitter that the Bolts draft Joey Bosa and not Jalen Ramsey or Laremy Tunsil (honk, honk). Many Bolts fans were not happy, and I sort of understand. Weddle is gone, there is a perceived hole at safety and the alleged best safety in college football was available at pick No. 3.
What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks are the Chargers doing?
Okay, Bosa is cool, whatever, next pick HAS to be a safety, right? This is the best safety class in years, right?
Well seven more picks came in for the Bolts and not one was a safety. Even now, I still see quite a bit of latent angst and confusion over this, and a perception that the safety position for the Chargers has been neglected, or no one knows who’s going to start.
So, let’s clear some of that up.
News came out on Thursday that Jacksonville Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey tore the meniscus in his right knee — the same knee he had microfracture surgery on in high school. Your heart bleeds for the poor kid, but then came the “Chargers dodged a bullet” posts on social media. It’s unclear, at this time, whether the Bolts dodged an RPG round or an airsoft pellet.
In my opinion, they actually dodged two bullets by passing on Ramsey and Miles Jack at the top of the second round as many Charger fans were calling for. These two athletes may overcome their injuries and be great players in the NFL, but the odds as of today are they won’t. Ramsey’s injury is not the reason I would have passed on him. Ramsey is a natural cornerback, not a safety — he even said that he was more comfortable at corner after the draft. Just because he played safety and did well in college does not mean that would translate to the NFL. The Bolts were not going to draft a cornerback who might be a safety with the third overall pick. Besides, the Chargers already addressed safety in free agency, which is why we later learned that they had actually planned on picking Bosa months before the draft.
The two noteworthy off-season additions to the Chargers’ safety corps were ex-Colts safety Dwight Lowery and CFL standout player Dexter McCoil. In typical Telesco free-agent action, neither of these two initially knocked anyone’s socks off, which is why I believe there was a perceived “need” in some people’s minds going into the draft. Lowery is a serviceable veteran who, last year, managed to rank 3rd among Colts’ defenders in tackles and nabbed four interceptions (one was a pick-six). He’s 30 years old, so definitely not the future, but he should provide some experience and leadership for younger players while adding good depth.
Dexter McCoil is the player I am most excited about. Signed from the Canadian Football League back in January, he stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds. In 2014, McCoil had an excellent rookie year in the CFL, totaling four sacks, six interceptions returning three of the interceptions all the way to the house for touchdowns. He is one inch taller and about ten pounds lighter than Seattle Seahawks safety, Kam Chancellor. I have been clamoring for the Bolts to bring in a safety of his size for years now; someone who can cover tight ends and larger wide receivers who have been out-jumping San Diego’s shorter DBs.
The line between inside linebacker and safety appears to be blurring on some teams in the NFL, such as Chancellor with the Seahawks, Deone Bucannon with the Cardinals and now McCoil for the Bolts. McCoil can cover and play the run. He is already turning heads at rookie minicamp. Look for him to challenge for a starting spot on the opening day roster.
Before the draft, many people had Dwight Lowery and Jahleel Addae as the opening day starters, provided both were healthy to start the season. If this somehow plays out, this is a nightmare scenario for the defense mostly because Addae is not a very good NFL safety. He is a crowd- and front-office favorite because he hits like an atom bomb. Unfortunately, about half of the time he blows up his own teammates or knocks himself senseless. He hits his intended target less than fifty percent of the time, en route to missing tackles and committing way too many penalties. Oh, and he can’t really cover that well either.
I am not a fluff writer. When a player isn’t playing well I am going to tell you. When a player plays well, I will tell you. This undrafted fourth-year player from Central Michigan is not playing well. However, the Chargers placed a second-round tender on him (basically a one-year contract) back in March. This tells me they like him enough to give him one more year to clean up the penalties, hits and learn how to cover so he can provide some quality depth. I would never wish anything bad on any player. I hope Addae can clean up his play and contribute in a positive way this season.
Special teams stud Darrell Stuckey also plays safety. He has a nose for the football and seems to always make plays, however, he rarely gets an opportunity to show what he can do unless there is an injury. This is puzzling to me –maybe he is so valuable on special teams the Bolts don’t want to lose him playing safety. Who knows?
Multiple post-draft reports pointed to Chargers fifth-round draft pick ILB Jatavis Brown getting a shot at safety. The speedster from Akron ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine and is pegged as hybrid player between a linebacker and safety. He’s faster than half the wide receivers drafted in 2016. I would love a starting safety combination of McCoil and Brown with Addae and Lowery as depth. The men lightning bolts also brought in undrafted safety Adrian McDonald, who had 17 career college interceptions at Houston. He is someone to watch in training camp who will put pressure on the other defensive backs to perform.
As long as the starters on opening day are not Addae and Lowery, but rather some combination of the other names listed above, I believe the secondary as a whole, with players like Verrett and Casey Hayward on the outside, will be much improved. I believe they can stop giving up big plays in the passing game, get some key interceptions and start to come downhill and make a difference in the run game.
I am excited about the competition this safety group will have in training camp and the preseason.
How about you?
Let us know in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!
Time to talk a look around the web and see what others are writing about the team from America’s Finest City. The San Diego Chargers have been in the headlines more than usual this offseason. Here is a quick look at what the fuss is about.
Associated Press writer Bernie Wilson posted a piece on Yahoo Sports on Joey Bosas’ first day of minicamp. Read it here:
Ricke Henne from Chargers.com has a great piece on how the Bolts managed to keep the selection of Bosa a secret. Read it here:
Chargers beat writer Eric Williams has a new piece on ESPN.com on Derek Watt and the one thing he does better than his Pro Bowl brother J.J. Read it here:
How is CFL transplant Dexter McCoil looking in camp? Williams covers that topic also. Read the latest on the hybrid safety here:
Finally, it wouldn’t be a complete day in San Diego without the latest stadium speculation. San Diego Union-Tribune writer Kevin Acee asks if Mayor Faulconer will be a help or hindrance in the movement to build a new stadium for the Chargers. Read it here:
Thanks for stopping in and checking out the news of the week as we bolt around the interwebs. Stay bolted up and locked in to Boltblitz.com for all the Bolts news and upcoming events!
The Greg One
With the 35th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, the Chargers drafted University of Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry. In doing so, they may have finally found the heir to the aging Antonio Gates throne. Coming out of Arkansas, the 6’5, 250-pound tight end has soft hands, great route running, and the ability to block. Henry was named the 2015 John Mackey Award winner, an award reserved for the nation’s top tight end. He also earned first-team All-SEC honors, finishing the 2015 season with 51 catches for 739 yards and reaching the end zone three times.
Other than Gates it seems as though the tight end position has been somewhat of a revolving door, being temporarily filled by one-dimensional players. Fan-favorite Ladarius Green was expected to take the reins from Gates, and showed flashes of greatness. However, after an ankle injury last season, concussion issues, Gates steady play, and a lucrative $20-million dollar contract later, Green inked a deal with the Pittsburg Steelers this offseason to join Ben Roethlisberger and their top-tier passing offense.
I like Green and think he will have a good career with Big Ben at the helm. However, I think it was a smart decision for the Chargers to part ways with Green. With injury concerns and his lack of size for the blocking game, he was just too much of a liability for the money. Drafting a well-rounded tight end like Hunter Henry has eased my concern surrounding the future of the tight end position.
Antonio Gates’ decline has been graceful. His production has been steady. At 35 years of age, one begins to question how much more he has in the tank. Many of his duties and roles have been slowly shifted to younger players like running back Danny Woodhead, and the security blanket he once provided Phillip Rivers has started to unravel.
Now is the perfect time to start grooming a potential heir to take over Gates throne, and Henry is the perfect candidate. Let’s be honest no one will ever be able to replace Gates, he is arguably one of the best tight ends to ever play the game! Hunter Henry will be able to contribute right away, and will be able to learn from one of the best to ever do it. Ultimately, he will become a long-term solution to the tight end position.
Henry has the potential to thrive in a Ken Whisenhunt offense. His system is a steady balance of short passes and physical runs, with an emphasis on clock management. Henry can shed defenders, and has secure hands to haul in passes, as shown in his Junior campaign at Arkansas, where he didn’t drop one pass. Henry also has the ability to stack up on the offensive line and offer blocking support to Rivers in the pocket, or open up holes for Melvin Gordon in the run game.
The rookie has already started to turn heads in rookie minicamp. With only a day to familiarize himself with the offense the rookie looked comfortable on the field. He showed why the Chargers targeted him with their second round pick. He was running smooth routes and making several highlight reel worthy catches, immediately becoming the break out star of the two-day event.
Realistically, Gates has another two or three good seasons left on his aging body, but I believe Gates might hang it up quicker if the Chargers can make a deep run into the playoffs sometime soon. This time frame provides Henry with the ability to learn the offense, his role and responsibilities, build chemistry with Rivers, and work on some of his weaknesses.
Henry has a tendency to get a little grabby at the offensive line and was flagged for holding three times in 2015, and struggles to get good body position against defenders, making it easier for defenders to bully the young rookie. However, he is still very young and growing into his body. By adding bulk, along with perfecting his technique he has the potential to be one of the better tight ends in the league.
Not only does Henry have the desired size and skill, he also possesses great work ethic and football IQ. I believe the Chargers have found the tight end for the future and can quit looking for help via free agency. I can see Henry easily amassing 400+ yards, and 3 TD’s in his rookie campaign. What are your predictions? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.
The news of the week for the San Diego Chargers was the acquisition of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The Bolts claimed him off waivers Tuesday and released quarterback Bryn Renner to make space on the roster.
With Mettenberger in the fold that makes three quarterbacks at camp vying for the back-up quarterback position behind Philip Rivers. Kellen Clemens and undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici are the other quarterbacks filling out what will be a very interesting camp battle.
Mettenberger, 24, was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Titans. Standing 6’5″, 224 pounds, Mettenberger was a standout quarterback at LSU. Moving into the starting lineup in his junior season, Mettenberger excelled right away. In leading the Tigers to a 10-3 (6-2 in the SEC) season, Mettenberger went 207-352 for 2,609 yards, 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. They lost by one point in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to Clemson 25-24. LSU finished 12th in the Coaches Poll and 14th in the Associated Press Poll that year.
In his senior season, Mettenberger made another quantum leap forward. Although they duplicated their record from the previous season at 10-3 (5-3 vs. the SEC), Mettenberger went 192-296 for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The Tigers finished 14th in the AP and Coaches Poll as a result.
According to his 2014 draft profile on numerous NFL sites including NFL.com and WalterFootball.com, Mettenberger’s strengths are his outstanding arm strength, size, field vision and working from a pro-style offense in college. In his senior season he had a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron calling his plays. Cameron had just left the same position for the San Diego Chargers that offseason. Cameron’s arrival was key in Mettenberger’s senior year explosion.
Mettenberger’s perceived weaknesses were his footwork, work-ethic, long delivery and needing to improve his accuracy. For all intents and purposes Mettenberger had second-round talent. The main catalyst in his plunge into the late rounds was an ACL injury he suffered in the final game of the 2013 regular season. The injury prevented Mettenberger from participating in the NFL Combine. He did shine at LSU’s Pro Day where he completed 90% of his 125 passes.
The discussion of who the heir apparent to Philip Rivers should be has raged on for multiple seasons. We all know Scott Tolzien, Brad Sorensen, Kellen Clemens and Charlie Whitehurst were never going to be the answer to that question.
Mettenberger already has the advantage of knowing the system of new Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was the head coach for the Titans for both of Mettenbergers’ years in Nashville. The last time the Chargers made the playoffs was the one year Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator. The Chargers leaped from 31st to 5th in total offense in that season. Tennessee offered him their head coach position immediately after the season. He was fired halfway through his second season as head coach.
Whisenhunt brought John McNulty with him from Tennessee to be the Bolts new tight ends coach. McNulty was Mettenbergers’ quarterbacks coach in Tennessee. In a new interview with Ricky Henne of Chargers.com his had this to say about reuniting with his old coaches:
“I was definitely relieved to come to a situation where the future looks good for me. That was a long 24 hours to be waiting so it was great to hear his voice.” Mettenberger was speaking of Ken Whisenhunt, who called Mettenberger immediately after the waiver claim was official. Mettenberger continued. “The first thing he asked me was if I still remember the playbook. Fortunately, I know it really well. He was really excited to get back to work with me. He was the one who drafted me, so it’s worked out really well. It’s awesome to be back with Coach Whiz and Coach McNulty.”
Did the Chargers just stumble onto their quarterback of the future?
Pessimists will point to the fact that Mettenberger is 0-10 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. That is true. What also can’t be disputed is how awful the Tennessee Titans have been over the past two seasons. The Titans were 2-14 the season Mettenberger was drafted and 3-13 in 2015. The Titans ranked 25th or lower in the NFL in rushing yards, passing yards, points for and points against.
Mettenberger had a better offense at LSU than he had in Tennessee. At least at LSU he had Pro Bowlers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. to catch the ball. Alfred Blue and Jeremy Hill were chewing up yards running the football.
Mettenberger is in an ideal situation in San Diego. With his knowledge of the offense and coaches he already has a leg up on Clemens and Bercovici. He now has a better team and an elite, veteran NFL quarterback as a mentor. Rivers’ contract ends at the conclusion of the 2019 season. In three seasons Mettenberger will be 27 and ready to step into the starting spot. There is no pressure to produce right away as there was in Tennessee.
We’ve seen this situation play out with great success when you consider stars like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Rivers himself. All of them watched from the bench for a season or more before their number was called. All of them will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio one day.
The reset button has been pushed on Zach Mettenberger’s career. For the first time since the departure of Drew Brees there appears to be a capable second-in-command waiting in the wings. Is Mettenberger that man? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Vi Teofilo is a former guard for the Arizona State Sun Devils and a mountain of a man. The youngster is 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds of solid mass. Opposing defenses will have their hands full trying to get through him.
He is as resilient as they come, considering that he powered his way through a torn ACL sustained in the Sun Bowl as the Sun Devils went up against the Blue Devils in a tight game which Arizona State eventually won 36-31. Teofilo underwent offseason surgery and rehabbed his way back on the field for the 2015 collegiate season opener against Texas A & M.
Teofilo’s signing adds depth to an offensive line that has seen more bodies down than up the last couple of seasons. Between 2012 up until his final game at Arizona State in 2015, the young lineman logged 40 straight starts at right guard. Amazing!
According to his ASU biography, he was also a four-year letter winner, a two-time All-PAC-12 Honorable Mention and a nominee for the Morris Trophy. That is an honor which is annually awarded to both the top offensive lineman and the top defensive lineman of the PAC-12 Conference. The Morris Trophy is distinctive in that the winners are chosen by fellow conference players. This year’s victors were DeForest Buckner (Oregon) on defense and Joshua Garnett (Stanford) on offense. Past winning vote-getters were Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Tedy Bruschi, to name a few.
This Chargers’ rookie is known for being a very tough, hardworking individual; competitive and intelligent. He is also extremely strong, having compiled 43 reps on the bench press at his ASU Pro Day. Stephen Paea (49 in 2011) and Dontari Poe (44 in 2012) have more. Yet, the highest ever recorded are the 51 by Justin Ernest in 1999.
It appears to me that Teofilo has brought his fierceness and strong work ethic to the next level. He can handle adversity as evidenced by playing through injury in one of the most important games of his college career, much like the guy he will be protecting once did (remember the 2008 AFC Championship game against the Patriots?).
All in all, it is going to be exciting to watch this young man in action!
Thanks for reading!
Danny Woodhead is a man who defies the odds. Some experts dub the NFL the “Not For Long” league due to the fact most players only play 3-4 years. Woodhead is entering his ninth season as an NFL running back, fourth with the Chargers, and had his best statistical season of his career last year. Woodhead shows no signs of slowing down in 2016. The pain from a broken fibula he suffered in a Week 3 contest with the Buffalo Bills in 2014 is, hopefully, nonexistent.
The pain he experienced from going undrafted back in 2008, however, may still be with him. All 32 teams passed on him at least seven times in the 2008 draft, but a telephone call from the Jets shortly after it ended gave him cause for hope. Woodhead spent the majority of his rookie season on the reserve-injured list and had limited success with the Jets in just over two seasons with the team. The odds of a 5-foot-8 running back having any success in a league of “big men” after a slow start like that was slim to none. I guess we shouldn’t tell the odds that he got a chance with the Patriots, played three solid seasons, and even caught a touchdown pass in a losing effort in Super Bowl 46.
Then in 2013, the rookie general manager of the San Diego Chargers, Tom Telesco, came calling. The Chargers’ new offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, was installing a fast-paced, short-passing game that he and the Chargers thought Woodhead would be perfect for, and boy were they right. In 2013, Woodhead helped transform the Chargers’ offense into a methodical, clock- and yardage-chewing machine. In the running game, his size allowed him to momentarily disappear from would-be tacklers and power through the line for a positive gain. In the passing game, Woodhead was uncoverable for opposing linebackers, and too physical for opposing defensive backs, leaving him wide open on a majority of 3rd down plays. Rivers to Woodhead was a play all Charger fans fell in love with, and helped propel the Bolts to their first postseason win in years.
While the injury Danny suffered in 2014 wasn’t what any Charger fans wanted, Woodhead was able to come back even stronger in 2015. He posted his best statistical year to date according to Pro Football Reference, amassing just shy of 1,100 yards from scrimmage and nine total touchdowns, including a four-touchdown performance against the Miami Dolphins in week 15. I was at this emotional home game and Woodhead continued to be unstoppable and one of a few bright spots in a season when the Bolts went 4-12 and were ready to pack the moving vans.
Danny has had two great seasons with the Chargers, and is signed through 2016. He is arguably Tom Telesco’s best free-agent acquisition. He had more success running behind the same O-line as first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon. He is one of the best players in the NFL at picking up 3rd down conversions through the air. Ken Whisenhunt is back, and if the running game improves in the slightest, we might actually see some play-action passes that will be tossed Woodhead’s way. He may actually have a better season this year than last (I’m drafting him on my fantasy team!). If he does, I believe he has earned another two-year contract extension.
If he stays healthy, contributes like he did in 2015 and the Chargers extend his contract again, I believe we should start the conversation of him retiring as a Charger. He is a crowd favorite, Philip Rivers obviously trusts him, and he is a game changer in a running back corps that has been questionable at best the last few years. He has all the tools, experience and skill to continue to give this organization and fan base hope of reaching the playoffs. He has defied the odds, and the 2016 season hasn’t even started yet.
Let Danny know what you think in the comments sections below! Thanks for reading!