Monthly Archives: June 2016
In part one of my analysis of the San Diego Chargers offense I covered the quarterback, running back, fullback and tight end positions. Simply by using their stats and past history I gave a number of points per game I expect that group to get every week. Today I break down the rest of the offense, looking at the wide receivers, offensive line and coaching staff.
The most hard to read of all the skill position groups, the wide receiver position has been long on potential but short on production and consistency. Injuries have decimated the wide receiver corps year after year.
Keenan Allen is leader of the wide receiver group who have dubbed themselves the ‘Aliens’. Allen was off to an amazing start in 2015, hauling in 67 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns in his first eight games. In a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Allen lacerated his kidney when he landed on the ball while catching a touchdown, ending his season. He was on pace to shatter the Chargers’ single season record for receptions (100) held by Ladainian Tomlinson and the break the NFL record for receptions in a single season (143) held by former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison.
Now armed with a brand new four-year extension in hand Allen is locked in through the 2020 season. Allen has established himself as a star on the rise and will be taking the field with a chip on his shoulder after the way his 2015 campaign ended. In 37 games he has caught 215 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, the success of the receiving corps will be dependent on Allens’ supporting cast.
Getting Allen help was a priority heading into the offseason and the first splash the Chargers made into the free agency pool was acquiring former Cleveland Brown Travis Benjamin. The 5’10” speedster caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Aside from a knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of the 2013 season, Benjamin has only missed the first two games of his NFL career with a tweaked hamstring.
In his four years in the NFL, he has established himself as a dangerous return specialist. At the 2012 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and it has carried over into the pros. As a punt returner, Benjamin gained 324 yards on 28 attempts. Of those 28 attempts, four returns were over twenty yards and one was a 78-yard touchdown return. By comparison, the Chargers had 20 punt returns for 84 yards as a team last season. Their longest return was 18 yards.
Benjamin automatically legitimizes the punt return game and now gives the Chargers what they haven’t had in years, a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense. At 26, Benjamin is just beginning to enter his prime. This signing could trumpet a revival of the vertical passing game that we haven’t seen since the height of the Tomlinson era.
In his first season with the team, Stevie Johnson showed excellent chemistry with Rivers. Johnson was second among wideouts catching 45 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Hamstring and groin injuries caused him to miss seven games, including the last five games of the 2015 season. The nine-year pro is a dynamic receiver who has shown he can make an immediate impact if he can stay healthy.
Dontrelle Inman started in seven of the 14 games he appeared in last season. The CFL import continues to improve as he caught 35 balls for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Heading into his third season he will become a bigger part of the offense, likely assuming the role formerly held by the now-retired Malcom Floyd. Moving off the bench into a full-time starting role should greatly increase his numbers across the board.
Tyrell Williams can be penciled in as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart at the moment. Williams made his presence felt in the final game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos with a two reception for 90-yard performance, highlighted by burning Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib on a scintillating 80-yard touchdown catch. Those were his only stats of the 2015 regular season. Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft he spent time on the active roster and practice squad. He has the size (6’3″, 205), speed (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds) and agility (39.5-inch vertical jump) to be a dominant pro wide receiver. Will he live up to his potential going into his second season?
The rest of the receiver field is comprised of undrafted free agents and second-year pros. Unless a veteran is brought in, this is the group that will likely start the 2016 season.
Points-per-game expectation: 6
All the new additions to the skill positions mean nothing if the offensive line can’t provide continuity, open holes for the running backs and allow Rivers enough time in the pocket to throw the ball. That has been a large task that has fallen woefully short in those categories in the last number of seasons. In the last four seasons Rivers has been sacked 155 times, 40 times in 2015. The running game was dead last in touchdowns (4) and 31st in yards (1,358) last season.
Last season the offensive line had 25 different combinations due to injury. This season San Diego boasts the biggest projected starting offensive line in the league, but can they stay healthy? Veteran free agent Matt Slauson was brought over from the Chicago Bears to finally stop the turnstile at the center position. Lining up next to him will be guards Orlando Franklin, D.J. Fluker and tackles King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. Concussions, knee and lower leg injuries were the downfall of this group last season. What will they do differently to stay on the field this season? The success of the season rides on it.
Points-per-game expectation: -4.
As frustrating to watch as the play on the field at times were the decisions of the coaches in key game situations. Last season the Chargers lost four games by three points. Eight of their twelve losses were by a touchdown or less. More often than not the staff played not to lose instead of playing to win. Head Coach Mike McCoy and then offensive coordinator Frank Reich called conservative games, focusing on short to intermediate routes in the passing game and running almost exclusively out of the Pistol formation.
The playcalling was predictable and did not attack downfield enough to make opposing defenses concerned about getting beat deep. Injuries played a big part but so did not having the personnel to execute that type of game plan. Blame can be laid at the feet of those in the front office for lack of quality depth once the injuries started mounting.
Thankfully, Reich is out and Ken Whisenhunt returns to take his place. Whisenhunt parlayed a successful 2013 season as the Chargers’ OC into a head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Not coincidentally, 2013 was the last season the Chargers made the playoffs.
Whisenhunt is intent on revamping the run game first and foremost. The Pistol formation will be scratched in favor of having Rivers back under center and using short drops. Expect to see a return of the power run game highlighted by Watt and Gordon in their familiar college roles. In 2013, Whisenhunts’ running attack averaged 122 yards per game and Rivers was fourth in the league in passing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns.
If McCoy trusts Whisenhunt with the playcalling duties the Chargers should be able to take advantage of a last-place schedule and return to the playoffs as long as the team can stay healthy at key positions. It is a positive sign that the front office reached out to Whisenhunt and bring back a system that worked with this group of players. His track record speaks for itself going back to his days in Pittsburgh, then leading the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII to coordinating the Chargers offense to its only payoff appearance in the last six years. Until McCoy steps away from the playbook, I remain skeptical.
Points-per-game expectation: -2
In all, my points per game expectation went like this: QB (14), WR (6), TE (4), RB (6), OL (-4) and coaching staff (-2) for a total of 24 points per game. Until the offensive line proves they can stay on the field and the offense is shown to be run through Whisenhunts’ headset instead of McCoys’ will I believe they won’t be a detriment to the team. Right now I believe those factors will cost the team one touchdown per game.
The 24-points per game are an improvement over the 20 points per game the Chargers averaged last season (26th in the NFL in 2015) and is on par with Philip Rivers’ lifetime average. Over his career, the Bolts average 25.6-points per Rivers start. That number has been as high as 27-points per game during the Tomlinson years.
This team has all the tools for a worst-to-first turnaround. The question is can they do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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
It’s officially the doldrums of the NFL offseason, the lonely time between mini-camps and the start of training camp. Made worse by the fact that the NBA and NHL seasons are over, this could be considered a sports fan’s darkest hour. Coaches and players are on “vacation” until the last few days of July. For many players this is the only time they will have to take care of important personal business like buying and selling houses and cars, renewing or obtaining driver’s licenses, and other important “housekeeping” duties.
For other players, it party time! The next four weeks are their last bit of freedom to let loose before another grueling season begins. Let’s hope our Bolts can focus on staying in shape and the playbook instead of “making it rain” and the local clubs.
Usually during this time sports news is hard to come by. Most local sports talk show hosts and news reporters are on vacation, and aside from the occasional story of some bonehead NFL player getting into trouble outside a local strip joint or night club, NFL news is fairly non-existent. So I was delighted to see an interesting NFL story break recently.
The Associated Press published an article about how a few NFL teams are using beeping footballs to help their running backs hold on to the ball more securely. The footballs are equipped with pressure sensors and an audible beeping device that emits a sound when the runner holds the ball by key positions tight enough to avoid being dislodged via a hit. The article states the ball could reduce fumbling by nearly sixty percent. The article also states that the Tampa Bay Bucs, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins are all using the device. More interestingly, it also stated that the Chargers are reportedly going to start using the football when they commence training camp on July 30th.
This is something worth taking note of when camp starts. Running back Melvin Gordon’s fumbling issues were well known last season. Putting the ball on the ground is unacceptable, especially this season for a team in “win now” mode for several reasons, including a potential stadium vote in November. The ball helps with muscle memory, training backs to grip the ball properly as well as with the correct amount of force. Instead of thinking about holding on to the ball, they can think about hitting the hole in front of them.
One potential hiccup I foresee is Mike McCoy will have to turn down the training facility’s boom box during practices. A staple of McCoy’s practices, and one of the few things he does that I actually approve of, is playing loud music during practice. Blaring rhythmic tunes over the facility’s speakers helps simulate loud stadium environments the Chargers play in on a weekly basis such as Arrowhead Stadium. I am not sure how Gordon and company will be able to hear a beeping football over Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit screaming expletives. If the new footballs help reduce fumbling I am all for shelving McCoy’s playlist and listing the boom box for sale on Craigslist.
Hopefully these new balls can help Melvin Gordon, who has many facets to his game that need improving, as well as the other running backs on the roster. I would actually give this device to any players who handle the ball such as receivers and return men, maybe even the whole team. It will be interesting to see if this new training tool will make an impact for the teams using it this year, especially our Bolts!
What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
My girlfriend, Megan, and I had the opportunity to travel to Canton, Ohio and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame and attend the Class of 2015 Enshrinement Ceremony last year. Personally, I was excited to attend as a diehard Charger fan and show support of Junior Seau, who was to be enshrined that day.
Another player to be inducted that day was Steelers halfback, Jerome Bettis, evidenced by the foam school buses on many people’s heads. Canton, Ohio is only about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Needless to say there were Steelers fans everywhere. Some of them complimented us on coming so far to support Junior, saying he was a great player, or said it was sad he had left us so soon. The respect Steelers Nation showed to him and to us will be with me for a long time.
We eventually met a group of Seau fans from Oceanside, Junior’s hometown. We talked about our favorite memories of Junior and took pictures together. A great moment was shared when the group was asked to cheer in front of the Hall of Fame for the NFL Network broadcast, all in our Charger gear.
The day of the Enshrinement Ceremony is the busiest day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, something to keep in mind if you are ever planning to visit. The line to enter the Hall of Fame Gallery, where the bronze busts of each inductee are on display, was very long. We were told by an employee that they couldn’t guarantee we would get in to see the busts because they were closing the museum early so the Packers and Vikings players could have a private tour before the Hall of Fame Game the next day.
We risked it, and about two hours later, made it in to see the great Charger players already enshrined: Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts, Sid Gillman, Charlie Joiner, Ron Mix, Kellen Winslow and Fred Dean. Junior’s bust would be revealed to the whole world in a few short hours. It was worth the wait.
Soon it was time to leave the Hall of Fame and enter Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium next door. It’s a 22,000 seat, outdoor football venue, perfect for the Enshrinement Ceremony. The Hall of Fame stadium plays host to many high school and college football games during their seasons as well as the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, and Hall of Fame Games, played the the day after the ceremony to kick off the NFL preseason each year.
We made it to our seats and I started to reflect. I thought about Junior as his transcendent smile would flash on the jumbotron every few minutes. The jumbotron started to show career highlights of the other members of the Class of 2015. When Bettis’ highlights came on about 20,000 Terrible Towels would go up in the air accompanied by loud cheers and chants. Ironically, many of Junior’s highlights were of him tackling The Bus in the backfield for a loss, effectively quieting the crowd, if only for a moment.
It was finally time for Junior’s bust to be revealed. Master of Ceremonies, Chris Berman, introduced a short tribute video to Junior. Next, Junior’s children were allowed on stage to reveal his bust to the world. Due to a controversial NFL policy on posthumous inductions, none were allowed to speak. Junior’s daughter, Sydney, was then taken off stage and interviewed by an NFL Network reporter. Despite the NFL-induced oddity of the whole situation, Sydney spoke with the poise, bravery and the heart of a true champion. The emotion permeated all in attendance.
During her interview, I thought about Junior’s career with the Chargers, his legend, what he meant to the fans and to the City of San Diego. I thought about what he still means to us all. Men who give their hearts and souls to their community, never truly leave us. They live on in all of us, in our memories, in what we say and do every day.
San Diego had lost it’s two favorite sons, Junior and then Tony Gwynn. At the time of this ceremony it was all but certain, we would lose the Chargers as well. For me, that’s when the tears came. At some point I looked up to the sky and imagined Junior and Tony, shoulder to shoulder, smiling down on us.
This experience has given me the determination to follow the exceptional example set by these two great San Diego men; to do what I can to make my community a better place. I won’t be able to be the best player on the field, or donate millions to local charities, but I can treat everyone I meet with respect and love, as these two did. I can take the time to educate people on the downtown stadium proposal, or at the very least, talk with them about it. I think that’s what Junior would have wanted. If we all do a mere fraction of what these two men did over their lives, we can make this town a better place, maybe even keep our beloved Bolts!
Thanks for reading!
Sometimes the men who declare for the NFL draft watch seven rounds come and go without their names being called. Why their draft stock seemingly does not translate to a phone call could be for a myriad of reasons. Hold on, though. There is still a way that you can play in the NFL.
One of those ways is being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent (UDFA).
One such player is Tyrell Williams.
Presently, the Chargers have six undrafted players on the roster at the wide receiver position. Three are second-year players while the other three are rookies. Each one is looking to show the coaches that they deserve to be on the team beyond next month’s minicamp.
Williams is a second-year receiver out of Western Oregon University. He signed his UDFA tender in May of 2015 and was with the team until early September when he was waived. The team needed to replace safety Jahleel Addae with practice-squad player Adrian Phillips. Williams subsequently made it through waivers and was re-signed.
He stayed on the practice squad until November when he was promoted to the active roster and debuted in the December 20 home game against the Miami Dolphins. Williams didn’t garner a catch until the final season contest of 2015 when he zipped by Broncos’ cornerback Aqib Talib and scored an 80-yard touchdown. The performance in that final game has continued to whet his desire to be a part of the starting lineup rather than the practice squad.
At 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds, Williams is similar in build and size to both Keenan Allen (6-foot-2/211 lbs) and recently retired Bolts’ wideout Malcom Floyd (6-foot-5, 225 lbs). In training camp last year, Williams apparently reminded Rivers so much of M-80 that he nicknamed him “Little Malcom.” They are both long-armed and long-legged, and when they run it appears more like gliding because they are so fluid. Don’t underestimate his blocking ability, either, as Williams is good at that, too. He is unafraid to launch that big body to haul in a pass; a la Floyd.
Who would have thought that a guy who began his collegiate career at 160 pounds would eventually bulk up to 208 pounds and find himself on an NFL team? The Wolves’ head coach, Arne Ferguson, and their director of football operations, Jason Slowey, extended a scholarship to Williams upon entering college. He worked hard to hone his craft and put weight on his frame. By the time he was entering his junior year, NFL teams were beginning to take notice, scouting him as a potential fit on their respective rosters.
It just goes to show what dedication, perseverance and hard work can provide you with; in this case, a chance to make your dreams come true.
With all the hype that has been put out there both last year and in the recent OTAs, the Chargers might have another competition brewing. Here’s hoping that young Williams makes the Bolts’ roster.
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading!
On Wednesday, San Diego Chargers faithful everywhere held their collective breath upon hearing about Danny Woodhead getting injured in practice. On ESPN, cameras cut away to Chargers Park where it showed players huddled around Woodhead, some down on a knee around him.
The prognosis is a sprained left ankle, sustained after Woodhead was rolled up on by a defensive lineman. Woodhead was coming across on a screen when the injury happened. Woodhead was down for several anxious minuted before getting up and walking off under his own power. Head Coach Mike McCoy ended practice a couple of plays later and called an end to minicamp with one day left to go.
The Swiss Army knife of the Chargers backfield, Woodhead led the team in receiving last season with 80 receptions for 755 yards and six touchdowns. He was second to Melvin Gordon in rushing with 98 rushes for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Woodhead is an integral piece of the offense the Bolts can’t afford to lose.
The next day, a smiling Woodhead tweeted out this photo of himself in a space-age looking cryospa.
— danny woodhead (@danny__woodhead) June 16, 2016
Looks like the scare was just that. Danny is okay and we can all breathe easily now. With a month off until the start of training camp, Woodhead and the rest of the Chargers will be at full strength and ready to rumble.
Get well soon, Danny.
The Greg One
Time to take a look back at the San Diego Chargers news that made headlines this past week. The biggest news is centered around Joey Bosa. This week we learned more about why he is the only man in the first 19 first-round selections of the 2016 NFL Draft that has not yet signed a contract. Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune explains here:
Obviously, the Chargers are disappointed in Bosas’ decision to hold out of mandatory minicamp and Sean Wagner-McGough of CBSSports writes about it here. Included, video of Philip Rivers talking about his draft day experience.
From Chargers.com, the team has released eleven dates that training camp practice will be open to the public, including FanFest. Get the dates here: http://www.chargers.com/news/2016/06/17/fans-invited-11-training-camp-practices
Chargers.com also released new video of GM Tom Telesco addressing questions about the team. Watch the video here: http://www.chargers.com/video/2016/06/14/tom-telesco-talks-joey-bosa-optimism-and-keenan-allens-new-deal
The most positive news of the past week comes from the signing of blossoming star wide receiver Keenan Allen to a long-term contract. Allen is now locked in through the 2020 season. The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the story. Read the details here, courtesy of Michael Gehlken: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jun/10/chargers-sign-keenan-allen-contract-extension/
The national sports media also chimed in on the signing, beginning with Austin Knoblauch from NFL.com. Read his take here: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000668666/article/keenan-allen-chargers-agree-on-fouryear-extension
Check out this release from ESPN.com, which includes an interesting sidebar. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/16114440/keenan-allen-san-diego-chargers-agree-extension
Minicamp is over and training camp is a month away but that won’t stop the news and BoltBlitz.com will bring it to you. Thanks for reading!
The Greg One
The mantle has been passed.
When long-time defensive team captain Eric Weddle moved on to sign with the Baltimore Ravens in March of this year, it was the end of an era.
Now, the onus is on Jahleel Addae to take on a more prominent role in the secondary. The question is, can he?
In the offseason, Addae signed a one-year RFA (restricted free agent) tender for $2.553 million. Last year, the strong safety racked up 65 tackles and a sack. Four years in San Diego have given him 151 tackles, three sacks, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
An undrafted free agent, Addae has been a part of the Bolts’ secondary longer than anyone else currently back there. He and defensive backs coach Ron Milus joined the Chargers in 2013. So, Addae should have a better grasp than the rest of that position group when it comes to what Milus is striving for out of his players in the secondary.
One of the challenges he faces is staying on the field. Now entering his fourth year with the Bolts, Addae has only managed to have one complete 16-game season (in 2013 as a rookie). Since then, he has missed parts of the last couple of campaigns with injuries to his ankle and hamstring. Let’s not forget there were two concussions, also.
Dubbed “The Hitman” by his fellow Chippewas at Central Michigan University, the ferocious hits that Addae has put on opponents have not only rattled them, but No. 37 himself. One such hit occurred in the October 23, 2014 game in Denver — a helmet-to-helmet collision with Broncos running back Juwan Thompson; the aftermath was disconcerting to many who witnessed Addae’s behavior. The safety is clearly seen experiencing some type of reaction to that impact. Though all on-field evaluations were negative, he was diagnosed with a concussion two days later. He did not miss any playing time.
Fast forward to 2016 and the expectations that Addae has for himself now that No. 32 is no longer across from him. Throughout OTAs, he has realized that he can take the knowledge learned from lining up opposite Weddle, use it to step up his game and become the leader that the young guys coming in need him to be. The offseason addition of former Colts’ safety Dwight Lowery should make that challenge seem less daunting.
Maturity and experience have also brought recognition of the example he needs to set with respect to those hits that he is so well-known for; putting himself on the bench due to injury as a direct result of one is not in his plans. As he recently stated, “I’m a physical safety. I love contact. But I know that I have to play smart. I’ve been hearing that since I’ve come into the league…My biggest goal is to play in all 16. And I feel I’ll be able to do that.”
Will Addae lead the secondary in helping the team overcome a forgettable 4-12 season? I believe he can. It is on him now to mentor the youth movement and be the voice of experience.
Thanks for reading!
If you were to look up the word “dreadful” in the dictionary, this is what you might find:
- causing or involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness; extremely bad or serious.
“The San Diego Chargers’ running game has been dreadful over the past two years.”
In 2012, Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times, which was the 4th worst in the NFL. In that same year, the Bolts’ running backs combined for a dismal 3.6 yards per attempt — tied for 2nd worst — totaling 1,461 rushing yards and ranking them 27th out of 32 teams.
Change was needed to right the ship
Signing head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt gave Charger faithful something to look forward to; because let’s be honest, it could not get any worse.
With “The Wiz” working on Philip’s quick release and utilizing a fullback to pave way for the running game, things turned around nicely for the team from America’s finest city.
In 2013, Rivers was sacked only 30 times — 4th best in the NFL — and the running game amassed 1,965 total yards (13th best) with an average of four yards per carry. The three-year playoff drought had ended as San Diego went to the AFC Divisional Game, losing to the eventual AFC Champion Denver Broncos.
After Whisenhunt left to become the head coach for the Tennessee Titans in 2014, Frank Reich was promoted to take over the reins and continue improving the offense. As the 2014-15 season began to sink deep down into an abyss filled with injuries and blame, it was not a shock to see the final results. San Diego totaled only 1,367 total rushing yards, averaging only 3.4 yards per attempt.
The one shining star to emerge out of the 2014 season was an undrafted free agent named Branden Oliver.
The diehard fans remember him well when in Week 5 he ran all over the then No. 1 ranked rush defense of the New York Jets. Getting his chance due to injuries, Bo ran with quickness, tenacity and a toughness that the Chargers’ backfield had not seen in some time.
With Danny Woodhead back from injury for the 2015 season and the Chargers’ first-round draft pick of Melvin Gordon, the optimism of the running game spilled out of the mouths of the devoted. And with the overwhelming hope of anew, the ship was back on track.
Or….so people thought.
Watching the worst rushing attack in the NFL for the 2015 season come out of San Diego seemed synonymous to Thomas Andrews being aboard his mighty Titanic as it sank to the bottom of the ocean.
There were no words.
An inexplicable disappointment, the 4-12 Chargers needed another change. With talks of moving the team out of San Diego, righting the ship was more important than ever.
“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
- John F. Kennedy
With Whisnehunt back in charge of the offense, things again seem promising. He was the last to utilize a fullback when the Chargers had Le’Ron McClain. Now, added via the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft, fullback Derek Watt adorns the lightning bolt dome. The hiring of Jeff Davidson, whose resume is quite impressive, should spring some new life into the veteran offensive linemen on the roster.
It is unknown how Watt will be used or how well Coach Davidson will adjust going from the NFC to the AFC, but make no mistake about it, there is hope in the Chargers’ backfield. Gordon is out to prove his touchdown-less campaign was a fluke. Woodhead is out to prove he is always a legitimate threat on every down. Oliver, who has yet to fumble the ball in 191 carries, is out to prove that he can excel in any role.
On paper, the ship seems to have been righted in the proper direction.
And it’s destination……Houston?
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
The hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.
After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.
At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.
Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:
August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.
August 15, 2014: Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.
Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.
The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.
Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.
Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.
Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”
Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.
I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.
What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!