The faces of the San Diego Chargers have most recently been Philip Rivers for the offense and Eric Weddle for the defense. Don’t get me wrong, these two have done a stellar job at leading their counterparts and mentoring incoming talent, but unsung frontrunners such as center Nick Hardwick and outside linebacker Jerret Johnson have recently announced their retirement and that grants some empty leadership slots to be filled. Addressing the elephant in the room – can Donald Butler step up and fill the void? Ultimately, it’s not a question if he can, rather his duty to step in and drive.
The 2014 campaign was not a pretty one for Butler who was recently signed to a multi-year deal just the previous season. Watching him wasn’t what it used to be and his uninspiring attitude was hard to overlook.
Of course the blame can be put on the injury stricken defense, but all excuses aside, Butler now needs to become a true leader. Not last year, not yesterday, but starting now.
Butler will enter the 2015 season after recovering from a season ending elbow injury. Moving forward, the limelight is now on his work ethic. Injury is arguably the number one reason players never return to form, so it’s imperative that Butler works hard and proves to his teammates he is willing to put in the work. The Bolts are going to need him completely healthy and 100% ready to go next season.
I hate to bring this up, but the Miami game last year was by far one of the worst games in San Diego history. The 37-0 deficit was enough to bring the team moral to its lowest, and Butler was the main contributor. There’s no need to beat a dead horse, but you get the drift. Butler’s leadership should encompass morale which will allow him to be the go-to guy when spirits are low. Tenacity and optimism are the key ingredients to keeping the flame lit.
Lastly, there needs to be more production on the football field. Butler finished last year with only 45 total tackles, 1 sack, and no interceptions or forced fumbles. If the Chargers’ talented linebackers need any type of leadership, it’s going to have to start with Butler’s efforts. By all means, last year’s stats were nothing to brag about. Yet on the other hand, I’m confident he will improve his productivity. Teammates such as Manti Te’o, Andrew Gachkar, and Jerry Attaochu need Butler’s guidance.
Leadership is easily mentioned, yet tough to execute. Donald Butler doesn’t need to step up, it’s his duty. In order to accomplish greater things in 2015, the Chargers need his direction. With a new linebackers coach and new season, it’s safe to assume that Butler will have the chance to fill the void.