Chargers fans may still be smarting from the last-second win (aided by horrific clock-keeping from the referees) in front of a Monday Night Football national broadcast AND a Qualcomm Stadium full of Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
Take heart, though.
There were a few positive actions that can be taken from that game.
While Antonio Gates reached his 100th touchdown, then again stealing all of the highlights on touchdown reception No. 101, a guy in the secondary deserves some recognition, too.
Jason Verrett, the Bolts first-round pick (#25, TCU) in 2014, was back at right corner Monday night after missing the Cleveland matchup with a sore foot. His assignment: covering Steelers’ wideout Antonio Brown for the evening.
Daunting prospect? Perhaps. Not for Verrett, though. The second-year pro did not disappoint. He and Brown are similarly matched in height (Verrett at 5-foot-9 versus Brown at 5-foot-10) and weight (181 versus 189). Both are fleet of foot with the sophomore DB getting the edge at 4.38 seconds over Brown’s 4.47 speed. Yet, the young corner blew up a couple of passes and had two solo tackles against Pittsburgh’s number one receiver. Those may be small numbers, however, the fact remains that the man inside the No. 22 jersey was a force to be reckoned with that evening. Brown was limited to three receptions for 45 yards on the night.
It is easy to see why Chargers general manager Tom Telesco chose Verrett. The former TCU Horned Frog has blazing speed, is explosive, feisty, and highly competitive. During his first year at TCU (2011; 10 starts/13 games) he tallied 58 tackles, four pass break-ups, an interception and 1.5 tackles for loss. In 2012, he led the Big-12 conference with six interceptions, five tackles for loss and a blocked field goal after undergoing surgery on his left knee in the spring of that same year. Despite suffering and playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder in 2013, he recorded 39 tackles (14 solo), a sack, and a forced fumble. Surgery for that injury occurred just after Pro Days in 2014; fortunately it did not affect his draft stock, as he was among the top-three choices for his position.
While the young player has just 10 games (8 starts) under his belt since joining San Diego in May, 2014, he has tallied 24 solo tackles and defended against six passes. He snagged his first interception versus the division rival Oakland Raiders. As many Bolts fans are aware, Verrett and his family spent many years rooting for the Raiders. On October 12, 2014, with family and friends in attendance, on top of tearing his left labrum earlier in the game, the then rookie jumped the route of receiver Brice Butler to haul in an errant Derek Carr pass, thus sealing a San Diego victory.
After spending the remainder of the ’14 season on IR because of his shoulder, Verrett came back and picked up right where he left off. Sure, there were a couple of inopportune penalties in the duel at Cincinnati, but he was facing A.J. Green that game for portions of that game. No excuses for penalties, though.
The fact remains that the signing of Jason Verrett signaled a change in the secondary. His presence on the field is evident in the fierceness with which he plays, his ability to go up against some of the best players in the current landscape of the NFL and is a huge bonus for San Diego’s fans to behold. A glimmer of light in some heart-breaking losses.
Thus far, I’m beyond glad that he is wearing lightning bolts.
Thanks for reading.