Let us begin with one seemingly simple, yet frequently argued truth: the Chargers made the right decision when they let Drew Brees get away.
Those with 20/20 hindsight see how great Brees became and know that he won a ring with New Orleans. They look at his accomplishments after leaving San Diego and compare them to the success, or lack thereof, of the Chargers under Rivers, and envy the fans of the Saints.
That being said, be honest with yourself, Drew Brees was seriously injured in his last game in San Diego and, quite frankly, his performance with the Chargers was average at best.
Please allow me to refresh your memory.
During the Brees’ tenure in San Diego, he was very hit-or-miss. In his first season, he sat the bench and learned behind fan-favorite Doug Flutie. In his sophomore year, 2002, he won the starting role, but was only able to throw for a little over 3200 yards with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, adding two fumbles. Not bad for a first-year starter, but he lead the team to a middling 8-8 record.
Brees came back as the starter in 2003 and only amassed 2100 yards with 11 touchdowns, 15 picks, and four fumbles. He was benched by then head coach Marty Schottenheimer and replaced by Flutie. Despite the efforts of Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the team ended up just 4-12 that season. With Brees seemingly heading in the wrong direction, the Chargers’ brain trust decided that it was time to draft a quarterback.
Enter Philip Rivers.
In 2004, Brees could see the writing on the wall. The Chargers traded for Philip Rivers on draft day and he was the heir apparent to the starting QB job.
Brees’ days were numbered indeed.
Fortunately for Drew, Philip decided to hold out for more money and missed most of training camp. Coach Schottenheimer decided that he could not afford to start their new $40 MIL rookie and put Brees back in his familiar role.
Well, one thing we all know about Drew Brees in current times is that when his back is against the wall, he will come out fighting. He went on to throw for over 3100 yards with 27 touchdowns, against just 7 interceptions and four fumbles. This was by far his most productive season, as he lead his team to an amazing 12-4 record.
What do you do with a quarterback who just lead your team from worst to first in a single year? You start him the next year!
The 2005 campaign rolls around and Rivers is sent to the bench once more. That holdout is proving very costly to the sophomore QB. This was the last season on Brees’ contract. Something had to be decided by the end of the year. Two quarterbacks’ futures were on the line as the season wore on. Brees was quite inconsistent in 2005. He amassed just under 3600 yards and 24 touchdowns, but his interceptions ballooned back up to 15 and his fumbles up to eight!
The decision was going to be tough.
With the team going 9-7 and Brees showing signs of greatness along with signs of ineptitude, no one was sure whom the Chargers would keep.
Word was leaked out that general manager AJ Smith wanted to keep Rivers. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer liked Brees.
Who would win the job?
As it turned out, that difficult decision was made quite easy. Despite many who thought Brees should not play the meaningless final game of the season, Schottenheimer decided he should. Many speculated that Brees got the start because Schottenheimer did not want to showcase what Rivers could do and keep AJ Smith from offering Brees a contract extension.
Whatever the reason was, it backfired in a big way.
While attempting to recover a fumble, Brees suffered a severely torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. This injury is not considered an automatic career-ender, but many do not return with the same arm strength. Brees was not considered a strong-armed QB to begin with, so the thought of him coming back weaker was not attractive. Also, the thought of letting go of their $40 MIL bonus baby was eating away at AJ Smith.
Smith made the call. With Brees’ numbers declining and it being impossible to determine if and when he would recover from his injury, it was time to part ways; thus opening the door for Philip Rivers, who lead the Chargers to a 14-2 record the following season.
With Rivers and Tomlinson playing at an extremely high level, it was obvious that Smith made the right call. Hell, even the Dolphins, who brought Brees in for a workout, refused to sign him. They opted instead for aging veteran Daunte Culpepper. That proved to be an extremely poor decision.
Yet again, when you tell the undersized Drew Brees that he can’t do something, he gets determined to prove you wrong. Brees rehabbed his shoulder and came back stronger than ever before. The New Orleans Saints decided to take a shot and signed him as their new starting QB. Just four years later, Drew Brees was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy high in the air and celebrating his Super Bowl victory with the Saints. He was the king of New Orleans and the top passer in the NFL.
Sunday, October 2, 2016, Drew Brees returns to his roots. He will once again grace the field at Qualcomm stadium in front of thousands of adoring fans who think about what could have been.
You see, Drew Brees didn’t leave San Diego in an ugly fashion. There may have been no love lost between Brees and the Chargers’ front office, but with the community, all was well. In fact, Brees still lives in San Diego in the offseason and is a pillar of the community.
There is no question that the success that Brees has seen in his brilliant career in New Orleans has helped revisionist historians question the decision to let him go. That being said, what choice did the Chargers have? Keep an ailing, undersized, average quarterback? Or, give the young stud who they had invested so heavily his opportunity to shine?
In reality, the decision worked out for both teams. Brees found the perfect situation, team, city and coach to allow his skills to flourish. Rivers stepped in and quickly made fans believers. In fact, they are both considered to be future Hall of Fame QBs by many experts.
My question is, if Brees did not get injured, would he ever have had the chip on his shoulder that allowed him to build up his strength and become a far stronger and more deadly quarterback than he was in his first five years?
We will never know the answer to that question, so the debate goes on.
Thanks for reading. Please leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Go Bolts! #VoteYesOnC
Alright, Chargers fans, everyone take a deep breath, in through the nose and slowly exhale through the mouth. Now, repeat those steps as many times as it takes to get you to a relaxed state. That exercise will do you, and all of us who read your social media rants a lot of good.
Yes, I’m talking to those Chargers fans that after four days of free agency have already lit their torches, sharpened their pitchforks, and began the trek to Chargers Park and Tom Telesco’s (TT) office. Take a breath, people! Let the man do his job. Let’s be honest. If you or I know more about running a professional football franchise than the team’s General Manager (GM), the team is in worse trouble than we knew!
I read all the complaints about how TT is letting Bolt fans down and he is not going after top-notch players. If these fans had their way, Telesco would have signed DeMarco Murray, Ndamukong Suh, Dwayne Bowe, Terrance Knighton, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Darrelle Revis, and so on down the line of big names to contracts that would still have left us room under the cap! Well here are a couple simple facts for all fans to remember:
- There is a salary cap in the NFL. Teams can only spend up to the cap, whether they have more needs or not. If you spend a large chunk of your cap space on one player, you may not be able to fill other holes that you have. I’m sorry, but the Chargers have many holes to fill.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day. Okay, that is a little cliché, but it fits. Tom Telesco and the Chargers staff have been trying to dig out of the hole that former GM A.J. Smith left them in ever since they took over a couple years ago. The team was a mess. There were some key guys to build around, for example, Rivers, Gates, Weddle, and Hardwick, but not very many quality supporting players. Telesco has brought in some quality players via the draft, trades, and free agency, but it takes time to build a football team from (almost) scratch.
On the flipside, I understand that we live in a win now, must win society. No one likes to go to work on Monday morning and hear about how their team lost, or didn’t make the playoffs. There is nothing worse than listening to your co-worker brag about how his team has three rings and your team has none (you know who I’m referring too). So, you are mad as hell and you aren’t going to take it anymore? Well, unless you are going to jump on another team’s bandwagon, you don’t have much choice.
Now, every year we run into this kind of drama, but this year seems to be worse than normal. Why do Bolt fans seem so desperate? I have two reasons for their panic:
- The new stadium. Let’s face it; this could be the last season for the San Diego Chargers. Fans want to see their team win a championship for their city, not Los Angeles or Carson, or anywhere else. How did Los Angeles Rams fans feel when the Rams took off to St. Louis and then almost immediately win a ring? That had to sting. No one wants that in San Diego. Not to mention, if the Chargers could win the Super Bowl this season, the odds on obtaining the necessary votes to build a new stadium would greatly increase.
- The Padres. This may be a little more of a stretch, but perhaps watching the Padres spend money and seemingly sign whomever they wanted in the offseason got the emotional Bolt fan worked up. “Why can’t we sign guys like the Padres did?” Well I’ll tell you why; because of the salary cap. A.J. Preller, the GM of the Padres, was given permission to spend and spend a lot. He worked his magic and brought more talent at one time than any San Diego franchise has ever been able to bring in. But let’s face it; the Chargers do not have the ability to spend as much as they want on players. They are limited by rules that do not apply in Major League Baseball.
So do yourself a favor and sit back, relax and enjoy the process. Don’t expect more than is possible to deliver. Tom Telesco is trying to build an entire team. Remember, it takes two to Tango. You may have heard that he was the highest bidder to court Andre Johnson and Johnson decided to take less money to play in Indy. That is not Telesco’s fault. These things happen and he has to move on to the next guy on the wish list.
One last thing to remember, when building a team, the GM has free agency, the draft, and camp signings that are often after week 3 of preseason. The team you see today is not the finished product. Give Telesco a chance to prove he knows more than we do. Keep the faith! Go Bolts!
So how do you feel about the job Tom Telesco is doing so far? Is there any certain player you want him to sign? Leave a comment below to share your opinion.
Story Written by Chris Curran ( @ccurran2744 )
Rivers and Manning will forever be linked and debated. The media bias leans toward Manning. I know it’shard to argue with two Super Bowl wins. I could counter that if the quarterbacks switched teams, Rivers would have two titles as well.
After 2003, Drew Brees was not panning out as a Charger QB. The local team was picking first overall. AJ Smith was not very high on Brees and was in the market for a new starting QB.
There were three QB’s in the 2004 draft that were considered first round talent. There was a quarterback from Mississippi with “Manning” on his back that was pretty good. Roethlisberger from Miami of Ohio University and Rivers from North Carolina State were considerations as well.
Roethlisberger, or “Big Ben,” was big and strong with a tremendous arm. He could move and throw on the run with the best improvisational skills. He played his college ball in the MAC.
Rivers started every game in four years. He brought respectability to a college program that rarely won anything and was a College Bowl MVP five times in four years. He was considered an exceptional leader and held a high football IQ,
Manning had the best mechanics and an NFL pedigree that will never be matched. A solid first round talent, although I do believe if his name was not Manning he would have been the number three among the quarterbacks taken in round one of the 2004 NFL draft.
Archie Manning announced that his youngest boy would not play for the San Diego Chargers. Archie refused to state any reason for this other than to say the Chargers were not a good fit for his son. Maybe he did not like the Spanos Family. Maybe he was not a Schottenheimer fan. Maybe he remembers the beating, he himself, took in New Orleans on a lousy team and was afraid to have history repeat itself. Maybe a combination of all three made him pull his Royal ‘Manning card’ to not have his son play for a franchise stuck in nine years of playoff futility.
In 1983, John Elway let everyone know he did not want to play in Baltimore, the reason being his family had no respect for then coach, Frank Cush. Jack Elway (John’s father) and Cush were not the best of friends. John Elway spoke for himself to the press and Baltimore Colts. I lost complete respect for Eli when he let his father do all his bidding.
In 2004 Ernie Accorsi, General Manager of the New York Giants, held the fourth overall picks.The Giants needed a quarterback. Accorsi, being famous in football circlesfor losing arguably the highest rated quarterback prospect ever. Elway was lost in a post draft trade to Denver made by the owner after selecting him number one overall. That pick was against the Elway family wishes. In 2004 Accorsi had his heart set on Eli Manning. Accorsi relayed this info to Archie early on and later let the press know of his desire to draft Eli Manning.
As the draft approached Charger General Manager, AJ Smith, was about to make his shrewdest and greatest move as an NFL executive.
AJ may have coveted Rivers all along. He did not cave to a pre draft trade proposal by New York. AJ held off until his price was met. He even went so far as to select Eli first overall. I still remember the constipated look on Eli’s face as he reluctantly held up the Charger jersey and cap with Goodell.
The Raiders selected offensive lineman Robert Gallery second overall and Arizona took wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald third overall, the Giants were on the clock and picked Rivers. No one in the Giants war room even had the courtesy to call Rivers about being their selection, reason being that a deal was being consummated with the Chargers. In order to obtain Manning number one overall, the Giants traded Rivers, who was number four overall, a third round pick in the current draft, a first round and fifth round pick in the following year. The Chargers turned those picks into kicker Nate Kaeding, outside linebacker, Shawne Merriman and offensive lineman, Roman Oben.
As for the 3rd QB taken in round one of 2004, Roethlisberger was drafted by Pittsburgh and has been very successful. He has two glaring negatives, these being durability and a questionable character at best.
Due to the Drew Brees hangover, Eli had twenty-one more career starts early in his career. This and the two playoff runs give the edge to Eli. You cannot take away the results. Most other remaining intangibles do go to Rivers. Completion percentage, yards per game, touchdown-interception ratio and quarterback rating are all in Rivers favor. Both quarterbacks have been durable and have yet to miss a start.
So, if the two Super Bowl wins are the benchmark, lets examine them. Does anyone think Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, Trent Dilfer, or Brad Johnson are better than Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly or Warren Moon?
Eli’s Giants had a superior dominant defensive line. An ill-advised pass, and other bone headed decisions by Brett Favre led to crucial turnovers. A down field heave throw up for grabs followed by a fluke catch off a helmet? These plays led to Eli’s first Super Bowl win. A 49er fumbled a punt in the Red Zone and a crucial Wes Welker drop led to Eli’s second Super Bowl win. I understand a win is a win and that is the bottom line. However, there are always other factors that lead to wins and losses outside quarterback play.
So if Eli gets credit for these play-off wins, then is Rivers to blame for Charger playoff losses? Rivers played without his pro bowl tight end, A. Gates, and pro bowl running back, L. Tomlinson. Playing on a completely torn ACL factors in to. Kaeding missed three field goals in each of Rivers’ playoff losses. Not to mention, the cluster of Marty gaffes, (fumbled punt, dropped TD, several personal fouls, going for it on 4th and 11, etc.) in the 24-21 home loss to the New England Patriots.
Like I said, the comparisons may never end, but if I were building a team, I would start with Rivers. How about you?
To say that the 2013 season was a disappointment for Vincent Brown might be an understatement. Or was it? After being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft, Brown has had a tough time making his mark. Despite flashing great ability, on a team that has hoped he would be a major contributor, Brown has yet to make a major impact in the NFL. And without sounding like I am piling on the former Aztec, he had a few issues on route progressions as well. It has appeared, at times, that he is not on the same page with San Diego’s favorite son, Philip Rivers.
When Brown was selected by AJ Smith I must admit that I was stoked. He came into the league as a solid route runner with great hands and an ability to high point the ball and attack it with his hands. Brown’s route running more than makes up for his lack of blazing speed. The question remains whether or not Brown can be a consistent and effective number two wideout in the league.
As much as I would like to continue to believe in his potential, I must be honest and cognizant of the fact that the “P” word will get your ass sent out of the league in a hurry.
That being said, I expect Vincent Brown to have a breakout year in 2014…… Say what?!?!?!
I have expressed my opinion regarding the need for Brown to step it up, and I expect him to do just that.
“Wait a second, Booga. You have made it clear by taking a wide receiver in the first round of your mock draft that wide receiver is a huge need??”
Yup, it is. But who the hell am I? I still have hope that Brown will be the PERFECT compliment to the 76th pick in last year’s draft. But how much stock should I put into my own beliefs? I tend to think that I have a decent grasp on the NFL and its workings.
I’ll leave the question to you. Do you think Vincent Brown will rebound in 2014? Let me know by voting and supporting your vote while leaving a comment below.
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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The Chargers lost their Divisional Round game in Denver as we all know. They were out played and out coached in all aspects of the game, losing 24-17. The game wasn’t as close as the score might imply.
I’m not going to get into the game here, and why I think they lost.
Even though the season is now over for our Chargers, let’s not forget they exceeded most expectations. I know a lot of people, myself included, who never expected to see Charger football continue into January. From that standpoint, let’s consider this season, the first under Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy a success.
Telesco and McCoy took over a royal mess from A.J. Smith and Norv Turner. They turned over half the roster and got younger at most positions. They made tough decisions like cutting ties with Jared Gaither. They had very little salary cap space to work within.
Overall, their top three draft choices paid dividends, especially Keenan Allen whom they STOLE in the THIRD ROUND. He broke John Jefferson’s record for most receiving yards by a rookie at 1,046. He spent the better part of the first two games on the sidelines until Malcolm Floyd got hurt. For the most part, D.J. Fluker and Mantei Te’o held their own, steadily improving week after week.
Philip Rivers looked like the Rivers of old, throwing for 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions. Ryan Mathews came into his own this year as well. Mathews ran for 1,255 yards, topping his previous high of 1,091 yards in 2011. More importantly, he fumbled only twice and only one resulted in a change of possession. He also toughed out an ankle injury that didn’t sideline him until the Cincinnati and Denver playoff games.
Given the success the team had this year, with all the holes they had, this offseason is going to be exciting. I look for Telesco and McCoy to be far more aggressive in free agency this winter and spring. I look for our Bolts to rebound from the disappointing loss in Denver and come back in 2014 contending for the division title and a deep run into the post season.
When it was announced that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had lured Vincent Jackson away via free agency during the 2012 offseason, the Charger fans were left looking for answers. The organization under A.J. Smith had their plan in place should this very thing happen. Smith knew that this was going to happen but was, unfortunately, unable to push his ego aside and sign Jackson long term.
At the time I went out of my way to attempt to buy into the plan that was being laid out by the San Diego’s former General Manager. Smith acted quickly in snagging Robert Meachem out from under the grasp of the Buffalo Bills while he was in Buffalo on a free agent visit. He acted in similar fashion regarding Eddie Royal in that the Washington Redskins were close – actually reports came out that he did sign with the ‘Skins- to acquiring him before San Diego picked him up.
Well, that hasn’t worked out at this point. I’ll save my complaints about Meachem for another day. For this article we’ll focus on the debacle that is Eddie Royal.
For starters, I was so hyped to see that the Chargers added both Meachem and Royal that I purchased both of their jerseys as soon as they were available. Yup, I did that.
The team, and it’s fans, had high hopes for Royal. He showed that his past injury history had followed him from Denver to San Diego. He was highly ineffective when he was healthy. There was a school of thought that he would play a major part in the return game. That was not the case either. The fact that he was unable to build a solid rapport with Philip Rivers can partially be attributed to the fact that he was unable to stay healthy. The rest is pure speculation on the part of those that are outside the organization.
Royal counts as $1.5 million against the salary cap in 2013. Both Joe Clarke, BoltBlitz.com Staff writer, and I have written about the possibility of Royal being cut. The team re-signed Richard Goodman to man the kick return duties and drafted Keenan Allen who could be seen as a solid punt returner. These moves would take away the special teams benefits of having an Eddie Royal on the roster. As mentioned above, his impact on special teams was minimal at best.
The team has a litany of wide receivers at this point. Especially after the drafting of Allen. So where does Royal truly have a spot on this roster? Can the Chargers justify his salary, albeit not out of control, for what he actually brings to the team moving forward? Or is this just another one of A.J.’s brilliant free agent signings from last offseason?
Time will tell what happens with Eddie Royal as far as him remaining in lightning bolts. I wish him the best either way. If he does stay in San Diego, I hope to have many reasons to sport the number 11 Royal jersey.
Thanks a lot for reading.
In just a few days, the San Diego Chargers, led By Tom Telesco will begin their first draft of the new regime. Many of us will feel the eagerness, the excitement, the nervousness, and the anticipation of watching our new GM construct a Championship Team. However, before we’re able to turn the page on the New Chargers, I would like to reflect on the past. Chargers faithful are still licking their wounds, and shaking their heads as they recover from a devastating fall from grace. It feels as though just yesterday that the Bolts enjoyed the Penthouse view high above the AFC West. The class of the West and the Jewel of the AFC Conference, the Chargers were widely regarded as having the best talent in the NFL. Let me repeat that. The Best Talent in the NFL! I remember clearly watching warm-ups before games and shaking my head, thinking to myself. Wow! We are loaded with playmakers!
Drew Brees and Philip Rivers rotated as passers. Vincent Jackson, a young Malcolm Floyd, and a vibrant Antonio Gates were hovering in the air, out jumping and scorching defenders along the way. Across the field, the man simply know as “LT” glided down the field, jump-cutting through a landmine of defenders. At times it felt as though he was simply dancing through mannequins wearing jerseys. Michael Turner blasted through holes and showcased speed that was uncanny for a man of his size. Who can ever forget the blazing TD run against the Colts in the Playoffs? How about the water bug, Darren Sproles, catching passes out of the backfield. The multi-talented Sproles with his return-ability, rushing, and receiving was a threat to break it each time he touched the pigskin. This team was indeed loaded with Playmakers! The Defense wasn’t far behind with Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips, Antonio Cromartie and Eric Weddle showcasing their extraordinary talent.
It wasn’t that long ago that AJ Smith was the recipient of the NFL Executive of the Year Award. AJ was the Maestro, the General, the Great Wizard of this explosive team. The same team that enjoyed a 14-game season and a 1st round Bye in the playoffs. The same team that showcased multiple Pro Bowlers. However, we all know the tragic ending to this story. The multi-talented Chargers never lived up to their billing as they fell from grace in the postseason on multiple occasions. The mighty AJ led a battle cry for the firing of popular Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-win regular season and a gut-wrenching one and done playoff loss to the Patriots in San Diego. AJ won the battle of the front office and was rewarded with the exodus of Marty and the unpopular hiring of Norv Turner as Head Coach.
AJ continued to feel the disappointment of his talent-laden teams, continuously falling in the bitter month of January. The NFL Draft became increasingly difficult for AJ as the misses in the early rounds became a glaring problem. WR Buster Davis, CB Antoine Cason, LB Larry English, the trade up for low-return Jacob Hester, have left the fan base in search for answers. Finally, the lack of acquiring quality offensive lineman through the draft or free agency, along with taking a hard line stance against his most dangerous playmakers (Brees, Jackson and Sproles, to name a few) have degraded this once awesome offense into a crawling, low-scoring, high turnover machine.
Ultimately, AJ’s rough persona, abrasiveness, and stubbornness to his key players and agents’ contractual issues; along with riding the Norv Turner led disaster-train, led to the demise of AJ and the once talent-rich Chargers.
Fortunately, the page turns with Telesco’s New Chargers. The final word on the success of the new regime will not be written for a few years. However, hope for many of us will be renewed this Thursday night when Commissioner Roger Goodell announces, “With the 11th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select…”