A football season is 16 games long. If a team is lucky, it can prolong the time of clearing out lockers and getting bodies healthy for at least four weeks beyond the regular season.
For Melvin Ingram, that would be a total of 64 games in which he could have played every September to December of the last four years. Instead, the thorn in his side has been injuries which cost him 19 games; the equivalent of an entire season!
Ingram’s 2013 campaign was supposed to see his statistics spike; after all, free agency saw Shaun Phillips move on to the AFC West rival Denver Broncos while Antwan Barnes joined the New York Jets. That left the second-year outside linebacker to learn from wily veterans such as Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson. Both Freeney and Johnson were known for their work ethic and hard-nosed play. Unfortunately, his sophomore season was over before it had even begun.
Ingram suffered an ACL tear on May 14 during OTA’s. The expectation was that Ingram would be lost for the year and in August he was placed on the Reserve/PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. Fans were elated to see number 54 back on the field in December and ecstatic to have him force a fumble while sacking Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin. Two weeks later in Cincinnati, he intercepted Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the AFC Championship game.
“SupaMelvin” was BACK!! Or was he?
Ingram appeared to make it through the 2014 OTA’s, minicamp and preseason unscathed. That all changed after the September 14 game against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. The weekend arrived and brought with it another stint on the Reserve/Designated to Return list. Eight weeks later he was back sporting his blue and gold. It was a deja vu moment – two years with back-to-back injuries and who does he suit against? Both games were at home against none other than those pesky Raiders. San Diego won both contests.
In April of 2015, the Chargers exercised the fifth-year option of Ingram’s rookie contract. His salary for the 2016 season is $7.751 million, per Spotrac. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Ingram appeared in all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season, collecting 65 tackles, 10.5 sacks and six passes defensed (PD). His career numbers in 45 outings are 143 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 13 PD with three forced fumbles.
The Bolts’ defense needs Ingram to step it up. Adding former Seahawk Brandon Mebane at the nose tackle position is a start. Drafting Joey Bosa, projected to be the bookend on the defensive line opposite Corey Liuget, was a boon. Having third-year man Jerry Attaochu in the mix along with thumper Denzel Perryman provides defensive coordinator John Pagano with chess pieces that he hasn’t had in years.
Ingram has only logged two games with more than a single sack, both coming last year. One was the preseason game against Seattle last year (2) and another 2.5 collected in the win over Miami. Expect that to change.
Should the starting group on the field complement one another as anticipated, I can see this defense lighting up wide receivers and tight ends, stuffing the run and pushing back opposing linemen.
For Ingram to be successful, he must start strong and stay strong. He has to be a leader on defense this season. He needs to set the tone.
Does Ingram outperform his 2015 numbers? I anticipate that he will. Could he get to 14.5? It could be a real possibility given he should be a bit more free to roam with Mebane in the middle at nose.
These guys don’t wear lightning bolts for show. That electricity HAS to find its way into each and every game and I hope that “SupaMelvin” leads the charge.
Thanks for reading!
Last season, Tom Telesco took the reins of an Indianapolis Colts franchise that had finished last in the league in 2011. Telesco was named Vice President of Football Operations in 2012. Telesco used his newfound power to overhaul the Colts roster. The Colts had gone 2-14 in 2011. Telesco dismantled the team, jettisoning long standing players such as Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark and Dwight Freeney. That year, Peyton Manning was also allowed to leave after missing the season with a neck injury followed by multiple surgeries.
By the time the 2012 season rolled around, there were 36 new faces on the roster. Telesco learned from one of the master executives in NFL history in longtime Colts General Manager Bill Polian. Telesco was able to be in on the scouting and player analysis aspect in the Colts war room, having input on what players to bring in. Coincidentally, his first season was also Manning’s first season in Indianapolis.
As a result of Telesco’s overhaul, the 2012 edition of the Colts led by top draft pick quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went 11-5 and into the playoffs. The Colts won their division again in 2013 and are prime for a long run as mainstays on the playoff landscape. Telesco’s eye for bringing in fresh talent took the Colts from worst to first in the AFC South. The Chargers noticed and in the 2013 offseason signed Telesco to become the new General Manager of the San Diego Chargers.
Right away, Telesco used the same blueprint he used in Indianapolis. Longtime Chargers were seen out the door. Among them, Louis Vasquez, Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, Antonio Garay, Takeo Spikes and Antwan Barnes were among many to find themselves exiled from Chargers Park. In their place, Telesco filled their slots with young, mostly unproven role players who were capable of playing multiple positions. Players like Thomas Keiser, Sean Lissemore, Chad Rinehart, Rich Orhnberger, Derek Cox and Dunlap are all Telesco signings who have had great impact in their first season on the team.
The draft got the Chargers off and running at the 2013 NFL Draft with Telesco at the controls. The first round pick, DJ Fluker, has been a stabilizing force at right tackle. When left tackle King Dunlap missed games with a concussion, Fluker moved to the left side of the line and played great there as well. In the second round, Telesco moved up to select Mantei Teo out of Notre Dame and got California wide receiver Keenan Allen in the third round.
Telesco was hailed for the picks. All were seen as first round talents. Teo unexpectedly dropped into the second round on the heels of the fake girlfriend scandal. Allen’s stock dropped because he participated in the NFL draft combine injured. Teo’s play has gotten better as the season wears on after missing almost all preseason and a quarter of the regular season with a foot injury. Allen is the odds on favorite for Offensive Rookie Of The Year after being pressed into service following an injury to Malcolm Floyd. Sixth round pick Tourek Williams has has substantial playing time in the wake of numerous injuries on the defensive line and has played above expectations.
Telesco also spearheaded the search for a new head coach, nabbing the hottest name on the market in Denver’s Mike McCoy. McCoy’s reputation with quarterbacks is well known, as all he has coached have had career seasons under his guidance.
The Chargers have missed the playoffs three years straight. Last season they had their first losing season since 2003, finishing 7-9. On the way out the door former coach Norv Turner was quoted as saying the Chargers are a few years from being a playoff team. Telesco’s vision and eye for talent has again gotten the Chargers back into the playoffs after only one season. The Chargers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in a thriller at home 27-24 to claim the last playoff spot in the AFC.
Telesco’s magic has worked again. One season on the job, he has taken a team with a losing record and given them the personnel that got them into the playoffs the very next season. Similar to the Colts situation, the Chargers are being restocked with younger, faster players and a solid young core to build around with Fluker, Allen and Teo as the cornerstones of the new Telesco/McCoy era.
The Chargers will have cap flexibility this offseason, unlike the dire financial straits they found themselves in last offseason. Telesco reworked contracts and used the limited funds available to sign the likes of Cox, Freeney, Johnny Patrick and Danny Woodhead among others. This offseason, the Chargers have cap flexibility. The Chargers faithful finally have reason to believe with Telesco making deals and picking winners on draft day that this team is finally ready to take the next step to being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Telesco magic is working.
The Greg One
Antwan Barnes announced via Twitter that he will be signing with the New York Jets.
As you all know, Antonio Garay was recently signed by the Jets as well. Barnes had a fantastic 2011 racking up 11 sacks. Barnes is known for being a one trick pony, in that, he is strictly a pass rushing specialist.
Though he played outside linebacker in the Chargers’ 3-4 defense, he is capable of playing as a defensive end in a 4-3. The Jets run a 3-4 defense just like the Bolts, but Rex Ryan is known for switching things up and using multiple hybrid fronts.
Another former Charger has been snatched up from the free agent ranks. I have not heard a word at all about where Shaun Phillips might end up. Takeo Spikes, Randy McMichael, and Atari Bigby are all still available on the free agent market as well.
Thanks a lot for reading.