The problems the Chargers have on offense reach well beyond a banged-up offensive line. Granted, Philip Rivers deserves to be anointed for sainthood having to play behind such a hot mess.
Let’s be real, kids. The offense is a complete mess and here’s why:
• Tom Telesco drafts kids who do not fit in this offensive “scheme”.
• Mike McCoy and Frank Reich refuse to change their “scheme” to fit the personnel Tom Telesco has given them.
• Frank Reich is clueless and predictable at the same time.
The first and second points go hand in hand. I give you Melvin Gordon as case in point. Melvin is a 21 or 22 personnel grouping back. This means two running backs, a tight end and two wide receivers (21 personnel) or two RBS, two TEs and a WR (22 personnel). He is not, nor ever has been, a spread formation back. He ran primarily out of 21, 22 or 12 personnel groupings (single setback two TEs on the line, not in pass formation). Sure, Melvin ran effectively out of other personnel groupings, but his strength is as an I-formation back.
When you move up in the draft to get the player you covet, you don’t make him fit your scheme. You adjust your scheme to his skill set. The Chargers don’t even possess a legitimate fullback on the roster. The closest thing to a fullback they have is tight end David Johnson. The last real fullback this team had was Lorenzo Neal. Once AJ Smith and Norv Turner kicked him to the curb, the fullback position has been an afterthought and the running game began its decline.
Gordon’s lack of production isn’t his fault alone. He doesn’t fit the scheme, rather the scheme doesn’t fit him. Blocking has been horrific, that’s on personnel and coaching. Injuries to D.J. Fluker, Orlando Franklin, King Dunlap and others hasn’t helped. Offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has to do a better job coaching up this line. Chris Watt gets destroyed on a regular basis at center. Move him to guard and he gets pushed back into Rivers’ face.
Make no mistake, the 2015 Chargers’ offensive front will never be mistaken for Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman, Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff and Shane Olivea. They just aren’t that good overall. I like the Orlando Franklin acquisition, but he’s hurt. Dunlap is solid and his return will help Rivers sleep a little easier. Moving Fluker inside was a positive and, by far, an upgrade over Johnnie Troutman. Barksdale at right tackle is an upgrade over Fluker playing the position. I said it before, but it bears repeating: Watt is horrible. Telesco and McCoy have failed miserably to assemble a line that is worth its salt.
Apparently, Dean Spanos needs to hire Bill Polian so that Telesco can be good again. He’s looking like the classic example of the master making the apprentice look better and smarter than he really is.
Nobody will ever mistake Frank Reich for Ken Wisenhunt — or even Cam Cameron. His idea of attempting to run the ball is give it to Melvin from the shotgun, up the gut behind the aforementioned Watt and the one-legged Fluker. In D.J.’s defense, on one leg he’s still better than Troutman. That run nets two yards, so it’s back to pass, pass, pass behind an O-line that can’t protect a ham sandwich, let alone an immobile Rivers.
I realize this is a pass-first league. To that, I say “so what?”
Newsflash, Frankie-boy, this line is not your Buffalo K-Gun line. This line couldn’t pass protect against a pee wee football team! You and Mike McNorv talk about balance, so do it! Don’t continue to be an idiot. All that will do is get you charged with murder when Philip finally can’t get up after being hit while trying to throw the ball.
I’ve been a Chargers fan since my birth back in 1992. I’ve been a die-hard fan since the LT MVP 2006 season. I’ve seen the worst, the best and even the sorriest teams the Chargers have had here in San Diego my entire life.
This isn’t an article on the team, per se, but it’s an article that is me venting my frustrations, one I am quite sure many of you can relate to. From the top to the bottom, I will go and release some frustration out, and I hope you will follow along with me.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco
The GM that replaced AJ Smith, and one who worked under Bill Polian, has been the Chargers GM since 2013. Tom Telesco, who everyone within the NFL sees as a very good, but very young general manager, has put two 9-7 teams together, and one team happened to reach the AFC divisional round where they eventually lost to the Denver Broncos. Tommy T, as I like to call him, has drafted pretty poorly in his first two and a half seasons here and has signed/drafted two, maybe three impact players. This is not what a successful GM on a winning team does. He is constantly moving up in the draft, trading away multiple draft picks for players who need a lot of work on their craft (Te’o, Attaochu, Gordon) and he hasn’t hit on any gold. Telesco constantly goes against the advanced metrics to draft reaches in the third round. His poor drafting and poor roster management is getting highly exposed when coupled with sub-par coaches.
Speaking of the coaching staff……
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy
Mike McCoy, hired in 2013, is a former offensive mind from the Super Bowl Carolina Panthers and the Tim Tebow- led Broncos. McCoy isn’t the only one I’m going to bring up here. Defensive coordinator John Pagano and offensive coordinator Frank Reich are also underachieving as coaches. I firmly believe that the Bolts need to go in a different direction with these two. The one part Telesco has constructed right is the secondary. The Chargers’ secondary might be the best secondary they have had in quite some time. But in the last two weeks, with the starting secondary playing, John Pagano has not been successful in stopping the pass and is constantly leaving guys on an island to be burned one-on-one. I’m looking at you Donald Butler and Brandon Flowers. Flowers isn’t fast. In fact, he isn’t the lockdown No. 1 cornerback that he was halfway through 2014. He is a possession coverage corner who will need help over the top on speedsters such as Markus Wheaton and Marvin Jones. Pagano needs to realize this and put Eric Weddle or Jahleel Addae over the top, or have someone who is close to or equally as fast as the opposite man. Maybe someone like Patrick Robinson or Stevie Williams. Pagano, now in his fourth year as defensive coordinator, hasn’t shown the ability to adjust or to change up what he does on a constant basis, and if this is the case, the Chargers should look in a different direction.
Frank Reich is another story. Just like Pagano, he hasn’t shown the ability to adjust, and is way too predictable when it comes to offensive play calling. How many draw plays does he need to run before he realizes it only hurts his offensive line? How many times does he need to see D.J. Fluker or Orlando Franklin get tied up after going back to block on a draw play? His offensive calls are boring and it seems like him and Philip Rivers aren’t on the same page during the course of the game with all of the audibles he has to call at the line of scrimmage. I firmly believe that he should be demoted from playcalling, and that McCoy should take over until further notice.
I have been a big supporter of McCoy since day 1, and I still am on the McCoy train. However, this season has really taken a toll on me and has me wondering if he really is the right guy for this job. The one play that really stood out to me was his passive approach at the end of the first half versus the Bengals. He literally let over one minute run off the clock before halftime in a game where the Chargers lost by five. Little things like this are what lose games. This team hasn’t gotten better under McCoy, but I don’t think he’s the main reason why. But him, along with Reich and Pagano and the rest of the coaching staff, need to do a better job of coaching these guys before this season gets out of hand.
There are some players on this team that frustrate me more than anything else, and I’m sure that they frustrate you too.
There is talent on this team. Despite it being poorly coached and/or poorly constructed, there are some players you can build around. One thing that bugs me the most are selfish players. I don’t think I’ve seen as many selfish players on one team, than I’m seeing now. Whether it’s celebrating a touchdown while losing, celebrating every catch or going public about a contract situation. It needs to stop. This is a team sport. The most insulting thing to fans is seeing a professional athlete put himself ahead of the team. It shows a lack of discipline and something that can get the locker room divided. That is never a good thing.
What I’m getting at is this team is having an identity crisis. They need a gut check and they all need to look at themselves in the mirror, and play up to their potential and expectations. This roster is far too talented to be playing this poorly, even if constructed badly. No more Instagram photos of yourself scoring a touchdown after a blowout loss. No more contract holdouts or distractions. Come in to work ready to play football and go out there and play to win.
But at the end of the day, we are all Chargers fans and we will rep Chargers’ gear until the day we die, win or lose. This was just me letting off some steam in the best way I could think of.
So, thanks for sticking with me on this.
*If there’s anything you need to vent, or something that I missed, or you just want to absolutely rip into me for saying this stuff, please leave a comment!*
Amid all the hype that occurred last week after the official opening of free agency, Tom Telesco has remained undercover. Since last Tuesday, only four players have been signed: Orlando Franklin, Jacoby Jones, Jimmy Wilson, and most recently Stevie Johnson. The addition of these men fill huge roster holes, yet many say it’s not enough. To Telesco, it’s right where he wants to be.
Telesco came to the Chargers organization with a rich history of back office transactions and an impressive draft bloodline. Under the wing of one of the NFL’s most successful executives, Bill Polian, he learned the virtue of patience and the futility of free agency. Polian spent time with the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2011 where he acquired future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, and won Super Bowl XLI as Team President. He was also the Buffalo Bills’ general manager from 1986 to 1992 when the team appeared in three consecutive Super Bowls.
Phillip B. Wilson of IndyStar said Polian admits he took heat for not spending on free agents, “but too often I believed I wouldn’t get a good return on the financial investment. So, despite the criticism, I took a very conservative approach to free agency, abiding by a list of do’s and don’ts that helped my teams maintain a high level of success in both the short and long-term.”
No matter how you cut it, free agency isn’t what it’s worked up to be. Fans have become so accustomed to seeing their favorite teams sign big name players that they expect those same transactions every year. For Telesco, he doesn’t need those big names, he wants fruitfulness and longevity.
According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN, Telesco waited 10 days after the start of free agency to sign current running back Danny Woodhead. The young general manager continues to do his homework, working tirelessly in selecting the right guy, but ensuring he is best fit on the field and in the locker room.
There’s no reason for Telesco to sign players like Greg Hardy or even Percy Harvin. Yes, he has plenty of salary-cap space and leeway, but it’s not how he wants to play the game. The draft is where all talent acquisitions ascend, and that’s a mindset a lot of NFL personnel are moving towards.
Teams like the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks build their Super Bowl teams from the draft. In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, he too reiterated the necessity and desire to build from the bottom up. Has he signed some big hitters so far? Yes, but what Kelly is attempting to do is restructure the team via free agency in a single season, then continue to build a team from the draft thereafter.
Tom Telesco came to San Diego with the desire to build a Super Bowl contending team via the NFL Draft. So far, he has filled roster voids with a small amount, yet much-needed free agent acquisitions. He plans to continue his legacy come April 30th in Chicago. Reminding all of you that it’s only the eighth day of free agency, there is still plenty of time left on the clock.
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