The staff here at boltblitz give their predictions and takes on what they think will happen Sunday versus the Buccaneers
Zak Darman: Coming off a big road win in Houston, Philip Rivers and the Chargers go home to take on the Buccaneers in what many think will be a close game. I happen to agree with them. Most are picking the Bucs, I don’t agree with them there. I think the Chargers control the clock fairly easily and force a few turnovers on Winston, who is known to give up the ball at times. Chargers 24 Bucs 20
Charles LaFurno: Defense does a great job shutting Mike Evans down and the Chargers cool off a dangerously hot Bucs team to seal their sixth win and get back to .500 with four games left to play. Philip goes over 300 yard mark with four touchdowns. Bosa and Ingram combined for 3 sacks and the defense snags two picks from Famous Jameis. Chargers 34 Bucs 20
Michael Brazeel: Mike Evans against Casey Hayward is going to be the matchup of the day. Evans gets the better of CH going for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs will be in position to tie the game late in the 4th, but the rookie kicker will miss. Giving the Bolts a win and getting them back to .500. 27-24 bolts
Brian Scott: The young and up-and-coming Bucs suffer a hangover after defeating the Seahawks. Bucs give up sacks and with the improved pass rush, the Bolts get in the backfield often. Rivers has a 300 yard game and Gordon gets 80 with two touchdowns. Chargers win 36-17
Laura Leech: Back at home and trying to get to .500 for the third time this season, the Chargers finally do it. It comes down to the wire but they are victorious in this must-win game. 31-28 bolts
Corey Decker: Both teams going into this game with something to prove. The veteran presence and the record of Philip Rivers in December are the two reasons chargers walk away victorious. 24-21 Chargers by 3.
Brian Krich: I like the Chargers here. I believe Bucs will struggle to protect Winston and won’t be able to effectively sustain run game. Mike Evans will get his, but it won’t be enough. Chargers balanced offense carries the day. I say 27-17 Bolts.
Chris Hoke: Chargers have a very sleepy first half falling behind 14-0 giving up a TD to Mike Evans and another on a Rushing TD. Melvin Gordon carries the team in the Second half scoring a TD and racking up 200 scrimmage yards. Rivers finds Hunter Henry late to tie the game up 14-14 the Chargers get the ball back with one minute left and drive into Lambo range he makes the game winner. 17-14 bolts
Cheryl White: Bucs fly West hoping for another “W” but Chargers defense plays hard & Bosa disrupts Winston often. Rivers is epic again this week with 300 yards & TDs to Gates, Williams & Inman while Gordon runs for 85 yards & a scores twice. Chargers win 35-17
Mike Pisciotta: Lambo misses two FGs, but hits in the closing seconds for the win. Rivers throws 2 INTs, but balances those with 2 TD passes and Gordon runs for another. Rivers and Gates connect early and often with the old man collecting 125 receiving yards. Bolts over the Bucs 27-24
Will McCafferty: I think the Chargers get out to a first quarter lead, let the Bucs back in the game in the second quarter and then open up a can of ass-whoopin’ in the second half. Chargers win going away, 34-17.
Dave Peters: Gates gets one step closer to Tony Gonzalez and the TE-TD record. Rivers throws for three scores as the Chargers dominate until late in the game. Joey Bosa logs a 2.5-sack day. Denzel Perryman recovers a fumble forced by Corey Liuget. Pagano goes ultra conservative in his play calling, as always, surrendering a couple scores late. Chargers 27 Bucs 26
Here is my take on the Chargers vs Buccaneers game and what the bolts must do in order to win and get to .500
1.) Contain Evans
Mike Evans is a stud and is one of the most vastly underrated receivers in the game. He absolutely torched Richard Sherman and the Seahawks last week going for 8-104-2. He is going to be a big task for whoever guards him this week (my assumption is, it will be up to Casey Hayward) and is really the only player on Tampa that scares me. Winston is young and raw but he is improving and Muscle Hamster, Doug Martin, is average at best.
2.) Balanced Attack on Offense
You aren’t winning in this league without a balanced offense regardless of how much the game has changed. Philly Riv is borderline elite, as we’ve seen throughout the years, but no team is winning with a borderline elite QB and no running game. Tampa Bay currently ranks bottoms in defense, so this should be a game in which the bolts and control the rock and throw 25 times while running it another 20 eating up clock and keeping their defense fresh.
This seems to be a key each and every week. Well, until it improves, it wont be going away. The Chargers are blown countless amount of leads in the 4th quarter and have a minus in points for the quarter. The Chargers SHOULD have the lead Sunday, but whether or not they keep it is ultimately the final question and answer.
So much for sweeping divisional rival Denver in 2016. So much for a divisional win on the road. The Chargers lost 27-19 in what was, at times, a typical gritty divisional game and what was, at other times, a complete slop-fest branded as football.
There were really seven plays that could be pointed to as reasons the Chargers lost.
The first was a missed field goal by Josh Lambo from 45 yards out with 59 seconds left in the first half. He simply hooked the kick for his first miss inside of 50 yards this year.
The next was a blocked point after attempt by Lambo with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
This is where it gets ugly and where my hatred for Mike McCoy grows.
After a Casey Hayward pick six from the Denver 16 with about eight minutes to play, McCoy makes the right INITIAL decision to go for a two point conversion. It was the right decision because the Chargers were down by five. A successful two point conversion makes the deficit three points. What was wrong about the decision was to throw the ball from two yards out. Too many things can go wrong. Some did go wrong. Antonio Gates was called for offensive pass interference, running an illegal pick play. Back the ball up 10 yards to the 12 and now a pass play is the only option. Everyone knows that and another Philip Rivers pass was batted up in the air by a Denver defensive lineman.
Fast forward to 2:54 left to play. The Chargers are at the Denver two yard line with first and goal to go. The offense runs not one, not two, not three, but four pass plays — all of which fell incomplete — to turn the ball over on downs. Most teams would bring in their heavy personnel package — three tight ends, blocking back and tailback and cram the ball down the defense’s throat. The Chargers running game was somewhat effective this week, so it’s reasonable to expect Melvin Gordon could manage two yards. Instead, the offense comes away empty-handed.
These five play call decisions and the quote below exemplify why Mike McCoy is unfit to be a Head Coach in the National Football League.
Really, Mikeyboy? You don’t say!
I know that Ken Whisenhunt is the Offensive Coordinator and play caller. Mike McCoy, as Head Coach is Ken’s boss and should have overruled him and didn’t. He kept his hands in his pockets. The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results. I humbly submit Mike McCoy is insane by this definition. To make matters worse, Whisenhunt pulled a Norv and got the plays late to Rivers so there wasn’t enough time on the play clock to change out of the stupid calls.
What say you, BoltBlitz readers? Am I blinded by my hatred for McCoy?
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their takes and predictions to Sunday’s upcoming match-up versus the Falcons.
Zak Darman: This should be a high-scoring game. Both teams have good offenses. The Chargers have a better defense but they don’t really have anyone who can stop Julio Jones. Benjamin isn’t a lock to play, and without him their receivers are Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and Griff Whalen (yes, I had to go to the team’s depth chart to even put him down). Hunter Henry gets another touchdown and Rivers goes for 300+ yards but comes up just short. Although teams lose about 70% of the time the week after playing the Seahawks…. Falcons 35-31.
Chris LaFurno: Late Julio game-winning touchdown and Chargers offense can’t answer back as Atlanta wins a nail biter. Falcons 37 Chargers 34.
Michael Brazeel: Rivers will have to go length of field in :40 with no timeouts, as usual, and come up short. Falcons 35-31.
Corey Decker: The Falcons are coming in with a chip on their shoulder so expect them to come out firing. Falcons 34-28.
Travis Blake: I’ve been feeling all week that the Bolts will start slow and sluggish in this one. That’s probably coming from the fact it’s a mini-bye week for the team, and a later than usual start for an east coast game (game time is 1:05 PM PST). The question is can they overcome a slow start and finish out a game strong, instead of leaving us all with that familiar feeling of they screwed something up, or almost did? I believe this defense will continue to build off its improvement in the Bronco game and stop the run. The Bolts will get the running game going and pull off several long drives that quiet the crowd. Bolts win their first road game of the year. Chargers 31-24.
Laura Leech: High scoring game with two explosive offenses. Chargers defense is not facing a sub-par OL like they did against Denver. That extra rest from a Thursday game should help a little, but flying to the East Coast is never easy for any team. It will come down to which defense can cause the most turnovers. Unfortunately, though, Falcons get this one. 38-34 Falcons.
Brian Scott: The defense for the Bolts is playing at a high level and with confidence. Ryan gets sacked multiple times. Air show begins and ends with Rivers throwing his 4th touchdown pass. Gordon scores and gets 80 yards. Chargers finally win back to back games since 2014. 41-31 Bolts.
Chris Hoke: The Falcons start the game driving down the field on their first possession and scoring on a TD to Julio Jones. The bolts respond with a long drive in which we are forced to settle for a Lambo field goal. This is repeated till the second half in Which its 14-6. Chargers come out in the second half and MG breaks away for a huge TD run. It’s wire to wire from this point where the bolts go for it on 4th down. MG gets stuffed and the rest is history. The Falcons hang on 35-29.
Cheryl White: Been thinking all week that this is going to be a tough one, too. Aforementioned trip to East Coast and later start time may be detrimental. I would point out that this team did go to Baltimore and was the first west coast team to win there, although that was 2014. Downside, no Slayer/Woodhead/Verrett this time. We do have Gordon who is running better plus Henry; and lets not forget Bosa. If he can’t get to Ryan maybe he pressures him enough that someone else can. Hayward and Phillips in the secondary though versus those WRs are challenging. Atlanta’s OL is tough and their HC knows a thing or 2 about defense. There better be a damn good game plan in place. Don’t for the love of God go prevent defense or stop running Gordon. Have some guts and get after it because Atlanta WILL capitalize if you allow them to. 38-35 Bolts.
Mike Pisciotta: Chargers will again open an early lead and go conservative. McCoy, Whiz and Pagano love to sit on leads, and they will piss away another one. 37-31 Atlanta in overtime.
Will McCafferty: Honestly, I’m far from confident this week. I felt better about he Denver game. This reminds me of the New Orleans game with a higher power offense. It should be a shootout as both teams can move the ball. Hopefully, the Chargers can get the ball in the end zone and not settle for field goals. Atlanta should be able to score as well. Chargers 38 Falcons 34
Dave Peters: The Chargers actually play a game well from start to finish in this one. This is one of those games where no one, for the most part, expects them to win. The Chargers’ offense outpaces Atlanta, as Hunter Henry scores for the fourth consecutive game and Philip Rivers throws for over 300 yards and three scores. Bosa gets his third and fourth sacks, respectively, while Denzel Perryman recovers a fumble and takes it to the house. Bolts 41 Falcons 27.
When looking at the Chargers’ injured-reserved list, it is clear that there are a few names which jump out immediately.
One of those marquee names who suffered a season-ending injury is Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett, who was placed on injured-reserve after suffering a partially torn left ACL.
Verrett, 25, played through the ailment for two games leading up to the Week 5 contest against the Oakland Raiders, who happen to be his childhood team.
The former Horned Frog would not play against the Raiders, as his fate was sealed by the aforementioned diagnosis above.
Shortly after the injury, the stud corner stated that he would have surgery in a couple of weeks.
On Wednesday, Verrett took to Twitter to announce that he had undergone surgery and it was a success.
Surgery was a success!!! I’m built for this. Preciate all the prayers 🙏🏾 ..Ima attack this and bounce back stronger 💯
— Jason Verrett (@Jfeeva_2) October 19, 2016
Not having Jason in the Bolts’ defensive backfield is a huge loss for the Chargers’ defense and team as a whole, but it is encouraging to know that his surgery was a success.
The 25th pick in the first round of the 2014 draft has been slowed by injuries throughout the course of his young career, missing games in 2014 (10 games missed), 2015 (two games missed) and, of course 2016 (played in four games; set to miss 12 remaining games).
Though we won’t be seeing Jason Verrett on the field until 2017, I can certainly say that I am looking forward to his return.
In Verrett’s absence, and due to the concussion issues with Brandon Flowers, the Bolts’ cornerbacks group is down to only Casey Hayward, Craig Mager, Pierre Desir, Steve Williams and Trevor Williams, all who will be tasked with stopping the high-flying passing attack of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7.
Dave Booga Peters
With Wednesday’s news that cornerback Jason Verrett is done for the season due to a partially torn ACL, the San Diego Chargers have re-signed cornerback Steve Williams, according to the team’s official website.
In a corresponding move to make room on the roster for Williams, the Bolts waived defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers.
Williams, 25, was the team’s fifth-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft. Possessing blazing speed, the undersized Williams was released in order for the Chargers to sign cornerback Pierre Desir.
The former Cal Bear spent two weeks with the Los Angeles Rams, both weeks of which he was inactive.
The 2016 season will mark Williams’ fourth year with the Bolts. During his short career, one that saw him miss all of his rookie season due to injury, Williams has amassed 29 total tackles, seven passes defensed, one sack and two interceptions.
According to Chargers.com, Williams will be wearing the No. 41 jersey, as his former number of 23 has been taken over by defensive back Dexter McCoil.
Carrethers, also a fifth-round draft choice, but in 2015, participated in 20 games with San Diego, including three starts. The defensive lineman had been inactive for all four of the Chargers’ four regular season contests in 2016.
Carrethers flashed some ability at times, but had found himself on the outside looking in when it came to reps during the offseason.
Though he has been waived, should he clear waivers, the team could possibly bring him back onto the practice squad, which in turn would mean another move would be coming to a roster/practice squad that has already seen a ton of fluctuation.
Dave Booga Peters
During this past Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, a recurring epidemic reared its ugly head. No, I am not referring to Danny Woodhead’s injury, whom is now officially, like Keenan Allen, lost for the season. Nor was I referring to Jahleel Addae’s collarbone injury.
I am alluding to the fact that San Diego had another 21-point lead against their opponent.
Football followers and diehard Chargers fans should not have to hold their breath when their team holds that big of lead. As it were, and with a very recent history of an epic collapse in Week 1, the football Gods will have to accept the Bolt faithful for not being as blissful as they should have been.
Near the end of the first half in Sunday’s 38-14 victory over the Jaguars, a distasteful nostalgia filled my lungs. Fear flushed my pale demeanor as I sensed the shoe might again fall off the other foot. Proof was needed for many to believe that the Chargers were not going to fall complacent again, and with the clock running out, and generic play calls being made on offense, doubt crept into my nightmare like Freddie Krueger.
Watching Coach Mike McCoy and the team come galloping out of the tunnel to begin the second half, confidence swooned and I no longer believed in Freddie; thus killing him and the pessimism inside me.
After Melvin Gordon’s name was not called in the second half of last week’s loss to the Chiefs, this time around, his bruising style was not letting the Jags defense rest for a moment. Gordon continued to find openings, fight for those extra yards and punish those would-be tacklers, bouncing off of them like a pinball wizard.
The incredible ebb and flow of the game was as serene as watching the sunset from the La Jolla Cove, falling gracefully on the ocean’s skin; radiating hope for all those who are lost. The offense was masterfully unapologetic as Ken Whisenhunt commanded the troops, picking up big yards and scoring at will. John Pagano’s defense pillaged and tormented the Jaguars offense, forcing three turnovers and impeding any type of momentum Jacksonville had.
It was as if they actually learned from their mistakes in Week 1.
There was no three-man rush with a four-touchdown lead late in the third quarter. There was no conservative three-and-outs from the offense. This orchestrated masterpiece was to Charger fans as the classical music enthusiasts gets while listening to Frederic Chopin; the easement of the strings floating in an organized chaos – followed by a force of controlled havoc.
All the while McCoy, the maestro, led this band of eccentric players in perfect unison.
There were too many impact players of this game to list them all. As a well-trained orchestra knows, every instrument is vital to it success of the orchestra as a whole. There was the haunting presence of Melvin Ingram and Casey Hayward. The elegant Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams played their roles to perfection, but they would not have been so exemplified if it were not for the rhythmical beating from the ground game.
This is what San Diego has been needing. To destroy and show no mercy while playing this passionately for a full 60 minutes. Every player mattered and contributed to the melodious sound of victory.
During the week leading up to Sunday’s showdown, players admitted to losing focus when Keenan went down against Kansas City. When Danny was being carted off the field this past Sunday, an eerie hush covered the White Out in San Diego.
Yet, lessons were learned, and the band marched on.
Let us hope that the perfect pitch of this harmonious triumph against the Jaguars, continues on its symphony of destruction tour.
Next stop: Indianapolis
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
Over a month ago the San Diego Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa with their third overall pick. Along with Bosa the Chargers drafted two more defensive players. One of them was Bosa’s running mate at Ohio State, Joshua Perry. These look to be great additions combined with the free agent signings of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and safety Dwight Lowery.
Some Chargers fans are clamoring for the Chargers to switch defensive schemes. I’ll tell you why this can not and will not happen anytime soon. First, I’ll tell you the difference between the two schemes. For the purpose of this piece it will just be a base 3-4 scheme versus the base 4-3 scheme. After this I will give my opinion on why switching schemes wouldn’t be beneficial for the Bolts moving forward.
I’ve stated in a previous article (Bolt Up For Bosa) that the Chargers only run their base scheme about 50% of defensive snaps. It’s these 50% of snaps I will be focusing on. That being said what is a 3-4 defense? It has been used famously by Bum Phillips, the father of Wade Phillips.
Used by the Houston Oilers in the 70’s, it’s predicated on pressure by overwhelming the offensive line with multiple attacking defensive players. If used correctly this scheme can be virtually unstoppable. This was defensive scheme used most brilliantly by the Denver Broncos to defeat the Carolina Panthers in this past years’ Super Bowl.
The 3-4 was the staple of Dick LeBeau’s defense which helped drive multiple teams to Super Bowl appearances. Lebeaus’ defense has yielded two wins and four losses in the Super Bowl. In New England, the 3-4 has been the driving force behind the Patriots dynasty. Yes, Tom Brady has made his throws but its been the defense that’s given the Patriots four Super Bowl titles in 15 years.
Breaking it down the 3-4 consists of three down linemen and four linebackers. The four linebackers have endless possibilities on how they can be placed. There’s a multitude of packages to utilize. This makes the 3-4 a hard defense to plan against. With four linebackers you don’t know who is blitzing or who is dropping back in coverage. The point of a 3-4 defense is mismatches. It’s built to stop the run and apply endless amount of pressure on the opposing teams’ offensive line. In theory, the Chargers should be good at run-stopping although this has been the Achilles’ heel of the defense over the past several years.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 3-4 defense.
So how will the Chargers look defensively? Let’s start with the defensive line. At left defensive end will be Corey Liuget. Anchoring the middle will be nose tackle Brandon Mebane. At right defensive end will be Joey Bosa. At weak side outside linebacker will be Jerry Attaochu. The inside linebacker will be Manti Te’o. The middle linebacker will be Denzel Perrymen. The strong side linebacker will be Melvin Ingram.
Anchoring the back end of the defense from left to right will be left cornerback Jason Verrett. At Free Safety will be Dwight Lowery. Next to him will be strong safety Jahleel Addae. The right cornerback will be Brandon Flowers. Keep in mind this is how it stands right now. A lot depends on training camp and if the Chargers sign other free agents.
So now know how the Chargers will run their basic 3-4 defense. What is a 4-3 defense? The base 4-3 first came to us under Tom Landry when he was the Giants defensive coordinator in the 1950’s. He then made it even more famous with the Dallas Cowboys and through their vaunted “Doomsday” defense. Ever since, there’s been multiple variations of the scheme from the Bill Parcells stack defense to the Wide-9 defense famously used by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On to the basis of the 4-3. It’s four down linemen and three linebackers. In its most basic form the four down linemen will always have their hands in the ground and be in pursuit of whomever has the ball. The three linebackers are in charge of coverage in this base defense although they may blitz in certain packages.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 4-3 defense.
The Chargers run a variation of the 4-3 in a hybrid nickel package. The nickel package features Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu with their hands in the dirt. The 3-4 defense has been implemented since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach. Since then the Chargers have had a few dominant defenses in ’06, ’07, ’09 and 2010. Its been proven very effective when the right pieces are in place. In 2016 this is such the case. My main reason for this belief is Joey Bosa and the signing of cornerback Casey Hayward. The Hayward addition was an amazing pick up.
It’s all about the anchor of the 3-4, the nose tackle. A viable anchor is something the Chargers have lacked for so long. Since the days of Jamal Williams its been a revolving door at this position. Brandon Mebane probably didn’t make headlines to the casual Chargers fan. I believe this is the most underrated pickup of the whole offseason. Mebane can garner double- and sometimes even triple-teams.
This defense, hell, this whole team is going too shock a lot of people. As I said earlier the 3-4 requires almost pure selflessness from its three down linemen. It starts with Mebane. I may call him Bane by seasons’ end. If you know Batman then you understand the reference. Its been five years in the making with this defense. Why change philosophies now when this defense is so close to grasping greatness? Its proven to be a dominant defense in the past. It can and will be for years to come.
There’s a different aroma in the air around the neatly cut grass and white-painted lines of the practice field off of Murphy Canyon road.
The newly acquired rookies of the San Diego Chargers’ 2016 NFL draft class run around flashing their brilliance alongside some 50 other undrafted free agents the team has brought in to try to fulfill their life-long dream of playing professional football.
In the earliest of reports, the first- and second-round picks appear to be men among boys; as they should be practicing among guys who will most likely never wear an NFL jersey on game days in September.
On paper, the Chargers have improved leaps and bounds from a team that was decimated by injuries and lacked enough quality depth to be competitive in an ever-evolving AFC West. The starting offensive line played two games together throughout the course of the 2015 season. The defensive line wasn’t much better even when they were on the field, giving up nearly five yards per carry on the ground.
Fast forward to this year and there’s a completely new picture to look at.
The defensive line has been transformed by the pick up of true nose tackle Brandon Mebane, and the drafting of defensive lineman Joey Bosa. Mebane and Bosa are going to come in and immediately improve the run defense of this team. Mebane is going to clog up the middle of the defense, freeing up the linebacking corps, allowing them to fly in and stop ball carriers before they get through the line. Bosa is as technically sound as it gets for a rookie. He has violent hands, and good strength that allows him to bully offensive linemen and attack the football.
The improvements of the defensive line are going to make everyone else’s job on the defense much easier. Let’s not forget the addition of Casey Hayward who will team up with Jason Verrett as the teams No. 1 and 2 corners.
Telesco has also replaced Donald Butler with two young, hungry linebackers in Joshua Perry and Jatavis Brown. These two young men are going to come in and make the special teams better the second they step on the field. Don’t be surprised if you see Perry and Brown also push Manti Te’o for some playing time on defense.
Speaking of the linebackers, fifth-year pro Melvin Ingram easily had the best season of his career in 2015 by totaling 10.5 sacks. As you well know, that was all without the aid of a Mebane or Bosa on the team’s defensive unit. Opposite of Ingram, Jerry Attaochu also made the best of his opportunities last season, setting a career-high with six sacks of his own.
The offensive line has also been fortified with center/guard Matt Slauson formerly of the Chicago Bears, and third-round pick Max Tuerk of USC. The pick up of Matt Slauson has a huge impact on the identity of this line. Slauson is durable, intelligent and plays with a nasty mean streak. This also allows Max Tuerk to take his time to recover from a knee injury, move Chris Watt back to his natural position of guard, while hopefully eliminating the dead weight that is Trevor Robinson.
Not only has Tom Telesco improved the offensive and defensive lines, but he’s also brought in a couple of new weapons for Philip Rivers to throw to in the speedster Travis Benjamin and the sure-handed rookie tight end Hunter Henry.
Philip Rivers has gone on record saying that Travis Benjamin is the fastest guy he’s ever thrown the ball to. Benjamin is going to come in and take the top off of the defense and allow guys like Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates to tear up the middle of the field.
This is the best offseason of Tom Telesco’s tenure as the Chargers’ general manager because he addressed almost every need that was bleeding the team last year.
The national media is sleeping on the Chargers and that’s fine, but don’t be surprised if this team changes that perception as soon as they strap on the helmets and pads come September.
Now that the initial wave of free agency has come and gone, there are still many questions that need to be answered and holes on the roster to be filled.
For the purpose of this interview, I’ll be sitting down with the lead writer of this website, Greg Williams.
Booga: Which of the recently signed Chargers’ free agents are you most excited about?
Greg: By the slimmest of margins, I am most excited about the addition of wide receiver/returner Travis Benjamin. Slightly edging out Brandon Mebane, Benjamin had nearly four times as many punt return yards in 2015 than the Chargers did. Giving the Bolts a much-needed advantage in field position, the former Brown can swing the field in favor of the Chargers’ offense, as opposed to struggling mightily in that department in recent years. His ability to take the top off of defenses is something Philip Rivers hasn’t had since the days of Vincent Jackson. His presence dramatically opens up two of the three phases of the game for the Bolts.
Booga: Which position do you feel could still be addressed via free agency?
Greg: The center spot. Due to the fact that San Diego needs a veteran presence in the middle of the offensive line, Stefen Wisniewski should have already received a phone call from Tom Telesco, by now. He’s a Pro Bowl center who (no offense, Trevor Robinson and Chris Watt) is far and away better than the guys filling that spot now.
Booga: With the third pick, in the 2016 NFL draft, the San Diego Chargers select…….
Greg: I want the answer to be Jalen Ramsey. With his size, speed, natural ball-hawking skills and versatility, he is going to be an instant game changer. The problem is his stock is WAY too high. I’m afraid he’s going to go top-two. Also, with the Chargers already signing Dwight Lowery, they may feel they have the safety position suitably covered. I would still want him since he can play corner just as well as safety. Play him opposite Jason Verrett, put Casey Hayward on the slot receiver and Brandon Flowers in the dime package. Unstoppable secondary.
All that being said, I think the Chargers will draft DeForest Buckner. He will be there. He has freakish size, speed and power. He’s got that Oregon conditioning so he won’t gas out. His presence will open up Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram and other pass rushers to favorable one-on-one conditions.
Booga: The retirement of Malcom Floyd has left a gaping hole in the wide receiving corps. Despite the addition of Benjamin, do you feel the position should still be addressed in the draft?
Greg: Yes. There is a good crop of receivers in this draft and none are projected to go higher than middle of the first round; meaning, there will be high quality guys available in the second and third rounds. The Chargers always seem to be pulling guys in off the street to catch the ball by the end of the year due to receiver injuries. Adding a receiver in the draft is a must. Better to have too much depth than not enough. I’m sure Rivers would attest to that.
Booga: Now that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is back with the team, do you think he can help steer Melvin Gordon’s career in the right direction? His rookie season left a lot to be desired.
Greg: Absolutely. Whisenhunt is the perfect man for the job. He knows how to use a power back correctly. The most frustrating thing about last season for me was watching how clueless former OC Frank Reich was in using Gordon. This was the man who just had a 2,000-yard, record-breaking, Heisman Trophy finalist season at Wisconsin using a traditional Power-I system. Fullback makes the first crack in the line and Melvin blasts through it to outstanding results. Did Reich sample that formula at all last season? No. He’s so married to his system he doesn’t want to help Gordon along with a system he’s familiar with that showcases his strengths. Instead, he wants to put him as a single back in a pistol or shotgun formation, use him as a receiving back and overuse inside draw handoffs from seven yards deep in the backfield. Gordon was doomed to fail.
Whisenhunt has a ton of experience using the style Gordon knows from his time in Pittsburgh and Arizona, and he used that style to great success. Both of his teams made the Super Bowl. He did it as a coordinator in Pittsburgh and as a head coach in Arizona. He understands using a fullback yields positive results. He will run old-school, smashmouth power sets, and Gordon will be the back we were hoping to see last season. I’m thrilled for him. I met Gordon three times at the NFL Draft in Chicago last year. He is an amazing young man and it couldn’t be happening to a better person.
Booga: If you were to grade Telesco’s free agency period thus far, what grade would you give it and why?
Greg: I would give him a B-minus.
Getting Mack would have given him an automatic-A. Looking at what Atlanta gave him, the Chargers could’ve done that contract and still had the room to sign their other guys. In their defense, however, there’s no way to know how much other guys are going to command. Getting Wisniewski would give them an A, as well.
The center problem is still a problem and the solution is still sitting there.
Mebane is a great add. All his teammates talk about how he is the soul of their defense, more so than the heralded Legion of Boom. He can occupy two defenders, opening up pass rushers, he can stop the run and he can push the pocket into quarterbacks’ laps.
I love Benjamin for the reasons I mentioned above.
Hayward hasn’t reached his prime yet. He’s going to shine because a lot of balls will be coming his way. Quarterbacks are learning to stay away from Verrett. He had six picks his rookie year and he’s shown himself to be a solid, versatile defender.
Lowery has grown into a quality pro, despite becoming an NFL journeyman. He’s going to have every opportunity to write his name in pen for the next three years at that position if he produces.
I like this free agent class a lot.
Booga: Despite a horrible 2015 for the Bolts, both on and off the field, what are your thoughts on the 2016 offseason thus far, and the prospects of the organization moving forward.
Greg: The Chargers needed this past season to happen. They needed it to see what they were doing is wrong on so many levels. The revolving door on the offensive and defensive lines is wrong. The offensive philosophy was wrong for the talent they have.
They needed the stadium fiasco to play out to light a fire under their butts and realize you can’t half-step on these stadium proposals and say they did their part, essentially blaming the fans. Now they see that the way to win back your fan base is bring in names we know to spark interest, not only in the fan base but in their own locker room.
Do you think the defensive captains are happy to hear Brandon Mebane is coming? Do you think Philip Rivers is happy to hear Travis Benjamin is coming? You better believe they’re excited! Rivers has already said he and his son were watching YouTube clips on Benjamin. That’s how you begin building a winning culture. Now the stadium task force will come correct with a viable plan and a stadium will become a reality.
The draft is going to bring in another impact player or two, and this team has a very realistic shot at getting back to a double-digit win season. They will have everyone coming back healthy and they’re playing a last-place schedule. They needed to be smacked down by reality in order to move forward. Now you’re going to see the real Chargers and a front office with their heads out of the sand.
Believe it or not, it’s a great time to be a Chargers fan. I can’t wait for the season to start!
Thanks a lot for reading.
Please follow Greg on Twitter, @LordOfTheGregs.