Chip Kelly

drafttown

We are just 48 hours away from the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, live from Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. Picking third, we all now know that the draft truly begins with our beloved San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have the luxury of knowing the first two selections will be quarterbacks, giving them pick-of-the-litter among all the non-quarterback players.

To quote a famous line from comic book lore: With great power comes great responsibility.

The Chargers can not miss with this pick. This must be a player who will be a mainstay for the next decade provided he can stay healthy. We all know that is easier said than done in San Diego. This man must be a building block of the future, someone who can step into a starter’s role from game number one.

Many intriguing storylines are attached to the 2016 edition of the NFL Draft. Here’s a look at the biggest ones on everyone’s minds and lips heading into Thursday night.

1. What will the Chargers do?

San Diego can enlist a franchise player from this spot but will they? Temptation will be heavy to trade down and try to add picks and value. If the Bolts trade down and add picks, the chances of hitting on a prospect increase. The risk is passing on the next big superstar/future Hall Of Fame enshrinee. What to do, what to do…

2. Quarterbacks

As we’ve already seen, quarterbacks drive the action in this draft. The number one and two selections have exchanged teams. More movement to acquire the top five quarterbacks on the board will occur, most likely in the first round. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff will undoubtedly go in the first two picks. Expect Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg to be drafted in round one.

Aside from the rookies, don’t be surprised to see Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick traded in the first round. The Philadelphia Eagles (Bradford) and San Francisco 49ers Kaepernick) find themselves in the same boat. Both teams have quarterbacks that don’t want to play for them anymore. Both quarterbacks have plummeted on the field and in overall value. Will the two teams make the best of their bad situations and swap headaches (err…quarterbacks) especially after new 49ers coach Chip Kelly was just fired by the Eagles.

Whether it’s an even exchange or not, the Niners would be helping the coach that has set back their organization untold years. (Insert dramatic music here…) Quarterback desperate teams will rule the first two days of the draft. Sleeper team to be a player in the quarterback sweepstakes: The New England Patriots. You heard it here first.

3. Ole Miss players

There are always players that fall from grace in the draft. It’s most likely that player will come out of Ole Miss. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is considered the best offensive lineman on the board in the last five years. Robert Nkemdiche was the chosen one for the number one pick in the draft just six months ago. A handful of off-the-field incidents later, he is not expected to go until the second round or worse. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is the top-rated wide receiver prospect in the draft despite an unimpressive 4.6 40-yard dash time.

4. Deflategate

The NFL won its appeal and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will serve his four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate scandal after all. This dark cloud will manifest itself multiple times during the proceedings, starting with the fact the first round will only be 31 selections due to the Patriots losing their first round draft pick. With the news dropping just 72 hours before the draft, it is sure to be a hot button issue all week long. As mentioned above, this news could also precipitate a move by the Patriots on the quarterback front.

5. Winners and losers

Every year, the talking heads will compile their winners and losers list for the draft as a whole. Some teams will reach way to high for a head-scratcher of a pick. One team will get the ‘steal of the draft’. We’ll all comb the internet and sports channels for the draftniks’ grades of each team.

We all know what’s coming, and like Christmas, we can’t wait for it to get here. We’re anxiously anticipating Roger Goodell taking the podium to thunderous boos as he announces the 2016 NFL Draft is underway and the Los Angeles Rams are on the clock.

The themes are the same, only the names will change. We’ll ogle a players’ smoking hot girlfriend. We’ll shake our head at a couple of players’ choices of suits. We’ll see that big name player plummeting down the draft board and keep a curious watch on how far he slides as if rubbernecking at the site of a car crash. We will watch every pick and celebrate the entire three hours like we’ve never seen it before.

Why?

 

Because football, that’s why.

 

Are YOU ready?

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#Ontheclock

 

draft

 

There are less than three days remaining until the offseason day we’ve all been waiting for aside from the start of free agency. The NFL Draft will commence with the Tampa Bay on the clock and a whirlwind of speculation surrounding our beloved San Diego Chargers. I will be there in person to see the events unfold and write of it in the days thereafter. After ingesting all the rumors and speculation of the last couple months, I have a feel for the way things go and I am brave (or stupid) enough to put them in print. Without further adieu. here are my top ten fearless predictions.

1. Philip Rivers will NOT be traded. Chargers GM Tom Telesco knows how valuable a commodity he has in Rivers and he’s simply not for sale. Not for Mariota. Not for Winston. Not for a handful of magic beans. No trade. No way. No how.

2. Adrian Peterson WILL be traded. To my chagrin, I have come to the realization that he will not be traded to the Chargers as dearly as I want that to happen. The Vikings know there is no chance in hell Peterson will ever suit up in the Purple and Gold ever again so on draft day he will be gone to the highest bidder. I will stand by my projection that the best they will get is a third round pick and maybe a late round throw in but their first round asking price will not happen.

3. Marcus Mariota will be the second pick in the draft but he will not play for Tennessee, who own the second pick. Not coincidentally, it leads to my next prediction…

4. Marcus Mariota and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly will be reunited in Philadelphia. All the talk of a Mariota-for-Rivers deal has to make the Eagles happy because they have been largely forgotten in the equation. This will turn out exactly the way we expected it to at the end of the National Championship game. Chip Kelly wants Mariota to run his offense the same way he did at Oregon. Kelly knows there is no one better to run his offense than Mariota. Kelly will get Mariota.

5. To get Mariota, Kelly will trade off his offseason acquisitions. We all thought Kelly traded off his best pieces if he wanted to trade up to get Mariota. The Eagles sent former rushing champion LeSean McCoy packing. They traded away a strong quarterback in Nick Foles. What they did was overload their skill positions in order to make a deal the Titans would want. Let’s examine the facts. They now have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles as running backs. They now have Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Tim freaking Tebow in their five quarterback stable. Kelly is going to give the Titans the quarterback and running back of their choice AND their first rounder to get the Titans spot and claim Mariota. Book it.

6. Eight household name players will change addresses during the draft. Expect at least five veterans to get traded on day one and more on day two as Peterson comes into play. Chip Kelly will be responsible for three of those names alone. More will come.

7. The Chargers first round pick will be a running back. Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon will be the man depending on who’s available.  Florida State center Cameron Erving will be the selection (as I indicated in my recent mock draft) if both are gone. Offense will be the order of the day in the first round. Telesco has not addressed the running back issue at all in the offseason and contrary to what has been said, don’t expect him to stand pat with Donald Brown, Branden Oliver and  Danny Woodhead. A top two running back will be drafted.

8. Only two quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round but three will be traded. Among those names, expect Robert Griffin III to be one of them.

9. The bidding war for Adrian Peterson between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will be won by….New England. The Patriots will give the Vikings their first, second and fifth round picks to secure Peterson as Belichick shows why he is still the smartest person in the room. Hear that sound? It’s Bill Belichick dropping the mic.

10. Telesco will go against formula and trade down on day two to recover the seventh round pick he dealt last year. He’s saving one other bombshell for day two that lands the Chargers the services of.. disgruntled Bears feature running back Matt Forte. You heard it here first. A big name veteran will end up with the Chargers by the end of the draft. Telesco has a plan and its going to jolt Bolt Nation.

There you have it. My expectations for the draft. There’s always a few surprises, a few head scratchers but it will always be entertaining. Look for me on Thursday wearing my powder blue lightning bolted jersey of the quarterback who won’t be traded.

 

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

#TelescoMagic

It’s that time of year in the NFL again. After the free agency frenzy dies every talking head in the industry gives birth to a mock draft in hopes of getting a few picks right. The reward for achieving such a task is getting to label themselves a ‘genuis’, ‘guru’, ‘svengali’ or other related overexaggeration. Getting a few no-brainers right makes one no more of a draft expert than picking the right Powerball numbers makes one a Numerologist. In the end, let’s call it what it is, guessing.

Not to be outdone, The Greg One is throwing his hat in the mock draft pool. The Chargers have a lot of holes to fill and GM Tom Telesco has shown himself very adept at filling those holes in the draft. This year will be no different. Below is my perfect Chargers mock draft. This isn’t my crystal ball of what the Chargers will do on draft day but what would happen if I were General Manager of the Chargers on draft day. Most of you will probably be glad i’m not by the end of this but it will make for a fun read and you can tell me how insane I am in the comments. Enjoy.

 

Round One

erving

Cameron Erving, Center, Florida State

No position was hit harder last season than center. The Chargers played five centers last season, a major factor contributing to the overall instability of the offensive line. Rivers was hit more last season (37 sacks allowed, 75 QB hits) than the season before (30 sacks, 60 hits), causing multiple injuries. If the Chargers are going to maximize the remaining years on Rivers odometer (and they will, don’t listen to the Mariota hype) they need a legitimate starter now and for the future. Erving is a 6’6, 315 lb. giant that has all the tools to be the rock the team needs in the middle of the line. He is the best center in the draft and made all the line calls for the Seminoles last season as they contended in the inaugural BCS playoffs. As long as he can stay healthy, Erving has ten-year veteran and Pro Bowl written all over him. A talent like this won’t last into the second round so the Chargers need to pounce.

Round Two

phillips

Jordan Phillips, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma

The defensive tackle position is another area that hasn’t been addressed during free agency and while the players they have there are serviceable at best, they need a player that will solidify the nose tackle position the way Erving will on the other side of the ball. Phillips is a 6’5, 330 lb. space eater with massive upside. A reason he falls into the second round is the back surgery he had in 2013. Lauded for his athleticism, Phillips showed no decline in skill coming off that back surgery last season and would be a steal for the Chargers in the second round.

 

Round Three

AP

Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings

Ladies and gentleman we have ourselves a trade! The Chargers trade their third round pick to the Vikings for the rights to Adrian Peterson. This move shows the Chargers are committed to winning now, especially with the stadium movement underway. The Chargers need a name that will create a buzz in the community and Peterson is the name that can do it.  With the picks the Chargers are using to solidify the lines, this will make the Chargers not only a playoff contender but a Super Bowl favorite. This works on a number of different levels.

1. Want to convince Philip Rivers to stay with the team even if disaster happens and they move to Los Angeles? Here’s AP to get you a Super Bowl ring. They sure won’t be contending for one in Tennessee any time soon.

2. Peterson gives the Chargers a legitimate three down back that forces defenses to commit eight men in the box. In turn, the Chargers tight ends, receivers, Woodhead and Oliver will all have favorable one-on-one matchups and the Chargers will ring up points at a rate they haven’t since the prime years of Ladainian Tomlinson.

3. After essentially having the year off last season, Peterson is going to come back healthy, angry and hungrier than ever. The Chargers can still draft a back to groom for when Peterson retires but i’d expect no less than three more productive years out of the All-Pro.

4. The Chargers are on Peterson’s short list of teams he wants to be traded to. He will allow Telesco to craft a deal that makes it possible to sign him without hamstringing the budget.

5. It’s a third round pick! Even for a proven commodity the Vikings are not going to get much better than a middle round pick in exchange for his services. Third round would actually be overpaying. The last time a player over 30 drew a high draft pick in exchange for his services was when the Oakland Raiders gave the Cincinnati Bengals their first round pick in 2012 and second round pick in 2013 for Carson Palmer.  We all know the Raiders are the last team to be used as a measuring stick in the front office. Third round is going to be more than the Vikings will get from another team and it solves the void left behind by the departure of Ryan Mathews.

Round Four

Ifo

 

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Cornerback, Oregon

This player will be a steal reminiscent of the Chargers getting Keenan Allen two drafts ago. Like Allen, Ekpre-Olomu is a first round talent who’s stock has plummeted because of injury. In the weeks leading up to the inaugural NCAA playoffs he suffered a serious knee injury and missed both of Oregon’s games.  That injury, while healing ahead of schedule according to reports, will cause him to miss rookie camp, training camp and possibly some of the season. That alone will scare teams away and drop Ekore-Olomu into the middle rounds.

He is however, a ball hawk of the highest order. Although undersized at a hair under 5’10, he is a very physical corner with great instincts. An All Pac-12 selection for the past three seasons, Ekpre-Olomu finished his Oregon career with 18 takeaways (nine interceptions, eight forced fumbles, one fumble recovery) and was adept playing in press man or off coverage. He is solid against the run and the type of value pick Telesco covets. However, the GM may have to trade up in the round to get ahead of Ekpre-Olomu’s college coach, Chip Kelly and the Eagles, who pick four selections before.

 

Round Five

Mannion

 

Sean Mannion, Quarterback, Oregon State

With all the talk surrounding Rivers and his contract situation, it is time to seriously address the quarterback of the future instead of just finding a clipboard holder.  Sean Mannion is one of the top five quarterback prospects in this draft class and has the potential to be very successful at the next level. Mannion is similar to Rivers in stature, standing at 6’5, 220 lbs.  Among his other advantages is that he comes from a traditional pro-style offense at Oregon State, has above average grade in accuracy and a cannon for an arm.

The knocks on Mannion are his ball security (30 funbles and 54 interceptions in his four years at OSU), his immobility and handling pressure. A year or two sitting behind a franchise quarterback like Rivers will leave the Chargers well prepared moving forward after Rivers retires the same way Rivers benefited from sitting behind Drew Brees for three seasons.

 

Round Six

crowder

Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Duke

Crowder was the speed burning ace of Duke’s receiving corps during his four years in blue. He will be another candidate to fill the slot receiver void opened by the departure of Eddie Royal. In his last three seasons, Crowder topped 1000 yards receiving and at least 76 receptions. Jamison is a threat to go the distance on special teams as well as he had four punt return touchdowns over his last two seasons.

The  knock on Crowder will be his size. Standing at 5’9, 185 lbs., GM’s will wonder if he has the ability to withstand the rigors of playing in the NFL with his slight frame. This isn’t stopping teams from working him out as New England, Cincinnati and Houston are among the latest teams to bring him on for private workouts.

 

So there you have my mock draft. I’ve addressed the present and the future, strengthened the offensive and defensive lines, secondary and brought in a legend to get Rivers a ring now. You can feel free to tell me how awful I am below. I’m looking forward to attending the draft in two weeks to find out what the Chargers do in real time. In the meantime, it’s fun to speculate. What do you think? Good, bad or indifferent?

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

 

#TelescoMagic

Tom Telesco

 

 

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.

 

Briana Soltis

mathews1

 

On the second day of free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a three-year, twelve million dollar deal (5 million guaranteed) with Chargers free agent running back Ryan Mathews. Mathews flew to Philadelphia and pending a physical, is ready to sign on the dotted line and start a new NFL life in the city of Brotherly Love.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to the doctor’s office.

The Eagles were set to halt their pursuit of Cowboys free agent running back Demarco Murray. That is, until Eagles head coach Chip Kelly received a phone call from Murray himself. Murray pitched himself to the coach and the Eagles took the bait. As of the time of this writing on the third day of free agency, March 12, Murray is on a plane to Philadelphia with the intent of signing a deal with the Eagles when he enters the building.

Brotherly Love indeed.

Back to Mathews. He is at time of this writing, finishing his physical and it’s approaching the time where the deal would be signed and he would be issued official Eagles gear. The contract is not signed.  Murray’s arrival could mean a couple things. Either the Eagles are planning on sharing the load with two workhorse running backs OR Murray’s signing will put Mathews back on the street looking for work. The latter seems to be the more likely scenario.

Why else would the Eagles bring in Murray after agreeing with Mathews if not to supplant him? Murray is the shiniest jewel in the running back free agent crown. Demarco ran for over 1800 yards last season. Mathews was injured for all but six games last season. Of course Murray is the sexier addition.

The latest breaking news is Murray has agreed to a 5-year, 40 million dollar deal with the Eagles with twenty million guaranteed and a couple million more possible with incentives. Neither player has signed yet. Why would Mathews want to stay? The Eagles undoubtedly made promises about him being the number one back and a day later they brought in the league’s rushing leader.

Essentially, the cute girl in class has been dumped for the head cheerleader.

I am in no way a Mathews fan. Anyone who has read my columns knows I have been campaigning for him to leave since Boltblitz started over two years ago. The injuries, the inconsistency and watching my favorite player, quarterback Philip Rivers, get beat down as a consequence of not having a dependable running game soured me to Mathews seasons ago.

As much as I want to laugh my fool head off at the situation, I can’t. I am waiting to throw my celebration party until Mathews officially signs a deal with another team and that still hasn’t happened yet. Yes he’s a free agent so that means he’s not in any way affiliated with the Chargers anymore. He’s not under contract with San Diego and if the front office wanted him to stay with the team they would have made an offer to him before free agency began. They didn’t. He’s gone.

For now.

What I expect will happen is the Eagles will tell Mathews he’s no longer needed or Mathews will tell the Eagles he’s not staying if Murray is their guy. Either way, that means he’s still up for bids. There should be teams willing and waiting to acquire him but what if Chargers GM Tom Telesco decided to make an incentive-laden offer at a lower price and Mathews accepts?

Call it an irrational fear but it isn’t. Stranger things have happened. Look at what’s happened in Philadelphia alone as the example. They had Frank Gore and Gore decided to back out of his oral agreement. Philly then agreed to a deal with Mathews and a day later they agree to a deal with Murray after Murray picked up the phone and offered himself like a hooker on the Las Vegas strip. In the span of a week, Philadelphia has changed running backs three times! A call out of the blue from the old team is downright standard these days.

There are no reports that the Chargers have any interest in getting back in the running for their former running back but we’ve been surprised before. Nobody saw Jimmy Graham getting traded on day one of free agency either. We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and that’s what worries me. The more running backs that sign as this soap opera unfolds, the more worried I am that Mathews dons the lightning bolts again. The title of a favorite Motley Crue song comes to mind: Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away. Maybe the Eagles are telling him that right now…

What do you think? Should the Chargers jump back in the mix for Mathews?

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

 

 

 

#BoltingToAChampionship

#BoltingToAChampionship

 

 

The tedious summer is gone. Fall is here and with it we have made it through the offseason hullabaloo. The NFL Draft, free agency, training camp, OTA’s and most importantly, preseason games and final cuts are OVER! It is time for some live action, these games count FOOTBALL!!

I did get to watch all four of the Chargers preseason games and was mostly impressed with what I saw. GM Tom Telesco has shown a deft touch at finding talent that can make an impact. Donald Brown is going to be a great insurance policy for Ryan Mathews. The few games he had in Indianapolis as the feature back showed he has the ability to carry the load of a number one running back. Brown is a great depth add. He will make his mark before the season is over.

Speaking of Mathews, he had a great 2013 season. For the first time in his pro career he played in all sixteen games. Considering it was his third season before he accomplished the feat doesn’t sway me. Those who have read my columns for any length of time know I am not a fan of 24, but I do applaud his effort last season. Mathews’ hard running spearheaded the Chargers second half surge into the playoffs. This is his contract year and a subpar showing will have him looking for employment elsewhere. For the Chargers sake, I hope he can repeat his success from last season. My dream scenario is Mathews mirrors last season’s production, the Chargers win the Super Bowl in the process and Mathews leaves willingly as he overvalues himself and goes to the highest bidder in the offseason.

I am encouraged by the wide receiver group for the first time in a long time. It’s great to see Malcom Floyd back on the field and looking good in the preseason games. Keenan Allen spent the offseason working on his speed. He looked plenty fast last season but he was working his way back from a knee injury that dropped his draft stock into the third round where the Chargers scooped  him up as the steal of the draft. If he’s actually increased his speed running on a now fully healed knee, the Chargers will feature two legitimate vertical threats and a quarterback that is one of the top deep ball passers in the league.

Speaking of deep threats, Dontrelle Inman has been very impressive in the preseason and has gotten raves in camp. Inman has been sure handed, looks good running routes and has also shown the ability to get down the field in a hurry. I’m excited to see Inman on the field with Rivers putting the ball on him in stride. Add Eddie Royal and a stable of fast, uber-athletic tight ends and the field will be littered with great targets for Rivers. There is enough speed on the offense to make Chip Kelly jealous. No one is talking about the Chargers.

They will.

Soon.

I also like the defensive back depth. They are unproven commodities but last year’s fifth round draft pick Steve Williams will be making plays on the field. Williams may have missed his entire rookie year but he now knows the defense and all there is left to do is apply what he knows to the field in real game action. First rounder Jason Verrett will see plenty of playing time. Brandon Flowers was in the Pro Bowl last season, and that was coming off what was statistically his worst season of his NFL career! There are a lot of plays and game impact that can’t be quantified by numbers.

Add to the mix the incumbents Wright, Gilchrist and Marshall (although he’s being converted to safety) and the Chargers now have something they’ve lacked for a long time, a playmaking secondary. My biggest gripe about the defense is they don’t get interceptions. There are quite a few dropped interceptions but the Chargers defensive backs have seemed allergic to interceptions. Usually there’s a defensive lineman who has as many interceptions as anyone in the secondary. Last season the Chargers had a paltry 11 interceptions. Defensive backs had five led by Gilchrist with 2, while defensive linemen had 4. Two picks came from Weddle at the safety position.

My other concern is run defense. Not to put too much stock in the preseason but the Seahawks ran all over the Chargers first team. Conversely, the 49ers couldn’t run against the Chargers defense at all. The best backdrop to use is recent history. Last season San Diego allowed 107 yards per game on the ground. Blame injuries and instability at nose tackle but it needs to be fixed if the Chargers are going to make the playoffs. This season they face great running backs like Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, Zac Stacy, CJ Spiller and Ray Rice (lest we forget 4th and 29). Stopping these running backs are key to making the playoffs.

As I wrote in a recent column, no one is more excited to see Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich hand Philip Rivers a shiny new toy called the no-huddle offense. This is the same system Peyton Manning used in Indianapolis during the height of his powers. This offense also has aspects of the K-Gun offense run by the Buffalo Bills during their run of four straight Super Bowls in the early 90’s. Reich was Manning’s quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis during his run and Reich was Jim Kelly’s backup quarterback in Buffalo. Now Rivers gets to run an updated version of the same offense.

There are few quarterbacks in the league as cerebral as Rivers. There’s not a page of the playbook he doesn’t know upside down and inside out. There’s not a defense he hasn’t seen, no situation he hasn’t been in. With the defense unable to substitute regularly inbetween plays Rivers will have time to find the weak link in the defense and exploit it. To boot, he has the offensive personnel needed to make it successful. This could be the last wrinkle to the Chargers becoming a Super Bowl winning team in the near future. This team is going to take the league by surprise and by the time they show up on everyone’s radar, it will already be too late.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

 

Jackson1.5

 

Word has gotten out that the Philadelphia Eagles are looking to trade their best wide receiver, Desean Jackson. The Eagles asking price is a third round draft pick. Teams like San Francisco, Cleveland, Carolina and Seattle are believed to be in the mix for the 5’10 speedster as well as the New York Jets, who just acquired Jackson’s former teammate Michael Vick to be their new quarterback.

The San Diego Chargers are in need of depth at wide receiver. The playing careers of wide receivers Malcolm Floyd and Danario Alexander are yet to be determined. They both suffered career-threatening injuries lasts season and it remains to be seen if they play at all, much less in a Chargers uniform, which also is no certainty. Keenan Allen burst into the lead wide receiver role as a rookie and was a close runner up for offensive rookie of the year.  The Chargers are desperately in need of a number one quality threat opposite Allen. In a perfect world, Jackson would be a perfect fit.

But we don’t live in a perfect world do we?

Among many of the problems hampering the possibility of Jackson coming to San Diego is his salary. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco is dealing with being cash-strapped for a second straight year, forced to sign platoon players off the second teams of other organizations and resigning his own talent. Over ten million dollars is tied up in dead money from Jared Gaither, Derek Cox and Robert Meachem make up over ten million of the 12 million in dead money that will be off the books by the end of this season.

Desean Jackson is scheduled to make 10.5 million this season and according to the New York Daily News, he is unwilling to restructure his deal. The big money is limiting the Eagles ability to trade him and they may be forced to release him outright rather than keep him in town for one more season.

Last season, Jackson caught 82 balls for 1332 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is one of the fastest players in the league and is only 27 years old. Entering his seventh season as a pro, Jackson is entering his prime. Yet, in an Eagles offense led by new head coach Chip Kelly, they are letting Jackson go. Is it about the money or the player? At Oregon, Jackson collected the nation’s fastest players and racked up an obscene won-loss record outscoring opponents by ridiculous margins. Something doesn’t add up.

All wide receivers are known to be divas. Jackson however, has a reputation as one of the top diva receivers in the league. He has been known to pout and call out his quarterbacks, teammates and coaches in the media when he feels he is not getting the ball enough. Jackson also infamously shut himself down a couple season ago as the Eagles season spiraled downhill, gathering losses along the way. When Jackson is on, he is among the best receivers in the league, but when he feels disrespected he pouts and shuts down making a nuisance of himself in and out of the locker room.

Would the Chargers take that chance?

Assume for a minute that Tom Telesco could get Jackson to agree to restructure his deal making it a possibility to sign him. It would be an excellent fit. San Diego is a perfect spot for the troubled wideout. Jackson is from nearby Long Beach. He would be able to play near family and friends. San Diego fans would shower Jackson in love and the media glare would be considerably, noticeably less searing than it is in Philadelphia. All Jackson would have to do is show up, catch balls from a Pro Bowl quarterback and go on a Super Bowl run with a team on the rise.

What Telesco would have to consider is Jackson’s history. Would he be a distraction? Would he be up to the same shenanigans he was up to in Philadelphia? Could he be a good example to the stable of young wideouts on the Chargers roster? Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Seyi Ajirotutu are still in their NFL infancy. With Floyd and Alexander out, Jackson and Eddie Royal would be the veterans of the Chargers receiving corps. Would Jackson accept his role as leader of that group?

What Jackson needs is a change of scenery. Philadelphia has been an underachieving disaster of a team for the amount of talent on their roster. Jackson’s outbursts are a result of frustration over losing, the intense media and fan pressure and a front office resembling a rudderless ship. Jackson is a ultra-competitive, passionate player who seems unable to keep his feelings in check. Sound like another Charger we all know so well doesn’t it?

I still contend Jackson would make San Diego the most lethal offense in the league opposite Keenan Allen. With Brown and Royal in the slot, tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green working the middle of the field and Danny Woodhead lining up anywhere, Philip Rivers would have a field day finding open receivers. Jackson’s speed takes the lid off the secondary’s coverage, leaving the middle of the field vulnerable to the run and the pass.

Telesco has already made a run at another undersized, disgruntled wide receiver when he offered a contract to former Carolina Panther Steve Smith. That play alone shows he’s not afraid of a ‘diva’ wide receiver if he produces on the field. Attitude issues resolve themselves in the right locker room with the right leadership. Smith and Jackson are cut from the same cloth. Both are blazing fast deep ball threats, cocky, showboats, durable faces of their franchises. Both have been consistent veterans of multiple Pro Bowls. It would be foolish for Telesco not to make a play for Jackson based solely on what he can do on the field. Telesco mentioned team speed as an area he wants the team to upgrade and Jackson definitely addresses that area.

Is a third round pick too much?

In a word, no. Look what last year’s third round pick yielded, Keenan Allen. If this year’s third round pick lands a top five NFL wide receiver who is young and also a special teams solution, that’s getting your money’s worth. As it stands, Telesco may be able to get Jackson and keep his third rounder as it looks like no team wants to pony up that pick knowing the Eagles are on the cusp of having to release him anyway. Even diva veteran receivers know a good thing when they see one. The Chargers are a stock a player would want to buy before it gets too high.

It’s time to come home to sunny San Diego Desean.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

#TelescoMagic

 

The Greg One

The football-obsessed world tuned in last Monday night for the unveiling of Chip Kelly’s Oregon offense in the NFL. As the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he hid his scheme during the preseason and we finally saw the real thing last week.  The offense was impressive to behold.  The offense utilized multiple formations, had tight ends playing tackle, deviated from the basic five across offensive line and the running game picked up yards at will. Anyone who watched Oregon got flashbacks of watching the Ducks Monday night.  The Eagles raced out to a big lead and then held on to win, leaving the pundits to analyze what we had just seen ad nauseam.

Will this offense work in the NFL?

In a word, no.

While this was an impressive debut of a potentially revolutionary offensive scheme, it has too many flaws.  Here are the top five reasons this offense will not be long for the NFL world.

1.  Michael Vick

Without Michael Vick this offense will fail. This offense is a running offense in which the running back, wide receiver or quarterback is running 80% of the time.  Vick had nine rushes in the game. That would put him on pace for over 140 carries in a season.  We all know Vick doesn’t last an entire season. Adding all this running to his normal duties as quarterback will only hasten his arrival on the injured list.  After Vick, there is no running quarterback on the Eagles roster.  Nick Foles is a pocket passer and so is Matt Barkley, whom they drafted this offseason. What happens to this offense when the key component goes down?

2. Offensive line

The experience on the Eagles offensive line is 10, 10, 9, 3, 0. That’s three over thirty, one 26-year old and the rookie Lane Johnson, 23.  All over 300 pounds. These are not spring chickens.  This offense is fun to watch but how exhausting must it be for the 33-year old, 320 pound offensive lineman has to line up, block, run, line up, block, run without a huddle to catch your breath? The skill positions are conditioned for constant running.  Linemen are not.  Depth will be an issue as the season wears on because their bodies will not be able to stand that pace.

In the Monday Night game, after the Eagles built a significant halftime lead, Kelly put the brakes on the Oregon offense. 1. To let the line finish sucking down oxygen from the pace of the first half. 2. Michael Vick was already walking with a limp. Vick was sacked three times and hit a lot more because of this style of offense.

3. The blueprint on how to beat this offense is out.

The Eagles felt they could coast after building a 26-7 halftime lead.  After halftime the Redskins outscored Philadelphia 20-7 in the second half. What happens when the score is alot closer and the Eagles have to try to maintain this pace? If a team can weather the first half offensive outburst they can rally to win in the second half when the offense is tired, the quarterback is hurting from all the hits and the system changes to a conventional huddle, pocket passing offense.

Like the read option offense, the key will be hitting the quarterback.  When Vick rolls out and tosses the ball, he loses his protection as a quarterback, meaning defenses are free to hit him and not fear getting fined or flagged.

4. Lack of depth/Age

At Oregon, Kelly could run this offense to perfection because he could hand-pick the best players to run the system. In college, he also has an 85-man roster. He could go three units deep on the offensive line to keep each unit fresh and the offense running at breakneck speed. In the NFL, he has a pre-made roster of only 53 men. Now Kelly is dealing with grown men with families, not 18-20 year olds he can use as cannon fodder to keep his offensive juggernaut rolling. The legs are older, the pounding more severe, the running not as fast. As good as the offense looked in the first half against Washington, Kelly thought the offense was ‘slow’. Perhaps Kelly is still looking at the field through Oregon tinted glassed.

 5. The real game film is out now

The multiple formations, the design of the plays, the comparison and contrast of the Eagles true offense and the Oregon offense is now there ready for breakdown by the other defensive coordinators around the league.  This offense will be solved quicker than the Wildcat which took a couple of seasons and the read option which is the sexy trend in the league right now.  How will Kelly adjust when defenses have played him to a stalemate headed into the fourth quarter and his players are gassed trying to keep up this pace? There are many questions left to be answered still. In the end, this will slowly devolve, (either by injury or by better defense) into a pocket passing system.

 

This is the perfect time for the Chargers to face the Eagles.  They’re both playing on a short week and the Eagles injuries, especially Vick’s, will heal slower.  The Eagles secondary is vulnerable and Rivers showed he can still carve up secondaries when he has time to throw.  The Eagles will be a bit overconfident with the success of their new offense but they succeeded in large part last week because of the unfamiliarity of the Kelly offense.

The Redskins tackling was poor and the running back LeSean McCoy had a field day. The Chargers played excellent defense against the Texans highly touted running backs and top five rusher Arian Foster, holding him to 57 yards on 18 carries.  The Chargers have done a great job with open field tackling going all the way back to preseason and that will be key to limiting the Eagles offense and keeping Rivers on the field to break down that weak secondary.

 

Greg Williams

The Philadelphia Eagles have gotten a lot of attention with their fast paced offense. While they caught the Washington Redskins off guard initially, they can be beat.

Coordinators John Pagano and Ken Wisenhunt have their work cut out for them, but here’s what I see as the keys to beating Philly:

Key #1: Run the ball. Run the ball again. Run the ball some more. Washington got too far behind too quickly and didn’t have the luxury of establishing the run. When they did run, they posted an effective 4.1 yards per carry (but only 18 carries). Chargers have a Mack Truck at RT in D.J. Fluker. Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown, Fozzy Whittaker and Danny Woodhead need to get on Fluker’s hip and ride him to success.

Key #2: Run success means clock control. Keep Chip Kelly’s offense on the sidelines where they can’t get a rhythm going.

Key #3: Gap discipline. Front seven has to maintain gap discipline to stop Shady McCoy and the Philly ground attack.

Key #4: Coverage, coverage, coverage. No more namby-pamby zone crapola. Disrupt DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant. Bront Bird, you need to stick to Brent Celek like a bum on a ham sandwich.

Key #5: Did I say run the ball yet?

Chargers need to run, run again and run yet again to come away from Philly with a win. This isn’t a knock on Philip Rivers. Throwing the ball, gaining huge chunks and scoring quickly plays right into Chip Kelly’s wheelhouse. Keep his offense harmlessly on the sidelines and we have a good shot at our first win under the Tom Telesco/Mike McCoy era.

Mike Pisciotta

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