Hot on the heels of the monumental Thursday morning announcement of the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers moving up the I-5 to Los Angeles, a new head coach was announced to spearhead the new Los Angeles Chargers.
On Friday, the now Los Angeles Chargers officially announced former Buffalo Bills’ interim head coach Anthony Lynn as their successor to Mike McCoy. Lynn was a running back in the NFL for six seasons from 1993-1999. He was initially signed as an undrafted free agent running back by the Denver Broncos. He played a season in San Francisco (1995-’96) before finishing his career in Denver from 1997 to 1999. Lynn has two Super Bowl rings as part of the John Elway-led team that won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998.
Since retiring from playing the game in 2000, Lynn has worked his way up the coaching ranks. After two seasons in Denver as a special teams coach, he was brought in as a running backs coach for Jacksonville, Dallas, Cleveland and New York Jets before landing in Buffalo in 2015. Lynn served as running backs coach until week three of the 2016 season. Bills OC Greg Roman was fired after week two and Lynn was promoted to offensive coordinator. He was the week 17 interim head coach after Rex Ryan was fired in week 16.
Lynn is a low-profile, safe choice for the Chargers. Not much will be expected of him or the team given their recent history. The Chargers have finished in the cellar the last two seasons, only winning a combined nine games. They made the playoffs once in the four years of the Mike McCoy era.
Despite the fact he has no head coaching experience at any level of football, he is expected to keep Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator and various media outlets are reporting he wants to hire former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley to replace John Pagano as defensive coordinator. If the Bradley hire happens, that places two experienced head coaches to accelerate his learning curve.
Lynn becomes the first minority head coach in the history of the Chargers franchise. He is widely respected around the league as a running game mastermind. From 2009-13 his Jets led the league in rushing. Each season in Buffalo, the Bills have led the NFL in rushing. If he can do that with a past his prime veteran like LeSean McCoy, imagine what he will be able to do with a young, budding superstar like Melvin Gordon.
Lynn inherits a roster with many budding stars yet to hit their prime and if they can stay healthy, could make the playoffs as soon as next season. So far, the Chargers have led the league in players sent to injured reserve over the past few seasons. Staying healthy and offensive line stability has been their biggest downfall.
All things considered, there is no place to go but up for Lynn and the Chargers. The stadium drama is over and players now know in which city their future lies. That has to be good for something. Now everyone can focus on getting healthy and just playing football, which may be exactly what this team needs.
What do you think? Good signing? Bad signing? Too soon to care? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Follow me on Twitter @LordOfTheGregs
The NFL regular season starts in just under two months. The 2016 schedule has the Chargers facing the AFC South, NFC South, the Miami Dolphins (AFC East) and the Cleveland Browns (AFC North).
Below is a breakdown of their 2016 opponents.
Week 1: @Kansas City Chiefs
2015 Record: 11-5, 2nd AFC West
Offense: 27th overall
Defense: 7th overall
The Chiefs started 2015 slow, losing five straight games. They ended the season winning 10 straight and won their first playoff game in 20 years. The running game should be solid for the Chiefs in 2016. Jamaal Charles is coming back from an ACL injury. Along with his fellow running backs, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, KC sports one of the best backfields in the NFL.
Week 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
2015 Record: 5-11, 3rd AFC South
Offense: 18th overall
Defense: 24th overall
The Jaguars had a less than stellar season, placing third in the worst division in the NFL in 2015. Jacksonville only won one road game last year. The Jags took to the draft to help beef up their defense by signing defensive players with their first five picks, including DB Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and LB Myles Jack from UCLA.
Week 3: @Indianapolis Colts
2015 Record: 8-8, 2nd AFC South
Offense: 28th overall
Defense: 26th overall
The Colts had a 3-5 record in the first half of the 2015 season, losing starting quarterback Andrew Luck in Week 8. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and journeyman signal caller Josh Freeman went 5-3 in the second half, but it still was not enough to win the division. If Andrew Luck can stay healthy in 2016, the Colts could make improvements on offense. They drafted a much-needed center, Ryan Kelly from Alabama, with the 18th pick overall.
Week 4: New Orleans Saints
2015 Record: 7-9, 3rd NFC South
Offense: 2nd overall
Defense: 31st overall
The Saints were a very lopsided team in 2015. Their offense averaged 403.8 yards and 25.5 points per game, but their defense allowed an average of 413.8 yards and 29.8 points per game. That is clearly not a recipe for success. The Saints should continue to have a stellar offense with veteran Drew Brees at quarterback.
Week 5: @Oakland Raiders
2015 Season: 7-9, 3rd AFC West
Offense: 24th overall
Defense: 22nd overall
The Raiders made some improvements last year in an attempt to have their first winning season since losing the Super Bowl in 2003, but fell short, again. Their 7-9 record was an improvement considering they have averaged only 4.9 wins a season in the last 13 years. The Raiders will probably continue to improve in 2016. They have a young team lead by third-year quarterback Derek Carr. Don’t sleep on the Raiders in 2016.
Week 6: Denver Broncos
2015 Season: 12-4, 1st AFC West
Offense: 16th overall
Defense: 1st overall
The Broncos won the division — again — for the fifth consecutive season and went on to win Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning had his worst season, finishing with only nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 10 games. The stellar Broncos’ defense allowed an average of only 283.1 yards and 18.5 points per game. The Broncos are bringing back pretty much the same defense in 2016. The retirement of Manning brings veteran Mark Sanchez, back-up quarterback Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch fighting for the starting position. Rumor has it that Sanchez and Siemian are neck-and-neck in the fight to win the job.
Week 7: @Atlanta Falcons
2015 Season: 8-8, 2nd AFC South
Offense: 7th overall
Defense: 16th overall
The Falcons started out the 2015 season hot, winning six of their first eight games. The second half was the exact opposite, as they went 2-6. One of the two wins in the second half was against their division rival, and eventual Super Bowl runner-up, the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons drafted strong safety Keanu Neal from Florida with the 17th overall pick to boost their struggling defense.
Week 8: @Denver Broncos
See week six.
Week 9: Tennessee Titans
2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC South
Offense: 30th overall
Defense: 12th overall
The Titans looked like a sleeper team in Week 1 of the 2015 season, when they won 42-14 against the Tampa Bay Bucs, led by 2nd overall pick, Marcus Mariota, who had 209 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Despite Mariota’s success in Week 1, the Titans ended up with the worst record in 2015, averaging only 311.8 yards and 18.7 points per game. It will be hard to do much worse in 2016, but anything is possible.
Week 10: Miami Dolphins
2015 Season: 6-10, 4th AFC East
Offense: 26th overall
Defense: 25th overall
The Dolphins were led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who averaged 263 passing yards per game and had 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. While those numbers aren’t terrible, his offensive line could not keep him standing up, as he was sacked 45 times. The Titans could fare better in 2016 when it comes to sacks with the signing of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss.
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: @Houston Texans
2015 Season: 9-7, 1st AFC South
Offense: 19th overall
Defense: 3rd overall
The Texans started the season off rocky, going 3-5 in the first half of the season but turned it around in the second half, only losing two games. The third ranked defense allowed only an average of 19.6 points for game and even had five games where their opponent only scored six points. The Texans liked what they saw when Brock Osweiler took over the quarterback duties for the Broncos and signed him to be their starter in 2016. This move could either make them or break them.
Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015 Season: 6-10, 4th NFC South
Offense: 5th overall
Defense: 10th overall
The Buccaneers should have had a better record in 2015 since they had a top-10 overall offense and defense. Stats don’t always show the big picture, especially considering their offense averaged 375.9 yards per game, but only 21.4 points per game. The defense allowed an average of 340.4 yards per and 26.4 points per game. The Bucs took to their coaching staff to bring change, naming Dirk Koetter as the new head coach, replacing Lovie Smith, along with Mike Smith as the new defensive coordinator and Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator.
Week 14: @Carolina Panthers
2015 Season: 15-1, 1st NFC South
Offense: 11th overall
Defense: 6th overall
The Panthers had an explosive offense in 2015, leading the league with 500 total points and an average of 31.3 points per game. Their offense, lead by quarterback Cam Newton, was not able to fare well against the best defense in the league and lost the Super Bowl to the Broncos, scoring only 10 points. The Panthers will be without DB Charles Tillman, who recently announced his retirement after 13 years in the league. They signed former Chargers punter Mike Scifres to a one-year deal.
Week 15: Oakland Raiders
See week five.
Week 16: @ Cleveland Browns
2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC North
Offense: 25th overall
Defense: 27th overall
For the fourth straight year, the Browns were in last place in their division. The quarterback situation in Cleveland was their biggest downfall in 2015. The off-field antics of quarterback Johnny Manziel had the Browns switching the starting positions between the former first-round draft pick and Josh McCown. The Browns lost their best wide receiver, Travis Benjamin, to the Chargers during free agency. They went to the draft in hopes of replacing him, drafting five wide receivers, including Corey Coleman from Baylor with the 15th overall pick.
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs
See week one.
The Chargers only face four teams with a winning record last year, but two of the four of those teams are the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. They will face two teams with a .500 season and seven teams with a losing season in 2015, including the Oakland Raiders.
The schedule seems pretty easy — on paper — and I predict that they will definitely win more than four games this season. The Chargers play in a tough division and will need to win some of those games to be contenders in 2016.
Thanks for reading!
Let me begin by saying that the fan-boy in me is in its usual form regarding the excitement I have about the upcoming NFL season and your San Diego Chargers.
This is the time of the year where all 32 teams are sporting a 0-0 record, and the sky is the limit for every NFL team — well, except the Cleveland Browns.
This is also the time of the year where finding things to write about is difficult but not impossible.
Forgive me in advance for the fluff pieces that will come out until the beginning of training camp.
Below is a look at the Chargers’ 2016 schedule:
Week 1 – @ Kansas City Chiefs
Week 2 – versus Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 3 – @ Indianapolis Colts
Week 4 – versus New Orleans Saints
Week 5 – @ Oakland Raiders
Week 6 – versus Denver Broncos
Week 7 – @ Atlanta Falcons
Week 8 – @ Denver Broncos
Week 9 – versus Tennessee Titans
Week 10 – versus Miami Dolphins
Week 11 – BYE WEEK
Week 12 – @ Houston Texans
Week 13 – versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 14 – @ Carolina Panthers
Week 15 – versus Oakland Raiders
Week 16 – @ Cleveland Browns
Week 17 – versus Kansas City Chiefs
In addition to what I mentioned above about this time of the offseason, this is also when you look at the Chargers’ schedule on paper and decide where the team will finish up this year’s campaign.
Quite frankly, the slate of opponents this season does not seem to be daunting.
Obviously, the team cannot go 0-6 in the division this year like they did in 2015 — not if they have any hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season.
Below is a poll. You know the drill: place your vote and leave a comment stating why you voted the way you did.
Thanks in advance for reading, voting and commenting.
I am really looking forward to your responses.
Dave Booga Peters
In part one of my analysis of the San Diego Chargers offense I covered the quarterback, running back, fullback and tight end positions. Simply by using their stats and past history I gave a number of points per game I expect that group to get every week. Today I break down the rest of the offense, looking at the wide receivers, offensive line and coaching staff.
The most hard to read of all the skill position groups, the wide receiver position has been long on potential but short on production and consistency. Injuries have decimated the wide receiver corps year after year.
Keenan Allen is leader of the wide receiver group who have dubbed themselves the ‘Aliens’. Allen was off to an amazing start in 2015, hauling in 67 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns in his first eight games. In a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Allen lacerated his kidney when he landed on the ball while catching a touchdown, ending his season. He was on pace to shatter the Chargers’ single season record for receptions (100) held by Ladainian Tomlinson and the break the NFL record for receptions in a single season (143) held by former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison.
Now armed with a brand new four-year extension in hand Allen is locked in through the 2020 season. Allen has established himself as a star on the rise and will be taking the field with a chip on his shoulder after the way his 2015 campaign ended. In 37 games he has caught 215 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, the success of the receiving corps will be dependent on Allens’ supporting cast.
Getting Allen help was a priority heading into the offseason and the first splash the Chargers made into the free agency pool was acquiring former Cleveland Brown Travis Benjamin. The 5’10” speedster caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Aside from a knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of the 2013 season, Benjamin has only missed the first two games of his NFL career with a tweaked hamstring.
In his four years in the NFL, he has established himself as a dangerous return specialist. At the 2012 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and it has carried over into the pros. As a punt returner, Benjamin gained 324 yards on 28 attempts. Of those 28 attempts, four returns were over twenty yards and one was a 78-yard touchdown return. By comparison, the Chargers had 20 punt returns for 84 yards as a team last season. Their longest return was 18 yards.
Benjamin automatically legitimizes the punt return game and now gives the Chargers what they haven’t had in years, a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense. At 26, Benjamin is just beginning to enter his prime. This signing could trumpet a revival of the vertical passing game that we haven’t seen since the height of the Tomlinson era.
In his first season with the team, Stevie Johnson showed excellent chemistry with Rivers. Johnson was second among wideouts catching 45 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Hamstring and groin injuries caused him to miss seven games, including the last five games of the 2015 season. The nine-year pro is a dynamic receiver who has shown he can make an immediate impact if he can stay healthy.
Dontrelle Inman started in seven of the 14 games he appeared in last season. The CFL import continues to improve as he caught 35 balls for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Heading into his third season he will become a bigger part of the offense, likely assuming the role formerly held by the now-retired Malcom Floyd. Moving off the bench into a full-time starting role should greatly increase his numbers across the board.
Tyrell Williams can be penciled in as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart at the moment. Williams made his presence felt in the final game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos with a two reception for 90-yard performance, highlighted by burning Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib on a scintillating 80-yard touchdown catch. Those were his only stats of the 2015 regular season. Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft he spent time on the active roster and practice squad. He has the size (6’3″, 205), speed (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds) and agility (39.5-inch vertical jump) to be a dominant pro wide receiver. Will he live up to his potential going into his second season?
The rest of the receiver field is comprised of undrafted free agents and second-year pros. Unless a veteran is brought in, this is the group that will likely start the 2016 season.
Points-per-game expectation: 6
All the new additions to the skill positions mean nothing if the offensive line can’t provide continuity, open holes for the running backs and allow Rivers enough time in the pocket to throw the ball. That has been a large task that has fallen woefully short in those categories in the last number of seasons. In the last four seasons Rivers has been sacked 155 times, 40 times in 2015. The running game was dead last in touchdowns (4) and 31st in yards (1,358) last season.
Last season the offensive line had 25 different combinations due to injury. This season San Diego boasts the biggest projected starting offensive line in the league, but can they stay healthy? Veteran free agent Matt Slauson was brought over from the Chicago Bears to finally stop the turnstile at the center position. Lining up next to him will be guards Orlando Franklin, D.J. Fluker and tackles King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. Concussions, knee and lower leg injuries were the downfall of this group last season. What will they do differently to stay on the field this season? The success of the season rides on it.
Points-per-game expectation: -4.
As frustrating to watch as the play on the field at times were the decisions of the coaches in key game situations. Last season the Chargers lost four games by three points. Eight of their twelve losses were by a touchdown or less. More often than not the staff played not to lose instead of playing to win. Head Coach Mike McCoy and then offensive coordinator Frank Reich called conservative games, focusing on short to intermediate routes in the passing game and running almost exclusively out of the Pistol formation.
The playcalling was predictable and did not attack downfield enough to make opposing defenses concerned about getting beat deep. Injuries played a big part but so did not having the personnel to execute that type of game plan. Blame can be laid at the feet of those in the front office for lack of quality depth once the injuries started mounting.
Thankfully, Reich is out and Ken Whisenhunt returns to take his place. Whisenhunt parlayed a successful 2013 season as the Chargers’ OC into a head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Not coincidentally, 2013 was the last season the Chargers made the playoffs.
Whisenhunt is intent on revamping the run game first and foremost. The Pistol formation will be scratched in favor of having Rivers back under center and using short drops. Expect to see a return of the power run game highlighted by Watt and Gordon in their familiar college roles. In 2013, Whisenhunts’ running attack averaged 122 yards per game and Rivers was fourth in the league in passing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns.
If McCoy trusts Whisenhunt with the playcalling duties the Chargers should be able to take advantage of a last-place schedule and return to the playoffs as long as the team can stay healthy at key positions. It is a positive sign that the front office reached out to Whisenhunt and bring back a system that worked with this group of players. His track record speaks for itself going back to his days in Pittsburgh, then leading the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII to coordinating the Chargers offense to its only payoff appearance in the last six years. Until McCoy steps away from the playbook, I remain skeptical.
Points-per-game expectation: -2
In all, my points per game expectation went like this: QB (14), WR (6), TE (4), RB (6), OL (-4) and coaching staff (-2) for a total of 24 points per game. Until the offensive line proves they can stay on the field and the offense is shown to be run through Whisenhunts’ headset instead of McCoys’ will I believe they won’t be a detriment to the team. Right now I believe those factors will cost the team one touchdown per game.
The 24-points per game are an improvement over the 20 points per game the Chargers averaged last season (26th in the NFL in 2015) and is on par with Philip Rivers’ lifetime average. Over his career, the Bolts average 25.6-points per Rivers start. That number has been as high as 27-points per game during the Tomlinson years.
This team has all the tools for a worst-to-first turnaround. The question is can they do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Excitement and enthusiasm is in the air for the 2016-2017 edition of the San Diego Chargers. At this time in the offseason, it’s in the air for the fans of the other 31 NFL teams as well. With the free agency, NFL Draft period over and what looks to be a loaded 90-man roster in place, hope for a successful season is renewed.
Time to take off the rose-colored glasses for a moment and look at the team from an analytics standpoint. The Chargers do look like they have helped themselves immensely this offseason. To take a closer look I am going to dissect the offense and assign each aspect of the offense a point value. These will be the points I expect that aspect of the offense to generate every game. Of course that number is subject to change based on injuries, offseason acquisitions etc…
The points will then be added and that will be the expected points-per-game expectation for the offense. Some of you will think I’ve graded too harshly while others will think not harshly enough but it’s a jumping off point and that’s the objective. I’ll be looking forward to reading your views in the comments below.
The offense begins and ends with Philip Rivers. The Chargers’ iron man, Rivers has not missed a single game in ten seasons. His streak is second-longest in the NFL behind Eli Manning of the New York Giants (183). Rivers only trails Manning because Rivers didn’t start until his third season while Manning started in his rookie year.
Over the last three seasons, Rivers has averaged a stat line of 398-591 for 4,518 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and two fumbles lost. What’s more, he has averaged 56 passes of 20-yards or more and slightly over seven completions of 40-yards or more. This impressive stat line comes despite woeful offensive line play that has him getting sacked an average of 35 times over that same three-season period.
Last season, Rivers threw for career-highs in attempts (661), completions (437) and yards (4,792). The running game was non-existent and the Chargers went through 25 offensive line changes. The weight of being the only reliable offensive option took its toll on Rivers and the Bolts record. This year, a more balanced offense will yield better results on the scoreboard and in the standings.
Points-per-game expectation: 14
Running backs and fullbacks
Franchise running back Melvin Gordon had a disappointing rookie season. The Chargers, the fans and Gordon himself expected better than the 184 carries for 641 yards he accumulated in 14 games. Gordon is still awaiting his first NFL regular season touchdown and needs to improve his ball security. Four of Gordons’ six fumbles were recovered by the defense.
Danny Woodhead was the most consistent running back and the leading receiver for the Chargers last season. Woodhead had 98 carries for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Receiving, Woodhead amassed 80 receptions for 755 yards with six touchdowns. Take away the 2014 season in which Woodhead missed all but three games with a broken leg; in 2013 and 2015 Woodhead has averaged 382 yards and 2.5 touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts and 680 yards and six touchdowns on 78 receptions.
Branden Oliver was rarely seen in 2015 but showed his worth in 2014 after the injury to Woodhead where he emerged to lead the Chargers in rushing in 2014 as a rookie. Last season he had 31 attempts for 108 yards rushing at 13 receptions for 112 yards receiving. The coaching staff has expressed their desire to add Oliver in the mix in 2016 which is an intriguing prospect. Time will tell.
In the sixth round San Diego selected Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt. The significance of this selection is Watt was Gordons’ blocking fullback each of his three seasons at Wisconsin. It’s reasonable to expect the two already have a chemistry and understanding of one another that will translate to the field.
The new rule that chop blocks will not be allowed on the line of scrimmage will make having a good fullback on the field more important. This will also slowly bring about the re-emergence of Power-I formations. Not coincidentally, the Power-I is the formation Watt and Gordon ran to NCAA record-smashing success. There is change brewing in the run game and it will only help the offense as a whole.
Points per-game expectation: 6
At 36 years young, Hall of Fame bound Antonio Gates enters his 14th NFL season after re-signing with the Bolts for two more seasons. The eight-time Pro Bowler began the 2015 season on the suspended list, missing four games for taking a banned substance. He played well in the eleven games he saw the field afterward, tallying 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Gates contemplated retirement before the end of last season but after the Chargers dismal season, Gates opted to return. He told the media “I didn’t want to go out like that.”
Gates finds himself on the precipice of NFL history this season. With eight touchdowns, Gates (104) will surpass Tony Gonzalez (111) into first place for touchdowns scored by a tight end. Over his brilliant career, Gates averages eight touchdowns a season. He is the most reliable part of the passing game. Starting the season from week one, expecting a better statistical season than 2015 is almost a certainty as long as he stays healthy.
The Chargers did draft the heir apparent to Gates when they drafted Hunter Henry our of Arkansas with their second round pick. The 6’5″, 250-pounder was a first-team All-SEC selection and winner of the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end in 2015. Henry collected 51 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns. As sure-handed as they come, Henry did not drop a single pass last season.
Vying for a slot on the roster are Sean McGrath, Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, and undrafted free agent Matt Weiser. All fit the mold the Chargers like at standing 6’5″, 260-pounds. The most intriguing prospect may be Tim Semisch, a one-year pro who stands an imposing 6’8″, 267.
Points per-game expectation: 4
Come back tomorrow for part two of my breakdown including the wide receivers, offensive line, coaching staff and final summary. I hope you have enjoyed my analytical breakdown. Do you agree or disagree so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
The Greg One
Roger Staubach once said, “In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry.”
General Manager Tom Telesco drafted rookies and signed veterans in free agency who have ties to each other. If he did not do this on purpose, then he got very lucky. Players who already have chemistry might be the best thing Telesco has done in the offseason.
The Chargers drafted Joey Bosa of Ohio State with the 3rd overall pick of the draft. As the NFL world was discussing this shocking pick, the Chargers drafted Joshua Perry with the 102nd overall pick. Perry, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound linebacker, was also a Buckeye. Bosa and Perry already have chemistry from playing defense together at Ohio State. This should help them both transition into the Chargers’ defense.
During free agency, the Chargers signed wide receiver Travis Benjamin from the Cleveland Browns. With the 175th overall pick, the Chargers drafted OLB Jatavis Brown from Akron. This pick will not only boost the Chargers’ defense, but also reunite childhood neighbors. Although Benjamin is four years older than Brown, they knew each other because they lived only two houses away from each other in Belle Glade, Florida. Not surprisingly, Brown looked up to Benjamin and he became his idol. Benjamin, in turn, had followed Brown’s high school and college career, becoming one of his biggest cheerleaders. The 2016 Chargers’ offseason brought these two together to play on the same team and they couldn’t be happier about it. This is chemistry that is rarely found in the NFL.
Last year, the Chargers shocked the fans by letting kicker Nick Novak go, replacing him with undrafted rookie Josh Lambo from Texas A&M. This year, the Chargers shook up the special teams again with the release of punter Mike Scifres.
Scifres will go down as the best punter in Chargers’ history! The replacement for Scifres, Drew Kaser, was drafted with the 179th overall pick. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound punter also played for Texas A&M. Kaser will have big shoes to fill, much like Lambo did last year. Lambo, already having a relationship with Kaser, will be able to help him get acclimated to the NFL during his rookie year, as Lambo can share his experience being the new guy replacing the “really good old” guy!
Last year’s first-round pick, Melvin Gordon, had a less than stellar rookie year. Gordon never reached the endzone and was benched a couple of times after multiple fumbles. Many would argue that Gordon would play better during his rookie campaign, and much like he did in college, with the addition of a fullback. Not only did the Chargers draft a fullback, but they drafted Gordon’s fullback from the University of Wisconsin. With the 198th overall selection, the Bolts selected 6-foot-2, 236-pound fullback Derek Watt. This will be the best pick regarding “chemistry” of the 2016 draft. Watt, although a rookie, will bring motivation to Gordon, who is probably still feeling defeated following the 2015 season. Gordon is a workhorse and will do whatever it takes to have a better season. Having Watt as his fullback will lessen some of the load. This fullback-running-back combo is one to watch this season.
Staubach was right about consistency and chemistry being the ingredients to building a great team. Consistency, though, is the key to achieving that chemistry on a team.
The Chargers have added some new unique chemistry via free agency and the draft. The football gods just need to show the Bolts some mercy and allow the team to have a season without the plethora of constant injuries.
Telesco is a smart man. These ties to other players do not seem to be a coincidence. He definitely thought about the impact of having players that already have some chemistry to help individual transition into the NFL.
Let’s hope this science experience, of sorts, helps turn around the 2015 4-12 team in the 2016 season.
On Thursday, a blockbuster trade was announced between the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans. In the deal, the Titans sent their first overall pick (1), and their fourth- and sixth-round picks to St. Louis. In return, the Rams sent Tennessee their first-round selection (15), two second-round picks and a third-round selection in the 2016 draft. In addition, the Rams include their first- and third-round picks in 2017.
Nevermind free agency, this is the best thing to happen to the San Diego Chargers this offseason. This mega-deal comes down to three main points:
1. The Rams are preparing to select their quarterback of the future. They need to continue the momentum from the euphoria of moving back to Los Angeles by adding star power. They need to stay in the news in a city like Los Angeles, which is not starving for sports selections. Every major league sport is now represented in Los Angeles with the return of the NFL. L.A. is about box office. The Rams may have a future star with Rookie of the Year running back Todd Gurley, but if there aren’t enough big names on the marquee, the fickle L.A. audience will forget you sooner rather than later. Adding the top quarterback in the draft will address their biggest need and be another name to add to the marquee.
2. The top two picks in the draft will be quarterbacks. The Cleveland Browns select second in the draft and need a quarterback as badly or worse than the Rams do. North Dakota State signal caller Carson Wentz and California Bear Jared Goff are the consensus top-two quarterback prospects in this draft. They will be the first and second picks, the only question is the order in which they will be selected.
Is it possible the Browns could choose a player other than a quarterback with the second pick?
If the Browns are smart they will stay at two and pick their quarterback. If they were choosing anyone other than a quarterback then wise thing to do would be to trade out of the second spot for a nice boatload of picks like the Titans and add starter-quality players to their decrepit team. Then again, we are putting the Browns and smart in the same sentence. This is, after all, the team that burned the second of their two first-round picks on Johnny Manziel only two drafts ago.
3. San Diego will get the No. 1 player on their draft board. Despite what happens with the Cleveland pick, the odds of anything happening aside from Goff and Wentz going in the first two picks are slim and none. Thankfully, the Chargers do not need a quarterback, meaning they will have their choice of the entire draft field to choose from. With eight picks to use over seven rounds, they not only have the top of each round to select the best player available, they have the maneuverability to re-enter a round to accommodate a player who is falling or trade down for value.
The draft truly begins with the Chargers selection. The pressure is on GM Tom Telesco and his braintrust to not screw up this pick. After being left at the altar by the league in the race to L.A. sweepstakes, and not being able to come to an agreement with Rams owner Stan Krownke on co-habitation of the future L.A. mega-stadium, the Bolts should add Kroenke to their Christmas card list.
This trade assures order at the top of the draft. It assures the Chargers the pick of the litter of non-quarterback skill- position players. It’s assures the Bolts a King’s ransom for those other quarterback-hungry teams wishing to jump ahead of other quarterback-hungry teams sitting in the top half of the draft. (Think San Francisco, Philadelphia and possibly Dallas sitting at picks 7, 13 and 4, respectively).
The ball sits in the Bolts’ court. Who should they give it to? Leave your thoughts on whom they should select below.
The Greg One
It’s officially here.
The 2015-2016 NFL season will officially be over. Today, hope springs eternal once again. The new league year has begun and free agents are fair game to every team in the league.
The weeks leading up to free agency are filled with teams jockeying to free up enough money to fill gaps in their roster. Experienced veterans will be cut not because they are not producing but because they make too much money. Decisions on franchise and transition tags will be made and trade possibilities will be discussed.
To that end, a story that sent shockwaves through the league just a week ago can greatly change the fortunes of the downtrodden San Diego Chargers.
Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl center Alex Mack voided the last three years of his contract, making him a free agent. Mack is a little known name to the casual NFL fan but his name undoubtedly got General Managers around the league drooling like Pavlov’s dogs.
For the uninitiated, here’s all you need to know about Alex Mack:
Standing at 6’4″, 311 lbs., Mack is a seven-year veteran who has made the Pro Bowl in two of the last three seasons. He is considered the best center in the NFL, and is set to sign the biggest contract for a center in the NFL with whomever he decided to play for next season.
Mack is 30 and has made the Pro Bowl in three of his seven seasons (2010, ’13, 15). The only reason he didn’t make it in 2014 was due to a broken leg he suffered five games into the season. Until the injury, Mack has not missed a single game at center. He returned to his Pro Bowl form immediately upon returning last season and is set to be an annual participant for the duration of his career.
San Diego needs to make Mack their top priority. The offensive line has been a major downfall for the team for many seasons. Signing a time-tested All-Pro veteran like Mack will be huge in solidifying the turnstile on the offensive line. The Chargers have not had a great center since Nick Hardwick retired in 2014. The position has been unstable with Chris Watt and Trevor Robinson sharing the duties since then. The two are servicable centers but neither are the long term answer.
This is the time for the San Diego front office to show their commitment to winning after a miserable 2015 campaign and the whole stadium fiasco on the shelf at least for this year. The window on Rivers’ career is closing. Keeping him upright by adding championship-caliber players will produce a championship-caliber team.
Teams are now able to start contacting the agents of free agents to make deals. Bolts GM Tom Telesco should have Macks’ agent on speed dial with offers from the word go. It will take the largest contract the Chargers have given to a non-quarterback in a long while, but you get what you pay for. Quality.
The Greg One
The 2015 football season has spiraled downhill for the San Diego Chargers. Despite all the issues going on away from the field, there was always the actual game to look forward to. When the game is on, all else fades into the background for three hours.
Thirteen games and a 3-10 season record later, all the off the field issues have spilled over onto the sanctuary of the field as well. Players are crestfallen, reduced to nothing more than playing for pride in this, their worst season since 2003 where the Chargers finished 4-12.
Looming largest of all is the ongoing Los Angeles relocation effort spearheaded by the NFL front office. The league is bent on reclaiming the Los Angeles market and the Chargers are frontrunners to be chosen to do so. Efforts from the community and city officials have been lackluster. According to Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Bolts have not provided a viable plan to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
Anything can happen in the NFL. Carolina can be the last undefeated team in the league. Johnny Manziel can win and lose the starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns in less than a week. There are not one but two divisions in the NFL where not a single team has a winning record. That being said, the only thing left to question for the Chargers is the day the moving trucks arrive.
If that is indeed the case, then Sunday’s tilt against the Miami Dolphins will be the final home game of the San Diego Chargers. The whispers that swirled around Chargers park every offseason for the past 14 years have become roars and no player is immune to it. Every play knows this is their curtain call before the home crowd in San Diego.
Said quarterback Philip Rivers in a press conference this week:
“I’ll probably soak it in on the drive over there a little more than the past hundred-something times I’ve done it before a game. Because it could get emotional thinking about it, riding down that hill for the last time to this stadium.”
Antonio Gates was brought into San Diego as an undrafted free agent and will retire a first ballot Hall-Of-Famer. Said Gates:
“Obviously, San Diego has been phenomenal to me, I’ve played in San Diego my whole career. All I know right now is I’ve got one game left in Qualcomm, and I want to make the most of it. I’m going to go out and play it like any other game. I’m going to do the same thing from a preparation standpoint. Obviously, the assumption is that we’re going into this game to win. That’s my only concern. And if this is our last game, who knows what the future holds, but I want to make it my best game, a game to remember.”
Defensive captain Eric Weddle is the fourth-longest tenured Chargers after Rivers, Gates and punter Mike Scifres. Said Weddle to reporters:
“For us as players, we don’t have any idea or clue what’s going on, so we’re blind just like everybody else. So what we hear is what we hear from the outside. It’s unfortunate. It’s a great city, great fans. I wish we were better and could put a better product out there for them. But you are what you are. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to give it our all for them one last time if it is our last game.”
Win or lose, expect the Chargers to stay after the game and inhale being a San Diego Charger on their home field one last time. The players are as unsure of their moving status as we are but they’re not taking the gravity of the moment for granted. Expect an intense, inspired team hell-bent on winning their final home game. It will be a colossal success or an abject failure from trying too hard and making mistakes. There will be no in-between.
If you’re a Bolts fan, forget about how the season has played out. Show your appreciation to the team and come to the game. Tune in from home. Don’t give up hope that the team will stay, until the moving trucks do in fact arrive. Wear your lightning bolts with pride Bolt Nation. This is still our team.
The Greg One
On April 21st NFL fans around the world rejoiced as the 2015 season schedule was released. Experts and fans alike went to work forecasting the record of their favorite team. The San Diego Chargers had an unusually tumultuous offseason headlined by contract disputes, trade rumors and one glaring suspension. However, the Philip Rivers contract extension, free agent signings and drafting of blue chip running back Melvin Gordon gave way to great expectations among the fan base.
Amidst the litany of injuries along the offensive line and lack of an advantage via special teams (only five return yards after four games), some Chargers fans are already beginning to write off this season’s edition of our favorite Southern California team.
To paraphrase infamous former Arizona Cardinals coach Denny Green, Are the 2015 San Diego Chargers who we thought they were?
Let’s put the season into a logical perspective.
After four games the bolts are one of ten teams sitting at 2-2. They are only one of four AFC teams with that record. No one expects the Chargers to go through the season undefeated. Only one team has completed the NFL season undefeated. This season will be no different. Losses are going to come. If the Bengals don’t intercept Rivers during the final two minutes of the game the Chargers may well be 3-1 at this point. All things considered, 2-2 is a good place to be.
Through four weeks:
Philip Rivers has thrown for the most yards in the NFL.
Keenan Allen is the NFL’s seventh-leading receiver in yards and tied for fourth in catches.
Melvin Gordon leads all rookie running backs with 228 yards on 56 carries, good for a 4.1-yard per carry average.
San Diego is averaging 31.5 points in their two games at home, both wins. They are tied for 13th in the league at 24 points per game.
Keep in mind this is with the all-too-familiar cornucopia of injuries along the offensive line. During their midwest road trip, the bolts lost four starters to injury during the Cincinnati game and were down two starters during the game against Minnesota. Last week against Cleveland, not only did the Chargers have the same reoccurring injuries to three offensive line starters but receivers Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson both were lost for the game. Despite finishing the game with only two able-bodied wideouts, the bolts persevered and churned out a come from behind win.
The record may be average, the play has been way above average. It’s no coincidence the games the Chargers lost were the games where offensive linemen were dropping like flies. Even then, the third game against Minnesota was the only game where San Diego had no chance to win in the fourth quarter.
The secondary is still banged up with Flowers, Verrett and Addae on the injury report as questionable for the Monday Night home game against Pittsburgh. On the wide receiver front, Stevie Johnson will not play. Malcom Floyd and Jacoby Jones are questionable for the game although they did practice during the week at varying capacities. Keenan Allen and Dontrelle Inman will be ready to go. Don’t be surprised to see Javontee Herndon brought up from the practice squad to complete three-receiver sets and return kicks if Floyd and Jones aren’t ready.
Despite their woes at receiver, the offense will get a huge boost in the form of All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. Expect a big game from Gates as Rivers gets his favorite weapon back. With 99 touchdown catches over his career, Gates will be targeted a lot in the red zone so he can receive his landmark touchdown catch on prime time national TV. The presence of Gates will also serve to open the field for whomever is playing wideout for the Chargers on Monday night.
After four weeks, one-half of last years’ Super Bowl is 2-2. Indianapolis, picked by many to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season is 2-2. Do we wish the San Diego were better than 2-2? Of course. Are they holding serve and staying in the hunt for the AFC West title? Absolutely. That’s all we can ask of them right now. The injuries will eventually subside and this team will get even more potent.
A quarter of the way through the season, the Chargers are right where we need them to be. What do you think Bolt Nation? Encouraged or discouraged? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One