Former New England Patriots running back Legarrette Blount has signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday. With incentives, the deal can reach $2.8 million. A little over a week ago, the Patriots issued a veteran free agent tender on Blount, limiting his time frame to sign with s new team by July 22. After that date, he could only play for the Patriots. The end result now is New England will receive a compensatory draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Blount led the NFL with 18 touchdowns last season, mostly of the short-range, goal line variety. At 6-feet, 250-pounds, Blount is a human bowling ball who has made a name for himself as a steamroller no one wants to tackle.
Philadelphia is looking to feature Blount as their lead running back and use their smaller backs such as Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood as complimentary pieces around him. The Eagles also spent a fourth-round pick on NCAA record-breaking San Diego State star running back Donnell Pumphrey.
Per Over The Cap, the Eagles are cash-strapped with only $1.2 million in cap space. Multiple local and national reports indicate the odd man out looks to be running back Ryan Mathews, who missed the final games of the 2016 season on IR with a neck injury. Cutting Mathews will free $4 million in cap space.
This is a great get for Philadelphia as Blount is as close to automatic as you can get in third- and fourth-and-short situations. He’s done well for himself as he’s collected two Super Bowl rings in his three seasons in New England. As everyone outside of Boston is likely to agree, one less weapon for Tom Brady and the Patriots is definitely a good thing.
On Monday another crushing blow to the Chargers 2016 campaign occurred when it was announced that Danny Woodhead would be lost for the season. Compounded with the loss of Keenan Allen last week, a huge void has been created in this offense.
Enter Dexter McCluster who the Chargers wasted no time finding as a solid replacement for Danny. Formerly with the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, he is a capable and dangerous weapon who could be the best in-season pickup the Chargers have had in a long time.
Dare I say this – McCluster may be a better weapon for Rivers then Woodhead was. That’s only if McCluster has the same speed and shiftiness he had in KC/Tenn. The best part of this signing is Dexter knows Whisenhunt’s offense since he played for him in Tennessee. McCluster should easily be a situational player who has the versatility to make an impact in the running game, passing game and a return specialist. The Bolts haven’t had this kinda flexibility since the days of Darren Sproles.
To some, there might be some concern as to why he was on the free agent market. In Tennessee, he was third on the depth chart behind DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and thus he was released on September 2nd. A tryout with the New York Jets and 18 days later, the Chargers timing seems fortuitous as they inked him right away.
With his adaptability to fit into any role, it is anyone’s guess as to how McCoy will utilize the 28-year-old. Clearly he has huge shoes to fill in replacing a player like Woodhead, but perhaps with the right coaching staff and supporting cast, his career and usefulness could get a major jump. So far in his career, since being drafted by Kansas City out of Mississippi, he has not been “the guy” to build a team around. However, he appears to be a self-aware player who believes he can make an impact in any role he is given. All he needs is open space and the rock in order to showcase his speed and elusiveness.
If you’re not familiar with Dexter, here’s some highlights of his years with KC and his last year with the Titans. Enjoy!
Thanks for the read
The fans of the blue and gold should be feeling pretty good about this year’s draft. Depending on your point of view, either Christmas came early or it came late. Glass half-full or half-empty? Mine is half-full.
The Chargers’ GM, Tom Telesco, addressed two of my biggest concerns for the upcoming football calendar. Those were center and fullback. Yes, I’m aware that there was a hole left in the secondary with the departure of Eric Weddle. However, the two most glaring chasms on the offensive side of the ball were the aforementioned spots.
We expected to see an electrified offense after Telesco moved up two spots in the 2015 draft to take running back Melvin Gordon (first round, 15th overall via trade with the 49ers).
To say that the Bolts’ offense was in tatters for the second year in a row is a fair assessment. They may not have had five centers in-and-out like 2014, but it they were still unable to provide much assistance to either help keep Philip Rivers from being pounded, or create seams for any of the Chargers’ ball carriers.
Whether you like all or a few of the choices the team’s general manager made last week, I hope that seeing Derek Watt lining up in front of Gordon in the Bolts’ backfield is one of them. The two played together at the University of Wisconsin, and both are excited to get that chemistry going once more.
Watt is 6’2″ and comes in at 236 pounds. He had 24 starts in 47 games for the Badgers, compiling 309 yards on 30 receptions and a lone touchdown. He was the 2012 Rookie of the Year for UW, as well as being named to the Academic All-Big 10 every year from 2012 thru 2015. On the down side, he missed five games in 2014 due to a foot fracture. In 13 games last season, he had 15 receptions for 139 yards to go along with 45 yards on nine rushes. It was his second best statistical year going back to his freshman days.
Whatever schemes offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt can put together for his newest two backs, I cannot help but look towards the future with excitement. There has not been a fullback on the roster since 2013 when Le’Ron McClain last played. Prior to McClain, San Diego had the likes of Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester (2008-2011), who blocked for Darren Sproles from 2005-2010. Let’s not forget that Lorenzo Neal (one of my favorites), who is considered to be one of the best blocking fullbacks in NFL history, spent five seasons here in front of good ol’ No. 21 himself, LaDainian Tomlinson!
Should Watt and Gordon be able to get into that groove they had going on at the University of Wisconsin, I think we will see a tremendous leap from ranking 31st in 2015 with a league average 84.9 rushing yards per game.
All in all, it is my fervent wish that the San Diego Chargers get their running game back on track with the one-two punch of Watt blocking for his former college teammate, Gordon.
Thank you, Tom Telesco, for that selection. You recognized that need for the offense to excel this year.
The situation with the stadium/convention center proposal being what it is right now, there is an onus on the team to not only come out strong, but to also stay strong as the season progresses.
Looking forward to minicamp followed by preseason!
Thanks for reading!!
By now, I’m sure you have heard the news, but if you haven’t….
Former Browns WR Travis Benjamin is signing with San Diego Chargers, as @Rand_Getlin reported.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2016
The details of the contract are as follows: four-year, $24 million deal with $13 million guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter.
What he brings to the team:
TBenj brings speed and a deep threat, FINALLY, providing a nice complementary piece to Keenan Allen. TBenj is more than just speed, though, as he is also a decent route runner and is coming off his best season as a pro. Remember, his career numbers include eight different quarterbacks throwing to him and none of which are even close to Philip Rivers’ talent level.
Additionally, the former Brown is a very good punt returner, and that is something that Chargers have lacked since Darren Sproles left. He averaged 11.6 yards per return; for compariso’s sake, Javontee Herndon averaged 7.4 yards a return with 17 less chances. He has the ability to flip the field for the Chargers on occasion and also be that guy the defenses focus on that leaves the middle of the field open for KA13, opening up shorter routes for Stevie Johnson and the newly extended Antonio Gates.
Overall, this is a very nice pickup by general manager Tom Telesco. Benjamin is a solid replacement for the recently retired Malcom Floyd and also gives the Chargers a return game. TBenj could prove to be a sneaky good pickup and the move has already been praised by Fantasy Football Guru, Adam Rank.
I’m going to officially start the hype train for Travis Benjamin right now. He’s poised for a huge breakout with the @Chargers. Nice move.
— Adam Rank (@adamrank) March 9, 2016
Zak “Z-Sizzle” Darman
To say that the Chargers’ return game has struggled through three weeks is an understatement. The special teams coverage has been mediocre at best, but for the sake of this article, we’ll stick with the return game.
In March of the 2015 offseason, general manager Tom Telesco believed that he found a weapon to return both kicks and punts that the San Diego fans had not seen since the likes of former Bolt Darren Sproles. Telesco signed free-agent return specialist/wideout Jacoby Jones, formerly of the Texans and Ravens, to a two-year contract.
“One of our off-season goals was to improve our special teams, specifically upgrading our return game,” said Chargers general manager Tom Telesco during an interview with Chargers.com. “We feel Jacoby brings a dynamic aspect to our kick and punt returns that we need and he also has solid experience playing wide receiver.”
Jones, 31, was coming off of a 2015 season that saw him finish second in the NFL with 30.6 yards per kick return. He also averaged a respectable 9.2 yards per punt return last year.
Despite all of the hype surrounding the signing and the impact it would have on the team, Jones managed to injure his ankle on the fair catch of a punt during the Week 1 victory over the Detroit Lions. He has yet to return to practice in more than a limited-participation capacity, and he has missed the last two games due to the ailment. He managed to return one kickoff for 24 yards early in the contest prior to the injury.
Since Jones exited the lineup, the duo of Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead have received four kickoffs for 90 yards with a long of 26 yards. Overall, the returners have five kickoffs returned for 114 yards, averaging 22.8 which places them 17th in the NFL in kickoff return average.
Although these numbers rank just below the middle of the league, they are nothing to write home to Mom about.
Entering Week 2 on the road against the Bengals, Chargers fans saw a sight that makes the majority of them immediately cringe: Keenan Allen back to receive the game’s first punt. It isn’t that Allen is not capable of making plays as a punt returner, it’s that the risk of injury as a punt returner far outweighs the reward; especially when it involves the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Then disaster struck on said punt return.
As Allen attempted to receive the high-flying punt, he muffed the ball and the Bengals would recover inside their own 20-yard line.
The miscue would lead to an Andy Dalton-to-A.J.Green touchdown pass a few plays later.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the punt return game for the Chargers.
As of Friday prior to the Week 4 game at home against the Cleveland Browns, San Diego is the only team in the NFL that has yet to log even one yard on punt returns. They currently sit with four more fair catches and one more fumble in that facet of the game than they do punt return yards.
Now, the season is still very young, and the third phase of the game is missing Jones, but the Chargers need to find a way to get this train headed in a positive direction. As much as we are not keen on seeing Allen back there, he has had some solid returns in limited duty as a punt returner throughout his short career.
Both the kickoff and punt return games are in need of work. Once Jacoby Jones returns hopefully we can all see why Telesco and company made signing him a priority this offseason.
Until then, average-to-mediocre results may be all that can be expected from the Chargers’ return teams.
This article is not (just) to remind you that Melvin Gordon is a rookie. Even though most people are already passing judgment on him after only a few preseason appearances and one official NFL game. Am I defending 14 carries for 51 yards? Never. But here’s my point: Stop blaming Melvin.
“Cool, so which offensive lineman should we hate? I had a feeling Orlando Franklin still had some Bronco in him!”… It’s not the O-Line’s fault either. Point fingers at the inadequacy of the coaching staff.
Check this out.
Since 2010 (the first season without LaDainian Tomlinson), the Chargers have only finished with a top-10 rushing statistic TWICE and they were both in the attempts category. In 2010, they were 9th with 457 rushing attempts which was the first year sans LT. In 2013, they ranked 6th with 486 carries in McCoy’s first season. The carries also did not translate to any success in the run game as San Diego finished 22nd (4.0) and 21st (4.0) in yards per carry in respective seasons.
You could argue there was no talent in these post-LT years and I’d point to the fact that Ryan Mathews (2011), Mike Tolbert (2013), and Darren Sproles (2014) all went to Pro Bowls. While only Mathews represented the Chargers in his Pro Bowl appearance, they all were awarded the honor by filling the same role they were known for in San Diego for their respective teams.
Five years. Two different coaching staffs. Same results.
I’d sum it up to the fact that the formula for running the football has not been found in San Diego. Melvin Gordon is not good enough to change that himself, nobody but Barry Sanders is. It will take a concerted effort by coaches and players alike for him to become a premier running attack.
I say all of that to get this point across: Have patience.
San Diego obviously knows how much better their run game needed to be with the way they built the offensive line this offseason and spent TWO draft picks on what should be a top-talent at running back in Gordon. It will not happen overnight, but I do have faith it will happen.
The bottom line is, cut the kid some slack. He’s going to be just fine.
You just #ReadTheBlitz
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.
The Greg One
On March 13, 2015, a ripple of concern and suspicion began when the Chargers announced that they would be bringing in quarterback (QB) Marcus Mariota for a private workout. Why bring in a QB who is expected to be drafted far before the Chargers first round pick at 17? Are the Chargers really looking to sign Mariota just to have him sit behind Philip Rivers for the next three years? Is Tom Telesco just playing pre-draft games with the other general managers? Or, are the Bolts actually considering a change?
As time went by, the ripple gained momentum and grew to the size of La Jolla Shores breakers. Social media outlets began throwing out conspiracy theories that were mostly shot down as, “crazy talk”. But as the days wore on, more and more twists were added to the plot. A trade with Tennessee for the number two pick in the draft was being discussed. At number two, the Chargers would have whomever the Buccaneers did not choose between Florida St. quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. To old school Chargers fans, this scenario makes them squirm as they recall the weeks before the 1998 draft when the Bolts picked second and assured themselves whoever was left between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Not to say that Mariota will suffer the same fate as Leaf, but that is the thing about the draft: you just never know.
Well, those breakers became the size of Hawaii’s Bonzai Pipeline, when more and more dots were connected by the local and national media, along with sports talk radio, as they started digging around. Now the complete hypothetical plan was laid out and it actually seemed plausible! Rumblings from Chargers fans ranged from, “If they trade Rivers, I’m done”, to “Now it’s obvious that the Chargers want to move to Los Angeles”, to “It’s all talk! The Chargers will never trade Rivers!”
Just when you think it is safe to go back in the water, a tidal wave hits the shores of San Diego. Kevin Acee, of the UT San Diego, interviewed Rivers and received some discouraging answers from the Pro Bowl quarterback. When asked if he was working with the Chargers on extending his contract past 2015, Rivers said that he was not. He vowed to honor his contract and play out the next season in San Diego, but would not commit to re-signing with the Bolts for the future. Rivers went on to say, “I guess things could change, but with all the uncertainty in many aspects, I don’t see it changing before camp gets here, and when camp gets here I’m even more certain to play it (his contract) out.” He went on to say, “The good thing is that I’m not under contract in a year where we’d potentially be in Los Angeles.” That does not sound like a player who is locked into playing out his career with the Chargers.
So what are those, “many aspects” that Rivers is referring to? To figure that out, all one has to do is take a look at the current situation with the team, the stadium, his family, and yes, the future of the quarterback position for the San Diego Chargers. Not to get ahead of ourselves, let us take a look at the scenario that has been painted by the media, and fans, that might explain why there is so much speculation about the Mariota workout and the upcoming draft.
The current version of the Rivers trade theory is that he will be traded to Tennessee for the second pick in the draft. With most around the NFL believing that Tampa Bay will pick Winston number one, Mariota would then go to the Chargers at number two. This trade would work for a few different reasons. One, Rivers said that there are “many aspects” to consider before signing a contract to keep him in San Diego past 2015. One of those aspects would certainly be if the Bolts were staying in San Diego, or bolting to Los Angeles (LA). Perhaps Rivers does not want to leave his home in San Diego just to move his wife and seven kids to LA. If he is going to move anywhere, it would make more sense to move to the South, near where he grew up in Alabama. Tennessee is far closer to Alabama and the lifestyle is far more similar to Alabama than LA.
Furthermore, a trade to Tennessee would reunite Rivers with his former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the current head coach for the Titans. Rivers has one of his best years as a pro with Whisenhunt leading the way. Rivers would already know the offense and should be able to step right in and feel comfortable running the show.
Finally, there is the aspect of money. Rivers did not have a great year, by his standards, in 2014. Now would not a beneficial time for him to talk extension. If he plays one more season, with a vastly improved line, he may put up career numbers and be able to demand more money. Yes, Rivers is a nice guy, but even nice guys want to get paid. He does have seven mouths to feed after all.
Okay, all of that actually makes sense for why Rivers would look to leave. How about the Chargers? Why would they entertain the thought of trading away someone who is arguably a future Hall of Fame QB when he certainly has productive years ahead? Well, there are some reasonable answers to those questions as well.
First of all, Rivers is 33 years old and has never taken the Bolts to the Super Bowl. Two other quarter backs in the same draft class, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, have won rings. Now football is a team sport, so you cannot put all of the blame on Rivers for that, so that cannot be the problem. Next, the Chargers have had trouble protecting Rivers and all the hits he has sustained have definitely taken a toll on the aging QB. Perhaps bringing in a mobile QB, like Mariota, will enable the Chargers to sustain drives when the offensive line breaks down. Then again, with the signing of Orlando Franklin and the opportunity to draft a lineman in the first round ahead, the line should be greatly improved. Finally, perhaps the Chargers feel that Mariota has a skill set that will give them a true franchise quarterback for the next 10 to 15 years, while saving cap space by getting out from underneath Rivers’ contract.
That brings us to the stadium issue, which could possibly be the main reason the Chargers would entertain the thought of trading away the face of their franchise. Although team president, Dean Spanos, continues to say that he would like to keep the team in San Diego, there have been few signs that he is interested in working with the recently created Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG). In fact, twice the Chargers have had Carson related stories come out on the same days when CSAG members have held events in San Diego. Perhaps the thinking is that if the Chargers move to LA, they want to be the, “new look” Chargers, and Rivers is too closely associated with San Diego for that to happen.
So is it a good idea to get rid of Rivers? Not a chance! With Rivers, you are not only talking about the face of the team, but also the emotional leader. You are talking about a guy who gives players hope. How many times have you heard, “As long as we have number 17, we have a chance?” You will not get that kind of leadership from a rookie QB. Mariota may have a successful career in the NFL, or he may not. There are no guarantees (see Ryan Leaf). Many experts feel that he will be a work in progress at the next level. He needs to learn how to lead a huddle and take snaps from under center; two things that he did not have to do in college. Yes, these are teachable skills, but do you want your starting QB to be learning the basics while in live action? Seems like an awfully big risk for a team that has a viable answer for the position for the next few years.
Finally, trading Rivers would be a poor PR move. That would be “public relations”, not Philip Rivers. The Bolts have long been known for treating their veterans poorly. Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Vincent Jackson are all examples of players that were shown the door without so much as a, “thank you”. If the new leadership of the Chargers wants to break that cycle and be embraced by the community, they need to handle situations with class and show star players that they appreciate them. It seems a team that may need a large percentage of citizens to vote for a stadium would not want to anger their fans. That is unless they do not really want to stay in San Diego. Even if they do let Rivers go, trading him now is not the answer. Let him play out his last year and see what happens.
What do you think? Is it time to look toward the future? Or, is 2015 a must-win season so that the city will embrace the team and vote for a stadium? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.
How is everyone? My name is Zak Darman (@RealZakDarman on Twitter) and I live in the great city of San Diego, CA. I am a lifelong Charger fan and I am also a lifelong and a very excited Padres fan! I attend games regularly and went to 5 of the 8 home games this season and really don’t want to see them move to Carson! My first real memory of the Chargers happened in 2004 when the Chargers went 12-4 and really snuck up on everyone and won the division. That really made me become the die hard I am now. Brees and LT that season were unbelievable and it was also the Antonio Gates coming out year. My first ever Charger game was in the 2006 season vs the Raiders. You know, the Vincent Jackson ball spin game. I was also in attendance to see LT break the single season touchdown record to surpass Shawn Alexander.
Favorite Moment as a Chargers Fan: 2007 AFC divisional game vs the 13-3 Indianapolis Colts. Last game in the RCA Dome the 11-5 Chargers came in roaring and pulled an upset in what was, in my opinion, the best Chargers game I have ever watched. Philip Rivers and LT were both out of the game with injuries and the Chargers relied on Billy Volek, Michael Turner and Darren Sproles to pull out the victory. Billy Volek drove down the field on what would be the game winning TD drive and the defense held late as the Chargers went on to win 28-24.
Worst Moment as a Chargers Fan: Well, let’s be honest here, there have been more heartbreaking than heart warming moments. I have a lot from the ’06 Divisional Round disaster, to an end of an era in the releasing of LT. But the one game that really kills me whenever I think about heartbreak is the 2009 game vs the Jets at home. Yes, the Nate Kaeding game. Three missed field goals and a Cromartie pull-up-before-the-tackle later in the game and the Chargers were sent home in what started to be a rebuilding mode after that.
My Favorite Charger Player: Thats a tough one. There are a ton of players I like. To pick just one is hard. But I will go with Philip Rivers. His passion and fiery attitude is what a leader should have, regardless of position. His will to win is the one thing that I think really gets under peoples’ skins because they aren’t used to that from the QB position.
I’m glad to be part of the BoltBlitz staff and I am looking forward to writing articles and hopefully you guys are excited to read them as well!
After three preseason games, there’s been a lot of panic and, to be honest, even more crazy talk on social media about our beloved Chargers. Let’s keep things in perspective, folks, and not be so quick to jump.
Here are some of the things I’ve read on social media after three preseason games:
- Trade Ryan Mathews and keep Branden Oliver. The Chargers did Oliver a major disservice when they issued him #43. Oliver had seven carries for 64 yards and a touchdown against what is hardly a cream of the crop defense. OK, so he’s under six feet tall. Doesn’t make him look like Darren Sproles. It doesn’t help that Ryan Mathews lost the ball in an attempt to go over the top for a score. Mathews is not a fumble machine. The hit was textbook with the defender putting his hat right on the ball. Granted, Ryan should have had two hands on the ball, and I’d bet he would be the first to acknowledge that. But Mathews is not a fumble machine. He lost the ball four times over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Four times. Mathews is not a fumble machine. His 1,255 rushing yards last year placed him seventh last year. Let’s be real, folks. Like it or not, Mathews earned the right to be top of the depth chart this year. It’s his job to lose. By the way, Oliver followed that performance with nine carries for 14 yards against Seattle and three carries for 12 yards in San Francisco.
- Start Kellen Clemens over Philip Rivers. What???? While Clemens is 19 of 27 for 283 yards and two touchdowns this preseason, he is a career backup. He started nine games last year for the Rams when Sam Bradford went down. Eight touchdowns against seven interceptions and seven fumbles. Do you really want him as your starter? Oh, but Mike, he led two touchdown drives against Seattle two weeks ago! That doesn’t make him a starter. He is a career backup, kids. Philip Rivers has more pass attempts in two seasons than Clemens has in his career (which is only two years shorter than Rivers’).
- Manti Te’o is a bust. The most ridiculous thing I heard after Manti was drafted was that somehow he was the second coming of Junior Seau. Why did people say this? Because he’s a Pacific Islander. So, what do pom-pom fans do? They call him “Teau” instead of T’eo. PUHLEEZE! Yes, he was drafted too high. No, he’s not going to be a Junior Seau or Mike Singletary. Does that make him a bust? Not really, unless that’s what your expectation of Manti is. His rookie season was, shall we say, pedestrian? He missed the preseason last year with plantar fasciitis, so the regular season was on the job training. T’eo is a good linebacker. He is an above average linebacker. But a bust? Not so fast. He’s only a second year pro.
- Mantei Te’o is injury prone. The man sustains a foot injury again and he’s injury prone just like that? For a second year pro, this is an unfair label. It’s virtually impossible to play through a foot injury and be effective. Last week showed that. That doesn’t make a player deserving of the injury prone label.
- The defense sucks. Seattle exposed weaknesses in the defense, no question about it. We saw a lack of discipline last week from the defense. We saw blown assignments. We saw school yard tackling. This defense is probably the most talented group John Pagano has had to work with since taking over as defensive coordinator. The defense has one (huge) hole at nose tackle. I wrote previously that this was my biggest concern. The front seven has been pushed around. Someone in this “committee” of NTs has to step up and be a true NT. Pagano and the defense will compensate for this weakness, but this was never to be looked at as a top-ten defense. Philip Rivers and company will continue this year to be the best defensive weapon for the Chargers, but sucks is an over-used and inaccurate term to apply to this defense. The first team defense played considerably better against the 49ers.
- Fire John Pagano. Let’s hold off on this one until the end of the season. Let’s give him time to implement his new tools (Jerry Attaochu, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett) before we head down this road. I still say it’s time for Pagano to put up or shut up. My vote is on put up.
We, as fans, always want to see our team win. We hate when our team is dominated or made to look bad. This is only Tom Telesco’s and Mike McCoy’s second season. Let’s not assume this team is going to look bad until week 6 like happened so often with the previous regime. Remember, the preseason isn’t about wins and losses. It’s about evaluating the talent in camp to assemble the best possible 53-man roster given the salary cap restraints they’re working within.