As you all may now know, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco got a three-year extension right before the start of the 2015 season. But did he deserve it? Here I breakdown his three draft classes, free agent classes and contract extensions. I will be grading by a very easy criteria: Performance (worth the draft pick, money, etc), Value (starter or depth) and if they’re still on the team. It will be broke down by a number scale of 0-10, 0 being very bad and 10 being very good. At the end of each section I will give a percentage and a letter grade to that category by adding up the number I give to the player and divide it by 10 (max number a player/move can get). 90-100% = A, 89-80% = B 79-70% = C, and anything below that is an F. Lets get to it:
His Draft Classes
***Note: these rankings are how they have played since joining the Chargers. 2015 draft class is too early to judge, I get that, but it’s on how they have played as a Charger.
2013: #11 OL DJ Fluker, #38 MLB Manti Te’o (traded up), #76 WR Keenan Allen, #145 CB Steve Williams, #179 OLB Tourek Williams, #221 QB Brad Sorenson
DJ Fluker: Started off as a Right Tackle and played fairly well in 2013 before injuries in 2014 set in and he was recently moved to Right Guard in the offseason. He didn’t play as well as hoped, but it was his first time ever being there so it wasn’t really unexpected. Grade: 6
Manti Te’o: Trading up in the draft for anyone who isn’t a playmaker is a very big loss no matter what you gave up to get said player. Manti has been battling injuries most his career and is still having troubles wrapping up and tackling NFL sized players. He isn’t terrible like Donald Butler and did play better next to Perryman. Grade: 5
Keenan Allen: This was the best draft pick Telesco has had and Keenan is quickly developing into one of the best receivers in the AFC. He was on a torrid pace this season leading the league in catches and yards and was well on his way to breaking records until he got hurt. Again. Ended the season on IR with a lacerated Kidney. Grade: 9
Steve Williams: Keenan’s roommate at Cal, he hasn’t really done much before this season and even ended his rookie year before it started. He’s looking more and more like depth than he is a solid part of the team and wouldn’t be missed in terms of production if cut. Grade: 3
Tourek Williams: Tourek hasn’t done anything either since his rookie season. He was injured the entire year this season and even ended up finishing the year on IR. Grade: 1
Brad Sorenson: Has never been listed as more than the third-string quarterback, he spent 2014 on another team and 2015 between free agency and practice squad. Grade: 0
2014: #25 CB Jason Verrett, #50 Jerry Attaochu (traded up), #89 OL Chris Watt, #165 DT Ryan Carrethers, #201 RB Marion Grice, #240 WR Tevin Reese
Jason Verrett: Verrett is quickly becoming a lockdown cornerback, if only he can stay healthy. He had 3 picks this season, one for 6, and was ranked the fifth best CB this season according to pro football focus. Grade: 8
Jerry Attaochu: Again, trading up in the draft for players who aren’t playmakers hurt your team no matter what you gave up. Attaochu is one of those guys. Chargers moved up to get him and he has been getting better, but isn’t a playmaker who can bring it from week to week yet. Grade: 5
Chris Watt: Watt was a reach when drafted and a guy the coaches are hoping to be the heir to Hardwick at the center position. It hasn’t worked and he hasn’t stayed healthy. In fact, he has been graded as one of the worst offensive linemen in football. Grade: 3
Ryan Carrethers: Carrethers shows promise but for some reason, the coaches don’t play him. Whether it’s work ethic or attitude, we don’t know. But for him being a second year, 5th round pick, it’s not really uncommon. Grade: 5
Marion Grice: Got beat out by undrafted free agent Brandon Oliver and then swooped up by Arizona. Grade: 0
Tevin Reese: Never had a chance at the NFL level because he was way too small. His speed was for real but his size and catching were not. Never made the roster. Grade: 0
2015: #15 RB Melvin Gordon (Traded up), #48 MLB Denzel Perryman, #83 CB Craig Mager, #153 OLB Kyle Emanuel, #192 DE Darius Philon
Melvin Gordon: For trading up in the draft, see Manti Te’o and Jerry Attaochu. Yes, ANOTHER trade up and this time for a running back. Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin was most everyone’s pick that were Charger fans. But he has shown tremendous flaws in his game and hasn’t been anywhere close to the guy the Chargers had hoped for. The line was a problem as well, no doubt about it. Grade: 2
Denzel Perryman: Perryman looks promising and has quickly become a fan favorite. By the end of the year, he took the starting job from Butler (and deservedly so) and shined. He is by far the best linebacker we have on this team and he only started in about 5 games. Grade: 7
Craig Mager: Mager couldn’t find the field in 2015. He was a very big reach in the third round to begin with, but I understand why he did it. He has a lot to work on to become valuable and it’s going to take a few years to see that most likely. Grade: 3
Kyle Emanuel: Emanuel started strong. First game of the year vs the Lions he had a sack and an interception and then eventually was nowhere to be seen. He has tackling issues and doesn’t seem to set the edge like an OLB needs to do. He does come from a small school and was a 5th round pick so it is warranted and excusable. Grade: 4
Darius Philon: A guy I really liked coming out of Arkansas, Philon has shown some promise but overall looks to be a very good rotational player. He was put on the IR-designated to return list during the season but was playing well before that. Grade: 3
Final result: 64/170 = 37%, F
His free agent signings (major ones only)
***Note: these are how the players have played since joining the Chargers
2013: RB Danny Woodhead, OT King Dunlap, CB Derek Cox, OG Chad Rinehart, TE John Phillips
Danny Woodhead: Probably Telesco’s best signing and a big reason why we made the playoffs in 2013. Woodhead brings that “security blanket” the team had been missing since Sproles signed with New Orleans. He was versatile up until the Bills game last season where he ended it with a broken fibula. Other than that, he’s been a rock. Grade: 9
King Dunlap: Another strong signing by Telesco. Dunlap wasn’t much in Philly but Chargers brought him in on a very team friendly deal and he excelled and actually earned a pay raise this last offseason. Another solid signing by Telesco that year. Grade: 8
Derek Cox: The biggest miss by Telesco in 2013. He was toast everytime he touched the field and eventually was benched and ended his time with the Chargers. Cut after his first season. Grade: 2
Chad Rinehart: He was average at the guard position in 2013 and awful there in 2014. He was a fill in for the future and expecting anything other than below average was a pipe dream. Grade: 4
John Phillips: Nothing flashy but he was the blocking Tight End that the team needed. Being mostly used as that, he has caught a few passes and even a touchdown. He was eventually cut by the team this season and brought back as well. Grade: 4
2014: RB Donald Brown, CB Brandon Flowers, MLB Kavell Connor, TE David Johnson. Quick note: Kellen Clemens was also signed, but as a backup QB it is unfair to grade so I left him off for those purposes
Donald Brown: Terrible signing by Telesco as he was brought in for RB depth and got $5 million a year. He went inactive for most of this season as well. Grade: 3
Brandon Flowers: As bad as the Brown signing was, is how good of a signing the Flowers one was. He really boosted this secondary and his lockdown play earned him his new contract in this past offseason, something I will get to in a bit. Grade: 8
Kavell Connor: Brought in for LB depth, Kavell had a big workload in 2014 as he filled in for oft injured Manti Te’o and played fairly well when called upon. Grade: 6
David Johnson: Brought in to be the FB, David Johnson is brutal. He constantly looks lost and doesn’t know where he’s going and doesn’t seem to find the field that often now as well. Grade: 3
2015: WR Jacoby Jones, OG Orlando Franklin, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Patrick Robinson, DB Jimmy Wilson
Jacoby Jones: He was brought in to give us a feared return game. He never lived up to that and in fact, wasn’t even half of what we expected. Cut halfway through the season. Grade: 0
Orlando Franklin: Big money linemen signing, Franklin has been a HUGE disappointment as he isn’t even close to the guy who Telesco thought he was signing. System fit, as they ran a zone scheme could be a huge factor of why, but overall he was as bad as Rinehart. Grade: 3
Stevie Johnson: Started out strong, pulling in touchdowns in each of his first two games played for San Diego, but then seemed to check out and then eventually got hurt. Grade: 6
Patrick Robinson: The sneakiest of signings, PRob may have been the best signing of Telesco’s tenure. He graded as a very solid corner this season by Pro Football Focus and was a bright spot in a secondary that had high expectations going into the season. Grade: 7
Jimmy Wilson: Jimmy Wilson was brought in to be a Marcus Gilchrist type safety. One that could play safety and cornerback but actually do it well. Well, he couldn’t and eventually got cut at the end of the season. Grade: 2
Final Result: 65/140 = 46%, F
His contract extensions/re-signings (major one’s only)
2013: K Nick Novak, RB Ronnie Brown
Nick Novak: There wasn’t many re-signings his first year, which wasn’t bad. But Novak was solid here as he was very reliable. Grade: 8
Ronnie Brown: Ronnie Brown was brought in as a veteran backup and one who was very reliable with the rock. He had one big touchdown vs the Benagls that sealed the deal in our first playoff win since 2008. So for that, he gets a little extra love from me in his grade. Grade: 7
2014: MLB Donald Butler, S Darrell Stuckey, OG Chad Rinehart, CB Richard Marshall
Donald Butler: This couldn’t have gone any worse than it has. 2014 he was rated as one of the worst MLB’s in football and in 2015, rookie Denzel Perryman took his starting job and his time as a Charger may be over. Grade: 0
Darrell Stuckey: Solid as a special teamer, Stuckey was another sneaky good extension. He has made the pro bowl a few times as a special teamer but as a safety, he has been very limited in playing time. Grade: 6
Chad Rinehart: From an average 2013, to an awful 2014, Rinehart was below average for us. I understand the signing, but should have had a plan B. Grade: 3
Richard Marshall: Marshall had a knack at getting turnovers at the end of 2013, but most of that was due to him being in the right place at the right time. He was brought in for depth because he knew the system in 2014 but due to injuries, he played more than he should have. Grade: 3
2015: OT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers
King Dunlap: Dunlap was a rock for us since 2013, but after his extension, he was very concussion prone again. Missed a chunk of the season and hasn’t lived up to his extension quite yet. Grade: 4
Brandon Flowers: Another player hit by injuries and possibly even coaching, Flowers under performed big time and was even rated as a bottom third corner this season. He really needs to have a bounceback season for his contract to not look so bad. Grade: 2
Final Result: 33/80 = 41%, F
Final overall result: 162/390 = 41%, F
Using my grading scale, Tom Telesco has gotten an ‘F’ grade as a general manager hitting on only 4 of every 10 personnel decisions. This doesn’t even include an undersized defense he has put together and coaches that are not good at what they do.
We all have differences of opinion on the different players aforementioned, but we can all agree that most his decisions have been sub-par.
Agree or disagree with my assessment? Did Telesco deserve this extension? I don’t think so, as my grading scale has proved. Let me know below!
With free agency officially set to open tomorrow, Tuesday March 10th at 4 p.m. ET. exactly, NFL teams are preparing to sign some heavy hitters. Since last week, rumors and predictions have circulated as fans eagerly wait for what is set to unfold. As of right now, everything is all speculation which leaves Tom Telesco and the Chargers still in the hunt for big name players. Let’s stop there because the Bolts don’t sign big names.
It was nice to ponder the thought of free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh coming to a team with a tremendous need for a nose tackle, but it was all a fictional. An array of fans flooded social media when it was announced by NFL Media insider’s Ian Rapoport that Suh is being considered by the Chargers. What a tease. Bolt fans had to have known that names like his don’t ever come to San Diego. It is already looking like this year’s free agency signees won’t be anything like what A.J. Preller did in the Padres’ offseason. I would love to eat my words on that.
Well, wait a second. The previous back office has been gone for a few seasons now and this is the first year Telesco has had cap breathing room. Fans have been unable to determine what the young general manager is capable of, but most importantly, willing to do in order to build a Super Bowl contending team.
We all know what happened in recent years with some semi big name signings. Jared Gaither and Derek Cox are just a couple that did not live up to their contracts, to say the least. Is it the money or just the uncertainly that the back office feels the need to justify not snagging a big hitter via free agency? Either way, I believe starting tomorrow things may start to change.
There has to be some reasoning as to why big name players should not be chased. For example, it’s reported that Suh will sign with the Miami Dolphins for a 5-year, $114 million dollar contract, but should the Chargers spend a quarterback’s salary on a defensive tackle? It’s debatable, but not wise when the roster has many gaps yet to fill. Yes, Telesco finally has money to spend, but it shouldn’t be spent on a single big name guy.
In the most positive news yet to transpire, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, free agent guard/tackle Orlando Franklin is set to join the Chargers. Seems as if strides are being made for big names. According to NFL Trade Rumors, Franklin is ranked 19th of 100 free agents in 2015 which gives him a presumable headliner label.
Last week, the Bolts added an explosive kick returner, Jacoby Jones, to the roster. In addition to him, Telesco then solidified the secondary by re-signing cornerback Brandon Flowers. These players may not be big names per say, but they add much-needed value to the organization.
It’s always been a stigma that the Chargers don’t sign heavy hitters via free agency. This offseason seems to be different, and things are progressing forward with player talent, rather regressing. Bolt fans should be hopeful with the leadership of Tom Telesco and company. In the next few weeks, his true colors will be exposed. I’m hopeful for bright and exuberant colors, opposed to the gloomy grays.
When it comes to researching article topics, I tend to go back through the archives of my website and look at ideas that I have had in years past. This morning, at 2:00 am, I ran across a scathing article I wrote about the laziness of former Charger offensive tackle Jared Gaither. I then remembered that he is still being paid by the Bolts in 2014.
He is not the only one.
Dead money contracts are those that count against the team’s salary cap despite the fact that the players are no longer on the squad. When I list the players that are still getting paid, I guarantee your blood will boil when you look at some of the names. The amounts of their pay will elevate that level of frustration, as well.
For the sake of this article, I am only going to include the players that are being paid over $100,000 without providing any services to the Chargers at all at this time. They are no longer with the team; in fact, a couple haven’t been on the team for over a year or two.
Let’s start at the bottom — lowest paid non-Chargers — and work our way up to the top, the highest paid.
DL – Lawrence Guy $100,588
WR – Vincent Brown $146,517
S – Brandon Taylor $168,469
CB – Brandon Ghee $185,000
RB – Shaun Draughn $201,176
LB – Jonas Mouton $218,340
DB – Richard Marshall $570,000
FB – Le’Ron McClain $833,334
LB – Larry English $865,000
WR – Robert Meachem $ 3,750,000
CB – Derek Cox $3,900,000
OT – Jared Gaither $4,000,000
Total amount of dead money from the aforementioned NON-CHARGERS: $14,938,424
Go ahead and let that sink in as you look at a Charger team that has been decimated by injuries. The same organization that was completely unable to make any moves prior to the trade deadline to supplement a beat-up roster. Thanks a lot, that one guy who used to be the GM here.
The total amount of dead money, including players that are not listed above, is $15,436,212.
When it comes to getting rid of and cutting poor performers or bad contracts, it’s a very difficult decision. But when a player is unable to contribute at a serviceable or acceptable level, the time to cut ties is necessary. Three of the top-four highest paid non-Bolts have played for other teams in 2014; Meachem, Cox and English. Robert Meachem is the only one that is currently on an NFL roster of those four.
Talk about a kick in the pants.
The last General Manager left Tom Telesco in a rough spot when it comes to navigating the roster and its lack of cap space. The 2015 season brings Telesco a much better opportunity to make some moves and re-sign some of his marquee players to long-term extensions; namely Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle.
Every team in the NFL has to deal with matters such as what is listed above. But it goes without saying that the Chargers were forced to make some tough decisions when cutting the players listed. But, perhaps, cutting non-performing players like Gaither, Cox, Meachem and English were actually simple decisions that came at a heavy price. At least a few of the players noted actually played for San Diego in 2014. The same can’t be said for some of the bums that made the list.
Thanks a lot for reading. Which of these players frustrated you the most due to the money they made without having contributed to the cause in 2014? Let me know by leaving your thoughts below in the comment section.
There are many reasons to be excited about the 2014 edition of the San Diego Chargers. The first, and most obvious, is that they should build upon the successes of the 2013 campaign.
Going into Tom Telesco’s and Mike McCoy’s second year at the helm, the team has improved in critical areas. Somehow fitting Brandon Flowers within the tight cap space might be the steal of the century! Bolts drafted well again this year, picking up Jason Verrett, Jerry Attaochu and Chris Watt. The team is deeper and stronger going into camp than it was last year.
Here’s what I’ll be looking for in 2014:
Ryan Mathews. He silenced a lot of critics with his play and his toughness last year. He ran harder and with more purpose than in previous years. Most importantly, he held on to the football and he kept playing once he got out of Mike McCoy’s dog house early in the season.
Malcom Floyd. He sustained that frightening neck injury last year in Philly, but is saying he’s ready to play and he’s been cleared by the doctors. When healthy, he’s a solid #2 WR. A big body, physical guy who can also stretch the field. If he can stay healthy, look for trouble in coverage with he and Keenan Allen.
Speaking of Keenan Allen. Came out of nowhere last year. Our third round draft pick was slated to be brought along slowly until the injury bug bit. Can he duplicate and build on his rookie success? Rest assured he’ll get more secondary attention this year in addition to getting more attention from Philip Rivers.
Ladarius Green. I expect to see him on the field more as the heir-apparent to Antonio Gates. Gatsey isn’t what he used to be, and his skills have diminished with age. I think Green will play more and begin to take his place as Antonio’s future replacement.
Cornerback position. I was excited about Steve Williams last year until he tore his pectoral muscle early on. Telesco was high on him as well. With a CB corps of Flowers, Williams, Verrett, Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall, we’re definitely in better shape than we were last year.
Offensive line. Who’d have thunk? King Dunlap may have been the most underrated player of 2013. An area everyone was concerned about turned out to be one of the more stable units on the 2013 squad. Look for draft pick Chris Watt to see time at guard and at center, spelling Nick Hardwick as his playing days are winding down.
There’s a lot to be excited about this coming year. Telesco made a lot of upgrades considering the salary cap restraints he had to work with. Donald Brown is an upgrade over Ronnie Brown. Flowers is, without question, an upgrade over Derek Cox. Health is always the question mark. Can M80 stay healthy? Dwight Freeney? Can Philip Rivers build on his successes with Mike McCoy’s offense? Can Ryan Mathews be the stud RB he showed last year he can be? Will Mantei Te’o improve over a pedestrian rookie campaign where he learned on the job after missing training camp with foot issues?
I believe the Chargers are poised to make another run at the post season, and maybe deeper into the post season than last year. Time will tell.
Despite winning a playoff game in 2013, the Chargers defense ranked down in the bottom third of the league. Most of the scrutiny hit the secondary, but having to cover receivers for ten seconds or more, four downs at a time will make any secondary look bad. The entire defense needs to improve.
The numbers as a whole definitely show gaps in the Bolts’ D, but taking a closer look, they had it when it mattered the most, against the reigning AFC Champion Denver Broncos.
The road to the top of the AFC West, and likely the AFC, goes through Denver. Only three teams beat the Denver Broncos last year during the regular season, the Colts, the Patriots, and the Chargers. Only two teams held the Denver Broncos to under 400 total yards in any single game. The Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, twice. Three times if you count the playoff game between the two teams.
In fact, the averages of the rest of the league against Denver when compared to the averages among games against the Chargers show that one team played the AFC champs as well as anyone. Consider the following stats table from 2013:
|Denver Broncos Offensive Production 2013 season||Points (Ave)||Total Yards (Ave)||Passing Yards (Ave)|
|2 regular season games vs San Diego||24||346||295|
|3 games vs San Diego (including post season)||24||352||273|
|vs all of the AFC West||30||409||324|
|2 other regular season losses (New England/Indianapolis)||32||420||248|
|vs rest of league (regular season)||40||459||341|
The unmatched Denver Broncos offense averaged nearly 40 points per game against the rest of the league, while averaging only 24 over three games with San Diego. A 16 point differential.
The two other teams to defeat Denver during the season had an average of 32 points allowed, and 420 total yards allowed. The three games against the Chargers, 24 points allowed, 352 total yards allowed. That would be 70 less yards and an 8 point differential. San Diego’s defense, as unheralded and patchwork as it was, consistently defended Denver as well as any defense they went up against.
Consistency. As long as the San Diego defense can play at a more consistently high level over the entirety of the season, it looks as though they know the big opponent very well. Perhaps it’s safe to say better than anyone.
The Chargers lost their top two pass rushers in Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney for most of the season, and the free agent acquisition of starting cornerback Derek Cox was a major bust. Not to mention that Jarret Johnson and Donald Butler missed time and both Corey Liuget and Manti Te’o played the season with injuries. Winning five straight before their season ended, John Pagano and company clearly had something working toward the end of the year. Adding to the areas of need with draft picks and free agency, the defense must be better this time around.
Three of four teams in the AFC West made the playoffs, which made it one if the tougher divisions in the AFC, and in the NFL last season. Going 4-2 in that division and doing what they did to the Broncos over three games, this San Diego defense may actually look worse on paper than it actually is. Given another year together, playoff run experience, new talent, players returning from injury, and several crucial re-signings, this team has put themselves in a great position to battle with the Broncos for the top once again.
If you’re the Denver Broncos, the road back to the AFC West Championship must go through San Diego, twice. Yes, Denver went 2-1 against the Chargers and eliminated them from playoff contention, but it would appear that if the Broncos were to have a thorn in their side it would be the Chargers. With an improved pass rush, potentially improved secondary, and added speed on defense, hopefully these numbers will get even better.
The Broncos’ roster has made some changes, losing Eric Decker while adding Emanuel Sanders, but no team knows this roster and offense as well as John Pagano and the San Diego Chargers. Having played Denver three times in 2013 and bringing back an improved defensive unit, the Broncos may enter the season as the champs, but they are the champs that the Bolts know incredibly well.
We all rave about the acquisitions made by Tom Telesco in his 18 or so months as Chargers’ GM. Picking up guys like Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown were popular moves among many fans. Draft picks like D.J. Fluker, Keenan Allen, Jason Verrett and Jerry Attaochu had fans applauding.
But what about the departures? The players Telesco let go are probably just as noteworthy as the players he signed as free agents or drafted. Here are my top five releases/non-signings over the past year and a half:
Top spot has to be Derek Cox. Cox was benched by Mike McCoy almost more than he saw playing time. He was awful, he was horrible. He got burned, embarrassed, humiliated, caught flat-footed and out of position so much you’d think he was a pee wee leaguer. Personally, I hated Derek Cox more than I hate the cable company bearing the same name.
Next up, none other than the “Big Lazy”, Jared Gaither. Yeah, he came in during the 2011 season and pulled enough wool over A.J. Smith’s eyes as a savior at left tackle to get a stupid contract. Surprisingly, he spent more of 2012 “hurt” than he did suiting up. Apparently, the meeting Telesco had with Gaither before training camp went so well, Telesco decided cutting Gaither was worth the cap pain that would inflict.
The second spot was really a toss-up between Gaither and Robert Meacham. Wow, epic bust. He was a #3 or #4 on the New Orleans depth chart, brought in to be #2 behind Malcolm Floyd. Nobody ever will mistake Meacham for Vincent Jackson. He was such a bust, he even found himself in Norv Turner’s dog house and hardly saw playing time the second half of the season.
In this spot, Clipboard Jesus. A.J. lets this guy go to Seattle to try and be a starter, which failed miserably. So what does he do? Bring him back again to carry Philip Rivers’ water bottle and jock strap. In Charlie’s defense, why would he turn down the contract A.J. offered? Dude made some good money to stay clean, wear a baseball cap and hold a clipboard.
Lastly, we have Takeo Spikes. I liked this guy. He played hard, he worked hard, he was a leader and a mentor for the younger guys, but he’d lost a couple of steps. Defense had to get younger, and Takeo, having seen better days, needed to be released.
There are others, of course, but these are the most notable non-moves/releases from where I sit.
When I first decided to do this post, I had planned on writing my thoughts on the former Chargers that are listed below and what they are doing now. I have since changed my mind due to reading those names below and becoming incredibly angry at that money being paid to players that are no longer on the team. So instead, I’m just going to leave this chart here ( credit to overcap.com ) and go look at some of the free agents that were signed by other teams.
Every team, every year, has dead money on the books from players that have been released, waived or cut. But when you look at a team that overachieved in 2013, to think about being able to add a few key free agents would have been a great momentum-builder going into May’s draft.
I am not, by any means, suggesting that the Chargers should have gone on a spending spree. I am ecstatic with what Tom Telesco has done with so little room under the salary cap.
I am not sure that we will see much more activity in free agency, but I do know that I have complete faith in what Telesco is doing. I also know that I am certainly looking forward to watching it all unfold.
I think everyone would agree that the 2013 season was a success. Very few people truly anticipated our Bolts would finish 10-8, grab the #6 seed or advance to the AFC Divisional Round before finally having injuries catch up with them.
Philip Rivers is now deemed “fixed“. Rather, Philip adapted and thrived in the changes to the offensive scheme implemented by Mike McCoy, Ken Whisenhunt and Frank Reich. Ryan Mathews ran harder and with more confidence than any other time in his brief career. More importantly, he overcame his label of being fragile and fumble prone. He played his best football with a high ankle sprain and he only fumbled twice, losing only one of those to the opposition.
Chargers #1 pick, D.J. Fluker got better as his rookie campaign progressed. He has a mean streak that I love and that has been lacking since the old days of Mike Goff, Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick playing side by side. #2 pick, Manti Te’o also improved as the season went on, learning on the job after missing most of training camp with a foot injury. #3 pick Keenan Allen came out of nowhere and impressed the most jaded of fans and prognosticators. Last year’s #1 pick, Melvin Ingram made his presence felt when he returned from knee surgery in Week 13.
So, where do the Chargers go from here? NT is sorely needed to protect Te’o and Donald Butler. They need a space-eating NT to keep the opposing offensive linemen off our inside linebackers. Second in line is CB. We need someone who can cover effectively. Eric Weddell and Jahleel Addae can only protect weak corners to a point. Derek Cox certainly wasn’t the answer, and I’m not convinced Richard Marshall is either. They’ll get Johnny Patrick and Steve Williams back, but will that be the answer?
After that, pass rush depth is needed. They need to cut ties with Larry English. Will Dwight Freeney be able to come back from his injury? Will the Chargers bring him back? The best way to help your secondary is with a strong pass rush and consistent pressure on opposing QBs. Depth along the OL is needed. We don’t know yet if Nick Hardwick will be back. Can King Dunlap hold up for an entire season? Can Rich Ohrnberger play 16 games at C if Hardwick does hang up the cleats? Who plays behind Ryan Mathews? Ronnie Brown isn’t the answer, they need to get younger here. WR depth is another concern. If Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd don’t return, who plays opposite Allen and who will command Rivers’ attention?
Tom Telesco and McCoy have their work cut out for them this spring and summer. I’m confident in what they will do in 2014 considering how they worked with what they had in 2013.
I know I’ve raised more questions than answers. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
After somewhat of a writing hiatus, I am now back to the grindstone after the Chargers were ousted from the playoffs by the Denver Broncos. This season provided many ups and downs. Considering what Tom Telesco, Mike McCoy and company had to work with the 2013 season can definitely be considered a success.
As you all know, the Bolts advanced past the first round of the playoffs and eventually fell to Denver. During that game, and many others throughout the year, San Diego’s flaws became quite obvious. In this post I’ll breakdown the team’s needs all over the defensive side of the roster.
Despite improved play in the secondary, it is clear that the cornerback position must be addressed during the offseason. The Chargers finished with the 29th ranked passing defense. That is not going to get it done. Shareece Wright played hard and was tough during certain stretches of the year. But he was a bit inconsistent. Richard Marshall played admirably but was not a guy that you want starting in your defensive backfield. I am very interested to see what this year’s fifth round pick, Steve Williams can do next season after tearing a pectoral muscle prior to the season. The Chargers may look to address this need in both free agency and the draft depending on how the feel the play of Wright progressed as a starter on the outside. Wright had his share of plays and he was also exploited by some of the better quarterbacks in the league.
Sticking with the cornerback spot, the addition of Derek Cox was, without a doubt, a serious disappointment to say the least. After multiple benchings due to poor play, Cox was relegated to special teams play or occasionally coming in when another corner was injured. It has been said by Telesco that the team will try to work with Cox. But it would not be a surprise at all to see him cut in an effort to save a little bit of cash toward the salary cap.
On a high note regarding the secondary, the emergence of strong safety Jahleel Addae just might have eliminated the need to fill that spot in the upcoming draft or free agency. It is also seemed that Darrell Stuckey, who began to see the most defensive snaps of his entire career, is a solid backup. Oh, and there’s that one guy Eric Weddle. He’s pretty damn good. Adding a little depth to the safety spots wouldn’t hurt but the future there seems to be bright.
Sticking with the defensive side of the ball, we’ll work our way to the linebacking spots. Beginning with the inside backers, it is paramount that the team re-sign Donald Butler. He is a leader on this team and, despite a dip in play this year, he is a top 7 inside linebacker in this league.
Next to Butler is the highly talked about Manti Te’o; who it turns out has a real girlfriend, by the way. After missing the first three games due to injury, Te’o had a rough beginning to his rookie campaign. He had some issues adjusting to the speed of the NFL game and his inability to shed blocks was still the same issue he had in college. All of that being said, his play did improve over the season.
The Bolts have Reggie Walker, who plays both the inside and outside spots, Andrew Gachkar – special teams standout – and Bront Bird for depth at the inside linebacker position. Walker had a good year making plays when called upon. It might be necessary to upgrade over either Gachkar, Bird or both.
The outside linebacker position was hoped to be one of the strengths of the defense with Melvin Ingram entering his sophomore season and the addition of Dwight Freeney in free agency. The team already had a dominant edge-setter in Jarret Johnson as well. Then on May 2nd, the team’s second day of OTAs, Ingram tore his ACL.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Freeney was lost for the year during the week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. The Chargers were then starting Johnson and rookie sixth round draft pick Tourek Williams. As mentioned above, Johnson is solid against the run and constantly disrupting running lanes to the edge, but he is not what one would consider to be a threat as a pass rusher. Despite the high-motor play of Williams, he was a rookie making the transition for collegiate defensive end in a 4-3 to an NFL outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The learning curve appeared to be steep at times for the former Florida International product.
Without being certain what the future will hold for Freeney, the Chargers could look to add a future stud to the outside linebacking corps. Although Freeney is under contract through the 2014 season, there is no guarantee that he won’t retire or the team could even decide to part ways with him due to age and injury concerns.
Now on to the final portion of the Charger defense. Going into the 2013 season the defensive line was thought to be the strongest segment of the entire team. Although this would be the first year that Cam Thomas would be used as a starting nose tackle, he had the benefit of being flanked by both Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes.
The defensive line was a bit of a let down, as a whole, for a good portion of the year. Liuget had a good year and seemed to be playing through injury in the first few games of the season. He did begin to turn out it on and wreak havoc in the opposing team’s backfields as the season wore on. He put up respectable numbers for a 3-4 defensive end but 2013 showed that he needs better support from his linemates.
Thomas had a tough time making his mark and was bullied at the point of attack at times. The 2013 season could have been the last year that Thomas will be in lightning bolts. Michael Gehlken of UT San Diego has already been on record saying that he doesn’t anticipate Thomas will be re-signed by the Chargers.
The importance of a dominant nose tackle in a 3-4 cannot be overstated enough. For the 3-4 to be successful, you must have a space-eater that can take on double teams and win while collapsing the pocket. At this point, San Diego does not have anyone on the roster capable of doing a sufficient job at the position.
Then comes the play of Kendall Reyes. After seeing his outstanding play in 2012, this season was a let down of sorts for Reyes. He didn’t seem nearly as explosive and I didn’t see the same tenacity when engaging at the point of attack. He was able to make some plays but much more was expected of him. Again, this could be the lack of an impact made by Thomas in the middle. The hope is that we’ll see a rejuvenated Reyes in 2014.
In conclusion, the needs on the defensive side of the football seem to be obvious and the most prominent of those are at nose tackle and cornerback. There are some depth needs at inside and outside linebacker. The team may also need to look at adding another safety to the mix for depth purposes as well.
Thanks a lot for reading and in the next day or so I’ll be breaking down the needs for the Charger offense going into the 2014 offseason. This team overachieved in 2013 but it has a solid foundation to build upon for the future. I have complete faith in Telesco to do what it takes to bring the Chargers back into the upper echelon of the NFL. Hopefully he can get the Chargers back to the promised land and San Diego may bolt into the Super bowl and bring back the Vince Lombardi trophy to America’s finest city.
Only time will tell.
Last season, Tom Telesco took the reins of an Indianapolis Colts franchise that had finished last in the league in 2011. Telesco was named Vice President of Football Operations in 2012. Telesco used his newfound power to overhaul the Colts roster. The Colts had gone 2-14 in 2011. Telesco dismantled the team, jettisoning long standing players such as Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark and Dwight Freeney. That year, Peyton Manning was also allowed to leave after missing the season with a neck injury followed by multiple surgeries.
By the time the 2012 season rolled around, there were 36 new faces on the roster. Telesco learned from one of the master executives in NFL history in longtime Colts General Manager Bill Polian. Telesco was able to be in on the scouting and player analysis aspect in the Colts war room, having input on what players to bring in. Coincidentally, his first season was also Manning’s first season in Indianapolis.
As a result of Telesco’s overhaul, the 2012 edition of the Colts led by top draft pick quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went 11-5 and into the playoffs. The Colts won their division again in 2013 and are prime for a long run as mainstays on the playoff landscape. Telesco’s eye for bringing in fresh talent took the Colts from worst to first in the AFC South. The Chargers noticed and in the 2013 offseason signed Telesco to become the new General Manager of the San Diego Chargers.
Right away, Telesco used the same blueprint he used in Indianapolis. Longtime Chargers were seen out the door. Among them, Louis Vasquez, Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, Antonio Garay, Takeo Spikes and Antwan Barnes were among many to find themselves exiled from Chargers Park. In their place, Telesco filled their slots with young, mostly unproven role players who were capable of playing multiple positions. Players like Thomas Keiser, Sean Lissemore, Chad Rinehart, Rich Orhnberger, Derek Cox and Dunlap are all Telesco signings who have had great impact in their first season on the team.
The draft got the Chargers off and running at the 2013 NFL Draft with Telesco at the controls. The first round pick, DJ Fluker, has been a stabilizing force at right tackle. When left tackle King Dunlap missed games with a concussion, Fluker moved to the left side of the line and played great there as well. In the second round, Telesco moved up to select Mantei Teo out of Notre Dame and got California wide receiver Keenan Allen in the third round.
Telesco was hailed for the picks. All were seen as first round talents. Teo unexpectedly dropped into the second round on the heels of the fake girlfriend scandal. Allen’s stock dropped because he participated in the NFL draft combine injured. Teo’s play has gotten better as the season wears on after missing almost all preseason and a quarter of the regular season with a foot injury. Allen is the odds on favorite for Offensive Rookie Of The Year after being pressed into service following an injury to Malcolm Floyd. Sixth round pick Tourek Williams has has substantial playing time in the wake of numerous injuries on the defensive line and has played above expectations.
Telesco also spearheaded the search for a new head coach, nabbing the hottest name on the market in Denver’s Mike McCoy. McCoy’s reputation with quarterbacks is well known, as all he has coached have had career seasons under his guidance.
The Chargers have missed the playoffs three years straight. Last season they had their first losing season since 2003, finishing 7-9. On the way out the door former coach Norv Turner was quoted as saying the Chargers are a few years from being a playoff team. Telesco’s vision and eye for talent has again gotten the Chargers back into the playoffs after only one season. The Chargers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in a thriller at home 27-24 to claim the last playoff spot in the AFC.
Telesco’s magic has worked again. One season on the job, he has taken a team with a losing record and given them the personnel that got them into the playoffs the very next season. Similar to the Colts situation, the Chargers are being restocked with younger, faster players and a solid young core to build around with Fluker, Allen and Teo as the cornerstones of the new Telesco/McCoy era.
The Chargers will have cap flexibility this offseason, unlike the dire financial straits they found themselves in last offseason. Telesco reworked contracts and used the limited funds available to sign the likes of Cox, Freeney, Johnny Patrick and Danny Woodhead among others. This offseason, the Chargers have cap flexibility. The Chargers faithful finally have reason to believe with Telesco making deals and picking winners on draft day that this team is finally ready to take the next step to being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Telesco magic is working.
The Greg One