The Chargers looked to move back to .500 in Week 10 as they faced the Dolphins at home before heading into the Bye Week. Unfortunately, huge mistakes in key situations lead to the Miami Dolphins stealing this game away from the Chargers.
Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of another heartbreaking Chargers’ loss.
Tyrell Williams– 5 REC, 126 YDS, TD
With Travis Benjamin out with a knee injury, Tyrell Williams stepped up in a big way, as he has done pretty much all season. You have to love Tyrell’s ability to find ways to get open and his desire to learn from his mistakes. After running the wrong route and getting chewed out by Philip Rivers and Mike McCoy, Williams made up for his error the very next play with a game/momentum changing 51 yard touchdown reception. You almost wonder if Tyrell would have come this far if this team still had Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. None the less, look for Tyrell to get even better after the bye week, sans any injury setback.
Chargers Defense– No Denzel Perryman or Jatavis Brown? No problem. With those key injuries, this rag-tag defensive unit did their job in key moments in the game, especially Korey Toomer who lead the way with ten tackles and one assist. In addition, this band of misfits was able to hold the NFL’s leading rusher, Jay Ajayi, to 79 yards on 19 carries. Even if I didn’t agree with John Pagano’s play calling at key moments, you can’t blame the defense for this loss. The defense kept the Chargers in it until the end and with the upcoming bye week, this defense should get even better; getting Brown and Perryman back from injury,
Worth a mention– Trevor Williams, Melvin Ingram and Melvin Gordon.
In four games with nine penalties on one player, there comes a time where you have to rethink who is out there. It would be okay if Joe was good at his job. The truth is he’s not. In those four games he has been consistently beat at the point of attack, allowing Rivers to be sacked on multiple occasions. With the present bye week, the coaching staff needs to see that just because he is healthy, Barksdale is just not getting it done. Can they please try Chris Hairston or DJ Fluker at the right tackle position?
Offensive Line Pass Protection
In addition to Barksdale, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how bad this line was as whole. For the second week in a row, Rivers continued to find himself looking up at a blue San Diego sky. Three times last Sunday, Rivers was probably wondering if his line would ever protect him. This has been a consistent problem that can only be fixed by a short, quick passing game and running the ball far more consistently.
Philip Rivers– 23/44 326 YDs, 3 TDs, 4 INTs
After the game Rivers took all the blame for the team losing on Sunday as he should have. This team lives and dies by his success and struggles. Rivers struggled a lot on Sunday throwing four interceptions; three of which were in key points of the game. The first one of those three came off of a rare Dolphins turnover, giving the Bolts a 1st and goal at the five yard line. Rivers looked like he just wasn’t paying attention to zone defense as he threw into double coverage for an easy interception. Tough to come out of that situation with no touchdown – let alone no points at all.
The second came as the Chargers were driving down the field late in the game – trying to get in field goal range for a game winning score. Philip was baited into thinking Kiko Alonso was blitzing, As the ball was snapped, Kiko instead backs out into zone stepping in front of the first read. Tyrell Williams. and took it back for the Dolphins go ahead score. Finally, on the game sealing interception, #17 is again looking for Tyrell who wasn’t even open on the play. He forced it, instead of looking elsewhere or taking the sack and live to fight another down.With the upcoming bye week, its time for Rivers to rest up. Get Travis Benjamin back and hoping Williams gets 100% healthy he will try to get this team back into the thick of things if it’s not too late.
Situational Play Calling- Too many times this season have we seen this team get bogged down in the redzone. Why? Because we run the same predictable plays every time we get to the opponents twenty yard line or closer. Where was the screen passes? Where was the quick slants? We ran a screen to Melvin Gordon on a crucial third down and he was able to gain a ton of yards. Yet we only ran the screen again with a failed screen to Antonio Gates. Lets be realistic for a moment: Screens are for speedy and shifty players in the open field. Gates is none of those at the back-end of his career. Quick slants were one of the factors in the Chargers victory against the Tennessee Titans the previous week. Yet against Miami, the offense went away from the bread and butter.
Most of the season, the question most asked is “Why didn’t the charger run the ball (in key situations)? I’m aware Gordon was getting stuffed for most of the game, however Ayaji was also getting stopped but the Dolphins had no problem running it in twice in the red-zone. So if San Diego fired Frank Reich last year for these same issues, why does this continue to happen? The answer is Mike McCoy who seems to have some sort of say in these situations. If this is the case, Mike has to go this week. He is holding this team back from being good or great. I for one have seen enough of this McNorv experiment and its time to move on. I hope that during this time off, the “powers that be” make the right decision and let McCoy go. A change is desperately needed, although I highly doubt this organization has any guts to do it.
Worth a mention– Dwight Lowery
The Chargers announced on Tuesday that offensive lineman Chris Watt was waived from the physically unable to perform list after failing his physical due to a knee ailment that has kept him sidelined all of the 2016 regular season.
(The team had yet to make a corresponding move prior to the publishing of this article.)
Watt, 26, was originally drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft by San Diego. He was selected as the heir apparent at center, hopefully becoming the long-term replacement for former Chargers great Nick Hardwick.
Sadly for Watt, who never played center during high school or college, the transition from guard to center proved to be too difficult for the former member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Coupled with multiple injuries — concussion, shoulder, knee, ankle and groin issues — over his brief career, the switch to snapping the ball and his inability to stay healthy have plagued Watt during his short tenure in the league.
Dave Booga Peters
Offensive lineman King Dunlap joined the Chargers via free agency during the 2013 offseason.
After missing five games during his debut season with San Diego, Dunlap went on to play in and start all 16 games of the 2014 season, earning him a new four-year, $28 million deal with the organization during the 2015 offseason. The now 31-year-old was also awarded the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year Award for his work during the 2014 campaign.
Then comes the 2015 season.
Due to various injuries and ailments, including concussion problems, Dunlap only suited up for seven games in ’15, leaving the starting left tackle spot to be manned by players such as Tyreek Burwell and Chris Hairston, to name a couple.
The hope around Chargers Park was that the nine-year veteran would rebound health-wise and come into the 2016 season will a clean bill of health.
Everything seemed fine for Dunlap, that is until the day of their Week 3 contest against the Indianapolis Colts.
Reports from the team came out that Dunlap was suffering from an “illness” of some sort, relating, to at least some degree, to migraines.
Dunlap missed the Week 3 loss against the Colts and he would go on to miss the Week 4 loss to the Saints, too.
The Chargers have gone on the record stating that Dunlap’s illness issues do not have anything to do with a concussion, something that he has dealt with throughout portions of his football career.
When the Bolts released their Wednesday practice participation report, Dunlap was listed as a limited participant, meaning he probably did some stretching and individual work but did not participate in many, if any, team drills.
Last week against the Saints, the Chargers moved Joe Barksdale over to left tackle and shuffled around other portions of the offensive line, as well.
The team has also used Chris Hairston at left tackle in the absence of Dunlap.
It is very difficult to say when one should expect Dunlap to return to field. The Bolts, as usual, have been very tight-lipped on the issue, so it is safe to say that no one truly has any idea when King will be back on the gridiron.
Needless to say, we all hope he returns sooner rather than later.
Dave Booga Peters
See what two of our writers, Zak Darman and Chris Hoke, have to say about whether or not the 2016 San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs this season.
Zak Darman: NO DEAL! The San Diego Chargers will NOT make the playoffs at years end.
The Chargers made some nice moves in the offseason to boost up their offense by signing wide receiver Travis Benjamin and center Matt Slauson. It is no secret that the offense is much improved, starting with the addition of offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt. The offense was looking very good in Week 1, right before Keenan Allen left that game with a torn ACL, ending his season. The running game looked much improved with a better and more decisive Melvin Gordon. The loss of Danny Woodhead from Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will hurt immensely, though, and they hope the recent signing of Dexter McCluster will help. We will see.
On defense, however, is where the weaknesses still stand out. The Bolts used the No. 3 overall selection on defensive end Joey Bosa, who has not played in a single game this season due to contract negotiations/injury, and brought in nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Casey Heyward and safety Dwight Lowery. I still don’t like this group because in my opinion they don’t have enough playmakers to take this team to the next level. Manti Te’o is below average and prior to being lost for the season due to injury, there was a question whether he should be starting or not. The safeties are a joke and the pass rush is still bad. Outside of Pro Bowler Jason Verrett, who else is there? It also does not help to have one of the worst defensive coordinators in all of football in John Pagano. Yes, the defense looked great in the first half vs KC but lets not forget that the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith was missing some wide open short route throws that he usually doesn’t miss. This unit has been overrated from the get-go and it needs to be addressed. The defense looked better in week 2, but that was against a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. On Sunday, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they wanted. Verrett wasn’t on his game and the defense had no shot.
First let me start by saying for the sake of this piece I will make a case for Mike McCoy even if my previous articles and opinions have stated otherwise. Mike McCoy has shown flashes of being a Coach who can lead this team. All of the losses, huge injuries, off the field drama with Eric Weddle and now Joey Bosa, has caused major distractions which is never a good recipe in the locker room. In this case for Mike McCoy winning fixes everything. Even through three major season-ending injuries to key players, this team is built to win and get deep into the playoffs. Here’s how:
As Zak had pointed out above, the improvement of this offense is the running game. Yes it is odd to say this, due to the horrible run game the Chargers have had in a long time, a running game is very much back in San Diego; maligned since the departure of Ken Whisenhunt and Ryan Mathews. It’s no coincidence that since his return to America’s finest city, the run game has been rejuvenated. Gordon, who had zero touchdowns last year, has already compiled four scores along with his first career 100 yard rushing game against the Jags. Follow that up with a passing attack, without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead whom are both lost for the season, still has the weapons to be very dangerous. With the old reliable Antonio Gates on the sidelines, there is not much room for panic with the emergence of second round pick Hunter Henry. Even with the fumbled tragedy that ended any last ditched efforts for a win last week against the Colts, Hunter had a pretty solid game; breaking open for huge yards. Continuity between him and Rivers will only begin to grow more with each big play Hunter makes. The future is still bright for these Bolts offensively.
After being released from the Chargers after the 2012 season, former Head Coach Norv Turner was asked for a quote regarding the new incoming coaching staff. “They need to have a lot of patience with them.”
“Them” referencing all Charger fans.
Maybe we need to really forget about 2013 as maybe the Chargers caught lightning in a bottle with a group of talent that really wasn’t that good, at least defensively. Moving on to this year, it’s been four years and four drafts since Tom Telesco and company took over. Some naysayers have claimed that he has missed on players, but at the same time he has found some gems, such as Jason Verrett. There are others like Craig Mager and DJ Fluker where the verdict is still to be determined however in my opinion they are good additions to this team.
I will say that the defensive talent on this team, is what Pagano has been waiting for. We all have seen what Hayward has done thus far and of course what the Pro Bowler Verrett can do, but the key addition, in my opinion, is the addition to Brandon Mebane – whose presence alone has shifted protection schemes. That ability, to force opposition to change schemes, is not listed in the box score yet it creates room for the linebackers, such as new defensive captain Melvin Ingram, to reap the rewards.
The first round pick Joey Bosa has yet to take the field – signs pointing to week 5 or 6. The Chargers seem fine to just ease him in slowly rather to not risk further injury. Even with the loss of Manti Teo, Jatavis Brown stepped in and showed that he can be an instant playmaker. When Bosa does finally step in and is at game level, this defense will be headed to the next level. We already see what happens when Mebane is on the field and when you add in the beast Corey Liuget and Bosa – the three-headed monster will lead this team to playoffs and hopefully back to the Super Bowl.
In closing, if McCoy can remain aggressive, this team can and will make the playoffs. If his attitude is as assertive as I saw it to be in 2013, it will resonate throughout the whole locker room. As long as we do not continue to lose key players every week, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given Sunday. The defense could easily be ranked in the top five, sans injuries of course, and as we have seen in the past, defense wins championships. Toss in a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a running back who is so raw and talented, and a receiving core who has already manifested themselves as reliable, the San Diego Chargers will make it deep into the playoffs. Perhaps we will hear this again.
Let us know your opinion on whether or not the Chargers, as it stands, will make the playoffs this season.
Thanks for reading
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!
The San Diego Chargers emerge from their bye week with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The 2-7 Bolts look to finish strong after a dismal 2-7 first half of the season. In the first two seasons of the Telesco/McCoy regime, San Diego finished with identical 9-7 records. In this third season they would have to run the table in the last seven games to finish with that mark.
The Chargers have five division games remaining, (they have lost one game to Oakland already), and two out of division games against Miami and Jacksonville. The odds of running the table are miniscule. Finishing with a .500 record is just as improbable. A top-10 selection in the NFL draft is more than likely barring a catastrophic turn of events.
A message will need to be sent if for no other reason than to show the fan base that such an outcome is not acceptable. Whether they stay in San Diego or move to Los Angeles, hope must be rekindled for this team and they way to do so will be with fresh faces calling the shots. Seats are getting hot in America’s Finest City. They will get hotter with each loss and hottest if the Chargers miss the playoffs. At this point, the playoffs are nothing more than a pipe dream.
Heads will roll. Here’s a look at the prime suspects and the temperature of their seat right now:
Dean Spanos. Rarely does the owner abandon ship on his team. He will point the finger of blame at his staff and remove the pieces he sees fit. Eyes do deserve to be on him for his frugality. If his miserly ways start to impact the NFL’s bottom line (dollars), he could be ‘nudged’ out the door. Spanos is well-liked among the other owners so the probability of that happening right now is less than zero.
Something radical would have to occur such as local fans boycotting the games to the point where it becomes painstakingly obvious when games are shown live. This approach was successful as recently as 2012 in Major League Baseball in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers ex-owner Frank McCourt. Do Chargers fans care enough to band together on this course of action if they thought underspending is the chief cause of the Bolts failures? That is the million dollar question.
John Pagano. The defensive coordinator has not shown improvement since taking over the position in 2012. In his first year the Bolts finished 24th in the league in total defense. In 2013 they moved up to 10th. Last season the Chargers plummeted back to 24th. Nine games into this season San Diego is 9th in total defense but giving up 28 points per game. The next seven games could have a huge impact on whether Pags stays or goes.
Tom Telesco. The Chargers General Manager is on the hook for the Chargers failings as much as any member of the team. At the end of the day, Telesco is the decision-maker. The team is a reflection of his vision. It was Telesco’s choice to resurrect the philosophy he used in Indianapolis of jettisoning the veteran players and bringing in young, untested and hungry players who were capable of playing multiple positions. The GM is quickly finding out that what works in one place doesn’t automatically work elsewhere.
Telesco has done admirable work building the team through the draft. Cornerstones of the future have been unearthed with the drafting of WR Keenan Allen, RT D.J. Fluker, CB Jason Verrett and RB Melvin Gordon. A disturbing fact is of the 17 players Telesco has drafted, only one has played a complete season (Fluker). Gordon and Kyle Emanuel are on pace to do so this season.
Helping Telesco is his savvy with contracts and getting players to come in free agency and add impact. RB Danny Woodhead, RT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers and G Orlando Franklin have been key additions. His front office could have done better to keep revered veterans such as S Eric Weddle in the loop when it comes to contract issues as that could affect future free agent signings and keeping his own players down the road. If the Chargers finish with a losing record the pressure will be turned up on the GM to produce or he too will be looking for work elsewhere sooner than later.
Kevin Turner. The special teams coordinator of the Chargers is having a dreadful year. Through eight games the Bolts had one punt return yard with Jacoby Jones as the primary return man. Meanwhile, opponents have accumulated 276 punt return yards. For the ninth game Jones was cut and Javontee Herndon was promoted from the practice squad to assume the kick and punt return duties. Herndon had one kick return for 24 yards in the game, surpassing Jones’ kickoff return average of 21.4 through eight games. The special teams have been a weakness all season, giving a big field position advantage to the opposition and not gaining yards in the return game. Should this pattern continue, Turner will be cleaning out his office at Chargers Park.
Ninth Circle of Hell
Frank Reich. The Bolts offensive coordinator has definitely been offensive. The offense has been difficult to watch at times as the play calls get more and more predictable. We can all see the inside handoff coming from the pistol formation before it happens. The OC seems unwilling to vary from his game plan to accommodate his talent. The pistol formation and no-huddle offense has been advantageous for Philip Rivers at times. However, with a power running back who thrived running out of the I-formation with a fullback opening the first hole why not adapt that into the game plan?
Melvin Gordon set NCAA records and ran for over 2,500 yards at Wisconsin last season. Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates would be a matchup nightmare for defenses if they were to be deployed on the field at the same time. Injuries, suspension and Reich’s unwillingness to add new wrinkles have prevented this from happening on more than just random occasions. With Reich coordinating the offense, the Chargers are averaging 23 points per game, five fewer than they’re giving up. The window on Philip Rivers career is quickly closing and it’s the wrong time to be going the wrong way in the production department. If San Diego fails this season, Reich will be the first man shown the door.
Mike McCoy. The head coach was the marquee hire when the Chargers landed him as the successor to Norv Turner. The man lauded for his yeoman’s work adapting his coaching style to fit his quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow, Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning. His teachings resulted in wins and playoff berths and the same was expected when he took over the reins in San Diego.
Instead, the team has underachieved. Many games have been lost in the final quarter or on the final drive. McCoy has been very conservative in his play-calling. Favoring a ball-control, short-passing, long scoring drive preference the Chargers have very little vertical offense. Rivers, an excellent deep ball passer, goes deep a couple of times per game if that. This team lacks a killer instinct. They lack an ability to finish games and that reflects coaching.
To boot, McCoy is in the third year of a four-year deal. He’s been paid most of what he signed for and it wouldn’t be a big financial hit to let him go a year early. San Diego hadn’t made the playoffs for three seasons before McCoy arrived. They made it to the playoffs the year McCoy arrived and won a wild card game that season. This season, barring a miracle, will be the second year in a row the playoffs have eluded the Chargers. This team is as talented as any in the league but they do not have the results to show for it. Unless they can rebound and finish at .500 someone has to take the fall for this season. Usually the head coach us that man.
In closing, injuries can’t be blamed for everything. Yes, injuries have derailed a very promising season. Keenan Allen was on a record-setting pace. Coaches are paid big bucks to get the most out of their talent regardless of who is on the field. Management is paid big bucks to find the best players to suit the team needs.
San Diego was sitting at 2-2 before they lost to Green Bay and Pittsburgh on the last play of the game. Same thing would happen in Baltimore two weeks later. Aside from the games against Minnesota and Oakland the Chargers have played as well or better than their opponent despite the end result. There are no moral victories in the NFL and when you don’t win, people lose. Don’t expect to see half the names on this list wearing lightning bolts next season.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Who’s to blame for the Bolts performance this season? Leave your thoughts below.
The Greg One
I’ve been a Chargers fan since my birth back in 1992. I’ve been a die-hard fan since the LT MVP 2006 season. I’ve seen the worst, the best and even the sorriest teams the Chargers have had here in San Diego my entire life.
This isn’t an article on the team, per se, but it’s an article that is me venting my frustrations, one I am quite sure many of you can relate to. From the top to the bottom, I will go and release some frustration out, and I hope you will follow along with me.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco
The GM that replaced AJ Smith, and one who worked under Bill Polian, has been the Chargers GM since 2013. Tom Telesco, who everyone within the NFL sees as a very good, but very young general manager, has put two 9-7 teams together, and one team happened to reach the AFC divisional round where they eventually lost to the Denver Broncos. Tommy T, as I like to call him, has drafted pretty poorly in his first two and a half seasons here and has signed/drafted two, maybe three impact players. This is not what a successful GM on a winning team does. He is constantly moving up in the draft, trading away multiple draft picks for players who need a lot of work on their craft (Te’o, Attaochu, Gordon) and he hasn’t hit on any gold. Telesco constantly goes against the advanced metrics to draft reaches in the third round. His poor drafting and poor roster management is getting highly exposed when coupled with sub-par coaches.
Speaking of the coaching staff……
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy
Mike McCoy, hired in 2013, is a former offensive mind from the Super Bowl Carolina Panthers and the Tim Tebow- led Broncos. McCoy isn’t the only one I’m going to bring up here. Defensive coordinator John Pagano and offensive coordinator Frank Reich are also underachieving as coaches. I firmly believe that the Bolts need to go in a different direction with these two. The one part Telesco has constructed right is the secondary. The Chargers’ secondary might be the best secondary they have had in quite some time. But in the last two weeks, with the starting secondary playing, John Pagano has not been successful in stopping the pass and is constantly leaving guys on an island to be burned one-on-one. I’m looking at you Donald Butler and Brandon Flowers. Flowers isn’t fast. In fact, he isn’t the lockdown No. 1 cornerback that he was halfway through 2014. He is a possession coverage corner who will need help over the top on speedsters such as Markus Wheaton and Marvin Jones. Pagano needs to realize this and put Eric Weddle or Jahleel Addae over the top, or have someone who is close to or equally as fast as the opposite man. Maybe someone like Patrick Robinson or Stevie Williams. Pagano, now in his fourth year as defensive coordinator, hasn’t shown the ability to adjust or to change up what he does on a constant basis, and if this is the case, the Chargers should look in a different direction.
Frank Reich is another story. Just like Pagano, he hasn’t shown the ability to adjust, and is way too predictable when it comes to offensive play calling. How many draw plays does he need to run before he realizes it only hurts his offensive line? How many times does he need to see D.J. Fluker or Orlando Franklin get tied up after going back to block on a draw play? His offensive calls are boring and it seems like him and Philip Rivers aren’t on the same page during the course of the game with all of the audibles he has to call at the line of scrimmage. I firmly believe that he should be demoted from playcalling, and that McCoy should take over until further notice.
I have been a big supporter of McCoy since day 1, and I still am on the McCoy train. However, this season has really taken a toll on me and has me wondering if he really is the right guy for this job. The one play that really stood out to me was his passive approach at the end of the first half versus the Bengals. He literally let over one minute run off the clock before halftime in a game where the Chargers lost by five. Little things like this are what lose games. This team hasn’t gotten better under McCoy, but I don’t think he’s the main reason why. But him, along with Reich and Pagano and the rest of the coaching staff, need to do a better job of coaching these guys before this season gets out of hand.
There are some players on this team that frustrate me more than anything else, and I’m sure that they frustrate you too.
There is talent on this team. Despite it being poorly coached and/or poorly constructed, there are some players you can build around. One thing that bugs me the most are selfish players. I don’t think I’ve seen as many selfish players on one team, than I’m seeing now. Whether it’s celebrating a touchdown while losing, celebrating every catch or going public about a contract situation. It needs to stop. This is a team sport. The most insulting thing to fans is seeing a professional athlete put himself ahead of the team. It shows a lack of discipline and something that can get the locker room divided. That is never a good thing.
What I’m getting at is this team is having an identity crisis. They need a gut check and they all need to look at themselves in the mirror, and play up to their potential and expectations. This roster is far too talented to be playing this poorly, even if constructed badly. No more Instagram photos of yourself scoring a touchdown after a blowout loss. No more contract holdouts or distractions. Come in to work ready to play football and go out there and play to win.
But at the end of the day, we are all Chargers fans and we will rep Chargers’ gear until the day we die, win or lose. This was just me letting off some steam in the best way I could think of.
So, thanks for sticking with me on this.
*If there’s anything you need to vent, or something that I missed, or you just want to absolutely rip into me for saying this stuff, please leave a comment!*
Hey, Chargers fans and friends. I’m glad to be back with my first article in quite a while. There certainly will be more to come.
Why is it that, over the years, San Diego has been plagued by the “terrible yellow flag”?
The Chargers, like all NFL teams, have to play mistake-free football on the road. Too many penalties and mistakes have plagued the team for years. That would continue to be the case in the Chargers’ 24-19 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
To be down by only 4 points at the start of the 4th quarter against the Bengals shows a lot of maturity and resilience from our boys in blue.
San Diego played well enough to stay even with the Bengals throughout the game. If you’ve heard the phrase “this is a game of inches”, that doesn’t just refer to yards gained by the offense. Many don’t understand how much penalties are detrimental to a team on the road. As I write this, the Chargers have had 8 penalties so far.
I don’t need to remind you of the offense. It could have been better. With D.J. Fluker out of the lineup, the Bengals took advantage. The Cincinnati defense crowded the line of scrimmage. That is not to say Hairston didn’t do a good job, but it shows how the talent level of the backups, especially on the O-line, is crucial. And, quite honestly, Hairston was terrible, being flagged and beaten ad nauseam on Sunday.
Malcom Floyd was wide open with that last touchdown but where was he during the first 3 quarters? Additionally, although the final throw of the game is being viewed as a poor decision by Philip Rivers, it appeared that Floyd was a bit lazy, rounding off his route as opposed to sharply breaking it off.
Defensively, the Chargers still need to get better against the run. Despite forcing two Jeremy Hill fumbles, John Pagano’s unit was thrashed by Gio Bernard to the tune of 123 yards. The defense gave up a total of 175 yards on the ground. There were too many big holes and missed assignments. A mention of Brandon Flowers…I love the guy’s talent, but he got beat too many times today. Flowers was beat on all three Andy Dalton touchdown passes.
Melvin Gordon, what can I say, huge improvement, great job. I saw quick feet and better decisions. Gordon had three runs of over 20 yards in his second game as a professional. The first-round draft picked carried the ball 16 times for 88 yards.
Overall, my opinion is this:
Frank Reich needs to get more creative with the play calling, especially on the road. Don’t fall into “Norv Turner” mode. Predictable and it showed throughout the game.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell football fans this, but I’ll say it anyway: Any team that plays on the road needs to play like they’re playing at home and the other team is the visitors. On the road, the Chargers seem to play equal to the other team’s talent, but not much better. Although the Bolts had flashes of emotion, I saw more intensity in the Bengals.
I wasn’t all that impressed with Cincinnati. I was more disappointed with the Chargers’ mistakes, penalties and overall lack of consistency and intensity.
After coming from behind to secure a 33-28 victory over the visiting Detroit Lions, San Diego received the news that right guard DJ Fluker suffered a high-ankle sprain. Fluker is expected to be out four to six weeks.
After seeing the cart come out onto the field in the third quarter, it appeared that the injury incurred by Fluker could be much more serious than the diagnosis he received the following day.
Fans held their collective breaths; the stadium went silent.
Nonetheless, Chris Hairston came into the game and filled in admirably for the former first-round choice out of Alabama. It appears that will be how the team handles the loss of Fluker until he is healed up and ready to return to the starting lineup.
Prior to the 2015 offseason, Fluker had never played a down at the right guard position. Spending his entire collegiate career at right tackle, and playing his first two years with the Chargers at the same spot, the 24-year-old was kicked inside to right guard during training camp.
Fluker has proven over and over again throughout his life that he can overcome adversity. This setback pales in comparison to the struggles he’s conquered on his way to the NFL, including homelessness and Hurricane Katrina.
It is safe to expect “Big Fluke” to rebound from this and work even harder than he did prior to being injured.
For the time being, the offensive line has already lost one of its key members. Cohesion on the offensive line is crucial to the success of any team’s offense. Coach Joe D’Alessandris preaches in the offseason that each lineman will learn multiple spots along the offensive front. Clearly, when you lose a starter, decision like that will benefit the team as a whole. It will be interesting to see what the team does moving forward.
Will they stick with Hairston? Could they decide to slide Chris Watt over to right guard and bring in Trevor Robinson at the center position?
Whatever they end up doing, as long as the offensive line protects San Diego’s favorite son, Philip Rivers, the Chargers should continue to win ball games and make the city proud in what could be the team’s last year in San Diego.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The 2014 season finished in what can be accurately described as “disappointing” for the Chargers. The team started 6-1, were No. 1 and on top of multiple power rankings to start the season. Philip Rivers was getting consideration for the league’s Most Valuable Player and they were being thrown around as a possible Superbowl team.
Then, injuries happened.
Danny Woodhead broke his leg. DJ Fluker played through half the year on a hurt ankle. Ryan Mathews played in six games. Keenan Allen missed the last two games with a broken collarbone. Rivers played with a back injury that limited his ability to throw and move. It goes without saying the playing five different centers makes it difficult to build cohesion on the offensive line.
As you can tell, the Chargers played beat up and with a lot of back ups and third stringers. But they finished the season 9-7, and one game shy of the playoffs.
Just how good are the Chargers when healthy?
As everyone knows, the Bolts added some playmakers this season. They upgraded many areas of their team and they are also coming off a very disappointing, yet not terrible season. The offseason has been a disaster, however, from the talks of relocating to Los Angeles, to Eric Weddle not being extended which then lead to a brief holdout and then the biggest bomb of them all, future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates being suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs.
So why the optimism?
Well, the Chargers are good. REALLY good. Tom Telesco has altered the o-line as one of the best in the AFC, gave Rivers another weapon in Stevie Johnson, got more physical defensively with the signing of Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson and made the return game something teams fear with the signing of Jacoby Jones.
Is it enough?
The schedule this season is very favorable. Early on in the year is the toughest stretch, with games in Cincinnati, Minnesota and Green Bay and games at home vs Pittsburgh and Detroit. I mention these five games because they seem to bring the toughest competition to the Bolts.
Early in the season, it is not that big of a deal to drop a game or two to a team of that caliber. Win two of those five and you’re set up perfectly for the stretch run. The notable games after the bye week (week 10): Home/away versus the Chiefs, home/away versus the Broncos and home against the Dolphins. These are very winnable games and with the depth and offensive line that Telesco has provided, the Chargers should be able to compete and win at least three of these five games mentioned.
That leaves you at 5-5 through the toughest stretches of the schedule. The remaining games are at home versus the Browns, Raiders, Bears and on the road against Raiders, Ravens and Jaguars. Five of the six just named are extremely winnable with the Baltimore game being winnable, but a difficult game, nonetheless (and Chargers have experience winning there as they did it this past season). That leaves the Chargers final record at 10-6 or 11-5 and should be enough for a wild card berth and a potential AFC West division title.
The key to the playoffs is health (also, having an elite QB in Philip Rivers doesn’t hurt either) and the Chargers have depth, but will they stay healthy? Head coach Mike McCoy has been doing a great job trying to keep everyone healthy during training camp. That won’t change during the regular season.
On paper, this is the most talented team the Chargers have had since 2009 where the Bolts went 13-3 and snatched up the second seed in their conference. The AFC doesn’t seem to have that one Superbowl favorite team that you know will dominate the conference. It is wide-open, and the way Telesco has built this roster, the Chargers very well could end the year in Santa Clara playing in Superbowl 50.
Do you think the Chargers have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl? Let me know in the comments!