Running back Donald Brown, formerly of your San Diego Chargers, was released by the New England Patriots on Tuesday, according to reports from ProFootballTalk.com.
Brown occasionally made a play here and there for the Chargers — most notably that long run in 2015 against the Dolphins in what was possibly going to be the Bolts’ last game in San Diego — but he’ll mostly be remembered for signing a three-year deal with the Bolts that paid him north of $10 million that turned out to be a huge overpayment.
General manager Tom Telesco clearly had a lot of respect for Brown, keeping him on the roster much longer than he needed to, considering a minimal amount of production from the former Colt.
I must admit that when it was first announced that Brown was signing with the Patriots, I immediately thought to myself, “watch, he’ll provide a significant and useful contribution while in New England.”
Well, that’s what I get for “thoughting.” (My Dad used to pull that shit with me when I was a kid and I told him what I thought about certain plays and players.)
Brown is now set to be a free agent, and no, I do not believe he’ll ever be back in a Chargers’ uniform; thank goodness.
The incoming draft class of the San Diego Chargers have their new jersey numbers, now they will have to earn their stripes. Rookie camp is already underway and the eager new breed are busily taking in classroom and practice time with their position coaches.
Here are the numbers that will be next to their names in your program this year:
TE Hunter Henry-86
The number is fitting since Henry will be the next man up once Chargers legend and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates steps away from the game. Gates wears 85.
Center Max Tuerk-62
ILB Joshua Perry-53
ILB Jatavis Brown-57
P Drew Kaser-6
FB Derek Watt-34
Here’s hoping Watt wears this number better than the last player to don it, the paycheck-stealing Donald Brown.
G Donavon Clark-63
As for your first-round pick, defensive end Joey Bosa rocked the number 97 with pride on his way to becoming the best player in college football.
Alas, that number is already spoken for by Jerry Attaochu.
To whom much is given, much is expected. A tall burden comes with being a top draft pick. Joey Bosa was the first non-quarterback to come off the board in the NFL Draft. No one expects more from him than he does for himself. Bosa already welcomes lofty comparisons due to the eerily identical combine stats to J.J. Watt.
As a constant reminder of that expected greatness, he has chosen the same number as Watt: 99.
It takes a special kind of player to wear the number 99. Not just any player can rock that number. Cordarro Law wore 99 for one season and now he’s gone. Igor Olshansky was the last Charger to wear it before Law. Game changers wear 99. Watt, Warren Sapp, Dan Wilkinson, Jason Taylor, Kawaan Short, Seth Joyner, Pepper Johnson, Marcel Dareus, Mark Gastineau and Cortez Kennedy are just a sample of the natural born killers behind the legacy of the 99.
Wear it well, Mr. Bosa.
The Greg One
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!
After Tuesday turned out to be an extremely eventful day as far as transactions are concerned for the Chargers, the team is back at practice Wednesday as they prepare to take on the Chicago Bears at home on Monday night.
The Bolts have completed the first half of the 2015 regular season by going 2-6, losing four games on the final drive, minute or play.
Losers of four in a row and five of their last six, it is hard to justify this team winning too many more games going forward. That being said, do you believe in miracles? Because that is what it will take for the Chargers to find a way to finish this season strong, perhaps even squeaking into the playoffs.
Stranger things have happened.
Despite the fact that the team is entering the “softer” side of their schedule, San Diego has not shown that they can win even when they are expected to do so. The struggles of this team have been widely documented on this site.
I would like to skip right past the fluff and get right to the question in the title.
You know the drill. Place your vote on the poll and leave a comment below justifying why you voted the way you did.
Thanks in advance for voting and commenting.
As reported Monday by San Diego Union-Tribune beat writer Michael Gehlken, you can add Branden Oliver to the list of casualties from Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Oliver joins Corey Liuget, Ladarius Green and King Dunlap as players now sporting a walking boot.
The injury count from Sunday is at 13.
With Oliver injured, that leaves Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead and the seldom used Donald Brown as the three running backs left standing. The Chargers have no running backs on the practice squad.
Many fans and media alike wonder how Brown has survived on the roster this long. The habitually cost-cutting Chargers have left Brown and his $3 million salary alone, although he has only played in two games this season and has no stats to speak of. Brown has zero receptions, rushing attempts or yards to date.
Over the weekend it was reported that teams have contacted San Diego about possibly acquiring Brown. As much as fans would love to see the roster spot used to bring in a player that can help right away, with Oliver’s injury did that window now just close?
Is Brown going to log meaningful minutes starting Monday night?
San Diego gave Melvin Gordon his biggest workload of the season against Baltimore. Gordon logged 18 carries for 54 yards and 5 receptions for 7 yards. The clamor for Gordon to get more touches has been growing by the week, and it looks like now its going to happen. At this point, is it by game plan or out of attrition?
Letting Brown go leaves the Chargers with two healthy running backs. Unless Brown is swapped for another running back or the Bolts pick an out-of-work veteran from the bargain bin, it looks like Brown will finish the season in lightning bolts.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Trade deadline is Tuesday. Deal (Brown) or no deal?
The Greg One
After missing most of the 2014 season, running back Danny Woodhead has provided the Chargers’ offense and Philip Rivers with that safety valve it sorely missed last year.
Suffering a broken fibula against the Bills during Week 3 last season, the offense relied on undrafted rookie Branden Oliver, Donald Brown and former Charger Ryan Mathews to fill the void due to the absence of No. 39.
Oliver ended up leading the team in rushing in 2014 with 582 yards on 160 carries and three touchdowns on the ground, adding 27 receptions good for 271 yards and one scoring catch.
I am not going to get into the production, or lack thereof, of the other two backs; though Mathews is setting career-highs this season in multiple categories with the Eagles as a back-up ball carrier, but that’s none of my business. At least he is active on game days for his new team (cough, cough, Donald Brown).
Woodhead may not be lighting the world on fire as a ball carrier, totaling only 188 yards on 49 carries (two touchdowns), but he has made a significant impact in the passing game. His 11 receptions in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders was a team-high, as were his two receiving scores in the waning moments of the game while the team battled back to make the final score respectable.
It is the pass that he was NOT thrown that has received the most attention from the Green Bay game.
For the year through the air, Woody has registered 37 receptions (second on the team to Keenan Allen’s league-leading 62 catches) for 407 yards and two touchdowns, giving him four TDs in 2015, tying him with Ladarius Green for the team-lead in scores.
Many media members during the offseason wrote that the team was essentially signing a major free agent in getting Danny Woodhead back on the field. Members of the Chargers’ organization voiced the same sentiment, including the ball coach, Mike McCoy.
The short, yet NOT small, running back has made the most of his seven games back thus far through the 2015 campaign.
Can any of you reading this imagine what the team’s record would be without Woodhead on the field?
I prefer not to think about that.
With Melvin Gordon struggling, working through fumbling issues and ineffectiveness, along with his relegation to the bench, Woodhead will continue to make a favorable impact for the Chargers.
Fans may be tired of seeing him forced to run that inside-zone play out of shotgun, but the former Chadron State hero will have a lot to do with whether or not this team can turn around its season.
No pressure, Danny.
Quite frankly, it’s nice to see a Chargers’ player give it their all week in and week out, doing whatever he can regardless of the circumstances at hand.
We salute you, Danny Woodhead, and expect nothing less than greatness each and every week.
The Chargers have re-signed running back Donald Brown, according to the team’s official website. The team waived offensive lineman Michael Ola to make room for Brown. If Ola clears waivers, there is a good chance that the team will bring him back to the practice squad.
Chargers fans everywhere are not going to be pleased with the re-signing of Brown. Since being signed in free agency during the 2014 offseason, the former Colt has yet to make much of a positive impact for San Diego.
Brown was signed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract last year.
In his first season with the Chargers, the 28-year-old carried the ball 85 times for 223 yards, averaging only 2.6 yards per carry. For his career, Brown has 636 carries for 2,600 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground, adding 112 receptions for 978 yards and two receiving scores. Prior to being released prior to Week 4, he was inactive for the first three games of the 2015 season, a healthy scratch in each contest.
Ola started 12 games in 2014 for the Chicago Bears. He played four of the five possible offensive line positions; the exception being the center spot. After being promoted to the 53-man roster for Week 4, Ola saw time at guard against the Browns on Sunday.
In order to help supplement a banged-up offensive line, the Chargers have promoted recently acquired offensive lineman Michael Ola from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, the team announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the team has released running back Donald Brown.
You read that correctly.
The team has released Donald Brown.
Ola, 27, started 12 games in 2014 for the Chicago Bears. In those starts he played every offensive line position with the exception of center. His versatility certainly caught the eye of general manager Tom Telesco.
The story of Brown with the Chargers is one that may be put on a “temporary hold.” Although the free-agent bust was released today, Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune tweeted that the team hopes to bring him back in about a week. Brown is not subject to waivers as he is a “vested veteran” — in the league four or more seasons.
If it weren’t for all of the injuries along the offensive line, Brown would not have been released.
The 2015 season was Brown’s second year with the Bolts. He had yet to be named active through three games this season despite a $3 million salary for this year.
The 28-year-old was signed during the 2014 offseason. In his first year with the Chargers, Brown played in 13 games, carrying the ball 85 times for 223 yards, averaging a paltry 2.6 yards per carry. The seven-year veteran added 29 receptions for 211 yards.
His tenure, at this point, in San Diego will be remembered for three things: being a disappointment as a free-agent acquisition, an exorbitant salary for a third- or fourth-string running back and missing a block on a punt that culminated in punter Mike Scifres breaking his collar bone.
Chargers fans everywhere are applauding this move. The fact of the matter is, Brown was not worth the salary he was collecting.
Should the team indeed sign him to the roster over the next week following Sunday’s game, the fans will no longer be applauding.
Well, fans, be prepared to be upset when the team brings him back.
Quicker. More explosive. Showing the playing ability he put on display in his last year with the Indianapolis Colts.
These were all things used to describe Donald Brown during the 2015 offseason.
After a disappointing first year with the Chargers in 2014, Brown was said to be returning to the form that made him an enticing free-agent acquisition for general manager Tom Telesco prior to last season.
Thus far through two weeks of the 2015 season, Brown has been inactive; a healthy scratch for both games.
As many of you know, the former Colt is the highest paid running back on the Chargers’ roster.
Considering the injuries and lack of depth at multiple positions, one would think that Telesco would give Donald Brown the “Derek Cox treatment,” and cut his losses, admitting his mistake in signing him.
San Diego has already been banged up along the offensive line and the suspension of Antonio Gates and concussion issues have of Ladarius Green have forced movement at tight end.
The Chargers used a first-round draft choice on Melvin Gordon. They also have fan favorites Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver as options in the backfield. That seems to be a formidable trio to handle the team’s running-back-by-committee approach.
Gordon and Woodhead have been integral parts of the offense for the first two contests. Oliver has not seen as much time, playing only two snaps last week in the loss against the Bengals. With No. 43 not seeing the field often, and Brown standing on the sideline inactive, wouldn’t it make sense to swallow your pride and cut Brown in an effort open up a roster spot to help out along either the offensive or defensive line?
I am not one to call for any person losing their job, but Telesco and company are in the business of making tough decisions when it comes to assembling the best roster possible in order to compete for the Lombardi Trophy.
It would seem to me at this point, Donald Brown’s spot on the roster could be filled by another player that could actually contribute on game days.
Sure, you hear the reports about the players liking him and the fact that he’s a good influence in both the locker room and during the running backs’ meetings.
But how much is that really helping the team on Sundays?
If the team suffers another injury to a position other than running back, will Brown be the next player on the chopping block?
I have a feeling I know what the fans would do if they were given the decision.
Thanks a lot for reading.
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates made news this offseason when he said he wanted fewer touches. It’s odd to hear a star player say he wants to see the ball less. However, I’m sure he didn’t plan on achieving that goal by using performance-enhancing substances and getting suspended for the first four games of the season. One can’t ignore the irony of the timing of all this with Gates entering his 13th and likely final season as a professional football player.
We can believe he didn’t know and whether we do or not it still doesn’t change the fact that he will miss a quarter of the season. He will be ineligible to return until week five against the Steelers in San Diego. With Gates being out, quarterback Philip Rivers loses his security blanket. Gates is the one player Rivers can rely on to be where he’s supposed to be 99.9% of the time. The two have a nearly telepathic link on the field. They are the most prolific quarterback/tight end combination in NFL history.
How will Rivers and the Chargers make up for Gates’ absence?
Unlike previous seasons, the Chargers are more equipped to handle this unexpected hurdle now than they would have been in previous years. The offensive line has been rebuilt and is composed of young, man-mountains to protect Rivers and clear running lanes for new workhorse running back Melvin Gordon. Speaking of whom, he is the first way the Chargers accommodate for the loss of Gates.
1. Strong running game. A strong running game is something the Chargers haven’t consistently had since LaDainian Tomlinson left to join the Jets. Yes, Ryan Mathews had one season two years ago where he finished in the top-five in rushing, but his entire tenure as a Charger was marred by injuries, fumbles and blown opportunities. Melvin Gordon has yet to take his first snap in an official NFL game, but his track record speaks for itself. Gordon is a franchise back who does inherit an offensive line stronger than Mathews had, and it’s one reason he will be more successful than Mathews. With Gordon, Woodhead, Oliver and Brown pacing the running attack, Rivers will take less damage, the chains will keep moving and the passing game will benefit as a result.
2. Healthy Danny Woodhead. Woodhead is the Swiss army knife of the running back corps. The reason he is listed separately is he will make up for a lot of the catches Gates would get. The Bolts can line him up all over the field. Woodhead can play wide receiver, halfback or in the slot, creating a match-up nightmare for the defense. His elusiveness combined with an even faster no-huddle offense will account for yards in bunches.
3. Deep receiving corps. Rivers will begin the season with Floyd, Keenan Allen and the blossoming Dontrelle Inman plus newly acquired vets Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones as his wideouts. Allen is looking to improve on a sophomore campaign where the added attention he received as the Chargers’ number one receiver led to subpar results by his own standards. Allen caught more balls in 2014 than he did in 2013 (77 to 71), but for fewer yards (1046 to 783) and half as many touchdowns (eight to four). Inman and Rivers have shown good on-field chemistry that will only get better. Johnson and Jones are getting much-needed fresh starts and should thrive on a team on the cusp of being special.
4. Ladarius Green. Last but definitely not least, if Ladarius Green is going to step up and be the heir apparent to Gates, now is the time. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Green. He’s bigger than Gates at 6’6″, 240. He’s faster than Gates and we’ve seen his breakaway speed on the field. He’s entering his fourth year on the team with three years of tutelage from a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer as a mentor.
Green has had three years to work on his hands, route-running and master how to use his body to his advantage the way Gates did when he came to the Chargers. Green only had 19 catches for 226 yards because Gates found his fountain of youth to the tune of 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns. Now those targets will go to Green, the only true passing-game threat from the tight end position with Gates out. What he does next will determine his fate in lightning bolts. Success makes the offense nearly unstoppable. Failure will see him on another team in 2016.
Fortunately for the Chargers, tight end is a luxury with the team scheduled to take the field in September instead of a necessity. The schedule also favors the Chargers in Gates’ absence with the first two games against Detroit and Cincinnati. Yes, they both made the playoffs last season but they are both hot-and-cold, wildly inconsistent teams. Games three and four are against perennial doormats Minnesota and Cleveland. The Vikings will get a huge boost from the return of disgruntled star running back Adrian Peterson. But after a season off, how will the man who traditionally skips preseason fare in his fourth game of real contact? Cleveland? There are no easy wins, but Cleveland is about as close as it gets these days.
San Diego will head into Gates’ return game against Pittsburgh with a 3-1 record or better. By then, we won’t wonder how the Bolts did it without him, but how much greater they will become with him.
Agree or disagree, Bolt Nation? Voice your opinions below.
The Greg One