Several former Chargers made headlines on Wednesday in a flurry of NFL news that hit the interwebs as teams start making moves for the start of their respective training camps.
It looks as if former Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler has finally found a new home. Via multiple reports, he signed today with the Arizona Cardinals. This is interesting for several reasons. First, the Cardinals and Chargers are scheduled to hold a joint practice before both teams meet August 19 for a preseason skirmish. It will be interesting to see if the Arizona coaching staff can get any productivity out of a player who had woefully underwhelmed in his last few seasons with the Bolts.
Former Charger running back Ryan Mathews is hurt again, and he didn’t even get hurt playing football. The Eagles announced today that they are placing him on the Non-Football-Injury list for an ankle injury he suffered last week when the team was on their CBA- mandated break before training camp. There are literally so many potential jokes here that I can’t even pick one. It looks as if parting ways with Mathews after the 2014 season was the right move for the Chargers. Mathews’ NFL career could possibly be in jeopardy.
In other NFL news, Nick Foles asked the Rams to be released and they obliged him. Via ESPN, the Rams released Foles after he agreed to take less guaranteed money if they let him walk. Foles was benched last season after going 4-5 with six touchdowns and throwing seven interceptions. The Rams drafted Foles’ replacement a few months ago with the 1st overall pick in Jared Goff from Cal.
The New York Jets’ first-round pick, linebacker Darron Lee, signed his contract Wednesday. Lee was one of three remaining first-round draft picks that had not been signed. The others are 49ers’ Joshua Garnett and, of course, Chargers’ Joey Bosa. All three players are represented by the same agent, working for Creative Artists Agency. All three players are fighting for no offset language in their contracts (essentially allowing them to be paid double if they are cut from the team that drafted them before their rookie contracts are up). Many first-round draft picks fight for no offset language, but few get it. It’s unclear whether Darron Lee’s contract has any offset language, but his signing is good news for Chargers fans that the Bosa signing could be next.
Personally, I think these contract disputes are less about the players and more about the “business” of the NFL. I don’t think college players start off as freshman saying, “I want to play in the NFL and have a contract with no offset language.” I think the players and players’ families are talked into these situations by profit-driven, money-hungry agents who take advantage of a vulnerable and critical time in a young man’s life for their own benefit. Hopefully Bosa signs soon and we can all forget about offset language until next year!
Who is excited for training camp to start?!
It is said in football that depth is a must. After all, it is the nature of the beast. Injuries can happen at any time, from mini-camp and training camp, to practice and games. A team HAS to be prepared for that eventuality.
While the San Diego Chargers were bitten by that bug, most often on the offensive side of the ball (particularly the last two seasons), there were stretches where the defense was banged up, as well. The offseason has seen the Bolts part ways with Donald Butler and Kavell Conner. Of the linebackers currently on the roster, half will be second-year players and at least three of them had limited playing time due to injury.
So, what do you do if you are in Tom Telesco’s shoes?
Maybe you look for someone who can fill the bill in the form of Su’a Cravens.
Weight: 225 pounds
40-yard Dash: 4.65 seconds*
Arm size: 32 1/8 inches”**
Hand size: 9 1/2″ inches**
Vertical jump: 30 1/2 inches”*
Broad jump: 114″ inches**
*Pro Day **Combine
The former USC Trojan converted from linebacker to safety late in his college career. Has room to fill out his frame. A natural playmaker, he is instinctive, tough and smart. Aggressive and athletic, a blitzer. Will not hesitate to jump into the mix. Very physical dropping back and does a great job in press coverage. Would be able to hold his own in man coverage against tight ends and wide receivers. Outstanding with his hands. Ability to engage and quickly disengage his blocker.
What could possible be a weakness for Cravens? Well, the fact that many people aren’t sure where to place him on their D could be considered a problem. Being tagged as a tweener could be tough. Linebacker or safety? His speed is not impressive, at all, and his size for the linebacker position may be a problem at the NFL level. Additionally, he struggles to finish plays while defending the run, occasionally taking poor angles. Knowing that he is still learning the linebacker position, it will take him time to adjust to the power and quickness of the pros, especially when thinking about his ability to shed the blocks of NFL offensive lineman.
Su’a Cravens has a great deal of positional flexibility to offer any defense. The rub will be that he would need to go to a team that can take advantage of his ability to shift back and forth between linebacker and safety. Putting in reps on special teams while adjusting to the speed of the NFL — plus having distant cousin Manti Te’o to learn from and encourage him — would be something for the potential draftee to look forward to.
Hearing Su’a Cravens’ name called as the next citizen of San Diego this week during the draft would certainly help the Chargers’ defense.
Thanks for reading!
Donald Butler, formerly of your San Diego Chargers, still remains a free agent after Tom Telesco cut him earlier this offseason.
In 2014, Butler signed a seven-year deal worth up to $48 million over the life of the contract should he have played out the entire contract.
As reported in 2014 by Ian Rapoport, the Chargers basically signed him to a three-year deal worth up to $20 million with an escape clause of sorts should Butler underperform.
That is exactly what Butler did during his last two seasons with the organization.
Due to his underwhelming performance on the field, Telesco used the team’s 2015 second-round draft choice on former Miami Hurricane inside linebacker Denzel Perryman.
It didn’t take long before Perryman’s play forced the club to get him on the field more often, forcing Butler to the sideline.
The move immediately improved the Chargers’ defense, as Perryman showed he can be one of the building blocks of a young, up-and-coming defensive unit for years to come.
With the NFL draft right around the corner, teams could look to add Butler once the draft concludes.
When healthy — which wasn’t too often — Butler was a serviceable player, capable of making plays here and there. But the former Washington Huskie showed that he was unable to stay healthy, and when he was on the field, his play left a lot to be desired.
The 27-year-old amassed 373 total tackles with seven sacks, 12 passes defensed, three interceptions and five forced fumbles during his time with the Bolts.
The move has not been officially announced yet, but the San Diego Chargers will release inside linebacker Donald Butler if not today, soon.
On his Twitter account, Butler said his goodbye to his teammates and the fans:
— Donald Butler (@DAButler56) March 3, 2016
Butler, 27, played in San Diego for six seasons and compiled 373 combined tackles, 12 passes defensed, 3 interceptions, 5 forced fumbles and one touchdown.
In the end, Butler’s salary cap number was too high and his on-field production was too low for the Chargers to justify keeping Butler in the fold. Taking his place will be promising linebacker Denzel Perryman, who had assumed Butlers’ starting spot in the lineup halfway through the season and finished the season as the starter.
Like many others, Butler will look to restart his career with a new team through free agency which begins next week. Best of luck, Donald. That is, unless you sign in the AFC West.
The Greg One
A week away from the official beginning of the free agency period, teams are already cutting players to save cap space. That space will then be used to sign their replacements. A handful of recognizable players have already been shown the door and more will come after free agent signings begin.
Big names who have already been added to the unemployment line include running backs Matt Forte and Arian Foster; safeties Michael Griffin and William Moore and other notables add to an growing list of names. Over the past couple of days former New Orleans Saints record-holding wide receiver Marques Colston and Ex-Buffalo Bills/Houston Texans standout defensive end Mario Williams were shown the door.
On Monday, March 7 those names and many more will find new homes during the six-week buffer zone between the start of free agency and the NFL Draft. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. To that end, one of those early cap casualties would be a great fit on the Chargers defense.
Enter Rams cap casualty James Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis was an integral part of a stout Rams defense. The middle linebacker is on the right side of 30 as he won’t celebrate that milestone until December. Entering his eighth season in the NFL, he averages 122 combined tackles per season and has not missed a single NFL game. Over the length of his career, Laurinaitis has amassed 16.5 sacks, 34 passes defensed, 10 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and one safety.
A player that dependable and in the Chargers case, that durable is badly needed. With Donald Butler all but out the door, Laurinaitis would be a substantial upgrade.
Last season Butler had 43 combined tackles, 2 passes defensed and one interception over the entire season. Over the course of his six-year career he has averaged 80 combines tackles and has compiled 7 sacks, 12 passes defensed, 6 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions and one touchdown. He’s missed 25 games and been docked game time when he is healthy because of his subpar play.
Almost not fair to compare the two is it?
Simply put, Laurinaitis is in his prime and the San Diego defense needs more playmakers and better tacklers. Laurinaitis is a tackling machine. His instincts keep him near the ball at all times. He is not a Ram anymore not because his production fell, it’s because he makes too much money and the Rams couldn’t afford him.
Chargers GM Tom Telesco fired up the fan base when he said he was going to be more active in free agency than he has ever been. A signing like this would show a commitment to bettering the team now, rather than finding a low-cost replacement for players on the way out.
The market will have quite a few teams bidding for his services. At present, Laurinaitis has a visit to New Orleans scheduled for next week. Teams are going to have to ante up and put together a good 4-year deal minimum to win his services. For the old school fans of professional wrestling, to have the son of the legendary Road Warrior Animal on the team would be pretty damn cool. Laurinaitis has shown the son of Animal has grown into a beast in his own right!
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!
When looking at the 2015 Chargers, it is difficult to find many bright spots outside of the play of quarterback Philip Rivers and the performance of third-year wideout Keenan Allen prior to his placement on injured reserve due to a lacerated kidney.
For those of you who are not Chargers fans, or those of you who are not watching each and every play of every game, the bright spots are few and far between.
Senior writer of BoltBlitz.com Brian Krich will be highlighting several players that fit that mold within the next few days.
Though I don’t believe in luck, I wish him the best of luck during his analysis.
In an effort to hone in on one player that has raised his level of play to one of which that is a bright spot, one needs not look past the performance of rookie linebacker Denzel Perryman.
A second-round selection out of the University of Miami, Perryman fits the mold of that “hammer” who general manager Tom Telesco covets; one who “brings the wood” on each and every down; a defender who shows up to make stops on opposing players with bad intentions. To put it quite simply, the rook wants to impose his will on every offensive player whom he gets within an arm’s reach of, forcing them to remember that No. 52 is there to physically annihilate them.
In limited playing time this year, the former Hurricane has done just that.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Perryman has proved to be a big-time hitter, despite his lack of starting snaps.
Now that his playing time has increased, even the casual fan can see the impact that Perryman has while in the game.
This was especially evident in Sunday’s 17-3 loss to the Broncos.
The inside linebacker was all over the field, leading the defense with 10 total tackles, which, per the box score, were all solo stops.
Though he is still figuring out how to be an effective member of the defensive side of the ball in pass coverage, Perryman is a MAN against the run.
The Chargers’ defense finally has a presence in the middle worthy of opposing defenses game planning around for years to come.
Don’t expect to get to the second level without having Perryman greet you with a “nasty welcome.”
Should the emergence of Perryman continue for the remaining four games of the season, Donald Butler may be looking for a new job come the 2016 season.
Butler’s play has been underwhelming in ’15, despite what many saw as a strong offseason for the overpaid linebacker.
The 27-year-old signed a seven-year, $51.8 million contract during the 2014 offseason. Though he flashed solid ability at times, many would argue that he had yet to do anything which would garner such a hefty deal.
Should the Chargers part ways with Butler following this season, the team will lose $6.69 million against the salary cap next year. That being said, they would save $4.65 million in cash.
The team could have in excess of $25 million in salary cap room in 2016, and that’s prior to the league increasing each team’s cap number by what is expected to be as much as $10 million.
Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o are the future of this team’s inside linebacking corps moving forward. They complement each other very well and they seem to be on the same page already. All of this leads to the Chargers deciding that Butler will be expendable due to an outrageous salary and ineffective play.
I recently pontificated about the woes of the Chargers’ offense. Now it’s the defensive unit’s turn in the barrel. In seven losses, your unit has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in at least five of them.
John Pagano’s unit can’t use the excuse that they’re banged up, at least not as bad as the offense. Yeah, Manti Te’o is dinged up. So are Eric Weddle and Jahleel Addae, but with Weddle there’s defensive depth that the offense lacks. Besides, you can’t hurt yourself that badly when you don’t tackle. Ask Antonio Cromartie about that. A lack of tackling is just one problem facing the defense. I’ll get into that in a moment.
John Pagano, I’m starting with you. You coach scared. You make play calls at crucial moments with the hope of not losing. The terrible last-second loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers epitomizes your excessive conservatism. Why on earth, when your defense played well for 50 minutes, would you suddenly go conservative? Where did conservative play calling get you? Brandon Flowers, more on him in a minute, got TORCHED on a crossing route that went 70 yards to answer a Charger touchdown. Your conservative play calling also bit you where you sit late in the game in Green Bay when a defensive stand was needed. I really don’t know if you have a split personality or just suffer from lapses of cranial rectal inversion. We’ve seen enough to know it’s not just a matter of execution.
Johnnyboy, are you seriously going to tell me that Jason Verrett is the only Bolt cornerman who can cover Alshon Jeffrey? Antonio Brown? It’s not like you’re still hamstrung with Shareece Wright for crying out loud! But you coach scared and play off of the receivers instead of getting physical with them. Wake up and challenge these receivers!
Oh, and John? You know that 3-4 you run? Do you realize that a 3-4 begins and ends at the nose tackle position? You think Lissemore is a NT? He isn’t. He gets shoved around like a rag doll. He’s impeding the rest of the front seven! Bench him. Permanently. Why don’t you start Ryan Carrethers? He’s a big, run-stuffing specimen of a human being, but he rarely sees the field early in the game when teams are trying to establish the run.
Again, the Butler didn’t do it. The Butler hasn’t really done it since AJ Smith paid him. Seems the Butler has been invisible. Does he have stuff over your head or are you playing him in the hopes of getting something for the money he’s being paid?
Brandon Flowers, what happened to you? You get burnt more often than my toaster oven burns my English muffins. You got torched against Pittsburgh. You got torched against Green Bay. Have you considered changing your jersey to #31? You remind me more of Richard Marshall than you remind me of your Kansas City self.
Pet peeve time.
Tackling. The aforementioned T’eo and Weddle jump out to me in the worst way. T’eo is horrible at wrapping up tackles. Ball carriers slip through his arms like water runs through a sieve. You have to finish. You can’t continue to let guys slip out of your grasp and run for additional yardage. And you, Eric “I’m disrespected by my front office” Weddle. Groin or no groin, nobody ever made a tackle while backpedaling. Geez, stop contributing to opposing players’ YAC!
Overall, I’ve never seen the Chargers in such disarray. At least when Ryan Leaf was drafted, the team just plain sucked, so it wasn’t shocking to see them play so badly. This team isn’t nearly as crappy as their pathetic 2-7 record implies.
Prior to the acquisition of inside linebacker Joe Mays, the Chargers had three healthy players at the position on the 53-man roster (Donald Butler, Kavell Conner and Nick Dzubnar).
Third-year backer Manti Te’o has missed two consecutive games nursing an ankle injury, opening the door for this offseason’s second-round draft pick, Denzel Perryman.
The former Hurricane had started two games in place of Te’o, only to exit Sunday’s loss with a strained pectoral muscle.
It is being said that the team is taking it day-to-day with his injury status.
Initially, it was feared to be much worse than a strain for Perryman.
Trailing only free safety Eric Weddle for the team lead in tackles, the loss of Te’o is additionally significant due to the fact that he was wearing the defense’s “communicator,” the green-dot helmet, relaying calls to his teammates.
In Te’o’s first game missed, Weddle resumed the distinction after being the only safety in the NFL to do so in 2014.
Lo and behold, Weddle would suffer a groin injury in the fourth quarter of the Chargers’ loss to the Packers and miss Week 7, forcing John Pagano’s unit to hand over the defensive signal relay to Donald Butler.
To say that the former third-round selection, Butler, has been a disappointment this year is an understatement.
Despite all of the total tackles that Manti has accumulated during his time on the field in 2015, his missed tackles and poor angles in pursuit are what is being talked about by the masses. Though he seems to be in proper position to make a play more often than not, he has struggled to wrap up and stop ball carriers in their tracks, giving up more yards after contact than any other player on the team.
With no timetable for return truly set for either Te’o or Perryman, the signing of Mays makes sense. The team needs bodies at the position, and the former Jet, Chief, Texan, Bronco and Eagle can do just that.
Mays had an opportunity to sign with the Chargers this offseason but decided to take a chance with the Jets, who cut him prior to the beginning of the 2015 regular season. The 30-year-old was unable to make it past the Jets’ final cuts.
The contract for Mays will certainly be team-friendly. But it also shows that the club might be concerned about how long Te’o and Perryman may be out.
Sitting at a 2-5 record and in last place of the AFC West division, the time to put up or shut up is officially here.
Mays may not see much time on defense, but he does have experience on special teams, which the team will need in the absence of Perryman, who has excelled in the third phase of the game as a rookie.
That injury bug should go ahead and beat the Bolts to Los Angeles, because I am sick of it chilling out and setting up shop in America’s finest city.
San Diego Chargers fans had mixed emotions when the name of the team’s second-round draft pick (#48 overall) was announced this past May. General manager Tom Telesco had submitted the name of Miami linebacking standout Denzel Perryman. Many felt that Telesco should have exercised that choice for additional help along the D-line. It was the third consecutive draft year that TT had chosen a linebacker (Manti Te’o in 2013 at No.38 and Jerry Attaochu in 2014 at No. 50) in that round.
Post-draft via Chargers.com, here is what Telesco offered on the selection of Perryman:
“He’s an explosive, extremely instinctive inside linebacker,” said Telesco. “He plays with a lot of energy. As far as we’re concerned, and obviously it’s just one team’s opinion, as far as inside linebackers go, he has the best instincts in the draft, the best tackling, and he is the most explosive. When he hits people, they go backwards. He’s got some coverage skills too which is going to help him in this league. We’re really excited about getting him in here.”
Even during his high school years, the 5-foot-10, 240-pound Perryman had a reputation as a “thumper,” a force to be reckoned with. The former Hurricane was a tackling machine despite missing the first nine games of his sophomore year due to a high ankle sprain. He amassed 218 tackles (14.5 for loss), three sacks, three forced fumbles, broke up eight passes plus one interception return for a touchdown during his junior and senior years. Those gaudy 2013-14 numbers garnered him a nomination and finalist for the Butkus Award.
This past Sunday on the not-yet-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, we all had an opportunity to judge for ourselves the wisdom of that pick when the rookie ran out onto the field for his first career start.
Earlier in the week, San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano was asked about Perryman playing against the Packers: “It’s about trust,” he said. “It’s about us as coaches trusting him, but also him doing the things that he needs to do with the players out there on the field, that they trust him. So you just go from there. There’s going to be growing pains. All rookies end up making mistakes here and there, but if his time is called upon this week, we need him to step up. We’ll wait and see on that.”
There was little disappointment in his performance last Sunday. He was in on 28 snaps, led the team with eight tackles (7 solo) and forced Eddie Lacy to fumble; not easy considering the bulk of man who is the Pack’s lead running back. Subbing at inside linebacker due to a bad ankle for Te’o, the day became an awesome showcase of Perryman’s abilities and points out why his presence can no longer be ignored.
For comparison, here are what the other inside linebackers (Manti Te’o, Donald Butler, and Kavell Conner) have done in their initial starts: Te’o had three solo tackles versus Dallas on September 29, 2013. Conner (2010 Colts/7th round/#240) had five total/four solo against the Giants on September 10, 2010. And the guy that it seems everyone loves to find fault with lately, the oft-maligned Butler? His rookie season (2010) was derailed by a torn left Achilles sustained in training camp. He returned September 11, 2011 and made six tackles against Minnesota.
Still the question hangs in the air unanswered: if he plays so well, why is the 21-year-old rookie still logging time on special teams when Butler is struggling? Chargers fans may speculate about the future make-up of that unit. Perhaps the future is now, at least short-term – it looks like there may be a roster change as Te’o has not practiced all week.
I hope the young linebacker gets the nod to start in the match-up against Oakland on Sunday. His motor revs high and he doesn’t quit.
I think that challenges the rest to play better.
Let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.