Donald Butler

Rivers-Sad

 

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.

The Players

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.

Go Bolts!

*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!*

Zak Darman

Ap2

 

 

After a 1-1 start to the 2015 season, the Chargers travel to Minnesota to face off against the explosive Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.

In Peterson’s first two games this season, he has recorded 165 yards, while averaging 4.2 yards a carry; 134 yards were racked up in last week’s win over the Detroit Lions. If the Bolts plan to shut down AD, they will have to compete at a playoff-caliber level and finish flawlessly.

Currently, San Diego ranks 21st in the NFL in rushing defense. Unfortunately, this isn’t good enough to stop Peterson. In week one, the team gave up a huge run play as Detroit’s Ameer Abdullah went untouched making a 36-yard jaunt to the house. The question as to what the Bolts need to do in order to shut Peterson down is on the minds of all Charger fans.

Here’s the breakdown:

 

Tackling

Hasn’t this been a trending issue for years now? Either way, San Diego has to go back to fundamental tackling in order to shut down the running game. Defensively, the line must hold true and close all gaps that Peterson will try to attack. Linebacker Manti Te’o has missed 10 tackles in the first two games. That can’t happen Sunday. It’s inevitable that AD will break through the line of scrimmage, however, it’s the Bolts’ duty to make all necessary tackles, especially against the veteran running back.

 

Forcing Turnovers

The Chargers have forced two fumbles along with two interceptions. In order for them to keep the offense on the field, the defense has to force turnovers and convert them to points. The Vikings quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, is entering his sophomore season looking fairly confident. With veteran players such as Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, and Donald Butler on the defense, disrupting his play will prove fruitful. Having only one sack on the season isn’t enough, therefore, getting after Bridgewater is mandatory come Sunday.

 

Clock management

Time management is the name of the game in professional football. With Peterson’s running ability, Minnesota will look to manage the clock and tempo of the game. In order to obtain a win, Philip Rivers and the offense must maintain their composure and cause long-lasting drives, ultimately ending with points scored. Similar to what San Diego has done to Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the team must keep Peterson and company on the sidelines. Traditionally, the Bolts win most of their games where they hold the most time of possession. The same blueprint should be conducted against the Vikings.

 

Limit penalties

Last game the offense hurt themselves with costly penalties. The same can be said about the defense, as well. Limiting the number of unnecessary penalties will help the Chargers move forward and complete plays. Additionally, having little to none on the defensive side of the ball will keep the Vikings from obtaining costly automatic first downs. Ultimately, penalties hurt progression which can’t happen in attempt for a win.

 

Overall, Adrian Peterson and company seek to also improve their record to 2-1, but the Chargers know it’s imperative to shut him down in order to limit the Vikings’ offense. With these four tactics, there should be no issue for the Bolts in advancing their record to two wins early in the season.

 

Briana Soltis (@BrianaSoltis)

Verrett5

 

There are a lot of candidates for the Chargers to have a breakout season. Narrowing it down to just five guys is a very tough project. But here are my choices for the five that will most likely breakout.

Quick note: I am not putting Ingram in this, although I do believe he will breakout. I wrote about that separately. You can read it here.

5.) Center, Chris Watt
Chris Watt has been selected by the Chargers’ coaching staff to be the heir apparent to Nick Hardwick. He played in a few games there last season (as did 4 other centers) before ending his season with an injury. From all the reports I have read, it seems like the former Notre Dame guard is picking up the center position very quickly and looks to be a very solid replacement.

4.) Nose Tackle, Ryan Carrethers
Ryan Carrethers, a fifth-round draft selection in 2014, is a very big and athletic nose tackle. He was starting to understand the pro game last season, coming into his own before his season ended with a dislocated elbow in the week 11 game versus the Raiders. I think he eventually takes over the starting NT job from Sean Lissemore, and has a very nice impact on stopping the run on defense.

3.) Inside linebacker, Manti Te’o
With the addition of linebackers coach Mike Nolan, you could really add any LB here. I went with Te’o because he seemed to improve his played late during the 2014 campaign. He was having a really nice year last year after coming back off a foot injury. If he can stay healthy this season, expect him to continue to hone his skills and become a solid force for years to come.

2.) Wide Receiver, Stevie Johnson
Stevie Johnson had really fallen off the map after his three best seasons in Buffalo. Those strong years were followed by two sub-par seasons; one with Buffalo, and one with San Francisco. Stevie Johnson signed a three-year deal with San Diego in the offseason. Philip Rivers and Johnson have built a strong rapport in the few months they have been working together. Look for a huge season from SJ11.

1.) Cornerback, Jason Verrett
Jason Verrett is going to have a monster season….. if he stays healthy. He has all the ability and talent to become a legitimate No. 1, lockdown cornerback. The one big flaw to his game is he needs to cut down on the big hits and keep himself healthy, a thing that has hurt him his senior year at TCU and his rookie season in the NFL. I do think Verrett has learned from his past injuries and now will focus on staying healthy. He will have the biggest impact on this Chargers team in 2015. He will lead a unit that comes in with big expectations (from me), and I believe they will live up to those.

Honorable mentions: LB Donald Butler, OLB Kyle Emanuel, S Jahleel Addae, WR Keenan Allen

Who do you think will breakout this season? Let me know below!

Zak Darman

ClemensRivers

 

The San Diego Chargers played their first preseason game Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys. In front of their home crowd the bolts won the contest 17-7. As we all know, the score is immaterial. The important thing is how did the team look? There are a lot of players fighting for a roster spot. Who is giving maximum effort and who is not? How big is the talent differential when the second and third units come in compared to the unit before them? These are the key things to watch in a preseason game. Here are my takeaways from the first game.

Preseason or not, it was great to see that it didn’t take long before the team got their first takeaway. The first team defense recovered a snap that went over the head of Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. Donald Butler crashed the backfield and eliminated the quarterback from the play, kicking the ball upfield in the process. The ball was then recovered by an offseason acquisition, cornerback Patrick Robinson. The Chargers would force and recover a second fumble in the half. The Chargers only had 18 takeaways all last season. That stat needs to improve if they’re going to be a serious playoff contender.

The running game looked sharp. Last season the running game was out-of-sync all season with the exception of the emergence of Branden Oliver. After Danny Woodhead went down in week three and Mathews resumed his usual spot at the trainer’s table the Chargers running game died. Woodhead looked great in his return from a broken leg, rushing for an eight-yard touchdown on his first carry. Oliver also ran with power and Barry Sanders-like shiftiness, posting 53 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. Melvin Gordon gained 11 yards on six carries. He will gain more carries and confidence now that the first game jitters are out of the way. We all expect Gordon to be in contention for Rookie of the Year at season’s end but let’s temper our expectations. With rookies come growing pains.

The special teams looked better than they have in previous seasons. Undrafted kicker Josh Lambo provided a welcome sight in sending kickoffs through the end zone. Kicker Nick Novak booted a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that looked like it would have been good from another ten yards back. Punter Mike Scifres looked like his old self after finishing last season on injured reserve with a broken collarbone. Scifres’ first punt pinned the Cowboys inside their own five yard line. Reserve cornerback Chris Davis had a couple exciting kick returns and Javontee Herndon looked great finding holes on punt returns. Paired with Jacoby Jones, this may be the best group of returners the Chargers have had in a long while.

The first team defense showed the ability to get a good pass rush against what is considered to be the best offensive line in the league. Second round draft pick Denzel Perryman showed his nose for the ball with five tackles, a pass defensed and got close on a couple of potential sacks. Manti Te’o disrupted plays. Fifth round draft pick Kyle Emanuel had a great showing with three solo tackles including a sack and tackle for loss. It was also good to see nose tackle Ryan Carrethers finally off the injured reserve list and on the field. Carrethers was double-teamed on every snap he played and still managed to get two tackles.

As always, there are things to work on. The run defense, while only allowing 70 yards on the night could have had an even better output were it not for a lot of missed tackles. On the Cowboys lone score, running back Gus Johnson dragged several Chargers defenders into the end zone for the score.

Special teams did a good job in containment but there were also some tackles left on the field that could have put the Cowboys deep into their own territory. Tackling is an ailment that is usual during the first preseason games because there isn’t much tackling going on in training camp. Expect the tackling to improve as these exhibition games pass.

The biggest downside were the injuries. Offensive lineman Johnnie Troutman worked hard to get on the field after a leg injury only to break his arm during the game. Outside linebacker Tourek Williams was having a great game pressuring the quarterback and running down ball carriers until he broke his foot in the third quarter. Williams underwent surgery on Friday and the timetable on his return is unknown at the moment. While the two weren’t starters they are key depth positions.

All in all, it’s the preseason. There will be plenty of game tape with enough mistakes that there will be no shortage of things to work on this week. San Diego should feel confident in the collection of players on their sideline. This is a team fans should feel proud to come out and support. This is a team (if they can stay healthy) that can overtake the Broncos for the AFC West title. If this is their last season in the 619 area code, they will be going out with a bang.

What did you think of the season opener? Post your comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#SaveOurBolts

 

flowers

 

As the countdown to the new NFL season continues, we all look forward to seeing our beloved San Diego Chargers take the field. Whether it’s in shorts, pads or full gear, nothing makes us happier than to know they’re busy preparing for what could be a landmark season.

It could be a landmark season for a number of reasons. Could this be the last season the team plays in San Diego? Will this be the last time we see the ‘Core Four’ of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd in lightning bolts together? Floyd has stated this is his final season and it’s looking that way for Gates as well, but nothing is certain until it happens. Is this team finally ready for a lengthy postseason run amidst all the toil and trouble?

So many questions…

On paper, this may be the best team the Chargers have fielded since the LaDainian Tomlinson era. The offense is getting overdue attention, especially after drafting phenom running back Melvin Gordon to replace Ryan Mathews in the backfield. Where this team will really shock the league will be on defense.

General manager Tom Telesco has done an excellent job of signing a young, talented nucleus of players to multi-year contracts. Donald Butler, Corey Liuget are locked in long term. Melvin Ingram is in his option year so he has to stay on the field and perform at a high level to get a second contract similar to the aforementioned Butler and Liuget. Mantei Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu and this year’s crop of draftees are in Bolts for at least the next two years under their rookie contracts.

The secondary, long considered a weakness in San Diego, will return the tandem that was the best in the league while they played together in Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to play the entire season due to injuries. Their presence would have been instrumental in changing the Chargers playoff fate as they only missed the postseason by one game.

With both corners returning healthy, and excellent free agent additions Jimmy Wilson and Patrick Robinson, the Chargers will have what they haven’t had in a long time, shutdown corners and quality secondary depth. Lest we forget the All-Pro safety anchoring the secondary. We may not like the office politics going on with Eric Weddle, but the one thing we know is he will play like the consummate pro he is and the Chargers will not let him leave as long as franchise tags are still at their disposal.

What this means is San Diego has a defense that is worthy of a top-five ranking if they can stay healthy. Players have to excel on the field or lose their spot. It’s that type of hunger Telesco is cultivating into what will become a culture of winning. This is an exciting defense which can only get better if draftee linebackers Denzel Perryman and Kyle Emmanuel, cornerback Craig Mager and defensive lineman Darius Philon are as good as advertised. From the sounds coming out of camp, they are that and more!

Say what you want about the front office, they have assembled an excellent collection of players in three short seasons and they are ready to make a dynastic run. This defense can be as good as the Ravens of the early 2000’s. I’m calling my shot now before the rest of the world outside San Diego sees it. The holes have been admirably filled. Only one last thing this defense needs…

A name.

Purple People Eaters. Monsters of the Midway. Steel Curtain. I’m not saying they will be that great. Yet. They will be crowned with some goofy nickname by Chris Berman or someone in a boardroom in Bristol, Connecticut once the carnage is unleashed and quarterbacks, receivers and running backs league-wide are swallowed whole. Let’s beat the suits to the punch and name the defense ourselves!

Here are my first handful of submissions:

Zap Attack

Pagano Power

Mad(den) Men

The Blue Crew

 

What do you guys think? Leave your suggestions with names for the defense below!

 

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

#TelescoMagic

 

 

TGC-McCoy-and-Telesco

 

 

Panic and disbelief quickly spread through the San Diego Chargers fanbase Monday when the report surfaced that the Chargers would not extend All-Pro safety and defensive captain Eric Weddle this season. Weddle is in the final year of his contract and sat out voluntary minicamp as his form of protest for being ‘highly, highly disrespected’ by the Bolts’ front office.

The perennial Pro Bowl selection has a legitimate beef. He’s made three of the last four Pro Bowls, his production has increased each year over the past three seasons and right now he’s at the top of his game. Other players around him are getting their deals extended before the expiration of their contracts. On the same day the news broke about Weddle, it was also revealed that the Chargers are, as quickly and quietly as possible, finalizing an extension for defensive end Corey Liuget. Disrespected indeed.

Or is it?

Liuget is one of the 25-and-under nucleus of talent Telesco is ensuring stay in San Diego for years to come on defense, avoiding contract hassles down the road. Donald Butler received a new seven-year deal last offseason. Manti Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu, Tourek Williams, Ryan Carrethers and the new draftees are under contract for at least the next two years. The team also exercised their fifth-year option on Melvin Ingram for 2016. Fifth-year options are not guaranteed, and it serves the purpose of keeping him in place on the roster in a position where he has to perform to earn a lucrative second contract. For once, the defensive line will be a place of stability and consistency with young, hungry players unable to rest on their laurels.

Back to the All-Pro in question: Would Telesco actually let the season end without extending Weddle?

He can. He will. Here’s why.

All the leverage is in Telesco’s capable hands. Yes, Weddle is auditioning for 31 other teams now. If he gets to the offseason without an extension, every other team is going to back up the Brinks truck to his door to court him.

The problem is, he isn’t going anywhere.

Telesco has the power of the franchise tag in his back pocket. A player can be franchised a maximum of two times. In essence, Telesco can ensure Weddle will remain in lightning bolts for the next three seasons. Weddle is ensured he will be paid on par with the top-10 safeties in the league. Telesco has the leeway to use the tag as much or as little as he likes knowing that Weddle is essentially playing three one-year contracts. The Chargers get the best safety in the game at the height of his powers. If he suffers a debilitating injury, or there is a decline in his skills, the GM can cut bait any time he sees fit. Feathers get ruffled, but, in the end, everybody wins.

From a management standpoint, Weddle is over 30. Traditionally, that’s the age where skills start going downhill. The wear and tear of season after season takes a toll. Players that once couldn’t get past you now can. Telesco is keeping a watchful eye of this happening. Regardless of whether or not the fan base or the player likes it, it’s the safe play and it’s what’s best for the team. How many times have we heard, ‘The NFL is a business’? Weddle knows. Everyone in the locker room knows. We as fans know.

What’s the downside?

If Weddle gets vocal and demands a trade, Telesco could see fit to deal him rather than let the saga drag out through the media. Teams would still have to pony up a great deal to get Weddle out of San Diego knowing that the GM doesn’t have to do anything. The Chargers get beneficial pieces or picks in return.

Will this affect players re-signing with the Chargers after watching this episode play out or stop free agents from coming in? At the end of the day, every player is out to take care of himself. You can stand up for your teammate, but if management is willing to break open the vault for you, your teammate takes a back seat. We know the shelf-life of an NFL player is four to five years. That’s a short amount of time to make money and get out with one’s health intact. As we’re seeing now, it all comes down to money. Someone has to take it and in the next few seasons San Diego will have a lot to give.

Simply put, there is no downside.

We may balk at how Weddle is being treated, but we’re not seeing the big picture. When this season rolls around and he’s at his All-Pro best, all this will be forgotten as we’re swept up in the jubilation of another NFL season. We’ve praised Telesco for reshaping the team and bringing back excitement after the unceremonious dismissal of the previous regime. This is arguably the first move that has been widely panned by the fan base. But in reality, he’s done more to make sure Weddle stays on the team by getting the core players to surround him for the next few seasons as opposed to pushing him out the door.

 

Bolt up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

foster

Having made great strides to retool on the offensive line, the Chargers now look to make the same significant upgrades on defense. Cornerback Brandon Flowers was locked in with a new four-year deal. Defensive End Ricardo Mathews was re-upped for one year. Defensive lineman Mitch Unrein was brought over from Denver. Secondary help was added with the signings of free agent cornerbacks Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson. Now it’s time to look at the hole at the linebacker position.

An underrated name that is still on the free agent market is inside linebacker Mason Foster, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6’1, 240 lb.  Foster was a third round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. In his first three seasons, Foster registered 381 combined tackles,  12 passes defensed, six sacks, five interceptions and two touchdowns.

Known for his versatility, natural football instincts and toughness the 26-year old had a down season in 2015 with 62 combined tackles. Keep in mind he missed six games last season with a separated shoulder and strained Achilles or those numbers would have been higher. After having to adjust to three new defensive schemes in the last three years, he is to be commended for being able to perform consistently on a high level despite all the turnover in Tampa Bay.

Last season saw the arrival of a new head coach in Tampa Bay. Lovie Smith was brought in to replace Greg Schiano and with him came his pet creation, the Tampa 2 defense. Foster was lost in the shuffle in the new defense and is looking to join another squad that utilizes a conventional base defense. Word is Foster is in contract talks with the Bears but according multiple reports are far apart in discussions.

Foster would be a great addition to a Chargers linebacking corps that has been besieged by injuries. Until last season he had only missed one game. Mantei Te’o has (seemingly) chronic foot issues. Melvin Ingram is still rounding back into form. Coupled with the departures of Jarrett Johnson and Dwight Freeney and the underwhelming season registered by Donald Butler, Foster is a playmaker that could raise the game of those around him.

The Chargers still have plenty of cap space and Foster makes the team better. GM Tom Telesco is in prime position to swoop in and do what the Bears won’t, pay the man. The Chargers defense finished in the bottom third (24th) of the league last season and has plenty of room to get better.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

suh2

 

In what will be the news of the day in San Diego, it has become known that the Chargers will be bidding for the services of prized free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Take a look at this tweet from leading NFL insider Ian Rappaport:

019

How can you not love that? Sure, it’s nowhere near a done deal but the Chargers are making it known they are going to be in the mix for Suh. We’ve watched GM Tom Telesco work wonders with the Chargers salary cap for two seasons where he’s had nothing but pocket change to spend on players. Finally unburdened of the bad contracts left over from the previous regime, the Chargers have over 30 million in cap space and we’re all curious to see how Telesco spends with a pocket full of Benjamins.

Suh is the biggest and most expensive free agent on the market and for good reason. He is literally a franchise changing player. At 6’4, 305 Suh is the most dominant nose tackle in the game and easily one of the top five defensive players in the league.

Known for his brute power, Suh commands double teams every play and is a disruptive force in the middle of the line. Suh is a run-stopping, quarterback sacking mountain of a man who plays with a primal rage that has seen him get fined by the league multiple times.

What does this say about the Chargers?

One, the Chargers know there is a big hole at the nose tackle position and there is no one better to plug that hole than Suh. Two, the Chargers are not afraid to break the bank for a franchise player. Suh turned 28 in January and is entering his sixth season. Just entering his prime, Suh has only missed two games in his career (in 2011) and has already logged 239 tackles and 36 sacks. He is the anchor that Chargers haven’t had since Jamaal Williams and he’s the biggest free agent to hit the open market since Reggie White for those reasons. Three, it says the Chargers are ready to win NOW. You don’t bring in a player of this caliber with a five-year plan in mind.

The Chargers are on the precipice of making waves in the playoffs. What’s stopped them? Defense has been a big issue. The Chargers have ranked 32nd, 17th, 24th, 10th, 24th in total defense in the last five seasons.  Suh holding down the middle of the field means favorable one-one-one matchups for pass rushers like Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Dwight Freeney, Donald Butler and Jerry Attaochu. With Suh collapsing the pocket on the quarterback and/or ball carrier, it creates opportunity for sacks and turnovers. So much attention will be applied to him that rushers will be able to get to the ball.

Suh doesn’t fix everything that’s wrong with the defense but his presence allows defensive coordinator John Pagano a wealth of flexibility and creativity in his play calling knowing that there is a brick wall in the middle of his defense. The pass rush gets better, which means the secondary can also play more instinctively knowing the opposing quarterback has less time to throw.

This move, should it come to pass, says the Chargers are all in for getting the mainstays like Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd their Super Bowl opportunity. It says the Chargers are serious about providing star power that fans will want to come out and see, in San Diego. Even if it doesn’t come to pass, if they do make a serious offer it should show the fan base they’re committed to getting a championship sooner than later.

What about Suh’s baggage?

Suh is the classic example of the player everyone hates until he’s wearing your team’s colors. He’s a beast and his overly aggressive style of play has made him the most reviled player in the league. That reputation now becomes the Chargers’ reputation; a defense no one wants to play against. As long as Suh produces, the extra curricular activities however Raider-esque they are, can be overlooked.

What about the money?

If you got it, spend it. I applaud this move. The Chargers aren’t going to throw chump change at B plus players, they’re shooting at the top stars with a ‘Why not us’ mentality and that is encouraging to me as a Chargers fan. With Telesco handling the proceedings, when Suh comes to town, I don’t expect him to leave.

Now about that championship….

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

 

help

 

“Games are won and lost in the trenches.” How many times have we heard that from coaches and commentators alike? I think the 2014 Charger season proved that out.

A patchwork offensive line was tasked with protecting Philip Rivers, was not consistently effective.  Too many times we saw #17 running for his proverbial life. The run game was terrible as well. The Chargers lost their anchor, Nick Hardwick early in the season and now for good with his expected retirement.  A total of five men played at the center position.  Johnny Troutman was awful.  DJ Fluker’s inexperience at the professional level was exposed in his Sophomore season.  Truth be told, I felt King Dunlap was the only bright spot along the front five.

The defensive front seven wasn’t a whole heck of a lot better.  Donald Butler was invisible.  The nose tackle by committee was a failure.  Kendall Reyes seemed to regress.  Pressure from the outside linebackers (pass rush specialists in a 3-4) weren’t helped by their teammates.  Corey Liuget was the only consistent performer on the defensive side.

With the Free Agency period beginning on March 10, I’ve been going over the list of pending free agents and have compiled a wish list of whom I’d like to see Tom Telesco pursue.  Also, I will look at who the casual fan clamors for and why I don’t see them in lightning bolts in 2015.  This, of course, is without considering salary restraints.

On Defense, nose tackle is of particular concern to me.  You may say that John Pagano ran a base 3-4 less than half the time.  Perhaps because NT was a weak link?  Sean Lissemore didn’t impress at all.  Ryan Carrethers showed potential until he got hurt, but he needs seasoning.  Ricardo Mathews is a serviceable sub, but the Chargers haven’t had a stud nose tackle since Jamal Williams.  Personally, I think this is one position Tom Telesco needs to look over the free agent crop.  Chargers can ill afford to have the front seven compromised by the nose being the weak link.

Should Denver not retain Terrence Knighton, he tops my list.  He’s big, he’s quick and he’s strong.  He can take on multiple blockers, which is what your NT needs to do.  He’s durable, having started 16 games in four of his six NFL seasons.  Dan Williams of the Arizona Cardinals is another.  While his numbers (tackles and assists) don’t stack up to Knighton’s, he’s been a force in the middle of the Arizona defensive front.  I don’t see Ndamukong Suh in lightning bolts at all.  He’s a 4-3 defensive tackle, and I’m not convinced he can make the transition to a 3-4 NT.  His inability to control of his temper concerns me as well.

A stud in the middle of the 3-4 has a ripple effect on the rest of the front seven as well, so this position is critical to the success of the Charger defense.  Washington’s Danny Shelton looks impressive if they wait for the draft to fill the need at NT.  Kid’s got a motor.  If Tom Telesco doesn’t want a NT, then perhaps he, Mike McCoy and John Pagano should abandon the 3-4.

On the offensive side of the trenches, signing King Dunlap to a new deal was huge (no pun intended).  He was rock solid protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side.  As for the interior of the line, I’m really worried.  Mike Iupati tops mosts lists.  He’s a solid guard, he’s quick and he’s been durable for San Francisco.  Denver’s Orlando Franklin is another solid possibility.  Again, he’s durable and we all know that Denver’s line has been great in protecting Peyton Manning the last few years.

Depth can be filled in through the draft.  The Bolts need to draft and groom for the future.  Chris Watt will be better this year, having been forced into service with as a rookie.  Fluker needs to improve his footwork and quickness if he’s going to continue to play right tackle.  I focused on guards through free agency because all indications seem to point to Fluker staying at RT.

That’s my take on the trenches on both sides of the ball.  Next, I’ll look at linebackers and running backs.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what your thoughts are!

Mike Pisciotta

The faces of the San Diego Chargers have most recently been Philip Rivers for the offense and Eric Weddle for the defense. Don’t get me wrong, these two have done a stellar job at leading their counterparts and mentoring incoming talent, but unsung frontrunners such as center Nick Hardwick and outside linebacker Jerret Johnson have recently announced their retirement and that grants some empty leadership slots to be filled. Addressing the elephant in the room – can Donald Butler step up and fill the void? Ultimately, it’s not a question if he can, rather his duty to step in and drive.

The 2014 campaign was not a pretty one for Butler who was recently signed to a multi-year deal just the previous season. Watching him wasn’t what it used to be and his uninspiring attitude was hard to overlook.

Of course the blame can be put on the injury stricken defense, but all excuses aside, Butler now needs to become a true leader. Not last year, not yesterday, but starting now.

Butler will enter the 2015 season after recovering from a season ending elbow injury. Moving forward, the limelight is now on his work ethic. Injury is arguably the number one reason players never return to form, so it’s imperative that Butler works hard and proves to his teammates he is willing to put in the work. The Bolts are going to need him completely healthy and 100% ready to go next season.

I hate to bring this up, but the Miami game last year was by far one of the worst games in San Diego history. The 37-0 deficit was enough to bring the team moral to its lowest, and Butler was the main contributor. There’s no need to beat a dead horse, but you get the drift. Butler’s leadership should encompass morale which will allow him to be the go-to guy when spirits are low. Tenacity and optimism are the key ingredients to keeping the flame lit.

Lastly, there needs to be more production on the football field. Butler finished last year with only 45 total tackles, 1 sack, and no interceptions or forced fumbles. If the Chargers’ talented linebackers need any type of leadership, it’s going to have to start with Butler’s efforts. By all means, last year’s stats were nothing to brag about. Yet on the other hand, I’m confident he will improve his productivity. Teammates such as Manti Te’o, Andrew Gachkar, and Jerry Attaochu need Butler’s guidance.

Leadership is easily mentioned, yet tough to execute. Donald Butler doesn’t need to step up, it’s his duty. In order to accomplish greater things in 2015, the Chargers need his direction. With a new linebackers coach and new season, it’s safe to assume that Butler will have the chance to fill the void.

Briana Soltis

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