The staff of BoltBlitz.com is proud to host a San Diego Chargers fans meet-up on Saturday, August 6th at the Tilted Kilt in Mission Valley. The Tilted Kilt has been an amazing host site and the staff has been very accommodating. We are very proud of you, our loyal readers who turn out en masse and take over and fill the place with lightning bolts!
At our June Tilted Kilt meet-up many members of the Chargers organization came out to take part in the festivities. As you can see in the picture above, sandwiched between myself (far left) and Dave Peters (far right) are (from left to right) Kyle Emanuel, Dontrelle Inman and Sean Lissemore. These Chargers took the time out of their busy schedules to attend in person and graciously signed autographs and took pictures with everyone who asked.
Many, many thanks to Kyle, Dontrelle and Sean for making our event such a huge success!
If the Aug. 6th date looks familiar, yes, it is the same day as the Chargers’ annual FanFest. FanFest will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the meet-up will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. so there will be plenty of time to make it from the stadium to the Tilted Kilt for a raging after party! There will be raffles for Chargers memorabilia, autographed collectibles and other prizes.
Paddy Pickford, owner of Evolution Lighthouse will be there with his signature line of custom Chargers jewelry as well as new and unique lines of custom jewelry. A portion of every Chargers-related item sold goes to victims of domestic violence in San Diego.
Special surprise guests are scheduled to update us on all things stadium and Chargers related. Stay tuned!
Join us on Saturday, August 6th as we ring in the new San Diego Chargers season BoltBlitz style!
The Greg One
Pro football focus is one of the most popular NFL-related websites out there. They have a unique, metrics-based system that they use to grade NFL players and teams.
Although I prefer to trust my eyes and what I see as opposed to going off of algorithms and formulas, they provide a useful tool which aides in the evaluation of talent in the league.
PFF.com recently ranked every receiving corps from 1-32. While the Patriots, somehow, graded out as the No. 1 corps, your San Diego Chargers finished just above the middle of the pack at 13th.
Here’s what they had to say:
13. San Diego Chargers
Projected starters: WR Keenan Allen, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Stevie Johnson, TE Antonio Gates
Key depth: WR Dontrelle Inman, WR Javontee Herndon, TE Henry Hunter
Key stat: Last season, Keenan Allen’s 2.16 yards per route run ranked 11th in the league at the time of his injury (Week 8).
Keenan Allen was on pace for the highest receiving-yardage total of his three-year career before a kidney injury wrecked his season in Week 8. That didn’t stop the Chargers from handing him a contract extension, though, and it’s hard to blame them, given his potential. Allen has forced 35 missed tackles on 223 receptions so far in his career, and figures to be the Chargers’ top wide receiver for most of the next decade—provided he can stay healthy. San Diego did make some improvements around him, though, adding former Cleveland Browns deep-threat Travis Benjamin early in free agency. Benjamin notched eight receptions for 363 yards and four touchdowns on passes traveling 20+ yards downfield last season, despite the Browns’ issues at quarterback; that deep-threat ability will fit in well with San Diego. With tight end Antonio Gates getting up there in years, they added his long-term replacement in Hunter Henry (Arkansas). Owning the highest receiving grade of all college TEs a year ago, Henry can make an impact for the Chargers in year one.
We all know how incredible the 2015 campaign was for wideout Keenan Allen until he suffered a lacerated kidney against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8. He was on a torrid pace, primed to set the team’s receptions record prior to being placed on injured reserve. With Allen entering the 2016 season ready to roll, one can expect the former third-round selection to come out and pick up where he left off.
Losing Malcom Floyd to retirement is certainly a big loss for the Chargers’ passing attack. The fact that Antonio Gates is another year older does not help, either.
But despite these two facts, the Bolts added speedster Travis Benjamin in the offseason. Though his size and frame are nothing like that of Floyd, he will be asked to stretch the field in a similar fashion to M-80. One thing that seems to go underappreciated about Benjamin is his ability to create space due to his route running. We all like to talk about how fast the former Brown is and how he can take the top off of the defense, but he can make plays underneath, using his speed to force separation between himself and defensive backs.
Stevie Johnson is no longer a receiver who can produce at the levels he did while he was with the Buffalo Bills, but, when healthy, he can still provide a possession-type role who can help the offense on third downs and in their three-wideout sets. Again, Johnson just needs to stay healthy to help contribute on a respectable level moving forward. The 2016 season is his last under contract with the Chargers.
PFF lists Inman, Herndon and rookie tight end Hunter Henry as key-depth players in the receiving corps. While I am glad they included Inman and Henry, I would have liked to see them add Tyrell Williams in place of Herndon. Herndon’s impact will most likely be as a kick returner should he not be supplanted by another Charger at the position.
Williams’ combination of size and speed cannot be taught, and I believe that we’ll see the youngster continue to mature and develop his route running, while providing quarterback Philip Rivers with the sizeable target who we all know he loves. It is imperative that Williams and Rivers continue to build a solid rapport if the receiver wants to find a regular spot on the club’s 53-man roster.
At this time, it is difficult to predict how much Henry will be used as a rookie. Though he’ll see a large number of snaps in his first season, the number of targets he receives is completely up in the air.
Overall, ranking the Chargers as having the 13th-best receiving corps sounds about right. That being said, don’t be surprised if we see them exceed expectations as long as the offensive line can keep Rivers clean, giving him ample amounts of time to find one of his many offensive weapons.
Where do you rank the Chargers’ receiving corps?
Please let me know in the comments below.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Dave Booga Peters
On paper, The San Diego Chargers have had one of their best offseasons in recent history when it comes to player acquisitions. Their 2016 NFL Draft averaged out to a B grade if you listen to the talking heads and draft gurus on TV and radio. Chargers fans once again have reason to be optimistic about the team’s chances of going worst to first and returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season.
Improving the wide receiving corps, adding team speed and improving special teams were high on the Chargers’ to-do list this offseason and they succeeded in all three facets. The loss of Malcom Floyd (retirement) was answered by the free agent signing of speed burner Cleveland Browns’ Travis Benjamin. Healthy returns of Javontee Herndon, Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman are also expected to help.
The San Diego Chargers/Denver Broncos intra-conference pipeline was still shown to be intact when the Chargers signed Broncos’ kick returner/wide receiver Isaiah Burse to their practice squad in November 2015. Now entering his second season as a pro, Burse played 12 games as a rookie in Denver as a punt returner. Last season he had 29 returns for 211 yards, good for a 7.3-yard average.
The 5’10”, 187-pound Burse showed in college at Fresno State that he has what it takes to be an elite returner as he posted an FBS single-season record for kickoff returns in 2012 with 75 returns for 1,606 yards; an average of a scorching 21.4 yards per return.
Over his four seasons at Fresno State, Burse had 126 kickoff returns for 2,835 yards (22.4 yards per return) and 29 punt returns for 344 yards (11.5 yards per return). He also caught 210 passes for 2,503 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 191 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.
After being signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent in May of 2014, Burse played most of the season before being waived then placed on the Broncos’ practice squad that December. Waived again in early September 2015, Burse was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad and released later that month. San Diego signed Burse in November 2015 and he re-signed with the Bolts’ on a Futures contract in January.
In Denver and Pittsburgh, Burse was lost in the shuffle of an already deep talent pool at wide receiver and returner. In San Diego, he will have every opportunity to claim a spot at both positions. We know the punt returner slot is already claimed by Benjamin, but a dynamic kickoff returner is something the Chargers have lacked for a long time. Given the opportunity, Burse can show he is the future of the position and etch his name in stone as a kick returner and as added depth on the wide receiver depth chart.
One look at the video below and it’s easy to see why Chargers GM Tom Telesco has tracked the 24-year old native of Modesto, CA, for so long. He runs faster on the field than the 4.58-seconds 40-yard dash time he posted at the 2014 NFL Draft Combine. He is sudden, can stop on a dime and effortlessly change direction. Burse is shifty, elusive and tenacious when attacking the defense as a receiver or returner.
The competition at wide receiver for spots on the 53-man roster will be one of the top position battles to watch when camp opens in less than two weeks. Get your popcorn ready.
Good luck, Mr. Burse.
The Greg One
The next BoltBlitz Chargers fans meet-up has been confirmed for Saturday, August. 6th at the Tilted Kilt in Mission Valley. On June 10th, the Tilted Kilt hosted the most recent meet-up the day after the very successful LT5k.
Current Chargers Dontrelle Inman, Kyle Emanuel and Sean Lissemore attended the event, signing autographs and taking pictures with those in attendance. Thanks again to the players and the San Diego Chargers organization for allowing the Bolts to meet with the fans.
The last meet-up occurred on the heels of a successful signature drive as over 110,000 signatures had been submitted for approval only days before. This meet-up occurs only hours after the Chargers’ yearly FanFest event.
FanFest is on August 6th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The meet-up will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. as usual. There will be autographed memorabilia and an assortment of prizes to be won in raffles throughout the afternoon.
This will be a great day to kick off the return of football! Go to FanFest then come to the BoltBlitz meet-up for the afterparty! We hope to see you all there!
The Greg One
In part one of my analysis of the San Diego Chargers offense I covered the quarterback, running back, fullback and tight end positions. Simply by using their stats and past history I gave a number of points per game I expect that group to get every week. Today I break down the rest of the offense, looking at the wide receivers, offensive line and coaching staff.
The most hard to read of all the skill position groups, the wide receiver position has been long on potential but short on production and consistency. Injuries have decimated the wide receiver corps year after year.
Keenan Allen is leader of the wide receiver group who have dubbed themselves the ‘Aliens’. Allen was off to an amazing start in 2015, hauling in 67 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns in his first eight games. In a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Allen lacerated his kidney when he landed on the ball while catching a touchdown, ending his season. He was on pace to shatter the Chargers’ single season record for receptions (100) held by Ladainian Tomlinson and the break the NFL record for receptions in a single season (143) held by former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison.
Now armed with a brand new four-year extension in hand Allen is locked in through the 2020 season. Allen has established himself as a star on the rise and will be taking the field with a chip on his shoulder after the way his 2015 campaign ended. In 37 games he has caught 215 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, the success of the receiving corps will be dependent on Allens’ supporting cast.
Getting Allen help was a priority heading into the offseason and the first splash the Chargers made into the free agency pool was acquiring former Cleveland Brown Travis Benjamin. The 5’10” speedster caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Aside from a knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of the 2013 season, Benjamin has only missed the first two games of his NFL career with a tweaked hamstring.
In his four years in the NFL, he has established himself as a dangerous return specialist. At the 2012 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and it has carried over into the pros. As a punt returner, Benjamin gained 324 yards on 28 attempts. Of those 28 attempts, four returns were over twenty yards and one was a 78-yard touchdown return. By comparison, the Chargers had 20 punt returns for 84 yards as a team last season. Their longest return was 18 yards.
Benjamin automatically legitimizes the punt return game and now gives the Chargers what they haven’t had in years, a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense. At 26, Benjamin is just beginning to enter his prime. This signing could trumpet a revival of the vertical passing game that we haven’t seen since the height of the Tomlinson era.
In his first season with the team, Stevie Johnson showed excellent chemistry with Rivers. Johnson was second among wideouts catching 45 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Hamstring and groin injuries caused him to miss seven games, including the last five games of the 2015 season. The nine-year pro is a dynamic receiver who has shown he can make an immediate impact if he can stay healthy.
Dontrelle Inman started in seven of the 14 games he appeared in last season. The CFL import continues to improve as he caught 35 balls for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Heading into his third season he will become a bigger part of the offense, likely assuming the role formerly held by the now-retired Malcom Floyd. Moving off the bench into a full-time starting role should greatly increase his numbers across the board.
Tyrell Williams can be penciled in as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart at the moment. Williams made his presence felt in the final game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos with a two reception for 90-yard performance, highlighted by burning Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib on a scintillating 80-yard touchdown catch. Those were his only stats of the 2015 regular season. Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft he spent time on the active roster and practice squad. He has the size (6’3″, 205), speed (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds) and agility (39.5-inch vertical jump) to be a dominant pro wide receiver. Will he live up to his potential going into his second season?
The rest of the receiver field is comprised of undrafted free agents and second-year pros. Unless a veteran is brought in, this is the group that will likely start the 2016 season.
Points-per-game expectation: 6
All the new additions to the skill positions mean nothing if the offensive line can’t provide continuity, open holes for the running backs and allow Rivers enough time in the pocket to throw the ball. That has been a large task that has fallen woefully short in those categories in the last number of seasons. In the last four seasons Rivers has been sacked 155 times, 40 times in 2015. The running game was dead last in touchdowns (4) and 31st in yards (1,358) last season.
Last season the offensive line had 25 different combinations due to injury. This season San Diego boasts the biggest projected starting offensive line in the league, but can they stay healthy? Veteran free agent Matt Slauson was brought over from the Chicago Bears to finally stop the turnstile at the center position. Lining up next to him will be guards Orlando Franklin, D.J. Fluker and tackles King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. Concussions, knee and lower leg injuries were the downfall of this group last season. What will they do differently to stay on the field this season? The success of the season rides on it.
Points-per-game expectation: -4.
As frustrating to watch as the play on the field at times were the decisions of the coaches in key game situations. Last season the Chargers lost four games by three points. Eight of their twelve losses were by a touchdown or less. More often than not the staff played not to lose instead of playing to win. Head Coach Mike McCoy and then offensive coordinator Frank Reich called conservative games, focusing on short to intermediate routes in the passing game and running almost exclusively out of the Pistol formation.
The playcalling was predictable and did not attack downfield enough to make opposing defenses concerned about getting beat deep. Injuries played a big part but so did not having the personnel to execute that type of game plan. Blame can be laid at the feet of those in the front office for lack of quality depth once the injuries started mounting.
Thankfully, Reich is out and Ken Whisenhunt returns to take his place. Whisenhunt parlayed a successful 2013 season as the Chargers’ OC into a head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Not coincidentally, 2013 was the last season the Chargers made the playoffs.
Whisenhunt is intent on revamping the run game first and foremost. The Pistol formation will be scratched in favor of having Rivers back under center and using short drops. Expect to see a return of the power run game highlighted by Watt and Gordon in their familiar college roles. In 2013, Whisenhunts’ running attack averaged 122 yards per game and Rivers was fourth in the league in passing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns.
If McCoy trusts Whisenhunt with the playcalling duties the Chargers should be able to take advantage of a last-place schedule and return to the playoffs as long as the team can stay healthy at key positions. It is a positive sign that the front office reached out to Whisenhunt and bring back a system that worked with this group of players. His track record speaks for itself going back to his days in Pittsburgh, then leading the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII to coordinating the Chargers offense to its only payoff appearance in the last six years. Until McCoy steps away from the playbook, I remain skeptical.
Points-per-game expectation: -2
In all, my points per game expectation went like this: QB (14), WR (6), TE (4), RB (6), OL (-4) and coaching staff (-2) for a total of 24 points per game. Until the offensive line proves they can stay on the field and the offense is shown to be run through Whisenhunts’ headset instead of McCoys’ will I believe they won’t be a detriment to the team. Right now I believe those factors will cost the team one touchdown per game.
The 24-points per game are an improvement over the 20 points per game the Chargers averaged last season (26th in the NFL in 2015) and is on par with Philip Rivers’ lifetime average. Over his career, the Bolts average 25.6-points per Rivers start. That number has been as high as 27-points per game during the Tomlinson years.
This team has all the tools for a worst-to-first turnaround. The question is can they do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The Chargers announced on Wednesday that they gave exclusive-rights tenders to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman and offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins.
Assigning these tenders brings back both players on one-year contracts.
Financial terms of the respective deals has yet to be released.
Inman finished up his second season in the NFL by hauling in 35 passes for 486 yards and three touchdowns in seven starts last year.
The former CFLer will have another season to continue to be his rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers.
Wiggins started eight of the 15 games he played in during the 2015 season. A multiple-positional lineman, Wiggins saw time at both guard spots and right tackle.
On Monday the San Diego Chargers announced that six assistant coaches have been released. Heading the list is Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich. Offensive Line coach Joe D’Alessandris, Tight Ends coach Pete Metzelaars, Wide Receivers coach Fred Graves, Defensive Line coach Don Johnson and Assistant Offensive Line coach Andrew Dees complete the list.
Head Coach Mike McCoy survived the coaching staff purge and received a one-year vote-of-confidence contract extension in the process.
Someone has to take the fall for this season and the injury excuse apparently does not extend to everyone on the Bolts coaching chain-of-command. Reich did add a welcome wrinkle with the pistol offense, intended to give QB Philip Rivers more time to scan the field and spare some of the punishing hits. With all the offensive line injuries Rivers took as much of a beating as he did when he played under center in the seasons before Reich’s arrival. The short-passing, ball-control offensive philosophy worked for one season and has died with the absence of an effective running game.
Personally, my biggest indictment of Reich was his steadfast belief in his system, unable or unwilling to make adjustments. Without a true feature back the running game needed to utilize space. Danny Woodhead led the team in receiving and had roughly half as many yards rushing (641 to 336) as feature back Melvin Gordon on half the carries (184 to 98).
Sweeps, bubble screens and misdirection plays would have made Woodhead a larger threat that could’ve actually created more running room for Gordon. Secondly, Gordon ran for 2,500 yards in his last season at Wisconsin out of a traditional I-formation behind a fullback. Why not at least experiment with that formula? If Gordon gets half that amount in yardage he wins the Rookie Of The Year award easily.
Lastly, using the short-range, timing-based, ball control offense is a good idea but also takes away a major weapon from Rivers. It’s known around the league that Rivers is one of if not the best deep ball passers in the league. The deep ball has been absent from the game plan in the last few seasons. It’s not all Reich’s fault. The Chargers do not have a receiver who can take the top off a defense with his speed the way a younger Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd did earlier in Rivers’ career.
Of all the names on the list, Reich’s is the most justified. Jackson and Metzelaars look to be collateral damage. When Gates and Green are on the field they were key elements in the offense and produced more often than not. Gates finished third on the team in receiving and Green finished fifth. The receiver corps was decimated with injuries starting with Keenan Allen and continued with Stevie Johnson, Floyd and Dontrelle Inman joining him on the sidelines at various times through the season.
The line coaches have to deal with the players they’re given. Both lines had a shaky year. Both lines underperformed but there was no consistency because of all the injuries. Notable by his absence on this list is Defensive Coordinator John Pagano. According to NFL.com the Chargers finished 27th in rushing defense, 14th in passing defense and Pagano stays on the team while the offense finished 9th in the league and the Offensive Coordinator is fired.
Just or not, there will be a lot of new faces in the Chargers locker room in 2016 on the staff and on the nameplates above those lockers. Let’s hope they’re good ones.
The Greg One
After suffering an embarrassing loss last week at home to Denver, the San Diego Chargers will have the daunting task of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are red-hot, riding a six-game winning streak and pushing for a playoff spot. San Diego is playing for pride in their last four games as their season has been derailed by a litany of injuries to key players on offense and defense.
Kansas City was also expected to fall into the AFC West cellar after losing their perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season eight weeks ago. Instead, they rallied around each other and have recovered from a 1-5 record to put themselves in playoff contention. Keying their turnaround has been an improved defense led by bookend defensive ends Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Add in an emotional boost from safety Eric Berry (after missing a year and successfully beating Cancer) and you have a defense that has forced multiple turnovers a team record seven weeks in a row.
San Diego has a tall mountain to climb but we all know the old adage about any given Sunday. Last week, the lowly Philadelphia Eagles beat the almighty New England Patriots. Anything can and will happen on an NFL Sunday. The Bolts stand the same punchers chance of winning that the Eagles did. How could if happen?
When the Chiefs have the ball
Kansas City handed the Chargers their worst home loss of the season, 33-3 in week 11. Unknown running back Spencer Ware lit up the Chargers defense for 96 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 52-yard run. Running backs Ware and Charcandrick West will look to ground out a victory as they have been doing during their current winning streak.
The passing game has also found life in Kansas City, led by offseason acquisition Jeremy Maclin. Maclin leads the receiving corps with 66 catches for 817 yards and five touchdowns. A close second is tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 56 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith is known as a game manager but a better adjective would be consistent. Smith doesn’t have gaudy numbers but he also does not turn the ball over. To date, Smith is 246-376 for 2843 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is also dangerous with his legs. While is isn’t a speed demon, he is third on the team in rushing with 60 carries for 326 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he has run for 19 first downs on the season.
San Diego will have to find a way to generate a pass rush which has been easier said than done this season. For as great as their defensive line has been, the same can’t be said for their offensive line. KC’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks. The Chargers are not averaging two sacks a game as they have 22 sacks on the season. Liuget was third on the team with three sacks. Melvin Ingram (5 sacks) and Jeremiah Attaochu (4.5 sacks) lead the team rushing the passer and will be leaned on to continue to do so. The defense will also have to do a better job bottling the KC ground attack. In the last game the Chiefs had three ground touchdowns and one pick-6 by Justin Houston.
When the Chargers have the ball
Quarterback Philip Rivers is losing targets seemingly every week. Three wide receivers are gone with Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman and Stevie Johnson out. Malcolm Floyd is playing through a shoulder injury. During the week, the Chargers enlisted the services of former Charger wideout Vincent Brown. Brown will start in a thin receiving lineup currently consisting of Floyd, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams. The load of a team and a city has rested heavily on the shoulders of Rivers. Somehow, Rivers is third in the league in passing with 3713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rivers is also playing through a foot injury and illness he contracted during the past week.
Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are the most consistent options Rivers has at this point. The two have combined for 70 receptions for 784 yards and eight touchdowns. Using the underutilized option of playing the two together would open running lanes for Gordon and Danny Woodhead and allow the Chargers to move the ball down the field. In their first encounter, Rivers only managed to 178 yards on 30 attempts without a touchdown.
Rivers has had no help in the running game. Melvin Gordon has not been able to get going and carries the ignominious label of running back with the most carries without a touchdown. Gordon has 565 yards on 155 carries. The Chargers offensive line has had more combinations than an Rubik’s Cube and Rivers has paid for it. The line has given up 30 sacks.
Chargers O-line vs. Kansas City pass rush. Rivers was harassed throughout the first encounter by the stout Kansas City defensive front. Rivers was sacked three times, and gave up the pick six to Houston. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generates significant pass rush up the middle. If the Bolts offensive line can keep those three in check, Rivers will have time do dissect the Chiefs’ formidable secondary led by Berry and rookie of the year candidate CB Marcus Peters. Peters has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown on the season.
This game does not look like winnable on the surface. San Diego has lost seven of their last eight games. Three of their last four games are against the AFC West where they are 0-3 to date. Will the Chiefs be looking past the Chargers? Having Rivers under center always gives the Bolts a chance to win. The Chargers know what to expect now that they have game tape on West and Ware. Rivers had his worst game of the season against the Chiefs. Look for the QB to bounce back and put yardage and touchdowns against the Chiefs. While I won’t go so far as to say the Bolts will win, they will give Kansas City a better battle than the 33-3 beatdown the Chargers suffered at home three weeks ago.
The Greg One
Due to injuries to the wide receiving corps in San Diego, second-year wideout Dontrelle Inman has been thrust into the starting lineup multiple times in 2015. Sunday against the Jaguars was no different, as Inman was called upon to start and contribute at the position.
He did just that.
In Sunday’s 31-25 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville, the former CFL receiver had a career-high five receptions. He also managed to haul in the second touchdown reception of his brief NFL career. The Week 12 contest marked his third consecutive game with at least three catches. Inman was the only wide receiver to play all 76 offensive plays during the victory.
With Keenan Allen out for the season with a lacerated kidney, and Malcom Floyd dealing with a torn labrum while playing, it is expected that Inman will remain a key part of the San Diego passing attack.
The 26-year-old has put together a decent season, snagging 20 receptions for 286 yards and two touchdowns. He has managed to bring in multiple receptions in six games this year.
Increased reps for Inman during the last five games of the season will continue to speed up his development at the wide receiver position. The former undrafted free agent is playing in his last year under contract with the Chargers. If he continues to build on his rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers, it would make sense for the Bolts to bring him back in 2016 with what would be a team-friendly deal. The expected retirement of Floyd at the end of the season also lends itself to Inman returning to the squad next season.
Although it is not ideal that No. 15 is a starting wideout at this time, his play does say a lot for his ability to contribute in the coming years as a role player, possibly earning his way into a starting role down the road.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The story of the San Diego Chargers season just continues to go from bad to worse. Here we go yet again, back to the “next man up” philosophy. What else could derail this train?
Chargers fandom was rocked when the story broke that third year wideout Keenan Allen had sustained a lacerated kidney, and subsequently undergone surgery. The rock cracked a bit, as the team later announced that the 23-year-old pass-catcher was being placed on season-ending injured reserve. Tough to swallow because Allen was having arguably the best season since his 2013 rookie year.
That rock is now almost smashed because that plague called injury just will NOT give the Chargers any respite.
The Monday night home game against the Bears saw the ever-reliable and the Chargers own man of some acrobatic catches, Malcom Floyd, go down with a left shoulder injury late in the second quarter. As the game went on, it was announced that he was in sweats on the team’s sideline. Again, the Bolts suffered a huge loss to its arsenal of wide receivers – M80 has a torn labrum. This is so horrifically indicative of the way 2015 has thus far proceeded for San Diego – jinxed.
Word is that Floyd is going to rehab and try to play with the injury. In his final season wearing lightning bolts on his shoulders, Floyd wants to finish on his own terms, not those dictated by injury. If you recall, last year cornerback Jason Verrett tried to play through a labrum torn in three places during the Oakland game. He ended up having surgery and being placed on IR. Will this be the case for M80? We will all know more as the bye week comes to a close and the team monitors his pain level approaching the Kansas City game on November 22.
In the meantime, what will that decimated unit look like going forward? With Floyd’s status day-to-day per Coach McCoy, here is what I anticipate seeing on the field:
Signed in the offseason, the free agent speedster sat out games against Pittsburgh and Green Bay due to a balky hamstring.
From the time he stepped onto the field at Chargers Park, he and Rivers developed a chemistry which Johnson described after an early August practice. Said Johnson, “Phil is great, man. We’ve linked together as brothers, and it’s only four (actually five) days. He makes our job easy. Even when we make a mistake, he can clean it up just with his touch, with his savvy and how he plays the game. He just makes the game easier for receivers.”
Bolts signal caller Rivers and Johnson are going to have to expound and further rely on that rapport as now Johnson will be the go-to guy. He may not have the speed he once had, but he has great hands and is the only veteran receiver left on the roster. Through seven games Johnson has tallied 31 receptions (47 targets) for 351 yards plus two scores. That translates into a 50.1 receiving yard per game percentage (183 total after the catch) that the team desperately needs at this point of their schedule. Here’s hoping Johnson provides much-needed leadership to the young receivers and produces more than the proverbial smack to the forehead when he makes a crucial first down.
At 6’3″, 205 pounds, the undrafted free agent wideout from Virginia is a former player of the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), who won the Grey Cup in 2012.
Inman signed a reserve/futures contract in January 2014. In his first preseason game as a Charger, he had three receptions for 107 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, including a 70-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Inman secured his spot on the 53-man roster with another impressive performance in his last preseason game, leading receivers with three receptions for 54 yards. He would finish the season with 12 catches for 158 yards (13.2 yards per catch) in two games.
Asked recently about how it felt to see more playing time, Inman responded: “Once you gain the confidence of your quarterback, your game elevates ten times. A receiver is nothing without his quarterback. I don’t care how good you are, you’ve seen many great receivers not make it in this league just because they didn’t have a good quarterback.”
To date, the second-year pro has suited up for eight games, collecting 170 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions. As with the rest of the self-nicknamed “Aliens” receiver corps, Inman must step up his game. I have no doubt that he is up to the task, based on what he has already shown.
The explosive Herndon will be able to make something positive come out of the long weeks sitting on the Bolts’ practice squad. The 6’3, 194-pounder out of the University of Arkansas was pegged a starter after seeing fellow wideouts Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones exit the 53-man roster last Tuesday with Allen going to IR and Jones being cut.
The hope is that Herndon will be able to do what Jones could not and create that missing spark in the return game.
The young guy wearing number 81 on his back considers Malcom Floyd his mentor and a player he wants to fashion himself after.
When asked about the similarities of Allen and Herndon and how their playing opportunities came about, Floyd said “I’m sure it’s tougher when you get your opportunity (when a teammate gets hurt), but I don’t think it’s tougher once you get out there. Your opportunity’s the same. I’m sure they hate it had to come at the expense of one of their buddies, but they are excited to get their chance. But I don’t think those two comparisons are parallel in the sense of expectations. We believe in Javontee, but I don’t think we should be thinking this will be like the Keenan of 2013. That’s not fair to him. I’m sure Javontee is fired up, but hates that it happened because Keenan can’t play. But once you get going, you’ve got to go.”
Said Herndon on his upcoming debut:
“I have more experience as a punt returner, but at the end of the day it’s about just going out there and making the play,” he said. “I don’t have as much experience at kickoff return, but if I get the chance, I’ll just go out there and run. The coaches told me just run north and south. Just get some yards. We need some yards. It’s about the field position, and that’s what I’m going to try to do my best to get.”
Herndon had one kick return go for 24 yards plus a solitary 12 yard catch after he was pressed into more playing time once Floyd went out of the game.
Could the divisional game against the Chiefs see the young wideout (6’4″, 204 pounds) take the field? Since signing with the team in May as an UDFA from Western Oregon, the talented rookie has spent his time on the practice squad, with the exception of an appearance against the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason.
At his pro day he ran the 40 in 4.38 and 4.42 seconds, which would have been fifth best if he had been invited to the NFL Combine. He has prototypical size, a mean streak as a blocker and great quickness when setting up defenders and making a move. He also possesses great hands, especially when in traffic and on jump balls. He has a wide catching radius and an impressive vertical (39.5″) to go up and get footballs. After the catch, he is a load to bring down. For the Wolves, Williams played both as outside and slot receiver and his 164 career receptions are a Western Oregon record. In his senior year, he hauled in 56 passes for 950 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his college career with 165 catches for 2,792 yards and 21 touchdowns.
All in all, this group looks like they could rule from goal line to goal line. However, as we have all seen thus far, looking good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate to the playing field. The first and second options will be on the sidelines, watching second stringers and practice squad guys play in their place.
What started with such promise has pretty much crash and burned, and it’s only week ten. Disheartening, certainly. Yet this team has shown us over the years that they have gumption. Whether they manage it this time around is anybody’s guess. With a 2-7 record it appears the best the Chargers can do is focus on the future and a top ten pick in the 2016 draft.
Maybe the retiring of LT’s No. 21 jersey on November 22 will be the catalyst the Bolts need to kick butt the rest of the way.
When all is said and done…I just hope the bleeding of the blue and gold comes to a stop pretty damn quick.
Thanks for reading!