San Diego Chargers GM Tom Telesco made one extra phone call during the day three draft proceedings Saturday. That call was to long-tenured punter Mike Scifres. On that phone call he informed Scifres he was being released. With his next pick in the sixth round Telesco tabbed Texas A&M punter Drew Kaser to be his replacement.
Scifres, along with Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd and Eric Weddle have all been with the Chargers the longest at thirteen seasons. Floyd retired and Weddle is now a member of the Baltimore Ravens. As difficult as it was to make the decision to part ways with a revered member of the locker room, Scifres play had reached a point of diminishing returns over the past couple of seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Scifres ranked last in punter rankings. The veteran will be widely believed to be the best punter in Chargers history.
Said Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy of Scifres: “He’s a true pro. When people ask what it means to be a Charger, I’ll point to Mike Scifres. Thank you Mike, we’re going to miss you.”
The release of Scifres frees over $3.6 million in salary cap space. With the Bolts making a lot of draft picks in need areas, expect more of these type of cuts in the near future.
Thank you, Mike.
The Greg One
The 2015 season is all but lost at this point. The team has seven games remaining on their schedule to finish out the year respectably.
The fact of the matter is, they may not have what it takes to reel off more than a couple of victories, despite what many would view as a schedule that provides some winnable contests.
All three phases of the team have been decimated by injuries and inundated by poor play.
With the exception of quarterback Philip Rivers, injured wideout Keenan Allen and second-year corner Jason Verrett, there have been very few bright spots in what has been a disappointing 2015.
The Bolts have holes all over the roster that will need to be filled during the 2016 offseason to help avoid next year looking like the campaign we’re witnessing this season.
For the sake of this article, we will focus on the offensive side of the ball. Without any particular order of importance in mind, here are the needs of the 2016 Chargers’ offense.
Center – To say that the Chargers’ offense misses the steady play of retired center Nick Hardwick is an understatement. Replacements Chris Watt and Trevor Robinson have proven that they are not the answer to fill the shoes of Hardwick. Both have struggled mightily the year, ranking near the bottom of the league via profootballfocus.com.
A former third-round pick out of Notre Dame, Watt had never played center prior to doing so in the NFL. He may prove to be decent depth as a reserve-interior lineman, but he is not a starting-caliber player at this point in his career.
Robinson was signed two years ago off of the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad. Though he has filled in admirably at times, he is not the long-term answer.
Upgrading the center spot must be near the top of the offseason priority list.
Wide receiver – As the Bolts enter Week 11, the team will play without either of their starting wide receivers, Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd.
Allen has been placed on season-ending injured reserve after beginning the year on fire, hauling in 67 receptions for 725 yards. Prior to the injury, Allen was in the top-three of the NFL in both categories.
After extending during a leap while attempting to bring in a Rivers’ pass against the Bears, Floyd suffered a torn labrum. The 12-year veteran is fighting to get back on the field despite the injury. M-80 went public this offseason with the fact that he would be retiring at season’s end. Both Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates have tried to encourage M-80 to give it one more year.
Regardless of whether or not Floyd decides to give it another go, the club must look to the future and find a viable candidate to line up opposite of Allen on the field. The offense hasn’t had a burner-type wideout in years; someone who can stretch the field with blazing speed, threatening the defense with the ability to score each time he touches the ball.
With Rivers re-signing through the 2019 season, it makes perfect sense to give him as many weapons as possible, as the prime of his career will only last so long.
A game-changing receiver is a must heading into 2016. Quite frankly, they may need to add multiple options to the rec.
Tight end – Current tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are in the last years of their respective contracts. As mentioned, Gates is not under contract going forward. Attempting to imagine the Chargers’ offense without the future Hall of Famer is very difficult, even depressing.
Many of the media pundits out there claimed during the offseason that this would undoubtedly be his final year with the Bolts. Part of me even started to see it that way, despite a fantastic performance in 2014.
Gates is clearly not the tight end that he once was, but he is still a difficult matchup for opposing defenses to contend with. I’d have to believe that a one-year team-friendly, yet financially beneficial for the 35-year-old, contract could be worked out in the offseason of 2016. It goes without saying the Rivers will be banging the table for the team to re-sign him should Gates desire to play one more year.
Green, 25, had reached career-highs in both catches (27) and receiving touchdowns (4) prior to leaving the loss to Baltimore in a walking boot. Due to his young age and ascending status as a reliable target for Rivers, Green should absolutely be re-signed by the team.
Should the team not retain one of the two tight ends, they would then need to supplement the position via free agency or the draft. Though it would not be a top-of-the-list priority, it would be one that Telesco and company would need to address.
Fullback – After moving up in the first round of the 2015 draft to select running back Melvin Gordon out of Wisconsin, the Chargers need to go back to the film that made him successful as a collegian.
Get the kid a true fullback.
Gordon lit the college football world on fire, setting multiple records on his way to completing a fabulous college career. He showed that with proper blocking — and a fullback — he was an explosive player that could break the big one on any given carry.
Currently, the closest thing the Bolts have to a fullback is reserve tight end David Johnson. To put it nicely, even when used as a fullback, Johnson is not a true fullback.
The scouting staff needs to put a serious impetus on finding someone who Gordon can line up behind, helping spring him for those big runs he had prior to entering the NFL.
The great news about the dying breed that is the fullback position, teams do not have to break the bank to find one. The caveat there is that there are not a lot of fullbacks at the college level. A high percentage of collegiate programs are now running spread offenses. Most do not line up in your typical I-formation with a fullback in front of their ball carriers. The NFL is in the same predicament, so to speak, as less than half of NFL squads carry a difference maker at the position, if they do carry one at all.
Again, despite what I believe is a must-find to help ensure the success of Gordon moving forward, the need may be near the top of the list, but it can be obtained without forfeiting the desire to fill other positions on the team.
Get Melvin a fullback and he’ll live up to the billing of a running back worth taking in the first round.
Should the team refuse to add such a player, expect more of the same out of Gordon; disappointment, frustration and, possibly, a wasted draft pick.
One could argue that depth along the offensive line and a future starter at quarterback should appear on my list. My response to that would be that these are the most pressing needs that I believe can help take the Chargers’ offense to the next level come 2016.
Keep in mind the contract situations of left tackle King Dunlap and left guard Orlando Franklin when looking at the offensive line. Neither of them are going anywhere in 2016 due to salary obligations to the team. Are the Chargers willing to turn the page on former first-round pick D.J. Fluker? I don’t think it is time for such a move, but the fact that he has already switched positions without having much success does not bode well for No. 76 looking past 2016. And to put it in the simplest of terms, right tackle Joe Barksdale has earned the opportunity to be re-signed after this year. But, perhaps, Telesco does not agree with me and he he’ll look to upgrade right tackle going into next season.
On Thursday, I will tackle the Bolts’ defensive needs via the draft and free agency for next season.
Thanks a lot for reading.
After trading up from pick 17 to pick 15, the Chargers selected Wisconsin’s running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon has already become a fan favorite without playing a single snap. You all know of the stats, of the record-breaking game he had against Nebraska and the LT comparison. He was a sensational back in college, showing great vision and unbelievable lateral movement coupled with great speed at the college level. He was the top running back on many people’s big boards, and a no-brainer pick for the Chargers at 17.
So what’s all the negativity about? Melvin Gordon has some flaws, just like 99% of the players in any draft class. But Gordon ran behind the best offensive line in college football a year ago, and didn’t have to do much work. Gordon is “very in love with the sidelines”, meaning he will, more times than not, try to use his speed and bounce out of a hole to get to the sidelines and outrun defenders. With a 4.52 40-yard speed, he might not be able to do that in the pros.
Gordon lost 6 fumbles in his last seven games while fumbling in 50% of his games played in 2014. His fumble problems got worse after beginning his collegiate career with one fumble in 2012, then four in 2013 and seven in 2014. That can only get worse while at the next level.
But did the Chargers really need to move up two spots to take him? San Diego swapped their first-round pick with San Francisco and traded their 2015 fourth-round selection and 2016 fifth-round pick to nab him. It wasn’t necessary to move up and lose more picks, for a team who lacks depth and is in a slight rebuild mode. The 49ers were still targeting Arik Armstead and the Texans have Arian Foster and Alfred Blue. There is a high chance Gordon would have still been there. This was one of the deepest RB classes the NFL has seen in recent years. The team could have been able to get impact starters (Duke Johnson, Jay Ajayi, Ameer Abdullah, TJ Yeldon, Tevin Coleman) in rounds two and three, while drafting BPA (best player available) at 17. This trade only really makes sense if the Bolts trade back and get more picks.
At the end of the day, the pick was fine. Gordon is a heck of a back and one who can be put in as the starter day one.
Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
Wondering whether or not Tom Telesco has the name “Marcus Mariota” inked on the white board for draft day? Let’s take a look at what his being on the Chargers roster could provide.
Weight: 218 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds
Marcus Mariota is currently projected as one of the top-two quarterbacks entering the 2015 draft. While at the University of Oregon, he primarily worked out of the shotgun formation. The shotgun formation is one that Philip Rivers likes and the Bolts presently utilize most. Combined with his ability to run for yards, the former Oregon Ducks quarterback could be a dual-threat in San Diego’s offense for many years to come. His speed will be something that defenses will need to take into account, as it helps him escape from the pocket.
In his 41-game college career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, and had a touchdown to interception ratio of 105:14. For his final season, he had 4,454 yards passing with four picks and 42 touchdowns (a 68.3 completion percentage), while leading the Ducks to a 12-1 record in 2014. Additionally, he rushed 117 times for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Regardless of what team drafts Mariota, he will most likely need to sit behind a veteran QB for a bit while he learns to better read defensive schemes, identify pre-snap blitzes and recognize when he should step up into the pocket rather than attempt to escape from it.
The NFL comparison for Mariota is Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. They are of similar stature, though at 233 pounds and almost 6’5″, Kaepernick is a bit bigger. Even their college statistics are comparable, despite the Niners’ signal caller having more rushes (600), yards (4,112), and touchdowns (59) over four years of collegiate play versus Mariota, who is entering the draft as a junior.
Three of Mariota’s many awards in 2014 were the Heisman Trophy, the PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year and being chosen as the Offensive MVP of the 2015 Rose Bowl. He was the first player from the University of Oregon to win the Heisman trophy.
It will be interesting to learn if or when he fits into the big picture for Telesco and company. What do you want to see happen? Please leave your comment below.
Thanks for reading!
Even though the 2015 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, college prospects are still very busy visiting numerous clubs around the league.
There are many reasons as to why players visit NFL teams. Some team’s motives are intended to be a distraction, but others are exactly what many would assume they would be for – to visit a team that plans to select them in the draft.
So far, the Chargers have had eight pre-draft visits; including projected first rounder, Marcus Mariota from Oregon. Pump the breaks, though. What exactly does that mean to Bolt fans? Nothing.
Pre-draft visits are overrated, and here’s why.
A missed opportunity at the scouting combine
The NFL combine was established for college football players to perform various tests in front of league coaches, general managers and scouts. During the event, staffs attempt to preview every player on their radar. Yet, they don’t have the opportunity to run them through team-specific drills, ones that fit their team’s scheme. That being said, teams will have their players of interest visit before the draft, in order to gain a better understanding of each player on a one-on-one basis.
It is well-known that all college players do not get drafted. In fact, out of roughly 3,500 men, only about 250 are drafted. For the remaining players, they start their search for a job. However, there are players who are picked up right away as rookie free agents; ones that had previously conducted a pre-draft visit with that same team. For example, defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe had a pre-draft visit in 2014. That year, he went undrafted and was swiftly picked up and signed by San Diego. Pre-draft visits are not solely scheduled for individuals that NFL teams plan on being drafted.
The NFL is a business, and those in back office operations have to continuously play a game of poker. It’s almost like wearing sunglasses at a poker table. There are some general managers that do not want many people knowing who they plan to draft. So they schedule pre-draft visits with players that they truly have no interest in. Sneaky? Absolutely. And it is far more common than the casual fan would think.
Behind the scenes communication
Just because a player hasn’t visited a team for a private session, doesn’t mean that the club hasn’t been in contact with him. With advanced technology, communicating is now the easiest it’s ever been. Voice calling, text messaging, even Skyping are all ways coaches can converse with their college prospects. If you’re worried that your favorite draftees haven’t visited the Bolts yet, then you may want to reconsider the conditions.
Since a lot players that are drafted come from the same schools, it’s possible that a team will host a player just to obtain information on one of his teammates. The Bolts brought in offensive tackle D.J. Humphries of Florida, yet he is also the teammate of outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., who had an impressive showing at this year’s combine. Even with San Diego needing a legitimate tackle to solidify the offensive line, they do have some gaps to fill at the linebacker position. It’s very possible that Fowlers’ name came up a few times during Humphries’ visit. That’s not to say this was the case, but it is surely a possibility.
Overall, pre-draft visits do not always indicate what they imply. College players are visiting as many teams as they can before draft day. Additionally, one should not get worked up about Mariota working out with Philip Rivers in America’s finest city. All rumors aside, teams already have a good indication of whom they would like to take with their picks this year, and these pre-draft visits are just the cherry on top.
In what may have been a surprise to all but the San Diego Chargers, Dr. Christopher Wahl, the current head team physician, is resigning. He has been providing care to the players since early 2013 after he was hired to fill the vacancy left by Dr. David Chao. Dr. Wahl cited personal reasons and the ongoing stadium issue as reasons for his departure. The team is in search of his replacement. This will be the third team doctor in three years. It is anticipated that Wahl would be with the Bolts through the upcoming April 30-May 2 draft. As Chao did with him two years ago, Wahl will transition his successor through the spring workouts.
Dr. Wahl was also Associate Professor and Chief of Sports Medicine at UCSD during his tenure with the Bolts. Because of a two-year non-compete clause (imposed by the University of Washington) which prevented his joining a medical group providing care for the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners, Wahl and his wife came to San Diego. The present stadium situation here is like opportunity knocking at the door. If the Chargers move; the likelihood of them looking for another physician is possible. Dr. Wahl stated his wife would support him no matter what but “in her heart of hearts I know she would really like to be back in Seattle”.
Thank you, Dr. Wahl, for the time you spent in San Diego, giving the Chargers’ players the care they required. Best of luck in Seattle!
Given the fact that the Chargers are facing the 2015 season without pass rusher Dwight Freeney (un-signed after expired contract) and Jarret Johnson (retired), the Bolts have an opening on defense. Alvin “Bud” Dupree, the big defensive end out of Kentucky, is the guy to fill the void.
Weight: 269 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds
Bud Dupree is one of those long and powerful defensive ends who can also be an outside linebacker in John Pagano’s 3-4 defense. He is agile and quick off the snap; relentless, whether he is going after the quarterback or dropping into space and playing zone. Standing 6-foot-4, he has a huge body to use in coverage. He is also capable of rushing from multiple stances. Those qualities will bring a bit more nastiness to the Charger defense.
Dupree has experience playing the linebacker position from the strong-side, the weak-side and on the inside. This is beneficial to San Diego as he fits right in with the “next man up” mentality that Mike McCoy speaks about. Bud recorded 23.5 career sacks and 247 tackles (36 for loss).
NFL comparison: Michael Bennett (Seattle Seahawks) and Jamie Collins (New England Patriots).
Several NFL draft previews are suggesting that Bud Dupree is moving up the boards because of an impressive Combine and Pro Day performance. The term “freakish athlete” could easily be used to describe him. That being said, it appears that he will certainly be a first round selection. With Dupree’s incredible abilities, Tom Telesco could make an easy choice by selecting the pass rushers at the 17th selection. What do you think about Bud Dupree wearing a blue and gold jersey?
Thanks for reading. Looking forward to your comments below!
It’s no secret that the Chargers offensive line still needs some work. Arguably, the 2014 season may have had better days with a healthy, yet talented line. In order for the team to see the playoffs in 2015, Tom Telesco needs to address the offensive line first and foremost.
With less than five weeks until the 2015 NFL Draft, fans are becoming increasingly more vocal as to who their favorite team should draft in the first round. For the Bolts, the first round pick should be reserved for offensive tackle like Ereck Flowers.
Weight: 329 lbs
40-yard dash: 5.31 sec
What’s not to like about this guy? First off, he is huge. Standing at 6-foot-6, his height alone fits the mold of what San Diego needs to block for Philip Rivers. His 40-yard time wasn’t the best at this year’s Combine, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. He has broad shoulders and a low stance which adds to his run blocking talent.
He has quick feet and the ability to scramble if beaten. The speed he possesses off the line allows him to power and drive through blockers. Additionally, he has played both tackle positions. The diversity and ability to play more than one position is what Telesco seems to be looking for in players lately.
Flowers’ run blocking is exceptional, however his pass blocking needs work. He has the talent and quickness to be a high performing tackle in the NFL, yet has some balance issues. He tends to get beaten by smaller defensive ends due to poor stance and balance.
With his huge frame and competitiveness, there’s no reason why Flowers can’t become a starter in the league. Some of his downfalls can easily be improved upon by some advanced coaching. When it comes down to it, the Chargers still have some gaps to fill on the offensive line. If the Bolts draft Ereck Flowers, the line will finally look like a contending unit.
After Tom Telesco was brought in as the new general manager in 2013, one of his priorities was to improve the offensive line. That year he drafted right tackle, D.J. Fluker out of Alabama. Although it partially aided the right side, the addition wasn’t enough.
In 2014, injuries plagued the offensive unit into oblivion. Philip Rivers went without veteran center and longtime teammate, Nick Hardwick, after he spent almost the entire season on injured reserve. By the end of the year, Rivers was on his fifth center. According to Pro Football Focus, San Diego ranked 27th in pass blocking, and 26th in run blocking at the end of last season. If things are going to change in 2015, Telesco needs to make ascendant transactions.
As the team made its way into the offseason, Bolt fans questioned how the Chargers will find the talent needed to fix the offensive line. Telesco started off by re-signing left tackle, King Dunlap, this year’s respectively best free agent in his position. Shortly after locking up Rivers’ stud blocker, the young general made great strides by signing former Denver Bronco’s guard, Orlando Franklin to the roster. In addition to securing Dunlap and Franklin, Telesco also re-signed center Trevor Robinson. These transactions alone have brought the Chargers’ very mediocre line to a contending unit.
So, have the Bolts done enough to fix the offensive line? The answer is almost. According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN, Tom Telesco stated that Johnnie Troutman, as of right now, is the team’s starting right guard. Considering Troutman has been far from impressive, that’s extremely alarming. WalterFootball.com reported that Johnnie Troutman and Chad Reinhart were the worst guard duo in the league in 2014. Franklin replaces Rinehart, but that still leaves a frightening breach at right guard.
There has been a lot of talk about shifting Fluker from tackle to guard this offseason. He has no experience in the position. Not in high school, and not in college. Yet, let’s say he is moved, it still leaves a gap in the tackle position. A potentially effective way to address the matter would be to swing Fluker to the inside, and find a tackle in this year’s draft. Even though San Diego needs a running back after the departure of Ryan Mathews, this year’s draft class is loaded with talented running backs. It’s not an outrageous option to think about taking a offensive lineman like Ereck Flowers in the first round.
A solid offensive line has proven fruitful for some clubs in the NFL. Since 2011, the Dallas Cowboys have drafted three offensive linemen in the first-round: Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. The other two, Ronald Leary and Doug Free, were undrafted free agents. Last season, the Cowboys finished with the 4th best pass blocking, and the 2nd best run blocking in the league. If the Chargers want those type of results, it would have to be from following Dallas’ blueprint.
As of today, the line lists as follows: LT King Dunlap, LG Orlando Franklin, C Chris Watt, RG Johnnie Troutman, and RT D.J. Fluker. Not bad, but not stellar. If the Bolts plan to contend for a playoff appearance in 2015, they will need a comprehensive offensive line. An upgraded line will upsurge Rivers’ productivity, plus adding some life to the lackluster run game. With less than five weeks left until the 2015 NFL Draft, fans will have to continue to wait and see what the Chargers organization plan to do with their six picks.
Should the Chargers draft a offensive lineman in the first round? Vote your opinion below:
The close of the 2014 NFL season for the San Diego Chargers was pretty dismal. The team finished 9-7 behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. The Bolts were 18th in total offense, 10th in passing, a lowly 30th in rushing and 29th in special teams. The signings of free agent wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson should go a long way toward bumping up some of those rankings.
Offensive coordinator (OC) Frank Reich and wide receivers coach Fred Graves currently have at least four players to devise schemes around in 2015. Reich is entering his second year as OC while Graves is on his third with the wideouts.
Here is a look at who the receivers are to date:
Malcom Floyd: 6’5″, 225 pounds
This will be Floyd’s 11th year. After a season-ending neck injury in game three of 2013, the 34-year-old veteran receiver came back in 2014. He played all 16 games last year and he recorded 52 catches for 856 yards and six touchdowns.
Keenan Allen: 6’2″, 211 pounds
The 22-year-old was constantly covered after proving himself to be a viable threat in his rookie year. Prior to missing the last two games of 2014 due to a broken collarbone (game 15 vs Denver Broncos), he had 783 yards on 77 receptions with four touchdowns.
Stevie Johnson: 6’2″, 207 pounds
This may be one of the free agent pickups that really has quarterback Philip Rivers smiling. Johnson’s presence gives Rivers another seasoned option at wideout. He played 13 games in San Francisco last year with 35 receptions for 435 yards with three touchdowns. Career numbers for Johnson include 89 games played, 336 catches, 4,267 yards, and 31 touchdowns.
Jacoby Jones: 6’2″, 215 pounds
Jones was most recently a Baltimore Raven. With the special teams unit finishing 29th in the league last year, this signing should prove to be a boon for San Diego. Jones can be a kick returner (165 returns, 4,527 yards, and 5 touchdowns), a punt returner (265 returns for 2,673 yards, four TD’s) and a receiver (203 balls for 2,733 yards with 14 touchdowns).
Dontrelle Inman: 6’3″, 205 pounds
Previously a Canadian Football League player, the 26-year-old Inman made San Diego’s roster last August. He caught the ball 12 times for 158 yards in two games played. He spent the majority of the season on the team’s inactive list.
Austin Pettis: 6’3″, 203 pounds
Pettis has played in 47 games. As a receiver, he has racked up 1,034 receiving yards on 107 catches with five touchdowns during his career with the Rams. Additionally, he has nine kick returns for 75 yards, with 29 punt returns totaling 254 yards.
Although there could be changes among the receiving corps prior to the beginning of the 2015 season, this is how it is shaping up as of now. Perhaps Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco will add another receiver via free agency or the draft. Fans will not have to wait long as free agency is well under way and the draft is right around the corner.
What are your thoughts regarding the wide receiver position moving forward? Please let me know by commenting below.