A football season is 16 games long. If a team is lucky, it can prolong the time of clearing out lockers and getting bodies healthy for at least four weeks beyond the regular season.
For Melvin Ingram, that would be a total of 64 games in which he could have played every September to December of the last four years. Instead, the thorn in his side has been injuries which cost him 19 games; the equivalent of an entire season!
Ingram’s 2013 campaign was supposed to see his statistics spike; after all, free agency saw Shaun Phillips move on to the AFC West rival Denver Broncos while Antwan Barnes joined the New York Jets. That left the second-year outside linebacker to learn from wily veterans such as Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson. Both Freeney and Johnson were known for their work ethic and hard-nosed play. Unfortunately, his sophomore season was over before it had even begun.
Ingram suffered an ACL tear on May 14 during OTA’s. The expectation was that Ingram would be lost for the year and in August he was placed on the Reserve/PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. Fans were elated to see number 54 back on the field in December and ecstatic to have him force a fumble while sacking Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin. Two weeks later in Cincinnati, he intercepted Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the AFC Championship game.
“SupaMelvin” was BACK!! Or was he?
Ingram appeared to make it through the 2014 OTA’s, minicamp and preseason unscathed. That all changed after the September 14 game against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. The weekend arrived and brought with it another stint on the Reserve/Designated to Return list. Eight weeks later he was back sporting his blue and gold. It was a deja vu moment – two years with back-to-back injuries and who does he suit against? Both games were at home against none other than those pesky Raiders. San Diego won both contests.
In April of 2015, the Chargers exercised the fifth-year option of Ingram’s rookie contract. His salary for the 2016 season is $7.751 million, per Spotrac. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Ingram appeared in all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season, collecting 65 tackles, 10.5 sacks and six passes defensed (PD). His career numbers in 45 outings are 143 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 13 PD with three forced fumbles.
The Bolts’ defense needs Ingram to step it up. Adding former Seahawk Brandon Mebane at the nose tackle position is a start. Drafting Joey Bosa, projected to be the bookend on the defensive line opposite Corey Liuget, was a boon. Having third-year man Jerry Attaochu in the mix along with thumper Denzel Perryman provides defensive coordinator John Pagano with chess pieces that he hasn’t had in years.
Ingram has only logged two games with more than a single sack, both coming last year. One was the preseason game against Seattle last year (2) and another 2.5 collected in the win over Miami. Expect that to change.
Should the starting group on the field complement one another as anticipated, I can see this defense lighting up wide receivers and tight ends, stuffing the run and pushing back opposing linemen.
For Ingram to be successful, he must start strong and stay strong. He has to be a leader on defense this season. He needs to set the tone.
Does Ingram outperform his 2015 numbers? I anticipate that he will. Could he get to 14.5? It could be a real possibility given he should be a bit more free to roam with Mebane in the middle at nose.
These guys don’t wear lightning bolts for show. That electricity HAS to find its way into each and every game and I hope that “SupaMelvin” leads the charge.
Thanks for reading!
During the offseason linebacker Dwight Freeney was released from the San Diego Chargers after two seasons with the team. Today, Freeney officially signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Freeney’s deal is for the veterans minimum (approx 970k) and has performance-based bonuses. Injuries suffered on the Cardinals defensive line, particularly to their best pass rusher Alex Okafor, necessitated the move. Freeney’s role is described as ‘pass rush specialist’. His single purpose will be rushing the passer and to that end, the Cardinals have added incentives for sacks.
Freeney will make 200k for his first four sacks. For each sack thereafter, Freeney will collect 100k each up to a cap of 12 sacks. If he gets twelve sacks this season, Freeney will gain an extra one million dollars on top of his base salary. Not too shabby.
Even though Freeney did not get a lot of sacks (4) in San Diego, he did rank in the top five in quarterback hurries and pressures last season. At 35 years of age, Chargers GM Tom Telesco chose to go younger instead of keeping the veteran around for his experience and leadership ability.
Thankfully, we can still root for the sure fire Hall-of-Fame selection from afar with his signing to an NFC team. We can even root to see him on the defensive line opposing Philip Rivers. San Diego does not play the Cardinals this season which means the only time that meeting has a chance of happening is in the Super Bowl. Even though there are no Chargers doing spin moves, here’s hoping the young defensive line absorbed what Freeney had to teach and it shines through over time.
Godspeed Mr. Freeney.
The Greg One
I read an article by Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune where he writes about the youth at the outside linebacker position in San Diego. Former Chargers Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney came up often in the article. By the time I finished reading it, I was smacked in the face by how young the position group truly is going into the 2015 season.
The trio of Melvin Ingram, Jerry Attaochu and Tourek Williams was the focus of the piece. Their ages are 26, 22 and 24, respectively. Although all three are aggressively attacking the offseason in an effort to make a bigger impact this year, it is hard to say whether or not all of that hard work will pay off. Ingram has slimmed down from 265 pounds to right around 245 pounds, changing his diet in the process. Attaochu seems to be focused on developing additional pass-rush moves in order to create more pressure. Williams has changed his eating habits, like Ingram. He has also cut his hair for the first time since the third grade.
So how does all of this translate to wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks?
I have no clue at this point.
As I mentioned above, Johnson and Freeney were mentioned frequently in Gehlken’s post. Johnson retired from the NFL this offseason. More than anything, his leadership will be missed considerably. Freeney has been patiently waiting for the right situation as an available free agent. The 35-year-old finished last season with 10 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one fumble recovered.
It goes without saying that Freeney will one day be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His 111.5 career sacks rank 20th of all-time. He may not be a first-ballot HOFer, but he’ll eventually have a bust in Canton, Ohio. His patented spin move is one that defenders can attempt to emulate, but will fall short of perfectly duplicating.
Tom Telesco has already gone on the record stating that the team is not interested in re-signing the veteran pass rusher. But should he reconsider that?
A contract for Freeney at this point in his career would be very reasonable. His leadership in the locker room, film room and on the field would certainly continue to benefit the young group of outside linebackers on the team. Additionally, rookie Kyle Emanuel, although his inside counter-step off the edge is solid, could learn a lot from Freeney, and perhaps add another pass-rushing tactic to his arsenal. Not to mention, he could help Emanuel with the transition of having his hand in the dirt as a defensive end to standing up as an outside linebacker.
Due to being long in the tooth, and having a promising group of youngsters in front of him on the depth chart, Freeney would not be expected to play that often; thus driving down the amount of his contract. Defending the run has never been one of his strong suits, but he can still get after opposing signal callers. As long as he isn’t called upon to play too often, he can still make an impact while helping to aid the development of others in the group.
Telesco may stick to his words, or he may “change his mind” similar to what he did as far as contract negotiations with Eric Weddle. But we’ve written about the saga plenty of times on this site.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of bringing back Dwight Freeney? Please let me know by leaving your comments below.
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!
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.
The Greg One
At this point in the free agency marathon, the Chargers have turned their focus to bringing in a veteran wide receiver. On Friday, San Francisco free agent Stevie Johnson came to Chargers Park but left without a contract. Johnson is a 6’2, 205 lb. wideout who is back to looking for work after one season with the Niners.
With the departure of Eddie Royal to the Bears the Chargers have a need for a slot receiver. Chargers GM Tom Telesco is searching for veterans and has already been spurned by Royal and Andre Johnson, formerly of the Texans. In both cases, Telesco offered more money but they decided to go elsewhere. Johnson has stated he is to make a decision on where to sign by Monday.
With the quality of available wide recievers dwindling, who else is there to choose from? The Kansas City Chiefs have cut Dwayne Bowe. Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree is also on the market and the Chargers are expected to make runs at both of them. There is one more name out there that can bring the Chargers some impact at the wide receiver position.
Wayne was there for Telesco’s tenure in Indianapolis and the Colts have made it clear they will not be bringing the veteran back. Wayne has had a long 14-year career with the Colts, entering the league in 2001. Now 36, he has had recent injury issues but in his 14 seasons he has only missed ten games. A model of durability and consistency, Wayne has repeatedly showed his ability to take the top off a defense with his speed and elusiveness. With the emergence of T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis, Wayne was no longer the number one receiver and the Colts viewed him as expendable.
There are concerns about his health due to his age. Others wonder whether he has anything left in the tank. In 2013, Wayne tore his ACL, causing him to miss the second half of that season. He returned and played 15 games last season, catching 64 balls for 779 yards and two touchdowns. Many want Wayne to retire a Colt but he has stated he wants to play another year with a contending team.
There is no doubt Telesco can make the deal happen and bring in Wayne. He will have the upper hand over any other GM who comes calling because of their history together. Telesco has not denied his Indianapolis roots as we’ve seen Colts don lightning bolts such as Donald Brown and Dwight Freeney.
Like Freeney, Wayne will have multiple uses on the team. As a veteran receiver who has a Super Bowl ring and has managed to stay in the game for so long and play at a high level, he will have a lot of knowledge to share with the Chargers young receiver corps. His presence will help take the pressure off Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates.
A bigger role on a unit that needs a jolt like the Chargers will make Wayne a threat again. Only missing ten games in 14 seasons is a testament to his year-round conditioning and preparedness. As sure handed as they come, Philip Rivers will be excited to see Wayne on his side of the field instead of watching him from the visitors’ sideline.
Finally, it won’t cost the Chargers a lot to secure Wayne’s services. An incentive-laden, one-year deal with an option for a second year will suffice. Even at the end of his career, Wayne can still bring an impact to the team the same way Steve Smith Sr. did last season at the ripe old age of 35. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of if this signing will happen but when.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Would you like Wayne in powder blue this season?
The Greg One
Rumors and speculation surround former Carolina Panther defensive end Greg Hardy once again. This time, it’s about Hardy the player. ESPN reports Hardy is in negotiations with a team that does not want to be identified. In other reports, the Chargers have been linked to Hardy.
It’s not out of reach that the Chargers might be one of six teams interested. Hardy was a member of the Panthers when Charger head coach Mike McCoy was an assistant coach there under John Fox. Hardy is currently on the commissioner’s exempt list after being convicted on domestic violence charges. That conviction was later overturned and Hardy is seeking immediate reinstatement. A suspension to begin the 2015 season is possible.
The six foot, four inch, 275 pound defensive end played in 32 games over five seasons for the Panthers, missing a total of two games in that span. He accumulated 145 tackles, 34 sacks and 15 passes defensed and could replace fellow free agent Dwight Freeney, who doesn’t look to be returning to San Diego.
What are your thoughts?
Let’s speculate that Terrance Knighton, defensive tackle for the bane in the backsides of San Diego’s Chargers, the Denver Broncos, comes to town for a visit. Wouldn’t it be great to nab a player from one of the Bolts’ AFC West rivals? Yes, I know we have Sean Lissemore and Ryan Carrethers. But, truth be told, that position in the middle of the line, nose tackle, hasn’t been the same since big ol’ Jamal Williams (one of my favorites!) was released in 2010.
So, what would the Chargers get if they could sign Knighton? 200 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles over his six years in the league. A proven leader. Someone that helps solidify the defensive front. And one other thing? Let’s not forget one all-important fact: DURABILITY. The man has only been injured three (that’s right, 3) times over the course of his career. The best part?
That nasty attitude in the defensive line is sorely lacking! As Nick Hardwick said shortly before he retired, “We’ve got to bring some bad, bad dudes in here”. Though he was referencing former players Steve Foley and Randall Godfrey, (and they were fearsome!), the fact remains that there really isn’t much nasty to the Chargers defense. They need the talent of Suh without all the other baggage. Jarret Johnson retired and Dwight Freeney’s status with the Bolts is unknown. Knighton gives the Chargers a veteran presence that will be needed to fill that void. I think his mean, tough, “you gotta go through me” attitude would bolster the young guys to play a little more aggressively. Knighton is 28, not much older than the rest of the defensive line. Can you imagine what Corey Liuget (6’2, 300 pounds) and Kendall Reyes (6’4, 300 pounds) could be like with Knighton, who is 6’3 and 335 pounds, between them?! Add Ingram and Attachou, plus that guy who is all over the place – Weddle – and their collective hard-hitting moxy – all I can say is, that sounds like a bunch of “bad dudes” to me!!
In comparison, Lissemore has been in the league since 2010 and traded by Dallas to San Diego in 2013. Overall stats: 119 tackles (53 in SD), 6.5 sacks (3/SD), 1 interception (returned for touchdown), and 1 fumble recovery. Carrethers will be entering his second year and while he didn’t play much, he had nine tackles.
The only downside I’ve been able to find on him is in relation to his weight. Denver has fined him several times, to the tune of $300,000, for not adhering to weight markers. Knighton has slimmed down, changed his eating habits, and feels that he will be able to maintain an ideal weight going forward.
Sure, Knighton said he’d take a hometown discount to stay in Denver. However, they may not have the money to do it after all the spending Elway did last offseason in free agency. His contract, when he signed there in 2013, was a two-year, $4.5 million deal that gave him a $500,000 signing bonus with $500,000 guaranteed. Salary was $2.25 million, plus a million dollar roster bonus for 2014. So, why not offer him the same deal to play in San Diego?
Personally, I like the possibility of Knighton wearing lightning bolts as opposed to either an orange-maned horse or silver “pirate” with swords through his head. Really appealing if it can be accomplished at a cap-friendly number. How about you?
Thanks for reading!
Cheryl A. White
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:
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….
The Greg One
Dwight Freeney cannot be stopped. Even after playing his 13th season, his second with the Chargers, he is still hungry for more.
According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, Freeney will play his 14th NFL season. The future Hall of Famer also expressed his interest to remain with the Bolts.
Tom Telesco snagged the veteran linebacker two years ago after he was told by the Indianapolis Colts that he would not be re-signed. In the last two seasons, he has recorded 4 sacks and has played a crucial role as one of the team’s leaders in the linebacker unit.
Even though Freeney states he will play in 2015, it’s still uncertain if he will remain on the Chargers roster. His contract expires in a few days, March 10th to be exact, and there hasn’t been much noise made in the back office at Charger Park. Will Telesco resign the veteran leader? Let’s hope so.
Freeney has continued to influence the linebacker unit in his short time with the Bolts. Not only has he brought the much-needed pass rusher ability, he has been a mentor to those less experienced in the position. In order to continue that trend, he needs to remain in San Diego next season.
This year’s free agent market for outside linebackers is not entirely impressive. In actuality, the group is fairly weak. When we think about the draft, the team’s needs will be addressed in the earlier rounds leaving the possibility of a late pick for an outside linebacker. If that were to happen, the rookie would greatly benefit from Freeney’s experience and guidance. For example, fellow linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu have already learned vastly from the veteran’s football IQ and skill.
At this point, it’s uncertain if Dwight Freeney will return and spend the last of his playing days in a Chargers uniform. With the current circumstances, there is no reason why he shouldn’t stick around. If the motor is still good, which it seems to be, Freeney should be capable in helping the Bolts this next season.