ESPN

Cjones2

Free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III worked out with the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday, igniting talk throughout the league, TV and social media. That visit came and went with little fanfare. The most that was reported was that the visit went ‘well’ and was ‘positive’. Not exactly ringing endorsements.

On Wednesday, the news broke that the Chargers have traded a conditional late round draft pick (7th) to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for quarterback Cardale Jones. Jones was a fourth-round pick of the Bills in the 2016 NFL Draft. This could be a game-changing move for the second team to move into Los Angeles in as many years.

Unless you watched the last game of the Buffalo Bills 2016 season, (I thought not), the last time we saw Jones he was holding up the first NCAA National Championship playoffs trophy as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. In the first season the NCAA went to a playoff system in the 2014-2015 season, Jones led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind win over Alabama and defeated a Marcus Mariota-led Oregon Ducks team to win the championship.

In the 2015-16 season he was named a co-starter with J.T. Barrett. That season he had almost as many rushing attempts (153) as passing attempts (167). Ohio State won all 11 games in which Jones had a role in quarterbacking the team.

Jones was literally the last man up in what was an Ohio State quarterback carousel and he led the Buckeyes through the final three games of the season, including the NCAA playoffs. Playing behind J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, Jones led OSU to a 59-0 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers leading into the playoffs. Take a look at the clip below for a refresher of how that season culminated.

Jones is the epitome of a ‘raw’ talent. At 6’5″-inches tall and 250 pounds he is a dynamic playmaker who can throw the ball a mile and move the ball with his legs. At the combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds, impressive for a man his size. He ran the ball 153 times for 617 yards and passed for 2,323 yards on 167 completions out of 270 attempts.

What led to his acquisition by the Los Angeles Chargers is his familiarity with Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. Last season, Lynn was the man calling the plays as the interim head coach in the Bills’ season finale. The Bills had fired head coach Rex Ryan the week before. That was the one game Jones played as a Bills quarterback, playing the final quarter after starter E.J. Manuel was benched due to poor performance.  In the game. Jones went 6-11 for 96 yards and an interception.

Lynn thought highly enough of Jones from watching his scout team reps and practice habits to convince the front office to trade for him. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jones cried tears of joy upon being informed he had been traded. The Bills signed a free agent quarterback and drafted a quarterback this offseason, most likely leaving Jones as the odd man out. In L.A., he will get meaningful reps and could land as high as the number two quarterback  on the depth chart if he plays to expectations.

Jones will be joining former teammates Joshua Perry and Joey Bosa. Undoubtedly they will be excited to welcome Jones to the Chargers. What do you think? Do you like this signing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

rg3

Late Monday afternoon, an interesting pair of tweets came through the Twitter timeline of ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter regarding the Los Angeles Chargers and a certain woebegone quarterback.

With training camp only a couple weeks away, it looks like the Chargers are taking the time to look at upgrading their quarterback situation. On Tuesday, July 25, the Los Angeles Chargers will bring in former superstar quarterback Robert Griffin III in for a workout. Bringing Griffin in is a no-risk proposition. Right now, the Chargers backup quarterbacks are Kellen Clemens, 2016 undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici and 2017 undrafted free agent Eli Jenkins.

Griffin exploded onto the NFL scene as the number two overall selection of the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Baylor. His electrifying play caused many sleepless nights for opposing defenses and defensive coordinators as he looked to be the second coming of Michael Vick. He had a rocket for an arm and scintillating speed for a quarterback.

Griffins’ play catapulted him to the 2012 Rookie of the Year award and led the Redskins into the playoffs. A right knee injury suffered in the playoffs ended the Redskins hopes and Griffins’ career went into freefall immediately thereafter. After reconstructive knee surgery, and multiple other injuries Griffin slowly lost grip on his starting role to present Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins and was released at the end of the 2015 season.

The Cleveland Browns added Griffin to their roster on a two-year, $15 million deal. A shoulder injury landed the veteran on the injured reserve list after only five games. The Browns cut Griffin on March 10, 2017.

With all the talk of out-of-work quarterbacks centered on Colin Kaepernick, Griffin has been almost completely off the radar. This is the first signs of interest he Griffin has had aside from the aforementioned cancelled visit with an unnamed team. At this point, Griffin has no leverage and will have to exist onveteran minimum,  one- or two-year ‘prove-it’ deals until he can show he can still play and last a season without getting injured.

What do you think of the Chargers bringing in Griffin for a workout? Should they sign him? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#RGIIIcomeback

maclin

Earlier this offseason, the NFL decided to eliminate the middle roster cutdown from 90 players to 75 players. With only one mass cutdown from the 90-man roster to the 53-man squad that will kickoff the season, news of roster cuts will come fast and furious. Every year, players we thought would live on with their current teams get unexpectedly cut and this year is no different.

Last weekend, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin became the first big name player to get the June axe. Maclin had only finished the second season of the five-year/$55 million contract. The 29-year old Maclin is currently unsigned but has made visits to Buffalo and Batimore. So far, he hasn’t agreed to terms with either team.

Money is the key factor in Maclins’ case. How much will a team be willing to pay? This season, Maclin was set to make over $9 million with Kansas City and he may be looking for similar numbers. Last season he suffered from numerous injuries resulting in four games missed completely and a precipitous drop in stats from his first season in KC. His catches were halved (from 87 to 44), his yardage was halved (from 1,088 to 536) and touchdowns dropped 75% (from 8 to 2).

The New York Jets made news this week when they announced wide receiver Eric Decker would be traded or released. The move leaves the Jets receiving corps with no veteran presence as the longest-tenured Jets receiver award goes to Quincy Enunwa with a whopping two seasons of service.

Decker has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries. The Baltimore Ravens are again in the mix for Decker and reports indicate they are willing to work out a trade if Maclin opts to play elsewhere. Decker missed all but three games last season after going under the knife for two surgeries to repair a torn labrum in his hip and a torn rotator cuff.

While they were in the veteran cutting mood, the Jets also decided to cut locker room leader David Harris. The middle linebacker was the longest-tenured Jets player with ten seasons under his belt. He leaves New York as the second-most prolific tackler in Jets history with a whopping 1,260 tackles. He led the Jets in tackles for nine of his ten seasons in Kelly Green, including last season.

Harris also compiled 37 sacks, six interceptions, eleven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Originally drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Harris wants to keep playing but is considering retirement. The Jets will save over $13 million  in salary and cap space once Harris and Decker are off the payroll.

On Wednesday, the Baltimore Ravens announced veteran tight end Dennis Pitta has been released. Per ESPN, Pitta is currently still hospitalized after suffering a dislocated hip during practice this past Friday. Per an injury waiver clause in Pitta’s most recent contract, the team does not owe him any more money. The hip injury is Pittas’ third since 2013.

These are the first pebbles to fall in what will soon become an avalanche of veteran free agent roster moves. Would you like to see any of these players on your favorite team? Who is next on the chopping block? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

The Greg One

 

#MakingMoves

 

Inman

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman recently had surgery to repair a core muscle. According to multiple reports including ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Inman is expected to miss six weeks while he recovers and rehabs. Based on that timeline, he will miss OTA’s and mini camps but would be back in time for full squad training camp in July.

The ex-CFL star had a breakout season in San Diego last season, his second year on the team. Inman started all 16 games and compiled 58 receptions for 810 yards and four touchdowns. A month ago, he signed a one-year, $2.7 million restricted free agent tender. Next offseason Inman will be an unrestricted free agent.

The wide receivers room is the most crowded as it has been in an extremely long time. With first-round draft pick Mike Williams in the fold and Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen returning from injury among others, it is important Inman gets as much field time as possible. His team security and financial security depend on it.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#RingFor17

cutler

On Thursday, multiple media outlets announced the decision of former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to join the broadcast booth for FOX Sports. Cutler was released by the Bears and after rumored less-than-fruitful talks with the New York Jets and Houston Texans, opted to make the jump to television.

This news comes a few weeks after Ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo decided to retire and go into the broadcast booth for CBS Sports. Ironically, both quarterbacks came into the league at the same time in 2006 and appear to be leaving together as well.

The plan is for Cutler to work in a three-man booth with Charles Davis and Kevin Burkhardt. The difference with Cutler is that he is (as of right now) not retired. No papers have been filed and he hasn’t stated he’s retired. The closest he came on the subject was a quote made to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington:

“I don’t know if retirement is the right word. I don’t feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL. You are either forced to leave, or you lose the desire to do what’s required to keep going. I’m in between those situations at this point in my life.” Cutler said.

He’s still a free agent and there is an out clause in his contract releasing him from his broadcast job if a quarterback vacancy is offered to him.

Personally, this comes as an ironic end to this tale. We’re talking about the quarterback who hasn’t cracked a smile since he was drafted. His own teammates have said they wish they could punch him in the face. He’s always been salty and tight-lipped with the media and now he is one of them. Did anyone tell him part of the job is being  personable

I’d do it quickly before the ink dries on that contract…

hr

 

With the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected Temple linebacker Haason Reddick. Besides his passionate showing on the field, (recording 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss in his last season of college), he also has a inspirational story that must be told.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Haason Reddick stated, “I didn’t know that you could go to college and walk on. I thought you needed a scholarship to be able to play on the team. So at first, I thought my football career was done.” Reddick said.

At Temple, Reddick walked on as a freshman with no scholarship, showing that he has determination and that is just the type of mentality the Arizona Cardinals are looking for. After he walked on, he not only earned a scholarship, but the respect of his coaches and teammates through skill, persistence, and determination.

“He’s everything right with college football.” His former coach at Temple Matt Rhule continued, “He’s tough, he’s hard-nosed. He got his degree and played so hard for us and so well for us and helped us turn this program around.” Rhule said.

One major perk besides his game-time mentality is the fact that he can play both outside and inside linebacker. His former coach at Temple spoke of this in an interview with Vince Marotta of Arizona Sports by saying, ““He’s a guy who can play off the ball and be a weak side inside linebacker and use that 4.5 speed to cover guys out of the backfield. At the same time, I think he can be a tremendous weapon blitzing. Not many running backs are going to be able to block this kid.” Rhule commented.

It looks like the Cardinals did okay with their first round pick this year, however, only time will tell. Arizona Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said that he will not be red-shirting to start. Instead, he will play behind two Pro Bowl linebackers in Karlos Dansby and Deonne Buchannon. Reddick will be on the field in nickel formations. He will have great mentors in Dansby and Buchannon, giving the Arizona Cardinals a very bright defensive future.

Reddicks’ selection is a feel-good story as over 100,000 fans gathered at the steps of the famous Philadelphia Art Museum to watch the first round of the NFL Draft. Reddick went to Temple University in Philadelphia and a very loud cheer rose as his name was called as they witnessed the local boy make good.

Check out this video of his path to the NFL from childhood to first round pick below.

AFCWest

 

Usually when journalists such as myself look forward to a brand new season of football, we look at things like QBR, preseason numbers and even the previous season’s statistics. This analysis will different than usual. Why? That is because football is so much more than just a number’s game; it is a game that is not played by players who have their data set and can be predictable.

Football is a game played by humans, and that in and of itself can directly affect play on the field. Using the skills I have learned while studying human communication while minoring in Sports Management at Grand Canyon University, (Go Lopes!) I will look team-by-team and present my analysis here.

San Diego Chargers: The big controversy around this team is whether Joey Bosa will sign or not. Several current and former Chargers players have already voiced their disgust for this situation. If Bosa does end up signing with San Diego and not “pulling an Eli Manning,” that will cause rifts that will directly affect team chemistry on the defensive side of the ball.

As we all saw from the Denver Broncos last season, defensive chemistry is a must for a championship season. Also coming off of a season with as many injuries that the Chargers had last season, it will take a little bit of time for Philip Rivers to get acquainted or reacquainted with his wide receiving corps. If a quarterback does not trust his receivers, he is unable to make the split-second decisions that are needed to win football games.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense is facing the issue of a lack of leadership due to the uncertainty of the situation of their longtime defensive captain, Eric Berry. Captain is more than just a fancy title and a stitching on their jersey; it is a position that is handed to those that rise above and are chosen by their teammates to lead them not only on the field, but off the field as well. On the offensive side of the ball, Alex Smith must get comfortable throwing more than ten yards on any given play. As soon as teams start jumping routes, the Chiefs will not be able to return to being over .500.

Oakland Raiders: The issue with the Oakland Raiders is the fact that they may not have a home next season. It is a situation similar to the Chargers, however, at least last season Chargers’ fans knew that it would be at most a 2-hour drive north. With the Raiders, it will either be a 6-hour drive to Los Angeles or a 10-hour drive to Las Vegas. There are not many fans that can put their faith in a team that may leave them.

Fan presence is a huge factor when the game is on the line, when the opposing offense is on the field, driving towards a score. The only thing that can disrupt that momentum is a lot of crowd noise to get inside the opposing QB’s head, such as when another team plays in either Seattle, Arizona or Kansas City.

Denver Broncos: The issue with the Broncos this season will be at the QB position. Something a lot of fans may not realize is that the QB is the leader. When you have no idea who the outstanding leader is, the offense will have nothing but miscues, accompanied by little to no sense of direction. Also, they are dealing with choosing from a few youngsters and a QB who has garnered little respect in the NFL, Mr. Butt-fumble himself, Mark Sanchez.

 

Corey Decker

Rivers Tunnel

 

Quarterback Philip Rivers has already set more than his fair share of team records since taking over the reins as the starting signal caller in San Diego. Rivers has passed up the legendary Dan Fouts in most statistical categories, but there are still a few more passing records which he has the opportunity to eclipse prior to hanging up his cleats.

The fact of the matter is, this will be the year that he overtakes Fouts in all major passing stats, make no mistake about it.

Perhaps if Ken Whisenhunt had remained with San Diego after the 2013 season rather than accepting the head coaching job for the Tennessee Titans, we would have already witnessed it. However, “Whiz” left in 2014 and Frank Reich was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.

While a portion of the argument would have to include the dreaded injury bug to the offense, the majority of blame lies in the uninspired playcalling over the 2014 and 2015 seasons. There was a flash here and there of going outside the box with the occasional reverse or two tight-end sets, but that was too infrequent. Reich may have been one of the better back-up quarterbacks in the NFL, yet play design was not his forte. His tendency to use and shotgun and pistol formations, inability to develop schemes that were more familiar to then-rookie Melvin Gordon and abysmal offensive line play led to a parting of the ways between Reich and the organization this past January.

Let’s not dwell on that, though. A new season is on the horizon. A great many positives can come out of this year’s campaign. It has been said many times that as Rivers goes, so does the team he leads.

Now, I recognize that when Dan Fouts led the Chargers, the rules for protecting the quarterback were a bit different. Quarterbacks might have been hit in the head or had their legs grabbed by a defender, and little came of it. The NFL rulebook has changed considerably, and a quote made in 2013 by ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer pretty much says it all: “…we played a game where we had to stay in the pocket and get hit in the face…But part of the badge of honor of playing quarterback in the NFL was standing in there and taking shots in the face and throwing a 20-yard dig route. That’s what separated you from the other guys. Now that’s just not part of the game.”

Undeniably, the QB position is one of the most protected when it comes to the assessment of penalties. Blatant or not, it’s going to be costly for the defense (possibly for the defender in the form of a fine) in today’s environment.

Keep a couple of things in mind as you read this: First, when Fouts entered the league in 1973, the season was 14 games long. Five years later it was changed to the current 16-game format. Second, two strike-shortened seasons skew his statistics. In 1982, only nine games were played. In 1987, weeks four through six saw predominantly replacement players take the field. One last thing, Fouts only had three seasons (1979 through 1981) in which he played the entire game schedule, whereas Rivers has played every game since becoming the lead signal caller for the Bolts’ in 2006.

There are a few of Fouts’ records that Rivers will meet and exceed in 2016, and at least a couple that might go into next year. For now let’s just concentrate on what is waiting.

Obviously, the first item is the career passing yards record. At the end of 2015, Rivers had amassed 41,447 yards to the 43,040 that Fouts had at the end of his career. That 1,594 mark could be gone by the end of the Chargers versus Saints game on October 2. Brees and Rivers may put on a passing extravaganza that day!

Another record that should easily be surpassed will be the number of 300-yard games. To date, No. 17 has collected 46 (including one playoff contest) to the 56 — including five playoff appearances — that Fouts has. That’s a difference which is well within PR’s reach. He is also one game-winning drive away from tying Fouts (25 vs 26), plus three away (21) towards matching the 24 fourth-quarter comebacks of his contemporary.

Last up, the number of games these two have played. Fouts played in 181 contests while Rivers is at 164. The disparity is due to the fact that Rivers sat behind Drew Brees until the last two games of 2005, when Brees suffered that shoulder injury while diving to recover a fumble in a meaningless game against the Denver Broncos. The only way that 17-game differential gets broken during this year’s campaign is if the Chargers fight their way into the postseason.

The discussion about who is the better quarterback will never stop. Don’t forget, however, that despite never making it to the Super Bowl, Fouts was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Is that honor in Rivers’ future, as well? Only time will tell, but he is so far up the record books, how could it not?!

All in all, the 2016 football season is shaping up to be one to remember!

Thanks for reading!

Cheryl White

#RiversSurpassesFoutsAgain

Palepoi2

 

When a dream becomes reality it is always something special. For Tenny Palepoi, that day happened a little over two years ago when he joined the Chargers as an undrafted rookie.

The former University of Utah player is known for his tenaciousness and his work ethic. To put it quite simply, Palepoi works incredibly hard.

Defense runs through his Samoan veins. One of his older brothers, Anton, also a defensive end, was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in round two (#60) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He was one of the highest draft picks to come out of UNLV in 14 years. Father Tony played for the Samoan National Rugby Team.

Whenever Tenny decided to play football, I’m sure the game plan came about as part of his being one of fourteen kids who had to defend themselves growing up with all those bodies!

He began his journey into football at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. While there he collected 49 tackles, 10 TFL (tackles for loss), two sacks and a fumble recovery in 2011. In 2012 he transferred to the University of Utah where he logged 74 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 6.5 sacks. He took over the nose tackle position when teammate Star Lotulelei was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2013. Palepoi was team captain for the Utes and chosen to the second-team All-PAC-12 team (2013). He was also considered one of the best nose tackles in the PAC-12 that year.

Palepoi signed with San Diego just over two years ago as an undrafted free agent. It probably helped having fellow Ute alumni Eric Weddle to help with the transition.

The young defensive tackle played all 16 games of his rookie season. He finished the year with 16 tackles, of which nine were solo endeavors.

One of his best, and most likely difficult, games came November 30, 2014. A road matchup against the Baltimore Ravens mere days after his older brother Francis passed away at just 42 years of age due to a heart condition. That contest saw Palepoi make three tackles in the Bolts’ first win in M & T Stadium in three years.

By all means his sophomore campaign should have been even better. That all went by the wayside when he fractured his foot during training camp on August 1. On August 3, the announcement was made that the young lineman was being placed on the Reserve/Injured list. Coach Mike McCoy further stated, (in part from Eric D. Williams of ESPN)
“This is the part of the business that sucks. I hate to say it, but that’s just the truth. A guy that works as hard as he has…he is one of the guys here all the time…he’s made the most out of every single opportunity he’s had. He had an outstanding year last year, and it sucks to be honest with you.”

I would expect that if he has such a gung-ho work ethic that Palepoi focused sheer determination into getting ready for a 2016 comeback. I know he can be a force once again in John Pagano’s defensive schemes.

Thank you for reading!

Cheryl White

#DefenseWins

O Line

 

 

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:

 

 

Should the Chargers draft an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft?

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Briana Soltis
(@BrianaSoltis)

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