The San Diego Chargers emerge from their bye week with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The 2-7 Bolts look to finish strong after a dismal 2-7 first half of the season. In the first two seasons of the Telesco/McCoy regime, San Diego finished with identical 9-7 records. In this third season they would have to run the table in the last seven games to finish with that mark.
The Chargers have five division games remaining, (they have lost one game to Oakland already), and two out of division games against Miami and Jacksonville. The odds of running the table are miniscule. Finishing with a .500 record is just as improbable. A top-10 selection in the NFL draft is more than likely barring a catastrophic turn of events.
A message will need to be sent if for no other reason than to show the fan base that such an outcome is not acceptable. Whether they stay in San Diego or move to Los Angeles, hope must be rekindled for this team and they way to do so will be with fresh faces calling the shots. Seats are getting hot in America’s Finest City. They will get hotter with each loss and hottest if the Chargers miss the playoffs. At this point, the playoffs are nothing more than a pipe dream.
Heads will roll. Here’s a look at the prime suspects and the temperature of their seat right now:
Dean Spanos. Rarely does the owner abandon ship on his team. He will point the finger of blame at his staff and remove the pieces he sees fit. Eyes do deserve to be on him for his frugality. If his miserly ways start to impact the NFL’s bottom line (dollars), he could be ‘nudged’ out the door. Spanos is well-liked among the other owners so the probability of that happening right now is less than zero.
Something radical would have to occur such as local fans boycotting the games to the point where it becomes painstakingly obvious when games are shown live. This approach was successful as recently as 2012 in Major League Baseball in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers ex-owner Frank McCourt. Do Chargers fans care enough to band together on this course of action if they thought underspending is the chief cause of the Bolts failures? That is the million dollar question.
John Pagano. The defensive coordinator has not shown improvement since taking over the position in 2012. In his first year the Bolts finished 24th in the league in total defense. In 2013 they moved up to 10th. Last season the Chargers plummeted back to 24th. Nine games into this season San Diego is 9th in total defense but giving up 28 points per game. The next seven games could have a huge impact on whether Pags stays or goes.
Tom Telesco. The Chargers General Manager is on the hook for the Chargers failings as much as any member of the team. At the end of the day, Telesco is the decision-maker. The team is a reflection of his vision. It was Telesco’s choice to resurrect the philosophy he used in Indianapolis of jettisoning the veteran players and bringing in young, untested and hungry players who were capable of playing multiple positions. The GM is quickly finding out that what works in one place doesn’t automatically work elsewhere.
Telesco has done admirable work building the team through the draft. Cornerstones of the future have been unearthed with the drafting of WR Keenan Allen, RT D.J. Fluker, CB Jason Verrett and RB Melvin Gordon. A disturbing fact is of the 17 players Telesco has drafted, only one has played a complete season (Fluker). Gordon and Kyle Emanuel are on pace to do so this season.
Helping Telesco is his savvy with contracts and getting players to come in free agency and add impact. RB Danny Woodhead, RT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers and G Orlando Franklin have been key additions. His front office could have done better to keep revered veterans such as S Eric Weddle in the loop when it comes to contract issues as that could affect future free agent signings and keeping his own players down the road. If the Chargers finish with a losing record the pressure will be turned up on the GM to produce or he too will be looking for work elsewhere sooner than later.
Kevin Turner. The special teams coordinator of the Chargers is having a dreadful year. Through eight games the Bolts had one punt return yard with Jacoby Jones as the primary return man. Meanwhile, opponents have accumulated 276 punt return yards. For the ninth game Jones was cut and Javontee Herndon was promoted from the practice squad to assume the kick and punt return duties. Herndon had one kick return for 24 yards in the game, surpassing Jones’ kickoff return average of 21.4 through eight games. The special teams have been a weakness all season, giving a big field position advantage to the opposition and not gaining yards in the return game. Should this pattern continue, Turner will be cleaning out his office at Chargers Park.
Ninth Circle of Hell
Frank Reich. The Bolts offensive coordinator has definitely been offensive. The offense has been difficult to watch at times as the play calls get more and more predictable. We can all see the inside handoff coming from the pistol formation before it happens. The OC seems unwilling to vary from his game plan to accommodate his talent. The pistol formation and no-huddle offense has been advantageous for Philip Rivers at times. However, with a power running back who thrived running out of the I-formation with a fullback opening the first hole why not adapt that into the game plan?
Melvin Gordon set NCAA records and ran for over 2,500 yards at Wisconsin last season. Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates would be a matchup nightmare for defenses if they were to be deployed on the field at the same time. Injuries, suspension and Reich’s unwillingness to add new wrinkles have prevented this from happening on more than just random occasions. With Reich coordinating the offense, the Chargers are averaging 23 points per game, five fewer than they’re giving up. The window on Philip Rivers career is quickly closing and it’s the wrong time to be going the wrong way in the production department. If San Diego fails this season, Reich will be the first man shown the door.
Mike McCoy. The head coach was the marquee hire when the Chargers landed him as the successor to Norv Turner. The man lauded for his yeoman’s work adapting his coaching style to fit his quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow, Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning. His teachings resulted in wins and playoff berths and the same was expected when he took over the reins in San Diego.
Instead, the team has underachieved. Many games have been lost in the final quarter or on the final drive. McCoy has been very conservative in his play-calling. Favoring a ball-control, short-passing, long scoring drive preference the Chargers have very little vertical offense. Rivers, an excellent deep ball passer, goes deep a couple of times per game if that. This team lacks a killer instinct. They lack an ability to finish games and that reflects coaching.
To boot, McCoy is in the third year of a four-year deal. He’s been paid most of what he signed for and it wouldn’t be a big financial hit to let him go a year early. San Diego hadn’t made the playoffs for three seasons before McCoy arrived. They made it to the playoffs the year McCoy arrived and won a wild card game that season. This season, barring a miracle, will be the second year in a row the playoffs have eluded the Chargers. This team is as talented as any in the league but they do not have the results to show for it. Unless they can rebound and finish at .500 someone has to take the fall for this season. Usually the head coach us that man.
In closing, injuries can’t be blamed for everything. Yes, injuries have derailed a very promising season. Keenan Allen was on a record-setting pace. Coaches are paid big bucks to get the most out of their talent regardless of who is on the field. Management is paid big bucks to find the best players to suit the team needs.
San Diego was sitting at 2-2 before they lost to Green Bay and Pittsburgh on the last play of the game. Same thing would happen in Baltimore two weeks later. Aside from the games against Minnesota and Oakland the Chargers have played as well or better than their opponent despite the end result. There are no moral victories in the NFL and when you don’t win, people lose. Don’t expect to see half the names on this list wearing lightning bolts next season.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Who’s to blame for the Bolts performance this season? Leave your thoughts below.
The Greg One
Scattered throughout social media concerning the 2-6 Chargers are endless rants about the offense. The porous and oft-injured line, the lack of a running game and the vanilla play calling takes center stage from the voices of the fans.
As true as these perspectives may be, there seems to be an obvious concern that not too many are jawing about. Simply put….
The Chargers cannot stop anybody.
Philip Rivers leads an offense ranked 8th in most points scored with 191. That averages out to 23.9 points per game. Furthermore, San Diego leads all NFL teams in total yards with 3,386 (423.3 per game).
Of course, there are many questions to be asked when comparing these stats with the overall record. Most fans have come up with their own solutions: Fire Frank Reich. Fire Mike McCoy.
I am not here to argue with any of you who voice this sentiment. I am, however, needing to point out a prominent dysfunction with San Diego’s defense.
Ranked 27th in points allowed (28.4 per game), the Chargers players are either ill-equipped to handle the task at hand, or their leader continually is over-matched and out-coached.
What is your opinion? Is it Pagano or the players?
Let us take a quick statistical snapshot.
According to pro-football-reference.com, since 2012, when John Pagano took the reins as the defensive coordinator, the defense has not ranked any higher than 11th. Pagano’s defense is currently ranked 27th, and it shows.
With the Bolts giving up five yards a carry to opposing running backs, they are tied for dead last in that category. The defense has given up 124.6 yards per game on the ground, moving them up to 27th overall.
Opponents thus far have completed 64.75% of their passes against the Chargers’ defense, ranking them 19th overall. Adding fuel to the fire, this same defense is giving up 12.1 yards per completion, ranking them 30th overall.
Needing to find a silver lining with all these statistical rankings, I was able to notice that Pagano’s defense currently ranks 10th overall in holding teams to a 35.96% third down conversion rate. The 2014 team, in comparison, allowed their opponent to convert 43% of third down attempts.
When the Chargers are behind, it is the offense that has to get them back into the game. They must overemphasize time of possession, moving the chains and putting points on the board. If San Diego is ahead in the game, it is up to the defense to secure the victory. With two squeezed-out wins thus far, it appears that the majority of the problem is on the defensive side of the ball. The offense, who definitely has their own issues, is still putting points on the board and moving the ball, despite their lack of a formidable running attack. Pagano and his defense just can’t stop their opponents.
This defensive unit has stars: Jason Verrett, Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, just to name a few. Injuries can certainly be relevant to their struggles, however it can no longer be the crutch that Pagano seems to use. His base scheme is a 3-4, but it is run more like a 4-3. He utilizes the talent he has and plugs them into different packages to offset what the offense does.
One of the main issues of the defensive unit is the fact that they give up far more “explosive” plays than they should. Big, game-changing plays have turned the momentum to the opposing team’s favor far too often, and multiple times within individual games. These plays have occurred due to a multitude of reasons: blown coverages, poor tackling, missed assignments and vanilla play calling. The team rushes four players or less an inexplicable amount of times, making it difficult to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
So, once again, I ask for your opinion…
Is it the players or is it the coach?
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
Running back Melvin Gordon has had a very disappointing first half of 2015.
The rookie has had trouble transitioning to the NFL game, struggling to get things going on the ground with little help from his blockers.
In Gordon’s defense, the offensive line has had several different starting combinations through eight games, losing players left and right to various ailments. Not having a cohesive unit in front of him is partly why the running back has had trouble establishing himself.
In Sunday’s 29-26 loss to the Ravens, the former Badger received his most touches in a single game this season, carrying the ball 18 times for 54 yards and hauling in five receptions for only seven yards, totaling 23 touches for 61 yards.
For the eighth consecutive game, the rookie ball carrier was unable to reach the end zone.
The fact that the Chargers stuck with keeping him involved in the running game was admirable, but Gordon was ineffective for the most part. The offensive line was not much help, struggling to open up sufficient holes.
The 2015 first-round selection is not racking up the yards like he would hope, but he did avoid fumbling on Sunday. Gordon was benched partially due to his inability to protect the rock, but saw his most significant amount of game action on Sunday. He has fumbled four times, losing three.
On the season, Melvin has carried the ball 103 times for 382 yards. Through the air, he has registered 18 receptions for 93 yards.
Gordon is on pace to finish the season with 764 rushing yards and 186 receiving yards.
That is not exactly what you want out of a first-round back that you traded up for, but hopefully he can turn it on in the second half of the year.
When setting his goals for his rookie campaign, one can guarantee that this is not what the 22-year-old had in mind.
With the Bolts stumbling to a 2-6 record, the team will most likely continue to get the ball to Gordon, giving him more and more confidence as the year wears on. As long as he is able to protect the ball, and the Chargers don’t get too far behind early in games, expect the offense to continue to keep Gordon heavily involved in the game plan.
His next shot at improving his game and scoring his first NFL touchdown will be Monday night against the Chicago Bears. They currently rank as the 10th overall defense in yards given up, coming in at 29th at stopping the run (allowing 128 rushing yards a game).
This opportunity will be the fifth time in 2015 that Gordon and the Chargers’ offense will face an opposing defense ranked in the bottom 10 of the league against the run.
There is still plenty of time for Gordon to put it all together and have that signature performance, shutting up his critics in the process. But it would be nice for his confidence if that effort would come sooner rather than later.
The Bolts are 2-5, sitting in last place in the AFC West.
Some Chargers fans say it’s the lack of a running game or the inopportune turnovers. Others say it’s the penalties or the play calling. The biggest excuse heard all year: We have a lot of injuries.
Guess which teams in the NFL have injuries?
All 32 of them!
Just like bad calls (I am looking at you, Ed Hochuli), every team gets them. Good teams overcome them.
The Green Bay Packers lost their top receiver for the season, Jordy Nelson, in the preseason. They have four players out for the season and they are 6-0, despite losing some key contributors.
The Washington Redskins have nine players out for the season.
The Chargers have two. The players out for the season are guard Johnnie Troutman and defensive end Tenny Palepoi.
The banged-up offensive line has been hit with the biggest with injuries. Center Chris Watt has been on and of the field with injuries. Left tackle King Dunlap and Chris Hairston have also seen injuries this year. The loss of D.J. Fluker was huge.
Tom Telesco had to dig deep to build a new offensive line. The offensive line of third stringers, practice-team players and players released from other teams did alright against the Steelers and especially the Packers. They made it work.
It was brutal to see both Stevie Johnson and Malcom Floyd leave the game against the Browns with injuries. The Chargers had only suited up four receivers. Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich and quarterback Phillip Rivers didn’t let the injuries defeat them. They made some adjustments, using Danny Woodhead and Ladarius Green more often and got the win.
Do you know what is not a direct effect from injuries? Penalties, especially personal-foul penalties. The interceptions and fumbles are coming from Rivers and Gordon.
There have been no major injuries to the Chargers’ running backs, Gordon, Woodhead and Branden Oliver. The Chargers are ranked 30th in rushing.
The defensive line has not seen one injury this year. That should be the biggest concern. The defense is letting these games get away.
So let’s just drop the injury excuse. The Bolts, especially against the hated Oakland Raiders, have just not been playing good football.
Let’s hope that the loss to the Raiders pisses them off and they rally together and figure out how to win again.
Thanks for reading.
It is looking like the desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures scenario has arrived in San Diego this past Sunday.
The most-hated division rival, the Oakland Raiders and their fans, first took over Qualcomm Stadium, and then proceeded to deliver a knock-out punch to the Chargers that had not been seen in, well, maybe forever.
What ever game plan Mike McCoy and Frank Reich had in place, it went sideways very quickly.
How could that happen?!
The team was wearing its powder blue jerseys and, as superstition goes, that beat-down should not have happened!
What I and many other Bolts fans, witnessed, whether at the stadium or watching on television, was a thorough implosion.
I am not going to rehash this too much, it still makes me sick to think about the situation as a whole.
Mike McCoy became the Chargers head coach on January 25, 2013. He was 40 years old then, and the youngest head coach in the NFL.
At one of his initial interviews, after being named Norv Turner’s replacement, McCoy stated that he planned to hire an offensive coordinator.
Perhaps that seemed unusual since it was one of the reasons why he was being pursued. After all, this is the guy who everyone knew had worked with Tim Tebow, helping him to change his mechanics, ultimately leading the Broncos to a playoff win with the now-unemployed quarterback at the helm.
Let us not forget that under McCoy and former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt managed to help Philip Rivers get his mojo back after he appeared to be losing his touch.
What transpired that year for Rivers was him being named “NFL Comeback Player of the Year” in 2013; a distinction that the signal caller did not quite understand as he had not missed a game since becoming the starter in 2006.
Former offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos from 2008 until 2012, McCoy began his tenure there with journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton. Under McCoy’s direction, Denver’s offense ranked seventh in passing and Orton was fourth in the NFL in passing yards per game in 2010.
McCoy revamped the offense for Tebow in 2011 by inserting more running plays into the game plan. The former Heisman Trophy winner (2007, the first to win as a sophomore) responded by rushing for 660 yards and scoring six touchdowns. At the end of the season, he had a passer rating of 72.5, based on an attempt/completion record of 126/271 (46.5%), seven TDs and was picked off once. Tebow led Denver to six straight wins and the team went into the postseason having won seven of their last eight games.
And then along came Peyton Manning in 2012.
McCoy and the playbook evolved once more to accommodate Manning’s potent hurry-up offense. With “The Sheriff” as their leader, the Broncos had a 13-3 record in spite of a 2-3 start. They won their second consecutive AFC West title, a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs. McCoy and Manning were defeated in double-overtime by the Baltimore Ravens, who went on to win the Super Bowl. Offensively, the team ranked fourth in total offense, fifth in passing offense and 16th in rushing. Manning was ranked sixth with a completion percentage of 68.6, a TD/INT ratio of 37/11 and threw for 4,659 yards on 583 attempts.
That same year, Rivers ranked No. 17 among QBs. He was 338 out of 527 for 3,606 yards (64.1%), had 26 passing scores with 15 picks. The Bolts were in the bottom offensively: 31st in total offense, No. 24 in passing and 27th in rushing.
Ironically, the 2015 season to date reflects a curiously unusual status between the two competitors and their teams: both have flip-flopped in most categories other than the penultimate: wins and losses.
Manning’s Broncos are 6-0 while Rivers and the Chargers are sitting at 2-5. Through the first seven games (Denver was on bye last week) the statistics look like this: San Diego is first in total offense with 430.7 yards per game versus 325.8 and the 29th slot for Denver. The Bolts also have first place honors in passing offense (343.6), while the Broncos are 18th (240.8). Both AFC West rivals rank in the bottom in rushing, back-to-back in fact. San Diego is 29th (87.1) with Denver at 30th (85).
As for the signal callers themselves?
Rivers is first in the NFL with 2,452 yards, adding TD/INT ratio of 15/7. Where is Manning? Well, his 1,524 yards, seven TDs and 10 INTs put him in 17th place.
There are many people who are trying to figure out why the future Hall of Famer is in such a predicament. Is it the new head coach, Elway’s old friend and teammate Gary Kubiak, who is also calling the plays this year who should be to blame?
I don’t think I heard “Omaha” when I watched the Broncos-Chiefs game.
Adam Gase, the offensive guru in Denver for the last little stretch, followed previous Broncos coach John Fox to Chicago. Or is the health and age of good ol’ boy no. 18 in the navy and orange truly declining? I mean, after all, Peyton is 39 years old. He’s been playing football for a long time!
Perhaps the bottom line is that McCoy is a better offensive coordinator than head coach. Maybe for now the short-term fix is for him to start carrying around a sheet, a couple of markers and starts calling the plays himself.
This might relegate Reich to QB coach again, essentially, but if that is what it takes to win, so be it. This team is better than its record reflects; there are many men on the roster who are fighters and can help lead this group on its course. We the fans need more than the same-old, same-old that McCoy reiterates each week because not only is that old news, it just truly sets my teeth on edge.
Whatever “it” may be, this pretty much says it all: “We got outplayed and outcoached in the first half,” McCoy said. “It’s very difficult to have success when you start the game like we did, whether it’s turnovers or giving up seven straight scores. That starts with me as the head coach. We’re not going to sit around and dwell on this.”
Yeah, we know, Coach. What we want to know is: what are you going to do about it?
Thanks for reading!
The San Diego Chargers (2-4) head into this Week 7 matchup coming off yet another close loss, this time to the Green Bay Packers. Here are my keys to winning this week’s matchup against the hated ones, the Oakland Raiders (2-3).
1.) Air it out
Throw the ball. Whether it be another 65 times or less, sling the rock. The Raiders currently sit as the worst passing defense in football and Chargers currently have the best passing offense in football. Much like last week, the Chargers need to use their strength on offense, and continue to use it until the Raiders can (if they can) stop it. If Reich and Rivers both stick to this, the Chargers should come away with their third victory of the season.
2.) Defense, time to eat
What I mean by this, is time to make plays and force turnovers. The Chargers’ defense has only forced seven turnovers in 2015, tying them for fifth worst in football. They need to force turnovers, give the offense a short field and maybe even score points defensively. Either way, they need to get Derek Carr moving his feet, forcing him to chuck up passes and the Chargers’ defense needs to convert those into INTs.
3.) Play smart
You’re at home, play mistake-free. The less mistakes you have, the more of an opportunity you have to win. It’s that simple. Win the penalty column (by committing less than the opposition) and you should be going into Week 8 one game closer to .500.
Do you guys agree or disagree with my keys? Lets me know below and go Bolts!
Going into the Pittsburgh game this past Monday with the knowledge that wide receiver Stevie Johnson was going to be out for a while, and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Antonio Gates was coming back to the active roster off of suspension with hopefully fresh legs, I began to think to myself on possible ways the Chargers could attack the Pittsburgh defense in order to get a much-needed win.
The first thing that came to mind was how well Ladarius Green had played during Gates’ absence. The second thing that came to mind was, despite how much I really like Dontrelle Inman as a player, I‘ve always felt he was ill-suited to play in the slot.
To me, the obvious conclusion was to play as much 12 personnel (2 Tight Ends and 1 Running Back) as possible. To go a little further, I figured ideally they would play Green in the slot and flex (line up 3-5 yards outside the tackle) Gates. This would serve a couple of purposes.
First and foremost it would get what I feel is the best 11 players available on the field at once. Secondly, given the unique physical skills the Chargers have in their two tight ends, my guess was Pittsburgh would have to deploy their nickel group. This would be ideal, as I still like the Chargers’ matchups across the field against the Steelers nickel secondary in the pass game, and this would essentially guarantee the Chargers would have the numbers advantage in the box which would hopefully help jump-start what has been at best an inconsistent running game.
Fast forward to Monday night. After a punt on the Steelers’ initial possession, the Chargers indeed came out in their 12 personnel and, lo and behold, they lined up Green in the slot with Gates flexed. First play was an 11-yard pass to Gates for a first down. On their next play, they ran the same play to the opposite side of the field for a 12-yard completion and a first down. Three plays later out of this same configuration, Gates beats Steelers’ safety Will Allen on a shallow corner to the front pylon for his 100th career touchdown. As the extra point flew between the uprights, I thought the Chargers were in business as they had run three plays from this set and the results were two first downs and a touchdown. The Steelers didn’t appear to have a solution, and Will Allen was clearly not capable of staying with Gates.
Apparently Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich and head coach Mike McCoy didn’t share my feelings. After the Gates’ touchdown, the Chargers ran 24 more offensive plays from scrimmage in the first half. Of those 24 plays, three were run from 12 personnel. The San Diego offense seemed to stagnate, as they crossed the 50-yard line only once, and never got past the Steelers’ 40-yard line on their next five possessions.
The second half was more of the same. The Chargers opened the second half with their 12 group for five straight plays, quickly driving the ball to the 50. A Melvin Gordon fumble on third-and-1 killed the drive and apparently killed the Chargers coaching staff’s desire to stick with this look. They went to this group only three times from midway through the third quarter until the end of the game, with all three plays resulting in first downs, including a 26-yard completion to Green.
This is where my post-game aggravation kicks in. I thought the Chargers had what was clearly a strategy that was working, and the Steelers never really adjusted to it. Yet, McCoy and the staff got away from it, and really showed no desire to return to it. This obviously was not why the Chargers lost this game, but it was another frustrating element to what was one of the most frustrating games I can remember in recent times.
The problems the Chargers have on offense reach well beyond a banged-up offensive line. Granted, Philip Rivers deserves to be anointed for sainthood having to play behind such a hot mess.
Let’s be real, kids. The offense is a complete mess and here’s why:
• Tom Telesco drafts kids who do not fit in this offensive “scheme”.
• Mike McCoy and Frank Reich refuse to change their “scheme” to fit the personnel Tom Telesco has given them.
• Frank Reich is clueless and predictable at the same time.
The first and second points go hand in hand. I give you Melvin Gordon as case in point. Melvin is a 21 or 22 personnel grouping back. This means two running backs, a tight end and two wide receivers (21 personnel) or two RBS, two TEs and a WR (22 personnel). He is not, nor ever has been, a spread formation back. He ran primarily out of 21, 22 or 12 personnel groupings (single setback two TEs on the line, not in pass formation). Sure, Melvin ran effectively out of other personnel groupings, but his strength is as an I-formation back.
When you move up in the draft to get the player you covet, you don’t make him fit your scheme. You adjust your scheme to his skill set. The Chargers don’t even possess a legitimate fullback on the roster. The closest thing to a fullback they have is tight end David Johnson. The last real fullback this team had was Lorenzo Neal. Once AJ Smith and Norv Turner kicked him to the curb, the fullback position has been an afterthought and the running game began its decline.
Gordon’s lack of production isn’t his fault alone. He doesn’t fit the scheme, rather the scheme doesn’t fit him. Blocking has been horrific, that’s on personnel and coaching. Injuries to D.J. Fluker, Orlando Franklin, King Dunlap and others hasn’t helped. Offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has to do a better job coaching up this line. Chris Watt gets destroyed on a regular basis at center. Move him to guard and he gets pushed back into Rivers’ face.
Make no mistake, the 2015 Chargers’ offensive front will never be mistaken for Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman, Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff and Shane Olivea. They just aren’t that good overall. I like the Orlando Franklin acquisition, but he’s hurt. Dunlap is solid and his return will help Rivers sleep a little easier. Moving Fluker inside was a positive and, by far, an upgrade over Johnnie Troutman. Barksdale at right tackle is an upgrade over Fluker playing the position. I said it before, but it bears repeating: Watt is horrible. Telesco and McCoy have failed miserably to assemble a line that is worth its salt.
Apparently, Dean Spanos needs to hire Bill Polian so that Telesco can be good again. He’s looking like the classic example of the master making the apprentice look better and smarter than he really is.
Nobody will ever mistake Frank Reich for Ken Wisenhunt — or even Cam Cameron. His idea of attempting to run the ball is give it to Melvin from the shotgun, up the gut behind the aforementioned Watt and the one-legged Fluker. In D.J.’s defense, on one leg he’s still better than Troutman. That run nets two yards, so it’s back to pass, pass, pass behind an O-line that can’t protect a ham sandwich, let alone an immobile Rivers.
I realize this is a pass-first league. To that, I say “so what?”
Newsflash, Frankie-boy, this line is not your Buffalo K-Gun line. This line couldn’t pass protect against a pee wee football team! You and Mike McNorv talk about balance, so do it! Don’t continue to be an idiot. All that will do is get you charged with murder when Philip finally can’t get up after being hit while trying to throw the ball.
I’ve been a Chargers fan since my birth back in 1992. I’ve been a die-hard fan since the LT MVP 2006 season. I’ve seen the worst, the best and even the sorriest teams the Chargers have had here in San Diego my entire life.
This isn’t an article on the team, per se, but it’s an article that is me venting my frustrations, one I am quite sure many of you can relate to. From the top to the bottom, I will go and release some frustration out, and I hope you will follow along with me.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco
The GM that replaced AJ Smith, and one who worked under Bill Polian, has been the Chargers GM since 2013. Tom Telesco, who everyone within the NFL sees as a very good, but very young general manager, has put two 9-7 teams together, and one team happened to reach the AFC divisional round where they eventually lost to the Denver Broncos. Tommy T, as I like to call him, has drafted pretty poorly in his first two and a half seasons here and has signed/drafted two, maybe three impact players. This is not what a successful GM on a winning team does. He is constantly moving up in the draft, trading away multiple draft picks for players who need a lot of work on their craft (Te’o, Attaochu, Gordon) and he hasn’t hit on any gold. Telesco constantly goes against the advanced metrics to draft reaches in the third round. His poor drafting and poor roster management is getting highly exposed when coupled with sub-par coaches.
Speaking of the coaching staff……
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy
Mike McCoy, hired in 2013, is a former offensive mind from the Super Bowl Carolina Panthers and the Tim Tebow- led Broncos. McCoy isn’t the only one I’m going to bring up here. Defensive coordinator John Pagano and offensive coordinator Frank Reich are also underachieving as coaches. I firmly believe that the Bolts need to go in a different direction with these two. The one part Telesco has constructed right is the secondary. The Chargers’ secondary might be the best secondary they have had in quite some time. But in the last two weeks, with the starting secondary playing, John Pagano has not been successful in stopping the pass and is constantly leaving guys on an island to be burned one-on-one. I’m looking at you Donald Butler and Brandon Flowers. Flowers isn’t fast. In fact, he isn’t the lockdown No. 1 cornerback that he was halfway through 2014. He is a possession coverage corner who will need help over the top on speedsters such as Markus Wheaton and Marvin Jones. Pagano needs to realize this and put Eric Weddle or Jahleel Addae over the top, or have someone who is close to or equally as fast as the opposite man. Maybe someone like Patrick Robinson or Stevie Williams. Pagano, now in his fourth year as defensive coordinator, hasn’t shown the ability to adjust or to change up what he does on a constant basis, and if this is the case, the Chargers should look in a different direction.
Frank Reich is another story. Just like Pagano, he hasn’t shown the ability to adjust, and is way too predictable when it comes to offensive play calling. How many draw plays does he need to run before he realizes it only hurts his offensive line? How many times does he need to see D.J. Fluker or Orlando Franklin get tied up after going back to block on a draw play? His offensive calls are boring and it seems like him and Philip Rivers aren’t on the same page during the course of the game with all of the audibles he has to call at the line of scrimmage. I firmly believe that he should be demoted from playcalling, and that McCoy should take over until further notice.
I have been a big supporter of McCoy since day 1, and I still am on the McCoy train. However, this season has really taken a toll on me and has me wondering if he really is the right guy for this job. The one play that really stood out to me was his passive approach at the end of the first half versus the Bengals. He literally let over one minute run off the clock before halftime in a game where the Chargers lost by five. Little things like this are what lose games. This team hasn’t gotten better under McCoy, but I don’t think he’s the main reason why. But him, along with Reich and Pagano and the rest of the coaching staff, need to do a better job of coaching these guys before this season gets out of hand.
There are some players on this team that frustrate me more than anything else, and I’m sure that they frustrate you too.
There is talent on this team. Despite it being poorly coached and/or poorly constructed, there are some players you can build around. One thing that bugs me the most are selfish players. I don’t think I’ve seen as many selfish players on one team, than I’m seeing now. Whether it’s celebrating a touchdown while losing, celebrating every catch or going public about a contract situation. It needs to stop. This is a team sport. The most insulting thing to fans is seeing a professional athlete put himself ahead of the team. It shows a lack of discipline and something that can get the locker room divided. That is never a good thing.
What I’m getting at is this team is having an identity crisis. They need a gut check and they all need to look at themselves in the mirror, and play up to their potential and expectations. This roster is far too talented to be playing this poorly, even if constructed badly. No more Instagram photos of yourself scoring a touchdown after a blowout loss. No more contract holdouts or distractions. Come in to work ready to play football and go out there and play to win.
But at the end of the day, we are all Chargers fans and we will rep Chargers’ gear until the day we die, win or lose. This was just me letting off some steam in the best way I could think of.
So, thanks for sticking with me on this.
*If there’s anything you need to vent, or something that I missed, or you just want to absolutely rip into me for saying this stuff, please leave a comment!*
The Steelers come into San Diego to face the 2-2 Chargers coming off a “gifted” win versus the Browns last Sunday. Here are my three things that need to happen in order for the Bolts to win on Monday night.
1.) Contain Bell and keep Vick in the pocket
This is basically a 1a and 1b point. It’s known that Michael Vick is a shell of his former self athletically, but he is still a threat running the ball. He still has a monster arm and can chuck the ball 60 yards in the air. But the most important part of throwing is still an issue as it has been for his entire career, and that’s his accuracy, or lack thereof. Vick doesn’t have an accurate arm and he will struggle to hit wide-open receivers. Keep him in the pocket and the Chargers defense will be fine; in the passing game that is….
In the running game, Pagano is going to REALLY have to have his best gameplan of the season. Le’Veon Bell is a duel threat (running and catching) and very powerful back. He is a top-three running back in the league and the Chargers’ defense struggles stopping the run. Think of a younger Adrian Peterson (or one versus the 2007 Chargers defense), and I present to you Bell! (Okay, I won’t be that extreme but you get the picture). Keep Bell contained as much as possible and force Vick to try to beat you through the air.
2.) Give Gordon the ball
If you know me well enough, you’ll know that I am very critical of Melvin Gordon. But, he has shown some solid promise. Anything less than 20 touches a game is crazy at this point in the season. The Steelers currently rank in the middle of the pack in run defense (allowing 111.8 yards per game this season). Running the ball is another way to keep Le’Veon Bell away from the ball. McCoy was adamant in the offseason about being a power-running team. When done correctly in 2013, the Chargers were damn near unbeatable. Reich is gonna need to go back to what his predecessor did and run the ball.
3.) Stay healthy!
I know, this is almost a moot point and something the Chargers have no control over. But please, stay healthy. The team is, once again, dealing with multiple centers and linemen. They haven’t had their starting secondary together since Week 1. The Bolts have gotten most of their injured players back at practice this week, which is a good sign. Now they just need to keep them healthy and get it all together at some point.
Thanks for reading.
If you have any other keys to victory for the Chargers, let me know below in the comments.