On Monday the San Diego Chargers announced that six assistant coaches have been released. Heading the list is Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich. Offensive Line coach Joe D’Alessandris, Tight Ends coach Pete Metzelaars, Wide Receivers coach Fred Graves, Defensive Line coach Don Johnson and Assistant Offensive Line coach Andrew Dees complete the list.
Head Coach Mike McCoy survived the coaching staff purge and received a one-year vote-of-confidence contract extension in the process.
Someone has to take the fall for this season and the injury excuse apparently does not extend to everyone on the Bolts coaching chain-of-command. Reich did add a welcome wrinkle with the pistol offense, intended to give QB Philip Rivers more time to scan the field and spare some of the punishing hits. With all the offensive line injuries Rivers took as much of a beating as he did when he played under center in the seasons before Reich’s arrival. The short-passing, ball-control offensive philosophy worked for one season and has died with the absence of an effective running game.
Personally, my biggest indictment of Reich was his steadfast belief in his system, unable or unwilling to make adjustments. Without a true feature back the running game needed to utilize space. Danny Woodhead led the team in receiving and had roughly half as many yards rushing (641 to 336) as feature back Melvin Gordon on half the carries (184 to 98).
Sweeps, bubble screens and misdirection plays would have made Woodhead a larger threat that could’ve actually created more running room for Gordon. Secondly, Gordon ran for 2,500 yards in his last season at Wisconsin out of a traditional I-formation behind a fullback. Why not at least experiment with that formula? If Gordon gets half that amount in yardage he wins the Rookie Of The Year award easily.
Lastly, using the short-range, timing-based, ball control offense is a good idea but also takes away a major weapon from Rivers. It’s known around the league that Rivers is one of if not the best deep ball passers in the league. The deep ball has been absent from the game plan in the last few seasons. It’s not all Reich’s fault. The Chargers do not have a receiver who can take the top off a defense with his speed the way a younger Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd did earlier in Rivers’ career.
Of all the names on the list, Reich’s is the most justified. Jackson and Metzelaars look to be collateral damage. When Gates and Green are on the field they were key elements in the offense and produced more often than not. Gates finished third on the team in receiving and Green finished fifth. The receiver corps was decimated with injuries starting with Keenan Allen and continued with Stevie Johnson, Floyd and Dontrelle Inman joining him on the sidelines at various times through the season.
The line coaches have to deal with the players they’re given. Both lines had a shaky year. Both lines underperformed but there was no consistency because of all the injuries. Notable by his absence on this list is Defensive Coordinator John Pagano. According to NFL.com the Chargers finished 27th in rushing defense, 14th in passing defense and Pagano stays on the team while the offense finished 9th in the league and the Offensive Coordinator is fired.
Just or not, there will be a lot of new faces in the Chargers locker room in 2016 on the staff and on the nameplates above those lockers. Let’s hope they’re good ones.
The Greg One
The close of the 2014 NFL season for the San Diego Chargers was pretty dismal. The team finished 9-7 behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos. The Bolts were 18th in total offense, 10th in passing, a lowly 30th in rushing and 29th in special teams. The signings of free agent wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson should go a long way toward bumping up some of those rankings.
Offensive coordinator (OC) Frank Reich and wide receivers coach Fred Graves currently have at least four players to devise schemes around in 2015. Reich is entering his second year as OC while Graves is on his third with the wideouts.
Here is a look at who the receivers are to date:
Malcom Floyd: 6’5″, 225 pounds
This will be Floyd’s 11th year. After a season-ending neck injury in game three of 2013, the 34-year-old veteran receiver came back in 2014. He played all 16 games last year and he recorded 52 catches for 856 yards and six touchdowns.
Keenan Allen: 6’2″, 211 pounds
The 22-year-old was constantly covered after proving himself to be a viable threat in his rookie year. Prior to missing the last two games of 2014 due to a broken collarbone (game 15 vs Denver Broncos), he had 783 yards on 77 receptions with four touchdowns.
Stevie Johnson: 6’2″, 207 pounds
This may be one of the free agent pickups that really has quarterback Philip Rivers smiling. Johnson’s presence gives Rivers another seasoned option at wideout. He played 13 games in San Francisco last year with 35 receptions for 435 yards with three touchdowns. Career numbers for Johnson include 89 games played, 336 catches, 4,267 yards, and 31 touchdowns.
Jacoby Jones: 6’2″, 215 pounds
Jones was most recently a Baltimore Raven. With the special teams unit finishing 29th in the league last year, this signing should prove to be a boon for San Diego. Jones can be a kick returner (165 returns, 4,527 yards, and 5 touchdowns), a punt returner (265 returns for 2,673 yards, four TD’s) and a receiver (203 balls for 2,733 yards with 14 touchdowns).
Dontrelle Inman: 6’3″, 205 pounds
Previously a Canadian Football League player, the 26-year-old Inman made San Diego’s roster last August. He caught the ball 12 times for 158 yards in two games played. He spent the majority of the season on the team’s inactive list.
Austin Pettis: 6’3″, 203 pounds
Pettis has played in 47 games. As a receiver, he has racked up 1,034 receiving yards on 107 catches with five touchdowns during his career with the Rams. Additionally, he has nine kick returns for 75 yards, with 29 punt returns totaling 254 yards.
Although there could be changes among the receiving corps prior to the beginning of the 2015 season, this is how it is shaping up as of now. Perhaps Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco will add another receiver via free agency or the draft. Fans will not have to wait long as free agency is well under way and the draft is right around the corner.
What are your thoughts regarding the wide receiver position moving forward? Please let me know by commenting below.