See what two of our writers, Zak Darman and Chris Hoke, have to say about whether or not the 2016 San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs this season.
Zak Darman: NO DEAL! The San Diego Chargers will NOT make the playoffs at years end.
The Chargers made some nice moves in the offseason to boost up their offense by signing wide receiver Travis Benjamin and center Matt Slauson. It is no secret that the offense is much improved, starting with the addition of offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt. The offense was looking very good in Week 1, right before Keenan Allen left that game with a torn ACL, ending his season. The running game looked much improved with a better and more decisive Melvin Gordon. The loss of Danny Woodhead from Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will hurt immensely, though, and they hope the recent signing of Dexter McCluster will help. We will see.
On defense, however, is where the weaknesses still stand out. The Bolts used the No. 3 overall selection on defensive end Joey Bosa, who has not played in a single game this season due to contract negotiations/injury, and brought in nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Casey Heyward and safety Dwight Lowery. I still don’t like this group because in my opinion they don’t have enough playmakers to take this team to the next level. Manti Te’o is below average and prior to being lost for the season due to injury, there was a question whether he should be starting or not. The safeties are a joke and the pass rush is still bad. Outside of Pro Bowler Jason Verrett, who else is there? It also does not help to have one of the worst defensive coordinators in all of football in John Pagano. Yes, the defense looked great in the first half vs KC but lets not forget that the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith was missing some wide open short route throws that he usually doesn’t miss. This unit has been overrated from the get-go and it needs to be addressed. The defense looked better in week 2, but that was against a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. On Sunday, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they wanted. Verrett wasn’t on his game and the defense had no shot.
First let me start by saying for the sake of this piece I will make a case for Mike McCoy even if my previous articles and opinions have stated otherwise. Mike McCoy has shown flashes of being a Coach who can lead this team. All of the losses, huge injuries, off the field drama with Eric Weddle and now Joey Bosa, has caused major distractions which is never a good recipe in the locker room. In this case for Mike McCoy winning fixes everything. Even through three major season-ending injuries to key players, this team is built to win and get deep into the playoffs. Here’s how:
As Zak had pointed out above, the improvement of this offense is the running game. Yes it is odd to say this, due to the horrible run game the Chargers have had in a long time, a running game is very much back in San Diego; maligned since the departure of Ken Whisenhunt and Ryan Mathews. It’s no coincidence that since his return to America’s finest city, the run game has been rejuvenated. Gordon, who had zero touchdowns last year, has already compiled four scores along with his first career 100 yard rushing game against the Jags. Follow that up with a passing attack, without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead whom are both lost for the season, still has the weapons to be very dangerous. With the old reliable Antonio Gates on the sidelines, there is not much room for panic with the emergence of second round pick Hunter Henry. Even with the fumbled tragedy that ended any last ditched efforts for a win last week against the Colts, Hunter had a pretty solid game; breaking open for huge yards. Continuity between him and Rivers will only begin to grow more with each big play Hunter makes. The future is still bright for these Bolts offensively.
After being released from the Chargers after the 2012 season, former Head Coach Norv Turner was asked for a quote regarding the new incoming coaching staff. “They need to have a lot of patience with them.”
“Them” referencing all Charger fans.
Maybe we need to really forget about 2013 as maybe the Chargers caught lightning in a bottle with a group of talent that really wasn’t that good, at least defensively. Moving on to this year, it’s been four years and four drafts since Tom Telesco and company took over. Some naysayers have claimed that he has missed on players, but at the same time he has found some gems, such as Jason Verrett. There are others like Craig Mager and DJ Fluker where the verdict is still to be determined however in my opinion they are good additions to this team.
I will say that the defensive talent on this team, is what Pagano has been waiting for. We all have seen what Hayward has done thus far and of course what the Pro Bowler Verrett can do, but the key addition, in my opinion, is the addition to Brandon Mebane – whose presence alone has shifted protection schemes. That ability, to force opposition to change schemes, is not listed in the box score yet it creates room for the linebackers, such as new defensive captain Melvin Ingram, to reap the rewards.
The first round pick Joey Bosa has yet to take the field – signs pointing to week 5 or 6. The Chargers seem fine to just ease him in slowly rather to not risk further injury. Even with the loss of Manti Teo, Jatavis Brown stepped in and showed that he can be an instant playmaker. When Bosa does finally step in and is at game level, this defense will be headed to the next level. We already see what happens when Mebane is on the field and when you add in the beast Corey Liuget and Bosa – the three-headed monster will lead this team to playoffs and hopefully back to the Super Bowl.
In closing, if McCoy can remain aggressive, this team can and will make the playoffs. If his attitude is as assertive as I saw it to be in 2013, it will resonate throughout the whole locker room. As long as we do not continue to lose key players every week, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given Sunday. The defense could easily be ranked in the top five, sans injuries of course, and as we have seen in the past, defense wins championships. Toss in a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a running back who is so raw and talented, and a receiving core who has already manifested themselves as reliable, the San Diego Chargers will make it deep into the playoffs. Perhaps we will hear this again.
Let us know your opinion on whether or not the Chargers, as it stands, will make the playoffs this season.
Thanks for reading
Well, this is certainly a difficult challenge!
Try naming just five of YOUR favorite men to suit up in lightning bolts! Can you do it?!
Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes one say “Yeah, I like him!” Does it matter if it is an “old school” guy where they played more smashmouth football? Or one from the “new” era where it seems like statistics seem to be the norm?
Either way, we all have our favorites for whatever reason. Maybe it’s how they seemingly just fly down the field as if on wings. Perhaps it’s how that one guy is just ALWAYS busting through the offensive line. Could it be the brashness or confidence that reaches us? You all know what you appreciate about the players you can’t wait to see take the field.
Here’s my list of my top five “old school” Chargers, though there were many choices!
Punter for the Chargers from 1994 to 2003, Bennett was formerly an Australian Rules football player. One always knew two things about him: he had the BIGGEST kicking leg and he did not shy away from hitting an opponent if need be. You just knew that Bennett was going to give his team the best field position possible! It was something to see when that ball left his foot and caught air!
Lionel “Little Train” James:
Gosh, this guy was special! He was only in the league for five short years, but he left his mark! Small in stature at 5’6″ and 171 pounds, James was THE smallest running back when he came into the NFL in 1984. His best season was in 1985 when he established three records for a running back.
James led the AFC with 86 receptions and set the bar at 2,583 all-purpose yards including 1,027 receiving yards. I remember watching him squirt through holes and run along the sideline. He had so much power in those legs and he was quick; defenders had difficulty stopping him. Sadly, his stellar career ended due to a degenerative hip injury.
Ha, gotcha on this one! Who could forget the Tongan TE who literally was responsible for scoring the go-ahead touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers to get the Bolts into the 1994 playoffs?! Yes, I know that Dennis Gibson broke up a Neil O’Donnell pass with mere seconds on the clock.
Pupunu had two stints in San Diego (1992-97, 1999). One of the other reasons I and other fans liked him was because of his touchdown celebration: he would pretend that he was opening a coconut and then hoisted it skyward as if drinking from it. I’d venture to say that some folks might have thought he was opening and drinking a beer!
Undoubtedly, the BEST nose tackle to ever suit up for the Blue and Gold. “Ja-mal” was a big, hulking man at 6’3′ and 348 pounds. He was a tackling machine and one of my favorite guys to watch on defense not named Junior Seau. Eleven seasons in San Diego saw the huge but quick man wreak havoc against opposing offenses by collecting 240 tackles, defend 18 passes, force three fumbles plus a lone touchdown and interception apiece.
He was not only an outstanding defensive lineman for the Chargers, he was also considered one of the most elite nose tackles in the NFL in his day. I would always get a kick out of watching that huge body shove it’s way into the middle. Jamal meant business!
As a defensive end, O’Neal was another adept tackler for the Bolts. Voted Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1986 he racked up 12.5 sacks prior to losing almost two years due to a knee injury. It was week seven of the ’88 season before he took the field again. His stats weren’t great that year (four sacks/28 tackles) but he was on his way. His performance that season made it possible for him to make his first Pro Bowl appearance.
By the time his career in San Diego was completed, per Pro Football Reference his numbers were: six Pro Bowl selections, 572 tackles, 105.5 sacks which made him the team leader in that category; forced 18 fumbles while recovering nine, two interceptions and a touchdown. O’ Neal is currently tied with Lawrence Taylor at 13th all-time as they both have 132.5 sacks in their careers. Yet another great defenseman for the Chargers.
Gill Byrd – Safety 1983-1992; played every position in the secondary (LCB/SS/FS/RCB), 42 INTs (4x in Top 10)
Stan Humphries – Quarterback 1992-1997; only QB to lead team to Super Bowl (’94), he also guided them to 10 fourth quarter comebacks to go with 12 game-winning drives. He retired as a result of sustaining four concussions in 22 months.
Charlie Joiner – Wide Receiver 1976-1986; aged 39 when he hung up his cleats, Joiner was one of Fouts’ favorite targets to the tune of 586 receptions, 9,203 yards and 47 TDs.
Kellen Winslow – Tight End 1979-1987; in addition to his memorable “Epic in Miami” performance, Winslow was a five-time Pro Bowler. He also placed in the Top 10 in these categories: receptions (4x), receiver (3x), and receiving TDs (4x). He had some gaudy numbers for a guy who only played in 109 games: 6,741 yards on 541 catches with 45 of those being TDs. After just eight years in the NFL, he, too, was forced to retire due to injury.
Keep an eye out for a list of my current players!
Thank you for reading!
Over a month ago the San Diego Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa with their third overall pick. Along with Bosa the Chargers drafted two more defensive players. One of them was Bosa’s running mate at Ohio State, Joshua Perry. These look to be great additions combined with the free agent signings of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and safety Dwight Lowery.
Some Chargers fans are clamoring for the Chargers to switch defensive schemes. I’ll tell you why this can not and will not happen anytime soon. First, I’ll tell you the difference between the two schemes. For the purpose of this piece it will just be a base 3-4 scheme versus the base 4-3 scheme. After this I will give my opinion on why switching schemes wouldn’t be beneficial for the Bolts moving forward.
I’ve stated in a previous article (Bolt Up For Bosa) that the Chargers only run their base scheme about 50% of defensive snaps. It’s these 50% of snaps I will be focusing on. That being said what is a 3-4 defense? It has been used famously by Bum Phillips, the father of Wade Phillips.
Used by the Houston Oilers in the 70’s, it’s predicated on pressure by overwhelming the offensive line with multiple attacking defensive players. If used correctly this scheme can be virtually unstoppable. This was defensive scheme used most brilliantly by the Denver Broncos to defeat the Carolina Panthers in this past years’ Super Bowl.
The 3-4 was the staple of Dick LeBeau’s defense which helped drive multiple teams to Super Bowl appearances. Lebeaus’ defense has yielded two wins and four losses in the Super Bowl. In New England, the 3-4 has been the driving force behind the Patriots dynasty. Yes, Tom Brady has made his throws but its been the defense that’s given the Patriots four Super Bowl titles in 15 years.
Breaking it down the 3-4 consists of three down linemen and four linebackers. The four linebackers have endless possibilities on how they can be placed. There’s a multitude of packages to utilize. This makes the 3-4 a hard defense to plan against. With four linebackers you don’t know who is blitzing or who is dropping back in coverage. The point of a 3-4 defense is mismatches. It’s built to stop the run and apply endless amount of pressure on the opposing teams’ offensive line. In theory, the Chargers should be good at run-stopping although this has been the Achilles’ heel of the defense over the past several years.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 3-4 defense.
So how will the Chargers look defensively? Let’s start with the defensive line. At left defensive end will be Corey Liuget. Anchoring the middle will be nose tackle Brandon Mebane. At right defensive end will be Joey Bosa. At weak side outside linebacker will be Jerry Attaochu. The inside linebacker will be Manti Te’o. The middle linebacker will be Denzel Perrymen. The strong side linebacker will be Melvin Ingram.
Anchoring the back end of the defense from left to right will be left cornerback Jason Verrett. At Free Safety will be Dwight Lowery. Next to him will be strong safety Jahleel Addae. The right cornerback will be Brandon Flowers. Keep in mind this is how it stands right now. A lot depends on training camp and if the Chargers sign other free agents.
So now know how the Chargers will run their basic 3-4 defense. What is a 4-3 defense? The base 4-3 first came to us under Tom Landry when he was the Giants defensive coordinator in the 1950’s. He then made it even more famous with the Dallas Cowboys and through their vaunted “Doomsday” defense. Ever since, there’s been multiple variations of the scheme from the Bill Parcells stack defense to the Wide-9 defense famously used by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On to the basis of the 4-3. It’s four down linemen and three linebackers. In its most basic form the four down linemen will always have their hands in the ground and be in pursuit of whomever has the ball. The three linebackers are in charge of coverage in this base defense although they may blitz in certain packages.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 4-3 defense.
The Chargers run a variation of the 4-3 in a hybrid nickel package. The nickel package features Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu with their hands in the dirt. The 3-4 defense has been implemented since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach. Since then the Chargers have had a few dominant defenses in ’06, ’07, ’09 and 2010. Its been proven very effective when the right pieces are in place. In 2016 this is such the case. My main reason for this belief is Joey Bosa and the signing of cornerback Casey Hayward. The Hayward addition was an amazing pick up.
It’s all about the anchor of the 3-4, the nose tackle. A viable anchor is something the Chargers have lacked for so long. Since the days of Jamal Williams its been a revolving door at this position. Brandon Mebane probably didn’t make headlines to the casual Chargers fan. I believe this is the most underrated pickup of the whole offseason. Mebane can garner double- and sometimes even triple-teams.
This defense, hell, this whole team is going too shock a lot of people. As I said earlier the 3-4 requires almost pure selflessness from its three down linemen. It starts with Mebane. I may call him Bane by seasons’ end. If you know Batman then you understand the reference. Its been five years in the making with this defense. Why change philosophies now when this defense is so close to grasping greatness? Its proven to be a dominant defense in the past. It can and will be for years to come.
Do you remember how successful Donnie Edwards was in a Chargers’ uniform? How ferocious Steve Foley and Randall Godfrey were while in San Diego? Those guys were great in their own right, but none of those guys would’ve been as successful as they were if it had not been for Jamal Williams.
Now, believe me when I say that I am in no way, shape or form saying that Brandon Mebane is Jamal Williams, but I will say that the Chargers’ defense got exponentially better the second he signed on the dotted line.
I feel confident enough to guarantee you that there are four guys wearing Charger bolts on their jerseys that are the happiest men on the face of the earth: Manti Te’o, Denzel Perryman, Jerry Attaochu, and Melvin Ingram. Those four men must have a glimmer in their eyes like a family of little kids on Christmas morning. It goes without saying that defensive coordinator John Pagano is most likely sharing the same excitement.
San Diego’s linebackers have had to suffer through a carousel of nose tackles such as Sean Lissemore, Antonio Garay, Cam Thomas and rookies that never got a fair shake, like Ryan Carrethers.
Now they have a man capable of stuffing the run, taking on multiple blockers and a man who commands double teams. A man who brings a presence to the middle of the defensive line that the Chargers have not had in years.
Brandon Mebane is going to come in and help control the point of attack right away. A true nose tackle is essential when running a 3-4 defense. The Chargers haven’t had the personnel to run a successful 3-4 until now. Mr. Mebane is the missing piece to a defense that is both young and very talented.
During his nine-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, the 31-year-old amassed 349 total tackles, 15.5 sacks and eight passes defensed. Though Mebane’s impact on the defense won’t light up the box score, his teammates will certainly know exactly how much easier their jobs will be having the belly-rolling defender line up at nose tackle.
Hi, I’m Cheryl. I’ve been supporting the Bolts since 1980 when we moved here from Rhode Island. I didn’t know much about football until our neighbor invited us over to watch a game, (I believe it was Chargers vs Steelers) and I was hooked! My favorite players to date are Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle and Melvin Ingram. The past players would be Jamal Williams and, of course LT and Junior.
My seven year old grandson is a huge Chargers fan and he makes me laugh when he calls out Rivers for a bad throw or gets excited seeing a big hit by Weddle! My son played cornerback for San Marcos and my 10 year old grandson plays both center/nose tackle for Ramona.
Favorite moment as a Chargers fan: 1994 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. San Diego wasn’t expected to go anywhere that year, but Coach Bobby Ross and the team ended up 11-5. The defense gave Pittsburgh more than it expected. The game came down to the final two minutes, Chargers up 17-13 with Steelers in their final drive. 4th and goal, Neil O’Donnell fires a pass to Barry Foster; linebacker Dennis Gibson knocks the ball away from Foster and the Bolts are headed to Super Bowl XXIX!!
My worst moment: the 2006 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. The Chargers had the best record in the NFL that year, the number one seed, at 14-2. That was the year Ladanian Tomlinson (LT) led the league in rushes and Philip Rivers was ninth in passing (and by the way, that was also the year the Patriots won 18 straight games). It was a heartbreaking loss when you consider that Rivers played with no ACL in his right knee that game, Antonio Gates had a bum toe, and LT was lost after the second quarter with a knee injury. The team just couldn’t overcome having no running game and lost 21-12.
I’m new to this blogging, however, I will do my best to provide articles that capture your attention, maybe toss in a bit of humor. Hoping they will be enjoyed and most importantly, spark some kind of conversation amongst your friends, family, the rest of the writers here, and myself. GO CHARGERS!!
Thanks for reading!
After 11 seasons and two Super Bowl winning seasons, the New England Patriots have decided against picking up the contract of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. The 6’1” 325 pound beast posted this on his twitter account, @wilfork75, this morning:
A classy act by a mainstay in New England. Vince is 33 and has dealt with injuries over the last few seasons, however he continues to be a dominant force on a line that is so good at stopping the run. Wilfork was due to be paid 8.1 million this upcoming season, after he restructured his contract before the 2014 season. In fact, Vince was ready to walk away from the Patriots, however he had a change of heart and wanted to remain in a place and system he has known his whole career – beginning when he was the 21st overall pick of New England in 2004.
Of course here in sunny San Diego, the NT position is one that is in desperate need of fulfilling. With a big body in the middle, taking on double teams most of the time, Vince would be giving Corey Liuget something he’s been wanting for a while; a chance to go one-on-one with his guy. Allowing Corey to have this type of match-up, he will almost guarantee many hours spent in the opposing team’s backfield; disrupting passes, getting sacks, and getting the running back before he gets to the line. On top of that, with Wilfork’s dominance, he would be able to open up space for our linebackers, to come in hot; something this defense lacks. Remember Jamal Williams? How he created gaps for both Shawne and Shaun (Merriman and Phillips) to come in and do what they did best? Now, imagine Manti Te’o doing the same with Wilfork leading the way.
Vince will be looking for a similar payday as he was expecting this year in New England. Is a 33-year-old defensive lineman worth that? Without a doubt, he is worth it. Having Vince bring his veteran services to a young, up and coming defense is something that is priceless. He would not only help mentor the line, but as stated previously, he is still a major force to be dealt with.
Come out of the cold Vince. Bring your family to America’s finest city. Help bring San Diego to the next level and maybe, just maybe, win one more Super Bowl.
– Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
(Thanks to levelupfantasy.com and galleryhip.com for the pictures)
“Games are won and lost in the trenches.” How many times have we heard that from coaches and commentators alike? I think the 2014 Charger season proved that out.
A patchwork offensive line was tasked with protecting Philip Rivers, was not consistently effective. Too many times we saw #17 running for his proverbial life. The run game was terrible as well. The Chargers lost their anchor, Nick Hardwick early in the season and now for good with his expected retirement. A total of five men played at the center position. Johnny Troutman was awful. DJ Fluker’s inexperience at the professional level was exposed in his Sophomore season. Truth be told, I felt King Dunlap was the only bright spot along the front five.
The defensive front seven wasn’t a whole heck of a lot better. Donald Butler was invisible. The nose tackle by committee was a failure. Kendall Reyes seemed to regress. Pressure from the outside linebackers (pass rush specialists in a 3-4) weren’t helped by their teammates. Corey Liuget was the only consistent performer on the defensive side.
With the Free Agency period beginning on March 10, I’ve been going over the list of pending free agents and have compiled a wish list of whom I’d like to see Tom Telesco pursue. Also, I will look at who the casual fan clamors for and why I don’t see them in lightning bolts in 2015. This, of course, is without considering salary restraints.
On Defense, nose tackle is of particular concern to me. You may say that John Pagano ran a base 3-4 less than half the time. Perhaps because NT was a weak link? Sean Lissemore didn’t impress at all. Ryan Carrethers showed potential until he got hurt, but he needs seasoning. Ricardo Mathews is a serviceable sub, but the Chargers haven’t had a stud nose tackle since Jamal Williams. Personally, I think this is one position Tom Telesco needs to look over the free agent crop. Chargers can ill afford to have the front seven compromised by the nose being the weak link.
Should Denver not retain Terrence Knighton, he tops my list. He’s big, he’s quick and he’s strong. He can take on multiple blockers, which is what your NT needs to do. He’s durable, having started 16 games in four of his six NFL seasons. Dan Williams of the Arizona Cardinals is another. While his numbers (tackles and assists) don’t stack up to Knighton’s, he’s been a force in the middle of the Arizona defensive front. I don’t see Ndamukong Suh in lightning bolts at all. He’s a 4-3 defensive tackle, and I’m not convinced he can make the transition to a 3-4 NT. His inability to control of his temper concerns me as well.
A stud in the middle of the 3-4 has a ripple effect on the rest of the front seven as well, so this position is critical to the success of the Charger defense. Washington’s Danny Shelton looks impressive if they wait for the draft to fill the need at NT. Kid’s got a motor. If Tom Telesco doesn’t want a NT, then perhaps he, Mike McCoy and John Pagano should abandon the 3-4.
On the offensive side of the trenches, signing King Dunlap to a new deal was huge (no pun intended). He was rock solid protecting Philip Rivers’ blind side. As for the interior of the line, I’m really worried. Mike Iupati tops mosts lists. He’s a solid guard, he’s quick and he’s been durable for San Francisco. Denver’s Orlando Franklin is another solid possibility. Again, he’s durable and we all know that Denver’s line has been great in protecting Peyton Manning the last few years.
Depth can be filled in through the draft. The Bolts need to draft and groom for the future. Chris Watt will be better this year, having been forced into service with as a rookie. Fluker needs to improve his footwork and quickness if he’s going to continue to play right tackle. I focused on guards through free agency because all indications seem to point to Fluker staying at RT.
That’s my take on the trenches on both sides of the ball. Next, I’ll look at linebackers and running backs.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what your thoughts are!
Ever since the Chargers let Jamal Williams go, they have been lacking at one vital position in their 3-4 defense: Nose Tackle (NT). Yes, Antonio Garay stepped in for a while and performed adequately, but he soon put on too much weight and began to get a steady flow of injuries. Now, NT is one of their most glaring weaknesses. With only Sean Lissemore and Ryan Carrethers getting snaps at NT, opposing offenses have been running wild against the Bolts.
San Diego fans often complain about the offense running up the middle too much. Well, it sure seems to work for the other teams. Second and five or worse is all too common as the middle of the Chargers defensive line gets pushed around.
So what can be done about it? Answer: Danny Shelton: Washington – NT
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 339 lbs.
Projected 40-Yard Dash: 5.1 Sec.
*All pre-combine unofficial estimations
Danny Shelton, AKA “Feast Mode”, often looked like a man amongst boys in his senior year at the University of Washington. The big man is a two gap plug that forces runners to look elsewhere to gain their yards. For a big man, he is extremely athletic and agile. He is able to control his blocker and quickly shed the block to make tackles. In fact, he recorded 88 tackles and nine sacks in 2014. His great strength, size, superior quickness, and speed enable him to get to quarterbacks as well as running backs.
Although comparisons are often unfair to young athletes, NFL.com has Vince Wilfork as the best comparison in the NFL for Shelton. A young Wilfork would fit in quite nicely in the Chargers’ defense, don’t you think?
I project Shelton to be a first round talent. He would be an outstanding pick for the Chargers at 17, but there is a good chance he will be gone long before as Chicago is switching to a 3-4 defense and would love a solid NT to build around.
Thanks for reading! Keep your eye out for many more Player Profiles on BoltBlitz.com!
(Thanks to sportsmockery.com and pigskinnerd.com for the pics)
In case you slept through Friday, unplugged for the day or live under a rock, you’ve heard Kansas City’s QB Alex Smith won’t play Sunday against the Chargers due to a lacerated spleen. What you may have missed is that this does not change anything on Sunday.
Chase Daniel, Kansas City’s backup QB, will start in Alex Smith’s place. Last year, with a playoff berth already secured, Daniel started the season finale in San Diego with 19 other backups, a game in which the Chargers narrowly escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory. In that game, Daniel connected on 21 of 30 pass attempts for 200 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Jamal Charles sat out that game, but Knile Davis ran 27 times for 81 yards. Daniel added 59 yards of his own on the ground.
That said, a Charger victory in this season’s regular season finale in Kansas City is not a foregone conclusion. Last year, everyone said that with KC’s backups, it would be a cake game. Far be it from me to throw ice water on the pom pom parade, but a loss in Kansas City ends the 2014 season for San Diego. Lock, stock and barrel.
The key to this game is in the hands of John Pagano and the Charger defense. In all reality, the game plan should remain the same: stop Jamal Charles and you stop the KC offense. Make the quarterback beat you. Rewind to Week 16 in San Francisco. Take away Colin Kaepernick’s 90-yard run in the 3rd quarter which featured glaring whiffs by both Melvin Ingram and Eric Weddle, the defense made the right adjustments and stymied San Francisco’s running game.
Easier said than done
How to stop Charles, you ask? It’s easier said than done, but Pagano needs to put eight in the box. These eight men (front-7 plus the aforementioned Weddle) need to maintain gap discipline. The front three need to tie blockers up (HINT: Chargers need a stud NT like they had in Jamal Williams). ILBs Mantei T’eo, Donald Butler, Andrew Gachkar and Kavell Conner need to be clean and crisp in their tackling. Whiffs cannot happen. And the proper angles toward opposing ball carriers must be taken.
Billy, don’t be a hero
Chargers defenders need to tackle, tackle and tackle some more. Heroism is not appropriate, and may be idiotic when it comes to proper tackling. First man, or two, to get a hand on the ball carrier need to wrap him up, then let the cavalry come in for the strip. All too often, it seems the first man to the runner goes for the ball instead of the tackle. Get the runner on the ground, limit the big plays and play for the third down stop.
Secondly, stop the pass
Concussion protocols notwithstanding, Shareece Wright needs to take a back seat to Steve Williams. Against San Francisco, the ball was thrown in Williams’ direction six times for three completions and a pedestrian 15 yards. I think it’s safe to say that’s a better performance than Wright has produced. With eight in the box, the Chargers’ corners and safeties, Flowers and Williams/Wright/Gilchrist/Addae, et al. will have to play press man coverage. The defense is better when Pagano employs press coverage.
The key to beating the Chiefs and advancing to the postseason is to stop Jamal Charles. It’s that simple, kids. Force Chase Daniel, with limited reps, to have to try to beat the Chargers. Do this, and they’ll advance to the Wild Card Round.
Thanks for reading!
This is the time of year all the prognosticators and talking heads start rolling out their mock drafts. Opinions on where the Chargers should draft will vary from fan to fan, from pundit to pundit. Would love to get some discussion going here on your thoughts on where Tom Telesco should focus.
Should he draft a Corner Back? A good argument could be made. Returning we have Shareece Wright, who I think has a bright future. Also returning are Richard Marshall, Marcus Gilchrist (who split time between CB and SS), Marcus Cromartie and Crezdon Butler. Steve Williams, who missed his rookie season should compete for a starting spot. The team was very high on him going into the draft last year. If you look at headcount and talent, the talent is there barring injury.
What about the front three? NT is by far the weak link on the defensive side. Recently departed Cam Thomas got thrown around like a rag doll, giving opposing OL clean shots at Donald Butler and Mantei Te’o. Sean Lissemore did an adequate job, but the Chargers haven’t had a legitimate, space eating NT since Jamal Williams.
At OLB, Melvin Ingram came back from injury with a vengeance. Look for him to be a force in 2014. Dwight Freeney and Larry English are coming back from season-ending injuries, so there’s no way to know at this point how effective they’ll be. Jarret Johnson is a run stuffer by trade. His impact as a pass rusher was minimal. Thomas Keiser, Reggie Walker and Tourek Williams round out the OLB depth chart.
Personally, I think the front seven is where Telesco should focus. A space eating NT is a must. He can free up Butler and Te’o, along with DEs like Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget to bring inside pressure. The benefit to the inside pressure is that it frees up the pass rushing OLBs. An impact player at NT will make the entire front seven better. The pass rush will automatically improve. The secondary will immediately improve if the opposing quarterback has less time to find the open receiver.
If I were Tom Telesco, NT is where I’d look in the first round of the draft next month. Where would you look?