As you all know by now, the Los Angeles Chargers used their first-round pick on Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams.
Reactions from both the media and fans have been all over the board.
When it comes to NFL news, I prefer to stick to the network that specializes in covering America’s favorite sport: NFL Network.
Other than Steve Mariucci, Mike Mayock is my favorite cat on NFL Network, with Daniel Jeremiah and Adam Rank fitting in there somewhere, too.
Mayock dropped an article on NFL.com, highlighting his thoughts on each draft choice in the first round, including his take on the newest wide receiver to don lightning bolts.
7. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Analysis: “Mike Williams is all about separating with length, power and catch radius. He’s a dominating, physical presence. He’s a back-shoulder guy. You’ll love him in the red zone.”
Though his time as an NFL player may be forgotten by most, Mayock knows his shit. He is NOT some Mel-Kiper-Todd-McShay toolbox, looking to make a living off of having very little knowledge of the NFL game. (Don’t @ me)
Initially — yeah, it just happened and I am already adjusting — I was infuriated by the selection, adding a wideout with the squad’s first choice was a bit puzzling.
But, in reality, what do I know?
The Chargers currently have these wideouts on their roster: Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman, MIKE WILLIAMS, Da’Ron Brown, Isaiah Burse, Geremy Davis, Javontee Herndon and Jamaal Jones.
The best piece of advice I can give a sports fan is this: cheer for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
No matter how wonderful a player is on or off the field, someday either the team or the player will make the difficult decision to go a different direction. The team remains, but the players go through the never ending revolving doors known as free agency and retirement. Remember the aforementioned advise when you look at the following list of fan favorites and impact players who are on the last year of their contracts with the Chargers. Here is the list of the players who may leave at seasons end. The departure of some will leave a hole in the team. The departure of others will leave a hole in fans hearts. So as I crank up The Clash in the background, let’s take a look at who should stay and who should go, as well as what they are making for the 2016 season.
Melvin Ingram (OLB) $7.751 million: Staying: Although Ingram has had to deal with injuries and has under achieved in a statistical way, the future of Ingram seems bright. The addition of Joey Bosa has made this pair of pass-rushers quite a handful for offensive lines. The sack totals are not as impressive as their AFC West rivals, but the fact that the Chargers lead the league in interceptions is a sure sign that these guys are putting pressure on quarterbacks and forcing errant throws. For a defensive front seven to be effective in today’s NFL, there must be two dominant pass rushers and a strong Nose Tackle. Ingram, Bosa and Mebane fit the bill for now. Ingram will be pursued by other teams, but expect the Chargers to overpay a little to keep their former first round draft pick around for the next three to four years.
Danny Woodhead (RB) $5.5 million: Going: I want to be clear about something here. Danny Woodhead is a wonderful player who can be a spark-plug for an offense, and a true leader. But along with his greatness is a serious problem. Since joining the Chargers, Woodhead has only played in 37 of the 64 games he was eligible to participate in. He has had two full seasons and two cut seriously short by injury, including the 2016 campaign. Not only does Woodhead have a hard time staying healthy, he is 31 years old. Not many running backs maintain their effectiveness for long after age 30. I’m sorry to say, the Chargers will move on from Woodhead. He will either sign somewhere as a free agent for the 2017 season, or hang up the cleats. Of course, there is the possibility that the Chargers would try to sign him at a discounted price on the chance that he will stay healthy. Unfortunately, he will most likely find a better offer somewhere else.
Mantai Te’o (MLB) $5.172 million: Going: Te’o is another player who has been plagued by injuries during his time in San Diego. By seasons end, he will have played in just 38 of a possible 64 games, over his four season tenure with the Bolts. He has been improving every year, and the improvement of the defensive line has helped him scrape down the line and get to ball carriers. But, it hasn’t helped his foot-speed, or ability to cover backs in the flat. Look for opposing quarterbacks to pick on Te’o on third and long. The fact is, Te’o will go down in Chargers history as a borderline bust. Nice enough guy, just not a great football player.
Jahleel Addae (SS) $2.553 million: Going: Chargers fans seem to have a great deal of respect and admiration for SS Jahleel Addae. Why? Because he is a hitter! Fans love players who come in and lay some hat on opposing teams. Addae certainly does just that. He has been a Charger for four years and has quite the reputation for having no fear. The problem is that all those hits have really taken a toll on Addae’s body. In fact, he has had several injuries, including concussions. Having only played 43 of his possible 54 games so far as a Charger, there must be concern that he will spend more and more time on the injured list. He is fairly inexpensive, but you do not want to pay anyone to ride out injuries. I believe that if Addae fails to get through the remaining five games of the 2016 schedule without incident, the Chargers will have no choice but to let him go.
Branden Oliver (RB) $1.53 million: Staying: Normally I would have said that a player who really hasn’t done very much, and has missed an entire season to injury, would not be returning. In Oliver’s case, I think the Chargers may take one more chance. He is the epitome of a fan favorite. Bolt fans just love watching Oliver run/return the ball and bang into those large defenders. Yes, Oliver plays larger than his 5’8″, 208 lb frame. He is such a fan favorite, some fans wanted Melvin Gordon either cut, or dropped to second string, so that Oliver could get his chance. The fact of the matter is that despite a few impressive games, Oliver does not have the stats to explain the love he receives. That being said, the Bolts may just bring him back because he will be cheap and the fans love him.
Korey Toomer (OLB) $600,000: Staying: It could be a little premature to add Toomer to this list, but he has been an impact player since joining the team in week four. With his playing time increasing, Toomer has racked up 33 tackles in the last three weeks! He is an aggressive player who likes to hit. The Seahawks and the Raiders are going to regret letting this guy go. Look for Toomer to get another two the three years added to his already very affordable contract.
Dontrelle Inman (WR) $600,000: Staying: Without a whole lot of playing time, Inman has managed to have some big games. He is a sure-handed receiver that was plucked from the Canadian Football League to fill in for injured receivers. Although much of the success of the young Chargers receivers can be credited to Philip Rivers, there is no denying that Inman has the ability to get open and catch the ball. He just may be part of a talented youth movement at wide receiver in San Diego.
There are many more players to make decisions on at the end of this season. Very few are notable. None are tremendous impact players or former high draft picks. Even though these names seem less important, some of them will return because they are affordable and they add much needed depth. The following is a list of players who will most likely be brought back to fill various roles: Mike Windt (LS), Tenny Palepoi (NT), Sean McGrath (TE), Damion Square (NT), and Isaiah Burse (WR/KR), Kenny Wiggens (G).
Finally, the list of potential free agents who are either doomed to be shown the door, or will fight hard and get back on the team: Sean Lissemore (NT), Tourek Williams (OLB), Trevor Williams (CB), Asante Cleveland (TE), Adrian Phillips (FS), Kellen Clemens (QB), Javontee Herndon (WR), Codero Law (OLB), Jeff Cumberland (TE), Dexter McCluster (RB/KR), Ronnie Hillman (RB), Jeremy Butler (WR), Geremy Davis (WR), Tyreek Burwell (T), Chris Landrum (OLB). Some of these guys have a real shot at making the team next year, they just will not be high priorities for Chargers GM Tom Telesco.
So, what do you think? Which of these guys will be sporting lightning bolts next season? Leave your comments below.
Pro football focus is one of the most popular NFL-related websites out there. They have a unique, metrics-based system that they use to grade NFL players and teams.
Although I prefer to trust my eyes and what I see as opposed to going off of algorithms and formulas, they provide a useful tool which aides in the evaluation of talent in the league.
PFF.com recently ranked every receiving corps from 1-32. While the Patriots, somehow, graded out as the No. 1 corps, your San Diego Chargers finished just above the middle of the pack at 13th.
Here’s what they had to say:
13. San Diego Chargers
Projected starters: WR Keenan Allen, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Stevie Johnson, TE Antonio Gates
Key depth: WR Dontrelle Inman, WR Javontee Herndon, TE Henry Hunter
Key stat: Last season, Keenan Allen’s 2.16 yards per route run ranked 11th in the league at the time of his injury (Week 8).
Keenan Allen was on pace for the highest receiving-yardage total of his three-year career before a kidney injury wrecked his season in Week 8. That didn’t stop the Chargers from handing him a contract extension, though, and it’s hard to blame them, given his potential. Allen has forced 35 missed tackles on 223 receptions so far in his career, and figures to be the Chargers’ top wide receiver for most of the next decade—provided he can stay healthy. San Diego did make some improvements around him, though, adding former Cleveland Browns deep-threat Travis Benjamin early in free agency. Benjamin notched eight receptions for 363 yards and four touchdowns on passes traveling 20+ yards downfield last season, despite the Browns’ issues at quarterback; that deep-threat ability will fit in well with San Diego. With tight end Antonio Gates getting up there in years, they added his long-term replacement in Hunter Henry (Arkansas). Owning the highest receiving grade of all college TEs a year ago, Henry can make an impact for the Chargers in year one.
We all know how incredible the 2015 campaign was for wideout Keenan Allen until he suffered a lacerated kidney against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8. He was on a torrid pace, primed to set the team’s receptions record prior to being placed on injured reserve. With Allen entering the 2016 season ready to roll, one can expect the former third-round selection to come out and pick up where he left off.
Losing Malcom Floyd to retirement is certainly a big loss for the Chargers’ passing attack. The fact that Antonio Gates is another year older does not help, either.
But despite these two facts, the Bolts added speedster Travis Benjamin in the offseason. Though his size and frame are nothing like that of Floyd, he will be asked to stretch the field in a similar fashion to M-80. One thing that seems to go underappreciated about Benjamin is his ability to create space due to his route running. We all like to talk about how fast the former Brown is and how he can take the top off of the defense, but he can make plays underneath, using his speed to force separation between himself and defensive backs.
Stevie Johnson is no longer a receiver who can produce at the levels he did while he was with the Buffalo Bills, but, when healthy, he can still provide a possession-type role who can help the offense on third downs and in their three-wideout sets. Again, Johnson just needs to stay healthy to help contribute on a respectable level moving forward. The 2016 season is his last under contract with the Chargers.
PFF lists Inman, Herndon and rookie tight end Hunter Henry as key-depth players in the receiving corps. While I am glad they included Inman and Henry, I would have liked to see them add Tyrell Williams in place of Herndon. Herndon’s impact will most likely be as a kick returner should he not be supplanted by another Charger at the position.
Williams’ combination of size and speed cannot be taught, and I believe that we’ll see the youngster continue to mature and develop his route running, while providing quarterback Philip Rivers with the sizeable target who we all know he loves. It is imperative that Williams and Rivers continue to build a solid rapport if the receiver wants to find a regular spot on the club’s 53-man roster.
At this time, it is difficult to predict how much Henry will be used as a rookie. Though he’ll see a large number of snaps in his first season, the number of targets he receives is completely up in the air.
Overall, ranking the Chargers as having the 13th-best receiving corps sounds about right. That being said, don’t be surprised if we see them exceed expectations as long as the offensive line can keep Rivers clean, giving him ample amounts of time to find one of his many offensive weapons.
Where do you rank the Chargers’ receiving corps?
Please let me know in the comments below.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Dave Booga Peters
On paper, The San Diego Chargers have had one of their best offseasons in recent history when it comes to player acquisitions. Their 2016 NFL Draft averaged out to a B grade if you listen to the talking heads and draft gurus on TV and radio. Chargers fans once again have reason to be optimistic about the team’s chances of going worst to first and returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season.
Improving the wide receiving corps, adding team speed and improving special teams were high on the Chargers’ to-do list this offseason and they succeeded in all three facets. The loss of Malcom Floyd (retirement) was answered by the free agent signing of speed burner Cleveland Browns’ Travis Benjamin. Healthy returns of Javontee Herndon, Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman are also expected to help.
The San Diego Chargers/Denver Broncos intra-conference pipeline was still shown to be intact when the Chargers signed Broncos’ kick returner/wide receiver Isaiah Burse to their practice squad in November 2015. Now entering his second season as a pro, Burse played 12 games as a rookie in Denver as a punt returner. Last season he had 29 returns for 211 yards, good for a 7.3-yard average.
The 5’10”, 187-pound Burse showed in college at Fresno State that he has what it takes to be an elite returner as he posted an FBS single-season record for kickoff returns in 2012 with 75 returns for 1,606 yards; an average of a scorching 21.4 yards per return.
Over his four seasons at Fresno State, Burse had 126 kickoff returns for 2,835 yards (22.4 yards per return) and 29 punt returns for 344 yards (11.5 yards per return). He also caught 210 passes for 2,503 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 191 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.
After being signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent in May of 2014, Burse played most of the season before being waived then placed on the Broncos’ practice squad that December. Waived again in early September 2015, Burse was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad and released later that month. San Diego signed Burse in November 2015 and he re-signed with the Bolts’ on a Futures contract in January.
In Denver and Pittsburgh, Burse was lost in the shuffle of an already deep talent pool at wide receiver and returner. In San Diego, he will have every opportunity to claim a spot at both positions. We know the punt returner slot is already claimed by Benjamin, but a dynamic kickoff returner is something the Chargers have lacked for a long time. Given the opportunity, Burse can show he is the future of the position and etch his name in stone as a kick returner and as added depth on the wide receiver depth chart.
One look at the video below and it’s easy to see why Chargers GM Tom Telesco has tracked the 24-year old native of Modesto, CA, for so long. He runs faster on the field than the 4.58-seconds 40-yard dash time he posted at the 2014 NFL Draft Combine. He is sudden, can stop on a dime and effortlessly change direction. Burse is shifty, elusive and tenacious when attacking the defense as a receiver or returner.
The competition at wide receiver for spots on the 53-man roster will be one of the top position battles to watch when camp opens in less than two weeks. Get your popcorn ready.
Good luck, Mr. Burse.
The Greg One
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, saying the Chargers special teams unit will be improved in 2016 is a bit like predicting that college students will go out drinking in Pacific Beach this summer. We all know the Chargers’ special teams unit was atrocious last year. If fact, it really couldn’t get much worse. But I have reason to believe that this unit can go from a debilitating liability, to actually helping propel our beloved Bolts back into the playoffs in 2016. Here’s why.
Jacoby Jones is no longer on the field. Let’s take a sarcastic moment and let that sink in; just how lucky we are he got canned last November after appearing in only five games and recording NEGATIVE FOUR YARDS in punt returns. He was worse that a fair catch. Give Tom Telesco credit for pulling the plug early on Jones.
On the other hand, we can collectively boo the fact Mike McCoy and departed Special Teams Coordinator Kevin Spencer decided his replacement on punt returns was going to be Keenan Allen! I literally yelled at my TV every time I saw Keenan back to field a punt. Our future at wide receiver, back deep, just waiting to be pummeled by an onslaught of opposing special teams monsters.
Eventually injuries at wide receiver forced McCoy to promote receiver Javontee Herndon who showed promise towards the end of the season and saved the unit from being a complete dumpster fire. The addition of WR Travis Benjamin from Cleveland this offseason is a major upgrade.
Poor Mike Scifres. Mike, we love you. You are one of the best punters to ever wear the lightning bolts, but over the last couple of seasons you were blown up more than Drake’s cell phone. Not your fault (*cough* Donald Brown), but your body had taken a pounding and you could no longer pin the ball inside the five-yard line like the Chargers were paying you about $4 million dollars a year to do.
By cutting Scifres and drafting punter Drew Kaser from Texas A&M in the sixth round, the Chargers saved money and improved the punt game overnight. In addition, Josh Lambo should be able to build on a strong rookie season, having experienced kicking in division rival stadiums in 2015.
When fans talk about “Special Teams”, we tend to only mention three positions: kicker, punter and return man. There are, in fact, ten other players in the unit, unfortunately for the Chargers these other ten were mostly not good, least of all Nick Dzubnar. After showing flashes in the 2015 preseason and making the team as a backup linebacker/coverage team guy, Dzubnar’s numerous holding and illegal block penalties on special teams really hurt, and contributed to the Chargers being among the last in the league in starting field position.
The goal this year is to get him off the field. Thankfully, the Bolts drafted two linebackers that are already better than Dzubnar and they haven’t played an NFL game yet. The first is 6-foot-4, 254-pound Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry. Perry has the size, durability and tackling skill to be a difference maker on special teams. Second, my personal favorite, and possibly the steal of this draft, is 5-foot-11, 227-pound linebacker from Akron Jatavis Brown. Brown runs faster than some of the wide receivers drafted in 2016 and he can hit! Look for him to make an immediate impact on special teams and defense this year.
Players already on the roster like linebackers Tourek Williams, who is hoping to come back strong after missing most of last season with injury, and Kyle Emanuel combined on a special teams strip/fumble early last year and are going to make plays. Denzel Perryman is hopefully going to continue to lay the boom. I would look for competition at gunner to be between LB Jatavis Brown, WRs Herndon and Tyrell Williams and excellent special teamer Darrell Stuckey. At worst, this unit looks to be on the uptick to average in the NFL. At best, the Chargers’ special teams could suddenly become an asset in the battle to reach the playoffs for 2016. And that’s something we can be excited about!
Let us know what you think in the comment section below!
By now, I’m sure you have heard the news, but if you haven’t….
Former Browns WR Travis Benjamin is signing with San Diego Chargers, as @Rand_Getlin reported.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2016
The details of the contract are as follows: four-year, $24 million deal with $13 million guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter.
What he brings to the team:
TBenj brings speed and a deep threat, FINALLY, providing a nice complementary piece to Keenan Allen. TBenj is more than just speed, though, as he is also a decent route runner and is coming off his best season as a pro. Remember, his career numbers include eight different quarterbacks throwing to him and none of which are even close to Philip Rivers’ talent level.
Additionally, the former Brown is a very good punt returner, and that is something that Chargers have lacked since Darren Sproles left. He averaged 11.6 yards per return; for compariso’s sake, Javontee Herndon averaged 7.4 yards a return with 17 less chances. He has the ability to flip the field for the Chargers on occasion and also be that guy the defenses focus on that leaves the middle of the field open for KA13, opening up shorter routes for Stevie Johnson and the newly extended Antonio Gates.
Overall, this is a very nice pickup by general manager Tom Telesco. Benjamin is a solid replacement for the recently retired Malcom Floyd and also gives the Chargers a return game. TBenj could prove to be a sneaky good pickup and the move has already been praised by Fantasy Football Guru, Adam Rank.
I’m going to officially start the hype train for Travis Benjamin right now. He’s poised for a huge breakout with the @Chargers. Nice move.
— Adam Rank (@adamrank) March 9, 2016
Zak “Z-Sizzle” Darman
Another Sunday and another loss for the San Diego Chargers. The team dropped its sixth straight game, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs at home by a score of 33-3.
The Chiefs came into the game riding a three-game winning streak after dropping five in a row. The team was getting hot just as it traveled to Qualcomm to take on the Bolts. The Chargers, on the other hand, had lost five straight as the season was spiraling into nothingness.
The day was supposed to be a special one with the team wearing their powder blue jerseys and the retirement of Chargers’ great LaDainian Tomlinson’s number at halftime. LT was also inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
The team was stagnant and inept for all four quarters of the contest, mustering only a second-quarter field goal for its only points of the game. Rookie kicker Josh Lambo nailed a 52-yarder.
Quarterback Philip Rivers was held to a season-low 178 yards passing. He received little help from the receiving corps as the wideouts and receiving options dropped multiple passes, struggling to get open and provide Rivers with the necessary windows to fit the ball in there. The signal caller threw an interception on a screen-pass attempt that Chiefs’ defender Justin Houston took back for a score.
Houston wasn’t the only defensive player for Kansas City to score on the day, as defensive tackle Dontari Poe came in at the goal line, leaping over the pile for the touchdown.
Yup, the Chargers are finding even more inventive ways to give up scores.
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson was the only consistent target, hauling in seven receptions for a team-high 54 yards.
Obviously that is not very impressive, which would be the story of the day for the Bolts.
Speaking of struggling, rookie running back Melvin Gordon continued to be unable to make any kind of positive impact on the ground, rushing for 37 yards on 15 carries, averaging only 2.5 yards per carry on the day.
For the year, Gordon has managed to accumulate only 450 yards in 10 games this year. He still has yet to score his first NFL touchdown.
Defensively, the Chargers played very poorly, missing tackles and giving up far too many explosive plays. Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith was surgical, carving up the Chargers’ defense with 253 yards passing on 20 completions out of 25 attempts.
The defense did manage to sack Smith three times with Corey Liuget, Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman getting their once each. Perryman’s sack was the first of his rookie season. He was one of the only bright spots for the team, flying all over the field and making plays.
The Chiefs managed to churn out 153 yards in the rushing game with Spencer Ware gaining 96 yards on only 11 carries. Ware had two touchdowns on the day with one going for 52 yards.
Other than the special halftime ceremony honoring LT, the most “interesting” part of the loss was a spat between Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates on the sideline.
In a heated exchange between the two veterans, it appeared that Gates told Rivers he would “beat his ass” as the two argued with each other.
That is what this season has become, two of the team’s stars exchanging very heated words. Although it shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, it is not a good look considering how badly the team has been performing.
The 2015 season is all over but the crying. Fans of the Chargers had already begun to jump ship and it is only going to get worse as the team is falling on its face week in and week out.
If the season were to end today, the Bolts would have the second pick in the first round of the 2016 draft. Many have started to hope that the club continues to lose, enabling them to lock in a top-three selection in the upcoming draft.
At this point, due to the inordinate amount of holes on the roster, the Chargers seem to be in position to focus on drafting the best player available come 2016.
The team’s next opportunity to continue its streak of ineptitude is on the road next Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville comes into the Week 12 contest with a record of 4-6, coming off of a victory over the Tennessee Titans.
The story of the San Diego Chargers season just continues to go from bad to worse. Here we go yet again, back to the “next man up” philosophy. What else could derail this train?
Chargers fandom was rocked when the story broke that third year wideout Keenan Allen had sustained a lacerated kidney, and subsequently undergone surgery. The rock cracked a bit, as the team later announced that the 23-year-old pass-catcher was being placed on season-ending injured reserve. Tough to swallow because Allen was having arguably the best season since his 2013 rookie year.
That rock is now almost smashed because that plague called injury just will NOT give the Chargers any respite.
The Monday night home game against the Bears saw the ever-reliable and the Chargers own man of some acrobatic catches, Malcom Floyd, go down with a left shoulder injury late in the second quarter. As the game went on, it was announced that he was in sweats on the team’s sideline. Again, the Bolts suffered a huge loss to its arsenal of wide receivers – M80 has a torn labrum. This is so horrifically indicative of the way 2015 has thus far proceeded for San Diego – jinxed.
Word is that Floyd is going to rehab and try to play with the injury. In his final season wearing lightning bolts on his shoulders, Floyd wants to finish on his own terms, not those dictated by injury. If you recall, last year cornerback Jason Verrett tried to play through a labrum torn in three places during the Oakland game. He ended up having surgery and being placed on IR. Will this be the case for M80? We will all know more as the bye week comes to a close and the team monitors his pain level approaching the Kansas City game on November 22.
In the meantime, what will that decimated unit look like going forward? With Floyd’s status day-to-day per Coach McCoy, here is what I anticipate seeing on the field:
Signed in the offseason, the free agent speedster sat out games against Pittsburgh and Green Bay due to a balky hamstring.
From the time he stepped onto the field at Chargers Park, he and Rivers developed a chemistry which Johnson described after an early August practice. Said Johnson, “Phil is great, man. We’ve linked together as brothers, and it’s only four (actually five) days. He makes our job easy. Even when we make a mistake, he can clean it up just with his touch, with his savvy and how he plays the game. He just makes the game easier for receivers.”
Bolts signal caller Rivers and Johnson are going to have to expound and further rely on that rapport as now Johnson will be the go-to guy. He may not have the speed he once had, but he has great hands and is the only veteran receiver left on the roster. Through seven games Johnson has tallied 31 receptions (47 targets) for 351 yards plus two scores. That translates into a 50.1 receiving yard per game percentage (183 total after the catch) that the team desperately needs at this point of their schedule. Here’s hoping Johnson provides much-needed leadership to the young receivers and produces more than the proverbial smack to the forehead when he makes a crucial first down.
At 6’3″, 205 pounds, the undrafted free agent wideout from Virginia is a former player of the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), who won the Grey Cup in 2012.
Inman signed a reserve/futures contract in January 2014. In his first preseason game as a Charger, he had three receptions for 107 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, including a 70-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Inman secured his spot on the 53-man roster with another impressive performance in his last preseason game, leading receivers with three receptions for 54 yards. He would finish the season with 12 catches for 158 yards (13.2 yards per catch) in two games.
Asked recently about how it felt to see more playing time, Inman responded: “Once you gain the confidence of your quarterback, your game elevates ten times. A receiver is nothing without his quarterback. I don’t care how good you are, you’ve seen many great receivers not make it in this league just because they didn’t have a good quarterback.”
To date, the second-year pro has suited up for eight games, collecting 170 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions. As with the rest of the self-nicknamed “Aliens” receiver corps, Inman must step up his game. I have no doubt that he is up to the task, based on what he has already shown.
The explosive Herndon will be able to make something positive come out of the long weeks sitting on the Bolts’ practice squad. The 6’3, 194-pounder out of the University of Arkansas was pegged a starter after seeing fellow wideouts Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones exit the 53-man roster last Tuesday with Allen going to IR and Jones being cut.
The hope is that Herndon will be able to do what Jones could not and create that missing spark in the return game.
The young guy wearing number 81 on his back considers Malcom Floyd his mentor and a player he wants to fashion himself after.
When asked about the similarities of Allen and Herndon and how their playing opportunities came about, Floyd said “I’m sure it’s tougher when you get your opportunity (when a teammate gets hurt), but I don’t think it’s tougher once you get out there. Your opportunity’s the same. I’m sure they hate it had to come at the expense of one of their buddies, but they are excited to get their chance. But I don’t think those two comparisons are parallel in the sense of expectations. We believe in Javontee, but I don’t think we should be thinking this will be like the Keenan of 2013. That’s not fair to him. I’m sure Javontee is fired up, but hates that it happened because Keenan can’t play. But once you get going, you’ve got to go.”
Said Herndon on his upcoming debut:
“I have more experience as a punt returner, but at the end of the day it’s about just going out there and making the play,” he said. “I don’t have as much experience at kickoff return, but if I get the chance, I’ll just go out there and run. The coaches told me just run north and south. Just get some yards. We need some yards. It’s about the field position, and that’s what I’m going to try to do my best to get.”
Herndon had one kick return go for 24 yards plus a solitary 12 yard catch after he was pressed into more playing time once Floyd went out of the game.
Could the divisional game against the Chiefs see the young wideout (6’4″, 204 pounds) take the field? Since signing with the team in May as an UDFA from Western Oregon, the talented rookie has spent his time on the practice squad, with the exception of an appearance against the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason.
At his pro day he ran the 40 in 4.38 and 4.42 seconds, which would have been fifth best if he had been invited to the NFL Combine. He has prototypical size, a mean streak as a blocker and great quickness when setting up defenders and making a move. He also possesses great hands, especially when in traffic and on jump balls. He has a wide catching radius and an impressive vertical (39.5″) to go up and get footballs. After the catch, he is a load to bring down. For the Wolves, Williams played both as outside and slot receiver and his 164 career receptions are a Western Oregon record. In his senior year, he hauled in 56 passes for 950 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his college career with 165 catches for 2,792 yards and 21 touchdowns.
All in all, this group looks like they could rule from goal line to goal line. However, as we have all seen thus far, looking good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate to the playing field. The first and second options will be on the sidelines, watching second stringers and practice squad guys play in their place.
What started with such promise has pretty much crash and burned, and it’s only week ten. Disheartening, certainly. Yet this team has shown us over the years that they have gumption. Whether they manage it this time around is anybody’s guess. With a 2-7 record it appears the best the Chargers can do is focus on the future and a top ten pick in the 2016 draft.
Maybe the retiring of LT’s No. 21 jersey on November 22 will be the catalyst the Bolts need to kick butt the rest of the way.
When all is said and done…I just hope the bleeding of the blue and gold comes to a stop pretty damn quick.
Thanks for reading!
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
The Chargers announced that they have released return man Jacoby Jones on Tuesday.
Jones signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract this offseason with the team.
The former Raven was signed to provide the much-needed spark that the Bolts were missing in both the kick return and punt return departments. Jones totaled minus-four yards on five punt returns and 193 yards on nine kickoff returns.
Jones was not brought in to make an impact as a wide receiver, and he certainly did not, seeing as he did not have even one reception. You can count his offensive snaps on two fingers (maybe even one or none, so to speak).
I have no problem admitting that I was ecstatic when he was signed by general manager Tom Telesco. I expected him to do just what Telesco expected; provide a genuine threat in the return game that would help the Chargers win the field-position game against opposing teams.
In defense of Jones, the Chargers’ special teams units have been plain terrible at opening lanes for all of the San Diego returners in both the kick and punt return games. But seeing him watch a punt hit the ground on the 20-yard line — when he clearly could have caught it, calling for a fair catch — and it rolling down to the three-yard line at an incredibly crucial time of the game made it clear; he wasn’t the guy up to that point and he wasn’t going to be moving forward.
Now that Jones is gone, and the team has promoted Javontee Herndon to the 53-man roster, Herndon should take over duties at both kick returner and punt returner.
Though Jones was not used as a receiver, Herndon could provide some depth to the receiving units, as well.
So long, Jacoby. We wish you nothing but the best in all of your future endeavors.