Korey Toomer has only been wearing lightning bolts since September, but it surely seems longer.
The former Oakland Raider is as happy to be with the Chargers as they are to have him. He is finally getting an opportunity to put his talents on display, especially that 4.53-second 40-yard dash.
After being drafted by Seattle in 2012 (round 5, selection No. 154). He was on the roster for 20 (including preseason) games during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory in 2013. Between being on injured-reserve for two straight years and having guys like Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner ahead of him, it was difficult for Toomer to get on the field in Seattle. He was released from the Seahawks in 2014. Subsequent stops in Dallas and St. Louis with minimal playing time (special teams only) garnered three tackles in seven games. More of the same followed in Oakland, so much so that he terminated his contract with the Raiders to sign in San Diego.
The signing of the ultra athletic Toomer has gone a long way towards solidifying the linebacking corps. Season-ending injuries to Manti Te’o and Nick Dzubnar left a void that demanded filling. Recent injuries to both Jatavis Brown (knee) and Denzel Perryman (hamstring) only increased the necessity of his presence.
Ahead of the match-up against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Toomer had started in four out of seven games. One of his best plays to date came in the Thursday Night Football game when he tackled Broncos wide receiver Jordan Taylor and the Broncos’ player coughed up the ball. The fumble recovery led to a San Diego field goal and put the Chargers up 13 points on their division foes. San Diego went on to win that game, their first victory in the AFC West since 2014.
Since mid-October, Toomer has amassed 51 tackles, the majority of which are solo (37), defended against two passes, forced three fumbles and notched one fumble recovery. There were impressive stats against both the Tennessee Titans (nine tackles/eight solo) and the Miami Dolphins (11/10), including three-and-a-half tackles for lost yardage. In the Houston game, the veteran linebacker recorded 13 more tackles (four solo) and a quarterback hit.
Having Toomer back there to get receivers off routes has been fun to watch, as well. His ability to reroute crossers and drags which run through the linebacking corps’ area can significantly alter the short passing games of opposing offenses. He has helped solidify that inside linebacking group.
Speaking to Ricky Henne of chargers.com in October, Toomer stated:
“Pags’ system is benefitting me because he is letting me play fast. He is putting me in positions not to fail. That is why it is working for the both of us. I feel like these coaches are giving me a chance. Granted, I made good on the situation. These coaches have put me in position to make plays and are not putting too much on my plate. They are letting me fly around. I am grateful for these coaches giving me a call and giving me a chance to play this game. I want to show people I can bring more to the table than just special teams. I love special teams, that’s where I want to play for the rest of my career as well, but I want to play defense, too.”
Whether he plays defense or special teams, the fact that Toomer left a division rival in order to grasp an opportunity with both hands shows he has gained confidence in himself and his ability.
Bring on the Bucs and Mike Evans!
*Featured image credit: AP – Denis Poroy
Melvin Ingram stated that he had things to show this year.
All the time he has spent studying film, all the hard work and sweat have coalesced into an opportunity he might have briefly thought about: defensive captain. On Wednesday, the Chargers named Ingram as the player who would wear the big “C” on his jersey in place of Manti Te’o, who was recently placed on IR (Achilles’ tear). The other defensive captain is nose tackle Brandon Mebane.
“I ain’t showed nothing,” Ingram told U-T San Diego back in June. “I have so much to show…It ain’t even started. You ain’t even seen what I got going on…When the season starts, everyone is going to see. It’s fixing to get real.”
The fifth-year pro appears to still carry a chip on his shoulder as a result of having missed 25 games in a little more than a year due to injuries. The 2015 campaign was his first full 16-game season since his 2012 rookie year. First there was the torn ACL which occurred May 14, 2013, during OTAs. He did not return to action until early December. Next came the hip injury sustained in a 2014 game against the Seahawks that caused him to miss seven weeks of playing time.
I think after all that adversity I’d be frustrated too!
Through the first three games of 2016, the former South Carolina Gamecock has pretty much matched the statistics of his initial year. Already, No. 54 has collected a combined eight tackles with seven of those being individual efforts. Additionally, Ingram has totaled two sacks, a forced fumble (FF) and a lone defended pass. In his first four career games, he was well on is way to being a force with seven solo tackles and an assist, three PDs and one FF.
In April of 2015, Tom Telesco and the Chargers chose to exercise the fifth-year option of Ingram’s rookie contract. It is worth $7.751 million, per Spotrac.com. It includes a guarantee for injury and becomes fully guaranteed should the stud linebacker be on the roster come Day 1 of the 2017 League Year.
The 2016 season is indeed a year in which “SupaMelvin” will be showcasing his worth from now until December. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017, so he is also playing for the future. Whether that career remains in San Diego or continues elsewhere is unknown.
Fellow teammate Jeremiah Attaochu said it best to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com: “He is a leader first and foremost. And he does it all by example with the way he comes out there each day and plays. He is motivating to all of us with the way he does that. We need that right now as a defense with Manti going down. When Melvin speaks, everyone listens.”
The future is now for Ingram, and if he can get back to the level of play he was on the last nine games of 2015, he’ll receive a large contract and, most likely, remain with the Chargers for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for reading!
For San Diego fans and NFL fans everywhere, this is the time of year where expectations are the highest. All teams went through a draft, have not lost a game and can possibly win their division – on their way to becoming the next Super Bowl Champion. The jaded fans grow into optimists about the players, coaches and organization.
Heading into the 2016 NFL season, every sports writer makes their attempt in finding that diamond in the rough; predicting which players will exceed everyone’s expectations. It is an easy task to take on, considering there is no accountability in the event those prophecies don’t pan out.
On the flip side, those players named in their write-up will become that writer’s metaphorical “baby.” Cheering on the named players as if they were the ones who drafted and molded them, hoping they turn into an 18-carat jewel and not a cubic zirconia. Some writers base their forecasts strictly on stats, and possibly going to the extreme with logarithms and equations that would make any math genius giddy with excitement. Others, like myself, use statistics sparingly, mixing in their gut-feeling about certain players.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
After the dreadful 2015 season, where the team from America’s finest city landed in the bottom of almost every offensive and defensive category, 2016 fills the lungs anew, smelling of sweet hopefulness and the taste of victory. With that, let us look at a few players whom this writer feels will surpass expectations.
Branden Oliver – The undrafted running back out of the University of Buffalo is playing in his third season with San Diego. After 191 rushing attempts and 49 receptions in two seasons, Oliver has yet to fumble the football.
After Ryan Mathews went down with another injury in 2014, Bo was able to showcase his talents and determination. Watching him closely his rookie season, I was amazed with this lower body strength and ability to fight for those extra yards.
Entering his second year in 2015, he was back down on the depth chart with the selection of first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon and the recovered Danny Woodhead.
Bo, entering his final season under his rookie contract, is a hard worker and might be playing with a chip on his shoulder. Oliver has latched on to Woodhead as his mentor and seems to have healed from last season’s turf toe injury that he sustained in Week 8, landing him on the injured reserved and ending his season.
With Gordon entering his second season after an insipid rookie campaign and Woodhead healthy, Oliver will more than likely begin again as the third back. As the third on any depth chart, expectations are slim. It is no secret that the run game will be targeted to emerge as a force, especially with Ken Whisenhunt once again calling the shots. In addition to his strong work ethic and ability to hold on to the ball, his quickness and power will allow Oliver to gain more snaps and targets this upcoming season.
Brandon Flowers – The 30-year-old cornerback enters his third season with the Chargers. A former Pro Bowler, Flowers initially signed a one-year contract with San Diego and played as well as expected, earning him a four-year contract at the end of the 2014 season. With a lucrative contract in the books, Brandon’s body language and his constant lack of effort was that similar to former Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler, who signed a big contract only to show nothing on the field.
According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers ended the 2015 season being graded as the third-worst corner out of a possible 111 qualifiers. It might be too simple to pick Brandon as someone who will exceed expectations, because it would not seem possible to get any worse.
Not wanting to follow in Butler’s footsteps, who to this day is still unsigned, the cornerback has come into San Diego with resurgence and a body that shows how hard he has worked in the offseason.
With Jason Verrett earning a Pro Bowl spot after his second season, Brandon will be looked upon as a mentor for Verrett while he is learning to play the inside more.
Flowers is a defensive back and not just a corner. At his age, and his horrid season where he did not record one interception, it might be easy to imply that his tank is on empty, not being able to perform like he did in Kansas City and his first year in America’s Finest City. However, Brandon is a professional and entered spring in great shape, with a competitive spirit and a smile on his face.
If healthy, he will return this season and reestablish himself as the reliable corner who the organization can count on.
Jeremiah Attaochu – A decade ago, San Diego was enjoying the fact that they housed the an incredible pass-rushing tandem of Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. With the 2016 season approaching, Chargers fans might once again be able to see two outside linebackers strike fear into opposing offenses.
Melvin Ingram has solidified his dominance and respect around the league and Jeremiah is catching up. Combined, Ingram and Attaochu accounted for a little more than half of the total sacks for the Bolts in 2015.
A vast improvement from his rookie season to last year’s crusade, Jerry needs to stay consistent all year if he is to improve on his six sacks. Utilizing his quickness and his ability to get in the backfield, there is no reason why his numbers will not again balloon in 2016.
One of the hardest and most diligent workers on the team, Jeremiah already showed improvements at spring practices. He might be underrated, and if teams will focus on Ingram, which they will, the second-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech will continue to disrupt the opposition with an even stronger force than teams have seen so far. Expect a sizeable jump in both sack numbers and tackles for loss this upcoming season, all the while creating a ferocious duo with teammate Ingram.
Comment below on which players you feel will exceed expectations.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
The hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.
After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.
At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.
Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:
August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.
August 15, 2014: Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.
Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.
The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.
Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.
Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.
Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”
Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.
I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.
What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
Since the end of free agency all the focus and attention has been who the San Diego Chargers were taking with the third pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. So many rumors and names were thrown around prior to the draft. Chargers Nation feared the worst. Ronnie Stanley was widely rumored to be the pick. Well thank God these couch GM’s aren’t actually making the picks. Chargers GM Tom Telesco made the pick and boy did he make a good one. With that third pick the GM chose:
Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
Virtually a unanimous number one pick before 2015 college football season his stock seemed to take plunge with worries about his first step. I even questioned his motor at times. That notwithstanding I love this pick! Telesco shows that defense needs to be the priority. With an aging Philip Rivers the defense needs to start setting the tone instead of the offense. Taking Bosa ensures a man with unmeasurable talent will be manning our front seven for years to come. Bosa is a phyiscal freak and his brute strength gives him power to bull rush opposing offensive linemen.
Where does he fit in our Scheme?
Truth be told the Chargers only run our base 3-4 defense 50% of the time. The other 50% is a 4-2-5 (4 Defensive linemen 2 linebackers 5 defensive backs). In this scheme Bosa can put his hands in the ground and do what he did at Ohio State and play defensive end. The Chargers said he will play defensive end in our 3-4 scheme as well. Bosa’s role will be similar to JJ Watt. Will we see the bolts move Bosa around as well like the Texans do with Watt? Time will only tell.
Will he be a game wrecker?
One thing the Chargers have lacked for years since the days of Merriman and Philips is a true game wrecker up front. Bosa has all the skills and ability to wreak havoc up front. With the addition of Mebane and a healthy Corey Liuget it may be hard to stop Bosa from busting through. Add Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu coming from the outside and this defense could be the best it’s been in years.
Biggest takeaway from the Bosa pick
Joey Bosa wants to be here. He comes to work. He eats drinks and sleeps football. “I don’t have many passions in my life” Bosa said in his interview. “One is football. I love football.” This kid comes from a winning pedigree at Ohio State where he helped lead the Buckeyes to a national title. Oh and who can forget he was rocking that bolo tie! What could be a better sign than that!
After suffering an embarrassing loss last week at home to Denver, the San Diego Chargers will have the daunting task of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are red-hot, riding a six-game winning streak and pushing for a playoff spot. San Diego is playing for pride in their last four games as their season has been derailed by a litany of injuries to key players on offense and defense.
Kansas City was also expected to fall into the AFC West cellar after losing their perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season eight weeks ago. Instead, they rallied around each other and have recovered from a 1-5 record to put themselves in playoff contention. Keying their turnaround has been an improved defense led by bookend defensive ends Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Add in an emotional boost from safety Eric Berry (after missing a year and successfully beating Cancer) and you have a defense that has forced multiple turnovers a team record seven weeks in a row.
San Diego has a tall mountain to climb but we all know the old adage about any given Sunday. Last week, the lowly Philadelphia Eagles beat the almighty New England Patriots. Anything can and will happen on an NFL Sunday. The Bolts stand the same punchers chance of winning that the Eagles did. How could if happen?
When the Chiefs have the ball
Kansas City handed the Chargers their worst home loss of the season, 33-3 in week 11. Unknown running back Spencer Ware lit up the Chargers defense for 96 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 52-yard run. Running backs Ware and Charcandrick West will look to ground out a victory as they have been doing during their current winning streak.
The passing game has also found life in Kansas City, led by offseason acquisition Jeremy Maclin. Maclin leads the receiving corps with 66 catches for 817 yards and five touchdowns. A close second is tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 56 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith is known as a game manager but a better adjective would be consistent. Smith doesn’t have gaudy numbers but he also does not turn the ball over. To date, Smith is 246-376 for 2843 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is also dangerous with his legs. While is isn’t a speed demon, he is third on the team in rushing with 60 carries for 326 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he has run for 19 first downs on the season.
San Diego will have to find a way to generate a pass rush which has been easier said than done this season. For as great as their defensive line has been, the same can’t be said for their offensive line. KC’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks. The Chargers are not averaging two sacks a game as they have 22 sacks on the season. Liuget was third on the team with three sacks. Melvin Ingram (5 sacks) and Jeremiah Attaochu (4.5 sacks) lead the team rushing the passer and will be leaned on to continue to do so. The defense will also have to do a better job bottling the KC ground attack. In the last game the Chiefs had three ground touchdowns and one pick-6 by Justin Houston.
When the Chargers have the ball
Quarterback Philip Rivers is losing targets seemingly every week. Three wide receivers are gone with Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman and Stevie Johnson out. Malcolm Floyd is playing through a shoulder injury. During the week, the Chargers enlisted the services of former Charger wideout Vincent Brown. Brown will start in a thin receiving lineup currently consisting of Floyd, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams. The load of a team and a city has rested heavily on the shoulders of Rivers. Somehow, Rivers is third in the league in passing with 3713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rivers is also playing through a foot injury and illness he contracted during the past week.
Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are the most consistent options Rivers has at this point. The two have combined for 70 receptions for 784 yards and eight touchdowns. Using the underutilized option of playing the two together would open running lanes for Gordon and Danny Woodhead and allow the Chargers to move the ball down the field. In their first encounter, Rivers only managed to 178 yards on 30 attempts without a touchdown.
Rivers has had no help in the running game. Melvin Gordon has not been able to get going and carries the ignominious label of running back with the most carries without a touchdown. Gordon has 565 yards on 155 carries. The Chargers offensive line has had more combinations than an Rubik’s Cube and Rivers has paid for it. The line has given up 30 sacks.
Chargers O-line vs. Kansas City pass rush. Rivers was harassed throughout the first encounter by the stout Kansas City defensive front. Rivers was sacked three times, and gave up the pick six to Houston. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generates significant pass rush up the middle. If the Bolts offensive line can keep those three in check, Rivers will have time do dissect the Chiefs’ formidable secondary led by Berry and rookie of the year candidate CB Marcus Peters. Peters has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown on the season.
This game does not look like winnable on the surface. San Diego has lost seven of their last eight games. Three of their last four games are against the AFC West where they are 0-3 to date. Will the Chiefs be looking past the Chargers? Having Rivers under center always gives the Bolts a chance to win. The Chargers know what to expect now that they have game tape on West and Ware. Rivers had his worst game of the season against the Chiefs. Look for the QB to bounce back and put yardage and touchdowns against the Chiefs. While I won’t go so far as to say the Bolts will win, they will give Kansas City a better battle than the 33-3 beatdown the Chargers suffered at home three weeks ago.
The Greg One
Panic and disbelief quickly spread through the San Diego Chargers fanbase Monday when the report surfaced that the Chargers would not extend All-Pro safety and defensive captain Eric Weddle this season. Weddle is in the final year of his contract and sat out voluntary minicamp as his form of protest for being ‘highly, highly disrespected’ by the Bolts’ front office.
The perennial Pro Bowl selection has a legitimate beef. He’s made three of the last four Pro Bowls, his production has increased each year over the past three seasons and right now he’s at the top of his game. Other players around him are getting their deals extended before the expiration of their contracts. On the same day the news broke about Weddle, it was also revealed that the Chargers are, as quickly and quietly as possible, finalizing an extension for defensive end Corey Liuget. Disrespected indeed.
Or is it?
Liuget is one of the 25-and-under nucleus of talent Telesco is ensuring stay in San Diego for years to come on defense, avoiding contract hassles down the road. Donald Butler received a new seven-year deal last offseason. Manti Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu, Tourek Williams, Ryan Carrethers and the new draftees are under contract for at least the next two years. The team also exercised their fifth-year option on Melvin Ingram for 2016. Fifth-year options are not guaranteed, and it serves the purpose of keeping him in place on the roster in a position where he has to perform to earn a lucrative second contract. For once, the defensive line will be a place of stability and consistency with young, hungry players unable to rest on their laurels.
Back to the All-Pro in question: Would Telesco actually let the season end without extending Weddle?
He can. He will. Here’s why.
All the leverage is in Telesco’s capable hands. Yes, Weddle is auditioning for 31 other teams now. If he gets to the offseason without an extension, every other team is going to back up the Brinks truck to his door to court him.
The problem is, he isn’t going anywhere.
Telesco has the power of the franchise tag in his back pocket. A player can be franchised a maximum of two times. In essence, Telesco can ensure Weddle will remain in lightning bolts for the next three seasons. Weddle is ensured he will be paid on par with the top-10 safeties in the league. Telesco has the leeway to use the tag as much or as little as he likes knowing that Weddle is essentially playing three one-year contracts. The Chargers get the best safety in the game at the height of his powers. If he suffers a debilitating injury, or there is a decline in his skills, the GM can cut bait any time he sees fit. Feathers get ruffled, but, in the end, everybody wins.
From a management standpoint, Weddle is over 30. Traditionally, that’s the age where skills start going downhill. The wear and tear of season after season takes a toll. Players that once couldn’t get past you now can. Telesco is keeping a watchful eye of this happening. Regardless of whether or not the fan base or the player likes it, it’s the safe play and it’s what’s best for the team. How many times have we heard, ‘The NFL is a business’? Weddle knows. Everyone in the locker room knows. We as fans know.
What’s the downside?
If Weddle gets vocal and demands a trade, Telesco could see fit to deal him rather than let the saga drag out through the media. Teams would still have to pony up a great deal to get Weddle out of San Diego knowing that the GM doesn’t have to do anything. The Chargers get beneficial pieces or picks in return.
Will this affect players re-signing with the Chargers after watching this episode play out or stop free agents from coming in? At the end of the day, every player is out to take care of himself. You can stand up for your teammate, but if management is willing to break open the vault for you, your teammate takes a back seat. We know the shelf-life of an NFL player is four to five years. That’s a short amount of time to make money and get out with one’s health intact. As we’re seeing now, it all comes down to money. Someone has to take it and in the next few seasons San Diego will have a lot to give.
Simply put, there is no downside.
We may balk at how Weddle is being treated, but we’re not seeing the big picture. When this season rolls around and he’s at his All-Pro best, all this will be forgotten as we’re swept up in the jubilation of another NFL season. We’ve praised Telesco for reshaping the team and bringing back excitement after the unceremonious dismissal of the previous regime. This is arguably the first move that has been widely panned by the fan base. But in reality, he’s done more to make sure Weddle stays on the team by getting the core players to surround him for the next few seasons as opposed to pushing him out the door.
The Greg One
With the 2015 NFL draft quickly approaching, Chargers fans are anxiously waiting to find out what General Manager (GM) Tom Telesco has up his sleeve. As usual, rumors are running rampant as fans, talking heads, writers, and so-called experts try to predict the future. Will Philip Rivers be traded? Will the Chargers look to bolster a weak defensive front, or will they look to add another play maker on offense? If the Chargers keep Rivers, will they draft an heir apparent? With all of these questions looming before the big day, Chargers fans have one thing in common. They have to place their trust in the hands of Tom Telesco.
Let us take a look at Telesco’s track record drafting players for the Bolts. The following is a list of all of the players that Telesco has drafted in the last two years, it they are a starter, and how each of them has done with the team. Take a look and decide for yourself if you think Telesco has an eye for talent.
Before you inspect Telesco’s acquisitions, remember that most people will tell you that it takes at least three years before you can truly assess the result of a draft. Some players are ready to start in their rookie season, others not until they have had a chance to learn. Still others just do not pan out. The word “bust” will not be used to describe any of the draft picks as the players who were drafted high have not had a long enough period of time to prove themselves. The players drafted in the later rounds were never expected to become stars in the first place so to label them a bust would be unfair to all involved.
Now, read the following list and let me know what you think of Telesco’ efforts so far.
Rd Player Position College
1 D.J. Fluker OL Alabama
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Played through injuries (started 31/32 games)
Notes: Fluker was an immediate impact player for the Chargers. His large body and nasty attitude was just what the battered offensive line needed. Fluker held down the starting right tackle position at a level rarely seen from a rookie. Fluker took what many would consider a step back in 2014. No one is sure whether his apparent regression was due to injury, or the rest of the league discovering that he struggles to cover the outside speed rush. There were even times last season when some of the stronger defenders in the league physically pushed Fluker around. That was not expected and leads one to believe that his injuries were greater than let on. Many have questioned if Fluker will be moved to right guard next season. At this point the Chargers say that they are happy with him at tackle. We will see what the draft brings.
2 Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Missed much of rookie year (13 starts in ’14)
Notes: As a much heralded linebacker, coming out of college, hopes were high for Te’o. Some over-zealous Bolts fans even went so far as to hint that he may be the next coming of Junior Seau! Unfair expectations, a pre-draft scandal, and a serious injury combined to make his rookie season less than impressive, to say the least. In fact, those same fans that were calling him a savior were beginning to call him a bust. After so much time missed in his rookie season, Te’o came into 2014 as basically a red-shirt freshman. Throughout the season he continued to learn and grow as a player. He started 13 games in ’14 and recorded 80 tackles, one sack, and seven passes defended. He may not be the next coming of Junior, but there is every reason to be optimistic where Te’o is concerned.
3 Keenan Allan WR California
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Injured late in ’14 season (29 of 32 starts)
Notes: Tom Telesco had to be happily surprised to find that Allen had not left the board by the time the Charges third round pick came around. It didn’t take long for Allen to define his role on the team as an impact player. In his rookie season, Allen excited Chargers fans as he racked up 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. With an average of over 14 yards per catch, it appeared that Allen was ready to take over as the Chargers number one receiver in 2014. A sophomore slump of sorts was the reality for Allen in 2014. He did not have a bad season. In fact, his reception total went up from 71 to 77 catches. The problem was that even with more receptions, his total yards dropped to just 783 yards for an average of just over 10 yards per catch. It appears that Allen is becoming a very good possession receiver, rather than a down field threat. With some new additions at WR for 2015, we may see Allen move to the slot where he will not be lined up against the number one defensive back. He should see resurgence in 2015.
5 Steve Williams DB California
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Injured for entire rookie season (10 tackles in ’14)
Notes: Steve Williams went down to injury almost immediately in his rookie season, so in his sophomore year he was more like a “red-shirt” freshman. He still had a lot to learn and had to get ready physically for the daily grind of the NFL. Williams only appeared in 13 games last season with just 10 tackles. Hopes are still high for Williams, although his time to progress is now. If Williams expects to be a weekly contributor to the Chargers defense, he must be greatly improved in 2015.
6 Tourek Williams DE Florida International
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Although Williams has not had any major injuries since joining the Chargers, he still has yet to show that he can be an impact player in the NFL. He did manage to rack up six starts his rookie season, but declined back to zero starts in 2014. Perhaps expecting more from a sixth round pick is unfair, but many Chargers fans are growing tired of having their front seven get pushed around in the trenches. Much like Steve Williams, if Tourek Williams wants to have a bright future in the NFL, he needs to step up his game now.
7 Brad Sorenson QB Southern Utah
Still on Team: Yes (PS) Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: The Chargers took a flyer on Sorenson in hopes that at the very least he could be a quality back-up for starter Philip Rivers. In his rookie season, Sorenson showed promise in the pre-season, but was only active on four game days. The Bolts let him go for part of the 2014 season as Tennessee snatched him off of their practice squad. After failing to impress in Tennessee, he found himself back on the Chargers practice squad later that season. This upcoming pre-season should be a make or break time for Sorenson’s career.
Rd Player Position College
1 Jason Verrett DB TCU
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Injured (6 games played in ’14)
Notes: It only took until week three of the 2014 season for Verrett to crack the starting lineup. His coverage skills along with his ability to tackle proved to Chargers fans that Chargers GM certainly got this pick right. Unfortunately, after only four starts, Verrett went down with a collar bone injury and was unable to return. If Verrett heals well and continues to show the skills he showed in his rookie season, he could be a huge asset for the Chargers defense. The only concern about Verrett is that at 5’9” and only 189 lbs, will his body be able to withstand the pounding of the NFL? Time will tell.
2 Jeremiah Attaochu LB Georgia Tech
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Healthy (11 appearances in ’14)
Notes: Although his rookie year with the Bolts was not exactly remarkable, he did show signs that perhaps there he is a diamond in the rough. He never cracked the starting lineup in ’14, but with the departure of several linebackers, 2015 looks like his time to shine. It is still way too early in Attaochu’s career to decide if this pick was a winner or a bust.
3 Chris Watt OL Notre Dame
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Drafted for immediate depth and a future starting role, Watt found himself thrown right into the mix in his rookie season. So much for learning by watching, he was given a baptism of fire in 2014. Not only did he play in 11 games, he started five of them! Not only did he start five games, but he started them at a position his was unfamiliar with, center. Yes, the early injury of legendary Charger Nick Hardwick was key turning point for the Chargers last season. Four different players tried to fill Hardwick’s shoes, but honestly none were up to the task. Considering Watt was new to the position and the league. Chargers coaches seemed more impressed with Watt and his potential than the other would-be centers. Currently, Watt is projected to start at center in the upcoming 2015 season.
5 Ryan Carrethers DT Arkansas State
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Carrethers had a tough time in his rookie season. Playing nose tackle (NT) is no easy task in the NFL and he found that out in a hurry. Carrethers appeared in six games for the Bolts in ’14 and had only one start. Unfortunately, the NT position proved to be an Achilles heel for the Chargers all season. Chargers NTs were being pushed around like they were on roller skates much of the season. Carrethers was no exception. Currently, the Chargers have not addressed their need at NT. It will be a battle between Carrethers and Sean Lissemore to see who starts next season.
6 Marion Grice RB Arizona State
Still on Team: No Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Grice had a decent pre-season for the Bolts, but it was not enough to beat out fan favorite Brandon Oliver at running back (RB). It didn’t take long for Grice to find a new home as he was signed by Arizona and played for the Cardinals the remainder of the season. His rookie year was less than impressive as he gained a modest 41 yards on 15 carries, with just one touchdown.
7 Tevin Reese WR Baylor
Still on Team: No Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Reese did not do enough to make the Chargers roster in the 2014 pre-season. He did however show enough talent to land a spot on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad. He did not make the active roster at any time for the Bengals last season.
So, after two drafts and 12 picks, Tom Telesco has found five starters, a large number of games missed due to injury, and two players signed to other teams. Not a bad haul after just two drafts, but not exactly what legendary GMs are made of. Just like the players, it is only fair to not judge too harshly the effectiveness of Tom Telesco. He has done a nice job of filling holes as they have arisen. He also did not have much cap space to work with after inheriting the mess that former GM, A.J. Smith, left him. Telesco deserves at least one more draft before anyone should celebrate or condemn the job he has done. One thing for sure, Telesco and his staff are doing everything they can to find the best talent available.
How do you feel about the job Telesco has done so far? Are you still a believer? Has he lost his luster? Let me know below. I look forward to answering your comments.
Let’s speculate that Terrance Knighton, defensive tackle for the bane in the backsides of San Diego’s Chargers, the Denver Broncos, comes to town for a visit. Wouldn’t it be great to nab a player from one of the Bolts’ AFC West rivals? Yes, I know we have Sean Lissemore and Ryan Carrethers. But, truth be told, that position in the middle of the line, nose tackle, hasn’t been the same since big ol’ Jamal Williams (one of my favorites!) was released in 2010.
So, what would the Chargers get if they could sign Knighton? 200 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles over his six years in the league. A proven leader. Someone that helps solidify the defensive front. And one other thing? Let’s not forget one all-important fact: DURABILITY. The man has only been injured three (that’s right, 3) times over the course of his career. The best part?
That nasty attitude in the defensive line is sorely lacking! As Nick Hardwick said shortly before he retired, “We’ve got to bring some bad, bad dudes in here”. Though he was referencing former players Steve Foley and Randall Godfrey, (and they were fearsome!), the fact remains that there really isn’t much nasty to the Chargers defense. They need the talent of Suh without all the other baggage. Jarret Johnson retired and Dwight Freeney’s status with the Bolts is unknown. Knighton gives the Chargers a veteran presence that will be needed to fill that void. I think his mean, tough, “you gotta go through me” attitude would bolster the young guys to play a little more aggressively. Knighton is 28, not much older than the rest of the defensive line. Can you imagine what Corey Liuget (6’2, 300 pounds) and Kendall Reyes (6’4, 300 pounds) could be like with Knighton, who is 6’3 and 335 pounds, between them?! Add Ingram and Attachou, plus that guy who is all over the place – Weddle – and their collective hard-hitting moxy – all I can say is, that sounds like a bunch of “bad dudes” to me!!
In comparison, Lissemore has been in the league since 2010 and traded by Dallas to San Diego in 2013. Overall stats: 119 tackles (53 in SD), 6.5 sacks (3/SD), 1 interception (returned for touchdown), and 1 fumble recovery. Carrethers will be entering his second year and while he didn’t play much, he had nine tackles.
The only downside I’ve been able to find on him is in relation to his weight. Denver has fined him several times, to the tune of $300,000, for not adhering to weight markers. Knighton has slimmed down, changed his eating habits, and feels that he will be able to maintain an ideal weight going forward.
Sure, Knighton said he’d take a hometown discount to stay in Denver. However, they may not have the money to do it after all the spending Elway did last offseason in free agency. His contract, when he signed there in 2013, was a two-year, $4.5 million deal that gave him a $500,000 signing bonus with $500,000 guaranteed. Salary was $2.25 million, plus a million dollar roster bonus for 2014. So, why not offer him the same deal to play in San Diego?
Personally, I like the possibility of Knighton wearing lightning bolts as opposed to either an orange-maned horse or silver “pirate” with swords through his head. Really appealing if it can be accomplished at a cap-friendly number. How about you?
Thanks for reading!
Cheryl A. White
In a surprise move here in Phoenix, the Arizona Cardinals have decided to part ways with defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Dockett, 33, is 6’4 and 290 pounds. The first pick in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dockett has been a model of consistency for the Cardinals. In ten seasons from 2004 to 2013, Dockett only missed two games. In that amount of time Dockett has amassed 462 tackles, 40.5 sacks for 271 yards lost, four interceptions, eight forced fumbles and 18 passes defensed.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Dockett quickly established himself as a team leader and has been a difference maker on defense. He has been a team captain for many seasons and disruptive force from the nose tackle position.
So why did the Cardinals cut him?
Dockett suffered a torn ACL that caused him to miss the 2014 season. He will be 34 when the season starts and probably most importantly, cutting Dockett frees 7.5 million in cap space for the Cardinals. After resigning Larry Fitzgerald to a 2-year/22 million deal, the Cardinals could use that space to sign other free agents.
Should the San Diego consider signing Dockett?
The Chargers could do a lot worse than Dockett. The responsibility of the nose tackle is to be a run-stuffer first and foremost. Being able to generate 41 sacks from that position is very impressive and a testament to his athleticism. The ACL injury is very worrisome. Will he return at 100%? Will he be as effective coming off his first major injury and rehab?
The Chargers owe it to themselves to give the man a workout and see for themselves what he still has in the tank. Living in Phoenix, i’ve seen a lot of Dockett and endorse his transition into lightning bolts if his health checks out. He was an emotional leader for the Cardinals and his experience will be useful to the up and coming defensive linemen like Attaochu, Ingram and Te’o.
Nose tackle has been a turnstile since Antonio Garay left town. The addition of Dockett provides a proven, solid, consistent playmaker at the position and allows depth as well. Sean Lissemore was a decent player at the position and we’re still waiting to see what Ryan Carrethers will be able to do once he returns from injury. The Chargers could also draft and have time to groom a blue chip nose tackle with Dockett in place anchoring the middle.
Keep in mind the Chargers finished 26th against the run last season. In the last five seasons the Chargers have finished in the top 20 against the rush once. The Cardinals finished in the top 20 four times, twice in the top 5 with Dockett manning the middle. Shoring up the nose tackle position goes a long way to achieving a stronger, run-stuffing defensive unit. In my view, Telesco should give Dockett an incentive rich two-year deal similar to what he gave Dwight Freeney. The deal would be cap friendly and allow the Chargers even more cap flexibility.
What do you think? Should the Chargers sign Darnell Dockett?
The Greg One