As you all may now know, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco got a three-year extension right before the start of the 2015 season. But did he deserve it? Here I breakdown his three draft classes, free agent classes and contract extensions. I will be grading by a very easy criteria: Performance (worth the draft pick, money, etc), Value (starter or depth) and if they’re still on the team. It will be broke down by a number scale of 0-10, 0 being very bad and 10 being very good. At the end of each section I will give a percentage and a letter grade to that category by adding up the number I give to the player and divide it by 10 (max number a player/move can get). 90-100% = A, 89-80% = B 79-70% = C, and anything below that is an F. Lets get to it:
His Draft Classes
***Note: these rankings are how they have played since joining the Chargers. 2015 draft class is too early to judge, I get that, but it’s on how they have played as a Charger.
2013: #11 OL DJ Fluker, #38 MLB Manti Te’o (traded up), #76 WR Keenan Allen, #145 CB Steve Williams, #179 OLB Tourek Williams, #221 QB Brad Sorenson
DJ Fluker: Started off as a Right Tackle and played fairly well in 2013 before injuries in 2014 set in and he was recently moved to Right Guard in the offseason. He didn’t play as well as hoped, but it was his first time ever being there so it wasn’t really unexpected. Grade: 6
Manti Te’o: Trading up in the draft for anyone who isn’t a playmaker is a very big loss no matter what you gave up to get said player. Manti has been battling injuries most his career and is still having troubles wrapping up and tackling NFL sized players. He isn’t terrible like Donald Butler and did play better next to Perryman. Grade: 5
Keenan Allen: This was the best draft pick Telesco has had and Keenan is quickly developing into one of the best receivers in the AFC. He was on a torrid pace this season leading the league in catches and yards and was well on his way to breaking records until he got hurt. Again. Ended the season on IR with a lacerated Kidney. Grade: 9
Steve Williams: Keenan’s roommate at Cal, he hasn’t really done much before this season and even ended his rookie year before it started. He’s looking more and more like depth than he is a solid part of the team and wouldn’t be missed in terms of production if cut. Grade: 3
Tourek Williams: Tourek hasn’t done anything either since his rookie season. He was injured the entire year this season and even ended up finishing the year on IR. Grade: 1
Brad Sorenson: Has never been listed as more than the third-string quarterback, he spent 2014 on another team and 2015 between free agency and practice squad. Grade: 0
2014: #25 CB Jason Verrett, #50 Jerry Attaochu (traded up), #89 OL Chris Watt, #165 DT Ryan Carrethers, #201 RB Marion Grice, #240 WR Tevin Reese
Jason Verrett: Verrett is quickly becoming a lockdown cornerback, if only he can stay healthy. He had 3 picks this season, one for 6, and was ranked the fifth best CB this season according to pro football focus. Grade: 8
Jerry Attaochu: Again, trading up in the draft for players who aren’t playmakers hurt your team no matter what you gave up. Attaochu is one of those guys. Chargers moved up to get him and he has been getting better, but isn’t a playmaker who can bring it from week to week yet. Grade: 5
Chris Watt: Watt was a reach when drafted and a guy the coaches are hoping to be the heir to Hardwick at the center position. It hasn’t worked and he hasn’t stayed healthy. In fact, he has been graded as one of the worst offensive linemen in football. Grade: 3
Ryan Carrethers: Carrethers shows promise but for some reason, the coaches don’t play him. Whether it’s work ethic or attitude, we don’t know. But for him being a second year, 5th round pick, it’s not really uncommon. Grade: 5
Marion Grice: Got beat out by undrafted free agent Brandon Oliver and then swooped up by Arizona. Grade: 0
Tevin Reese: Never had a chance at the NFL level because he was way too small. His speed was for real but his size and catching were not. Never made the roster. Grade: 0
2015: #15 RB Melvin Gordon (Traded up), #48 MLB Denzel Perryman, #83 CB Craig Mager, #153 OLB Kyle Emanuel, #192 DE Darius Philon
Melvin Gordon: For trading up in the draft, see Manti Te’o and Jerry Attaochu. Yes, ANOTHER trade up and this time for a running back. Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin was most everyone’s pick that were Charger fans. But he has shown tremendous flaws in his game and hasn’t been anywhere close to the guy the Chargers had hoped for. The line was a problem as well, no doubt about it. Grade: 2
Denzel Perryman: Perryman looks promising and has quickly become a fan favorite. By the end of the year, he took the starting job from Butler (and deservedly so) and shined. He is by far the best linebacker we have on this team and he only started in about 5 games. Grade: 7
Craig Mager: Mager couldn’t find the field in 2015. He was a very big reach in the third round to begin with, but I understand why he did it. He has a lot to work on to become valuable and it’s going to take a few years to see that most likely. Grade: 3
Kyle Emanuel: Emanuel started strong. First game of the year vs the Lions he had a sack and an interception and then eventually was nowhere to be seen. He has tackling issues and doesn’t seem to set the edge like an OLB needs to do. He does come from a small school and was a 5th round pick so it is warranted and excusable. Grade: 4
Darius Philon: A guy I really liked coming out of Arkansas, Philon has shown some promise but overall looks to be a very good rotational player. He was put on the IR-designated to return list during the season but was playing well before that. Grade: 3
Final result: 64/170 = 37%, F
His free agent signings (major ones only)
***Note: these are how the players have played since joining the Chargers
2013: RB Danny Woodhead, OT King Dunlap, CB Derek Cox, OG Chad Rinehart, TE John Phillips
Danny Woodhead: Probably Telesco’s best signing and a big reason why we made the playoffs in 2013. Woodhead brings that “security blanket” the team had been missing since Sproles signed with New Orleans. He was versatile up until the Bills game last season where he ended it with a broken fibula. Other than that, he’s been a rock. Grade: 9
King Dunlap: Another strong signing by Telesco. Dunlap wasn’t much in Philly but Chargers brought him in on a very team friendly deal and he excelled and actually earned a pay raise this last offseason. Another solid signing by Telesco that year. Grade: 8
Derek Cox: The biggest miss by Telesco in 2013. He was toast everytime he touched the field and eventually was benched and ended his time with the Chargers. Cut after his first season. Grade: 2
Chad Rinehart: He was average at the guard position in 2013 and awful there in 2014. He was a fill in for the future and expecting anything other than below average was a pipe dream. Grade: 4
John Phillips: Nothing flashy but he was the blocking Tight End that the team needed. Being mostly used as that, he has caught a few passes and even a touchdown. He was eventually cut by the team this season and brought back as well. Grade: 4
2014: RB Donald Brown, CB Brandon Flowers, MLB Kavell Connor, TE David Johnson. Quick note: Kellen Clemens was also signed, but as a backup QB it is unfair to grade so I left him off for those purposes
Donald Brown: Terrible signing by Telesco as he was brought in for RB depth and got $5 million a year. He went inactive for most of this season as well. Grade: 3
Brandon Flowers: As bad as the Brown signing was, is how good of a signing the Flowers one was. He really boosted this secondary and his lockdown play earned him his new contract in this past offseason, something I will get to in a bit. Grade: 8
Kavell Connor: Brought in for LB depth, Kavell had a big workload in 2014 as he filled in for oft injured Manti Te’o and played fairly well when called upon. Grade: 6
David Johnson: Brought in to be the FB, David Johnson is brutal. He constantly looks lost and doesn’t know where he’s going and doesn’t seem to find the field that often now as well. Grade: 3
2015: WR Jacoby Jones, OG Orlando Franklin, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Patrick Robinson, DB Jimmy Wilson
Jacoby Jones: He was brought in to give us a feared return game. He never lived up to that and in fact, wasn’t even half of what we expected. Cut halfway through the season. Grade: 0
Orlando Franklin: Big money linemen signing, Franklin has been a HUGE disappointment as he isn’t even close to the guy who Telesco thought he was signing. System fit, as they ran a zone scheme could be a huge factor of why, but overall he was as bad as Rinehart. Grade: 3
Stevie Johnson: Started out strong, pulling in touchdowns in each of his first two games played for San Diego, but then seemed to check out and then eventually got hurt. Grade: 6
Patrick Robinson: The sneakiest of signings, PRob may have been the best signing of Telesco’s tenure. He graded as a very solid corner this season by Pro Football Focus and was a bright spot in a secondary that had high expectations going into the season. Grade: 7
Jimmy Wilson: Jimmy Wilson was brought in to be a Marcus Gilchrist type safety. One that could play safety and cornerback but actually do it well. Well, he couldn’t and eventually got cut at the end of the season. Grade: 2
Final Result: 65/140 = 46%, F
His contract extensions/re-signings (major one’s only)
2013: K Nick Novak, RB Ronnie Brown
Nick Novak: There wasn’t many re-signings his first year, which wasn’t bad. But Novak was solid here as he was very reliable. Grade: 8
Ronnie Brown: Ronnie Brown was brought in as a veteran backup and one who was very reliable with the rock. He had one big touchdown vs the Benagls that sealed the deal in our first playoff win since 2008. So for that, he gets a little extra love from me in his grade. Grade: 7
2014: MLB Donald Butler, S Darrell Stuckey, OG Chad Rinehart, CB Richard Marshall
Donald Butler: This couldn’t have gone any worse than it has. 2014 he was rated as one of the worst MLB’s in football and in 2015, rookie Denzel Perryman took his starting job and his time as a Charger may be over. Grade: 0
Darrell Stuckey: Solid as a special teamer, Stuckey was another sneaky good extension. He has made the pro bowl a few times as a special teamer but as a safety, he has been very limited in playing time. Grade: 6
Chad Rinehart: From an average 2013, to an awful 2014, Rinehart was below average for us. I understand the signing, but should have had a plan B. Grade: 3
Richard Marshall: Marshall had a knack at getting turnovers at the end of 2013, but most of that was due to him being in the right place at the right time. He was brought in for depth because he knew the system in 2014 but due to injuries, he played more than he should have. Grade: 3
2015: OT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers
King Dunlap: Dunlap was a rock for us since 2013, but after his extension, he was very concussion prone again. Missed a chunk of the season and hasn’t lived up to his extension quite yet. Grade: 4
Brandon Flowers: Another player hit by injuries and possibly even coaching, Flowers under performed big time and was even rated as a bottom third corner this season. He really needs to have a bounceback season for his contract to not look so bad. Grade: 2
Final Result: 33/80 = 41%, F
Final overall result: 162/390 = 41%, F
Using my grading scale, Tom Telesco has gotten an ‘F’ grade as a general manager hitting on only 4 of every 10 personnel decisions. This doesn’t even include an undersized defense he has put together and coaches that are not good at what they do.
We all have differences of opinion on the different players aforementioned, but we can all agree that most his decisions have been sub-par.
Agree or disagree with my assessment? Did Telesco deserve this extension? I don’t think so, as my grading scale has proved. Let me know below!
No one ever said that it was easy being a Chargers fan, and this season has pushed that saying to new limits.
As the team prepares to face the Chicago Bears at home on Monday night, the Bolts are sporting a miserable 2-6 record, having yet to win a game on the road. Perhaps they can walk away with their third win of the year under their belts following Monday’s game at home.
The Chargers’ offense has “outplayed” its defense this year, making many more game-changing plays than their defensive counterparts. The defense has seemed to do just the opposite; giving up big plays while not making any of their own.
For this article, we will focus on the offensive side of the ball, covering the defense and special teams over the next couple of days.
Quarterback Philip Rivers is carrying the team on his back, having a career-year. Should his numbers stay on pace with what he has accomplished thus far, No. 17 may end up with NFL records in both passing yards and completions.
What makes Rivers’ numbers even more impressive is the constant rotation of offensive linemen due to injuries and the non-existent running game. Starters upfront on the O-line have almost reached the double digits, as King Dunlap, Orlando Franklin, Chris Watt, D.J. Fluker, Joe Barksdale, Chris Hairston, Kenny Wiggins and Trevor Robinson have all started games. Barksdale has yet to miss a start, taking more snaps than any other offensive lineman in the NFL. Reserve linemen Tyreek Burwell, J.D. Walton and former Charger Michael Ola all played in games this season.
That is not exactly a recipe for success, playing so many different combinations of offensive linemen.
Recently placed on I.R. due to a lacerated kidney, wide receiver Keenan Allen was destroying the NFL and opposing cornerbacks. Allen was on track to break Chargers’ records for receptions and receiving yards. The 23-year-old was just coming into his own, refocusing on the game of professional football. Now that he is gone for the year, the other receivers and tight ends will have to step up their games to replace his production.
Ladarius Green is improving at a steady rate, replacing Gates as the starting tight end during Gates’ suspension for the first month of the season. Green is third on the team in targets.
In limited appearances, Gates has been the same player he has been throughout his career. In his first two games back he totaled 18 receptions. Not too shabby for a guy that some were worried about as being rusty due to time missed. No. 85 has already been a first read for Rivers and it will stay that way as long as he is healthy and in the lineup.
The addition of wide receiver Stevie Johnson has paid early dividends when he has been on the field. The problem with Stevie is that he missed a couple of weeks with a hamstring ailment. He will most likely be asked to start at Allen’s No. 1 spot. Johnson is fourth on the team in catches, despite missing two games.
Malcom Floyd what is what he is; consistent, reliable and a playmaker. His 70-yard touchdown catch last week was the longest reception of his career. Floyd will be receiving more targets with KA13 watching for the remainder of the season. The veteran is averaging 19.5 yards per reception.
The Bolts are having a tough time getting the ground attack going, ranking near the bottom of the league in rushing offense. Rookie running back Melvin Gordon has struggled to make a serious impact, having not scored his first touchdown and fumbling four times, losing three. The former Badger has only 382 rushing yards through eight games.
Danny Woodhead has been very reliable as a receiving option out of the backfield, hauling in 39 receptions for 443 yards and two touchdowns. But like Gordon, Woody has struggled finding holes in the running game. Woodhead is averaging only 3.8 yards per tote.
Now that third-string ball carrier Branden Oliver has been placed on the reserve-injured list, Donald Brown may actually get his first carries of the 2015 campaign. Brown has only been active for two regular-season contests in 2015, playing only on special teams. He was actually cut to make room for an offensive lineman earlier this year, only to be re-signed to the team. One positive note for Brown is that he comes into the mix with fresh legs.
Until the offensive line gets its starters back, enabling a bit of cohesion and consistency, the rushing attack is going to have trouble making a positive impact on the offense. At this point, it can’t get much worse than it has been.
Here’s how the Chargers’ offense stacks up against the rest of the NFL
Overall: 1st – 423.2 yards per game
Passing: 1st – 336.9 yards per game (19 touchdown passes are second in the NFL)
Rushing: 29th – 86.4 yards per game (Five fumbles are tied for second worst in the NFL)
Scoring: 14th with 23.9 points per game
Offensive MVP through eight games
Philip Rivers: Ranks 1st in completions (243) and passing yards (2,753). His completion percentage (69.8%) ranks first among quarterbacks that have thrown at least 150 passes. His 18 touchdown passes rank third behind only Tom Brady and Carson Palmer (20). He is ninth in passer rating at 102.1.
Melvin Gordon: 103 attempts for 382 rushing yards and zero touchdowns
Danny Woodhead: 52 attempts for 197 rushing yards and two touchdowns
Keenan Allen: 67 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns
Danny Woodhead: 39 receptions for 443 yards and two touchdowns
Ladarius Green: 27 receptions for 314 yards and four touchdowns
Stevie Johnson: 24 receptions for 283 yards and two touchdowns
Antonio Gates: 22 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns
Malcom Floyd: 21 receptions for 409 yards and three touchdowns
As you can see from the receivers’ numbers, Rivers is not shy about spreading the ball around. The passing game has been stellar and Rivers is in MVP form.
While the running game irons out its kinks, the aerial assault will have to continue to thrive. Quite frankly, as long as Philip Rivers is upright and healthy, there is little doubt that it’ll do just that.
The Chargers (2-5) travel to Baltimore (1-6) on Sunday to take on the Ravens in what is a must-win contest for the Bolts.
With the Denver Broncos currently sitting atop the AFC West at 6-0, the Chargers are resigned to shooting for a wildcard spot, seeing as surpassing the Broncos is highly unlikely.
San Diego entered the 2015 campaign with high hopes. The free-agency period seemed to be a success; with general manager Tom Telesco signing the player he coveted in offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, wide receiver Stevie Johnson and offensive lineman Joe Barksdale, to name a few.
Other free-agent acquisitions that have started games include safety Jimmy Wilson, offensive lineman Chris Hairston and cornerback Patrick Robinson.
It could be argued that Robinson has played the best out of all of the team’s pickups, making the greatest impact of the bunch.
While Franklin and Johnson have missed multiple games due to injuries, Barksdale has been reliable and steady for the Bolts, starting all seven games this season.
Once the NFL draft came, Telesco moved up two spots to select running back Melvin Gordon, an electrifying runner out of Wisconsin.
Needless to say, Gordon has not gotten off to the start that either he or the team would like, being benched due to fumbling issues. The first-year ball carrier has struggled mightily, posting only 328 yards on 85 carries with no touchdowns. In the receiving game, Gordon has tallied 13 receptions for 86 yards. The stat that sticks out the most for No. 28 is the fact that he has fumbled four times, losing three to opposing defenses.
Enough about the offseason. Let’s fast forward to present day.
The Chargers have lost three consecutive games and five of the last six.
If the season were to end today, San Diego would have the eighth selection in the first round of the 2016 draft.
But helps comes along in the way of the next four games, including Sunday’s matchup against the Ravens.
The Chargers’ next four opponents — Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City and Jacksonville — have combined to win four games in 2015. The team’s next opponent’s sole victory came in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If the Chargers are to turn around their season, it starts this Sunday. Losing this game would not make it impossible to make the playoffs, but it certainly wouldn’t seem very likely if they fall to 2-6.
This is, without a doubt, a must-win game for the Chargers if they have any hopes that extend past the regular season.
San Diego’s inability to establish the running game on offense and stop the run defensively will be placed under the microscope once again in Week 8.
Quarterback Philip Rivers is on pace for a career-year, throwing the ball an inordinate amount due to the team’s poor rushing attack. Rivers is set to break NFL records for both completions and passing yards in a season.
Should the offense again be unable to get it going on the ground, it will be up to Rivers and the passing attack to carry the team to victory over Baltimore.
The Ravens are ranked as the 25th defense overall in yards given up per game, placing 11th against the run and 28th against the pass.
Considering the aforementioned stats, the passing offense of the Chargers should be able to carve up the Ravens’ secondary. That being said, it sure would be nice to see San Diego establish some semblance of a running game.
On the other side of the ball, the Bolts rank 18th overall in yards given up, placing 31st against the run and 9th against the pass. The Ravens come in with the 14th ranked offense, 12th in passing and 18th in rushing.
Defensively, the Chargers have to limit the production of running back Justin Forsett and wideout Steve Smith Sr. Both weapons could give John Pagano’s unit fits if they are allowed to get hot early.
Flying east is never easy for a west-coast squad. The Ravens have won 11 of their last 12 against west-coast teams at home. Their one loss came last year by none of than the Chargers.
The Week 8 game is going to say a lot about the Chargers and their coaching staff. Do they have what it takes to get things turned around, or is this team doomed to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season?
We’ll find out on Sunday.
The excitement surrounding the secondary of the 2015 San Diego Chargers was palpable heading into the regular season. What they lack in size – as not one is taller than 5-feet-11 – they make up for in experience. Consider that the on-field leader for these men is eight-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle, a guy who is matched in intensity only by the Bolts’ offensive signal caller, Philip Rivers. There are only two other Pro Bowlers in this unit, Brandon Flowers and Darrell Stuckey. For a bunch of men who were primarily drafted in rounds one through four, they should be performing at a high level. At least that is how it shakes out on paper.
Chargers fans are quite obviously frustrated with the product appearing on the field these past four weeks. So, what seems to be the problem? Injuries have a role, but so do ridiculous penalties when the team has the opponent stopped and a chance to get the ball back into the hands of No. 17. What lengths do secondary coach Ron Milus and his assistant Greg Williams have to go to so that this bunch does what it is paid to do? With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town for a Monday Night game, and even if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t under center, this unit needs to be prepared.
Let’s review some of the issues through the first month of the season.
First and Foremost: Get healthy, stay healthy!
Of the four designated starters: free safety Eric Weddle, strong safety Jahleel Addae, left cornerback Brandon Flowers, and right cornerback Jason Verrett – only Weddle has started each game. Opposite him, Addae has been nursing a sore ankle since the Cincinnati game. Additionally, Flowers (knee/concussion) and Verrett (foot) have been in and out of the lineup. Milus has had his own merry-go-round to manage due to injury, shuffling corner/safety Jimmie Wilson as well as safety Adrian Phillips, plus corners Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams into the lineup. Rookie cornerback Craig Mager was finally on the field against the Minnesota Vikings only to be inactive last week with a bum hamstring. As of this writing (Friday) Addae, Verrett and Mager are still on the injury report though with limited participation in practice. Who suits up this week will be of utmost importance against the Steelers.
Although there have only been five penalties, the fact remains that they have come at inopportune times. Two by Verrett gave the Cincinnati Bengals a new set of downs TWICE; both were 15-yard personal foul infractions. In the game against the Minnesota Vikings, Williams was flagged for a costly pass interference (PI) which set up the Vikings at midfield rather than punting. Against the Cleveland Browns last week, Williams was called for illegal use of hands. And in the same matchup, Flowers was nailed for a PI which fortunately only cost six yards. Five penalties in four games by just the secondary is not conducive to winning. This area needs to be addressed.
Tackling by the numbers
As per usual, Weddle leads the posse with 38 combined tackles (29 solos), plus half a sack. Addae has managed four solo tackles in two games. Flowers has collected eight solo tackles (10 total), while Verrett has been credited with six overall (4 solo). The back-ups (Wilson, Robinson, Phillips and Williams) collectively have 42 tackles, a forced fumble (Robinson) and two picks (Robinson versus Detroit and Williams at Minnesota). In 2014, the secondary was responsible for six interceptions on the year. Is having two thus far a good measuring stick for Milus’ men? Time will tell.
Despite the secondary undergoing a bit of upheaval early in the season courtesy of the injury bugaboo, Milus and Williams seem to have their group on the right path. However, they will need to step it up and play smart. Meaning, no getting beat, no dumb penalties, no blown coverages. Monday’s AFC divisional face-off with Pittsburgh will be a turning point as the Bolts’ secondary will need to play it tight – keep Antonio Brown and company in check.
Here’s to execution being stellar this week!
Thanks for reading!
Articles from Chargers.com:
- Scouting Report: Chargers at Vikings
- X’s and O’s: Rivers’ record-breaker
- Bolts sign WR Williams to practice squad
- I’ve been looking forward to this by Ladarius Green
Articles from ESPN.com:
- Mike Zimmer calls Philip Rivers one of the best of all-time
- NFL owners take lead on relocation to Los Angeles
- Jimmy Wilson makes his mark in expanded role
Articles from San Diego Union-Tribune:
The Chargers defeated the Lions in Week 1 by a score of 33-28. The Chargers defense held the “Gold-atron” (Golden Tate/Calvin Johnson aka “Megatron”) combination to less than 100 combined receiving yards. That is very tough to do. That shows this secondary is very good and will be very good moving forward.
The secondary consisting of Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett, Eric Weddle, Jahleel Addae/Jimmy Wilson combination, looks to be one of the best that the Chargers have had in quite some time. But there is one player in that secondary who really stands out to me.
His name is Jason Verrett.
Verrett, the 2014 first-round draft pick out of Texas Christian (TCU), is getting better and better by the week. His assignment in Week 1 was shadowing Golden Tate, in which Tate went four catches on eight targets for 24 yards. Tate’s lowest totals last season, in terms of catches, targets and receiving yards, was Week 10 versus an elite secondary in Arizona. He finished with only two catches on two targets for 41 yards. On Sunday, he averaged a meager six yards per reception. In 2014, he averaged 13.4 yards per reception. In 2013, he averaged 14.0 yards per reception. In 2012, he averaged 15.3 yards per reception. I’m not going to go back any further, because I think you get the point. Tate is a very good runner with the ball in his hands and last season he was 3rd in the entire league with 691 yards after catch.
There was one play I want to focus on. In the second half of the game against Detroit, the Lions ran a wide receiver bubble in where they had Tate screened and with two blockers in front. Verrett weaved his way around the first blocker and made a fantastic solo, open-field tackle. The stop forced the Lions to punt.
These are the type of plays that only a few players in the league make on a guy of Tate’s caliber.
Jason Verrett is special. I do think if he stays healthy, he has all the tools and talent to become an elite, shutdown cornerback. His man-coverage ability is insane for his NFL experience. His instincts, which he was lauded for coming out of college, couldn’t be better and his open-field tackling might be the best on the team. Look for this guy to take his game to the next level this season, and prove to the NFL world that when they talk about top corners in the league, to not forget about No. 22, Jason Verrett.
The 2015 San Diego Chargers are coming in motivated after ending a disappointing 2014 season with a 9-7 record. Despite a 6-1 start, the team was not able to overcome a plethora of injuries all over the roster. The running game was practically non-existent, and Philip Rivers needed to do too much to keep the Bolts in games.
They have upgraded their team tremendously, bringing in two new starting offensive lineman (Orlando Franklin and Joe Barksdale), a slot receiver (Stevie Johnson), an elite returner (Jacoby Jones) and a possible starting safety (Jimmy Wilson). The Chargers also drafted a starting running back and one they hope will be a star (Melvin Gordon). However, the main guy that the team needs to stay healthy and produce is outside linebacker Melvin Ingram.
When healthy, Ingram is a difference maker for this defense. During the seven games that Melvin missed, the defense gave up an average of 235 passing yards per game with 1.9 passing touchdowns allowed per game. During the nine games that Melvin played, the defense gave up an average of 212 passing yards per game and 1.2 passing touchdowns allowed per game.
As you can see, the former Gamecock is a big part of defensive coordinator John Pagano’s defense. He is the one guy who can get constant pressure on the quarterback and can take the double and triple team off of Corey Liuget. Not only is Ingram very important to Liuget, but he is a leader on the field. He can also pass on what he learned from Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney to help the development of Jerry Attaochu and this year’s fifth-round pick, Kyle Emanuel.
“Supa-Mel”, as he likes to call himself, is the Chargers best pass rusher from the outside linebacker position. I do think he is poised for a breakout season. With the muscle he gained and the weight he lost, he just needs to show it on the field.
Ingram, 26, has only played in 13 games over the last two seasons. Flashing the ability to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks at times, the four-year veteran knows that he has to stay on the field to prove that he was worth the first-round selection in the 2012 draft.
Over his career, Ingram has recorded 78 total tackles, six sacks, seven passes defensed and four forced fumbles.
Look for a big year from this defense if Ingram stays healthy for all 16 games. Don’t be surprised if he registers a double-digit sack total in 2015.
Who do you think is the x-factor for the Chargers’ defense this season?
Let me know in the comments below!
The 2014 season finished in what can be accurately described as “disappointing” for the Chargers. The team started 6-1, were No. 1 and on top of multiple power rankings to start the season. Philip Rivers was getting consideration for the league’s Most Valuable Player and they were being thrown around as a possible Superbowl team.
Then, injuries happened.
Danny Woodhead broke his leg. DJ Fluker played through half the year on a hurt ankle. Ryan Mathews played in six games. Keenan Allen missed the last two games with a broken collarbone. Rivers played with a back injury that limited his ability to throw and move. It goes without saying the playing five different centers makes it difficult to build cohesion on the offensive line.
As you can tell, the Chargers played beat up and with a lot of back ups and third stringers. But they finished the season 9-7, and one game shy of the playoffs.
Just how good are the Chargers when healthy?
As everyone knows, the Bolts added some playmakers this season. They upgraded many areas of their team and they are also coming off a very disappointing, yet not terrible season. The offseason has been a disaster, however, from the talks of relocating to Los Angeles, to Eric Weddle not being extended which then lead to a brief holdout and then the biggest bomb of them all, future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates being suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs.
So why the optimism?
Well, the Chargers are good. REALLY good. Tom Telesco has altered the o-line as one of the best in the AFC, gave Rivers another weapon in Stevie Johnson, got more physical defensively with the signing of Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson and made the return game something teams fear with the signing of Jacoby Jones.
Is it enough?
The schedule this season is very favorable. Early on in the year is the toughest stretch, with games in Cincinnati, Minnesota and Green Bay and games at home vs Pittsburgh and Detroit. I mention these five games because they seem to bring the toughest competition to the Bolts.
Early in the season, it is not that big of a deal to drop a game or two to a team of that caliber. Win two of those five and you’re set up perfectly for the stretch run. The notable games after the bye week (week 10): Home/away versus the Chiefs, home/away versus the Broncos and home against the Dolphins. These are very winnable games and with the depth and offensive line that Telesco has provided, the Chargers should be able to compete and win at least three of these five games mentioned.
That leaves you at 5-5 through the toughest stretches of the schedule. The remaining games are at home versus the Browns, Raiders, Bears and on the road against Raiders, Ravens and Jaguars. Five of the six just named are extremely winnable with the Baltimore game being winnable, but a difficult game, nonetheless (and Chargers have experience winning there as they did it this past season). That leaves the Chargers final record at 10-6 or 11-5 and should be enough for a wild card berth and a potential AFC West division title.
The key to the playoffs is health (also, having an elite QB in Philip Rivers doesn’t hurt either) and the Chargers have depth, but will they stay healthy? Head coach Mike McCoy has been doing a great job trying to keep everyone healthy during training camp. That won’t change during the regular season.
On paper, this is the most talented team the Chargers have had since 2009 where the Bolts went 13-3 and snatched up the second seed in their conference. The AFC doesn’t seem to have that one Superbowl favorite team that you know will dominate the conference. It is wide-open, and the way Telesco has built this roster, the Chargers very well could end the year in Santa Clara playing in Superbowl 50.
Do you think the Chargers have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl? Let me know in the comments!
Day eight of training camp is in the books. As Mike McCoy would say, the players worked extremely hard.
Despite the fact that they weren’t tackling to the ground, it was a very physical practice today.
Here are some notes and observations from today’s practice.
– Players that didn’t practice: Ricardo Mathews, Malcom Floyd, Johnnie Troutman. Brandon Flowers and Patrick Robinson did a little work on the side. They were not full-participants in practice.
– Dontrelle Inman continues to impress, making difficult catches look easy.
– The pace at which Philip Rivers and Stevie Johnson are building a strong rapport is impressive.
– Johnson is a very crafty route runner, getting open far more often than not.
– Melvin Gordon is still adjusting to life in the NFL. He has shown a propensity to be impatient, running into the backs of his offensive linemen often. As mentioned in other posts, he has flashed some special ability, but building patience in the running game should be a focus moving forward.
– John Phillips looks much quicker now that his knee injury is fully recovered. He’ll be on the field more than expected during the first four weeks of the season while Antonio Gates sits out.
– Danny Woodhead looks to be back to where he was prior to suffering a broken fibula in week three of last season. He looks very quick in his cuts and seems to be doing great.
– Joe Barksdale seems to be a solid addition to the offensive line. With Troutman out, his reps increased and he held up respectably in both run and pass blocking.
– Daily camp update: Brock Hekking has amazing hair.
– Melvin Ingram is benefiting from playing at a lighter weight. He is constantly creating good push and getting what would be sacks if it was live play.
– Kyle Emanuel looks physical and has made some impressive plays in one-on-one drills again today.
– Craig Mager had two pass breakups on consecutive plays.
– After struggling in pass coverage the other day, Jimmy Wilson rebounded well.
– Regardless of what day of practice it has been, Jason Verrett always stands out.
– Ladarius Green made a few catches, but wasn’t targeted much throughout practice.
– Lowell Rose had a solid day in the secondary, breaking up multiple passes in team drills.
– Jacoby Jones is most likely going to be used at wide receiver more than I originally expected. It’s not that he’s out their with the first team, but he gets open and makes plays when called upon to do so.
– Joe D’Alessandris makes watching the offensive-line drills very enjoyable.
– On another coaching note, Don Johnson spends a good amount of time slowing things down for the defensive linemen, stopping to talk to the group as a whole, often. He seems like a great teacher.
There you have it. Overall, it was a solid day for many of the Chargers’ players. Without getting ahead of myself, there is something about this team that has me thinking that this could be a special year.
As the countdown to the new NFL season continues, we all look forward to seeing our beloved San Diego Chargers take the field. Whether it’s in shorts, pads or full gear, nothing makes us happier than to know they’re busy preparing for what could be a landmark season.
It could be a landmark season for a number of reasons. Could this be the last season the team plays in San Diego? Will this be the last time we see the ‘Core Four’ of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd in lightning bolts together? Floyd has stated this is his final season and it’s looking that way for Gates as well, but nothing is certain until it happens. Is this team finally ready for a lengthy postseason run amidst all the toil and trouble?
So many questions…
On paper, this may be the best team the Chargers have fielded since the LaDainian Tomlinson era. The offense is getting overdue attention, especially after drafting phenom running back Melvin Gordon to replace Ryan Mathews in the backfield. Where this team will really shock the league will be on defense.
General manager Tom Telesco has done an excellent job of signing a young, talented nucleus of players to multi-year contracts. Donald Butler, Corey Liuget are locked in long term. Melvin Ingram is in his option year so he has to stay on the field and perform at a high level to get a second contract similar to the aforementioned Butler and Liuget. Mantei Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu and this year’s crop of draftees are in Bolts for at least the next two years under their rookie contracts.
The secondary, long considered a weakness in San Diego, will return the tandem that was the best in the league while they played together in Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to play the entire season due to injuries. Their presence would have been instrumental in changing the Chargers playoff fate as they only missed the postseason by one game.
With both corners returning healthy, and excellent free agent additions Jimmy Wilson and Patrick Robinson, the Chargers will have what they haven’t had in a long time, shutdown corners and quality secondary depth. Lest we forget the All-Pro safety anchoring the secondary. We may not like the office politics going on with Eric Weddle, but the one thing we know is he will play like the consummate pro he is and the Chargers will not let him leave as long as franchise tags are still at their disposal.
What this means is San Diego has a defense that is worthy of a top-five ranking if they can stay healthy. Players have to excel on the field or lose their spot. It’s that type of hunger Telesco is cultivating into what will become a culture of winning. This is an exciting defense which can only get better if draftee linebackers Denzel Perryman and Kyle Emmanuel, cornerback Craig Mager and defensive lineman Darius Philon are as good as advertised. From the sounds coming out of camp, they are that and more!
Say what you want about the front office, they have assembled an excellent collection of players in three short seasons and they are ready to make a dynastic run. This defense can be as good as the Ravens of the early 2000’s. I’m calling my shot now before the rest of the world outside San Diego sees it. The holes have been admirably filled. Only one last thing this defense needs…
Purple People Eaters. Monsters of the Midway. Steel Curtain. I’m not saying they will be that great. Yet. They will be crowned with some goofy nickname by Chris Berman or someone in a boardroom in Bristol, Connecticut once the carnage is unleashed and quarterbacks, receivers and running backs league-wide are swallowed whole. Let’s beat the suits to the punch and name the defense ourselves!
Here are my first handful of submissions:
The Blue Crew
What do you guys think? Leave your suggestions with names for the defense below!
The Greg One