Running back Melvin Gordon has had a very disappointing first half of 2015.
The rookie has had trouble transitioning to the NFL game, struggling to get things going on the ground with little help from his blockers.
In Gordon’s defense, the offensive line has had several different starting combinations through eight games, losing players left and right to various ailments. Not having a cohesive unit in front of him is partly why the running back has had trouble establishing himself.
In Sunday’s 29-26 loss to the Ravens, the former Badger received his most touches in a single game this season, carrying the ball 18 times for 54 yards and hauling in five receptions for only seven yards, totaling 23 touches for 61 yards.
For the eighth consecutive game, the rookie ball carrier was unable to reach the end zone.
The fact that the Chargers stuck with keeping him involved in the running game was admirable, but Gordon was ineffective for the most part. The offensive line was not much help, struggling to open up sufficient holes.
The 2015 first-round selection is not racking up the yards like he would hope, but he did avoid fumbling on Sunday. Gordon was benched partially due to his inability to protect the rock, but saw his most significant amount of game action on Sunday. He has fumbled four times, losing three.
On the season, Melvin has carried the ball 103 times for 382 yards. Through the air, he has registered 18 receptions for 93 yards.
Gordon is on pace to finish the season with 764 rushing yards and 186 receiving yards.
That is not exactly what you want out of a first-round back that you traded up for, but hopefully he can turn it on in the second half of the year.
When setting his goals for his rookie campaign, one can guarantee that this is not what the 22-year-old had in mind.
With the Bolts stumbling to a 2-6 record, the team will most likely continue to get the ball to Gordon, giving him more and more confidence as the year wears on. As long as he is able to protect the ball, and the Chargers don’t get too far behind early in games, expect the offense to continue to keep Gordon heavily involved in the game plan.
His next shot at improving his game and scoring his first NFL touchdown will be Monday night against the Chicago Bears. They currently rank as the 10th overall defense in yards given up, coming in at 29th at stopping the run (allowing 128 rushing yards a game).
This opportunity will be the fifth time in 2015 that Gordon and the Chargers’ offense will face an opposing defense ranked in the bottom 10 of the league against the run.
There is still plenty of time for Gordon to put it all together and have that signature performance, shutting up his critics in the process. But it would be nice for his confidence if that effort would come sooner rather than later.
This Sunday marks the official halfway mark for our beloved San Diego Chargers. The season that began with so much promise has given way to despair and a 2-5 season record heading into a road game against the also woebegone 1-6 Baltimore Ravens. For those who have missed it, here’s a quick look back at how the season has transpired.
The Good: Franchise quarterback Philip Rivers is once again proving to all the doubters that he is an elite NFL quarterback. Through seven weeks he leads the NFL in passing yards (2,452), completed passes (215), attempts (311), yards per game (350), first downs (116) and trails only Tom Brady and Carson Palmer in touchdowns (16 to 15).
As a result, Keenan Allen has thrived and is set to destroy his stat line from last season. Allen accumulated 77 receptions for 783 yards and four touchdowns with a 10.2 yards per catch average. This season, Allen leads the NFL in receptions with 62. He is third in the league in yards (690), yards per game (98.6) and has three touchdowns. With eight catches against the Ravens, Allen will set the record for most receptions through eight games. Keenan is also in reach of the NFL single season receptions record of 143 set by Marvin Harrison in 2002.
Despite only getting 85 carries to date, Melvin Gordon is fifth in rushing yards for a rookie with 386. We’ve already seen flashes of brilliance as Gordon already has five runs over twenty yards.
Danny Woodhead continues to be Mr. Reliable for the Chargers. Looking even better than the 2013 version, Woodhead is second on the team in rushing with 49 rushes for 188 yards and in receiving with 39 catches for 407 yards. Surprisingly, Woodhead is the only Chargers running back that has a touchdown. Gordon still hasn’t found pay dirt and trails Woodhead by two.
The Bad: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. The promise of a banner year headlined by the Gordon drafting, Rivers extension and excellent free agency signings is slowly slipping away. Before the season started the argument was what to do with the abundance of offensive line talent. Move Fluker to guard? Who starts at right tackle? Who is the second unit? Unfortunately, no sooner than the first game started did linemen start dropping like flies. As of this week, every offensive lineman has missed game action with the exception of Joe Barksdale. As a result, Philip Rivers has paid the price as he’s been sacked 18 times. That’s an average of almost three sacks a game. At that rate, not only the Chargers season but Rivers’ season is at risk.
The injuries are not limited to the offensive side of the ball. (By the way, the recently returned Antonio Gates is anticipated to miss games with a knee injury). The defensive side of the ball has been ravaged as well. Defensive captain Eric Weddle is out with a groin injury. NT Sean Lissemore, ILB’s Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman are all out. Cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers have missed game action throughout the season but are back on the field. OLB Tourek Williams will see his first regular season action after suffering a foot injury in the preseason.
As a result of the ongoing injuries, San Diego has not been able to stop the opposition. The Chargers rank 18th in total defense (31st vs. rush, 9th vs. pass), giving up an average of 28 points per game. The bolts have the top ranked offense in the league in terms of yards per game(430.7), but only average 23.6 points per game. That type of differential is not and will not win many games.
The Ugly: Special teams play has not been special at all. Special teams continually gives the opposition favorable field position and gains little for the San Diego offense. There’s only one fact you need to know to illustrate this point. The Chargers have played more games (7) than they have return yards (3).
Play calling has been a disappointment to put it kindly. Is there anyone that doesn’t see the first down inside handoff from their couch? The patchwork offensive line isn’t holding back defenders or opening running lanes for Gordon. We all expected a little more genius when the front office scooped the forward-thinking quarterback guru Mike McCoy from Denver. What we’ve seen is anything but progressive and forward-thinking.
Tackling has been atrocious. The bad tackling can’t be attributed to injuries but it can be attributed to bad coaching and a lack of fundamentals. Have the players tuned out the coaches? Are the players going into business for themselves and playing to add to their highlight reel when other teams begin calling their agents?
The Outlook: Over the last three weeks, the Chargers have lost two games on the last play of the game and were destroyed by the Raiders, of all teams. With the exception of the Raiders and Vikings games, they have played well enough to win despite all the inconsistency, injuries and lack of production from special teams and the running game. The reality of it all is they did lose. They are 2-5. You have to wonder how the morale in the locker room is right now. Something has to change if San Diego is to make the postseason and it has to happen NOW. My suggestions would go as follows:
Abandon the running-back-by-committee. Melvin Gordon has been ‘worked in slowly’ for long enough. It’s time to take the reins off the racehorse and give him twenty carries a game and let him show what he can do. I have already detailed my thoughts on this subject in my last column here. Get Melvin a fullback and watch him go!
Bring Javontee Herndon up from the practice squad. The special teams needs a boost and Jacoby Jones is not providing it. Fresh legs like Herndon could be just what the unit needs. The unit can’t get any worse.
Open up the playbook. There has to be more creative plays in the arsenal than an inside draw from the pistol formation. There are ways to get Melvin in space where he is dangerous. Run some reverses with the speed receivers. Mix in a flea flicker. Rivers is one of if not the best deep ball passer in the league and he doesn’t air it out nearly enough. Part of the reason for that is the Chargers don’t have a receiver with the straight line speed to take the top off a defense but the extra time generated from a gadget play can make up for that deficiency and open up the middle of the field for big gains with Green or Gates.
San Diego has a favorable schedule for the rest of the season. There’s five division games remaining and winning those alone puts them in the hunt to win the AFC West. Their non-division schedule includes Jacksonville, Miami, Chicago and Sunday’s Ravens game. The Chargers have a better team than any of their out-of-conference opposition talent-wise and are just as good or better than their in-division rivals. The bolts can go on a 8-1 or 7-2 run to finish the season in the playoffs.
The question is are the willing to make the changes needed to do so. There’s nothing left to do but go all-in and show the team and the fans that the team hasn’t thrown in the white flag on the season. What do you think Bolt Nation? Do you still believe? Post your comments below.
The Greg One
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 problems the Chargers have on offense reach well beyond a banged-up offensive line. Granted, Philip Rivers deserves to be anointed for sainthood having to play behind such a hot mess.
Let’s be real, kids. The offense is a complete mess and here’s why:
• Tom Telesco drafts kids who do not fit in this offensive “scheme”.
• Mike McCoy and Frank Reich refuse to change their “scheme” to fit the personnel Tom Telesco has given them.
• Frank Reich is clueless and predictable at the same time.
The first and second points go hand in hand. I give you Melvin Gordon as case in point. Melvin is a 21 or 22 personnel grouping back. This means two running backs, a tight end and two wide receivers (21 personnel) or two RBS, two TEs and a WR (22 personnel). He is not, nor ever has been, a spread formation back. He ran primarily out of 21, 22 or 12 personnel groupings (single setback two TEs on the line, not in pass formation). Sure, Melvin ran effectively out of other personnel groupings, but his strength is as an I-formation back.
When you move up in the draft to get the player you covet, you don’t make him fit your scheme. You adjust your scheme to his skill set. The Chargers don’t even possess a legitimate fullback on the roster. The closest thing to a fullback they have is tight end David Johnson. The last real fullback this team had was Lorenzo Neal. Once AJ Smith and Norv Turner kicked him to the curb, the fullback position has been an afterthought and the running game began its decline.
Gordon’s lack of production isn’t his fault alone. He doesn’t fit the scheme, rather the scheme doesn’t fit him. Blocking has been horrific, that’s on personnel and coaching. Injuries to D.J. Fluker, Orlando Franklin, King Dunlap and others hasn’t helped. Offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has to do a better job coaching up this line. Chris Watt gets destroyed on a regular basis at center. Move him to guard and he gets pushed back into Rivers’ face.
Make no mistake, the 2015 Chargers’ offensive front will never be mistaken for Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman, Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff and Shane Olivea. They just aren’t that good overall. I like the Orlando Franklin acquisition, but he’s hurt. Dunlap is solid and his return will help Rivers sleep a little easier. Moving Fluker inside was a positive and, by far, an upgrade over Johnnie Troutman. Barksdale at right tackle is an upgrade over Fluker playing the position. I said it before, but it bears repeating: Watt is horrible. Telesco and McCoy have failed miserably to assemble a line that is worth its salt.
Apparently, Dean Spanos needs to hire Bill Polian so that Telesco can be good again. He’s looking like the classic example of the master making the apprentice look better and smarter than he really is.
Nobody will ever mistake Frank Reich for Ken Wisenhunt — or even Cam Cameron. His idea of attempting to run the ball is give it to Melvin from the shotgun, up the gut behind the aforementioned Watt and the one-legged Fluker. In D.J.’s defense, on one leg he’s still better than Troutman. That run nets two yards, so it’s back to pass, pass, pass behind an O-line that can’t protect a ham sandwich, let alone an immobile Rivers.
I realize this is a pass-first league. To that, I say “so what?”
Newsflash, Frankie-boy, this line is not your Buffalo K-Gun line. This line couldn’t pass protect against a pee wee football team! You and Mike McNorv talk about balance, so do it! Don’t continue to be an idiot. All that will do is get you charged with murder when Philip finally can’t get up after being hit while trying to throw the ball.
The 2015 offseason was anything but enjoyable for Chargers fans. We here at BoltBlitz.com had covered all of the new stadium/relocation to Los Angeles talk, possible pre-draft trade of Philip Rivers, the unwillingness of the organization to work out a contract extension with Eric Weddle and the suspension of Antonio Gates.
It was all quite exhausting.
One of the things that bothered me the most, in addition to the aforementioned issues, was the fact that there are a large number of Chargers on the 2015 squad that are not under contract for next season, including Weddle, Gates, Floyd and Green.
After doing a little research, my fears were heightened when seeing the plethora of quality names who do not have deals for 2016.
Here are the explanations of each free-agent designation and other information you’ll need to understand about free agency.
Accrued season = Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.
Franchise player (exclusive or nonexclusive) = The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive.
An “exclusive” Franchise Player — not free to sign with another club — is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period on April 19; or (ii) the amount of the Required Tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below.
Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the “Cap Percentage Average,” for calculating the Required Tender for such a player:
The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years…; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year…(the “Cap Percentage Average”)…; or (B) 120 percent of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.
If a club extends a Required Tender to a “non-exclusive” Franchise Player pursuant to this section, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club.
Transition player = A transition player has received a minimum offer of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.
A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.
* Unrestricted free agent = A player with four or more Accrued Seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.
** Restricted free agent = He can negotiate with any club. If the Restricted Free Agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a “right of first refusal” on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club. In addition, a player who would otherwise be a Restricted Free Agent may be designated by his old club as its Franchise Player or Transition Player.
*** Exclusive rights free agent = Such a player has no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL and may only sign with his prior team, provided, of course, that the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player.
Here is a look at all of the Bolts that are in the final year of their contracts with the team, according to spotrac.com.
*UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- FS – Eric Weddle
- TE – Antonio Gates
- WR – Malcom Floyd
- RT – Joe Barksdale
- CB – Patrick Robinson
- QB – Kellen Clemens
- G – Johnnie Troutman
- DE – Kendall Reyes
- DL – Ricardo Mathews
- FB/TE – David Johnson
- TE – Ladarius Green
- OL – Chris Hairston
- TE – John Phillips
- C – J.D. Walton
**RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- SS – Jahleel Addae
- OL – Kenny Wiggins
*** EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS:
- WR – Dontrelle Inman
- OLB – Cordarro Law
- OL – Tyreek Burwell
When looking at the offensive side of the ball, the entire tight end group is not under contract for 2016. Although it would make sense to bring back Green, his concussion problems may prevent the team from doing so. Phillips is primarily a blocking tight end, but he made a few plays during the four-week absence of Gates. Speaking of Gates, it is hard to say whether or not the Chargers will be able to find a team-friendly deal should he decide to continue his NFL career.
At the wideout spot, Floyd has already stated that he will not be back next season, announcing that this year will be his last. Inman looks to be a prime candidate for being re-signed by the club. He is gaining the trust of Philip Rivers in the passing game. His blocking as a wide receiver in the running game is improving with each snap he receives.
Offensive linemen Joe Barksdale and Chris Hairston have started multiple games in 2015, with Barksdale slotted as the team’s starting right tackle. He will most likely be brought back depending on the direction Tom Telesco decides to go in the early rounds of the 2016 draft. Hairston provides sold depth and versatility, making him a possibility for a return to the Chargers. Guys like Kenny Wiggins and Tyreek Burwell could be re-signed to fairly low-salary numbers. Burwell would still have another year of eligibility on the practice squad. Recently signed J.D. Walton will have to impress when called upon to receive consideration for an eventual re-signing.
The defensive side of the ball is obviously highlighted by the last year under contract for Eric Weddle. The team has made it clear that there will be no contract talks prior to the beginning of the 2016 league year. It doesn’t necessarily seem as though the team is willing to pony up and re-sign him to the money he believes he is worth. There is always the option of the organization applying the franchise tag to Weddle, paying him a top-five salary at his position on a one-year deal. Quite frankly, I don’t see that happening.
Fellow defensive back Patrick Robinson has looked to be a solid acquisition this offseason. Due to injuries, he has been asked to start on the outside although his position as the nickel corner is ideal for his skill-set. If he can continue to make an impact, he should be worth a look to remain with the team beyond 2015. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was offered a deal during the middle of this season.
Former second-round draft pick Kendall Reyes has been a bit of a disappoint save his rookie campaign. Depending on the desired contract of the defensive end, he may be hard-pressed to stay with the club past this year. He has not provided a viable solution opposite of Corey Liuget on the defensive line. Liuget needs help upfront, and Reyes does not seem like the guy for the job.
Ricardo Mathews is one of the most versatile defensive lineman on the team. He can line up at multiple spots and his high motor is impressive for a man his size. He comes back for at least one more season, in my opinion.
The situation surrounding strong safety Jahleel Addae is very interesting. Because of a nasty looking injury where his leg appeared to fold in half, he has missed the majority of the snaps through four weeks, allowing Jimmy Wilson to start in his place. If Addae were to come back and make an impact, would the team be willing to make him a long-term offer? It is difficult to say at this point. Similar to Barksdale, a lot of his future with the Bolts could depend on what Telesco plans to do in the draft.
I am not sure if you are as frightened by the number of free agents for 2016 as I am. But it looks like the 2016 Chargers have the chance of looking quite a bit different than this year’s squad.
Thank you very much for reading.
The Chargers and Tom Telesco boldly moved up two spots in the first round of this year’s draft to select running back Melvin Gordon out of Wisconsin. The team traded its first- and fourth-round picks in 2015 along with their fifth-round selection in 2016 in order to obtain the 15th overall pick.
The former Badger was a little underwhelming during the offseason and preseason, leaving some media pundits and bloggers – not anyone on this site – to prematurely call the drafting of Gordon a mistake.
When No. 28 wasn’t being impatient, he was being too patient, hesitating behind the offensive line looking for holes. His playing time during the preseason was limited to 20 carries. There truly wasn’t much NFL tape to go off of when it came to breaking down the rookie’s running ability at this level.
Gordon’s NFL debut against the Lions saw him carry the ball 14 times for 51 yards for an average of 3.6 yards per tote. He added three receptions for 16 yards in the team’s 33-28 victory over Detroit. His longest carry of the day went for 14 yards. The 22-year-old had an impressive touchdown scamper called back as he spun out of a tackle only to have his forearm touch the ground, causing him to be down by contact.
Overall, his first game in the league was decent, but not spectacular.
In a Week 2 loss to the Bengals on the road, Gordon flashed some of the ability that would justify his drafting in the first round.
His first run from scrimmage was good for a career-high 26 yards on the team’s opening offensive play of the game. He would later top that mark with a 27-yard-run.
The rookie reeled off three runs of 20 yards or more. This performance led to the most explosive runs – carries in excess of 20 yards – for a Chargers’ running back since 2007. The player that accomplished that feat eight years ago was LaDainian Tomlinson, finishing the game with four explosive runs of his own.
Gordon appreciated the fact that multiple runs of that nature in one game don’t come easily.
“It felt good,” Gordon said via The San Diego Union-Tribune. “It always feels good to break one. You don’t get many in the League. When you do, you try to make the best of them.”
The first-year ball carrier finished the Week 2 contest with 16 carries for 88 yards and one reception for 10 yards. Although he has yet to reach the end zone, you can see the youngster starting to figure it out.
The San Diego offensive line is still working on building cohesion. With D.J. Fluker being injured in the season-opening game, veteran Chris Hairston has stepped in at the right guard spot. Free-agent acquisition Orlando Franklin is manning the left guard position after playing predominantly at right tackle during his time with the Broncos. Second-year lineman Chris Watt has struggled a bit while adjusting to playing at center. Another free agent, Joe Barksdale is still learning the blocking schemes under offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris.
In time, and with a healthy Fluker returning to the lineup, the offensive line will get on the same page, gelling as a cohesive unit. This will, in turn, allow bigger holes for backs like Gordon to churn out yards on the ground, and allow time for quarterback Philip Rivers to sling the ball to his impressive receiving options.
Melvin Gordon has only played in two NFL games. As much as the young man must work on his patience as a ball carrier, the fans must also be patient in waiting for him to develop and prove his worth.
I have a feeling that people will be praising the first-round selection of Gordon for many years to come.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The Chargers lit it up at the Q after being down 21-3 against Lions at halftime, coming back to win 33-28.
The San Diego offense had a sudden surge in the second half after only putting three points on the board through two quarters. It all started with Philip Rivers. The 33-year-old completed 83.3% of his passes on Sunday (35-42). He threw two touchdown passes to tie Dan Fouts’ team record (254) for most touchdowns thrown for over a career. He threw for a whopping 404 yards. Not a bad start to the season for the 12-year veteran.
The Chargers offensive line did a decent job. They started off shaky in the early portions of the game, but meshed well as the game wore on. There were also two injuries to this line, D.J. Fluker and Joe Barksdale. Although those seem like key losses, their replacements did a solid job at protecting Rivers. Fluker sustained a high-ankle sprain and looks to be out about 4-6 weeks. Barksdale is expected to return this week.
Rookie Melvin Gordon had 14 carries for 51 yards, averaging 3.64 yards per carry. Gordon almost scored his first touchdown as a rookie, but it was called back because his elbow touched the turf when trying to spin out of tackle. Gordon also fumbled the ball, turning it over to the Lions. All in all, it wasn’t a bad debut performance.
Danny Woodhead also had a nice game, toting the rock 12 times for 42 yards. He averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Woody managed to score two touchdowns on the ground. It was nice to have him back after losing him to a season-ending injury early last season.
Keenan Allen was huge this game! Allen had 15 receptions for 166 yards. He tied the team record for receptions in a single game. Allen didn’t score any touchdowns, but he sure helped the team move the ball down the field. The 23-year-old also popped a ball up that Rivers threw at his back shoulder; it was intercepted and taken back for a pick-six.
Stevie Johnson proved to be a nice offseason addition. He recorded 6 receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, averaging 13.6 yards per catch. Johnson ran a great inside route and took it to the house with his lone diving touchdown. He will definitely be an asset to the already prolific offense.
Ladarius Green had a good game, stepping in for the suspended Antonio Gates. Green registered five receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. Green came through in the clutch when the Chargers needed to move down the field to get into the red zone.
Lastly, Malcom Floyd. Floyd had a bit of a disappointing game having only one catch that went for 29 yards. Rivers also tried to target Floyd in the endzone, but that pass was well underthrown and ended up being intercepted by the Lions’ secondary for Rivers’ second pick of the game. Truth be told, there is only one football to go around, so to speak.
When every player is healthy, this is one of the most prolific offenses in the league. The offensive line took a while to mesh, but when they did, they were able to open holes for the running back and protect Rivers. With stable blocking upfront, the Chargers can move the ball down the field with a great deal of poise.
Next up is the Bengals. Let’s see how the offense can do against a good defense on the road.
Thanks for reading!
Rick Reiff, Jr.
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!
On Saturday night, quarterback Philip Rivers agreed to a four-year contract extension with the San Diego Chargers that will keep him in lightning bolts through the year 2019. The deal is between $84-85 million dollars and comes with $65 million guaranteed dollars per NFL Networks’ Ian Rapoport who broke the story. Rivers will sign the extension on Monday.
The Chargers front office has taken a lot of fire this offseason for how they have handled player contracts this offseason. They stepped up to the plate and guaranteed Rivers will be a Charger for life as GM Tom Telesco has said in countless interviews. The exclamation point is the guaranteed money. The $65 million is the largest guaranteed dollar amount given to a player in NFL history. The deal surpasses the $61.5 million that was guaranteed to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson just a month ago.
This is a lightning bolt of great news that has energized the San Diego fan base if you peruse social media. Despite what happens in the relocation scenario, the elephant in the room was Rivers, who was in the last year of his current contract this season. The subject of trade speculation in the weeks leading up to the draft, Rivers spoke hesitantly about his willingness to resign if the Chargers move to Los Angeles. Thankfully, that game is over and the franchise quarterback will stay put until the day he decides to hang up his cleats.
Though it remains to be seen how the new members of the offensive line perform, Rivers had to be impressed in the guys the front office brought in to protect him. Orlando Franklin (6’7″, 320 lb) is a left guard the Chargers signed away from the rival Denver Broncos. Joe Barksdale (6’5″, 326 lb) is a right tackle signed away from St. Louis. The pair of 27-year old studs solidify weak spots on both sides of the line.
The signings of reserve center Trevor Robinson (6’5″, 300 lb), guard Michael Huey (6’4″, 317 lb) and tackle Chris Hairston (6’6″, 330 lb) provide quality depth to a line that resembles a turnstile last season. This group will be tasked with keeping Rivers clean and opening holes for the running backs. At first look, they look very capable of doing so.
With Rivers solidly back in the fold, they are primed to overtake the Denver Broncos and reclaim their former dominance at the top of the AFC West. They’re bound to experience growing pains with new workhorse running back Melvin Gordon. Much is expected of the Chargers 2015 first round draft pick but his transition to the pro game will be a little easier with a stable of veterans to lean on. A healthy Danny Woodhead and human bowling ball Branden Oliver will also take pressure off as they will share the backfield load, turning the running back position into a three-headed monster.
This deal was inevitable. Rivers is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the team. He is the undisputed leader and face of the franchise. Rivers’ intelligence, toughness and passing proficiency is unquestioned. At this moment, Rivers is the sixth highest rated passer in NFL history. By the end of his career, Rivers will own every significant Chargers passing record.
Will San Diego win the West this year? If they stay healthy (big if), they can absolutely overtake the Broncos. At the very least the race for the top spot should go down to the wire. I expect at least ten wins this season which puts them in the playoff picture. Rivers has his best collection of offensive talent top to bottom since the Tomlinson years.
Peyton Manning is already declining and will most likely retire at the end of this or next season. Rivers still has plenty of life left in his arm and we long suffering bolts fans can finally realistically expect deep postseason runs culminating with a long overdue Super Bowl ring(s) for our MVP!
Congratulations Philip from all of us in Bolt Nation!
The Greg One
Football is back.
Although there was the obvious stadium chatter among the fans, it was easy to just keep my eyes on the field — maybe except when I “accidentally” recorded that good-looking girl walking by — and concentrate on Charger football.
There was no tackling, the players were in shorts and the play calling was very vanilla.
All of that being said, without over-evaluating the guys after their first day, there were some takeaways after day one of training camp.
Here are some notes and observations.
– Many of the players, including Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones, started having fun as soon as they stepped out onto the practice field.
– There were ZERO players working on the side. For a team that seems to be missing crucial players due to injury quite often, it was incredibly refreshing.
– Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle were up to their usual jawing.
– Jason Verrett looked to be the fastest player out there.
– First offensive play was a completed drag route from Rivers to Ladarius Green.
– Melvin Gordon has a long way to go, but you can tell he has the tools to be special.
– The team rotated DJ Fluker and Joe Barksdale at right tackle in early phases of practice.
– Although Barksdale also saw some action at right guard, Johnnie Troutman was primarily out there with the first-team offense at the position.
– Stevie Johnson wears a weird hood on the outside of his helmet. Not sure why.
– Stevie made a highlight-reel catch on a play where Stevie Williams had solid coverage on him.
– Craig Mager realized that he is no longer at North Texas. He struggled often.
– Gates made a few solid plays. He had one toe-tapping grab on the sideline on a well-placed pass from Rivers.
– Kyle Emanuel was on the first-team for punt coverage.
– Denzel Perryman knocked down a pass over the middle.
– Jacoby Jones can run.
– Danny Woodhead looked quick and explosive. Nice to see him back.
– Similar to Woodhead, Branden Oliver was quick in and out of cuts.
– Craig Watts — in as a reserve left guard — had two straight plays in a row where he did a solid job opening holes in the running game, and good protection on a pass play.
– Orlando Franklin had a great practice. I am so glad he’s a Charger.
– Team speed has increased via acquired players and returning players coming back healthy.
– Titus Davis, a player I’ve written about a couple of times, looked good, catching the ball well.
– The cornerback position is deep at this point.
– Brad Sorensen wasn’t there for the early stages of practice, as his wife gave birth to their second child.
As mentioned above, it is way too premature to do anything other than throw out some first-day observations. But as long as we aren’t talking about the stadium situation, the team not extending Weddle’s contract, the Gates’ suspension or Rivers being hesitant to work out a long-term deal, I’m perfectly fine with throwing together some notes about today’s practice.
I’ll be there again tomorrow, and my major hope is the same that it is each day the Chargers practice: Just stay healthy.
Thanks a lot for reading.