I think everyone would agree that the 2013 season was a success. Very few people truly anticipated our Bolts would finish 10-8, grab the #6 seed or advance to the AFC Divisional Round before finally having injuries catch up with them.
Philip Rivers is now deemed “fixed“. Rather, Philip adapted and thrived in the changes to the offensive scheme implemented by Mike McCoy, Ken Whisenhunt and Frank Reich. Ryan Mathews ran harder and with more confidence than any other time in his brief career. More importantly, he overcame his label of being fragile and fumble prone. He played his best football with a high ankle sprain and he only fumbled twice, losing only one of those to the opposition.
Chargers #1 pick, D.J. Fluker got better as his rookie campaign progressed. He has a mean streak that I love and that has been lacking since the old days of Mike Goff, Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick playing side by side. #2 pick, Manti Te’o also improved as the season went on, learning on the job after missing most of training camp with a foot injury. #3 pick Keenan Allen came out of nowhere and impressed the most jaded of fans and prognosticators. Last year’s #1 pick, Melvin Ingram made his presence felt when he returned from knee surgery in Week 13.
So, where do the Chargers go from here? NT is sorely needed to protect Te’o and Donald Butler. They need a space-eating NT to keep the opposing offensive linemen off our inside linebackers. Second in line is CB. We need someone who can cover effectively. Eric Weddell and Jahleel Addae can only protect weak corners to a point. Derek Cox certainly wasn’t the answer, and I’m not convinced Richard Marshall is either. They’ll get Johnny Patrick and Steve Williams back, but will that be the answer?
After that, pass rush depth is needed. They need to cut ties with Larry English. Will Dwight Freeney be able to come back from his injury? Will the Chargers bring him back? The best way to help your secondary is with a strong pass rush and consistent pressure on opposing QBs. Depth along the OL is needed. We don’t know yet if Nick Hardwick will be back. Can King Dunlap hold up for an entire season? Can Rich Ohrnberger play 16 games at C if Hardwick does hang up the cleats? Who plays behind Ryan Mathews? Ronnie Brown isn’t the answer, they need to get younger here. WR depth is another concern. If Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd don’t return, who plays opposite Allen and who will command Rivers’ attention?
Tom Telesco and McCoy have their work cut out for them this spring and summer. I’m confident in what they will do in 2014 considering how they worked with what they had in 2013.
I know I’ve raised more questions than answers. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Last season, Tom Telesco took the reins of an Indianapolis Colts franchise that had finished last in the league in 2011. Telesco was named Vice President of Football Operations in 2012. Telesco used his newfound power to overhaul the Colts roster. The Colts had gone 2-14 in 2011. Telesco dismantled the team, jettisoning long standing players such as Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark and Dwight Freeney. That year, Peyton Manning was also allowed to leave after missing the season with a neck injury followed by multiple surgeries.
By the time the 2012 season rolled around, there were 36 new faces on the roster. Telesco learned from one of the master executives in NFL history in longtime Colts General Manager Bill Polian. Telesco was able to be in on the scouting and player analysis aspect in the Colts war room, having input on what players to bring in. Coincidentally, his first season was also Manning’s first season in Indianapolis.
As a result of Telesco’s overhaul, the 2012 edition of the Colts led by top draft pick quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went 11-5 and into the playoffs. The Colts won their division again in 2013 and are prime for a long run as mainstays on the playoff landscape. Telesco’s eye for bringing in fresh talent took the Colts from worst to first in the AFC South. The Chargers noticed and in the 2013 offseason signed Telesco to become the new General Manager of the San Diego Chargers.
Right away, Telesco used the same blueprint he used in Indianapolis. Longtime Chargers were seen out the door. Among them, Louis Vasquez, Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, Antonio Garay, Takeo Spikes and Antwan Barnes were among many to find themselves exiled from Chargers Park. In their place, Telesco filled their slots with young, mostly unproven role players who were capable of playing multiple positions. Players like Thomas Keiser, Sean Lissemore, Chad Rinehart, Rich Orhnberger, Derek Cox and Dunlap are all Telesco signings who have had great impact in their first season on the team.
The draft got the Chargers off and running at the 2013 NFL Draft with Telesco at the controls. The first round pick, DJ Fluker, has been a stabilizing force at right tackle. When left tackle King Dunlap missed games with a concussion, Fluker moved to the left side of the line and played great there as well. In the second round, Telesco moved up to select Mantei Teo out of Notre Dame and got California wide receiver Keenan Allen in the third round.
Telesco was hailed for the picks. All were seen as first round talents. Teo unexpectedly dropped into the second round on the heels of the fake girlfriend scandal. Allen’s stock dropped because he participated in the NFL draft combine injured. Teo’s play has gotten better as the season wears on after missing almost all preseason and a quarter of the regular season with a foot injury. Allen is the odds on favorite for Offensive Rookie Of The Year after being pressed into service following an injury to Malcolm Floyd. Sixth round pick Tourek Williams has has substantial playing time in the wake of numerous injuries on the defensive line and has played above expectations.
Telesco also spearheaded the search for a new head coach, nabbing the hottest name on the market in Denver’s Mike McCoy. McCoy’s reputation with quarterbacks is well known, as all he has coached have had career seasons under his guidance.
The Chargers have missed the playoffs three years straight. Last season they had their first losing season since 2003, finishing 7-9. On the way out the door former coach Norv Turner was quoted as saying the Chargers are a few years from being a playoff team. Telesco’s vision and eye for talent has again gotten the Chargers back into the playoffs after only one season. The Chargers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in a thriller at home 27-24 to claim the last playoff spot in the AFC.
Telesco’s magic has worked again. One season on the job, he has taken a team with a losing record and given them the personnel that got them into the playoffs the very next season. Similar to the Colts situation, the Chargers are being restocked with younger, faster players and a solid young core to build around with Fluker, Allen and Teo as the cornerstones of the new Telesco/McCoy era.
The Chargers will have cap flexibility this offseason, unlike the dire financial straits they found themselves in last offseason. Telesco reworked contracts and used the limited funds available to sign the likes of Cox, Freeney, Johnny Patrick and Danny Woodhead among others. This offseason, the Chargers have cap flexibility. The Chargers faithful finally have reason to believe with Telesco making deals and picking winners on draft day that this team is finally ready to take the next step to being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Telesco magic is working.
The Greg One
In what is another blow to an already banged up San Diego Charger team, Steve Williams has a torn pectoral muscle and is expected to be out for the rest of the 2013 season. Williams, a speedy Cornerback out of Cal, was playing respectfully as a rookie at the Nickel CB spot and on the outside as well.
Chargers CB Steve Williams tore his pectoral muscle during Thursday’s game. Fifth-round pick expected to miss season.
— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 17, 2013
The Chargers have depth issues all over the roster at various positions. The secondary is no exception. The team is still ironing out who will start where minus the outside corner spots being manned by Derek Cox and Shareece Wright.
During the Chicago game, former New Orleans Saint, Johnny Patrick, suffered an injury as well. Rumors have been that it was either a jaw injury and/or concussion that was suffered by Patrick.
The injury bug has seemed to turn to more of a legion of bugs casting a dark cloud over Chargers Park.