Immediately after the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft the Los Angeles Chargers set to signing undrafted free agents. In all, 15 players were chosen to come into camp and compete for the opportunity of realizing their dream of making an NFL roster.
The names on this list are largely unfamiliar except to the devoutest college football fans. These are the underdog stories we’ll all root for in hopes they can join the ranks of the Chargers’ legacy of great undrafted free agent triumphs. Look no further than Hall Of Fame bound tight end Antonio Gates and the recently retired wide receiver Malcom Floyd for recent examples.
Here is the Los Angeles Chargers undrafted free agent class of 2017:
CB Brandon Stewart, Kansas
CB Brad Watson, Wake Forest
T Mason Zandi, South Carolina
K Younghoe Koo, Georgia Southern
LB Mike Moore, Kansas State
WR Artavis Scott, Clemson
LB James Onwualu, Notre Dame
WR Andre Patton, Rutgers
WR Dontre Wilson, Ohio State
QB Eli Jenkins, Jacksonville State
LB Nigel Harris, South Florida
RB Austin Ecker, Western State
C Dillon Deboer. Florida Atlantic
CB Michael Davis, BYU
TE Sean Culkin, Missouri
There are a lot of great underdog stories among this group that will be brought to light in upcoming UDFA profiles. Kenkins is a dual-threat quarterback that threw for 2100 yards and eleven touchdowns. He also ran 175 times for 984 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Chargers have never started a ‘mobile’ quarterback. It’s an interesting thought that of all the free agent quarterbacks available, he’s the one they chose. Zandi is a 6″9′-inch, 315-lb. behemoth. Before we get too excited about that prospect, we have to look no further than the recently departed King Dunlap.
The most intriguing prospect and my lock to make the team is Clemson wide receiver Artavis Scott. Scott was the wideout lined up opposite the Chargers number one draft pick, WR Mike Williams for three seasons. The 5″10′-inch, 190-lb. Scott was a freshman All-American, first-team All-ACC his sophomore year and second-team All-ACC his junior year. Entering the draft after his junior year, he caught 76, 93 and 76 passes for a combined 2,480 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Chargers have made a conscious effort to foster a more collegiate atmosphere by selecting players that were teammates with existing core players. Cases in point, RB Melvin Gordon and FB Derek Watt (Wisconsin); DE Joey Bosa and LB Joshua Perry (Ohio State); K Josh Lambo and P Drew Kaser (Texas A&M). You’d figure taking such an approach helps the incoming player settle in a little quicker seeing a familiar face; a player they battled side-by-side with and won and lost together.
Now the two starting wide receivers from the reigning collegiate National Championship team arrive at the same time. They undoubtedly have chemistry together and will learn and grow together. The Chargers’ wide receivers room is already very crowded but the potential in bringing Williams and Scott through the ranks together and replicating the magic they had in Clemson is too good to pass up.
I, for one, can’t wait to see it!
Any UDFA’s you’re looking forward to seeing? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Man, oh man! What a day to be a Chargers fan!!
That was my reaction to the Chargers vs. Falcons game a few weeks back. And if you had Tyrell Williams in your fantasy football lineup that week – he reaped HUGE dividends! I have him on my team in two leagues and he was well over his projections: 15 points against an 8.64 in my Yahoo league while in my NFL League it was 14 versus an estimated 5.70 low.
Crazy to recall that this huge, raw talent was not invited to the NFL Combine. Guess he was considered too raw as he went undrafted.
That’s okay, because the Chargers picked him up. And while he didn’t see much on-field time until late last year, it’s all good.
Fast forward to 2016.
The 6’4″, 205 pounder made his way up the depth chart after an injury in training camp landed Stevie Johnson on IR. Shortly after that, the Bolts’ number one wide-out Keenan Allen was lost for the season. Where did that put Williams? Squarely in the starting line-up along with slot receiver and off-season signing Travis Benjamin.
During training camp last year, Chargers’ signal caller Philip Rivers made mention of how much Williams reminded him of Malcom Floyd; the way he moved, almost as if gliding his way down the field.
He is becoming adept at using that big body and 4.38 second speed to fly across the middle or along the sidelines. Through 10 games, Williams career stats are 43 catches for 720 yards and four TD scores. The Falcons game saw him mark career-highs in both targets (7 of 10) and receiving yards (140). To date, he is ninth in yards after the catch (YAC) with 317. That breaks down to an average of 7.4 YAC.
Those are all great. There are, however, a couple of things that Williams needs to tweak. One is his sideline awareness.
Early in the second quarter, first and 10 from Atlanta’s 49-yard line, Benjamin threw the ball towards Williams, who caught it and ran. A 22 yard bomb. While the toss took many by surprise, it was an awesome catch…except that it was called back incomplete. A simple nuance – dragging his right toe as he was going out of bounds would have been the difference of another set of downs rather than the challenge that followed. Second and 10 at Atlanta’s 49 yard line rather than first and 10. Sigh. The Bolts kick a field goal to cap that drive.
Williams was kind of quiet in the second half (3/4, 27 yds) as San Diego continued to run the ball with Gordon and began mixing Inman into the offense more. Williams’ last catch of the day converted a 3rd and 10 at the Falcons’ 15 yard line into a Chargers’ 1st and goal at Atlanta’s 5-yard line early in the fourth and Josh Lambo kicked a chip-shot to pull the Bolts’ within three.
The thing with Williams is that he is extremely adept at picking up those yards after the catch, much like Malcom Floyd was prone to do when Rivers was putting the ball up for him to nab. In just his second year, Williams and Rivers have quickly developed a rapport in which when No. 17 fires a bullet in his direction, he is confident that No. 16 is getting his hands on it. The game is not too big for him as he has continued to build on what began last December – opportunity knocking due to Floyd having to leave the Denver game. He hauled in his first NFL touchdown that day in front of Broncos’ corner Aquib Talib.
He hasn’t looked back since.
So what does Williams need to do at this stage of his development? One thing he MUST do is work on his route running. For example, we have all seen how at least a couple of times throughout a game he misses the option route. Those miscues just give Rivers fits. So far there have been 11 times where the chance for better field position has resulted in the ball not being in his hands. Overall better recognition of where the defender is in conjunction to when/where Williams should break or how deep into the route before he does will come with repetition. He needs to get a quicker break off the line of scrimmage also.
When Keenan Allen went down week one, it was Williams’ turn to step up. At that time, Rivers stated to Michael Gehlken (SD-UT) “We need him to catch a bunch of balls this year — a bunch of balls and have some huge days and big gains.”
From the apex of Atlanta to the debacle in Denver, Williams appeared to be hampered a bit in Mile High Stadium. Battling a knee injury had his status questionable all week, so perhaps limited practice time may have affected him in his running and timing ability. A tipped ball off his hands led to a 49-yard interception-TD by Bradley Roby and gave the Broncos the lead late in the second quarter. On the Bolts’ next series, Williams tweaked his knee again going after a pass and was done for the day. Targeted six times, he hauled in a lone catch for four yards.
Though still having a sore knee with minimal practice reps, Williams hauled in six Rivers’ passes for 65 yards and a score this past Sunday against the Titans. This week versus Miami, with fellow wide-out Travis Benjamin inactive with his own knee injury, Williams’ stat line was 5/125 and a TD. It could have been more if not for at least twice where he didn’t even look back to Rivers to recognize that the ball was headed in his direction. Or because he let the defender beat him to the ball and didn’t fight for it, thus causing an interception.
The chemistry between Williams and his signal caller continues to evolve with each rep in practice and on the field. After the Thursday Night game against Denver two weeks ago, Rivers told Tom Krasovic (SD-UT) “Tyrell, as you saw, has the potential to make every play. There’s not a play physically that he can’t make. It’s just a matter of continuing to grow as a receiver – running (optimal) routes.”
They say knowledge is power. Stepping in to fill the shoes of your team’s number one receiver at a moment’s notice shows one’s mettle to teammates and coaches alike.
So far, Tyrell Williams has proven he is up to the challenge. He MUST continue to do so for team to have any kind of chance at winning games.
The Chargers’ 2015 season was seriously lacking in positive moments, seeing as the team finished the year out a 4-12, earning them the third overall selection in the 2016 draft.
That being said, there were some memorable plays. Sadly, the five longest touchdowns for the Bolts all occurred in losses.
Damn. Now THAT is tough to swallow.
Let us get right to it.
No. 5: Keenan Allen’s 34-yard touchdown reception against the Minnesota Vikings
In what was one of the worst Chargers’ games of the 2015 season, wide receiver Keenan Allen managed to haul in a 34-yard touchdown snag against the Vikings in Minnesota. San Diego would eventually fall to Minnesota by a score of 31-14.
Allen caught a Rivers’ pass at the Vikings’ 10-yard line, scooting in between two defenders, both of who collided with each other, allowing No. 13 to walk into the endzone.
No. 4: Malcom Floyd’s 40-yard touchdown reception against the Cincinnati Bengals
In what would be considered a theme during the 2015 campaign, the Bolts fall to the Bengals in this game by only five points, 24-19. The game would mark one of the nine times the team lost a game by one score or less.
Floyd would sprint right past Bengals’ cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in what looked to be a breakdown in their cover-2 defense, leaving Rivers with a gimme-touchdown pass to the reliable deep-threat. It appears as though the safety missed his assignment on the play, but we’ll take it.
No. 3: Jason Verrett’s 68-yard interception returned for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears
In what would be his first career touchdown, Verrett anticipates a hitch, stop-route by Bears’ wideout Alshon Jeffery, intercepting Jay Cutler’s pass and taking it all the way to the house.
Though many, including Verrett, will remember this play as No. 22’s first scoring play in the NFL, the reaction of Rivers after this play is absolute gold!
No. 2: Malcom Floyd’s 70-yard touchdown catch against the Baltimore Ravens
When it comes to long plays and touchdown receptions, Floyd lit up the field with highlight plays just like this one during his 13-year Chargers’ career.
Again, in another loss, Floyd provided fans with a huge play.
No. 1: Tyrell Williams’ 80-yard touchdown snag against the Broncos in Denver
In a Week 17 contest against the Denver Broncos, Chargers’ rookie wide receiver Tyrell Williams would find himself active on gameday.
Williams would make the most of his opportunity, pulling in his first career touchdown reception on a play that would find Williams wide open for an 80-yard scamper.
Though the youngster will be fighting an uphill battle to make the Chargers 53-man roster for the second year in a row, it is plays like that which will help him earn his right to remain a member of the Bolts’ wide receiving corps.
There you have it; the longest scoring plays of the 2015 Chargers’ season. Of course, it is a bit pathetic that all five of the plays happened during losses for the Bolts.
Here’s to hoping that the 2016 season will see many more explosive touchdowns, and even more Chargers’ victories.
I mean, they’re going to win more than four games, right?
Thanks for reading.
Dave Booga Peters
Excitement and enthusiasm is in the air for the 2016-2017 edition of the San Diego Chargers. At this time in the offseason, it’s in the air for the fans of the other 31 NFL teams as well. With the free agency, NFL Draft period over and what looks to be a loaded 90-man roster in place, hope for a successful season is renewed.
Time to take off the rose-colored glasses for a moment and look at the team from an analytics standpoint. The Chargers do look like they have helped themselves immensely this offseason. To take a closer look I am going to dissect the offense and assign each aspect of the offense a point value. These will be the points I expect that aspect of the offense to generate every game. Of course that number is subject to change based on injuries, offseason acquisitions etc…
The points will then be added and that will be the expected points-per-game expectation for the offense. Some of you will think I’ve graded too harshly while others will think not harshly enough but it’s a jumping off point and that’s the objective. I’ll be looking forward to reading your views in the comments below.
The offense begins and ends with Philip Rivers. The Chargers’ iron man, Rivers has not missed a single game in ten seasons. His streak is second-longest in the NFL behind Eli Manning of the New York Giants (183). Rivers only trails Manning because Rivers didn’t start until his third season while Manning started in his rookie year.
Over the last three seasons, Rivers has averaged a stat line of 398-591 for 4,518 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and two fumbles lost. What’s more, he has averaged 56 passes of 20-yards or more and slightly over seven completions of 40-yards or more. This impressive stat line comes despite woeful offensive line play that has him getting sacked an average of 35 times over that same three-season period.
Last season, Rivers threw for career-highs in attempts (661), completions (437) and yards (4,792). The running game was non-existent and the Chargers went through 25 offensive line changes. The weight of being the only reliable offensive option took its toll on Rivers and the Bolts record. This year, a more balanced offense will yield better results on the scoreboard and in the standings.
Points-per-game expectation: 14
Running backs and fullbacks
Franchise running back Melvin Gordon had a disappointing rookie season. The Chargers, the fans and Gordon himself expected better than the 184 carries for 641 yards he accumulated in 14 games. Gordon is still awaiting his first NFL regular season touchdown and needs to improve his ball security. Four of Gordons’ six fumbles were recovered by the defense.
Danny Woodhead was the most consistent running back and the leading receiver for the Chargers last season. Woodhead had 98 carries for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Receiving, Woodhead amassed 80 receptions for 755 yards with six touchdowns. Take away the 2014 season in which Woodhead missed all but three games with a broken leg; in 2013 and 2015 Woodhead has averaged 382 yards and 2.5 touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts and 680 yards and six touchdowns on 78 receptions.
Branden Oliver was rarely seen in 2015 but showed his worth in 2014 after the injury to Woodhead where he emerged to lead the Chargers in rushing in 2014 as a rookie. Last season he had 31 attempts for 108 yards rushing at 13 receptions for 112 yards receiving. The coaching staff has expressed their desire to add Oliver in the mix in 2016 which is an intriguing prospect. Time will tell.
In the sixth round San Diego selected Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt. The significance of this selection is Watt was Gordons’ blocking fullback each of his three seasons at Wisconsin. It’s reasonable to expect the two already have a chemistry and understanding of one another that will translate to the field.
The new rule that chop blocks will not be allowed on the line of scrimmage will make having a good fullback on the field more important. This will also slowly bring about the re-emergence of Power-I formations. Not coincidentally, the Power-I is the formation Watt and Gordon ran to NCAA record-smashing success. There is change brewing in the run game and it will only help the offense as a whole.
Points per-game expectation: 6
At 36 years young, Hall of Fame bound Antonio Gates enters his 14th NFL season after re-signing with the Bolts for two more seasons. The eight-time Pro Bowler began the 2015 season on the suspended list, missing four games for taking a banned substance. He played well in the eleven games he saw the field afterward, tallying 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Gates contemplated retirement before the end of last season but after the Chargers dismal season, Gates opted to return. He told the media “I didn’t want to go out like that.”
Gates finds himself on the precipice of NFL history this season. With eight touchdowns, Gates (104) will surpass Tony Gonzalez (111) into first place for touchdowns scored by a tight end. Over his brilliant career, Gates averages eight touchdowns a season. He is the most reliable part of the passing game. Starting the season from week one, expecting a better statistical season than 2015 is almost a certainty as long as he stays healthy.
The Chargers did draft the heir apparent to Gates when they drafted Hunter Henry our of Arkansas with their second round pick. The 6’5″, 250-pounder was a first-team All-SEC selection and winner of the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end in 2015. Henry collected 51 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns. As sure-handed as they come, Henry did not drop a single pass last season.
Vying for a slot on the roster are Sean McGrath, Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, and undrafted free agent Matt Weiser. All fit the mold the Chargers like at standing 6’5″, 260-pounds. The most intriguing prospect may be Tim Semisch, a one-year pro who stands an imposing 6’8″, 267.
Points per-game expectation: 4
Come back tomorrow for part two of my breakdown including the wide receivers, offensive line, coaching staff and final summary. I hope you have enjoyed my analytical breakdown. Do you agree or disagree so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
The Greg One
Sometimes the men who declare for the NFL draft watch seven rounds come and go without their names being called. Why their draft stock seemingly does not translate to a phone call could be for a myriad of reasons. Hold on, though. There is still a way that you can play in the NFL.
One of those ways is being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent (UDFA).
One such player is Tyrell Williams.
Presently, the Chargers have six undrafted players on the roster at the wide receiver position. Three are second-year players while the other three are rookies. Each one is looking to show the coaches that they deserve to be on the team beyond next month’s minicamp.
Williams is a second-year receiver out of Western Oregon University. He signed his UDFA tender in May of 2015 and was with the team until early September when he was waived. The team needed to replace safety Jahleel Addae with practice-squad player Adrian Phillips. Williams subsequently made it through waivers and was re-signed.
He stayed on the practice squad until November when he was promoted to the active roster and debuted in the December 20 home game against the Miami Dolphins. Williams didn’t garner a catch until the final season contest of 2015 when he zipped by Broncos’ cornerback Aqib Talib and scored an 80-yard touchdown. The performance in that final game has continued to whet his desire to be a part of the starting lineup rather than the practice squad.
At 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds, Williams is similar in build and size to both Keenan Allen (6-foot-2/211 lbs) and recently retired Bolts’ wideout Malcom Floyd (6-foot-5, 225 lbs). In training camp last year, Williams apparently reminded Rivers so much of M-80 that he nicknamed him “Little Malcom.” They are both long-armed and long-legged, and when they run it appears more like gliding because they are so fluid. Don’t underestimate his blocking ability, either, as Williams is good at that, too. He is unafraid to launch that big body to haul in a pass; a la Floyd.
Who would have thought that a guy who began his collegiate career at 160 pounds would eventually bulk up to 208 pounds and find himself on an NFL team? The Wolves’ head coach, Arne Ferguson, and their director of football operations, Jason Slowey, extended a scholarship to Williams upon entering college. He worked hard to hone his craft and put weight on his frame. By the time he was entering his junior year, NFL teams were beginning to take notice, scouting him as a potential fit on their respective rosters.
It just goes to show what dedication, perseverance and hard work can provide you with; in this case, a chance to make your dreams come true.
With all the hype that has been put out there both last year and in the recent OTAs, the Chargers might have another competition brewing. Here’s hoping that young Williams makes the Bolts’ roster.
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading!
San Diego Chargers GM Tom Telesco made one extra phone call during the day three draft proceedings Saturday. That call was to long-tenured punter Mike Scifres. On that phone call he informed Scifres he was being released. With his next pick in the sixth round Telesco tabbed Texas A&M punter Drew Kaser to be his replacement.
Scifres, along with Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd and Eric Weddle have all been with the Chargers the longest at thirteen seasons. Floyd retired and Weddle is now a member of the Baltimore Ravens. As difficult as it was to make the decision to part ways with a revered member of the locker room, Scifres play had reached a point of diminishing returns over the past couple of seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Scifres ranked last in punter rankings. The veteran will be widely believed to be the best punter in Chargers history.
Said Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy of Scifres: “He’s a true pro. When people ask what it means to be a Charger, I’ll point to Mike Scifres. Thank you Mike, we’re going to miss you.”
The release of Scifres frees over $3.6 million in salary cap space. With the Bolts making a lot of draft picks in need areas, expect more of these type of cuts in the near future.
Thank you, Mike.
The Greg One
On Monday the San Diego Chargers announced that six assistant coaches have been released. Heading the list is Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich. Offensive Line coach Joe D’Alessandris, Tight Ends coach Pete Metzelaars, Wide Receivers coach Fred Graves, Defensive Line coach Don Johnson and Assistant Offensive Line coach Andrew Dees complete the list.
Head Coach Mike McCoy survived the coaching staff purge and received a one-year vote-of-confidence contract extension in the process.
Someone has to take the fall for this season and the injury excuse apparently does not extend to everyone on the Bolts coaching chain-of-command. Reich did add a welcome wrinkle with the pistol offense, intended to give QB Philip Rivers more time to scan the field and spare some of the punishing hits. With all the offensive line injuries Rivers took as much of a beating as he did when he played under center in the seasons before Reich’s arrival. The short-passing, ball-control offensive philosophy worked for one season and has died with the absence of an effective running game.
Personally, my biggest indictment of Reich was his steadfast belief in his system, unable or unwilling to make adjustments. Without a true feature back the running game needed to utilize space. Danny Woodhead led the team in receiving and had roughly half as many yards rushing (641 to 336) as feature back Melvin Gordon on half the carries (184 to 98).
Sweeps, bubble screens and misdirection plays would have made Woodhead a larger threat that could’ve actually created more running room for Gordon. Secondly, Gordon ran for 2,500 yards in his last season at Wisconsin out of a traditional I-formation behind a fullback. Why not at least experiment with that formula? If Gordon gets half that amount in yardage he wins the Rookie Of The Year award easily.
Lastly, using the short-range, timing-based, ball control offense is a good idea but also takes away a major weapon from Rivers. It’s known around the league that Rivers is one of if not the best deep ball passers in the league. The deep ball has been absent from the game plan in the last few seasons. It’s not all Reich’s fault. The Chargers do not have a receiver who can take the top off a defense with his speed the way a younger Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd did earlier in Rivers’ career.
Of all the names on the list, Reich’s is the most justified. Jackson and Metzelaars look to be collateral damage. When Gates and Green are on the field they were key elements in the offense and produced more often than not. Gates finished third on the team in receiving and Green finished fifth. The receiver corps was decimated with injuries starting with Keenan Allen and continued with Stevie Johnson, Floyd and Dontrelle Inman joining him on the sidelines at various times through the season.
The line coaches have to deal with the players they’re given. Both lines had a shaky year. Both lines underperformed but there was no consistency because of all the injuries. Notable by his absence on this list is Defensive Coordinator John Pagano. According to NFL.com the Chargers finished 27th in rushing defense, 14th in passing defense and Pagano stays on the team while the offense finished 9th in the league and the Offensive Coordinator is fired.
Just or not, there will be a lot of new faces in the Chargers locker room in 2016 on the staff and on the nameplates above those lockers. Let’s hope they’re good ones.
The Greg One
After suffering an embarrassing loss last week at home to Denver, the San Diego Chargers will have the daunting task of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are red-hot, riding a six-game winning streak and pushing for a playoff spot. San Diego is playing for pride in their last four games as their season has been derailed by a litany of injuries to key players on offense and defense.
Kansas City was also expected to fall into the AFC West cellar after losing their perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season eight weeks ago. Instead, they rallied around each other and have recovered from a 1-5 record to put themselves in playoff contention. Keying their turnaround has been an improved defense led by bookend defensive ends Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Add in an emotional boost from safety Eric Berry (after missing a year and successfully beating Cancer) and you have a defense that has forced multiple turnovers a team record seven weeks in a row.
San Diego has a tall mountain to climb but we all know the old adage about any given Sunday. Last week, the lowly Philadelphia Eagles beat the almighty New England Patriots. Anything can and will happen on an NFL Sunday. The Bolts stand the same punchers chance of winning that the Eagles did. How could if happen?
When the Chiefs have the ball
Kansas City handed the Chargers their worst home loss of the season, 33-3 in week 11. Unknown running back Spencer Ware lit up the Chargers defense for 96 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 52-yard run. Running backs Ware and Charcandrick West will look to ground out a victory as they have been doing during their current winning streak.
The passing game has also found life in Kansas City, led by offseason acquisition Jeremy Maclin. Maclin leads the receiving corps with 66 catches for 817 yards and five touchdowns. A close second is tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 56 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith is known as a game manager but a better adjective would be consistent. Smith doesn’t have gaudy numbers but he also does not turn the ball over. To date, Smith is 246-376 for 2843 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is also dangerous with his legs. While is isn’t a speed demon, he is third on the team in rushing with 60 carries for 326 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he has run for 19 first downs on the season.
San Diego will have to find a way to generate a pass rush which has been easier said than done this season. For as great as their defensive line has been, the same can’t be said for their offensive line. KC’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks. The Chargers are not averaging two sacks a game as they have 22 sacks on the season. Liuget was third on the team with three sacks. Melvin Ingram (5 sacks) and Jeremiah Attaochu (4.5 sacks) lead the team rushing the passer and will be leaned on to continue to do so. The defense will also have to do a better job bottling the KC ground attack. In the last game the Chiefs had three ground touchdowns and one pick-6 by Justin Houston.
When the Chargers have the ball
Quarterback Philip Rivers is losing targets seemingly every week. Three wide receivers are gone with Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman and Stevie Johnson out. Malcolm Floyd is playing through a shoulder injury. During the week, the Chargers enlisted the services of former Charger wideout Vincent Brown. Brown will start in a thin receiving lineup currently consisting of Floyd, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams. The load of a team and a city has rested heavily on the shoulders of Rivers. Somehow, Rivers is third in the league in passing with 3713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rivers is also playing through a foot injury and illness he contracted during the past week.
Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are the most consistent options Rivers has at this point. The two have combined for 70 receptions for 784 yards and eight touchdowns. Using the underutilized option of playing the two together would open running lanes for Gordon and Danny Woodhead and allow the Chargers to move the ball down the field. In their first encounter, Rivers only managed to 178 yards on 30 attempts without a touchdown.
Rivers has had no help in the running game. Melvin Gordon has not been able to get going and carries the ignominious label of running back with the most carries without a touchdown. Gordon has 565 yards on 155 carries. The Chargers offensive line has had more combinations than an Rubik’s Cube and Rivers has paid for it. The line has given up 30 sacks.
Chargers O-line vs. Kansas City pass rush. Rivers was harassed throughout the first encounter by the stout Kansas City defensive front. Rivers was sacked three times, and gave up the pick six to Houston. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generates significant pass rush up the middle. If the Bolts offensive line can keep those three in check, Rivers will have time do dissect the Chiefs’ formidable secondary led by Berry and rookie of the year candidate CB Marcus Peters. Peters has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown on the season.
This game does not look like winnable on the surface. San Diego has lost seven of their last eight games. Three of their last four games are against the AFC West where they are 0-3 to date. Will the Chiefs be looking past the Chargers? Having Rivers under center always gives the Bolts a chance to win. The Chargers know what to expect now that they have game tape on West and Ware. Rivers had his worst game of the season against the Chiefs. Look for the QB to bounce back and put yardage and touchdowns against the Chiefs. While I won’t go so far as to say the Bolts will win, they will give Kansas City a better battle than the 33-3 beatdown the Chargers suffered at home three weeks ago.
The Greg One
Due to injuries to the wide receiving corps in San Diego, second-year wideout Dontrelle Inman has been thrust into the starting lineup multiple times in 2015. Sunday against the Jaguars was no different, as Inman was called upon to start and contribute at the position.
He did just that.
In Sunday’s 31-25 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville, the former CFL receiver had a career-high five receptions. He also managed to haul in the second touchdown reception of his brief NFL career. The Week 12 contest marked his third consecutive game with at least three catches. Inman was the only wide receiver to play all 76 offensive plays during the victory.
With Keenan Allen out for the season with a lacerated kidney, and Malcom Floyd dealing with a torn labrum while playing, it is expected that Inman will remain a key part of the San Diego passing attack.
The 26-year-old has put together a decent season, snagging 20 receptions for 286 yards and two touchdowns. He has managed to bring in multiple receptions in six games this year.
Increased reps for Inman during the last five games of the season will continue to speed up his development at the wide receiver position. The former undrafted free agent is playing in his last year under contract with the Chargers. If he continues to build on his rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers, it would make sense for the Bolts to bring him back in 2016 with what would be a team-friendly deal. The expected retirement of Floyd at the end of the season also lends itself to Inman returning to the squad next season.
Although it is not ideal that No. 15 is a starting wideout at this time, his play does say a lot for his ability to contribute in the coming years as a role player, possibly earning his way into a starting role down the road.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The Chargers have released the injury report for their Week 12 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bolts are hoping to win their first game on the road in 2015. Although there are a couple of big names who won’t play or may not play, the team is getting relatively healthier.
- D.J. Fluker OG (Concussion)
- King Dunlap OT (Ankle)
- Sean Lissemore DL (Concussion)
- Corey Liuget DL (Foot)
- Jahleel Addae SS (Concussion)
- Antonio Gates TE (Hip)
- Ladarius Green TE (Ankle)
- Malcom Floyd WR (Shoulder)
- Manti Te’o ILB (Ankle)
- Eric Weddle FS (Groin)
For what seems like an every-week tradition, the Chargers will be without two starting offensive linemen (Fluker, Dunlap).
The Fluker situation is a bit scary, seeing as he suffered two concussions in only five days. The former first-round pick has had concussion problems in the past. The long-term ramifications of the most recent head trauma is unknown at this time.
Kenny Wiggins is expected to step in and replace Fluker at right guard.
Left tackle Dunlap is going to miss another game due to an ankle ailment. He has been off and on the injury list all of 2015. Though reserve lineman Chris Hairston has filled in admirably, he does not compare to healthy Dunlap.
Defensive end Corey Liuget is listed as questionable, and he may miss another game after leaving the loss against the Ravens in a walking boot. Due to the fact that he is the team’s best defensive lineman, the front seven has been struggling without Liuget in the lineup. Actually, fact of the matter is, the front seven has struggled even when he is in the lineup.
The fact that wide receiver Malcom Floyd is listed as probably goes a long way in showing how much this team means to the veteran.
After tearing his labrum against the Bears, Floyd has pushed through the injury, and it appears as though he’ll be ready to go. M-80 has been quoted as saying that he does have full range of motion, but he will need to be careful to not land on his injured shoulder.
Although the team is headed in the right direction health-wise, the same cannot be said for their performance on the field. The team is looking for its first victory in its last seven games.