I thought Norv Turner was a bad head coach. This guy has nothing on the current train wreck that is Mike McCoy (or Mike McTurner or Norv McCoy or Mike McNorv or Useless, as he is unaffectionately referred to in some circles).
This isn’t the first time I’ve said this and it certainly won’t be the last. Mike McCoy needs to go. He needs to go far, far away and he needs to do it quickly.
Let’s start with the obvious: 23-29 record as a head coach and that really doesn’t begin to describe how bad he truly is. Five wins, count them, F.I.V.E. over the last 20 games. That’s a 25% clip.
This season alone, through four games, he’s guided the ship to a single victory, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars who we all know have been terrible since 2010. He and his squad managed three come-from-ahead losses in the other games.
The Chargers lost games with fourth quarter leads eight times over those 20 games, per ESPN’s Eric Williams (http://www.espn.com/blog/san-diego-chargers/post/_/id/17764/grabbing-defeat-from-jaws-of-victory-a-closer-look-at-the-choking-chargers). Let that sink in for a minute. Eight come-from-ahead losses among those 15 losses since 2015. 50% of losses came in the fourth quarter.
Mike McCoy is NOT a closer. The Chargers have proven that they are NOT closers under his watch.
Divisional games are super critical, right? I mean, each divisional game amounts to two games in the standings for all intents and purposes. Let’s look at divisional games, shall we? Winless in 2016. Winless! Meaning no wins. Zip, zilch, nada. In fact, the last divisional win was November 16, 2014 in a 13-6 barn-burner against the Raiders.
How about away games? One win in the last nine road games. One. That means 3-6 in the last nine home games. So much for home field advantage.
McCoy is a wannabe. He got dubbed a great offensive mind while in Denver. He got lucky with Tim Tebow. He was Peyton Manning’s OC for a year. That makes him a wannabe OC. Hell, Peyton could make ME look like a genius. He’s a wannabe Belichick with his snippy, cryptic, cliche-laced post-game pressers.
Don’t forget his clock management skills. I don’t know how many, but McCoy has left countless points on the board, failing to call time outs late in the first half with his offense driving.
Let’s get more recent — a timeout was called on defense in the fourth quarter against the Saints when Drew Brees had two seconds left on the play clock. Two seconds! Who the hell does that? Well, who besides the second coming of Norv Turner, that is.
Blame injuries all you want. As much as the cliché “next man up” is going to make me lose my lunch, it’s just that. A freaking cliché. Yeah, we miss Keenan Allen, but he’s one player. Who knows, we might even miss Manti T’eo.
Might. Again, one player.
I can’t simplify things more than this: Mike McCoy sucks. The Chargers suck with Mike McCoy as head coach. The time to fire him was yesterday and the day before that and the day before that….
Panic and disbelief quickly spread through the San Diego Chargers fanbase Monday when the report surfaced that the Chargers would not extend All-Pro safety and defensive captain Eric Weddle this season. Weddle is in the final year of his contract and sat out voluntary minicamp as his form of protest for being ‘highly, highly disrespected’ by the Bolts’ front office.
The perennial Pro Bowl selection has a legitimate beef. He’s made three of the last four Pro Bowls, his production has increased each year over the past three seasons and right now he’s at the top of his game. Other players around him are getting their deals extended before the expiration of their contracts. On the same day the news broke about Weddle, it was also revealed that the Chargers are, as quickly and quietly as possible, finalizing an extension for defensive end Corey Liuget. Disrespected indeed.
Or is it?
Liuget is one of the 25-and-under nucleus of talent Telesco is ensuring stay in San Diego for years to come on defense, avoiding contract hassles down the road. Donald Butler received a new seven-year deal last offseason. Manti Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu, Tourek Williams, Ryan Carrethers and the new draftees are under contract for at least the next two years. The team also exercised their fifth-year option on Melvin Ingram for 2016. Fifth-year options are not guaranteed, and it serves the purpose of keeping him in place on the roster in a position where he has to perform to earn a lucrative second contract. For once, the defensive line will be a place of stability and consistency with young, hungry players unable to rest on their laurels.
Back to the All-Pro in question: Would Telesco actually let the season end without extending Weddle?
He can. He will. Here’s why.
All the leverage is in Telesco’s capable hands. Yes, Weddle is auditioning for 31 other teams now. If he gets to the offseason without an extension, every other team is going to back up the Brinks truck to his door to court him.
The problem is, he isn’t going anywhere.
Telesco has the power of the franchise tag in his back pocket. A player can be franchised a maximum of two times. In essence, Telesco can ensure Weddle will remain in lightning bolts for the next three seasons. Weddle is ensured he will be paid on par with the top-10 safeties in the league. Telesco has the leeway to use the tag as much or as little as he likes knowing that Weddle is essentially playing three one-year contracts. The Chargers get the best safety in the game at the height of his powers. If he suffers a debilitating injury, or there is a decline in his skills, the GM can cut bait any time he sees fit. Feathers get ruffled, but, in the end, everybody wins.
From a management standpoint, Weddle is over 30. Traditionally, that’s the age where skills start going downhill. The wear and tear of season after season takes a toll. Players that once couldn’t get past you now can. Telesco is keeping a watchful eye of this happening. Regardless of whether or not the fan base or the player likes it, it’s the safe play and it’s what’s best for the team. How many times have we heard, ‘The NFL is a business’? Weddle knows. Everyone in the locker room knows. We as fans know.
What’s the downside?
If Weddle gets vocal and demands a trade, Telesco could see fit to deal him rather than let the saga drag out through the media. Teams would still have to pony up a great deal to get Weddle out of San Diego knowing that the GM doesn’t have to do anything. The Chargers get beneficial pieces or picks in return.
Will this affect players re-signing with the Chargers after watching this episode play out or stop free agents from coming in? At the end of the day, every player is out to take care of himself. You can stand up for your teammate, but if management is willing to break open the vault for you, your teammate takes a back seat. We know the shelf-life of an NFL player is four to five years. That’s a short amount of time to make money and get out with one’s health intact. As we’re seeing now, it all comes down to money. Someone has to take it and in the next few seasons San Diego will have a lot to give.
Simply put, there is no downside.
We may balk at how Weddle is being treated, but we’re not seeing the big picture. When this season rolls around and he’s at his All-Pro best, all this will be forgotten as we’re swept up in the jubilation of another NFL season. We’ve praised Telesco for reshaping the team and bringing back excitement after the unceremonious dismissal of the previous regime. This is arguably the first move that has been widely panned by the fan base. But in reality, he’s done more to make sure Weddle stays on the team by getting the core players to surround him for the next few seasons as opposed to pushing him out the door.
The Greg One
Having made great strides to retool on the offensive line, the Chargers now look to make the same significant upgrades on defense. Cornerback Brandon Flowers was locked in with a new four-year deal. Defensive End Ricardo Mathews was re-upped for one year. Defensive lineman Mitch Unrein was brought over from Denver. Secondary help was added with the signings of free agent cornerbacks Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson. Now it’s time to look at the hole at the linebacker position.
An underrated name that is still on the free agent market is inside linebacker Mason Foster, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6’1, 240 lb. Foster was a third round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. In his first three seasons, Foster registered 381 combined tackles, 12 passes defensed, six sacks, five interceptions and two touchdowns.
Known for his versatility, natural football instincts and toughness the 26-year old had a down season in 2015 with 62 combined tackles. Keep in mind he missed six games last season with a separated shoulder and strained Achilles or those numbers would have been higher. After having to adjust to three new defensive schemes in the last three years, he is to be commended for being able to perform consistently on a high level despite all the turnover in Tampa Bay.
Last season saw the arrival of a new head coach in Tampa Bay. Lovie Smith was brought in to replace Greg Schiano and with him came his pet creation, the Tampa 2 defense. Foster was lost in the shuffle in the new defense and is looking to join another squad that utilizes a conventional base defense. Word is Foster is in contract talks with the Bears but according multiple reports are far apart in discussions.
Foster would be a great addition to a Chargers linebacking corps that has been besieged by injuries. Until last season he had only missed one game. Mantei Te’o has (seemingly) chronic foot issues. Melvin Ingram is still rounding back into form. Coupled with the departures of Jarrett Johnson and Dwight Freeney and the underwhelming season registered by Donald Butler, Foster is a playmaker that could raise the game of those around him.
The Chargers still have plenty of cap space and Foster makes the team better. GM Tom Telesco is in prime position to swoop in and do what the Bears won’t, pay the man. The Chargers defense finished in the bottom third (24th) of the league last season and has plenty of room to get better.
The Greg One
Potentially, the biggest name on the free agent market is Adrian Peterson. Sure, Ndamukong Suh will be a close second but with the added morality issue attached to his pending availability, Peterson is the hot button name of the offseason.
To that point, myself and Boltblitz co-editor Mike Pisciotta differ on Peterson becoming a Charger. I am all for it, he is not. Time to take the matter to you, our loyal readers, to see who has the better argument for or against AP in lightning bolts next season. Enjoy.
Greg: To start, I want Adrian Peterson in lightning bolts next season. Peterson, even after a year off, is still the gold standard for running backs in the NFL. Who’s better? DeMarco Murray? Murray has had one good year out of five. Eddie Lacy is still a pup. LeSean McCoy was traded by the Eagles mere days ago. Teams just don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, and we still don’t know what the Eagles’ reason is. Peterson is the best running back in the game and he’s going to be available to the highest bidder. The Chargers are the perfect fit. So Mike, what reason could you possibly have for NOT wanting AD (All Day) Peterson in powder blue?
Mike: First off, Greg, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Peterson is still a Viking. He hasn’t been released, nor is he officially on the trading block. Yes, the Chargers are rumored to be a potential trade partner. To your point, teams don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, so what’s the reason for trading Peterson? Dean Spanos doesn’t want or need the public relations firestorm that will surely surround a trade for Peterson. Not while in the middle of a push for a new stadium and trying to gain public support.
Greg: Peterson is on the trade block because he wants out! He feels disrespected by the organization for the way they strong-armed him into going onto the Commissioner’s exempt list last season, he feels he didn’t get the show of support he expected from the front office and now his agent’s shouting match with high-ranking team officials during the combine has become public. He might still be under contract, but the writing is on the wall. The Vikings are shopping Peterson without coming out and saying it. It’s funny you mention stadiums because Adrian Peterson in a Chargers uniform just might be what gets the Chargers a new stadium! People will come out in droves to see Peterson and Rivers on the field at the same time! Don’t forget he’s already made his wishlist of teams public and the Chargers are one of them.
Mike: He feels disrespected. Cry me a river! Just because he wants out of Minneapolis. Just because some talking head named San Diego as a possible landing spot. Just because star-struck fans think he’d be a fit in San Diego doesn’t make him a candidate to play in America’s Finest City. These same fans wanted Michael Sam in powder blue! Fact is, anyone with a recognizable name, anyone with an endorsement contract or a headline is desired by the casual fan. People will also come out in droves against any form of public support for the Chargers’ stadium effort for bringing on a man convicted in the court of public opinion for child abuse. Nobody cares that he pleaded no contest. Nobody cares he wasn’t humiliated in front of a jury of his peers and convicted. Do you honestly believe that public sentiment won’t swing further away from the Chargers over this? The timing is simply awful.
Greg: You’re making the mistake of lumping him in with the multitudes of middle-of-the-road prospects available at this time every year. This is Adrian freaking Peterson, the one man you can put on the roster of any team and they automatically become a playoff capable team. Even Minnesota. You’re also overestimating the whole court of public opinion angle. I was wondering how long it would take you to get there. AP starts averaging 120 yards and two touchdowns and that morality issue will conveniently be pushed aside. San Diego is the best place for a player who wants to win and keep a low media profile. Winning is the best deodorant and that’s what will happen with Peterson in SD.
Mike: I’m making no mistake at all, Greg. The Chargers cannot afford to give up a king’s ransom for someone who sat out virtually the entire 2014 season. He is not a free agent. Minnesota is not stupid enough to release him and get nothing in return for him. That leaves trading Peterson. This would amount to a fool’s errand. Many insiders have said a trade for Peterson would resemble the 1989 Herschel Walker to the Vikings trade. Need I remind you of how these same Vikings got fleeced? In case you do, let’s recap from Wikipedia, shall we?
- Players/Draft Picks Received by the Minnesota Vikings
- RB Herschel Walker
- Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1990 (54) (Mike Jones)
- San Diego’s 5th round pick – 1990 (116) (Reggie Thornton)
- Dallas’s 10th round pick – 1990 (249) (Pat Newman)
- Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1991 (68) (Jake Reed)
- Players/Draft Picks Received by the Dallas Cowboys
- LB Jesse Solomon
- LB David Howard
- CB Issiac Holt
- RB Darrin Nelson (traded to San Diego after he refused to report to Dallas)
- DE Alex Stewart
- Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1990 (21) (traded this pick along with pick (81) for pick (17) from Pittsburgh to draft Emmitt Smith)
- Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1990 (47) (Alexander Wright)
- Minnesota’s 6th round pick in 1990 (158) (traded to New Orleans, who drafted James Williams)
- Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (12) (Alvin Harper)
- Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (38) (Dixon Edwards)
- Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (37) (Darren Woodson)
- Minnesota’s 3rd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (71) (traded to New England, who drafted Kevin Turner)
- Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1993 (conditional) – (13) (traded to Philadelphia Eagles, and then to the Houston Oilers, who drafted Brad Hopkins
Truth is, Chargers have way too many holes to pull off a trade of this magnitude. It would be career suicide for Tom Telesco, not to discount the aforementioned public relations firestorm.
Greg: What you fail to realize, Mike, is Peterson has the all the leverage with the Vikings. Peterson will account for 15.4 million against the Vikings salary cap. The Vikings will obviously want to restructure his contract to make it more cap-friendly. They owe him 12.5 million if he suits up for them this season. With all the ill-will between the sides, what reason does he have to want to do anything to help the front office that has shunned him and looked to distance themselves as far away as possible from his off-the-field transgression? If Peterson flat-out refuses to redo his deal, the Vikings are hamstrung in free agency and their chances of fielding a contending team are greatly compromised. At that point, the Vikings would look to move AP.
After what you’ve seen the last two seasons, do you really think Telesco would get fleeced the way the Cowboys took the Vikings to school in 1990? C’mon, Man! We know Telesco is one of the most capable GM’s in the league and we’ve commended him (for the most part) for doing so much with so little money. In Telesco we trust, right? We know a deal coming from his office will be a good deal for the Chargers. Give the Vikes a few draft picks. Give them Mathews (please!!) You know why? With AP on the Chargers, SD’s picks are going to be in the high 20’s or (dare I say it) low 30’s anyway because the Chargers will be playing in the championships at the end of the playoffs! That’s what this type of move says, Super Bowl or bust!
Mike: Greg, what leverage? Trade me or I sit out another year? What kind of leverage is that? That’d be akin to the kid sitting in the corner holding his breath until he gets his way! I’d love to cite Saturday Night Live’s Dan Aykroyd right about now. I’ll give you this, you’re right about the or bust part. Trading for Peterson will equate to Los Angeles, make no mistake about it. But, enough of the politics that will surround this acquisition.
If Telesco even desires Peterson (and I say he’s making a mistake if he does), I say hold out, force the Vikings’ hand and make them release him so there’s no trade liability there. The Chargers need a NT, depth at linebacker, depth at WR on top of needing a running back. Telesco can’t afford to surrender draft picks that are needed to fill holes! What idiot would pay a king’s ransom for a player in a position the game has devalued? The draft class is running back rich, so they can get younger and faster at a fraction of the cost. I can’t believe you don’t recognize that. Additionally, they can’t trade your favorite Charger anyway, he’s not under contract come Tuesday.
Greg: The only thing dumber than not moving a disgruntled player is paying the man 12.5 million to stay home! That’s Raiders stupidity. I don’t think the Vikings would go that route. You are right that Telesco will be best suited to force their hand and wait for him to get cut. The GM would be a fool not to look at ways to acquire Peterson but he’s not a king’s ransom type of guy and we all know it. While they’re waiting for the shoe to drop in Minny, sign line help and draft skill positions for depth.
Contrary to what you think this is not a Los Angeles move, this is a stay in San Diego play. This is a last ditch effort to rouse enough interest to get the fan base to come out and vote for keeping the team in the city because there is a team worth watching within it. The buzz Peterson brings will move PSL’s and fill the Q to the rafters. Knowing Rivers finally has a reliable running game will renew faith in the team. The bolts will have a true home field advantage!! Make no mistake, Peterson makes the Chargers a Super Bowl favorite!
Aside from cost of acquisition and media relations, you haven’t given me any other reason he shouldn’t be on the team. We’ve already agreed there are ways to get him without costing the team a fortune in picks and players. Media? Meh. He’s not the first player to have issues in San Diego. Remember Vincent Jackson? How about the Mantei Te’o catfishing black eye? All those issues were non-issues in the media landscape outside of San Diego. The Chargers were in the market for Suh and they were also in on Steve Smith last year so it’s obvious they have no aversion to players with problems.
Mike: Greg, you’re naive if you think this won’t result in a public relations nightmare. You can’t compare VJax’s or Suh’s or Smith’s on-field or locker room issues to Peterson. He pleaded no contest to beating his kid! What’s worse, is if he had it to do all over again, he’d do the same thing! Right or wrong, he’s labelled. He’s damaged goods and Telesco is a fool if he brings him in.
Peterson is 30 years old in May. That’s 75 in running back years. He won’t be the effective player he was. He missed all of last year, save one game. This is a “what have you done for me lately” business and in 2013, he ran for as many yards with as many carries as Ryan Mathews. You want Mathews strung up, tarred and feathered and burnt at the stake! Where’s the upgrade?
Greg: You’ve heard of separation of church and state, right? In the sports world, there’s separation of on-the-field and off-the-field. Basically, the child abuse case will be an afterthought to the football loving public. I am in no way condoning what he did but he has to lie in that bed now. The Chargers are not culpable for his actions a year ago. Sure, there will be a media circus when mini-camps begin. It will carry into the preseason and maybe the first couple regular season games. After that, it’s all about the football and how he’s performing on the field. Most likely, there will be a big press conference to clear the air and allow everything that needs to be said to be said. After that, there will be no more answering of questions on the subject. We’ve seen this continually with superstar players through the years, most recently with Alex Rodriguez.
Speaking of on the field, if you had to put your money down on a 30-year old running back, who better than Adrian Peterson? Two years ago he returned from a horrific ACL injury and ran for over 2,000 yards! He came nine yards short of achieving the highest single season rushing mark in NFL history! Not counting last season, in his eight year career he has missed eight games. Eight! In only seven years he ran for 10,000 yards! Those are just rushing yards, we haven’t even discussed his ability to receive out of the backfield in which he also excels. The man runs with remarkable power and breakaway speed. He is the definition of a freak athlete and now he will be coming back after what was basically a year off. He is going to be angry and motivated and he might shatter the rushing record by a mile this time around. So yes, I will hitch my wagon to this 30-year old every day and twice on Sunday! And on that last Sunday I will dance hardest because he and Philip Rivers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy!
Mike: Nice dream, Greg. But let’s face facts. His shelf life has expired. If he were a loaf of bread, he’d be in the go-back basket. He fell way off after that 2000 yard season. He fell all the way to Ryan Mathews’ 2013 numbers. He was just an average Joe in 2013, and Minnesota quarterback couldn’t hold a candle to Philip Rivers. Remember how San Diego’s beloved LaDanian Tomlinson’s numbers fell off? I love LT to death and hated to see him go, but numbers are numbers. Same goes for Peterson. He’s past his prime as a running back, and no way will he come even close to the star-crossed numbers you describe. In the Charger offensive scheme, with the talent they have in the receiving corps, the featured back will not thrive. I want Philip to hoist the Lombardi, but I don’t think Adrian Peterson will contribute to that success.
There may be no more answering of questions on the child abuse subject, but locals won’t forget that. Let’s not forget the non-fan who may be swayed to vote in favor of keeping the team in town. Signing Peterson could be the proverbial nail in the coffin.
Greg: I will end on this note. You’re right. Numbers don’t lie so here’s your numbers. That season you said he ‘fell off’ after the 2000 yard season, he was fifth in the league in rushing. He had 1266 yards and he missed two games! I’m happy if my starting running back ‘falls off’ to fifth place in the league! That season the Vikings were 28th in the league in passing and they were 14th in rushing on his ability alone. Peterson averages 1400 yards a year from scrimmage, is durable, he beats eight man fronts with ease and his presence is going to open up the entire passing game for Philip Rivers. Think of the threat of play action alone! Eight men in the box is going to leave Antonio Gates one-on-one in the middle of the field. Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd are going to stretch the field vertically and defenses won’t be so quick to blitz Rivers knowing they have to account for the dump off to Peterson in the passing game. Add in some grunts on the offensive line to open holes and that’s a recipe for an unstoppable offense.
Morality wise, who are we to judge? We’re not looking to hire him to be CEO of our company. We’re not voting him to be the next President of the United States. We’re not looking to him to be our role model. Peterson has had his day in court and it’s over. Life goes on. He’s not the first athlete in the NFL to exhibit questionable judgement off the field and he won’t be the last. A team is going to give him a chance. Why not us? That’s a question you’ve failed to answer in my opinion.
At the end of the day we want the best players to help our team WIN. That’s it. We want the Chargers to win a Super Bowl and Adrian Peterson can be a huge piece of the puzzle in the form of a solution to fixing the running game. Peterson. Woodhead. Oliver. Who can stop that three-headed monster? Nobody. That’s why we make the deal. Everything else will follow. The stadium. The Ring. The vindication.
Mike: It’s clear that Greg and I do not agree when it comes to Adrian Peterson in lighting bolts. He makes very compelling arguments in favor of pursuing and I feel my arguments are compelling against him coming to San Diego. What do you, loyal Boltblitz readers have to say?
In a surprise move here in Phoenix, the Arizona Cardinals have decided to part ways with defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Dockett, 33, is 6’4 and 290 pounds. The first pick in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dockett has been a model of consistency for the Cardinals. In ten seasons from 2004 to 2013, Dockett only missed two games. In that amount of time Dockett has amassed 462 tackles, 40.5 sacks for 271 yards lost, four interceptions, eight forced fumbles and 18 passes defensed.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Dockett quickly established himself as a team leader and has been a difference maker on defense. He has been a team captain for many seasons and disruptive force from the nose tackle position.
So why did the Cardinals cut him?
Dockett suffered a torn ACL that caused him to miss the 2014 season. He will be 34 when the season starts and probably most importantly, cutting Dockett frees 7.5 million in cap space for the Cardinals. After resigning Larry Fitzgerald to a 2-year/22 million deal, the Cardinals could use that space to sign other free agents.
Should the San Diego consider signing Dockett?
The Chargers could do a lot worse than Dockett. The responsibility of the nose tackle is to be a run-stuffer first and foremost. Being able to generate 41 sacks from that position is very impressive and a testament to his athleticism. The ACL injury is very worrisome. Will he return at 100%? Will he be as effective coming off his first major injury and rehab?
The Chargers owe it to themselves to give the man a workout and see for themselves what he still has in the tank. Living in Phoenix, i’ve seen a lot of Dockett and endorse his transition into lightning bolts if his health checks out. He was an emotional leader for the Cardinals and his experience will be useful to the up and coming defensive linemen like Attaochu, Ingram and Te’o.
Nose tackle has been a turnstile since Antonio Garay left town. The addition of Dockett provides a proven, solid, consistent playmaker at the position and allows depth as well. Sean Lissemore was a decent player at the position and we’re still waiting to see what Ryan Carrethers will be able to do once he returns from injury. The Chargers could also draft and have time to groom a blue chip nose tackle with Dockett in place anchoring the middle.
Keep in mind the Chargers finished 26th against the run last season. In the last five seasons the Chargers have finished in the top 20 against the rush once. The Cardinals finished in the top 20 four times, twice in the top 5 with Dockett manning the middle. Shoring up the nose tackle position goes a long way to achieving a stronger, run-stuffing defensive unit. In my view, Telesco should give Dockett an incentive rich two-year deal similar to what he gave Dwight Freeney. The deal would be cap friendly and allow the Chargers even more cap flexibility.
What do you think? Should the Chargers sign Darnell Dockett?
The Greg One
In case you slept through Friday, unplugged for the day or live under a rock, you’ve heard Kansas City’s QB Alex Smith won’t play Sunday against the Chargers due to a lacerated spleen. What you may have missed is that this does not change anything on Sunday.
Chase Daniel, Kansas City’s backup QB, will start in Alex Smith’s place. Last year, with a playoff berth already secured, Daniel started the season finale in San Diego with 19 other backups, a game in which the Chargers narrowly escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory. In that game, Daniel connected on 21 of 30 pass attempts for 200 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Jamal Charles sat out that game, but Knile Davis ran 27 times for 81 yards. Daniel added 59 yards of his own on the ground.
That said, a Charger victory in this season’s regular season finale in Kansas City is not a foregone conclusion. Last year, everyone said that with KC’s backups, it would be a cake game. Far be it from me to throw ice water on the pom pom parade, but a loss in Kansas City ends the 2014 season for San Diego. Lock, stock and barrel.
The key to this game is in the hands of John Pagano and the Charger defense. In all reality, the game plan should remain the same: stop Jamal Charles and you stop the KC offense. Make the quarterback beat you. Rewind to Week 16 in San Francisco. Take away Colin Kaepernick’s 90-yard run in the 3rd quarter which featured glaring whiffs by both Melvin Ingram and Eric Weddle, the defense made the right adjustments and stymied San Francisco’s running game.
Easier said than done
How to stop Charles, you ask? It’s easier said than done, but Pagano needs to put eight in the box. These eight men (front-7 plus the aforementioned Weddle) need to maintain gap discipline. The front three need to tie blockers up (HINT: Chargers need a stud NT like they had in Jamal Williams). ILBs Mantei T’eo, Donald Butler, Andrew Gachkar and Kavell Conner need to be clean and crisp in their tackling. Whiffs cannot happen. And the proper angles toward opposing ball carriers must be taken.
Billy, don’t be a hero
Chargers defenders need to tackle, tackle and tackle some more. Heroism is not appropriate, and may be idiotic when it comes to proper tackling. First man, or two, to get a hand on the ball carrier need to wrap him up, then let the cavalry come in for the strip. All too often, it seems the first man to the runner goes for the ball instead of the tackle. Get the runner on the ground, limit the big plays and play for the third down stop.
Secondly, stop the pass
Concussion protocols notwithstanding, Shareece Wright needs to take a back seat to Steve Williams. Against San Francisco, the ball was thrown in Williams’ direction six times for three completions and a pedestrian 15 yards. I think it’s safe to say that’s a better performance than Wright has produced. With eight in the box, the Chargers’ corners and safeties, Flowers and Williams/Wright/Gilchrist/Addae, et al. will have to play press man coverage. The defense is better when Pagano employs press coverage.
The key to beating the Chiefs and advancing to the postseason is to stop Jamal Charles. It’s that simple, kids. Force Chase Daniel, with limited reps, to have to try to beat the Chargers. Do this, and they’ll advance to the Wild Card Round.
Thanks for reading!
A little over a month ago, the Chargers were off to a 5-1 start and coming in at number one in multiple NFL power rankings. Those regards have long since disappeared as San Diego comes out of their bye week looking to end a three game losing streak. The now 5-4 Chargers are no longer on anyone’s lips. No one is talking about Philip Rivers’ chances for league MVP. All the eyes are on the Broncos, Patriots and Colts as the class of the AFC if not the league.
That’s a good thing. Keep moving, nothing to see here.
That hot start disappeared as the injuries mounted and the Chargers found themselves playing a brutal schedule of three games in 14 days against teams (KC, Denver, Miami) that are all in the playoff mix as of now.
The bye week, no matter when in the season it occurs, always seems to happen when it needs to happen. The Chargers desperately needed that two weeks off to get bodies out of the trainers room and back onto the field. These are key bodies that were instrumental in the Bolts 5-1 start. Such a thing has happened as its been reported that the Chargers will regain many starters who have been out of action for a long while.
The anemic running game gets a shot in the arm as the Chargers top two running backs, Ryan Mathews and Donald Brown return. The hobbled right tackle DJ Fluker has had time to regain full strength. On defense, returning playmakers Dwight Freeney, Jeremiah Attaochu, Mantei Teo and Melvin Ingram will bolster the defensive line. Brandon Flowers will add much-needed punch to a struggling secondary. Safety Jahleel Addae will also return once he clears concussion testing.
The San Diego Chargers are gone. The San Diego SUPER CHARGERS are back!
While the rest of the world expects the Chargers to disappear along with the other also-rans, expect San Diego to hit their stride. Here’s the way I see the rest of their season playing out.
Week 11- Oakland
It had the feel of a homecoming game for the Chargers. Coming out of the bye week on a three-game losing streak punctuated by the sting of a 37-0 beatdown by the Dolphins still in the air, who better to begin the second half of the season against than the Raiders? Though it was an ugly win, it was a win and a step in the right direction.
Week 12- St. Louis
The Rams have a strong front seven but their offense is downright horrid. The revitalized Chargers offensive line will keep the Rams linemen at bay while Rivers flings touchdowns. Chargers win 30-15.
Week 13- At Baltimore
The Ravens and Chargers have been mirror images of each other for parts of the season. The difference is the Chargers are now beginning to lap the still helter skelter Ravens. Defense wins the day for the Chargers, 24-17.
Week 14 and 15- New England and Denver
The Chargers true tests will come in these two games. Both home games against the best teams in the AFC. If my prophecy holds, San Diego will be 8-4 heading into the New England game and in the thick of the playoff race. I see the Chargers losing one of these games. I lean toward the New England game as that loss because I figure the Denver games would each go to the home team. For that reason I believe the Patriots will get by the Chargers in a nail biter, 28-27 and the Chargers get revenge against team Manning 27-21.
Week 16- at San Francisco
San Diego heads up the PCH to face a 49ers team that will also be fighting for their playoff lives. This Saturday matchup will be a smashmouth affair. San Francisco should have both their stud pass rushers back in Aldon Smith and Navorro Bowman as both have been gone a majority if not all of the season. The difference in the game will be the offense. Kaepernick is digressing in games and the speed on the Chargers (hopefully) now healthy defense will bottle the scrambler the same way they did with Russell Wilson. The Chargers will prove to have too much firepower and beat the Niners 31-16.
Week 17- at Kansas City
This too could be a game with a playoff spot on the line. The Chiefs won’t be resting their starters this year. The Chiefs have the best home field advantage east of the Missouri river and San Diego has its history of troubles in that ballpark. Still, I don’t see the Chargers getting swept by any team in the AFC West so I expect a strong finish to the season and a playoff entry by way of a 20-14 win.
That’s right, I have the Chargers winning six of their last seven games. It’s easy to look at them after the past three games as the ‘same old Chargers’ but the name of the game is always injuries and now the Chargers are coming out on the right end of the injury equation just in time to make their playoff run. Rivers now has a running game that will free up receivers and enough big play performers on defense to give him short fields. I expect a fully bolted up unit coming out of the tunnel Sunday and while dismantling the Raiders won’t gather any national attention, knocking off playoff bound teams along the way will.
The Greg One
This is when it gets tricky for a head coach to motivate his team. You have the second meeting of the year between two longtime rivals, and both need wins for different reasons. Both teams know that just five weeks ago, these same two teams matched up and the Chargers came out victorious. So, how does Chargers coach Mike McCoy keep his team from looking past the 0-9 Raiders? How does Raiders coach Tony Sparano keep his team from quitting with seven weeks left? Let’s look at different angles both coaches can take to fire up their men and get them mentally ready to win the game.
First Coach Sparano of the Raiders: He hasn’t had the job very long. In fact, his first time leading the Raiders was the Week 6 loss to San Diego. It was a close, hard-fought game where the Raiders came out firing on all cylinders and almost pulled off the upset. By the end of the game, the Raiders fell back into their old habits and fell to the Chargers 31-28. In my humble opinion, it is time for Coach Sparano to challenge his players and try to wake them up.
This week, the 5 and 5 will be more of a 1 and 5 as Coach Sparano has one major topic to address:
1. This is Not Raider Football: “Men, we have not won a football game since November 17, 2013! Our next game in on November 16, 2014! That is 365 days! THAT IS AN ENTIRE YEAR!!! Are we going to complete an entire calendar year and a streak of 16 straight footballs games without a single win? How will that sit with you? I’ll tell you right now, that won’t sit well with me, or our fans, our GM who decides who stays and who goes, or our owner who pays our checks! It is time to man-up and play some football!
Over this stretch we have played some good quarters. We have played some good halves! We need to play an entire game of Raiders football! Not the Raiders football that people have become accustomed to over the last 12 years, but the Raiders football that made this franchise one of the most proud and historic franchises in the league! We need to bring back the hard-nosed, intimidating, winning Raiders football that I grew up watching! We need to decide whether or not we deserve to wear Raiders gear! We need to decide how badly we want a job in the NFL! We need to decide if we can continue to look into our children’s eyes and expect them to be proud and not embarrassed that their father is a Raider.
The next time you walk out on our field, look at the top deck. What will you see? A tarp the size of God! We are an NFL team that cannot sell out our own freakin’ stadium! Don’t get me wrong, our fans are loyal. They will wear their gear, God bless them, and they will talk all the smack in the world about how great the Raiders once were. What they won’t do is spend their hard-earned money to watch this team play. It’s a damn shame.
So, what are we going to do about this mess that we are in? The way I see it, is that we have two options. One, give up and lay down for the Chargers and any other team that shows up on any given Sunday. Or two, we can man up and take some pride in our work, and show the Chargers and anyone else stupid enough to think that we are a push-over what Raiders football is really all about!
I’m not looking for fake enthusiasm in the locker room. I’m not looking for false bravado in interviews or over social media. I’ll know what decision you made when we take the field on Sunday. If we go out and punch the Chargers in the mouth, I’ll know what decision we made. If we can’t hang with a 50 year rival who has lost three straight games, I’ll know what decision we made. God I hope I’m right when I expect to see us stand up together as men and show the Chargers and the NFL that we are through being the doormat of the league. We will no longer be pushed around. No longer can teams just stick around and wait for us to beat ourselves. We are the Raiders and that means something to me. What does it mean to you?”
Now, down in Southern California, Coach Mike McCoy must address his Chargers and find a way to light a fire under them and get them to get back in the W column. It would be very easy for him to make a similar speech as Coach Sparano, but that is not his way. He is more of a positive, encouraging motivator and is also not dealing with the same kind of record. His Chargers have indeed gone from 5-1 to 5-4, but their last win was only a month ago, against these same Raiders, not a year ago. So, it is time for Coach McCoy to get a little tough where needed, but stay positive for the most part.
Here are five points that Coach McCoy could stress during his pregame meetings this week:
- Welcome Back: “First I would like to welcome back all of you from your bye week break. I hope you took some time to get back in touch with your families and took a little time to reflect on the first nine weeks of the season and your contribution. I also would like to welcome back several players who are returning this week from injury. Even though they never really left, their absence was felt on Sundays and I’m sure that we are all excited about their return and the impact that they could have on games. That being said, I need to warn all of you that everyone in this locker room is a professional football player. When one guy goes down, we replace him with another and we should not miss a beat. What that means to me is that we better not think for one moment that the return of guys like Ryan Mathews, Melvin Ingram, or Mantei Teo’ guarantees us anything! If we want a win on Sunday, or if we want to make it to the playoffs at the end of the season, we need to execute in all three phases of the game no matter who is on the field. Just so you know, I understand that my coaches and I need to execute our jobs as well, if we expect to win. It’s a team game, men. Every individual must do their part if the team is going to succeed.”
- Calling Out: “Now men, I don’t normally do this, but I am calling some guys out today. I am going to challenge some players to step up and show the world that they can play at this level. I defend my players as best I can but some of the criticism is warranted! Offensive line, you guys have not been getting it done in the pass game, or the run game over the last few weeks. Philip has no time to throw and none of our running backs have any holes to run through. Frankly, you have been getting pushed around physically and that is a real concern. This week, we have the return of Ryan and people expect to see our run game turn around. I’m sorry, but if Ryan doesn’t have any holes to run through, it won’t matter who is running the ball. Also, if Philip can’t step into his passes, or plays don’t have time to develop, we won’t be able to go vertical and that will force us to sustain long drives with nothing but check downs and dump passes. That is tough for any offense. I believe in you guys. I know you possess the talent and the knowledge to be successful at your positions. It time for you to believe in yourselves and show the world that the San Diego Chargers are not soft! When you play the Chargers, expect to be beat up and demoralized because we will impose our will. It’s time, men. Show me what you’re made of.”
- Didn’t Forget the Defense: “Now defense, don’t think I forgot about you! You cannot expect our offense to score every time they get the ball. So, we need to stop the other team from getting points on nearly every drive. This is getting ridiculous! Teams are blowing our line off the ball and getting five yards a carry! At the same time, we are making quarterbacks look like MVP candidates when they play us, because we haven’t made them feel uncomfortable in the pocket. They have all day to throw the ball. There is not a QB in the league who will not torch us if he is not pressured. So, just like I expressed to the offensive line, it is time to show that world what we are made of! Are we soft? Or, are we professional athletes who will not be pushed around? It’s up to you. If we are who I think we are, we will show up on Sunday and physically punish the Raiders for getting off the plane in our beautiful city. “
- On the Bright Side: “Okay, I don’t want this to be all negative and challenges. The fact is that we are quickly approaching a game against a team that we are superior to. What does that mean? Nothing, if we don’t execute. Everything, if we go out there and show that we truly want to win. We aren’t going to wait for anything to be handed to us. We will take what we want, and what we want in is a win!”
- Do You Want to Dance? “Men, we have seven weeks left in our season. At the end of those seven weeks, we can do one of two things. One, we can pack up our gear and start planning hunting trips, golf rounds, family vacations, etc. Or two, we can get ready to play a playoff game and continue trying to reach our goal of a championship. I know that all of you want to win that ring. I know that all of you would make whatever sacrifices necessary to win that ring. But here is the deal. We are 5-4 and we need to climb over four quality teams in order to make it to the dance. That is just for a wildcard, we’re not even talking about home field advantage or a bye right now. We are just talking about getting a ticket to the dance. If we are to get that ticket, we must handle our business. Handling our business means beating all of the teams that we “should“ beat and then finding a way to win the games that are a greater challenge. The problem is that all of the teams that we play want to beat us too, even if they are underdogs. The Raiders are not exception. Let’s face it, if we take the field against Oakland and let them push us around and win the game, we are a lot further from that ring than any of us every thought we were. We need to go out there on Sunday and make an example of the Raiders that the rest of the league can look at and say, “Damn, the Chargers really do want to dance.”
Well, obviously Coach McCoy and Sparano can and will choose whatever angle they think is best to fire up their team, but that is how I would go about it. How about you? Is now that time to kick some butt? Or, is today’s athlete to sensitive for a good butt-chewing? Leave your thoughts below. I’ll get back to you ASAP. Thanks for the read!
There’s an Amber Alert out at Chargers Park. Donald Butler is missing. I don’t know if there’s a reward for information as to his whereabouts, but if you do see him, please show him the way to the team facility.
There’s been some guy on the Chargers defense wearing #56, but that really isn’t THE Donald Butler, but some imposter. I say this because it’s quite apparent the real Donald Butler, the captain of the defense and impact player has been absent.
The guy wearing #56 is putting up career norms in terms of tackles, but there’s no impact. No game changing presence. That guy out there looks pedestrian. Sometimes he looks lost, and other times looks just straight up stupid — does the Personal Foul call when Ronnie Hillman was on the ground on both knees and #56 speared him ring a bell?
As an inside linebacker, one of the responsibilities is to keep an eye on the backfield and watch for the improvisational run on pass plays. That just hasn’t happened as the likes of Carson Palmer and Alex Smith got big gains on the Charger defense when the pass wasn’t there. Inside linebackers provide run support and drop into pass coverage as well. He and his partner, be it Kavell Conner, Andrew Gachkar or Mantei T’eo are responsible for the back out of the backfield and, at times, the tight end. There have been too many times receivers come clean over the middle or the back comes uncovered out in the flat. This has to be cleaned up if our boys are going to make a serious run at the post season tournament. Butler has to come out of hiding.
I had the opportunity to talk briefly with his former mentor, Takeo Spikes on SiriusXM NFL Radio Saturday afternoon and he agreed. Spikes stopped himself short of saying Butler is off to a slow start this year, but did say “he just needs to play his role.” But Spikes added, “When you’re a linebacker, you’re responsible for everything going on around you.”
Butler wears the headset and is captain of the defense. As such, he is responsible for making sure the other 10 guys are in the right position. He’s responsible for making the pre-snap adjustments as the opposing offense audibles, goes in motion or changes the formation.
Spikes went on to say that, in that role, sometimes a player mentally tries to do too much and winds up not making the plays he needs to make. When Butler and Spikes played next to each other, Butler’s role was to make plays with only 10% of the mental “responsibility” for others. Takeo wore the headset when he played for the Bolts. He also said that he’s been waiting for T’eo to show up, and alluded to his absence might be part of the issue as Spikes isn’t working with the top of the depth chart at his side.
Spikes did not say that any of this is definitely the cause of his lack of impact on the defense. He said he doesn’t know what the cause is as he hasn’t spoken with him recently, but offered up possible scenarios. He did say that Butler does need to spend more time worrying about himself and not “worrying about everyone else.”
Right now, it’s safe to say the Butler didn’t do it.
The Chargers had a decisive victory against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, scoring 23 unanswered points. It wasn’t always pretty, but considering the health of the team: Mantei Te’o, Jason Verrett, Jerry Attaochu, Reggie Walker inactive, Ryan Mathews on the shelf, Melvin Ingram on short-term IR and Danny Woodhead lost for the year, it was a mostly well-played game. I never thought I’d say this, but the Chargers offensive line misses Jeromey Clary. It took the defense the first half to figure Blake Bortles out, but once they did, it was all Chargers.
My May prediction: “Can you say doormat of the NFL? Chad Henne is a pedestrian QB at best. No more MJD? Not that he’s the player he was a few years ago, but he was their most potent weapon. Toby Gerhart will never be confused for MJD. Their pass rush is getting old (Jason Babin 10 years and Chris Clemons 11 years). Because our boys have a habit of playing to the level of the competition, this game will be closer than it should be. 27-17 Bolts (3-1)” Well, I got the outcome right and was close on the score, which was better than I predicted. I’m now 2-2 against my May predictions.
Chris Clemons was a non-factor. In fact, his name was never even called. Toby Gerhart was limited to 32 yards on 10 carries. He also lost a fumble on the opening drive forced by Jarret Johnson that the Chargers unfortunately weren’t able to capitalize on. Henne was replaced by Bortles and it looked like John Pagano and the defense weren’t ready for him in the beginning. That showed in the first half with the ease Jacksonville moved the ball up and down the field. To his credit, Pagano made the right adjustments and the defense pitched a shutout in the second half with the help of interceptions by Brandon Flowers and Eric Weddle. Jahleel Addae, Cordarro Law and Ricardo Mathews each recorded a sack as it was clear Jacksonville was out to neutralize Dwight Freeney.
Philip Rivers had a big game going 29 for 39 for 377 yards. He threw for three touchdowns against no interceptions. Rivers now has nine touchdown passes against one interception through the first four games of the season. Keenan Allen had 10 catches for 135 yards and Eddie Royal had five catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. The gap could have been wider if the Chargers could run the ball. Collectively, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown could only manage 32 yards. Timing between Philip and Doug Legursky and Chris Watt left a lot to be desired as well. Too many misfires on the quarterback/center exchange. They need to get this cleaned up.
Next up, the 1-3 New York Jets who are coming off a 24-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. With being inactive against the Jags, it’d be nice to get Verrett and Attaochu back in action. There are still three games until the bye week. Chargers don’t need any more injuries to pile up.