Per the Chargers official website, Chargers.com, San Diego has made the 5 necessary moves to drop the roster count down to 75. The following 5 transactions were made just moments ago.
Placed on reserve/injured:
– CB Marcus Cromartie
– DE Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe
– NT Kwame Geathers
Placed on reserve/PUP list:
– G/T Jeromey Clary
– CB Brandon Ghee
With the exception of placing Geathers on IR, none of these moves come as a surprise. Though Tjong-A-Tjoe had a strong shot at the practice squad, once it was announced that he had suffered a torn ACL which everyone knew would end his year.
Losing Geathers is a serious cause for concern. In typical Mike McCoy fashion, the injury was initially downplayed as not too serious. I actually like that about him, by the way. I am sure there are very few of you that agree with that.
The injuries and lack of depth along the defensive line are certainly an area that must be addressed. All 32 NFL teams are about to have to trim their rosters to 53 players this Saturday on August 30th.
You better believe that Tom Telesco and company are ready to mend a unit that is in dire need of such help.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The roster bubble is a constantly moving boundary. What little we do know about General Manager Tom Telesco’s methodology includes his noticeably “anti-that last GM that was in San Diego” style of tinkering up until the day the season starts. Late offseason additions of players like Reggie Walker and Lawrence Guy, as they were released by their respective squads, paid huge dividends for the Bolts’ roster in 2013. Telesco likes to keep a few rotational roster spots on the back-end and wait for final cuts to come throughout the league. Cut down day can become a day for wins as well as losses for an opportunistic GM.
Getting the roster to 75 in August isn’t terribly difficult as many of the camp bodies are easy to identify and likely knew their time would be a struggle and simply a learning experience for future endeavors. Getting down to the final 53 is a bit trickier.
Looking over the current Charger roster, it’s clear that the depth is stronger than it has been in quite some time. Keeping in mind that Telesco will more than likely seek to snag a couple of strong releases from various teams in the twelfth hour, that leaves about 50 or so roster spots guaranteed. Again, looking over the current roster, this process begins to show the difficulty of some of these decisions.
Once the team is down to 53, here are some thoughts on the last five current Chargers to stay on the back-end of the roster, and the last five difficult guys that could be cut before the 2014 campaign officially begins.
Potential Last Few In:
DT Tenny Palepoi or Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe:
It’s clear that after last season John Pagano needs space eaters in the middle of his 3-4 defense. Sean Lissemore does a nice job getting pressure on passing downs, and in this pass-happy league, he was able to make a noticeable impact. What became obvious toward the end of the season, is that as winter and playoffs set in, the Chargers couldn’t stuff the run when it really counted. The addition of Ryan Carrethers shows a step in the right direction, but rotation and competition will be necessary. One of these two undrafted behemoths (6’1″ 298, 6’2″ 309 respectively) will likely find a spot on the bench and possibly on the field.
WR Dontrelle Inman:
Tevin Reese looks to be a nice surprise for a late round pick, but he’s another smaller guy in the receiving corps. The Chargers will be on the look out for affordable targets for Philip Rivers for several years to come. Vincent Brown hasn’t yet panned out, and most of the rest of the gang are average to small route runners moving the chains. Along with Malcolm Floyd (and the tight ends of course) look for the Bolts to hang on to a couple of other receivers to both fill out the roster and potentially make a special teams impact. Inman is 6’3″, making him one of the three tallest receivers on the roster. Improvement in the red zone is an offseason focus for coaches McCoy and Reich, if Inman’s hands are good enough, his size could be enough reason to keep him around.
LB Cordarro Law:
A CFL pass rush standout last year, Law looks to follow in the footsteps of Cameron Wake and make an impact in the NFL. With his skill set and experience, Law shouldn’t have a difficult time making the roster, but the position is now stacked. With Telesco guys like Tourek Williams and Reggie Walker already in the fold, Law will have to work to maintain a spot. Jarrett Johnson is on the decline, and until second round pick Jerry Attaochu or future Hall of Famer Dwight Freeney can prove accountable all season, Law should be kept on for talent sake.
CB Chris Davis:
The Chargers have a rich history of talented undrafted free agents. Davis was brought in along with many others in order to solidify a glaring area of need at cornerback. Now that Brandon Flowers has signed and Jason Verrett is cleared for practice, the depth is starting to show. Lucky for Davis, he’s known in the football world for one thing, and it happens to be another area of need for San Diego, the return game. Davis figures to be a near perfect special teamer. He’s played in plenty of big time situations, he is a stout hitter, and played starting corner at Auburn. Those skills mixed with the now fabled ability to return kicks, may land him a comfortable spot on the roster as a depth defensive back and Swiss Army knife special teams guy.
OT Nick Becton:
Another undrafted player Becton joined the Chargers out of Virginia Tech and spent 2013 on the practice squad. With Mike Harris nursing injuries, and the pure tackle position being thin, Nick could turn into a nice option for coach Joe D. At 6’6″ 323, Becton has hung around with the team long enough to say that he has something they like. Probably size and some athletic ability. King Dunlap is the only true left tackle to block the blind side from a year ago, and he certainly had his struggles with concision problems. Harris and Fluker both tried their hands on the left and both looked overmatched. Giving him more time with the line coaches this offseason, there may be a jump in production. He’s young and fits the size part well and could make his way into the future grooming role behind Dunlap.
Potential Last Few Out:
CB Marcus Cromartie:
The corner position is currently a crowded one. Aside from the clear top four, there’s Brandon Ghee and Steve Williams seeking nickel duties as well. Chris Davis may have an edge if he can be a contributor on special teams, and Crezdon Butler got to play some actual minutes last season, recording a very memorable goal line forced fumble against the Cowboys. Although talented and well liked by the team, it’ll be an uphill battle for Cromartie to make the final 53.
DT Kwame Geathers:
With his 6’6″ 335 frame and athleticism, any football fan would inherently want Kwame Geathers to work out for their team. Fact is, Geathers’ abilities never quite fit into Pagano’s scheme. Built like a young Albert Haynesworth doesn’t necessarily mean that he would have to play best as a 4-3 defensive tackle, but after seeing what he’s brought to the Chargers this far, it would appear that he may be better suited for it. The other DTs picked up this far in the Telesco era show a trend where Geathers doesn’t quite fit. Low to the ground and wide. Space eaters. Run stuffers. After drafting Ryan Carrethers out of Arkansas State and bringing in three others for a shot at the active roster, it would appear that Geathers is a man without a natural place on the line. If only he would be open to trying left tackle.
TE John Phillips:
Phillips is the perfect football player to have somewhere on your team. Well, he was. Having been injured most of last season, the mostly blocking tight end now has some competition for his spot. Veteran fullback Le’Ron McClain was let free in exchange for David Johnson, who can also be effective at tight end. Having the pleasure of choosing between Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green on any given down puts Phillips into a full-time backup role as it is. A versatile player like Johnson and some buzz around a young Michael Flacco could spell the impending end for an occasionally banged up veteran like Phillips.
RB Kerwynn Williams, Marion Grice, Branden Oliver:
One of these guys will stick, and the one that does will be well above the rest. The name of the game in this crowded backfield is versatility. Pass blocking, receiving, special teams, possibly returning, and oh yeah, running the ball. There will be a healthy competition until the last day for this fourth back roster spot, but it’ll likely go to the guy who can do the most to help the team in a variety of ways. All these guys are hard workers and show flashes, which is why I say they’ll be tougher to let go. But it looks like, in the end, Grice will likely fit the bill.
Honorable mention stiff competition:
Tourek Williams versus Thomas Keiser versus Jarrett Johnson
The team could feasibly hold all of these linebackers, as they did last year. All showed value on the field in 2013, and youth is certainly on the side of Williams and Keiser. Johnson is a valued team leader and mentor, but with Freeney healthy, Attaochu brought in, and Ingram eyeing a full season, the need for utility outside backers has hopefully gone down. Williams was drafted by Telesco which gives him a bit of an advantage, Keiser had off the field issues, and Johnson’s salary could be saved nicely. Johnson would be a surprise last out, but it could happen.
Looking over this roster, it’s difficult to want to envision releasing any further prospective Chargers. Due to Tom Telesco’s concept of how to build a roster, it must be stated that it will take quality work to stay on the back-end of this roster going into 2014. Here’s a sampling of roster bubble guys from around the league who could fit the bill on the bargain hunt:
WR Brandon Tate, Cincinnati Bengals:
Brandon has been in the league since 2009, and spent his first two years with the Patriots. He came out of North Carolina in a pair with fellow Tarheel Hakeem Nicks, although hasn’t had nearly the success. Tate has been a kick returner for the Bengals in recent years an is 6’1, 210 pounds. His experience in the league and special teams focus should net him a roster spot somewhere in the league in 2014.
WR Kenny Britt, St Louis Rams:
Britt has had a troubled NFL career after being selected in the first round of the ’09 draft by the Titans. A mix of behavior, attitude, and lack of elite play has him simply looking for a team to prove himself to these days. Britt has struggled through quarterback issues with Tennessee, and now is trying to stick with an up and down Sam Bradford. It’s possible that bringing him into a roster with a solidified quarterback and a well oiled offense could be a chance for him to finally shine. At 6’3″ 223, he has always had the physical tools.
G Cyril Richardson, Buffalo Bills:
Apparently this guy is not what he was thought to be coming out of college. Listed as one of the highest first round possibilities along the offensive line early in the draft process, he ended up being drafted in the fifth round, having been passed over by Telesco several times in an area of need. He’s big, as in huge (6’5″, 329) for a guard. If he doesn’t make the cut for some reason in Buffalo, Tom and Joe D may want to take a flier on the massive prospect.
On Tuesday, June 24, the Chargers announced the signing of free agent cornerback Brandon Flowers. He was released by division rival Kansas City in a salary cap move. Releasing Flowers saved the Chiefs over seven million in cap space and put a need position player in play for all who were interested.
According to reports, ten teams were interested in Flowers including the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Vikings and Falcons. Flowers made two trips, a two-day stay in San Diego and a visit to San Francisco. During his visit, Flowers cancelled his visit to Minnesota.
However, Flowers visit came and went in San Diego without a deal being reached. In the end, Brandon signed a one-year, five million dollar deal (3 million guaranteed, with a chance for two million more in incentives) to play with the Chargers. I love this signing for a number of reasons.
1. The Chargers did not break the bank to sign him. Talk around the league was Flowers was asking too much and that’s why other teams backed away. The Chargers didn’t have much bank to break with under three million in cap space at the beginning of the day yesterday leading most to believe adding Flowers would be next to impossible. The Bolts did release safety Brandon Taylor last week and a couple more will likely see their tenure in lightning bolts end but wunderkind General Manager Tom Telesco found a way to make the numbers work.
2. The Chargers add a Pro Bowl player at a position of need. All Chargers fans know the secondary has been a weak spot on the defense for years. The numbers bear it out, the Chargers were 29th in pass defense last season and for near the bottom for many seasons prior. Brandon Flowers played on Team Rice in last season’s fantasy style Pro Bowl after a season in Kansas City where he logged 68 tackles, 8 passes defensed one sack and one interception during the regular season. In the Chiefs lone playoff game he had two passes defensed and an interception. Flowers was a six-year starter for the Chiefs and has been a top-10 cornerback in the league from 2007-2012. Metrics-wise, last season was a down year for him and he still made the Pro Bowl.
3. The Chargers will have money to spend next offseason. With the last of the bad contracts coming off the books this season, the Chargers will have over 30 million in cap space to sign players. This places the onus on players on one year deals like Flowers or who are in the last year of their deals such as Mathews, Freeney and Woodhead to perform knowing if they show up and play great ball all season, they will be rewarded with long-term deals next offseason. Telesco has the season to evaluate their performances and make the best decisions personnel-wise. With that in mind, barring injury, we should see Flowers at his Pro Bowl caliber self this season and in a Chargers uniform for years to come.
4. Depth. The Chargers have eleven cornerbacks on their 90 man roster. Right now, right cornerback is returning fifth round draft pick Steve Williams, Richard Marshall, Marcus Gilchrist, Brandon Jones and Brandon Ghee. At left cornerback the incumbents are Shareece Wright, Marcus Cromartie and first round draft pick Jason Verrett. Verrett is rehabbing from a shoulder injury and may miss some of training camp.
Flowers skill set fits the Chargers scheme like a glove. He’ll have to earn his spot in the starting rotation but his presence allows the Chargers to bring along Verrett at their own pace. Flowers will undoubtedly be in the starting lineup on day one of the regular season in my opinion. Add to the mix promising UDFA’s who are turning heads in camp such as ASU’s Alden Darby and Auburn’s Chris Davis and the Chargers finally have a surplus of cornerback talent instead of a deficit at the position.
5. Motivation. Aside from the potential long-term monetary gain next year, Flowers gets to stay in the AFC West and gain revenge on the team that dumped him, Kansas City. The Chargers have always had trouble with Chiefs number one wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and Flowers knows better than anyone how to cover him. He’s familiar with all the AFC West talent as the best cornerback on the Chiefs roster for six years, he’s usually charged with covering the other team’s best receiver. Add to the fact he gets a million dollar bonus if the team makes the AFC Championship game and Flowers has plenty of reason to be at his best this season.
Taking a strength from a division rival can’t be understated. The Chargers swept the Chiefs last season and taking their best cornerback widens the gap in talent between the two teams. At 28 years old, Flowers has plenty left to give and to teach to the young corners on the roster the Chargers will rely on in the future such as Verrett, Williams, Gilchrist and Wright. Flowers isn’t a veteran living off former glory. He played on the winning team in the Pro Bowl last season. The Chargers haven’t had a Pro Bowl cornerback since Antonio Cromartie in 2008. Flowers wasn’t pulled off the MASH unit of another team, he’s uninjured and ready to play. Flowers and is a plug and play addition to the roster and the secondary just improved greatly with him on the roster.
Are you excited to see Flowers in lightning bolts?
The Greg One
This is the time of year all the prognosticators and talking heads start rolling out their mock drafts. Opinions on where the Chargers should draft will vary from fan to fan, from pundit to pundit. Would love to get some discussion going here on your thoughts on where Tom Telesco should focus.
Should he draft a Corner Back? A good argument could be made. Returning we have Shareece Wright, who I think has a bright future. Also returning are Richard Marshall, Marcus Gilchrist (who split time between CB and SS), Marcus Cromartie and Crezdon Butler. Steve Williams, who missed his rookie season should compete for a starting spot. The team was very high on him going into the draft last year. If you look at headcount and talent, the talent is there barring injury.
What about the front three? NT is by far the weak link on the defensive side. Recently departed Cam Thomas got thrown around like a rag doll, giving opposing OL clean shots at Donald Butler and Mantei Te’o. Sean Lissemore did an adequate job, but the Chargers haven’t had a legitimate, space eating NT since Jamal Williams.
At OLB, Melvin Ingram came back from injury with a vengeance. Look for him to be a force in 2014. Dwight Freeney and Larry English are coming back from season-ending injuries, so there’s no way to know at this point how effective they’ll be. Jarret Johnson is a run stuffer by trade. His impact as a pass rusher was minimal. Thomas Keiser, Reggie Walker and Tourek Williams round out the OLB depth chart.
Personally, I think the front seven is where Telesco should focus. A space eating NT is a must. He can free up Butler and Te’o, along with DEs like Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget to bring inside pressure. The benefit to the inside pressure is that it frees up the pass rushing OLBs. An impact player at NT will make the entire front seven better. The pass rush will automatically improve. The secondary will immediately improve if the opposing quarterback has less time to find the open receiver.
If I were Tom Telesco, NT is where I’d look in the first round of the draft next month. Where would you look?
Often burned, often benched Derek Cox was cut by the Chargers today. To say that Cox, who signed a four year $20 million contract as Tom Telesco’s first free-agent acquisition just a year ago was a disappointment, would be an understatement.
Released by a team anorexically thin in the secondary says a ton. Not to mention, so does being benched in favor of the likes of Crezdon Butler, Marcus Cromartie and Richard Marshall. This speaks volumes to his performance in 2013.
Combining this move by Telesco with the releases of Le’Ron McClain and Johnny Patrick frees up another $4.15 million in cap space. This, to me, also implies Telesco already has a plan given how thin the Bolts are at corner.
A couple of intriguing potential free agents to think about are Alterraun Verner of the Tennessee Titans, Vontae Davis of the Indianapolis Colts (obvious tie to Telesco) and Sam Shields of the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately, Brent Grimes Is staying in Miami.
It will be interesting to see how free agency unfolds this year coming before the draft.
As we wait for free agency to begin there’s not much news that matters going on right now. The most entertainment we have is filtering through the scores of mock drafts out now. The Greg One thought to go back through his 2013 Chargers season predictions and see what grade I deserve. For those wishing to see the original, see it again on boltblitz.com in a piece entitled Clip And Save: The Greg One’s Fearless Chargers Predictions. Here they are in order:
Record: 10-6. Chargers finished 9-7. Win.
Will throw for 30 touchdowns and 3700 yards: Rivers topped my projections on both fronts by throwing for 4478 yards and 32 touchdowns. Win.
Will not throw an interception in the first four games: He had one interception in the first game and one in the fourth. Tipped balls still count as picks so that was a losing proposition.
Will have less than 10 interceptions: Close, he had 11 for the year. Win.
The number of sacks on Philip Rivers will be halved: The Chargers allowed 49 last season and allowed 30 this season. Its not exactly half but pretty close. I was within 5, i’ll take it.
Ryan Mathews will run for 1100 yards, gain 400 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns: Mathews ran for 1255 yards, had 189 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns for the year. Mathews was fifth in the NFL in rushing, far exceeding my projection which seemed very lofty at the beginning of the year given Mathews’ history, got almost half the receiving yards I forecast and I had touchdowns within two. I’m calling that a win.
Keenan Allen will be top 5 in return yards and average: Of course I made this projection based on the Chargers using Allen mostly on special teams, seeing as they had a full compliment of receivers at the time of the first writing. We all know what happened next. Allen only had 15 returns all season. I’ll take an incomplete on that one.
Allen will have two return touchdowns and miss a couple more by a handful of yards: See above.
Antonio Gates will catch 80 passes for 950 yards and ten touchdowns: Gates finished with 77 catches for 872 yards and four touchdowns. Gotta admit that’s pretty spot on aside from the touchdown total. Win.
Vincent Brown will be a 1000 yard receiver: Not even close. Brown had 41 catches for 472 yards. Fail.
Danny Woodhead will catch 55 passes, have 600 yards receiving and 500 yards rushing: Woodhead caught 76 passes for 605 yards and rushed for 429 yards. WIN.
Fozzy Whitaker will become #2 running back, run for 400 yards and three touchdowns: Fozzy was cut and scooped up by Norv in Cleveland. Fail.
Dwight Freeney will have 10 sacks: Now way to account for injury. Freeney was lost for the season in week four with a torn quad.
As a result of Freeney’s presence. Donald Butler will have have 13 sacks, Liuget 9: Miss all around. Butler didn’t rush the passer much, only accumulatimg a half sack. Liuget had 5.5. I still think it would have been higher if Freeney had played all year.
Shareece Wright will have five interceptions: Wishful thinking. Wright had one interception. Fail.
Mantei Teo will have 70 solo and 20 assisted tackles: Teo had 41 tackles and 20 assisted tackles. Considering the time he missed due to injury, I think this number would have been very accurate.
Eric Weddle will have a Pro Bowl season: Weddle did make the Pro Bowl as a starter. Win.
Marcus Cromartie will be starter at cornerback by the end of the season: Cromartie was activated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster for the last three games of the season but he did not make it onto the field. Fail.
Melvin Ingram will return for the playoff push around week 13 and the Chargers will go 4-1 in December: Ingram returned from his ACL injury in week 13 and the Chargers went 4-1 in December. Spot on win.
The Chargers defense:
Will finish in the top 10: The Chargers were 4th in the league in passing defense, first in the AFC. However, they were 21st in passing defense and ranked 23rd in overall defense.
Will collect between 40-50 sacks: The Chargers had 35 sacks on the season. Close but no cigar.
Allow 16 points per game: The Chargers allowed 21 points per game.
Denver will go 12-4: They were 13-3. Win.
The Chargers will not win the West but they will win in the wild card round: Of course, I based that off the fact the Chargers would be 10-6 but a win is a win.
If the Chargers finish 9-7, they will miss the playoffs by a game: Guess I had that the wrong way around. They slipped in at 9-7.
So you see, forget all the paid talking heads on TV. For a column on predictions that were written even before the first preseason games were played I was very accurate. If it weren’t for injuries, more of my projections would have come true. There will be a new predictions column after the draft and free agency has come to a close. Most likely after Chargers fanfest (which I will be attending). It just goes to show, no one knows the Chargers like their own faithful fans.
Here’s to an even better season and longer playoff run in 2014!
The Greg One
With kickoff of the Broncos/Ravens tilt Thursday night, the new NFL season is officially underway! Naturally, we Chargers fans have the longest time to wait to see our team in action (the second game of the Monday Night doubleheader) but it will be worth the wait. The team has had a massive overhaul but the work in progress at this point looks promising. Considering new GM Tom Telesco had little to work with in cap space, he has worked wonders bringing in productive pieces to this jinxed organization. Now that the origin of the jinx has been removed (looking at YOU Norv and AJ) some positive change and better results on the field can be expected. Based on what I’ve seen this offseason, here are my predictions for the Chargers this season. I will pull this column and see how close I was (or wasn’t) at the end of the season.
Record: 10-6. I say 10-6 on the simple premise that the Chargers last season should have had 10 wins had they not given away three games. (Cleveland, Broncos, Ravens). The new coaching, game plan (quick passing, faster, younger players) and direction in the front office will be good for a three game improvement over last season. I was close to saying 9-7 but looking at the Chargers weak schedule, this is where McCoy shows he’s better than Norv when in game situations.
Philip Rivers will throw 30 touchdowns. Yeah, I said it. The old Rivers will be back. The Offensive line has been the primary reason for the decline in Rivers game the last three seasons. The new line isn’t perfect and it still lacks depth, but it is significantly better than what Rivers has had to deal with in recent years. The new passing game and addition of speedsters like Vincent Brown, Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead ,will keep the chains moving.
Rivers will throw for 3700 yards.
Rivers will not throw and interception until week 4 and will have less than 10 interceptions on the year. I’m thinking 8.
The offensive line will determine whether the Chargers will succeed or fail. King Dunlap has proven himself to be the best left tackle, soundly defeating tenured veteran Max Starks for the position and sending Starks out of town. DJ Fluker has to improve his pass blocking at right tackle but is immovable as a run blocker. Expect lots of runs to the right this season! Moving Clary to guard may best utilize his skill set. The line allowed Rivers to be sacked 49 times last season. This season, that number will be halved. IF the line holds, the Chargers will make the playoffs.
Ryan Mathews will run for 1100 yards, gain 400 yards receiving and score 9 touchdowns. With this prediction, I’m also forecasting that Mathews will survive the season uninjured!!! I still say the typical Mathews ankle injury will surface and he will miss a game we’ll take just one missed game for a full season of productivity. This is Mathews contract year. Mathews knows this is his last chance in San Diego and his running style in the preseason has shown his change in attitude, hitting the hole quickly and running downhill instead of dancing around in the backfield, losing yards.
Keenan Allen will be in the top 5 in the league in return yards and average. Allen will have two return touchdowns and miss two more by a handful of yards.
Antonio Gates will catch 80 passes, gaining 950 yards and ten touchdowns.
Vincent Brown will be a 1000 yard receiver.
Danny Woodhead will catch 55 balls out of the backfield, run for 500 yards and receive for another 600. Woodhead will have 7 touchdowns.
Fozzy Whittaker will secure the number two spot on the depth chart behind Mathews and ahead of Ronnie Brown. Whittaker will have 400 yards rushing and three goal line touchdowns. If Mathews gets injured, Whittaker will be the new starter and those numbers will double.
Dwight Freeney will resume his role as a hand on the ground defensive end and have 10 sacks.
Donald Butler and Corey Liuget will benefit from Freeney’s presence and Butler will lead the team with 13 sacks, Liuget 9.
Mantei Te’o will have 70 solo tackles and another 20 assisted tackles, showing he has a great nose for the ball manning the middle of the field.
Shareece Wright will have 5 interceptions.
Eric Weddle will have a Pro Bowl season.
Marcus Cromartie will be a starter at cornerback by the end of the season.
Melvin Ingram will return for the playoff push around week 13 and the Chargers will finish 4-1 in December.
The Chargers defense will finish the season in the top 10, around number 7. The defense will collect between 40-50 sacks and allow 16 points per game.
If the Chargers finish the season 10-6, they will make the playoffs as a wild card. Denver will go 12-4 so the Chargers will not win the west but will win in the wild card round. If they go 9-7, they will miss the playoffs by a game. The Chargers will be improved in all phases but that is contingent upon the flood of young talent playing up to their potential and not faltering now that they are getting starter’s minutes. If the Chargers can stay healthy and not lose starters seemingly every other game, they will make the playoffs. This team will be very good this season but even better next season with a year under the McCoy system and an offseason in which Telesco will have money to spend instead of working out of the deficit left behind by the old regime.
It’s a new day in San Diego.
The Greg One
After a very busy Labor day weekend at Chargers Park, the team has determined it’s 8 man practice squad. There really aren’t any surprises. It was nice to see the team reach out around the league to acquire players from other teams. Additionally, they kept some guys that had already been members of the Bolts during this offseason.
Here is the 8 man practice squad.
Nick Becton – OT – Virginia Tech 6’6″ 323 Rookie
Marcus Cromartie – CB – Wisconsin 6’0″ 195 Rookie
Thomas Keiser – OLB – Stanford 6’4″ 260 3rd year
Brandon Moore – DE – Texas 6’5″ 317 Rookie
Will Pericak – DL – Colorado 6’3″ 300 Rookie
Toney Clemons – WR – Colorado 6’2″ 210 Rookie
Jake Byrne – TE – Wisconsin 6’4″ 258 2nd year
Kenny Wiggins – OT – Fresno State 6’6″ 314 2nd year
The Chargers head into the third preseason game on Saturday at the Arizona Cardinals. The team has shown good and bad over the first two games but that’s the point of preseason games, separate the bad from the good. Last week against the Bears there was plenty of good and bad. Here’s what I saw:
The most important part of the Chargers equation is the offensive line. Fluker, Starks and Clary all let their man get by them for a sack. Of course, this being the Thursday Night ‘Monday Night Football’ game, there were copious replays of them getting beaten badly by the Bears linemen. However, that was their one hiccup and the line held for the most part. Fluker and Starks maintained their sides admirably and Rivers had time to throw, most of the time.
Ryan Mathews continued to look impressive. In the first two games, Mathews has been decisive when hitting the hole instead of dancing in the backfield and losing yards or being stuffed at the line. Mathews has been running downhill, has shown great burst and has made it two games without getting injured. Excuse me while I look for wood to knock on…hard.
Fozzy Whittaker has looked great on the field. He has shown ability to pass block and catch passes as well as run with speed and power. Whitaker could be a hidden gem, gift wrapped by new Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt who saw Whittaker daily on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. Whitaker has not played a down in a live game until now but you would never know by looking at him.
Antonio Gates is running, cutting and getting open as well as he has in years. Very encouraging.
Edwin ‘Rock’ Baker looked good running the ball but against the Bears third unit, its hard to gauge how much stock to put into it.
Mike Willie did a great job of recovering from the vicious, CLEAN hit levied on him by Jon Bostic. Any player could have called it a day after taking a shot like that but Willie dusted himself off, and scored two touchdowns after that hit. Gotta admire the effort and perseverance after knowing he made the wrong end of the Sportscenter highlight.
Charlie Whitehurst played well in leading a touchdown pass and making good passes. He looked bad by throwing interceptions, getting sacked and not being able to separate himself from the third string quarterback. Speaking of whom…
Seventh round draft pick Brad Sorensen has looked very impressive in both games. Sorensen throws a tight, accurate ball. He reads the defense and makes quick decisions and moves fluidly in the pocket. There is ten times more upside in Sorensen than there is with Whitehurst. Considering they’re both on equal footing having to learn a new offense, Sorensen is playing better than Whitehurst in my opinion.
The defense didn’t camp in the backfield like they did last week against Seattle but they did get good push up the middle and Dwight Freeney looks like he hasn’t lost a step.
The first team secondary gave up big plays, partly because of the line not being able to get consistent pressure. The Bears receivers got open repeatedly and Forte got loose on multiple plays. This should be a better than average defense but part of this is going to be being able to stifle top running backs. Forte had a field day against the first unit.
Atrocious. The Bears got free on kick returns, punt returns and they stayed on short fields as a result of it.
Richard Goodman was terrible. When he wasn’t fumbling the kickoff and losing sight of it on the turf, he couldn’t find the hole and gained very little yardage if any at all. You will see his name on the chopping block.
Keenan Allen didn’t fare much better in the return game. Allen also fumbled a ball, trying to run before the catch. The ball actually hit Allen in the helmet but at least it wasn’t a Raiders helmet he was wearing.
THE BRIGHT SIDE:
The most impressive and encouraging part of the game was none of the above things. The roster is undergoing a massive overhaul and the team has gotten considerable younger. The team taking the field will be one of the youngest in the league. This is a boom or bust team but you can’t help but enjoy the infusion of youth and talent from our draft picks like Mantei Te’o and Keenan Allen to unknowns like Willie and Whitaker.
Already the team speed has improved significantly. Starting corner Shareece Wright fell early on a play, got up and caught Matt Forte from behind as Forte had burst through the line, scooted to the left sideline and was running full speed, untouched toward the end zone. Had that been Quentin Jammer or Antoine Cason, there is no doubt in my mind Forte would have scored. Wright didn’t give up on the play and showed blazing speed in catching Forte, who had a ten yard head start.
On another play, undrafted free agent Marcus Cromartie showed his great speed as he caught a Bears kick returner from behind as the returner had made it into the open field and had nothing but grass and the kicker in front of him. Cromartie came from out of view of the camera to run down the returner just yards short of the end zone.
The new guys are funneling renewed energy, unseen speed and more ‘want to’ than previous editions of this team. That should be as encouraging as anything we’ve seen of this team so far. No one is giving up easy scores. Mistakes might be made but they are fundamental mistakes, mistakes that can be fixed. These mistakes are not because the player is too old and can’t hang with the competition, as has been the case with the team the last few seasons. As a lifelong Chargers fan, I am as encouraged to see this team hit the field as I have been to see the team since the LT days. You should be too.
The Greg One
Who will emerge as the big “sleeper” on the Chargers this year? Could be one of several different players. Could it be a rookie? Could it be a young veteran that has had the misfortune of being injured most of their young career? Could it be a seasoned veteran that has had high expectations and a poor past couple of seasons? Could it be a seasoned veteran that has had a poor past few seasons and seems to be on a downhill slide? Could be one guy, could be a couple or a few, who knows.
These are just more questions that give reason to be excited about this year’s Chargers. In the Norv Turner era, we kind of knew what to expect; although many of us Charger fans were in denial. Deep down inside we knew it would be more disappointment.
I think we know who some of the up and comers are including Vincent Brown, Donald Butler, Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes, to name a few. I’m talking sleepers. You know, a player or players that no one expects to shine, at least not right away. I’ll throw out some names and you make an educated guess. The numbering on these players does NOT denote any sort of rank or favorite, it’s just a way of keeping this article uncluttered.
#1. Dwight Freeney
Much of the Media isn’t giving Freeney much of a chance to shine. They’re saying he’s done.
#2. Brad Sorensen
Could Sorensen beat out Whitehurst for the backup QB spot?
#3. Edwin Baker
Still somewhat of a question mark at running back. Maybe he’ll dazzle in camp.
#4. Ladarius Green
Didn’t see much of Green last season. 4 receptions for 56 yards. Just another player that Norv Turner under-utilized.
#5 & #6. Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal
Not sure if I would refer to these guys as sleepers but they’re close after a dismal 2012 season.
#7. Johnnie Troutman
A big question mark with Troutman after missing all of last season. No one knows how this kid will play yet.
#8. Larry English
Kind of tired of talking about English and waiting for him to live up to expectations.
#9. Marcus Cromartie
Cromartie is a familiar name at Chargers park. You’ll remember what is older cousin, Antonio, did in his second year as a Charger. He made NFL history by setting a record that will never be broken. (109 yard missed field goal return for a touchdown) Maybe the talent will run in the family. (Shhhh…don’t say family around Antonio)
#10. Jahleel Addae
Two time defensive player of the year for Central Michigan. Has sleeper written all over him!
Let’s hear your “sleepers” and opinions. Who will be the big surprise this year?.