The 2017 NFL Draft started with a bang on Thursday evening, as the team that called San Diego home for 56 years chose a wide receiver, Mike Williams of Clemson, straight out the gate with the seventh selection of the first round.
But what really made fans stand and take notice was the same team taking not one, but two guards on Day 2: Forrest Lamp from Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney from Indiana. The two form a pair of hulking individuals whose presence should go a long way towards giving Bolts’ signal-caller Philip Rivers something that has been increasingly absent the last couple of seasons: a “little” thing known as time.
It took the Chargers two years to fill the glaring gap facing them when former center Nick Hardwick announced his retirement in February of 2015. The lack of the presence of Hardwick’s recognition of which protections to call at the line of scrimmage became exacerbated as Rivers took that responsibility upon himself the last two seasons due to countless injuries along the offensive line.
Last spring, in an effort to take some of that weight off his quarterback’s shoulders, general manager Tom Telesco added free-agent Matt Slauson (Chicago Bears) to the offensive line. Slauson is a guy who is well-known for his toughness. His skillset and experience were badly needed and highly rated.
Below we’ll take a quick look at the newest pieces to be tasked with keeping Rivers on his feet and off of his back.
Forrest Lamp was Telesco’s second-round choice (No. 38 overall). The former Hilltopper stands 6-foot-4, weighing 309 pounds. He started 51 games at left tackle while at Western Kentucky.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock on Lamp: “I thought his Alabama tape was the single most dominant offensive line performance I’ve seen against that front in 5 years…He’s gonna be a center or a guard at the next level.”
Third-round selection (No. 71) Dan Feeney tips that scale at 305 pounds, while matching Lamp’s height at 6-foot-4. He was a large reason why former Hoosier running backs Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons, 2015 draft) and Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears, 2016 draft) performed as well as they did at Indiana.
Feeney is a tenacious blocker who is tough, smart and carries one quality the Chargers desperately need on offense: nastiness.
Mayock on Feeney: “A really solid interior offensive lineman. I think he’s a natural right guard…this is a good pick for the Chargers. You can tell there’s a concentrated effort to get Philip Rivers hit less.”
The rookie is from the same school as Kris Dielman, the former left guard and four-time Pro Bowler for the Bolts who retired in 2012 after nine years in the trenches.
Speaking with Hayley Elwood of the team’s official website, Feeney reminisced that as a sophomore, Dielman returned to the Indiana campus to talk to the players. “He was an amazing player…Going to the Chargers just like Dielman is a huge honor for Indiana and especially myself,” added the rook.
Will Lamp and Feeney be starters heading in to the regular season? Only time will tell. Adding these two guys into the mix alongside Slauson and free-agent signing Russell Okung certainly should give Rivers time in the pocket, while also creating holes for third-year back Melvin Gordon.
Anticipation is building for a season of the unexpected; from playing in the mini-stadium that is the StubHub Center, to the hope that first-year head coach Anthony Lynn may lead this team back to the playoffs.
The 2017 NFL season for the Chargers is setting up to be one helluva year.
Thanks for reading!
In an effort to try to find something positive out of another loss by the San Diego Chargers, one thing stood out despite the agony of defeat in a game where the Bolts should have walked away with the win: Matt Slauson and his pride in protecting his quarterback.
Slauson was signed during the free-agency period of the 2016 offseason. Playing mostly guard throughout his career, the former Bear was signed to the roster to man the starting center position in San Diego. Though he had a few starts at center in Chicago in 2015, this would be the first time in his NFL career that he was named the starting center from the get-go.
The eight-year veteran has settled in quite nicely for the Chargers, anchoring the offensive line and making all of the line-calls at the line of scrimmage.
On Sunday, quarterback Philip Rivers was mauled by Saints’ defensive end Cameron Jordan, and Slauson took issue with this act, ripping Jordan off of his quarterback, most likely knowing he was going to draw a penalty flag. The thought of the flag did not bother the 30-year-old whatsoever.
— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) October 3, 2016
For a team that has been historically known as being soft, Slauson is exactly the kind of player this team should be looking for regardless of their position on the roster.
The bending and twisting of Rivers was completely unnecessary, and Slauson refused to stand by and allow it to happen.
Personally, I was immediately proud when he jumped in there and wrestled the defender off of his quarterback.
The Chargers now sit with a 1-3 record as they’ll be facing off with the hated Oakland Raiders next week. There’s a good chance that Slauson may have to employ some similar tactics in Week 5, as there is no love lost in a Chargers-Raiders matchup.
The bottom line is this: Matt Slauson isn’t going to put up with anyone trying to hurt his signal caller, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dave Booga Peters
See what two of our writers, Zak Darman and Chris Hoke, have to say about whether or not the 2016 San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs this season.
Zak Darman: NO DEAL! The San Diego Chargers will NOT make the playoffs at years end.
The Chargers made some nice moves in the offseason to boost up their offense by signing wide receiver Travis Benjamin and center Matt Slauson. It is no secret that the offense is much improved, starting with the addition of offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt. The offense was looking very good in Week 1, right before Keenan Allen left that game with a torn ACL, ending his season. The running game looked much improved with a better and more decisive Melvin Gordon. The loss of Danny Woodhead from Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will hurt immensely, though, and they hope the recent signing of Dexter McCluster will help. We will see.
On defense, however, is where the weaknesses still stand out. The Bolts used the No. 3 overall selection on defensive end Joey Bosa, who has not played in a single game this season due to contract negotiations/injury, and brought in nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Casey Heyward and safety Dwight Lowery. I still don’t like this group because in my opinion they don’t have enough playmakers to take this team to the next level. Manti Te’o is below average and prior to being lost for the season due to injury, there was a question whether he should be starting or not. The safeties are a joke and the pass rush is still bad. Outside of Pro Bowler Jason Verrett, who else is there? It also does not help to have one of the worst defensive coordinators in all of football in John Pagano. Yes, the defense looked great in the first half vs KC but lets not forget that the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith was missing some wide open short route throws that he usually doesn’t miss. This unit has been overrated from the get-go and it needs to be addressed. The defense looked better in week 2, but that was against a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. On Sunday, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they wanted. Verrett wasn’t on his game and the defense had no shot.
First let me start by saying for the sake of this piece I will make a case for Mike McCoy even if my previous articles and opinions have stated otherwise. Mike McCoy has shown flashes of being a Coach who can lead this team. All of the losses, huge injuries, off the field drama with Eric Weddle and now Joey Bosa, has caused major distractions which is never a good recipe in the locker room. In this case for Mike McCoy winning fixes everything. Even through three major season-ending injuries to key players, this team is built to win and get deep into the playoffs. Here’s how:
As Zak had pointed out above, the improvement of this offense is the running game. Yes it is odd to say this, due to the horrible run game the Chargers have had in a long time, a running game is very much back in San Diego; maligned since the departure of Ken Whisenhunt and Ryan Mathews. It’s no coincidence that since his return to America’s finest city, the run game has been rejuvenated. Gordon, who had zero touchdowns last year, has already compiled four scores along with his first career 100 yard rushing game against the Jags. Follow that up with a passing attack, without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead whom are both lost for the season, still has the weapons to be very dangerous. With the old reliable Antonio Gates on the sidelines, there is not much room for panic with the emergence of second round pick Hunter Henry. Even with the fumbled tragedy that ended any last ditched efforts for a win last week against the Colts, Hunter had a pretty solid game; breaking open for huge yards. Continuity between him and Rivers will only begin to grow more with each big play Hunter makes. The future is still bright for these Bolts offensively.
After being released from the Chargers after the 2012 season, former Head Coach Norv Turner was asked for a quote regarding the new incoming coaching staff. “They need to have a lot of patience with them.”
“Them” referencing all Charger fans.
Maybe we need to really forget about 2013 as maybe the Chargers caught lightning in a bottle with a group of talent that really wasn’t that good, at least defensively. Moving on to this year, it’s been four years and four drafts since Tom Telesco and company took over. Some naysayers have claimed that he has missed on players, but at the same time he has found some gems, such as Jason Verrett. There are others like Craig Mager and DJ Fluker where the verdict is still to be determined however in my opinion they are good additions to this team.
I will say that the defensive talent on this team, is what Pagano has been waiting for. We all have seen what Hayward has done thus far and of course what the Pro Bowler Verrett can do, but the key addition, in my opinion, is the addition to Brandon Mebane – whose presence alone has shifted protection schemes. That ability, to force opposition to change schemes, is not listed in the box score yet it creates room for the linebackers, such as new defensive captain Melvin Ingram, to reap the rewards.
The first round pick Joey Bosa has yet to take the field – signs pointing to week 5 or 6. The Chargers seem fine to just ease him in slowly rather to not risk further injury. Even with the loss of Manti Teo, Jatavis Brown stepped in and showed that he can be an instant playmaker. When Bosa does finally step in and is at game level, this defense will be headed to the next level. We already see what happens when Mebane is on the field and when you add in the beast Corey Liuget and Bosa – the three-headed monster will lead this team to playoffs and hopefully back to the Super Bowl.
In closing, if McCoy can remain aggressive, this team can and will make the playoffs. If his attitude is as assertive as I saw it to be in 2013, it will resonate throughout the whole locker room. As long as we do not continue to lose key players every week, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given Sunday. The defense could easily be ranked in the top five, sans injuries of course, and as we have seen in the past, defense wins championships. Toss in a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a running back who is so raw and talented, and a receiving core who has already manifested themselves as reliable, the San Diego Chargers will make it deep into the playoffs. Perhaps we will hear this again.
Let us know your opinion on whether or not the Chargers, as it stands, will make the playoffs this season.
Thanks for reading
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their picks and analysis of Sunday’s game.
Zak Darman: KC is without Justin Houston and Jamaal Charles, arguably the two best players on the KC roster. Tamba Hali is banged up and Alex Smith is still Alex Smith. BUT, Mike McCoy and John Pagano are still here. The Bolts are without their 3rd overall pick and we still don’t know if they can stop the run yet. The defense should be better and the offense should be immensely better with the additions of Travis Benjamin and Offensive Coordinator Ken Wisenhunt. My fear is the Chargers start out sloppy and slow, as we normally see, and dig themselves too big of a hole to climb out of. It will be closer than many think, but the Chiefs are still deeper than the Chargers and have better talent at most of the skill positions. 24-20 Chiefs
Travis Blake: Contrary to popular opinion, this game is not a low scoring defensive battle many pundits were predicting. Chargers get down early 7-0 but rally back midway through the second quarter and never trail again. Melvin Gordon runs for 99 yards and his first regular season rushing touchdown on a draw play from just outside the red zone. A comeback hopeful drive late in the 4th quarter stalls for the Chiefs as Melvin Ingram gets the strip sack to end the game! Boom! #boltpredictions. Bolts 31, Chiefs 27.
Corey Decker: The Chargers are going into one of the loudest stadiums in the entire national football league. Which means they will be primed and ready to upset the home team. Almost every touchdown in the first three preseason games was scored by the first string, which is a very good sign that the Chargers will score at least one touchdown in the first quarter. The bolts will trail 14-7 going into half time, but will score one touchdown in each of the 3rd and 4th quarters. The Chiefs will kick a field goal with less than a minute remaining and then fail on an onside kick attempt. This game will be close like most division games are. There are a lot of guys that didn’t see much action last season playing which means they are hungry. Chargers 21-17
Cheryl White: Melvin Gordon scores his and the teams first touchdown; the team will be itching to get some work in. KC’s defense will be off kilter a bit w/o Houston and Matt Slauson will show the O-line how to play with NFC North nastiness. Add in touchdowns by Gates and Slayer with good field position for a change courtesy of Benjamin or whomever runs it back. 24-21 Bolts
Chris Hoke: Chargers overcome slouchy first half and squeeze past the Chiefs led by a stingy second half defense and the arm of Rivers. Josh Lambo hits a field goal in OT as the Chargers leave KC victorious. 24-21 bolts
Mike Pisciotta Kansas City’s front 7, even with the absence of Justin Houston will stuff Melvin Gordon and force the offense to become one dimensional. With Joey Bosa out, the Chief’s offense will take advantage with Jamaal Charles and Charcandric West and run all over the Chargers defense. KC 24-17 winners
Will McCafferty: If a healthy Bolt squad can’t beat a banged up KC team, they are in real trouble. 27-24 Bolts
Greg Williams: D will stuff what is left of Chiefs running game. No Justin Houston means they can double Hali without consequence. Chargers will lead wire to wire and game manager Smith will throw two picks trying to play catch-up. Rivers lights up Chiefs secondary for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns. (Two to Gates, who roasts Eric Berry on the regular). 31-13 bolts win
Dave “Booga” Peters: Gordon does just enough, totaling 111 total yards and two touchdowns. Defense forces three turnovers. Joey Bosa was missed in generating pressure, but the front-seven pressures KC enough to allow the secondary to snag two Alex Smith interceptions. Bolts allow QB Smith to rush for 50 yards while Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West chew up 160 yards on the ground, but that isn’t enough for KC. Chargers win 23-20
The San Diego Chargers have begun making roster moves and training camp isn’t set to begin until Saturday. On Friday, the Chargers waived center Trevor Robinson. Part of the carousel at the center position, Robinson had 14 starts at center over the last two seasons.
Also included in the recent mix of Chargers centers since 2013 are Chris Watt, Nick Hardwick, Doug Legursky and Rich Ohrnberger.
The free agent signing of former-Chicago Bears offensive lineman Matt Slauson is expected to stop the revolving door at center while 2016 NFL Draft third-round pick Max Tuerk is groomed to be the center of the future. Slauson is an eight-year veteran who will be looked to provide leadership and serve as a mentor to Tuerk and the young offensive linemen.
The release of Robinson frees $2.3-million in cap space.
The free roster spot was filled with the signing of offensive lineman Marcel Jones. Listed at 6’7″-inches tall and 320 pounds, Jones was a seventh-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is listed as a guard/tackle. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, Jones has been limited to playing on the practice squad for the Saints and Baltimore Ravens.
Training camp is heating up and the first pass hasn’t been thrown yet. What will the Chargers do next? Are you excited for the 2016 edition of the San Diego Chargers so far? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The Chargers announced that they have signed third-round draft choice Max Tuerk on Thursday.
Details of the contract have yet to be released.
— San Diego Chargers (@Chargers) July 7, 2016
The former USC Trojan is being viewed as a long-term option as the team’s starting center. Though, due to the signing of free agent center Matt Slauson, he won’t be asked to start right away, he did take reps with the second-team offense during minicamp and OTAs.
As all Chargers fans know, that leaves only one rookie that remains unsigned, Joey Bosa.
The club’s first-round selection, drafted third overall, Bosa and his agent are having issues with the organization over the offset language in the contract proposed by the Chargers.
There hasn’t seemed to be any talks recently, but the players are all off getting some much-deserved down time prior to the beginning of training camp and the preseason.
Rookies and veterans begin training camp on July 29.
Dave Booga Peters
In part one of my analysis of the San Diego Chargers offense I covered the quarterback, running back, fullback and tight end positions. Simply by using their stats and past history I gave a number of points per game I expect that group to get every week. Today I break down the rest of the offense, looking at the wide receivers, offensive line and coaching staff.
The most hard to read of all the skill position groups, the wide receiver position has been long on potential but short on production and consistency. Injuries have decimated the wide receiver corps year after year.
Keenan Allen is leader of the wide receiver group who have dubbed themselves the ‘Aliens’. Allen was off to an amazing start in 2015, hauling in 67 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns in his first eight games. In a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Allen lacerated his kidney when he landed on the ball while catching a touchdown, ending his season. He was on pace to shatter the Chargers’ single season record for receptions (100) held by Ladainian Tomlinson and the break the NFL record for receptions in a single season (143) held by former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison.
Now armed with a brand new four-year extension in hand Allen is locked in through the 2020 season. Allen has established himself as a star on the rise and will be taking the field with a chip on his shoulder after the way his 2015 campaign ended. In 37 games he has caught 215 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, the success of the receiving corps will be dependent on Allens’ supporting cast.
Getting Allen help was a priority heading into the offseason and the first splash the Chargers made into the free agency pool was acquiring former Cleveland Brown Travis Benjamin. The 5’10” speedster caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Aside from a knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of the 2013 season, Benjamin has only missed the first two games of his NFL career with a tweaked hamstring.
In his four years in the NFL, he has established himself as a dangerous return specialist. At the 2012 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and it has carried over into the pros. As a punt returner, Benjamin gained 324 yards on 28 attempts. Of those 28 attempts, four returns were over twenty yards and one was a 78-yard touchdown return. By comparison, the Chargers had 20 punt returns for 84 yards as a team last season. Their longest return was 18 yards.
Benjamin automatically legitimizes the punt return game and now gives the Chargers what they haven’t had in years, a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense. At 26, Benjamin is just beginning to enter his prime. This signing could trumpet a revival of the vertical passing game that we haven’t seen since the height of the Tomlinson era.
In his first season with the team, Stevie Johnson showed excellent chemistry with Rivers. Johnson was second among wideouts catching 45 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Hamstring and groin injuries caused him to miss seven games, including the last five games of the 2015 season. The nine-year pro is a dynamic receiver who has shown he can make an immediate impact if he can stay healthy.
Dontrelle Inman started in seven of the 14 games he appeared in last season. The CFL import continues to improve as he caught 35 balls for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Heading into his third season he will become a bigger part of the offense, likely assuming the role formerly held by the now-retired Malcom Floyd. Moving off the bench into a full-time starting role should greatly increase his numbers across the board.
Tyrell Williams can be penciled in as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart at the moment. Williams made his presence felt in the final game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos with a two reception for 90-yard performance, highlighted by burning Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib on a scintillating 80-yard touchdown catch. Those were his only stats of the 2015 regular season. Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft he spent time on the active roster and practice squad. He has the size (6’3″, 205), speed (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds) and agility (39.5-inch vertical jump) to be a dominant pro wide receiver. Will he live up to his potential going into his second season?
The rest of the receiver field is comprised of undrafted free agents and second-year pros. Unless a veteran is brought in, this is the group that will likely start the 2016 season.
Points-per-game expectation: 6
All the new additions to the skill positions mean nothing if the offensive line can’t provide continuity, open holes for the running backs and allow Rivers enough time in the pocket to throw the ball. That has been a large task that has fallen woefully short in those categories in the last number of seasons. In the last four seasons Rivers has been sacked 155 times, 40 times in 2015. The running game was dead last in touchdowns (4) and 31st in yards (1,358) last season.
Last season the offensive line had 25 different combinations due to injury. This season San Diego boasts the biggest projected starting offensive line in the league, but can they stay healthy? Veteran free agent Matt Slauson was brought over from the Chicago Bears to finally stop the turnstile at the center position. Lining up next to him will be guards Orlando Franklin, D.J. Fluker and tackles King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. Concussions, knee and lower leg injuries were the downfall of this group last season. What will they do differently to stay on the field this season? The success of the season rides on it.
Points-per-game expectation: -4.
As frustrating to watch as the play on the field at times were the decisions of the coaches in key game situations. Last season the Chargers lost four games by three points. Eight of their twelve losses were by a touchdown or less. More often than not the staff played not to lose instead of playing to win. Head Coach Mike McCoy and then offensive coordinator Frank Reich called conservative games, focusing on short to intermediate routes in the passing game and running almost exclusively out of the Pistol formation.
The playcalling was predictable and did not attack downfield enough to make opposing defenses concerned about getting beat deep. Injuries played a big part but so did not having the personnel to execute that type of game plan. Blame can be laid at the feet of those in the front office for lack of quality depth once the injuries started mounting.
Thankfully, Reich is out and Ken Whisenhunt returns to take his place. Whisenhunt parlayed a successful 2013 season as the Chargers’ OC into a head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Not coincidentally, 2013 was the last season the Chargers made the playoffs.
Whisenhunt is intent on revamping the run game first and foremost. The Pistol formation will be scratched in favor of having Rivers back under center and using short drops. Expect to see a return of the power run game highlighted by Watt and Gordon in their familiar college roles. In 2013, Whisenhunts’ running attack averaged 122 yards per game and Rivers was fourth in the league in passing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns.
If McCoy trusts Whisenhunt with the playcalling duties the Chargers should be able to take advantage of a last-place schedule and return to the playoffs as long as the team can stay healthy at key positions. It is a positive sign that the front office reached out to Whisenhunt and bring back a system that worked with this group of players. His track record speaks for itself going back to his days in Pittsburgh, then leading the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII to coordinating the Chargers offense to its only payoff appearance in the last six years. Until McCoy steps away from the playbook, I remain skeptical.
Points-per-game expectation: -2
In all, my points per game expectation went like this: QB (14), WR (6), TE (4), RB (6), OL (-4) and coaching staff (-2) for a total of 24 points per game. Until the offensive line proves they can stay on the field and the offense is shown to be run through Whisenhunts’ headset instead of McCoys’ will I believe they won’t be a detriment to the team. Right now I believe those factors will cost the team one touchdown per game.
The 24-points per game are an improvement over the 20 points per game the Chargers averaged last season (26th in the NFL in 2015) and is on par with Philip Rivers’ lifetime average. Over his career, the Bolts average 25.6-points per Rivers start. That number has been as high as 27-points per game during the Tomlinson years.
This team has all the tools for a worst-to-first turnaround. The question is can they do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
There’s a different aroma in the air around the neatly cut grass and white-painted lines of the practice field off of Murphy Canyon road.
The newly acquired rookies of the San Diego Chargers’ 2016 NFL draft class run around flashing their brilliance alongside some 50 other undrafted free agents the team has brought in to try to fulfill their life-long dream of playing professional football.
In the earliest of reports, the first- and second-round picks appear to be men among boys; as they should be practicing among guys who will most likely never wear an NFL jersey on game days in September.
On paper, the Chargers have improved leaps and bounds from a team that was decimated by injuries and lacked enough quality depth to be competitive in an ever-evolving AFC West. The starting offensive line played two games together throughout the course of the 2015 season. The defensive line wasn’t much better even when they were on the field, giving up nearly five yards per carry on the ground.
Fast forward to this year and there’s a completely new picture to look at.
The defensive line has been transformed by the pick up of true nose tackle Brandon Mebane, and the drafting of defensive lineman Joey Bosa. Mebane and Bosa are going to come in and immediately improve the run defense of this team. Mebane is going to clog up the middle of the defense, freeing up the linebacking corps, allowing them to fly in and stop ball carriers before they get through the line. Bosa is as technically sound as it gets for a rookie. He has violent hands, and good strength that allows him to bully offensive linemen and attack the football.
The improvements of the defensive line are going to make everyone else’s job on the defense much easier. Let’s not forget the addition of Casey Hayward who will team up with Jason Verrett as the teams No. 1 and 2 corners.
Telesco has also replaced Donald Butler with two young, hungry linebackers in Joshua Perry and Jatavis Brown. These two young men are going to come in and make the special teams better the second they step on the field. Don’t be surprised if you see Perry and Brown also push Manti Te’o for some playing time on defense.
Speaking of the linebackers, fifth-year pro Melvin Ingram easily had the best season of his career in 2015 by totaling 10.5 sacks. As you well know, that was all without the aid of a Mebane or Bosa on the team’s defensive unit. Opposite of Ingram, Jerry Attaochu also made the best of his opportunities last season, setting a career-high with six sacks of his own.
The offensive line has also been fortified with center/guard Matt Slauson formerly of the Chicago Bears, and third-round pick Max Tuerk of USC. The pick up of Matt Slauson has a huge impact on the identity of this line. Slauson is durable, intelligent and plays with a nasty mean streak. This also allows Max Tuerk to take his time to recover from a knee injury, move Chris Watt back to his natural position of guard, while hopefully eliminating the dead weight that is Trevor Robinson.
Not only has Tom Telesco improved the offensive and defensive lines, but he’s also brought in a couple of new weapons for Philip Rivers to throw to in the speedster Travis Benjamin and the sure-handed rookie tight end Hunter Henry.
Philip Rivers has gone on record saying that Travis Benjamin is the fastest guy he’s ever thrown the ball to. Benjamin is going to come in and take the top off of the defense and allow guys like Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates to tear up the middle of the field.
This is the best offseason of Tom Telesco’s tenure as the Chargers’ general manager because he addressed almost every need that was bleeding the team last year.
The national media is sleeping on the Chargers and that’s fine, but don’t be surprised if this team changes that perception as soon as they strap on the helmets and pads come September.
San Diego Chargers fans should welcome the signing of former Bears’ offensive lineman Matt Slauson.
The offensive line has been more down than up the last couple of years. In 2015, San Diego was the only team in the league to start five different players at the center spot. Last year may have only seen three but the changes may have been just one part of why Melvin Gordon did not perform well his rookie year of professional football.
Signing Slauson provides the current group with another veteran presence in the ranks. Having played in a similar offensive scheme as part of the Chicago Bears, Slauson could easily become the man snapping the ball to Philip Rivers come September. That serves a dual purpose: he will be a tremendous help to Rivers as he may feel less pressure to direct his linemen as has been the case of late, and it also gives rookie Max Tuerk time to fully rehab his knee from last October’s knee injury.
Slauson is a big, tough monster and having him in the trenches will provide one element along the offensive line that has been missing since Nick Hardwick retired: nastiness. He also brings leadership, versatility and durability with a locker room presence that may have also waned in Hardwick’s absence. A fierce competitor, he is also good with both run and pass blocking, another area of gameplay that San Diego had to address.
One of his best games came on October 4, 2015. Bears’ starter Will Montgomery snapped his fibula during the game against the Oakland Raiders, Slauson stepped up. Mind you, prior to that he had participated in limited reps at the center position throughout all of the team activities (OTA’s, minicamp and preseason).
It was just officially announced that Slauson has signed a two-year deal with the Bolts, though terms were not made available.
Dave DeGuglielmo, just signed in January as the Chargers’ assistant offensive line coach, was Slauson’s line coach when both were with the New York Jets in 2012. That relationship may have been one of the deciding factors for Slauson to sign here. Continuity and familiarity go a long way toward success.
Now that Slauson is on board, be prepared to see change on the field and in the lineup. Possible players who may be affected are third-year man Chris Watt and fifth-year veteran Trevor Robinson. Both took turns at center and could be relegated to just positional depth. Were Robinson to be released, it would be a $75,000 hit against the cap.
I am happy to see that GM Tom Telesco is continuing to add depth along the line by creating competition scenarios ahead of minicamp. Who stays and who goes may be figured out before then, but right now I’m feeling pretty good about the continued activity post-draft.
Thanks for reading!
The draft may be over, but the San Diego Chargers’ front office is still hard at work. The news broke over the last hour that free agent guard/center Matt Slauson has signed a two-year deal to wear lightning bolts. Terms of the deal are yet to be disclosed.
Slauson, 30, visited the Chargers and Buffalo Bills over the last two days before making a decision. This signing is a major addition to the roster at their weakest position, center. Last season Slauson allowed only one sack with his former team, the Chicago Bears. The massive 6’5″, 320-pounder is ranked as a top-ten player in pass protection.
In his seven seasons in the NFL, he has only missed 11 games due to injury. In five of the last six seasons, Slauson has not missed a single game. In 2014, a torn pectoral muscle prematurely ended his season. In his rookie season, he only started three games due to a coaching decision.
The added bonus of this signing is the fact it will allow Max Tuerk, the Chargers’ third-round draft pick, to ease into the lineup slowly rather than immediately. Tuerk was one of the top-rated center prospects in the draft, but he is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered last season. Having Slauson in the mix allows Tuerk time to fully recover, learn from a grizzled veteran and be well prepared when his number is finally called.
This is another excellent signing by GM Tom Telesco! Are you excited for the season yet? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One