Michael Gehlken

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Man, oh man! What a day to be a Chargers fan!!

That was my reaction to the Chargers vs. Falcons game a few weeks back. And if you had Tyrell Williams in your fantasy football lineup that week – he reaped HUGE dividends! I have him on my team in two leagues and he was well over his projections: 15 points against an 8.64 in my Yahoo league while in my NFL League it was 14 versus an estimated 5.70 low.

Crazy to recall that this huge, raw talent was not invited to the NFL Combine. Guess he was considered too raw as he went undrafted.

That’s okay, because the Chargers picked him up. And while he didn’t see much on-field time until late last year, it’s all good.

Fast forward to 2016.

The 6’4″, 205 pounder made his way up the depth chart after an injury in training camp landed Stevie Johnson on IR. Shortly after that, the Bolts’ number one wide-out Keenan Allen was lost for the season. Where did that put Williams? Squarely in the starting line-up along with slot receiver and off-season signing Travis Benjamin.

During training camp last year, Chargers’ signal caller Philip Rivers made mention of how much Williams reminded him of Malcom Floyd; the way he moved, almost as if gliding his way down the field.

He is becoming adept at using that big body and 4.38 second speed to fly across the middle or along the sidelines. Through 10 games, Williams career stats are 43 catches for 720 yards and four TD scores. The Falcons game saw him mark career-highs in both targets (7 of 10) and receiving yards (140). To date, he is ninth in yards after the catch (YAC) with 317. That breaks down to an average of 7.4 YAC.

Those are all great. There are, however, a couple of things that Williams needs to tweak. One is his sideline awareness.

Early in the second quarter, first and 10 from Atlanta’s 49-yard line, Benjamin threw the ball towards Williams, who caught it and ran. A 22 yard bomb. While the toss took many by surprise, it was an awesome catch…except that it was called back incomplete. A simple nuance – dragging his right toe as he was going out of bounds would have been the difference of another set of downs rather than the challenge that followed. Second and 10 at Atlanta’s 49 yard line rather than first and 10. Sigh. The Bolts kick a field goal to cap that drive.

Williams was kind of quiet in the second half (3/4, 27 yds) as San Diego continued to run the ball with Gordon and began mixing Inman into the offense more. Williams’ last catch of the day converted a 3rd and 10 at the Falcons’ 15 yard line into a Chargers’ 1st and goal at Atlanta’s 5-yard line early in the fourth and Josh Lambo kicked a chip-shot to pull the Bolts’ within three.

The thing with Williams is that he is extremely adept at picking up those yards after the catch, much like Malcom Floyd was prone to do when Rivers was putting the ball up for him to nab. In just his second year, Williams and Rivers have quickly developed a rapport in which when No. 17 fires a bullet in his direction, he is confident that No. 16 is getting his hands on it. The game is not too big for him as he has continued to build on what began last December – opportunity knocking due to Floyd having to leave the Denver game. He hauled in his first NFL touchdown that day in front of Broncos’ corner Aquib Talib.

He hasn’t looked back since.

So what does Williams need to do at this stage of his development? One thing he MUST do is work on his route running. For example, we have all seen how at least a couple of times throughout a game he misses the option route. Those miscues just give Rivers fits. So far there have been 11 times where the chance for better field position has resulted in the ball not being in his hands. Overall better recognition of where the defender is in conjunction to when/where Williams should break or how deep into the route before he does will come with repetition. He needs to get a quicker break off the line of scrimmage also.

When Keenan Allen went down week one, it was Williams’ turn to step up. At that time, Rivers stated to Michael Gehlken (SD-UT) “We need him to catch a bunch of balls this year — a bunch of balls and have some huge days and big gains.”

From the apex of Atlanta to the debacle in Denver, Williams appeared to be hampered a bit in Mile High Stadium. Battling a knee injury had his status questionable all week, so perhaps limited practice time may have affected him in his running and timing ability. A tipped ball off his hands led to a 49-yard interception-TD by Bradley Roby and gave the Broncos the lead late in the second quarter. On the Bolts’ next series, Williams tweaked his knee again going after a pass and was done for the day. Targeted six times, he hauled in a lone catch for four yards.

Though still having a sore knee with minimal practice reps, Williams hauled in six Rivers’ passes for 65 yards and a score this past Sunday against the Titans. This week versus Miami, with fellow wide-out Travis Benjamin inactive with his own knee injury, Williams’ stat line was 5/125 and a TD. It could have been more if not for at least twice where he didn’t even look back to Rivers to recognize that the ball was headed in his direction. Or because he let the defender beat him to the ball and didn’t fight for it, thus causing an interception.

The chemistry between Williams and his signal caller continues to evolve with each rep in practice and on the field. After the Thursday Night game against Denver two weeks ago, Rivers told Tom Krasovic (SD-UT) “Tyrell, as you saw, has the potential to make every play. There’s not a play physically that he can’t make. It’s just a matter of continuing to grow as a receiver – running (optimal) routes.”

They say knowledge is power. Stepping in to fill the shoes of your team’s number one receiver at a moment’s notice shows one’s mettle to teammates and coaches alike.

So far, Tyrell Williams has proven he is up to the challenge. He MUST continue to do so for team to have any kind of chance at winning games.

Cheryl White

#LearningCurve

@BoltnUp

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Time to take a look back at the San Diego Chargers news that made headlines this past week. The biggest news is centered around Joey Bosa. This week we learned more about why he is the only man in the first 19 first-round selections of the 2016 NFL Draft that has not yet signed a contract. Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune explains here:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jun/14/chargers-joey-bosa-holdout-contract/

Obviously, the Chargers are disappointed in Bosas’ decision to hold out of mandatory minicamp and Sean Wagner-McGough of CBSSports writes about it here. Included, video of Philip Rivers talking about his draft day experience.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/joey-bosas-holdout-from-mandatory-minicamp-has-the-chargers-disappointed/

From Chargers.com, the team has released eleven dates that training camp practice will be open to the public, including FanFest. Get the dates here:  http://www.chargers.com/news/2016/06/17/fans-invited-11-training-camp-practices

Chargers.com also released new video of GM Tom Telesco addressing questions about the team. Watch the video here:  http://www.chargers.com/video/2016/06/14/tom-telesco-talks-joey-bosa-optimism-and-keenan-allens-new-deal

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The most positive news of the past week comes from the signing of blossoming star wide receiver Keenan Allen to a long-term contract. Allen is now locked in through the 2020 season. The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the story. Read the details here, courtesy of Michael Gehlken:  http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jun/10/chargers-sign-keenan-allen-contract-extension/

The national sports media also chimed in on the signing, beginning with Austin Knoblauch from NFL.com. Read his take here:  http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000668666/article/keenan-allen-chargers-agree-on-fouryear-extension

Check out this release from ESPN.com, which includes an interesting sidebar.  http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/16114440/keenan-allen-san-diego-chargers-agree-extension

Minicamp is over and training camp is a month away but that won’t stop the news and BoltBlitz.com will bring it to you. Thanks for reading!

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#Isitpreseasonyet

 

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The hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.

After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.

Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.

At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.

Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:

August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.

August 15, 2014:  Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.

Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.

The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.

Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.

Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.

Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”

Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.

I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.

What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

Cheryl White

#healthandhardwork

The San Diego Chargers have completed week two of OTAs and there is plenty of news springing from camp this week. Here’s a look at a few of the stories that are making the rounds in the national media.

Aug 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Brett Boyko (73) during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 2, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Brett Boyko (73) during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

From the San Diego Union-Tribune, Michael Gehlken writes about the addition of offensive lineman Brett Boyko. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jun/02/chargers-sign-brett-boyko-offensive-line/

Where does Pro Football Focus project the Chargers to finish in 2016? Find out here. https://www.profootballfocus.com/pro-steelers-own-top-spot-in-first-2016-afc-projections/

ESPN Chargers staff writer Eric Williams provides some insight into the mindset of Denzel Perryman as he heads into his second season. http://espn.go.com/blog/san-diego-chargers/post/_/id/16392/denzel-perryman-avoids-bold-predictions-lets-play-do-the-talking

ICYMI: Dan McLellan breaks the news that GOP Chairman admits the GOP opposes Chargers Fan Initiative to build a new stadium. http://boltblitz.com/?p=20966

Finally, a couple from Chargers.com. Site editor Ricky Henne opens his mailbag and answers questions about undrafted rookies, Jatavis Brown, the powder blues and more.  http://www.chargers.com/news/2016/06/02/mailbag-who-hardest-hitting-charger

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With the NBA Finals officially underway, who are your favorite Chargers rooting for? Henne provides the answer here: http://www.chargers.com/news/2016/06/02/cavs-or-warriors-bolts-pick-sides

Stay tuned to BoltBlitz for all the latest news! We will be covering the LT5k on Saturday, June 11. Please come out and lend your time and support to a great cause headed by our favorite son, Ladainian Tomlinson!

On June 12, BoltBlitz is throwing a huge Chargers fans meet-up at the Tilted Kilt in Mission Valley. There will be guest speakers, local TV and radio personalities, raffles of autographed Chargers merchandise and don’t be surprised to see a player or two hanging with you! This will be the biggest Chargers fan weekend of the year to date.

Be there!!!

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#SaveOurBolts

 

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