After three preseason games, there’s been a lot of panic and, to be honest, even more crazy talk on social media about our beloved Chargers. Let’s keep things in perspective, folks, and not be so quick to jump.
Here are some of the things I’ve read on social media after three preseason games:
- Trade Ryan Mathews and keep Branden Oliver. The Chargers did Oliver a major disservice when they issued him #43. Oliver had seven carries for 64 yards and a touchdown against what is hardly a cream of the crop defense. OK, so he’s under six feet tall. Doesn’t make him look like Darren Sproles. It doesn’t help that Ryan Mathews lost the ball in an attempt to go over the top for a score. Mathews is not a fumble machine. The hit was textbook with the defender putting his hat right on the ball. Granted, Ryan should have had two hands on the ball, and I’d bet he would be the first to acknowledge that. But Mathews is not a fumble machine. He lost the ball four times over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Four times. Mathews is not a fumble machine. His 1,255 rushing yards last year placed him seventh last year. Let’s be real, folks. Like it or not, Mathews earned the right to be top of the depth chart this year. It’s his job to lose. By the way, Oliver followed that performance with nine carries for 14 yards against Seattle and three carries for 12 yards in San Francisco.
- Start Kellen Clemens over Philip Rivers. What???? While Clemens is 19 of 27 for 283 yards and two touchdowns this preseason, he is a career backup. He started nine games last year for the Rams when Sam Bradford went down. Eight touchdowns against seven interceptions and seven fumbles. Do you really want him as your starter? Oh, but Mike, he led two touchdown drives against Seattle two weeks ago! That doesn’t make him a starter. He is a career backup, kids. Philip Rivers has more pass attempts in two seasons than Clemens has in his career (which is only two years shorter than Rivers’).
- Manti Te’o is a bust. The most ridiculous thing I heard after Manti was drafted was that somehow he was the second coming of Junior Seau. Why did people say this? Because he’s a Pacific Islander. So, what do pom-pom fans do? They call him “Teau” instead of T’eo. PUHLEEZE! Yes, he was drafted too high. No, he’s not going to be a Junior Seau or Mike Singletary. Does that make him a bust? Not really, unless that’s what your expectation of Manti is. His rookie season was, shall we say, pedestrian? He missed the preseason last year with plantar fasciitis, so the regular season was on the job training. T’eo is a good linebacker. He is an above average linebacker. But a bust? Not so fast. He’s only a second year pro.
- Mantei Te’o is injury prone. The man sustains a foot injury again and he’s injury prone just like that? For a second year pro, this is an unfair label. It’s virtually impossible to play through a foot injury and be effective. Last week showed that. That doesn’t make a player deserving of the injury prone label.
- The defense sucks. Seattle exposed weaknesses in the defense, no question about it. We saw a lack of discipline last week from the defense. We saw blown assignments. We saw school yard tackling. This defense is probably the most talented group John Pagano has had to work with since taking over as defensive coordinator. The defense has one (huge) hole at nose tackle. I wrote previously that this was my biggest concern. The front seven has been pushed around. Someone in this “committee” of NTs has to step up and be a true NT. Pagano and the defense will compensate for this weakness, but this was never to be looked at as a top-ten defense. Philip Rivers and company will continue this year to be the best defensive weapon for the Chargers, but sucks is an over-used and inaccurate term to apply to this defense. The first team defense played considerably better against the 49ers.
- Fire John Pagano. Let’s hold off on this one until the end of the season. Let’s give him time to implement his new tools (Jerry Attaochu, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett) before we head down this road. I still say it’s time for Pagano to put up or shut up. My vote is on put up.
We, as fans, always want to see our team win. We hate when our team is dominated or made to look bad. This is only Tom Telesco’s and Mike McCoy’s second season. Let’s not assume this team is going to look bad until week 6 like happened so often with the previous regime. Remember, the preseason isn’t about wins and losses. It’s about evaluating the talent in camp to assemble the best possible 53-man roster given the salary cap restraints they’re working within.