The fans of the blue and gold should be feeling pretty good about this year’s draft. Depending on your point of view, either Christmas came early or it came late. Glass half-full or half-empty? Mine is half-full.
The Chargers’ GM, Tom Telesco, addressed two of my biggest concerns for the upcoming football calendar. Those were center and fullback. Yes, I’m aware that there was a hole left in the secondary with the departure of Eric Weddle. However, the two most glaring chasms on the offensive side of the ball were the aforementioned spots.
We expected to see an electrified offense after Telesco moved up two spots in the 2015 draft to take running back Melvin Gordon (first round, 15th overall via trade with the 49ers).
To say that the Bolts’ offense was in tatters for the second year in a row is a fair assessment. They may not have had five centers in-and-out like 2014, but it they were still unable to provide much assistance to either help keep Philip Rivers from being pounded, or create seams for any of the Chargers’ ball carriers.
Whether you like all or a few of the choices the team’s general manager made last week, I hope that seeing Derek Watt lining up in front of Gordon in the Bolts’ backfield is one of them. The two played together at the University of Wisconsin, and both are excited to get that chemistry going once more.
Watt is 6’2″ and comes in at 236 pounds. He had 24 starts in 47 games for the Badgers, compiling 309 yards on 30 receptions and a lone touchdown. He was the 2012 Rookie of the Year for UW, as well as being named to the Academic All-Big 10 every year from 2012 thru 2015. On the down side, he missed five games in 2014 due to a foot fracture. In 13 games last season, he had 15 receptions for 139 yards to go along with 45 yards on nine rushes. It was his second best statistical year going back to his freshman days.
Whatever schemes offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt can put together for his newest two backs, I cannot help but look towards the future with excitement. There has not been a fullback on the roster since 2013 when Le’Ron McClain last played. Prior to McClain, San Diego had the likes of Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester (2008-2011), who blocked for Darren Sproles from 2005-2010. Let’s not forget that Lorenzo Neal (one of my favorites), who is considered to be one of the best blocking fullbacks in NFL history, spent five seasons here in front of good ol’ No. 21 himself, LaDainian Tomlinson!
Should Watt and Gordon be able to get into that groove they had going on at the University of Wisconsin, I think we will see a tremendous leap from ranking 31st in 2015 with a league average 84.9 rushing yards per game.
All in all, it is my fervent wish that the San Diego Chargers get their running game back on track with the one-two punch of Watt blocking for his former college teammate, Gordon.
Thank you, Tom Telesco, for that selection. You recognized that need for the offense to excel this year.
The situation with the stadium/convention center proposal being what it is right now, there is an onus on the team to not only come out strong, but to also stay strong as the season progresses.
Looking forward to minicamp followed by preseason!
Thanks for reading!!
This article is not (just) to remind you that Melvin Gordon is a rookie. Even though most people are already passing judgment on him after only a few preseason appearances and one official NFL game. Am I defending 14 carries for 51 yards? Never. But here’s my point: Stop blaming Melvin.
“Cool, so which offensive lineman should we hate? I had a feeling Orlando Franklin still had some Bronco in him!”… It’s not the O-Line’s fault either. Point fingers at the inadequacy of the coaching staff.
Check this out.
Since 2010 (the first season without LaDainian Tomlinson), the Chargers have only finished with a top-10 rushing statistic TWICE and they were both in the attempts category. In 2010, they were 9th with 457 rushing attempts which was the first year sans LT. In 2013, they ranked 6th with 486 carries in McCoy’s first season. The carries also did not translate to any success in the run game as San Diego finished 22nd (4.0) and 21st (4.0) in yards per carry in respective seasons.
You could argue there was no talent in these post-LT years and I’d point to the fact that Ryan Mathews (2011), Mike Tolbert (2013), and Darren Sproles (2014) all went to Pro Bowls. While only Mathews represented the Chargers in his Pro Bowl appearance, they all were awarded the honor by filling the same role they were known for in San Diego for their respective teams.
Five years. Two different coaching staffs. Same results.
I’d sum it up to the fact that the formula for running the football has not been found in San Diego. Melvin Gordon is not good enough to change that himself, nobody but Barry Sanders is. It will take a concerted effort by coaches and players alike for him to become a premier running attack.
I say all of that to get this point across: Have patience.
San Diego obviously knows how much better their run game needed to be with the way they built the offensive line this offseason and spent TWO draft picks on what should be a top-talent at running back in Gordon. It will not happen overnight, but I do have faith it will happen.
The bottom line is, cut the kid some slack. He’s going to be just fine.
You just #ReadTheBlitz