The San Diego Chargers have made another addition to their secondary. According to multiple media outlets, cornerback Casey Hayward is now the newest addition to the Bolts’ roster. The contract equates to three years at $15.3 million, including $6.8 million guaranteed. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were also teams reported to have been in pursuit of Hayward.
Hayward, 26, was a second-round selection of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Standing 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, he will compete with Brandon Flowers for the No. 2 cornerback position opposite Jason Verrett. In his rookie season, Hayward shined by finishing tied fifth in the league in interceptions with six.
Hamstring injuries derailed his sophomore campaign, costing Hayward all but three games in 2013. He has since bounced back and played in every game the last two seasons. During his time in the NFL, Hayward has 168 tackles, 35 passes defensed, nine interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one touchdown.
The Chargers have a strong top-three-cornerback rotation with this addition. The question now is what will happen with Patrick Robinson. Robinson is a free agent and had a strong 2015 season in San Diego so he’s bound to get offers from other teams. Retaining his services would ensure quality depth, but the price tag may be too high considering other holes that still need to be filled.
Keep in mind, cornerback Steve Williams had a very strong showing on the field in the last games of the season. If he can continue to build on his those games going into the ’16 season, it’s more reason the front office can justify letting Robinson take a deal elsewhere.
What do you think of the add? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
As you all may now know, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco got a three-year extension right before the start of the 2015 season. But did he deserve it? Here I breakdown his three draft classes, free agent classes and contract extensions. I will be grading by a very easy criteria: Performance (worth the draft pick, money, etc), Value (starter or depth) and if they’re still on the team. It will be broke down by a number scale of 0-10, 0 being very bad and 10 being very good. At the end of each section I will give a percentage and a letter grade to that category by adding up the number I give to the player and divide it by 10 (max number a player/move can get). 90-100% = A, 89-80% = B 79-70% = C, and anything below that is an F. Lets get to it:
His Draft Classes
***Note: these rankings are how they have played since joining the Chargers. 2015 draft class is too early to judge, I get that, but it’s on how they have played as a Charger.
2013: #11 OL DJ Fluker, #38 MLB Manti Te’o (traded up), #76 WR Keenan Allen, #145 CB Steve Williams, #179 OLB Tourek Williams, #221 QB Brad Sorenson
DJ Fluker: Started off as a Right Tackle and played fairly well in 2013 before injuries in 2014 set in and he was recently moved to Right Guard in the offseason. He didn’t play as well as hoped, but it was his first time ever being there so it wasn’t really unexpected. Grade: 6
Manti Te’o: Trading up in the draft for anyone who isn’t a playmaker is a very big loss no matter what you gave up to get said player. Manti has been battling injuries most his career and is still having troubles wrapping up and tackling NFL sized players. He isn’t terrible like Donald Butler and did play better next to Perryman. Grade: 5
Keenan Allen: This was the best draft pick Telesco has had and Keenan is quickly developing into one of the best receivers in the AFC. He was on a torrid pace this season leading the league in catches and yards and was well on his way to breaking records until he got hurt. Again. Ended the season on IR with a lacerated Kidney. Grade: 9
Steve Williams: Keenan’s roommate at Cal, he hasn’t really done much before this season and even ended his rookie year before it started. He’s looking more and more like depth than he is a solid part of the team and wouldn’t be missed in terms of production if cut. Grade: 3
Tourek Williams: Tourek hasn’t done anything either since his rookie season. He was injured the entire year this season and even ended up finishing the year on IR. Grade: 1
Brad Sorenson: Has never been listed as more than the third-string quarterback, he spent 2014 on another team and 2015 between free agency and practice squad. Grade: 0
2014: #25 CB Jason Verrett, #50 Jerry Attaochu (traded up), #89 OL Chris Watt, #165 DT Ryan Carrethers, #201 RB Marion Grice, #240 WR Tevin Reese
Jason Verrett: Verrett is quickly becoming a lockdown cornerback, if only he can stay healthy. He had 3 picks this season, one for 6, and was ranked the fifth best CB this season according to pro football focus. Grade: 8
Jerry Attaochu: Again, trading up in the draft for players who aren’t playmakers hurt your team no matter what you gave up. Attaochu is one of those guys. Chargers moved up to get him and he has been getting better, but isn’t a playmaker who can bring it from week to week yet. Grade: 5
Chris Watt: Watt was a reach when drafted and a guy the coaches are hoping to be the heir to Hardwick at the center position. It hasn’t worked and he hasn’t stayed healthy. In fact, he has been graded as one of the worst offensive linemen in football. Grade: 3
Ryan Carrethers: Carrethers shows promise but for some reason, the coaches don’t play him. Whether it’s work ethic or attitude, we don’t know. But for him being a second year, 5th round pick, it’s not really uncommon. Grade: 5
Marion Grice: Got beat out by undrafted free agent Brandon Oliver and then swooped up by Arizona. Grade: 0
Tevin Reese: Never had a chance at the NFL level because he was way too small. His speed was for real but his size and catching were not. Never made the roster. Grade: 0
2015: #15 RB Melvin Gordon (Traded up), #48 MLB Denzel Perryman, #83 CB Craig Mager, #153 OLB Kyle Emanuel, #192 DE Darius Philon
Melvin Gordon: For trading up in the draft, see Manti Te’o and Jerry Attaochu. Yes, ANOTHER trade up and this time for a running back. Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin was most everyone’s pick that were Charger fans. But he has shown tremendous flaws in his game and hasn’t been anywhere close to the guy the Chargers had hoped for. The line was a problem as well, no doubt about it. Grade: 2
Denzel Perryman: Perryman looks promising and has quickly become a fan favorite. By the end of the year, he took the starting job from Butler (and deservedly so) and shined. He is by far the best linebacker we have on this team and he only started in about 5 games. Grade: 7
Craig Mager: Mager couldn’t find the field in 2015. He was a very big reach in the third round to begin with, but I understand why he did it. He has a lot to work on to become valuable and it’s going to take a few years to see that most likely. Grade: 3
Kyle Emanuel: Emanuel started strong. First game of the year vs the Lions he had a sack and an interception and then eventually was nowhere to be seen. He has tackling issues and doesn’t seem to set the edge like an OLB needs to do. He does come from a small school and was a 5th round pick so it is warranted and excusable. Grade: 4
Darius Philon: A guy I really liked coming out of Arkansas, Philon has shown some promise but overall looks to be a very good rotational player. He was put on the IR-designated to return list during the season but was playing well before that. Grade: 3
Final result: 64/170 = 37%, F
His free agent signings (major ones only)
***Note: these are how the players have played since joining the Chargers
2013: RB Danny Woodhead, OT King Dunlap, CB Derek Cox, OG Chad Rinehart, TE John Phillips
Danny Woodhead: Probably Telesco’s best signing and a big reason why we made the playoffs in 2013. Woodhead brings that “security blanket” the team had been missing since Sproles signed with New Orleans. He was versatile up until the Bills game last season where he ended it with a broken fibula. Other than that, he’s been a rock. Grade: 9
King Dunlap: Another strong signing by Telesco. Dunlap wasn’t much in Philly but Chargers brought him in on a very team friendly deal and he excelled and actually earned a pay raise this last offseason. Another solid signing by Telesco that year. Grade: 8
Derek Cox: The biggest miss by Telesco in 2013. He was toast everytime he touched the field and eventually was benched and ended his time with the Chargers. Cut after his first season. Grade: 2
Chad Rinehart: He was average at the guard position in 2013 and awful there in 2014. He was a fill in for the future and expecting anything other than below average was a pipe dream. Grade: 4
John Phillips: Nothing flashy but he was the blocking Tight End that the team needed. Being mostly used as that, he has caught a few passes and even a touchdown. He was eventually cut by the team this season and brought back as well. Grade: 4
2014: RB Donald Brown, CB Brandon Flowers, MLB Kavell Connor, TE David Johnson. Quick note: Kellen Clemens was also signed, but as a backup QB it is unfair to grade so I left him off for those purposes
Donald Brown: Terrible signing by Telesco as he was brought in for RB depth and got $5 million a year. He went inactive for most of this season as well. Grade: 3
Brandon Flowers: As bad as the Brown signing was, is how good of a signing the Flowers one was. He really boosted this secondary and his lockdown play earned him his new contract in this past offseason, something I will get to in a bit. Grade: 8
Kavell Connor: Brought in for LB depth, Kavell had a big workload in 2014 as he filled in for oft injured Manti Te’o and played fairly well when called upon. Grade: 6
David Johnson: Brought in to be the FB, David Johnson is brutal. He constantly looks lost and doesn’t know where he’s going and doesn’t seem to find the field that often now as well. Grade: 3
2015: WR Jacoby Jones, OG Orlando Franklin, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Patrick Robinson, DB Jimmy Wilson
Jacoby Jones: He was brought in to give us a feared return game. He never lived up to that and in fact, wasn’t even half of what we expected. Cut halfway through the season. Grade: 0
Orlando Franklin: Big money linemen signing, Franklin has been a HUGE disappointment as he isn’t even close to the guy who Telesco thought he was signing. System fit, as they ran a zone scheme could be a huge factor of why, but overall he was as bad as Rinehart. Grade: 3
Stevie Johnson: Started out strong, pulling in touchdowns in each of his first two games played for San Diego, but then seemed to check out and then eventually got hurt. Grade: 6
Patrick Robinson: The sneakiest of signings, PRob may have been the best signing of Telesco’s tenure. He graded as a very solid corner this season by Pro Football Focus and was a bright spot in a secondary that had high expectations going into the season. Grade: 7
Jimmy Wilson: Jimmy Wilson was brought in to be a Marcus Gilchrist type safety. One that could play safety and cornerback but actually do it well. Well, he couldn’t and eventually got cut at the end of the season. Grade: 2
Final Result: 65/140 = 46%, F
His contract extensions/re-signings (major one’s only)
2013: K Nick Novak, RB Ronnie Brown
Nick Novak: There wasn’t many re-signings his first year, which wasn’t bad. But Novak was solid here as he was very reliable. Grade: 8
Ronnie Brown: Ronnie Brown was brought in as a veteran backup and one who was very reliable with the rock. He had one big touchdown vs the Benagls that sealed the deal in our first playoff win since 2008. So for that, he gets a little extra love from me in his grade. Grade: 7
2014: MLB Donald Butler, S Darrell Stuckey, OG Chad Rinehart, CB Richard Marshall
Donald Butler: This couldn’t have gone any worse than it has. 2014 he was rated as one of the worst MLB’s in football and in 2015, rookie Denzel Perryman took his starting job and his time as a Charger may be over. Grade: 0
Darrell Stuckey: Solid as a special teamer, Stuckey was another sneaky good extension. He has made the pro bowl a few times as a special teamer but as a safety, he has been very limited in playing time. Grade: 6
Chad Rinehart: From an average 2013, to an awful 2014, Rinehart was below average for us. I understand the signing, but should have had a plan B. Grade: 3
Richard Marshall: Marshall had a knack at getting turnovers at the end of 2013, but most of that was due to him being in the right place at the right time. He was brought in for depth because he knew the system in 2014 but due to injuries, he played more than he should have. Grade: 3
2015: OT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers
King Dunlap: Dunlap was a rock for us since 2013, but after his extension, he was very concussion prone again. Missed a chunk of the season and hasn’t lived up to his extension quite yet. Grade: 4
Brandon Flowers: Another player hit by injuries and possibly even coaching, Flowers under performed big time and was even rated as a bottom third corner this season. He really needs to have a bounceback season for his contract to not look so bad. Grade: 2
Final Result: 33/80 = 41%, F
Final overall result: 162/390 = 41%, F
Using my grading scale, Tom Telesco has gotten an ‘F’ grade as a general manager hitting on only 4 of every 10 personnel decisions. This doesn’t even include an undersized defense he has put together and coaches that are not good at what they do.
We all have differences of opinion on the different players aforementioned, but we can all agree that most his decisions have been sub-par.
Agree or disagree with my assessment? Did Telesco deserve this extension? I don’t think so, as my grading scale has proved. Let me know below!
The Chargers (2-5) travel to Baltimore (1-6) on Sunday to take on the Ravens in what is a must-win contest for the Bolts.
With the Denver Broncos currently sitting atop the AFC West at 6-0, the Chargers are resigned to shooting for a wildcard spot, seeing as surpassing the Broncos is highly unlikely.
San Diego entered the 2015 campaign with high hopes. The free-agency period seemed to be a success; with general manager Tom Telesco signing the player he coveted in offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, wide receiver Stevie Johnson and offensive lineman Joe Barksdale, to name a few.
Other free-agent acquisitions that have started games include safety Jimmy Wilson, offensive lineman Chris Hairston and cornerback Patrick Robinson.
It could be argued that Robinson has played the best out of all of the team’s pickups, making the greatest impact of the bunch.
While Franklin and Johnson have missed multiple games due to injuries, Barksdale has been reliable and steady for the Bolts, starting all seven games this season.
Once the NFL draft came, Telesco moved up two spots to select running back Melvin Gordon, an electrifying runner out of Wisconsin.
Needless to say, Gordon has not gotten off to the start that either he or the team would like, being benched due to fumbling issues. The first-year ball carrier has struggled mightily, posting only 328 yards on 85 carries with no touchdowns. In the receiving game, Gordon has tallied 13 receptions for 86 yards. The stat that sticks out the most for No. 28 is the fact that he has fumbled four times, losing three to opposing defenses.
Enough about the offseason. Let’s fast forward to present day.
The Chargers have lost three consecutive games and five of the last six.
If the season were to end today, San Diego would have the eighth selection in the first round of the 2016 draft.
But helps comes along in the way of the next four games, including Sunday’s matchup against the Ravens.
The Chargers’ next four opponents — Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City and Jacksonville — have combined to win four games in 2015. The team’s next opponent’s sole victory came in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If the Chargers are to turn around their season, it starts this Sunday. Losing this game would not make it impossible to make the playoffs, but it certainly wouldn’t seem very likely if they fall to 2-6.
This is, without a doubt, a must-win game for the Chargers if they have any hopes that extend past the regular season.
San Diego’s inability to establish the running game on offense and stop the run defensively will be placed under the microscope once again in Week 8.
Quarterback Philip Rivers is on pace for a career-year, throwing the ball an inordinate amount due to the team’s poor rushing attack. Rivers is set to break NFL records for both completions and passing yards in a season.
Should the offense again be unable to get it going on the ground, it will be up to Rivers and the passing attack to carry the team to victory over Baltimore.
The Ravens are ranked as the 25th defense overall in yards given up per game, placing 11th against the run and 28th against the pass.
Considering the aforementioned stats, the passing offense of the Chargers should be able to carve up the Ravens’ secondary. That being said, it sure would be nice to see San Diego establish some semblance of a running game.
On the other side of the ball, the Bolts rank 18th overall in yards given up, placing 31st against the run and 9th against the pass. The Ravens come in with the 14th ranked offense, 12th in passing and 18th in rushing.
Defensively, the Chargers have to limit the production of running back Justin Forsett and wideout Steve Smith Sr. Both weapons could give John Pagano’s unit fits if they are allowed to get hot early.
Flying east is never easy for a west-coast squad. The Ravens have won 11 of their last 12 against west-coast teams at home. Their one loss came last year by none of than the Chargers.
The Week 8 game is going to say a lot about the Chargers and their coaching staff. Do they have what it takes to get things turned around, or is this team doomed to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season?
We’ll find out on Sunday.
I’ve been a Chargers fan since my birth back in 1992. I’ve been a die-hard fan since the LT MVP 2006 season. I’ve seen the worst, the best and even the sorriest teams the Chargers have had here in San Diego my entire life.
This isn’t an article on the team, per se, but it’s an article that is me venting my frustrations, one I am quite sure many of you can relate to. From the top to the bottom, I will go and release some frustration out, and I hope you will follow along with me.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco
The GM that replaced AJ Smith, and one who worked under Bill Polian, has been the Chargers GM since 2013. Tom Telesco, who everyone within the NFL sees as a very good, but very young general manager, has put two 9-7 teams together, and one team happened to reach the AFC divisional round where they eventually lost to the Denver Broncos. Tommy T, as I like to call him, has drafted pretty poorly in his first two and a half seasons here and has signed/drafted two, maybe three impact players. This is not what a successful GM on a winning team does. He is constantly moving up in the draft, trading away multiple draft picks for players who need a lot of work on their craft (Te’o, Attaochu, Gordon) and he hasn’t hit on any gold. Telesco constantly goes against the advanced metrics to draft reaches in the third round. His poor drafting and poor roster management is getting highly exposed when coupled with sub-par coaches.
Speaking of the coaching staff……
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy
Mike McCoy, hired in 2013, is a former offensive mind from the Super Bowl Carolina Panthers and the Tim Tebow- led Broncos. McCoy isn’t the only one I’m going to bring up here. Defensive coordinator John Pagano and offensive coordinator Frank Reich are also underachieving as coaches. I firmly believe that the Bolts need to go in a different direction with these two. The one part Telesco has constructed right is the secondary. The Chargers’ secondary might be the best secondary they have had in quite some time. But in the last two weeks, with the starting secondary playing, John Pagano has not been successful in stopping the pass and is constantly leaving guys on an island to be burned one-on-one. I’m looking at you Donald Butler and Brandon Flowers. Flowers isn’t fast. In fact, he isn’t the lockdown No. 1 cornerback that he was halfway through 2014. He is a possession coverage corner who will need help over the top on speedsters such as Markus Wheaton and Marvin Jones. Pagano needs to realize this and put Eric Weddle or Jahleel Addae over the top, or have someone who is close to or equally as fast as the opposite man. Maybe someone like Patrick Robinson or Stevie Williams. Pagano, now in his fourth year as defensive coordinator, hasn’t shown the ability to adjust or to change up what he does on a constant basis, and if this is the case, the Chargers should look in a different direction.
Frank Reich is another story. Just like Pagano, he hasn’t shown the ability to adjust, and is way too predictable when it comes to offensive play calling. How many draw plays does he need to run before he realizes it only hurts his offensive line? How many times does he need to see D.J. Fluker or Orlando Franklin get tied up after going back to block on a draw play? His offensive calls are boring and it seems like him and Philip Rivers aren’t on the same page during the course of the game with all of the audibles he has to call at the line of scrimmage. I firmly believe that he should be demoted from playcalling, and that McCoy should take over until further notice.
I have been a big supporter of McCoy since day 1, and I still am on the McCoy train. However, this season has really taken a toll on me and has me wondering if he really is the right guy for this job. The one play that really stood out to me was his passive approach at the end of the first half versus the Bengals. He literally let over one minute run off the clock before halftime in a game where the Chargers lost by five. Little things like this are what lose games. This team hasn’t gotten better under McCoy, but I don’t think he’s the main reason why. But him, along with Reich and Pagano and the rest of the coaching staff, need to do a better job of coaching these guys before this season gets out of hand.
There are some players on this team that frustrate me more than anything else, and I’m sure that they frustrate you too.
There is talent on this team. Despite it being poorly coached and/or poorly constructed, there are some players you can build around. One thing that bugs me the most are selfish players. I don’t think I’ve seen as many selfish players on one team, than I’m seeing now. Whether it’s celebrating a touchdown while losing, celebrating every catch or going public about a contract situation. It needs to stop. This is a team sport. The most insulting thing to fans is seeing a professional athlete put himself ahead of the team. It shows a lack of discipline and something that can get the locker room divided. That is never a good thing.
What I’m getting at is this team is having an identity crisis. They need a gut check and they all need to look at themselves in the mirror, and play up to their potential and expectations. This roster is far too talented to be playing this poorly, even if constructed badly. No more Instagram photos of yourself scoring a touchdown after a blowout loss. No more contract holdouts or distractions. Come in to work ready to play football and go out there and play to win.
But at the end of the day, we are all Chargers fans and we will rep Chargers’ gear until the day we die, win or lose. This was just me letting off some steam in the best way I could think of.
So, thanks for sticking with me on this.
*If there’s anything you need to vent, or something that I missed, or you just want to absolutely rip into me for saying this stuff, please leave a comment!*
The excitement surrounding the secondary of the 2015 San Diego Chargers was palpable heading into the regular season. What they lack in size – as not one is taller than 5-feet-11 – they make up for in experience. Consider that the on-field leader for these men is eight-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle, a guy who is matched in intensity only by the Bolts’ offensive signal caller, Philip Rivers. There are only two other Pro Bowlers in this unit, Brandon Flowers and Darrell Stuckey. For a bunch of men who were primarily drafted in rounds one through four, they should be performing at a high level. At least that is how it shakes out on paper.
Chargers fans are quite obviously frustrated with the product appearing on the field these past four weeks. So, what seems to be the problem? Injuries have a role, but so do ridiculous penalties when the team has the opponent stopped and a chance to get the ball back into the hands of No. 17. What lengths do secondary coach Ron Milus and his assistant Greg Williams have to go to so that this bunch does what it is paid to do? With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town for a Monday Night game, and even if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t under center, this unit needs to be prepared.
Let’s review some of the issues through the first month of the season.
First and Foremost: Get healthy, stay healthy!
Of the four designated starters: free safety Eric Weddle, strong safety Jahleel Addae, left cornerback Brandon Flowers, and right cornerback Jason Verrett – only Weddle has started each game. Opposite him, Addae has been nursing a sore ankle since the Cincinnati game. Additionally, Flowers (knee/concussion) and Verrett (foot) have been in and out of the lineup. Milus has had his own merry-go-round to manage due to injury, shuffling corner/safety Jimmie Wilson as well as safety Adrian Phillips, plus corners Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams into the lineup. Rookie cornerback Craig Mager was finally on the field against the Minnesota Vikings only to be inactive last week with a bum hamstring. As of this writing (Friday) Addae, Verrett and Mager are still on the injury report though with limited participation in practice. Who suits up this week will be of utmost importance against the Steelers.
Although there have only been five penalties, the fact remains that they have come at inopportune times. Two by Verrett gave the Cincinnati Bengals a new set of downs TWICE; both were 15-yard personal foul infractions. In the game against the Minnesota Vikings, Williams was flagged for a costly pass interference (PI) which set up the Vikings at midfield rather than punting. Against the Cleveland Browns last week, Williams was called for illegal use of hands. And in the same matchup, Flowers was nailed for a PI which fortunately only cost six yards. Five penalties in four games by just the secondary is not conducive to winning. This area needs to be addressed.
Tackling by the numbers
As per usual, Weddle leads the posse with 38 combined tackles (29 solos), plus half a sack. Addae has managed four solo tackles in two games. Flowers has collected eight solo tackles (10 total), while Verrett has been credited with six overall (4 solo). The back-ups (Wilson, Robinson, Phillips and Williams) collectively have 42 tackles, a forced fumble (Robinson) and two picks (Robinson versus Detroit and Williams at Minnesota). In 2014, the secondary was responsible for six interceptions on the year. Is having two thus far a good measuring stick for Milus’ men? Time will tell.
Despite the secondary undergoing a bit of upheaval early in the season courtesy of the injury bugaboo, Milus and Williams seem to have their group on the right path. However, they will need to step it up and play smart. Meaning, no getting beat, no dumb penalties, no blown coverages. Monday’s AFC divisional face-off with Pittsburgh will be a turning point as the Bolts’ secondary will need to play it tight – keep Antonio Brown and company in check.
Here’s to execution being stellar this week!
Thanks for reading!
The Chargers have been incredibly busy this week reshuffling their roster. The team announced today that they have added cornerback Carrington Byndom. Formerly of the Carolina Panthers, Byndom played in five games last season for the Panthers (two of which were in the postseason).
In a corresponding move, the Bolts released quarterback Brad Sorensen. The seventh-round selection of the 2013 draft has had multiple stints with the Chargers, spending time on both the active roster as a rookie, and various times on the team’s practice squad. He has yet to throw a single pass in a regular season game in the NFL.
The addition of Byndom shows that the team did not feel confident in the numbers it had at the cornerback position. The unit finished with only two players last week in their loss against the Minnesota Vikings (Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams).
Starting cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett have both been banged up with knee and foot ailments, respectively. Rookie third-round draft pick Craig Mager is battling through hamstring issues. According to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Mager is not expected to play this Sunday at home against the Browns.
Both the secondary and the offensive line have been decimated by injuries early on in the 2015 campaign. The latter being hit harder than the former.
He may be “just a fifth rounder”, but Kyle Emanuel went about his business throughout OTAs, minicamp and preseason to prove his worth. His hard work, determination and attention to detail all culminated with his name being listed in the release of the Chargers’ 53-man roster.
Hallelujah, he made the cut!
His outstanding preseason play was only the lead-in to a stellar debut that saw the 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker do the following: sack Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, nab himself an interception, make three tackles and mess with Stafford’s rhythm. The second quarter sack (a 13-yard loss) caused the Lions to punt. The pick-6 came in the third quarter and the Chargers took over at midfield. Two of the three tackles resulted in lost yardage and the disruption caused a misfire by Stafford that resulted in an interception by cornerback Patrick Robinson. The turnover led to a Stevie Johnson touchdown.
This outing has him nominated for Pepsi Rookie of the Week.
Emanuel played his collegiate ball at North Dakota State University. While there, NDSU had a 58-3 record and won four consecutive NCAA championships (2011-2014). Individually, the former Bison defensive end amassed 234 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 58.5 tackles for loss and two blocked field goals. In his senior year, he led the FCS in tackles for loss (32.5) and sacks (19.5). He was named the Buck Buchanon Award winner for 2014, given to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Now, along with Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attachou and Cordarro Law, he is one of the four who will comprise the 2015 outside linebacking corps for San Diego. That unit last year combined for 46 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and a lonely sole defended pass. His adeptness as a pass-rusher, complemented with his instincts, athleticism and quickness, certainly did not go unnoticed. An upgrade for that squad was writing on the wall for Bolts general manager Tom Telesco, thus leading him to choose the youngster with the 153rd overall pick this past May.
After the draft, Emanuel had this to say about his preparation:
“No team I talked to told me I’d be a 4-3 defensive end, so everything I’ve been doing has been to make the switch. I worked on standing up in a two-point (stance) and worked with my linebackers coach at NDSU just to learn terminology. That way, things wouldn’t be so foreign when I got drafted. So ever since the process started I started that transition, and now that I’m here, I can already tell it’s getting easier day by day.”
San Diego Chargers Linebacker Coach Mike Nolan says that for his unit, “The biggest change and the thing they have to spend more time in is in coverage. That really is the biggest difference when you go from a defensive lineman to a linebacker. It’s that there is coverage involved. If you are a linebacker that just rushed every down, then there is less adjustment. But for Kyle, the coverage will be a big part. Now in the short time thus far, he’s done an outstanding job. Not just a regular job, but an outstanding job, so we’re all very pleased with where he is in the short term. We are hopeful that progress continues at the same pace, and he would surpass some expectations from a coverage standpoint.”
Obviously, this kid is something special. My advice: keep your eyes peeled on the guy wearing No. 51 on his chest and back, sporting lightning bolts. He looks to be a force on San Diego’s D.
Thanks for reading and Bolt Up!
The 2014 season finished in what can be accurately described as “disappointing” for the Chargers. The team started 6-1, were No. 1 and on top of multiple power rankings to start the season. Philip Rivers was getting consideration for the league’s Most Valuable Player and they were being thrown around as a possible Superbowl team.
Then, injuries happened.
Danny Woodhead broke his leg. DJ Fluker played through half the year on a hurt ankle. Ryan Mathews played in six games. Keenan Allen missed the last two games with a broken collarbone. Rivers played with a back injury that limited his ability to throw and move. It goes without saying the playing five different centers makes it difficult to build cohesion on the offensive line.
As you can tell, the Chargers played beat up and with a lot of back ups and third stringers. But they finished the season 9-7, and one game shy of the playoffs.
Just how good are the Chargers when healthy?
As everyone knows, the Bolts added some playmakers this season. They upgraded many areas of their team and they are also coming off a very disappointing, yet not terrible season. The offseason has been a disaster, however, from the talks of relocating to Los Angeles, to Eric Weddle not being extended which then lead to a brief holdout and then the biggest bomb of them all, future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates being suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs.
So why the optimism?
Well, the Chargers are good. REALLY good. Tom Telesco has altered the o-line as one of the best in the AFC, gave Rivers another weapon in Stevie Johnson, got more physical defensively with the signing of Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson and made the return game something teams fear with the signing of Jacoby Jones.
Is it enough?
The schedule this season is very favorable. Early on in the year is the toughest stretch, with games in Cincinnati, Minnesota and Green Bay and games at home vs Pittsburgh and Detroit. I mention these five games because they seem to bring the toughest competition to the Bolts.
Early in the season, it is not that big of a deal to drop a game or two to a team of that caliber. Win two of those five and you’re set up perfectly for the stretch run. The notable games after the bye week (week 10): Home/away versus the Chiefs, home/away versus the Broncos and home against the Dolphins. These are very winnable games and with the depth and offensive line that Telesco has provided, the Chargers should be able to compete and win at least three of these five games mentioned.
That leaves you at 5-5 through the toughest stretches of the schedule. The remaining games are at home versus the Browns, Raiders, Bears and on the road against Raiders, Ravens and Jaguars. Five of the six just named are extremely winnable with the Baltimore game being winnable, but a difficult game, nonetheless (and Chargers have experience winning there as they did it this past season). That leaves the Chargers final record at 10-6 or 11-5 and should be enough for a wild card berth and a potential AFC West division title.
The key to the playoffs is health (also, having an elite QB in Philip Rivers doesn’t hurt either) and the Chargers have depth, but will they stay healthy? Head coach Mike McCoy has been doing a great job trying to keep everyone healthy during training camp. That won’t change during the regular season.
On paper, this is the most talented team the Chargers have had since 2009 where the Bolts went 13-3 and snatched up the second seed in their conference. The AFC doesn’t seem to have that one Superbowl favorite team that you know will dominate the conference. It is wide-open, and the way Telesco has built this roster, the Chargers very well could end the year in Santa Clara playing in Superbowl 50.
Do you think the Chargers have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl? Let me know in the comments!
The San Diego Chargers played their first preseason game Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys. In front of their home crowd the bolts won the contest 17-7. As we all know, the score is immaterial. The important thing is how did the team look? There are a lot of players fighting for a roster spot. Who is giving maximum effort and who is not? How big is the talent differential when the second and third units come in compared to the unit before them? These are the key things to watch in a preseason game. Here are my takeaways from the first game.
Preseason or not, it was great to see that it didn’t take long before the team got their first takeaway. The first team defense recovered a snap that went over the head of Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. Donald Butler crashed the backfield and eliminated the quarterback from the play, kicking the ball upfield in the process. The ball was then recovered by an offseason acquisition, cornerback Patrick Robinson. The Chargers would force and recover a second fumble in the half. The Chargers only had 18 takeaways all last season. That stat needs to improve if they’re going to be a serious playoff contender.
The running game looked sharp. Last season the running game was out-of-sync all season with the exception of the emergence of Branden Oliver. After Danny Woodhead went down in week three and Mathews resumed his usual spot at the trainer’s table the Chargers running game died. Woodhead looked great in his return from a broken leg, rushing for an eight-yard touchdown on his first carry. Oliver also ran with power and Barry Sanders-like shiftiness, posting 53 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. Melvin Gordon gained 11 yards on six carries. He will gain more carries and confidence now that the first game jitters are out of the way. We all expect Gordon to be in contention for Rookie of the Year at season’s end but let’s temper our expectations. With rookies come growing pains.
The special teams looked better than they have in previous seasons. Undrafted kicker Josh Lambo provided a welcome sight in sending kickoffs through the end zone. Kicker Nick Novak booted a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that looked like it would have been good from another ten yards back. Punter Mike Scifres looked like his old self after finishing last season on injured reserve with a broken collarbone. Scifres’ first punt pinned the Cowboys inside their own five yard line. Reserve cornerback Chris Davis had a couple exciting kick returns and Javontee Herndon looked great finding holes on punt returns. Paired with Jacoby Jones, this may be the best group of returners the Chargers have had in a long while.
The first team defense showed the ability to get a good pass rush against what is considered to be the best offensive line in the league. Second round draft pick Denzel Perryman showed his nose for the ball with five tackles, a pass defensed and got close on a couple of potential sacks. Manti Te’o disrupted plays. Fifth round draft pick Kyle Emanuel had a great showing with three solo tackles including a sack and tackle for loss. It was also good to see nose tackle Ryan Carrethers finally off the injured reserve list and on the field. Carrethers was double-teamed on every snap he played and still managed to get two tackles.
As always, there are things to work on. The run defense, while only allowing 70 yards on the night could have had an even better output were it not for a lot of missed tackles. On the Cowboys lone score, running back Gus Johnson dragged several Chargers defenders into the end zone for the score.
Special teams did a good job in containment but there were also some tackles left on the field that could have put the Cowboys deep into their own territory. Tackling is an ailment that is usual during the first preseason games because there isn’t much tackling going on in training camp. Expect the tackling to improve as these exhibition games pass.
The biggest downside were the injuries. Offensive lineman Johnnie Troutman worked hard to get on the field after a leg injury only to break his arm during the game. Outside linebacker Tourek Williams was having a great game pressuring the quarterback and running down ball carriers until he broke his foot in the third quarter. Williams underwent surgery on Friday and the timetable on his return is unknown at the moment. While the two weren’t starters they are key depth positions.
All in all, it’s the preseason. There will be plenty of game tape with enough mistakes that there will be no shortage of things to work on this week. San Diego should feel confident in the collection of players on their sideline. This is a team fans should feel proud to come out and support. This is a team (if they can stay healthy) that can overtake the Broncos for the AFC West title. If this is their last season in the 619 area code, they will be going out with a bang.
What did you think of the season opener? Post your comments below.
The Greg One
As the countdown to the new NFL season continues, we all look forward to seeing our beloved San Diego Chargers take the field. Whether it’s in shorts, pads or full gear, nothing makes us happier than to know they’re busy preparing for what could be a landmark season.
It could be a landmark season for a number of reasons. Could this be the last season the team plays in San Diego? Will this be the last time we see the ‘Core Four’ of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd in lightning bolts together? Floyd has stated this is his final season and it’s looking that way for Gates as well, but nothing is certain until it happens. Is this team finally ready for a lengthy postseason run amidst all the toil and trouble?
So many questions…
On paper, this may be the best team the Chargers have fielded since the LaDainian Tomlinson era. The offense is getting overdue attention, especially after drafting phenom running back Melvin Gordon to replace Ryan Mathews in the backfield. Where this team will really shock the league will be on defense.
General manager Tom Telesco has done an excellent job of signing a young, talented nucleus of players to multi-year contracts. Donald Butler, Corey Liuget are locked in long term. Melvin Ingram is in his option year so he has to stay on the field and perform at a high level to get a second contract similar to the aforementioned Butler and Liuget. Mantei Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu and this year’s crop of draftees are in Bolts for at least the next two years under their rookie contracts.
The secondary, long considered a weakness in San Diego, will return the tandem that was the best in the league while they played together in Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to play the entire season due to injuries. Their presence would have been instrumental in changing the Chargers playoff fate as they only missed the postseason by one game.
With both corners returning healthy, and excellent free agent additions Jimmy Wilson and Patrick Robinson, the Chargers will have what they haven’t had in a long time, shutdown corners and quality secondary depth. Lest we forget the All-Pro safety anchoring the secondary. We may not like the office politics going on with Eric Weddle, but the one thing we know is he will play like the consummate pro he is and the Chargers will not let him leave as long as franchise tags are still at their disposal.
What this means is San Diego has a defense that is worthy of a top-five ranking if they can stay healthy. Players have to excel on the field or lose their spot. It’s that type of hunger Telesco is cultivating into what will become a culture of winning. This is an exciting defense which can only get better if draftee linebackers Denzel Perryman and Kyle Emmanuel, cornerback Craig Mager and defensive lineman Darius Philon are as good as advertised. From the sounds coming out of camp, they are that and more!
Say what you want about the front office, they have assembled an excellent collection of players in three short seasons and they are ready to make a dynastic run. This defense can be as good as the Ravens of the early 2000’s. I’m calling my shot now before the rest of the world outside San Diego sees it. The holes have been admirably filled. Only one last thing this defense needs…
Purple People Eaters. Monsters of the Midway. Steel Curtain. I’m not saying they will be that great. Yet. They will be crowned with some goofy nickname by Chris Berman or someone in a boardroom in Bristol, Connecticut once the carnage is unleashed and quarterbacks, receivers and running backs league-wide are swallowed whole. Let’s beat the suits to the punch and name the defense ourselves!
Here are my first handful of submissions:
The Blue Crew
What do you guys think? Leave your suggestions with names for the defense below!
The Greg One