The San Diego Chargers’ secondary has been tested early and often through the first five games of the season. Though their 2-3 record suggests otherwise, the banged-up unit led by Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett has fared extremely well against the NFL’s top receiving talent.
The Chargers began the season at home against the Detroit Lions and their All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson finished third in the NFL in receiving in 2013 and fell out of the top ten in 2014 despite recording over 1,077 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. San Diego allowed Johnson one catch on the first drive of the game and one catch on the last drive of the game. At the end of the day:
Calvin Johnson: 2 catches for 39 yards.
The very next week, the Chargers traveled to Cincinnati to face the Bengals and their All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green. Green is currently fourth in the NFL in receiving yards with 495, adding three touchdowns. He did have a touchdown reception on a perfectly thrown ball in the back of the end zone. Aside from that score, Green only touched the ball three other times. At the end of the day:
A.J. Green: 4 catches for 45 yards and one touchdown.
In Week 5 before a prime-time audience on Monday Night Football, San Diego welcomed Antonio Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The All-Pro Brown finished 2014 as the number one receiver in the NFL with over 1,600 yards, and is third in the league this season with 523 receiving yards after five games. In the prime-time tilt, Brown was held to three receptions for a paltry 45 yards. At the end of the day:
Antonio Brown: 3 catches for 45 yards.
This is a great sign for a team that is once again beset by injuries in the secondary and the offensive line. Both Flowers and Verrett have missed critical game action. When they’re on the field, they have proven to be exceptional at shadowing the best wide receivers the game has to offer.
At the present time, San Diego owns the ninth-ranked passing defense in the league at 218 yards passing allowed per contest. Through three weeks, Green had been allowed the most catches with four and Bengals wideout Marvin Jones had the most receiving yards with 48. In the Week 4 overtime thriller against Cleveland, the Chargers allowed six passes for 79 yards to the Browns best wide receiver, Travis Benjamin.
In the soul-crushing Monday Night Chargers loss, Steelers’ wideout Marcus Wheaton caught only one pass. Wheaton shook off Flowers with a double move that resulted in a 72-yard touchdown. No Steelers’ wide receiver caught any more than three balls. At the end of the day:
Most yards allowed to a wide receiver: 79
Most catches allowed to a wide receiver: 6
Most receiving yards allowed regardless of position: 85 (RB Duke Johnson, Cleveland)
No player has had a 100-yard receiving day against San Diego.
Only one quarterback, Cleveland’s Josh McCown, has thrown for over 300 yards against the Bolts.
The Chargers three losses can be attributed to many things. Injuries, turnovers, clock management and play calling can be named among the various reasons. A weak secondary is not one of those reasons. Dropped interceptions can definitely be added to the list. In the Pittsburgh game alone, three interceptions were dropped, two of which had a clear path to the end zone. Dropped picks were among a list of other missed opportunities that cost San Diego a win against Cincinnati as well.
This bodes well for a team that has more elite receivers on the horizon. San Diego will travel to Green Bay (Randall Cobb) in Week 6 and still has two games against Denver (Demaryius Thomas) remaining.
There is also a trio of rising stars the Chargers secondary will face with Jacksonville (Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns) and two games against Oakland (Amari Cooper). If the Bolts can continue to keep bottling the opposition’s best weapons, the Chargers will win more games and be in prime position to challenge for the AFC West title.
Keep in mind, the remainder of the schedule after the game against the Packers is very favorable for the Chargers.
It is not over yet, BoltFam.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Encouraged or discouraged?
Leave your thoughts in the remarks below.
The Greg One
What do you mean, Keenan Allen playing slot receiver? Just bear with me while I attempt to persuade you.
A slot receiver, by definition, is a player in the offensive formation between the offensive line and the player closest to the sideline and at least a yard off of the line of scrimmage. That space can be occupied by a wide receiver, tight end or running back. It is often used when the offense wants to confuse the defense by having more than one receiver on the same side of the field. Utilizing this tactic generally forces the opposing team to adjust their coverage scheme by making alignment changes or adding extra defensive backs to ensure that the player in that “slot” has someone on him.
While at University of California – Berkeley (UCB), Allen was used in several different formations: split wide at receiver, in the slot and in the backfield. He primarily played the slot position while at UCB, so the role would be nothing new to him. Being quick off the line of scrimmage whether the ball is coming his way or if he is being a decoy can only help Philip Rivers in the long run. Although Allen may not have top speed, he does have the ability to change speed quickly. Prior to the draft, NFL analyst Charles Davis stated “…he didn’t run very fast at his pro day, but the comparisons for him: he plays the game a lot like Anquan Boldin and has hands like Larry Fitzgerald”. Current players also known as slot receivers are: Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City Chiefs), Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers) and free agent Wes Welker.
Allen has played 29 games in his two years with the Bolts and has 148 receptions of which 95 went for first down. Other than his receiving yardage, there are only punt return statistics for him: 26 attempts for 224 yards with 24 fair catch calls and zero touchdowns. In comparison, here is what newly-signed Jacoby Jones amassed during his first two years (2007-2008 and 30 games) in the league. As a receiver, Jones recorded 18 receptions and 11 of those were for first down. His punt return numbers: 672 yards on 62 attempts, 24 fair catches made, two TDs. On kick offs, 17 attempts for 358 yards (zero touchdowns, zero fair catches made).
Perhaps the argument can be made to move Keenan Allen to the slot since he is considerably younger than Jacoby Jones and Jones has more NFL experience overall in that position. So you are aware, though he is also on the team now, Stevie Johnson was not included in this comparison because he was only used in the return game his initial season (2008).
I know what I would do if the decision was left up to me…however, where do you think Allen lines up this season?
Thanks and Bolt Up!
Call me crazy, but I think the Chargers will be “all in” this offseason. Why? For one thing, they have the cap space available. But for the most important reason, because they want a new stadium and the best way to get the citizens and the city on deck with financing is to play in the Super Bowl.
Winning is one BIG reason why these stadiums get built. Lets take a look back at a few:
Metlife stadium in New York:broke ground in 2007. Jets and Giants both lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2006. Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007
Sports Authority Field: broke ground in 1999. Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 & 1998
Lincoln Financial Field: broke ground in 2001. Lost in the 2000 divisional round. 2001 the Eagles went 11-5, won the division and lost in the NFC Championship game
Gillette Stadium: broke ground in 2000. Patriots went 8-8 in 1999, 5-11 in 2000 but won the Super Bowl in 2001
How about a stadium locally?
Petco Park: Broke ground in 2000. Won the division in 1998 and also went to the World Series.
These are just a FEW of the stadiums I have found being built after or during a winning season.
Chargers know this is possibly the last season in San Diego and Spanos wants to stay. So who’s to say they wont give it one last chance? Reported today that the Chargers are going after Ndamukong Suh, Mike Iupati, and Randall Cobb and last week Adrian Peterson said he would take a pay cut to get out of Minnesota and was added the San Diego could be a possibility. Those are four players who are an immediate upgrade over anyone we have on our roster right now and would make this team an instant contender.
Ndamukong Suh adds a HUGE boost to the defense. It would take the double teams off of Luiget and Ingram and would make the entire defense better. Randall Cobb would add that deep threat and a very nice complimentary piece to Keenan Allen on the receiving corps and would also give the defense something to worry about. He can beat one-on-one press coverage, something our receivers couldn’t do last season. Mike Iupati gives you a bulldozer next to the King. His pass protection is suspect, but in a run heavy, quick passing offensive scheme that was used successfully in 2013, he will be a huge upgrade over Rinehart from last season. Adrian Peterson is an elite back that would make this offense unbelievably balanced and would give the Chargers a very reliable RB, something that has been missing since LT.
There’s no surprise that the Chargers are rumored to all 4 players, whether they can get all of them or not is still to be determined. But don’t be surprised to see anything such as this happen as a last effort to get a stadium here in San Diego.
Agree with me? Am I out of my mind? Let me know what you think!
As reported earlier by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, the Chargers could possibly make a run at wide receiver Randall Cobb. The veteran would be an immediate upgrade over Malcolm Floyd, who at this point in his career is only really a jump ball receiver, and would be a nice complimentary piece to Keenan Allen.
Cobb has been one of the key contributors for the Packers over the last couple seasons and had a stat line of: 91 catches, 1,287 yards and 12 Touchdowns. Nobody on the Chargers eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, and no other wide receiver topped the 10 TD mark.
So what does this mean? How much cap space will it eat up? Well, they have reportedly $26 million in cap space. Cobb is currently one of the top two receivers on the open market (Jeremy Maclin being the other). It’s likely he will request top dollar. Chargers have more than enough to pull it off if they want to. Is it the best fit? Possibly. He’s a deep threat, which is something the Bolts have been lacking dearly. Notably, he has worked really well on his route running, granting him a go-to target label. Adding Cobb would take the attention off Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates, leaving them on many possible one-on-one matchups.
Where does he fit with a crowded receiving corps? With the signing of Jacoby Jones yesterday, that leaves us with Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd, Seyi Ajirotutu, Dontrelle Inman, Austin Pettis and Jacoby Jones on the current roster. Ultimately, Tom Telesco will make room for a player like Cobb. He currently has the cap room to do it.
What do you think? Do the Chargers land Cobb or is he too much money? Let us know in the comments!
Among the throngs of Chargers fans, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has anything negative to say about Tom Telesco. The General Manager, now heading into his second year as the team’s front office leader, has done an amazing job with very little cap space.
Telesco hit a grand slam in his first draft last season, netting offensive tackle DJ Fluker, linebacker Mantei Te’o and wide receiver Keenan Allen got the Chargers an A grade. More importantly, on the field Fluker and Allen proved themselves as starters and Te’o played well despite playing the entire season with a broken foot. I will still say Allen was robbed of the NFL Rookie Of The Year award.
Telesco’s approach of overhauling the roster, dumping overpriced and underperforming veterans in favor of younger, hungrier albeit less experienced players worked. His approach worked with the his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts. In conjunction with the drafting of quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went from worst to first in the AFC South. Telesco did the same thing in San Diego and last season the Chargers saw their four-year playoff drought end.
By forcing draft picks and unproven talent to step up and prove themselves on the field, Telesco has created something they haven’t had since they were the team that ruled the AFC West from 2000 to 2007, depth. The Chargers will be a force to be reckoned with on defense with the full strength returns of defensive end Dwight Freeney, last year’s fifth round draft pick in cornerback Steve Williams, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, a finally healthy and full speed Manti Te’o and wide receiver Malcom Floyd. Add newly signed corner Brandon Flowers to what had been a weak secondary and the team is set to make another splash in the NFL postseason.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Chargers 2014 draft class in that equation…
The first two seasons have been about fixing the holes on the offensive line and improving the quality of the defense which has ranked in the bottom of the league the past few years. Now the defense is as stacked as its ever been. Barring injuries, the Chargers should have a defense in the top ten of the league. The offensive line has depth and as we saw last season, with time to throw Philip Rivers is a top five quarterback in the league. That’s not hyperbole, Rivers finished fifth in the NFL last season with 4478 yards passing and 32 touchdowns.
With the matters of depth and stability on both lines in hand, time to look forward to what aspect Telesco will tackle next. The bad contracts from the previous administration finally come off the books this season and in the next offseason the team will find themselves with more cap space than they have had since the turn of the century. The Chargers will have over 30 million to spend in free agency. The reins will be off and Telesco will finally be released from shopping in the bargain basement and now he’ll have the ability to shop in Beverly Hills.
One position which will be in desperate need of new blood will be wide receiver. Floyd, 32, is on the last year of his deal and even if he stays he will be a depth play, not a starter. This will be Floyd’s 11th season. I expect Floyd to retire after this season. Vincent Brown is at the end of his injury-marred rookie contract. Brown had a disappointing 2013 given his opportunity to step up and fill Floyd’s shoes after Floyd went down with a severe neck injury. Another lackluster season will have Brown looking for work elsewhere. Eddie Royal and Seyi Ajirotutu will also be a free agents after this season. That’s four expiring contracts at the same position. That would leave Keenan Allen and a couple of roster fillers at a critical position. Telesco has proven himself adept at filling positions of need. Here’s a look at the top free agent wide receivers in 2015:
None of these players have signed extensions. Aside from Welker, these are legitimate deep threats that will allow the Chargers to stretch the field vertically. Add in some older talents who would not require top dollar like Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, Jeremy Maclin, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt, Josh Morgan and you have a great field of talent to choose from. Adding two players from these names would give the Chargers one of the top receiving corps in the league. It’s not unfathomable to see Thomas and Bryant both in lightning bolts. Telesco covets speed and those two have it in spades. However, that’s also two big contracts. More likely one of the two (Bryant or Thomas) coupled with Smith, Shorts, Welker or another vet on the list would be more like it. San Diego will have the resources to make that happen.
Adding two of those names along side Keenan Allen would give defensive coordinators nightmares, would extend Philip Rivers’ shelf life with an improved offensive line AND legitimate deep threats on both sides of the field (less rushing the passer) and amount to deep playoff runs. The Chargers are an up and coming franchise and with a great front office in place, money to spend and they’re already a playoff team.
Free agents will go to San Diego, as we have already seen. We all know wide receivers are divas. The key things are who’s throwing them the ball, is it a contending team and money. There’s not a receiver in the league who wouldn’t love to catch balls from Philip Rivers. The Bolts can afford to pay and they’re already pushing Denver for the top of the AFC West and making the playoffs. The team already averages 24 points per game without marquee wideouts (aside from Allen). Imagine what they will be able to do with them!
Who would you like to see the Chargers sign next season?
The Greg One