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!
I recently pontificated about the woes of the Chargers’ offense. Now it’s the defensive unit’s turn in the barrel. In seven losses, your unit has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in at least five of them.
John Pagano’s unit can’t use the excuse that they’re banged up, at least not as bad as the offense. Yeah, Manti Te’o is dinged up. So are Eric Weddle and Jahleel Addae, but with Weddle there’s defensive depth that the offense lacks. Besides, you can’t hurt yourself that badly when you don’t tackle. Ask Antonio Cromartie about that. A lack of tackling is just one problem facing the defense. I’ll get into that in a moment.
John Pagano, I’m starting with you. You coach scared. You make play calls at crucial moments with the hope of not losing. The terrible last-second loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers epitomizes your excessive conservatism. Why on earth, when your defense played well for 50 minutes, would you suddenly go conservative? Where did conservative play calling get you? Brandon Flowers, more on him in a minute, got TORCHED on a crossing route that went 70 yards to answer a Charger touchdown. Your conservative play calling also bit you where you sit late in the game in Green Bay when a defensive stand was needed. I really don’t know if you have a split personality or just suffer from lapses of cranial rectal inversion. We’ve seen enough to know it’s not just a matter of execution.
Johnnyboy, are you seriously going to tell me that Jason Verrett is the only Bolt cornerman who can cover Alshon Jeffrey? Antonio Brown? It’s not like you’re still hamstrung with Shareece Wright for crying out loud! But you coach scared and play off of the receivers instead of getting physical with them. Wake up and challenge these receivers!
Oh, and John? You know that 3-4 you run? Do you realize that a 3-4 begins and ends at the nose tackle position? You think Lissemore is a NT? He isn’t. He gets shoved around like a rag doll. He’s impeding the rest of the front seven! Bench him. Permanently. Why don’t you start Ryan Carrethers? He’s a big, run-stuffing specimen of a human being, but he rarely sees the field early in the game when teams are trying to establish the run.
Again, the Butler didn’t do it. The Butler hasn’t really done it since AJ Smith paid him. Seems the Butler has been invisible. Does he have stuff over your head or are you playing him in the hopes of getting something for the money he’s being paid?
Brandon Flowers, what happened to you? You get burnt more often than my toaster oven burns my English muffins. You got torched against Pittsburgh. You got torched against Green Bay. Have you considered changing your jersey to #31? You remind me more of Richard Marshall than you remind me of your Kansas City self.
Pet peeve time.
Tackling. The aforementioned T’eo and Weddle jump out to me in the worst way. T’eo is horrible at wrapping up tackles. Ball carriers slip through his arms like water runs through a sieve. You have to finish. You can’t continue to let guys slip out of your grasp and run for additional yardage. And you, Eric “I’m disrespected by my front office” Weddle. Groin or no groin, nobody ever made a tackle while backpedaling. Geez, stop contributing to opposing players’ YAC!
Overall, I’ve never seen the Chargers in such disarray. At least when Ryan Leaf was drafted, the team just plain sucked, so it wasn’t shocking to see them play so badly. This team isn’t nearly as crappy as their pathetic 2-7 record implies.
When it comes to researching article topics, I tend to go back through the archives of my website and look at ideas that I have had in years past. This morning, at 2:00 am, I ran across a scathing article I wrote about the laziness of former Charger offensive tackle Jared Gaither. I then remembered that he is still being paid by the Bolts in 2014.
He is not the only one.
Dead money contracts are those that count against the team’s salary cap despite the fact that the players are no longer on the squad. When I list the players that are still getting paid, I guarantee your blood will boil when you look at some of the names. The amounts of their pay will elevate that level of frustration, as well.
For the sake of this article, I am only going to include the players that are being paid over $100,000 without providing any services to the Chargers at all at this time. They are no longer with the team; in fact, a couple haven’t been on the team for over a year or two.
Let’s start at the bottom — lowest paid non-Chargers — and work our way up to the top, the highest paid.
DL – Lawrence Guy $100,588
WR – Vincent Brown $146,517
S – Brandon Taylor $168,469
CB – Brandon Ghee $185,000
RB – Shaun Draughn $201,176
LB – Jonas Mouton $218,340
DB – Richard Marshall $570,000
FB – Le’Ron McClain $833,334
LB – Larry English $865,000
WR – Robert Meachem $ 3,750,000
CB – Derek Cox $3,900,000
OT – Jared Gaither $4,000,000
Total amount of dead money from the aforementioned NON-CHARGERS: $14,938,424
Go ahead and let that sink in as you look at a Charger team that has been decimated by injuries. The same organization that was completely unable to make any moves prior to the trade deadline to supplement a beat-up roster. Thanks a lot, that one guy who used to be the GM here.
The total amount of dead money, including players that are not listed above, is $15,436,212.
When it comes to getting rid of and cutting poor performers or bad contracts, it’s a very difficult decision. But when a player is unable to contribute at a serviceable or acceptable level, the time to cut ties is necessary. Three of the top-four highest paid non-Bolts have played for other teams in 2014; Meachem, Cox and English. Robert Meachem is the only one that is currently on an NFL roster of those four.
Talk about a kick in the pants.
The last General Manager left Tom Telesco in a rough spot when it comes to navigating the roster and its lack of cap space. The 2015 season brings Telesco a much better opportunity to make some moves and re-sign some of his marquee players to long-term extensions; namely Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle.
Every team in the NFL has to deal with matters such as what is listed above. But it goes without saying that the Chargers were forced to make some tough decisions when cutting the players listed. But, perhaps, cutting non-performing players like Gaither, Cox, Meachem and English were actually simple decisions that came at a heavy price. At least a few of the players noted actually played for San Diego in 2014. The same can’t be said for some of the bums that made the list.
Thanks a lot for reading. Which of these players frustrated you the most due to the money they made without having contributed to the cause in 2014? Let me know by leaving your thoughts below in the comment section.
I am still hurting from the Denver loss like all Charger fans. At no point did I think the Chargers could surprise the Broncos like they did last year who were ripe for a perfect upset. Our boys had everything to play for and Denver had nothing to play for. They whined all week about a short week. The Chargers didn’t have time to care. In the offseason, Tom Telesco did a wonderful job adding key pieces to the defense that on paper would make the Bolt defense better prepared to take on The Denver Mannings.
The reality is one by one almost all of those additions were ruled out for the game. All week long I heard and read Chargers fans say cornerbacks Marshall and Wright could not start and beat Manning. The reality is they did just that December 12th last year on Thursday night football. That defense had a limited returning Melvin Ingram but was essentially the same as the one the Chargers put on the field. The Bolts won that game by seven, and lost this one by fourteen.
Coming off a 35-21 loss, I could blame the Refs for blown calls, the NFL for giving us three division games in 11 days, or Archie and Olivia Manning for not getting Peyton into a different profession. You can complain that the football gods have cursed this team’s medical staff with too much to handle.
You can make an argument for all those valid things to complain about. Honestly, I think the injuries on the defense point to the importance of a man who suits up with the offense. Philip Rivers is playing fantastic, Gates is playing like he is Benjamin Button aging backwards. The offense is clicking . The reality is this week’s 21 points still would have been enough to beat Denver’s effort from last year.
Of course, the Denver Mannings have gotten better since last year, so have the Chargers. But timing is everything and not having a healthy Ryan Mathews made the difference.
I have been shaking my head a lot the last couple weeks listening to local sports radio and reading the message boards proclaiming that Branden Oliver is ready. We don’t need Ryan Mathews, we have number 43, right?
I do think Oliver is a hidden gem. The Chargers scored big time in finding him. He may be the reason Ryan Mathews doesn’t return or takes less money to stay. However, you are out of your mind if you don’t think Ryan Mathews is not the number one missing factor between last year’s result and this week.
The run game this week was pathetic, until the last garbage time run just before the clock went zeros, your rushing leader was Philip Rivers with 17 yards. Take away that 23 yarder at the end of the game, and Oliver barely managed to get double digits. Even if you count that run Oliver was still out gained by Danny Woodhead in last year’s Thursday night game.
That night, Ryan Mathews was the reason the Bolts won and now it is more clear than ever. Mathews had 29 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, the Chargers controlled the ball for 39 minutes of the game. Peyton Manning, being a rhythm QB, only managed the Broncos as they had a 10-3 late in the first period before the Chargers went on several long scoring drives. Manning’s offense gained 13 yards on the 13 plays, over four drives during which they went three-and-out three times and picked up a total of one first down. (With Marshall and Wright on the corners by the way).
Without the power Ryan Mathews brings to the running game the Broncos would not have been held to their season low scoring output. Instead of driving us nuts with his Omahas we got the sideline shots of grumpy Peyton twiddling his thumbs.
Denver’s defense is improved no doubt. Certainly Oliver faced more of a challenge, but I believe at least a half a dozen of those plays where Oliver was stuffed at the line would have 5 or 6 yards for a wrecking ball like Mathews.
Go back and watch a game with Mathews. Charger fans, don’t be prisoner of the moment. Ryan Mathews was the MVP of December last year, and had the Chargers had him this last week, their chances to beat the Mannings would have a lot more likely.
David Agranoff can’t stand Peyton Manning, but loves the Chargers. He is the author of three horror novels you can buy on Amazon if you into that kinda thing. His novels include The Vegan Revolution…With Zombies, Hunting the Moon Tribe and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich. Follow him on Twitter @DAgranoffauthor or look him up on Facebook.
I hope I’m not alone in wondering what in God’s name has happened to the Chargers (statistically) highly rated defense through the first five weeks. They sure as hell didn’t show up the past two weeks.
I am beginning to think John Pagano’s unit looked so good through the first five weeks was because of the play of Philip Rivers and the offense, not due to their own play. You can afford to attack with apparent reckless abandon when you’re playing with a lead and against teams that stink.
I’m beginning to think that the Jets and Jaguars are worse than anyone really suspected to be held at bay by the Bolts’ defense the way they were. I say this because Oakland exposed them with a rookie quarterback and a glass running back. In that game, they let a rookie quarterback have all day to throw the ball and he picked the defense apart to the tune of 282 yards and four touchdowns on 18 completions. Fortunately, the Raiders being the Raiders, shot themselves in the foot over and over again with penalties and dropped passes. The Bolts defense also gave up 5.7 yards per carry to Darren McFadden, who ran for 80 yards against the Chargers “vaunted” defense.
On Sunday, the Chiefs beat the Chargers at their own game, keeping Philip Rivers and the offense on the sidelines for 39 minutes. The defense let a game manager in Alex Smith complete 19 of 28 passes, many uncontested because of soft defensive coverage or just plain old poor execution. Jamal Charles ran for 95 yards to the tune of 4.3 yards per carry and the Chiefs converted on seven of 14 third down plays. Again, Kansas City’s dropped passes kept the Chargers close. Let’s not forget how the defense sat on a lead in Arizona, playing soft and letting them stay in the game and ultimately win it. Anyone else seeing a theme here?
So far, this year has been a tale of two John Pagano defenses. There’s the passive defense that cost a Week 1 loss in Arizona, a near loss in Week 6 in Oakland and a loss Sunday against Kansas City. This passive defense was also on the field when Seattle scored quickly, allowing themselves to stay within striking distance. Then there’s the swarming, attacking defense that factored in blow out wins against Jacksonville and the Jets.
What is the message here? To me, it’s elementary. The defense has to attack and not wait for the play to come to them. They have to play aggressively with 11 players. If they’re without Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers, then Richard Marshall, Shareece Wright, Chris Davis and company need to step up their play and play up on receivers instead of giving them so much cushion. Donald Butler needs to show up. We haven’t seen the Donald Butler of past seasons at all this year.
Pagano’s unit needs to play with discipline, not leaving lanes wide open for the likes Derek Carr and Alex Smith to scamper through for positive yardage. This game was a display of tackling you would expect to see in a powder puff game. Sorry kids, but my mother tackles better than the Chargers did on Sunday. Nobody was immune from the missed tackle syndrome. There were countless whiffs, ball carriers running through tackles and failure to finish tackles. If this is the performance the defense brings to Denver on Thursday, it’s going to be a long night.
Tell me, am I wrong? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for taking time to visit the site.
Mike Pisciotta (@hawk_pie on twitter)
Rumors out of Chargers Park state that the knee injury suffered by Shareece Wright may not be as serious as it initially was thought to be. Kevin Acee of UT San Diego said that Wright is not practicing and he’s limping around while watching practice.
Wright’s play has improved and he is an important part of the San Diego secondary. With Jason Verrett on the shelf last week, the cornerback position was dealt a huge blow when Shareece went down. Verrett was limited today in practice but the hope is that he’ll be able to go on Sunday against the Jets at Qualcomm stadium.
Brandon Flowers was able to snag his first interception as a Charger last week and his play has been solid through the first quarter of the season. His addition alleviates a little of the stress concerning Wright’s injury, but the team is better when Shareece is on the field.
Should both Wright and Verrett be unable to go, the former is definitely out, the Chargers have Richard Marshall, Steve Williams and Chris Davis in reserve spots on the defense. Davis has been inactive but he could be called upon to contribute on gameday should the secondary be missing Jason in addition to Shareece. Marshall has seen plenty of playing time thus far after transitioning to the safety position. He plays in most of the sub-packages and knows the playbook well. It will be interested to see how he is used if the team needs him to play some corner. Similar to Marshall, but not as often, Williams has been out there, as well. He has struggled a little bit, but his speed is undeniable. Although this is his second year in the NFL, he missed all of the 2013 regular season as rookie after being injured during last year’s preseason.
Wright joins a litany of banged up Bolts. As has been written on this site by multiple writers, the injury bug has multiplied and swarmed the Charger team with force. Injuries happen to all 32 teams, but it sure seems as though San Diego is being bitten over and over again.
Moving forward, John Pagano will have to be creative when putting together his defensive lineup due to missing players. It is also very important that the front-seven creates pressure to help out the defensive backs while dealing with missing players.
When looking at week 5, the Jet offense has both Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley as their starting wideouts. They are two completely different receivers. Having Wright in the lineup would have been very helpful. Decker is a big-bodied receiver while Kerley is a smaller, quick pass catcher.
Wright might be missed most against the New York running game. He is solid in run support as evidenced by his play this season and last. He is not afraid to stick his nose in there and wrap up opposing ball carriers. But, as Mike McCoy and the entire San Diego coaching staff would say, “Next man up.”
The night that all Charger fans had been waiting for has come and gone. Sadly, the evening ended with San Diego beginning the season in the loss column.
Although the Cardinals left the field with the victory , and they deserve credit for walking away with the win, an argument could be made that the Chargers beat themselves. That argument could easily be won by the side that stands behind the fact that San Diego’s self-inflicted mistakes cost them the game.
Below I’ll list some of the major mistakes that led the Bolts to their first loss of the 2014 season.
– Rivers missed Floyd on a deep post ( overthrow )
– Offensive line play was poor for the most part
– 8 total drops
Royal 3 drops
Gates 3 drops
Floyd 1 drop
Allen 1 drop ( on the 4th down play at the end of the game that would have kept the drive alive )
– Freeney whiffed on two sack opportunities
– Ingram missed one sack, and had opportunities for two others
– Mathews was not utilized enough ( only 12 carries )
– Weddle dropped an interception
– Gilchrist dropped an interception ( Overall he had a bad game )
– Richard Marshall is….. Richard Marshall
– Rivers and Ohrnberger combined on a missed shotgun snap while in field goal range
– Reich seemed tentative and scared in his playcalling
– Ladarius Green only played 24 snaps ( only two catches )
– Multiple penalties and poor play in the secondary plagued the defense ( secondary is still improved from last year )
All of the aforementioned mistakes equal a true recipe for disaster and a loss. An optimist would say that the silver lining is that the Chargers can eliminate this multitude of mistakes. A pessimist will expect more of the same.
This game is only one of sixteen regular season contests. Everyone can stow away their inner Chicken Little feelings. There is still a ton of football left to be played. The expectation around Chargers Park is that these errors will be corrected going forward.
The next test coming up happens to be the defending Super bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. It goes without saying, the Bolts need a near flawless gameplan on offense and defense to come away with a victory on “White hot Sunday.”
The tedious summer is gone. Fall is here and with it we have made it through the offseason hullabaloo. The NFL Draft, free agency, training camp, OTA’s and most importantly, preseason games and final cuts are OVER! It is time for some live action, these games count FOOTBALL!!
I did get to watch all four of the Chargers preseason games and was mostly impressed with what I saw. GM Tom Telesco has shown a deft touch at finding talent that can make an impact. Donald Brown is going to be a great insurance policy for Ryan Mathews. The few games he had in Indianapolis as the feature back showed he has the ability to carry the load of a number one running back. Brown is a great depth add. He will make his mark before the season is over.
Speaking of Mathews, he had a great 2013 season. For the first time in his pro career he played in all sixteen games. Considering it was his third season before he accomplished the feat doesn’t sway me. Those who have read my columns for any length of time know I am not a fan of 24, but I do applaud his effort last season. Mathews’ hard running spearheaded the Chargers second half surge into the playoffs. This is his contract year and a subpar showing will have him looking for employment elsewhere. For the Chargers sake, I hope he can repeat his success from last season. My dream scenario is Mathews mirrors last season’s production, the Chargers win the Super Bowl in the process and Mathews leaves willingly as he overvalues himself and goes to the highest bidder in the offseason.
I am encouraged by the wide receiver group for the first time in a long time. It’s great to see Malcom Floyd back on the field and looking good in the preseason games. Keenan Allen spent the offseason working on his speed. He looked plenty fast last season but he was working his way back from a knee injury that dropped his draft stock into the third round where the Chargers scooped him up as the steal of the draft. If he’s actually increased his speed running on a now fully healed knee, the Chargers will feature two legitimate vertical threats and a quarterback that is one of the top deep ball passers in the league.
Speaking of deep threats, Dontrelle Inman has been very impressive in the preseason and has gotten raves in camp. Inman has been sure handed, looks good running routes and has also shown the ability to get down the field in a hurry. I’m excited to see Inman on the field with Rivers putting the ball on him in stride. Add Eddie Royal and a stable of fast, uber-athletic tight ends and the field will be littered with great targets for Rivers. There is enough speed on the offense to make Chip Kelly jealous. No one is talking about the Chargers.
I also like the defensive back depth. They are unproven commodities but last year’s fifth round draft pick Steve Williams will be making plays on the field. Williams may have missed his entire rookie year but he now knows the defense and all there is left to do is apply what he knows to the field in real game action. First rounder Jason Verrett will see plenty of playing time. Brandon Flowers was in the Pro Bowl last season, and that was coming off what was statistically his worst season of his NFL career! There are a lot of plays and game impact that can’t be quantified by numbers.
Add to the mix the incumbents Wright, Gilchrist and Marshall (although he’s being converted to safety) and the Chargers now have something they’ve lacked for a long time, a playmaking secondary. My biggest gripe about the defense is they don’t get interceptions. There are quite a few dropped interceptions but the Chargers defensive backs have seemed allergic to interceptions. Usually there’s a defensive lineman who has as many interceptions as anyone in the secondary. Last season the Chargers had a paltry 11 interceptions. Defensive backs had five led by Gilchrist with 2, while defensive linemen had 4. Two picks came from Weddle at the safety position.
My other concern is run defense. Not to put too much stock in the preseason but the Seahawks ran all over the Chargers first team. Conversely, the 49ers couldn’t run against the Chargers defense at all. The best backdrop to use is recent history. Last season San Diego allowed 107 yards per game on the ground. Blame injuries and instability at nose tackle but it needs to be fixed if the Chargers are going to make the playoffs. This season they face great running backs like Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, Zac Stacy, CJ Spiller and Ray Rice (lest we forget 4th and 29). Stopping these running backs are key to making the playoffs.
As I wrote in a recent column, no one is more excited to see Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich hand Philip Rivers a shiny new toy called the no-huddle offense. This is the same system Peyton Manning used in Indianapolis during the height of his powers. This offense also has aspects of the K-Gun offense run by the Buffalo Bills during their run of four straight Super Bowls in the early 90’s. Reich was Manning’s quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis during his run and Reich was Jim Kelly’s backup quarterback in Buffalo. Now Rivers gets to run an updated version of the same offense.
There are few quarterbacks in the league as cerebral as Rivers. There’s not a page of the playbook he doesn’t know upside down and inside out. There’s not a defense he hasn’t seen, no situation he hasn’t been in. With the defense unable to substitute regularly inbetween plays Rivers will have time to find the weak link in the defense and exploit it. To boot, he has the offensive personnel needed to make it successful. This could be the last wrinkle to the Chargers becoming a Super Bowl winning team in the near future. This team is going to take the league by surprise and by the time they show up on everyone’s radar, it will already be too late.
The Greg One
The final cuts have come and gone. All 32 teams reduced to the league-mandated 53 man roster. Now the games begin. Teams kept players they hope to sneak through waivers to put on the practice squad while they comb through the waiver wire to look at the 600+ cuts made across the league, looking to fill any gaps they feel still remain.
With these cuts come the uninformed comments on social media saying let’s go sign this guy or that guy. Why? Because he has a name they recognize. Ironically or not, the same folks making these statements are the ones pushing the panic button over a 2-2 preseason record. In the interests of keeping it clean, I will refer to these folks as “star chasers”.
Let’s take a look at a couple of these and why the desired is an ill-advised move for the Chargers.
Champ Bailey. Released by New Orleans, his best years are clearly behind him. While there’s no disputing his first-ballot Hall of Fame credentials, he doesn’t belong wearing lightning bolts. At 36, he’s lost a step too many and had an injury-plagued training camp. Besides, the cornerback position looks pretty strong with Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett, Steve Williams, Shareece Wright, Richard Marshall and rookie Chris Davis.
Michael Sam. He didn’t survive the Rams’ final cut and no team picked him up. I’m not worried about Sam being a distraction for the Chargers. After all, the whole Mantei Te’o circus blew out of town after he was drafted last year without as much as a whimper. Could his being open about his being gay scared teams away? Maybe, but why is Sam not a fit for the Bolts? He played Defensive End in college in a 4-3 scheme and the Chargers employ a base 3-4 defense. A 4-3 DE is a lot different from a 3-4 DE or OLB. A 4-3 DE doesn’t drop back in coverage and that can’t be taught over night. Again, with Jerry Attaochu, Dwight Freeney, Melvin Ingram, Jarret Johnson and Tourek Williams, barring injury of course, OLB isn’t a high concern.
Leon McFadden. OK, I get it. He played for the Aztecs. He was released by the Browns, kids! The Cleveland Freakin Browns! At any rate, the Jets claimed him anyway. The Chargers play the Jets in Week 5, so maybe we’ll be crying in our Cheerios, maybe we won’t. Besides, who would he replace?
Some times we as fans spend too much time dreaming and grasping at players because of their name without looking at whether they’d even be a fit for our team. As fans, we have to look past the name and look at the player’s fit against scheme and against the current roster.
The passion for our team is fantastic, but let’s stop and think before we start chasing names.
Editor’s Note: In this piece Peter Silberberger breaks down the defensive battles per position. Due to injuries along the defensive line, other spots on the defense may suffer cuts in order to supplement needs up front.
Tom Telesco has not ignored the need for help at the cornerback position. In fact, depending on health, it may now be a strength for the Chargers. While we haven’t seen any glaring dominance, what we have seen is how teams and players are reacting to San Diego’s rotating defensive back units.
A few things stand out. Richard Marshall was given snaps at safety during the San Francisco game. This action likely speaks to some final roster thoughts. Carrying any more than three full time safeties would cut into the other needs of depth for the team. Addae, Stuckey, and Weddle are all locks, and having part-time corner Marcus Gilchrist and a veteran like Marshall able to fill in occasionally makes the defensive backfield strong and flexible.
Teams seem more than willing to throw at Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall, but not so much toward Verrett or Flowers. Granted, the two starters from last year’s squad are labeled poorly when it comes to 2013 pass defense rankings, but with the two new faces around, it looks as though John Pagano will have plenty of options. It should also be noted that neither Flowers or Verrett have seen much playing time as of yet, but their reputation and speed respectively seem to affect the number of attempts thrown their way.
Steve Williams and Crezdon Butler have both had a rough go with actual game speed and play calling. Chris Davis, however, has been all over the place throughout training camp and on game tape. If today was 53-man cut down day, Davis would be getting the nod over both other reserves.
Brandon Ghee had seemingly disappeared completely during preseason, and found himself on the chopping block during first cuts, which finalized Tuesday. Marcus Cromartie was sent to injured reserve on Tuesday, as well.
These moves leave the door open for either Steve Williams or Chris Davis, but likely not both with Gilchrist around. The team will likely total seven cornerbacks, including Gilchrist, which is a lot already. Don’t expect there to be eight.
Defensive Line/ Outside Linebackers:
At first glance, it appears that Pagano’s traditional 3-4 defense has some definite holes to fill in prototypical positions. The defensive tackle position is shaky at best, and the end depth is thin. Questions of how and where Dwight Freeney will be best utilized are still relevant, and there’s a lot of unproven talent walking around.
The team released reserve DE Damik Scafe and lost rookie prospect DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe for the year to an ACL tear. Telesco, doing what he does, pulled in two cuts from around the league in Doug Worthington and Joe Kruger. Worthington projects as a 4-3 lineman and Kruger mostly the same, although a more athletic frame may allow him to dabble in a standing position.
All of this maneuvering seems to overlap with the theme of this roster build, and its versatility. It would appear that Mike McCoy’s nature of playing the schemes which best fit his personnel has caught on with his coordinators. That being said, any personnel being brought in this late will have to be adaptable. Guys like Worthington, Kruger, and other roster hopeful Cordarro Law will have to be able to fit into multiple positions in order to make the team. This could, perhaps, be unfortunate news for a guy like Thomas Keiser.
Although noticeably productive, Keiser is viewed as a bit of a one-trick pony. It’s not that the Bolts don’t need pass rushing outside ‘backers, it’s that they already have those guys for those specific sets. Ingram, Attaochu, Johnson, Tourek Williams, and even Reggie Walker can all fill that role easily. If guys like Worthington, Kruger, or Law make this roster over Keiser, it will be because of their ability to play in multiple defensive sets, as well as contribute on special teams.
The defensive tackle position is a different story entirely. Kwame Geathers and Sean Lissemore have been at the top of the depth chart for some time. That being said, Lissemore is battling an injury and Geathers was sent to injured reserve on Tuesday, ending his season. Enter rookies Ryan Carrethers and Tenny Palepoi. Both have the prototypical build to anchor the traditional 3-4 line, but both are very young. They’ll collectively get all the snaps they can handle, which is great for their growth process. Suddenly, however, the team lacks playable veteran mentors at the position.
One thing most know about Tom Telesco is that he is never without options. The opportunistic GM will be closely watching the waiver wire as teams trim rosters to 75 this week. If he sees a bargain, he’ll certainly grab it.
Another option is long time NFL veteran free agent Ryan Pickett. The ex-Packer lives in San Diego and has expressed interest. The good there is clearly the wealth of experience and ability to teach, as he once did for Packers DT B.J. Raji. Pickett would almost certainly have to see veteran minimum salary as a must in this situation, which is also team friendly. The bad is likely his 34 year-old physique may not be what the Bolts are looking for.
It’s more in Telesco’s nature to find a second or third year guy who couldn’t squeeze onto a roster somewhere else in the league. In order to keep the talent level high, Telesco will likely wait and watch the final week with the guys already around. This will serve two purposes. One, it will give every snap available to the two rookies for invaluable experience in real-time. Two, it will allow for Telesco to wait for the perfect guy to add when final 53s are announced by Friday. There are tough decisions being made all over the league this week, and teams such as the Patriots and Broncos could be cutting some serious talent on the defensive line.
By the end of this week, Lissemore and Carrethers will be Chargers for sure, but don’t be surprised if Palepoi is challenged by a Telesco find. If that were the case, the battle for the roster spot could take place during the final preseason game. If not, and Tenny struggles, he may very well lose his spot to a more trusted veteran come Friday.
With the versatility of guys like Reggie Walker and Marcus Gilchrist, the inside linebacker and safety positions seem to be sewn up. So, while watching Thursday’s game, it’s D-Line, outside linebacker, and cornerback where the 2014 San Diego Chargers will be focused on finalizing the roster.
Can Chris Davis keep his momentum going in his duel with Steve Williams? Will newly added athletes in the front seven push Thomas Keiser out? Will there be another addition to the defensive tackle position by Wednesday afternoon? The final game of the pre season is supposed to be practically unwatchable to the average football fan. Good thing Charger fans are anything but that.