With Wednesday’s news that cornerback Jason Verrett is done for the season due to a partially torn ACL, the San Diego Chargers have re-signed cornerback Steve Williams, according to the team’s official website.
In a corresponding move to make room on the roster for Williams, the Bolts waived defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers.
Williams, 25, was the team’s fifth-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft. Possessing blazing speed, the undersized Williams was released in order for the Chargers to sign cornerback Pierre Desir.
The former Cal Bear spent two weeks with the Los Angeles Rams, both weeks of which he was inactive.
The 2016 season will mark Williams’ fourth year with the Bolts. During his short career, one that saw him miss all of his rookie season due to injury, Williams has amassed 29 total tackles, seven passes defensed, one sack and two interceptions.
According to Chargers.com, Williams will be wearing the No. 41 jersey, as his former number of 23 has been taken over by defensive back Dexter McCoil.
Carrethers, also a fifth-round draft choice, but in 2015, participated in 20 games with San Diego, including three starts. The defensive lineman had been inactive for all four of the Chargers’ four regular season contests in 2016.
Carrethers flashed some ability at times, but had found himself on the outside looking in when it came to reps during the offseason.
Though he has been waived, should he clear waivers, the team could possibly bring him back onto the practice squad, which in turn would mean another move would be coming to a roster/practice squad that has already seen a ton of fluctuation.
Dave Booga Peters
Though we are not sure as to whether or not the Chargers’ first-round pick, Joey Bosa, will play in Week 5 against the Oakland Raiders, we do know that defensive tackle Damion Square will be back in the fold after serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
“I made a mistake,” Square said via ESPN.com right after news of the suspension came down. “It’s one that you always want to take back, but you can’t take it back. So you just take it and move on; it’s one day at a time. My teammates accepted me, which I knew that they would, because this is a great group of guys.
“You always wonder how a mistake like this is going to affect your job, but it is one day at a time.”
The fourth-year veteran will be playing in his third season with the Bolts. Sparingly used throughout his tenure with San Diego, the 6-foot-2, 293-pound defensive lineman has tallied 10 total tackles, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery over his career. Though those stats are very unspectacular, Square was making his presence known at times last season and during the preseason.
If nothing else, he can provide starters such as Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget a breather from time to time, keeping them fresh. As it stands now, former fifth-round pick Ryan Carrethers has been inactive each week due to his inability to make an impact.
I would envision that Square would immediately leapfrog Carrethers on the depth chart and be active on game days.
Dave Booga Peters
Finally! The Chargers begin the 2016 regular season today on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Per a report from Marty Caswell of The Mighty 1090 via Twitter, the team has announced its inactives for the game.
Chargers inactives- Max Tuerk, Kenny Wiggins, Tyreek Burwell, Adrian Phillips, Isaiah Burse, Ryan Carrethers, Andre Williams
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) September 11, 2016
On another note, B.J. Kissel, a Chiefs’ reporter, has reported that running back Jamaal Charles will be inactive for today’s game, too.
The countdown to San Diego Chargers training camp 2016 now stands at four days. The eyes will be trained to look for the faces we know. There will be many more faces we don’t know which will require a look into the program to see who’s making head-turning plays on the field. In an effort to provide as many advance primers as possible, today, I turn my player spotlight on Carlos Wray.
Wray signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft. The 6’1″, 287-pounder was the anchor of the Duke Blue Devils’ defense as their defensive tackle. Versatile, Wray was moved all over the field starting out as a defensive lineman, then to guard in his second year on the team. He had the most success his final two seasons in Blue Devils’ blue when he was moved to defensive tackle. In those two seasons he logged 86 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes defensed.
At the Duke Pro Day, Wray ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds; impressive for a man his size. He posted 26 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, broad jumped nine feet and showed a 28.5-inch vertical leap. NFL scouts love his wide body, high motor and fundamentally sound skill set, even though he’s only been playing defensive tackle for two seasons. After watching the video below, it’s obvious he was born to play defensive tackle.
Wray was the unquestioned leader of the Blue Devils’ locker room and those leadership attributes will translate well in the NFL. The line forms behind Brandon Mebane when it comes to nose tackles for the San Diego Chargers. The mix at DT currently consists of Corey Liuget, Sean Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers, Damion Square, Tenny Palepoi and Wray.
There is opportunity to take a slot on the depth chart for Wray. If he can bring the same intensity and passion he played with at Duke to Chargers Park, he has a great chance of staying on the roster. As a native North Carolinian and ACC homer, I will definitely be pulling for Wray to make the team.
What do you think? Do you like what you see? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow Carlos on Twitter: @The1st_Montana
Good luck, Mr. Wray.
The Greg One
Since being drafted with the 18th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, defensive end Corey Liuget has made his name known throughout the league.
Though he has yet to receive a Pro-Bowl nod, offensive coordinators know the name Cory Liuget.
The Chargers’ defense has lacked a true nose tackle for years and years; this has made Liuget’s job immeasurably more difficult, as he faces double-teams and chip blocks while already being engaged by an offensive lineman on the regular.
To put it quite simply — especially when you add in the fact that he has yet to have an impact player at the opposite defensive-end spot — Liuget’s job has been exponentially more difficult while opposing teams gameplan against the former Illinois’ defensive lineman.
General manager Tom Telesco used the 2016 offseason to provide Liuget with some serious help via free agency and the draft, adding former Seahawk Brandon Mebane at nose tackle and the No. 3 overall pick in the ’16 draft, defensive end Joey Bosa out Ohio State.
A defensive line featuring Liuget, Mebane and Bosa should automatically strike fear into the opponents that are on the schedule for this upcoming season.
Teams are going to be forced to pick their poison, so to speak: “Who the hell do we focus on when attempting to block the Chargers’ defensive line?”
For the time being, gone are the days of John Pagano’s unit forcing players like Sean Lissemore to play out of position at nose. Now that he is playing in Washington, the Bolts no longer need to force the issue of hoping that former Charger Kendall Reyes will return to his rookie playing days; you know, when he actually made an impact.
Though the Chargers are in a base-nickel package more than 60% of the time, the aforementioned players will still be manning spots along the team’s defensive line in multiple sets and schemes.
If Mebane is able to replicate the impact he had during his eight-year career with the Seahawks, and Bosa can live up to the hype of being the first non-quarterback selected in the 2016 draft, then Liuget will be freed up to make a ton of noise, forcing him into the mouths of media pundits all over the NFL.
A.J. Smith – Although I hated the pick at the time, you nailed it when you decided to take Liuget in the first round.
The fact that outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu are finding their ways into box scores helps give more credence to my thoughts. Ingram had a career-high 10.5 sacks in 2015, while Attaochu added six sacks of his own.
The 2015 addition of Denzel Perryman at inside linebacker further lends itself to further back up my point. Perryman immediately started blasting opposing players as soon as he was inserted into the starting lineup. His play and impact made the move to release Donald Butler an easy call.
The 2016 season will end with Corey Liuget being named to his first Pro Bowl.
Write it down and book it.
All this young man has needed was a “little help from his friends.”
He has now received said help and as long as the three defensive lineman listed above stay healthy, the sky’s the limit for this defensive unit.
The Bolts’ defense has solid depth along the defensive line in Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers, Tenny Palepoi and Damion Square.
The Chargers’ defense has improved dramatically on paper, but it is up to players like Liuget to take advantage of each and every opportunity in order to maximize the talent in place.
Don’t sleep on this Chargers’ defense in 2016.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The San Diego Chargers have been very busy on this first day of free agency. Moments ago it was reported the Bolts have signed defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to a three-year contract. Terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed.
Mebane, was a key member of the Seattle Seahawks at the height of their ‘Legion of Boom’ run of dominance, anchoring the middle of the defensive line. The 31-year old nine-year veteran stands 6’1″ and tips the scale at 311 lbs. A picure of durability, he has only missed 13 games in his career. A hamstring injury in 2014 was responsible for seven of those thirteen absences.
Taken in the third round of the 2007 draft, Mebane compiled 329 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries in Seattle. Mebanes’ reputation is that of a disruptive force in the middle that specializes in pushing the pocket and stuffing the run. One of the top rated interior linemen on a yearly basis, Mebane will push past Sean Lissemore and Ryan Carrethers as the starting nose tackle next season.
Kudos to GM Tom Telesco and the Chargers front office for bringing in impact players on day one!
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 defense of the 2016 Chargers will most likely have a completely different look than that of this year’s squad. With multiple coaching changes possibly on the horizon, including at defensive coordinator, we’ll all have to wait and see how that plays out.
Some of the needs on the defensive side of the ball are quite obvious, finding a replacement for free safety Eric Weddle, while others may not seem to be as high on the priority list, adding a defensive end opposite of Corey Liuget.
The defense has some nice pieces in place that the team can build around, including cornerback Jason Verrett, defensive end Liuget and inside linebackers Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman.
Here are the defensive positions I believe are worthy of being upgraded as we head into the 2016 offseason.
Nose tackle – Talking about the Chargers’ defense needing a nose tackle seems incredibly redundant, as the team hasn’t been able to find a true nose tackle since the days of Jamal Williams.
Yes, it has been that long.
If the organization continues to employ John Pagano as its defensive coordinator (which they shouldn’t), general manager Tom Telesco and his scouting staff must find a player to man the middle of the defensive line in this 3-4 alignment. The Chargers run more nickel and multiple-defensive-back sets than they do their base defense, but a lot of that has to do with available players, down and distance, the NFL being a passing league and playing from behind far more often than not.
Although second-year defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers has flashed some ability, he is inconsistent and his durability is in question. Carrethers lost a bit of weight during the 2015 offseason, but he may benefit by losing even more weight and sliding over to the defensive end position.
Sean Lissemore was acquired in 2013 from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a seventh-round selection. He has made plays here and there, but he isn’t necessarily built to take the wear and tear of an NFL nose tackle. He would be better suited to play end. The six-year vet has ranked third in tackles among the team’s defensive linemen over the last two seasons.
Finding the optimal, space-eating nose tackle could be seen as a top priority for the team, but Telesco will need to be careful over-drafting a player due to position of need.
Free safety – Similar to the Antonio Gates’ situation, writing about the team needing to replace free safety Eric Weddle seems unfathomable. After all he has contributed to the Chargers after being taken in the second round of the 2007 draft, the organization decided that they would not be extending Weddle’s contract during the offseason or regular season in 2015.
Being in the last year of his contract, No. 32 is set to test free agency in 2016. Replacing a savvy player like Weddle will be exponentially difficult to do. You cannot bring in a rookie to fill the void left by Weddle’s imminent departure. That is not to say that you can’t find a rookie or young player to groom at the position, but do not expect the same impact that the nine-year veteran provided, especially when looking at his multiple years as an All-Pro and Pro Bowler.
Strong safety – As if the task of finding a free safety isn’t daunting enough, the defense may also need to find a long-term solution at strong safety.
Starter Jahleel Addae has struggled in coverage and gets beaten far more often than one would like. He may provide the threat of a big hitter, but he tends to miss tackles, going for the monster hit as opposed to wrapping up.
The strong safety spot has been neglected since the days of Rodney Harrison. Like Jamal “The Wall” Williams, Harrison set the bar extremely high when it came to finding his successor. It has been way too long since the team had a true enforcer in the secondary.
Defensive end – Due to the lack of a dominant nose tackle and little help at the other defensive end spot, Corey Liuget is not having the impact that you would hope for from a guy who just signed a multi-year extension worth $51 million. Now that Liuget has been placed on season-ending injured reserve, the team has been rolling with Kendall Reyes, Ricardo Mathews, Damion Square and rookie Darius Philon at the defensive end spots.
Pass rusher/Edge – Although outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu have started to heat up as the season has progressed, the team still lacks a dominant pass rusher.
As the Chargers enter Week 17, the team is currently tied for 24th in the league with only 30 sacks (only six teams are posting lower sack totals). Ingram leads the club with 9.5 sacks, while Attaochu is sitting at 6.5 quarterback takedowns.
The Bolts have finished in the bottom-third of the NFL in sacks for the better of the last half of a decade. Simply put, in a passing league such as the NFL, that is clearly not good enough.
Finding a legitimate threat as a pass rusher should be paramount for Telesco entering the 2016 draft.
Due to the fact that I truly believe Jason Verrett is the “answer” at cornerback, and Patrick Robinson is more than capable of taking over the second corner spot, I didn’t include corner on this list. Steve Williams seemed to come on as he saw more playing time.
Truthfully, the selection of Craig Mager in the third round is still mind-boggling, but who knows at this point. Perhaps a switch to one of the safety positions would allow Mager to shine as a member of the Chargers’ secondary.
Not-so-breaking news: Liuget really needs help along the defensive line. The prime of his career will be wasted if the team does not do what it takes to ensure he isn’t asked to do too much.
I like Ingram and Attaochu, I really do, but I just don’t see opposing defensive coordinators losing sleep over the duo while game planning for the Chargers. Adding a viable third option to the position, again, should be a major focus during the offseason.
I hate to say it, but Pagano has to go. He hasn’t shown that he can change games with his defensive game plan often enough to overcome the defense’s inability to tackle properly, create pressure or force turnovers.
As you can tell from this post, there is a lot of work to be done, and that is only on the defensive side of the ball.
I’ll be writing about the offensive needs in the next few days.
Thanks a lot for reading.
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.
There are a lot of candidates for the Chargers to have a breakout season. Narrowing it down to just five guys is a very tough project. But here are my choices for the five that will most likely breakout.
Quick note: I am not putting Ingram in this, although I do believe he will breakout. I wrote about that separately. You can read it here.
5.) Center, Chris Watt
Chris Watt has been selected by the Chargers’ coaching staff to be the heir apparent to Nick Hardwick. He played in a few games there last season (as did 4 other centers) before ending his season with an injury. From all the reports I have read, it seems like the former Notre Dame guard is picking up the center position very quickly and looks to be a very solid replacement.
4.) Nose Tackle, Ryan Carrethers
Ryan Carrethers, a fifth-round draft selection in 2014, is a very big and athletic nose tackle. He was starting to understand the pro game last season, coming into his own before his season ended with a dislocated elbow in the week 11 game versus the Raiders. I think he eventually takes over the starting NT job from Sean Lissemore, and has a very nice impact on stopping the run on defense.
3.) Inside linebacker, Manti Te’o
With the addition of linebackers coach Mike Nolan, you could really add any LB here. I went with Te’o because he seemed to improve his played late during the 2014 campaign. He was having a really nice year last year after coming back off a foot injury. If he can stay healthy this season, expect him to continue to hone his skills and become a solid force for years to come.
2.) Wide Receiver, Stevie Johnson
Stevie Johnson had really fallen off the map after his three best seasons in Buffalo. Those strong years were followed by two sub-par seasons; one with Buffalo, and one with San Francisco. Stevie Johnson signed a three-year deal with San Diego in the offseason. Philip Rivers and Johnson have built a strong rapport in the few months they have been working together. Look for a huge season from SJ11.
1.) Cornerback, Jason Verrett
Jason Verrett is going to have a monster season….. if he stays healthy. He has all the ability and talent to become a legitimate No. 1, lockdown cornerback. The one big flaw to his game is he needs to cut down on the big hits and keep himself healthy, a thing that has hurt him his senior year at TCU and his rookie season in the NFL. I do think Verrett has learned from his past injuries and now will focus on staying healthy. He will have the biggest impact on this Chargers team in 2015. He will lead a unit that comes in with big expectations (from me), and I believe they will live up to those.
Honorable mentions: LB Donald Butler, OLB Kyle Emanuel, S Jahleel Addae, WR Keenan Allen
Who do you think will breakout this season? Let me know below!