When looking at the Chargers’ injured-reserved list, it is clear that there are a few names which jump out immediately.
One of those marquee names who suffered a season-ending injury is Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett, who was placed on injured-reserve after suffering a partially torn left ACL.
Verrett, 25, played through the ailment for two games leading up to the Week 5 contest against the Oakland Raiders, who happen to be his childhood team.
The former Horned Frog would not play against the Raiders, as his fate was sealed by the aforementioned diagnosis above.
Shortly after the injury, the stud corner stated that he would have surgery in a couple of weeks.
On Wednesday, Verrett took to Twitter to announce that he had undergone surgery and it was a success.
Surgery was a success!!! I’m built for this. Preciate all the prayers 🙏🏾 ..Ima attack this and bounce back stronger 💯
— Jason Verrett (@Jfeeva_2) October 19, 2016
Not having Jason in the Bolts’ defensive backfield is a huge loss for the Chargers’ defense and team as a whole, but it is encouraging to know that his surgery was a success.
The 25th pick in the first round of the 2014 draft has been slowed by injuries throughout the course of his young career, missing games in 2014 (10 games missed), 2015 (two games missed) and, of course 2016 (played in four games; set to miss 12 remaining games).
Though we won’t be seeing Jason Verrett on the field until 2017, I can certainly say that I am looking forward to his return.
In Verrett’s absence, and due to the concussion issues with Brandon Flowers, the Bolts’ cornerbacks group is down to only Casey Hayward, Craig Mager, Pierre Desir, Steve Williams and Trevor Williams, all who will be tasked with stopping the high-flying passing attack of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7.
Dave Booga Peters
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
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!
In a move announced by the San Diego Chargers Saturday, defensive lineman Corey Liuget and cornerback Brandon Flowers have been placed on season-ending injured reserve. The 3-9 Chargers are playing out their last four games and looking forward to having two of their benchmark players healthy and at full speed when training camp begins for the 2016 season.
Liuget is listed on the injured reserve report with an undisclosed foot injury. Whatever the nature of his injury is, it’s enough to limit the 300 lb. defensive leader and coaches to decide to end his season early. The 26-year old Liuget just signed a five-year extension in the offseason. He will finish the season with 34 tackles (28 solo) and three sacks.
Flowers is listed on the injured reserve report with a knee injury. This will bring to an end what has been a rough season for the All-Pro cornerback. Flowers has been battling injuries all season and has found himself on the tail end of a number of touchdown passes during the Chargers recent six-game losing streak. The Pro Bowler also signed a four-year contract extension during the offseason so his future with the team is secure and he will be needed more come 2016 than he is now. Flowers’ season comes to a close with 33 tackles (29 solo), one sack, four passes defensed and no interceptions.
Hoping to fill the void left behind by these two stalwarts will partly fall on the shoulders of unproven cornerback Steve Williams and nose tackle Darius Philon. Williams was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. His time on the field has been limited by various injuries. Philon was selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft and this will be his first game action since week three as he has been recovering from knee and hip injuries.
The timing of these moves couldn’t be worse as the Chargers head into hostile territory to take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. At this point of the season it’s best for all involved to let the young guys play extended minutes, rest the vets and see what needs will have to be addressed once the season comes to a close. Perhaps there is still a hidden diamond in the lump of coal that has been this season.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers went into Sunday’s road game against the Baltimore Ravens knowing it was a make-or-break game. Despite a litany of injuries to key players throughout the game, the Chargers found themselves in a tied game with minutes left to go. A costly pass interference penalty on Steve Williams put the Ravens in position to boot the game-winning field goal as time expired. Baltimore succeeded on the attempt and sent San Diego flying back across the country with a 29-26 loss.
The loss is the fourth in a row for San Diego, the sole occupant of the AFC West cellar with a 2-6 record. Even more frustrating is the fact that the Chargers could easily have the inverse of that record as three of their last four losses have literally occurred on the last play of the game. The Bolts are easily the best 2-6 team in the league, but there are no moral victories in the NFL and there are definitely no moral playoffs.
The sky is indeed falling in San Diego.
The lightning bolts on the Chargers’ helmets are supposed to symbolize lightning striking the opponents. Instead, the lightning has been striking each other. In the Baltimore game alone, twelve players went down with injuries. Most notably, Keenan Allen, King Dunlap, Ladarius Green and Corey Liuget did not finish the game on the field. To add insult to injury, only Allen did not leave Baltimore in a walking boot.
Injuries have been the undoing of the Chargers.
There has been no shortage of negative stories coming out of Chargers Park this offseason. There were contract issues with Eric Weddle and Philip Rivers. Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd are ready to call it a career after the season. The potential relocation to Los Angeles has been a black cloud that has loomed over the entire season. Fans have been apathetic when it comes to showing their team pride at games. Visiting teams have said playing San Diego on the road was like playing in their own home stadium. And speaking of home stadiums…on second thought, enough has been said to that end without anyone having anything relevant to say.
The Chargers needed a great season to put all the negative feelings, stadium and relocation talk on hold and focus on football. Instead, the losing and recent NFL Town Hall meeting has bolted those issues to the forefront once again. The fans are stomping mad about the product on the field.
Should they be?
Four of the Chargers six losses have occurred on the final drive of the game. San Diego is holding together with duct tape and bubble gum on both sides of the ball, especially the offensive line. The running game has been nonexistent but they are the number one offense in the league. Philip Rivers has been remarkable considering the pounding he’s taken and the number of bodies of his offensive linemen growing exponentially each game.
You would have to delve deep into the record books to see the last time the No. 1 quarterback in the NFL through eight games was on the last place team in his division. The Chargers’ record does not reflect their effort. Sadly, the record is all casual fans will see and the outrage will give way to more apathy.
As if that weren’t enough, on Tuesday, Keenan Allen, Branden Oliver and Tourek Williams were all placed on injured reserve, ending their seasons. Allen was on the way to shattering records. He suffered a lacerated kidney on his highlight-reel touchdown on Sunday. Oliver was more decisive in his running than Gordon. While his yards per carry was slightly less (3.7 to 3.5), he outgained Gordon in the passing game (8.6 to 5.2 yards per catch). Williams had missed the entire regular season but looked to be close to returning.
What hope is left in this season?
San Diego has a schedule that lends itself to a long winning streak. There are five AFC West games as the Bolts have only played the Raiders to this point. Of their remaining eight opponents, only Denver and Oakland have winning records. Their non-conference opposition (Chicago, Jacksonville and Miami) have a combined seven wins.
Their chief opposition, Denver, is done with the cupcakes of the league and now face the meat of their schedule with games against Indianapolis, New England, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in addition to their conference schedule.
If San Diego can string together wins, and most importantly beat Denver, they can realistically challenge for a wild card spot. Winning the West is out of the question barring a complete Denver implosion, but stranger things have happened in the NFL. Yes, this is the glass-half-full viewpoint, and I’m one of the few who still has it. To quote the X-Files, I want to believe. I still do believe.
How about you? Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Leave your comments below.
The Greg One
The excitement surrounding the secondary of the 2015 San Diego Chargers was palpable heading into the regular season. What they lack in size – as not one is taller than 5-feet-11 – they make up for in experience. Consider that the on-field leader for these men is eight-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle, a guy who is matched in intensity only by the Bolts’ offensive signal caller, Philip Rivers. There are only two other Pro Bowlers in this unit, Brandon Flowers and Darrell Stuckey. For a bunch of men who were primarily drafted in rounds one through four, they should be performing at a high level. At least that is how it shakes out on paper.
Chargers fans are quite obviously frustrated with the product appearing on the field these past four weeks. So, what seems to be the problem? Injuries have a role, but so do ridiculous penalties when the team has the opponent stopped and a chance to get the ball back into the hands of No. 17. What lengths do secondary coach Ron Milus and his assistant Greg Williams have to go to so that this bunch does what it is paid to do? With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town for a Monday Night game, and even if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t under center, this unit needs to be prepared.
Let’s review some of the issues through the first month of the season.
First and Foremost: Get healthy, stay healthy!
Of the four designated starters: free safety Eric Weddle, strong safety Jahleel Addae, left cornerback Brandon Flowers, and right cornerback Jason Verrett – only Weddle has started each game. Opposite him, Addae has been nursing a sore ankle since the Cincinnati game. Additionally, Flowers (knee/concussion) and Verrett (foot) have been in and out of the lineup. Milus has had his own merry-go-round to manage due to injury, shuffling corner/safety Jimmie Wilson as well as safety Adrian Phillips, plus corners Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams into the lineup. Rookie cornerback Craig Mager was finally on the field against the Minnesota Vikings only to be inactive last week with a bum hamstring. As of this writing (Friday) Addae, Verrett and Mager are still on the injury report though with limited participation in practice. Who suits up this week will be of utmost importance against the Steelers.
Although there have only been five penalties, the fact remains that they have come at inopportune times. Two by Verrett gave the Cincinnati Bengals a new set of downs TWICE; both were 15-yard personal foul infractions. In the game against the Minnesota Vikings, Williams was flagged for a costly pass interference (PI) which set up the Vikings at midfield rather than punting. Against the Cleveland Browns last week, Williams was called for illegal use of hands. And in the same matchup, Flowers was nailed for a PI which fortunately only cost six yards. Five penalties in four games by just the secondary is not conducive to winning. This area needs to be addressed.
Tackling by the numbers
As per usual, Weddle leads the posse with 38 combined tackles (29 solos), plus half a sack. Addae has managed four solo tackles in two games. Flowers has collected eight solo tackles (10 total), while Verrett has been credited with six overall (4 solo). The back-ups (Wilson, Robinson, Phillips and Williams) collectively have 42 tackles, a forced fumble (Robinson) and two picks (Robinson versus Detroit and Williams at Minnesota). In 2014, the secondary was responsible for six interceptions on the year. Is having two thus far a good measuring stick for Milus’ men? Time will tell.
Despite the secondary undergoing a bit of upheaval early in the season courtesy of the injury bugaboo, Milus and Williams seem to have their group on the right path. However, they will need to step it up and play smart. Meaning, no getting beat, no dumb penalties, no blown coverages. Monday’s AFC divisional face-off with Pittsburgh will be a turning point as the Bolts’ secondary will need to play it tight – keep Antonio Brown and company in check.
Here’s to execution being stellar this week!
Thanks for reading!
The Chargers have been incredibly busy this week reshuffling their roster. The team announced today that they have added cornerback Carrington Byndom. Formerly of the Carolina Panthers, Byndom played in five games last season for the Panthers (two of which were in the postseason).
In a corresponding move, the Bolts released quarterback Brad Sorensen. The seventh-round selection of the 2013 draft has had multiple stints with the Chargers, spending time on both the active roster as a rookie, and various times on the team’s practice squad. He has yet to throw a single pass in a regular season game in the NFL.
The addition of Byndom shows that the team did not feel confident in the numbers it had at the cornerback position. The unit finished with only two players last week in their loss against the Minnesota Vikings (Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams).
Starting cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett have both been banged up with knee and foot ailments, respectively. Rookie third-round draft pick Craig Mager is battling through hamstring issues. According to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Mager is not expected to play this Sunday at home against the Browns.
Both the secondary and the offensive line have been decimated by injuries early on in the 2015 campaign. The latter being hit harder than the former.
The San Diego Chargers look to improve a defense that ranked 10th in total defense (4th vs. pass, 26th vs. run). Of the Chargers’ five draft picks, four were made on defense. Today we’ll take a look at the cornerback position and how the Bolts will look to improve on a pass defense that received little support in the form of a pass rush from the front-seven. Here’s a look at who the Chargers have in camp at the present time:
Brandon Flowers: The 29-year-old made an instant impact after he signed last offseason after being released by Kansas City in a cost-cutting move. He made the most of his one-year ‘prove it’ contract, and re-signed with the Chargers on a four-year, $36 million deal.
According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers was the number one cornerback in the NFL for the first eight weeks of the season before he missed games with numerous injuries including concussion, groin and ankle maladies. He managed to perform in 14 of the Chargers 16 games despite being banged up, recording 52 tackles (48 solo), three interceptions and 10 passes defensed. Now entering his eighth season, Flowers looks forward to continuing his ‘big brother’ role to the Bolts’ young group of cornerbacks.
Jason Verrett: The 2014 first-round draft pick was having an excellent season opposite Flowers until his year was cut short by a torn labrum in week six. The resilient rookie tried to return in week eight against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but only succeeded in aggravating the injury. The Chargers placed him on IR after week 10.
Flowers and Verrett ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Pro Football Focus cornerback ratings while they played together. Losing both, at times, forced others to step up and fill some “large shoes.” Verrett compiled 19 tackles (18 solo), one dramatic, game-saving, late fourth quarter interception versus Oakland and four passes defensed in six games. A healthy Verrett is going to greatly improve the secondary and he is most likely to man the right corner position opposite Flowers.
Patrick Robinson: A 2010 first-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints, Patrick Robinson signed a one-year contract with San Diego in March. In five seasons, he’s logged 180 tackles (150 solo), one sack, nine interceptions with one forced fumble and 46 passes defensed. Robinson bounced back strong in 2014 after rupturing his patellar tendon in week 2 and missing the rest of the 2013 season.
Last season, Robinson defensed 11 passes with two interceptions and 39 tackles. Robinson also found his way into New Orleans head coach Sean Paytons’ doghouse as he was benched repeatedly. Hopefully, his tenure in San Diego can mirror the second chance Brandon Flowers received. He will be the leading candidate for the number three cornerback in the rotation at this point. It is worth noting that after struggling on the outside, he picked up his play once given the opportunity to play the nickel-spot in the New Orleans’ defense. Robinson may end up be a sleeper signing for the Charger defense.
Steve Williams: Looking to get his career on track, Williams finally found the field in 2014 after missing all of the 2013 season with a pectoral injury. He played in 13 games, recording 10 tackles with two passes defensed. Drafted by the Chargers alongside his college teammate Keenan Allen, the Cal Bear got onto the Chargers radar after exhibiting freakish athleticism at the combine with 4.25 speed in the 40, 10’8″ broad jump and 40.5 inch vertical jump. The Chargers still hold out hope that their 2013 fifth-round choice can fully apply his skills and stay on the field. He should see an opportunity to compete with Robinson for the nickel role, and continue to see snaps on special teams. His speed makes him an asset on both defense and special teams.
Chris Davis: Entering his second year out of Auburn, Davis played in 12 games for the Chargers, contributing mostly on special teams. The team found value in Davis in the kickoff return game, where he averaged 25.1 yards on 19 returns. After assuming those duties in the November 2nd Dolphins’ game, Davis may have found his role as the team’s return specialist. Known for what will arguably stand as the greatest return in college football history in the 2013 Iron Bowl, Davis looks to repeat his success in San Diego while also playing more on defense. Davis has shown flashes of playmaking capability, and he can be an important piece to a championship team if he can sustain his health and continue to improve in 2015.
Craig Mager: When the team’s 2015 third-round draft pick name was announced on day two of the draft, it came with a collective chorus of “Craig Who” on social media and team message boards. But fans, and the league, will soon know his name. The Chargers are very high on the Texas State cornerback. At the combine, Mager ran a 4.44 in the 40, broad-jumped 10’10” and had a 38-inch vertical jump. Mager developed a reputation as an aggressive tackler in the secondary while in college, as he was named to the second team All-Sun Belt Conference for 2014. If he can adjust to the immense jump in talent from a mid-major conference in college football to the elite level of the NFL, Mager will pay dividends sooner rather than later.
Richard Crawford: A new face that will be ready for action, Oceanside native Richard Crawford is a third-year pro. Originally a seventh-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft, Crawford had a successful season culminating with an interception of Tony Romo in week 17; one that clinched the Redskins a playoff spot. His momentum came to an abrupt halt, as he suffered ACL and LCL injuries in the 2013 preseason that caused him to miss the entire season.
Crawford was eventually cut by the Redskins, and then added to the Chargers’ practice squad in week nine of last season. In his one season in Washington, Crawford recorded 18 tackles (13 solo), two passes defensed, one fumble recovery, one interception and also contributed on special teams. His 64-yard punt return against Baltimore secured the field position needed to kick a game-winning field goal. As a result, the ‘Skins got the overtime win over their in-state rival. Crawford will provide healthy competition for cornerback and punt return duties.
Greg Ducre: Still looking to make an impact, Ducre is a second-year pro out of Washington. Last season, Ducre signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent. He was signed off the practice squad by the Washington Redskins. In a two-month span, he played one regular season game and was then released by Washington the next day. The Chargers then re-signed Ducre to the active roster where he has remained ever since.
Ducre adds a much-needed speed element to the Chargers secondary. At Washington’s pro day, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 and 4.34 seconds. He recorded a 35-inch vertical jump and 10’6″ broad jump. In the one game he played for Washington against San Francisco, he recorded an interception of Colin Kaepernick. His athleticism speaks for itself. But can he do it if called upon to do so in San Diego? Ducre faces an uphill battle to find his way onto the roster.
Manuel Asprilla: The undrafted free agent out of Boston College did not miss a game after getting to play three games into his freshman season at BC. A tackling machine, gathering 201 tackles (142 solo) and 15 tackles for loss. Asprilla had four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 23 passes defensed over his collegiate career. It will be a long shot for Asprilla to make the 53-man roster, but the Chargers have a long history of finding undrafted free agent gems. Practice squad is always a possibility.
This crop of cornerbacks has a boom-or-bust feel to them. If Flowers and Verrett can stay healthy all season, they can again be an upper top-10 tandem that could give the Chargers a legitimate top-10 defense. With a year of experience in the system, it stands to reason, that both will be even better than last season. San Diego missed the playoffs by one game last season. That tandem could have made up that one game.
Robinson was a great signing and will contribute right away. The rest of the field are all athletic freaks with speed to burn and off-the-charts leaping ability. When you consider the fact the Bolts don’t have a single member of the secondary that stands six-feet-tall or better, physically gifted athletes are a necessity when you look around the league at the tall, fast wideouts in the league now.
This is a group that will be charged with facing the best receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson, in week one. In week two, they will have to cover A. J. Green. They stand 6’5″ and 6’4″ and run 4.35 & 4.5 respectively. Add in a double shot of Demaryius Thomas, plus Jordy Nelson (both 6’3″), and it’s easy to see the Chargers’ secondary will be tested all season. Paired with Eric Weddle and the group of safeties he leads, the Bolts will boast a formidable secondary; if they can stay healthy and improve on their woeful takeaway totals (seven interceptions, one safety, 11 fumble recoveries).
This is a group that is full of promise, but can they deliver? What do you think Bolt Nation?
The Greg One
With the 2015 NFL draft quickly approaching, Chargers fans are anxiously waiting to find out what General Manager (GM) Tom Telesco has up his sleeve. As usual, rumors are running rampant as fans, talking heads, writers, and so-called experts try to predict the future. Will Philip Rivers be traded? Will the Chargers look to bolster a weak defensive front, or will they look to add another play maker on offense? If the Chargers keep Rivers, will they draft an heir apparent? With all of these questions looming before the big day, Chargers fans have one thing in common. They have to place their trust in the hands of Tom Telesco.
Let us take a look at Telesco’s track record drafting players for the Bolts. The following is a list of all of the players that Telesco has drafted in the last two years, it they are a starter, and how each of them has done with the team. Take a look and decide for yourself if you think Telesco has an eye for talent.
Before you inspect Telesco’s acquisitions, remember that most people will tell you that it takes at least three years before you can truly assess the result of a draft. Some players are ready to start in their rookie season, others not until they have had a chance to learn. Still others just do not pan out. The word “bust” will not be used to describe any of the draft picks as the players who were drafted high have not had a long enough period of time to prove themselves. The players drafted in the later rounds were never expected to become stars in the first place so to label them a bust would be unfair to all involved.
Now, read the following list and let me know what you think of Telesco’ efforts so far.
Rd Player Position College
1 D.J. Fluker OL Alabama
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Played through injuries (started 31/32 games)
Notes: Fluker was an immediate impact player for the Chargers. His large body and nasty attitude was just what the battered offensive line needed. Fluker held down the starting right tackle position at a level rarely seen from a rookie. Fluker took what many would consider a step back in 2014. No one is sure whether his apparent regression was due to injury, or the rest of the league discovering that he struggles to cover the outside speed rush. There were even times last season when some of the stronger defenders in the league physically pushed Fluker around. That was not expected and leads one to believe that his injuries were greater than let on. Many have questioned if Fluker will be moved to right guard next season. At this point the Chargers say that they are happy with him at tackle. We will see what the draft brings.
2 Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Missed much of rookie year (13 starts in ’14)
Notes: As a much heralded linebacker, coming out of college, hopes were high for Te’o. Some over-zealous Bolts fans even went so far as to hint that he may be the next coming of Junior Seau! Unfair expectations, a pre-draft scandal, and a serious injury combined to make his rookie season less than impressive, to say the least. In fact, those same fans that were calling him a savior were beginning to call him a bust. After so much time missed in his rookie season, Te’o came into 2014 as basically a red-shirt freshman. Throughout the season he continued to learn and grow as a player. He started 13 games in ’14 and recorded 80 tackles, one sack, and seven passes defended. He may not be the next coming of Junior, but there is every reason to be optimistic where Te’o is concerned.
3 Keenan Allan WR California
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Injured late in ’14 season (29 of 32 starts)
Notes: Tom Telesco had to be happily surprised to find that Allen had not left the board by the time the Charges third round pick came around. It didn’t take long for Allen to define his role on the team as an impact player. In his rookie season, Allen excited Chargers fans as he racked up 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. With an average of over 14 yards per catch, it appeared that Allen was ready to take over as the Chargers number one receiver in 2014. A sophomore slump of sorts was the reality for Allen in 2014. He did not have a bad season. In fact, his reception total went up from 71 to 77 catches. The problem was that even with more receptions, his total yards dropped to just 783 yards for an average of just over 10 yards per catch. It appears that Allen is becoming a very good possession receiver, rather than a down field threat. With some new additions at WR for 2015, we may see Allen move to the slot where he will not be lined up against the number one defensive back. He should see resurgence in 2015.
5 Steve Williams DB California
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Injured for entire rookie season (10 tackles in ’14)
Notes: Steve Williams went down to injury almost immediately in his rookie season, so in his sophomore year he was more like a “red-shirt” freshman. He still had a lot to learn and had to get ready physically for the daily grind of the NFL. Williams only appeared in 13 games last season with just 10 tackles. Hopes are still high for Williams, although his time to progress is now. If Williams expects to be a weekly contributor to the Chargers defense, he must be greatly improved in 2015.
6 Tourek Williams DE Florida International
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Although Williams has not had any major injuries since joining the Chargers, he still has yet to show that he can be an impact player in the NFL. He did manage to rack up six starts his rookie season, but declined back to zero starts in 2014. Perhaps expecting more from a sixth round pick is unfair, but many Chargers fans are growing tired of having their front seven get pushed around in the trenches. Much like Steve Williams, if Tourek Williams wants to have a bright future in the NFL, he needs to step up his game now.
7 Brad Sorenson QB Southern Utah
Still on Team: Yes (PS) Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: The Chargers took a flyer on Sorenson in hopes that at the very least he could be a quality back-up for starter Philip Rivers. In his rookie season, Sorenson showed promise in the pre-season, but was only active on four game days. The Bolts let him go for part of the 2014 season as Tennessee snatched him off of their practice squad. After failing to impress in Tennessee, he found himself back on the Chargers practice squad later that season. This upcoming pre-season should be a make or break time for Sorenson’s career.
Rd Player Position College
1 Jason Verrett DB TCU
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Injured (6 games played in ’14)
Notes: It only took until week three of the 2014 season for Verrett to crack the starting lineup. His coverage skills along with his ability to tackle proved to Chargers fans that Chargers GM certainly got this pick right. Unfortunately, after only four starts, Verrett went down with a collar bone injury and was unable to return. If Verrett heals well and continues to show the skills he showed in his rookie season, he could be a huge asset for the Chargers defense. The only concern about Verrett is that at 5’9” and only 189 lbs, will his body be able to withstand the pounding of the NFL? Time will tell.
2 Jeremiah Attaochu LB Georgia Tech
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Healthy (11 appearances in ’14)
Notes: Although his rookie year with the Bolts was not exactly remarkable, he did show signs that perhaps there he is a diamond in the rough. He never cracked the starting lineup in ’14, but with the departure of several linebackers, 2015 looks like his time to shine. It is still way too early in Attaochu’s career to decide if this pick was a winner or a bust.
3 Chris Watt OL Notre Dame
Still on Team: Yes Starter: Yes Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Drafted for immediate depth and a future starting role, Watt found himself thrown right into the mix in his rookie season. So much for learning by watching, he was given a baptism of fire in 2014. Not only did he play in 11 games, he started five of them! Not only did he start five games, but he started them at a position his was unfamiliar with, center. Yes, the early injury of legendary Charger Nick Hardwick was key turning point for the Chargers last season. Four different players tried to fill Hardwick’s shoes, but honestly none were up to the task. Considering Watt was new to the position and the league. Chargers coaches seemed more impressed with Watt and his potential than the other would-be centers. Currently, Watt is projected to start at center in the upcoming 2015 season.
5 Ryan Carrethers DT Arkansas State
Still on Team: Yes Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Carrethers had a tough time in his rookie season. Playing nose tackle (NT) is no easy task in the NFL and he found that out in a hurry. Carrethers appeared in six games for the Bolts in ’14 and had only one start. Unfortunately, the NT position proved to be an Achilles heel for the Chargers all season. Chargers NTs were being pushed around like they were on roller skates much of the season. Carrethers was no exception. Currently, the Chargers have not addressed their need at NT. It will be a battle between Carrethers and Sean Lissemore to see who starts next season.
6 Marion Grice RB Arizona State
Still on Team: No Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Grice had a decent pre-season for the Bolts, but it was not enough to beat out fan favorite Brandon Oliver at running back (RB). It didn’t take long for Grice to find a new home as he was signed by Arizona and played for the Cardinals the remainder of the season. His rookie year was less than impressive as he gained a modest 41 yards on 15 carries, with just one touchdown.
7 Tevin Reese WR Baylor
Still on Team: No Starter: No Health Status: Healthy
Notes: Reese did not do enough to make the Chargers roster in the 2014 pre-season. He did however show enough talent to land a spot on the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad. He did not make the active roster at any time for the Bengals last season.
So, after two drafts and 12 picks, Tom Telesco has found five starters, a large number of games missed due to injury, and two players signed to other teams. Not a bad haul after just two drafts, but not exactly what legendary GMs are made of. Just like the players, it is only fair to not judge too harshly the effectiveness of Tom Telesco. He has done a nice job of filling holes as they have arisen. He also did not have much cap space to work with after inheriting the mess that former GM, A.J. Smith, left him. Telesco deserves at least one more draft before anyone should celebrate or condemn the job he has done. One thing for sure, Telesco and his staff are doing everything they can to find the best talent available.
How do you feel about the job Telesco has done so far? Are you still a believer? Has he lost his luster? Let me know below. I look forward to answering your comments.
In case you slept through Friday, unplugged for the day or live under a rock, you’ve heard Kansas City’s QB Alex Smith won’t play Sunday against the Chargers due to a lacerated spleen. What you may have missed is that this does not change anything on Sunday.
Chase Daniel, Kansas City’s backup QB, will start in Alex Smith’s place. Last year, with a playoff berth already secured, Daniel started the season finale in San Diego with 19 other backups, a game in which the Chargers narrowly escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory. In that game, Daniel connected on 21 of 30 pass attempts for 200 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Jamal Charles sat out that game, but Knile Davis ran 27 times for 81 yards. Daniel added 59 yards of his own on the ground.
That said, a Charger victory in this season’s regular season finale in Kansas City is not a foregone conclusion. Last year, everyone said that with KC’s backups, it would be a cake game. Far be it from me to throw ice water on the pom pom parade, but a loss in Kansas City ends the 2014 season for San Diego. Lock, stock and barrel.
The key to this game is in the hands of John Pagano and the Charger defense. In all reality, the game plan should remain the same: stop Jamal Charles and you stop the KC offense. Make the quarterback beat you. Rewind to Week 16 in San Francisco. Take away Colin Kaepernick’s 90-yard run in the 3rd quarter which featured glaring whiffs by both Melvin Ingram and Eric Weddle, the defense made the right adjustments and stymied San Francisco’s running game.
Easier said than done
How to stop Charles, you ask? It’s easier said than done, but Pagano needs to put eight in the box. These eight men (front-7 plus the aforementioned Weddle) need to maintain gap discipline. The front three need to tie blockers up (HINT: Chargers need a stud NT like they had in Jamal Williams). ILBs Mantei T’eo, Donald Butler, Andrew Gachkar and Kavell Conner need to be clean and crisp in their tackling. Whiffs cannot happen. And the proper angles toward opposing ball carriers must be taken.
Billy, don’t be a hero
Chargers defenders need to tackle, tackle and tackle some more. Heroism is not appropriate, and may be idiotic when it comes to proper tackling. First man, or two, to get a hand on the ball carrier need to wrap him up, then let the cavalry come in for the strip. All too often, it seems the first man to the runner goes for the ball instead of the tackle. Get the runner on the ground, limit the big plays and play for the third down stop.
Secondly, stop the pass
Concussion protocols notwithstanding, Shareece Wright needs to take a back seat to Steve Williams. Against San Francisco, the ball was thrown in Williams’ direction six times for three completions and a pedestrian 15 yards. I think it’s safe to say that’s a better performance than Wright has produced. With eight in the box, the Chargers’ corners and safeties, Flowers and Williams/Wright/Gilchrist/Addae, et al. will have to play press man coverage. The defense is better when Pagano employs press coverage.
The key to beating the Chiefs and advancing to the postseason is to stop Jamal Charles. It’s that simple, kids. Force Chase Daniel, with limited reps, to have to try to beat the Chargers. Do this, and they’ll advance to the Wild Card Round.
Thanks for reading!