Going into Week 13, the San Diego Chargers practically have a full team on injured reserve, placing 18 players on the season-ending list!
I am sure the Chargers can say there is not enough room on the airplane for the players on IR this season and actually mean it.
Here are the players on IR and the date they were placed on it.
May 16th: Brock Hekking (OLB): Charger fans have yet to see what talent this second-year linebacker has to offer. He missed all of 2015 with a foot injury and was placed on IR in 2016 with an undisclosed injury suffered early in training camp.
August 15th: Stevie Johnson (WR) Johnson suffered a torn MCL during practice on July 31st. The nine-year veteran signed with the Chargers in 2015 and had 497 yards with three touchdowns.
August 15th: Sean Lissemore (NT) Lissemore was hoping to come back in 2016 after hurting his shoulder at the end of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, he was not able to recover from the injury and was placed on IR.
August 22nd: Jeff Cumberland (TE) Cumberland had signed a one-year deal with the Chargers after playing six years with the Jets. The tight end suffered an ACL injury in the preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
August 30th: Zamir Carlis (DT) The 6-foot-4, 275-pound rookie out of Stillman College suffered an ankle injury during practice. The severity of the injury is undisclosed.
August 30th: Donavon Clark (G) The 2016 seventh-round pick from Michigan State suffered a torn ACL injury against the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason.
August 30th: Tyler Johnstone (T) The rookie from Oregon suffered an undisclosed injury during training camp.
August 30th: Branden Oliver (RB) Most of us watched Oliver tear his Achilles tendon in the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. Chargers were hoping to have the hard-hitting Oliver back after he missed half of 2015 with a toe injury.
August 31st: Javontee Herndon (WR/KR) The wide receiver suffered a knee injury on July 30th. He played eight games in 2015 and had 195 yards receiving. Herndon also was used in return duties.
September 12th: Keenan Allen (WR) After missing most of the 2015 season, the Chargers were excited to get top-ranked receiver KA13 back on the field. Then, much to the chagrin of Chargers fans and fantasy football players, he suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the regular season. Six offensive plays into the 2016 season and your No. 1 target is gone for the entire year.
September 19th: Danny Woodhead (RB) After Chargers fans saw Keenan Allen go down in Week 1, they saw Woodhead go down in Week 2. The mighty back also suffered a torn ACL.
September 28th: Manti Te’o (ILB) Hoping to finally play a full season after suffering injuries in his first three years, Te’o only made it to the third game of the regular season. The team captain suffered a torn Achilles in the loss against the Indianapolis Colts.
October 7th: Jason Verrett (CB): Verrett suffered a partially torn ACL injury and was placed on IR after the fourth game against the Saints. Verrett was not able to pinpoint when the actual injury happened and therefore most likely continued to play despite the injury.
October 10th: Nick Dzubnar (ILB) The second-year undrafted linebacker from Cal Poly SLO also tore his ACL in week six against the New Orleans Saints. He had six tackles before his season-ending injury.
October 25th: Caraun Reid (DT) Reid tore his ACL in Week 7 against Atlanta. Reid was signed this year after his first two years with the Detroit Lions.
November 5th: Dexter McCluster (RB) If it wasn’t bad enough that so many players were going down on the field of play, McCluster got injured off the field. The running back, signed due to injuries, broke his arm at his home carrying furniture.
November 22nd: Brandon Mebane (NT) The veteran nose tackle, who played nine years with the Seattle Seahawks, made a huge impact on the defense. Sadly, he tore his biceps muscle in the hard-fought loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 10.
November 29th: Jerry Attaochu (OLB): Attaochu broke his foot against the Houston Texans in Week 12. The third-year linebacker had six sacks last year and two this year.
Here is a very scary thought: Nine out of the 18 players on the injured-reserve list have knee injuries, while six of them suffered ACL tears.
Injuries should never be used as an excuse for losing in the NFL but having 18 players out for the year is excessive, to say the least.
Let’s look on the bright side: despite a 5-6 record, the team has been in every contest this year. Each of their six losses have been by eight points or less. That says a lot about a team with so many key players on IR.
It will not be easy, but the playoffs are not out of reach for the Bolts… yet. I just hope they can stay healthy for the last five games, giving them a shot to earn an invite to the postseason.
Thanks for reading!
The Chargers looked to move back to .500 in Week 10 as they faced the Dolphins at home before heading into the Bye Week. Unfortunately, huge mistakes in key situations lead to the Miami Dolphins stealing this game away from the Chargers.
Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of another heartbreaking Chargers’ loss.
Tyrell Williams– 5 REC, 126 YDS, TD
With Travis Benjamin out with a knee injury, Tyrell Williams stepped up in a big way, as he has done pretty much all season. You have to love Tyrell’s ability to find ways to get open and his desire to learn from his mistakes. After running the wrong route and getting chewed out by Philip Rivers and Mike McCoy, Williams made up for his error the very next play with a game/momentum changing 51 yard touchdown reception. You almost wonder if Tyrell would have come this far if this team still had Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. None the less, look for Tyrell to get even better after the bye week, sans any injury setback.
Chargers Defense– No Denzel Perryman or Jatavis Brown? No problem. With those key injuries, this rag-tag defensive unit did their job in key moments in the game, especially Korey Toomer who lead the way with ten tackles and one assist. In addition, this band of misfits was able to hold the NFL’s leading rusher, Jay Ajayi, to 79 yards on 19 carries. Even if I didn’t agree with John Pagano’s play calling at key moments, you can’t blame the defense for this loss. The defense kept the Chargers in it until the end and with the upcoming bye week, this defense should get even better; getting Brown and Perryman back from injury,
Worth a mention– Trevor Williams, Melvin Ingram and Melvin Gordon.
In four games with nine penalties on one player, there comes a time where you have to rethink who is out there. It would be okay if Joe was good at his job. The truth is he’s not. In those four games he has been consistently beat at the point of attack, allowing Rivers to be sacked on multiple occasions. With the present bye week, the coaching staff needs to see that just because he is healthy, Barksdale is just not getting it done. Can they please try Chris Hairston or DJ Fluker at the right tackle position?
Offensive Line Pass Protection
In addition to Barksdale, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how bad this line was as whole. For the second week in a row, Rivers continued to find himself looking up at a blue San Diego sky. Three times last Sunday, Rivers was probably wondering if his line would ever protect him. This has been a consistent problem that can only be fixed by a short, quick passing game and running the ball far more consistently.
Philip Rivers– 23/44 326 YDs, 3 TDs, 4 INTs
After the game Rivers took all the blame for the team losing on Sunday as he should have. This team lives and dies by his success and struggles. Rivers struggled a lot on Sunday throwing four interceptions; three of which were in key points of the game. The first one of those three came off of a rare Dolphins turnover, giving the Bolts a 1st and goal at the five yard line. Rivers looked like he just wasn’t paying attention to zone defense as he threw into double coverage for an easy interception. Tough to come out of that situation with no touchdown – let alone no points at all.
The second came as the Chargers were driving down the field late in the game – trying to get in field goal range for a game winning score. Philip was baited into thinking Kiko Alonso was blitzing, As the ball was snapped, Kiko instead backs out into zone stepping in front of the first read. Tyrell Williams. and took it back for the Dolphins go ahead score. Finally, on the game sealing interception, #17 is again looking for Tyrell who wasn’t even open on the play. He forced it, instead of looking elsewhere or taking the sack and live to fight another down.With the upcoming bye week, its time for Rivers to rest up. Get Travis Benjamin back and hoping Williams gets 100% healthy he will try to get this team back into the thick of things if it’s not too late.
Situational Play Calling- Too many times this season have we seen this team get bogged down in the redzone. Why? Because we run the same predictable plays every time we get to the opponents twenty yard line or closer. Where was the screen passes? Where was the quick slants? We ran a screen to Melvin Gordon on a crucial third down and he was able to gain a ton of yards. Yet we only ran the screen again with a failed screen to Antonio Gates. Lets be realistic for a moment: Screens are for speedy and shifty players in the open field. Gates is none of those at the back-end of his career. Quick slants were one of the factors in the Chargers victory against the Tennessee Titans the previous week. Yet against Miami, the offense went away from the bread and butter.
Most of the season, the question most asked is “Why didn’t the charger run the ball (in key situations)? I’m aware Gordon was getting stuffed for most of the game, however Ayaji was also getting stopped but the Dolphins had no problem running it in twice in the red-zone. So if San Diego fired Frank Reich last year for these same issues, why does this continue to happen? The answer is Mike McCoy who seems to have some sort of say in these situations. If this is the case, Mike has to go this week. He is holding this team back from being good or great. I for one have seen enough of this McNorv experiment and its time to move on. I hope that during this time off, the “powers that be” make the right decision and let McCoy go. A change is desperately needed, although I highly doubt this organization has any guts to do it.
Worth a mention– Dwight Lowery
News out of Chargers Park is that ANOTHER player is lost for the year due to injury.
Monday we learned it is defensive end Caraun Reid. And as has been the sickening norm for this team, it was an ACL tear to the big end’s left knee.
Reid sustained his injury in the first quarter of the Atlanta game after being hit in his lower leg as he planted his foot. Linebacker Denzel Perryman was heading for the pile and just caught Reid’s knee.
Claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions roster, the 6’2, 302-pounder (Princeton, round five of 2014 draft) has been with the Chargers for about six weeks. Filling in while Joey Bosa (2016 draft first round #3) nursed his sore hamstring, Reid has been a contributor on the defense. In 103 snaps he collected five combined tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
That notable highlight occurred in the week three game at Indianapolis. Rookie linebacker Jatavis Brown strip-sacked Andrew Luck and Reid scooped up the ball, taking it to the house 61 yards and tying the game at 13 all.
While announcing Reid’s situation, McCoy said “Caraun came in on the very first day and did an outstanding job. He’s a smart player that picked our system up in a hurry and made some big plays for us.”
If anyone is counting, including Reid, that makes TEN – yes, I said TEN – players lost to season-ending injuries. Five of those ten are to the knee and have occurred in the last seven weeks. Here’s the long and incomprehensible list:
Keenan Allen – torn right ACL, week one vs the Chiefs
Danny Woodhead – torn right ACL, week two vs the Jaguars
Jason Verrett – torn left ACL possibly sustained in the Jaguars game
Nick Dzubnar – torn right ACL, week four vs the Saints
And of course, Caraun Reid from yesterday.
Though it was not his ACL, the Bolts lost Manti Te’o to a torn left Achilles’ tendon early in the Colts game.
On top of those, what about the non-contact injuries that besieged the team before the 2016 campaign even began:
wide-out Stevie Johnson tore his meniscus in training camp
tight end Jeff Cumberland was lost to a torn Achilles’ during the pre-season game against Arizona
rookie guard Donavon Clark tore his right ACL in the Arizona contest
change of pace back Branden Oliver had his right Achilles’ snap during the Minnesota game
It is ONLY Week 7 and that list is scary!! I don’t know if there is any other NFL team playing right now that has had the upheaval to their roster that San Diego has endured. There are still nine weeks to go to the end of the season.
I shudder to think what the “football gods” have in store for this group of men and the accursed injury phenomena as time rolls by. Every time a man goes down, I cringe and pray it is just a minor hiccup and they’ll be back quickly.
Time for the CBA to be re-evaluated. Some teams don’t lose any players, some one or two. But to have TEN is like looking at an emergency room full of wheelchairs!
Sorry to see your name added to that list, Caraun Reid. Your presence on defense will be sorely missed.
The San Diego Chargers have placed veteran running back Danny Woodhead in the injured-reserve list with a season-ending ACL tear, via the team’s official website.
In a corresponding move, the Bolts signed former Colt and Dolphin wideout Griff Whalen.
We’ve signed WR Griff Whalen and placed RB Danny Woodhead on IR with an ACL injury.
— San Diego Chargers (@Chargers) September 19, 2016
Whalen, 26, worked out with the Chargers recently and was signed partially due to the loss of wide receiver Keenan Allen. The Detroit native stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 190 pounds.
Prior to be adding to the Miami Dolphins’ roster this past offseason, Whalen hauled in 45 receptions for 487 yards and three touchdowns while playing three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts.
Whether or not Whalen will stick on the roster remains to be seen, but the Bolts could certainly use another receiver in the fold.
Dave Booga Peters
With wide receiver Stevie Johnson going under the knife today, the San Diego Chargers moved quickly in signing a wide receiver to fill his spot. Moments ago, San Diego signed former-Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones. Terms of the deal are yet to be disclosed.
According to reports, the Chargers’ had also worked out Brian Hartline and Lance Moore.
Jones, 32, surprisingly was not brought back to Green Bay after he stepped in last season following the injury to star wideout Jordy Nelson. All Jones did was lead the Packers with 50 receptions for 890 yards and eight touchdowns. This year, Jones finds himself in the same position; called out of the free agent void to replace a starting wide receiver that went down to injury.
Hopefully, 2016 will yield similar results. The 6’1″-inch, 200-pound Jones joins Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin as the top-three wideouts on the Chargers’ depth chart.
Take a look at the highlight reel above from his 2015-16 Packers’ season and you see while he’s not the fastest man on the field Jones shows great hands, crisp route running, veteran awareness of his feet in relation to the sidelines and ability to get yards after the catch. This is a great signing by San Diego in my opinion.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Mike Silver of NFL Network is reporting that Chargers’ wide receiver Stevie Johnson has a torn meniscus and he will have surgery soon.
I’m told by a source familiar with Chargers WR Stevie Johnson’s knee injury that he has a torn meniscus & will have surgery soon @nflnetwork
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 1, 2016
Johnson was injured during training camp on Sunday on a play that you could immediately see that it could be very bad for the veteran wideout.
The former Bill is in the last year of his contract with the Bolts. Johnson hauled in 45 receptions for 497 yards and three touchdowns in his first year in San Diego.
Dave Booga Peters
Pro football focus is one of the most popular NFL-related websites out there. They have a unique, metrics-based system that they use to grade NFL players and teams.
Although I prefer to trust my eyes and what I see as opposed to going off of algorithms and formulas, they provide a useful tool which aides in the evaluation of talent in the league.
PFF.com recently ranked every receiving corps from 1-32. While the Patriots, somehow, graded out as the No. 1 corps, your San Diego Chargers finished just above the middle of the pack at 13th.
Here’s what they had to say:
13. San Diego Chargers
Projected starters: WR Keenan Allen, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Stevie Johnson, TE Antonio Gates
Key depth: WR Dontrelle Inman, WR Javontee Herndon, TE Henry Hunter
Key stat: Last season, Keenan Allen’s 2.16 yards per route run ranked 11th in the league at the time of his injury (Week 8).
Keenan Allen was on pace for the highest receiving-yardage total of his three-year career before a kidney injury wrecked his season in Week 8. That didn’t stop the Chargers from handing him a contract extension, though, and it’s hard to blame them, given his potential. Allen has forced 35 missed tackles on 223 receptions so far in his career, and figures to be the Chargers’ top wide receiver for most of the next decade—provided he can stay healthy. San Diego did make some improvements around him, though, adding former Cleveland Browns deep-threat Travis Benjamin early in free agency. Benjamin notched eight receptions for 363 yards and four touchdowns on passes traveling 20+ yards downfield last season, despite the Browns’ issues at quarterback; that deep-threat ability will fit in well with San Diego. With tight end Antonio Gates getting up there in years, they added his long-term replacement in Hunter Henry (Arkansas). Owning the highest receiving grade of all college TEs a year ago, Henry can make an impact for the Chargers in year one.
We all know how incredible the 2015 campaign was for wideout Keenan Allen until he suffered a lacerated kidney against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8. He was on a torrid pace, primed to set the team’s receptions record prior to being placed on injured reserve. With Allen entering the 2016 season ready to roll, one can expect the former third-round selection to come out and pick up where he left off.
Losing Malcom Floyd to retirement is certainly a big loss for the Chargers’ passing attack. The fact that Antonio Gates is another year older does not help, either.
But despite these two facts, the Bolts added speedster Travis Benjamin in the offseason. Though his size and frame are nothing like that of Floyd, he will be asked to stretch the field in a similar fashion to M-80. One thing that seems to go underappreciated about Benjamin is his ability to create space due to his route running. We all like to talk about how fast the former Brown is and how he can take the top off of the defense, but he can make plays underneath, using his speed to force separation between himself and defensive backs.
Stevie Johnson is no longer a receiver who can produce at the levels he did while he was with the Buffalo Bills, but, when healthy, he can still provide a possession-type role who can help the offense on third downs and in their three-wideout sets. Again, Johnson just needs to stay healthy to help contribute on a respectable level moving forward. The 2016 season is his last under contract with the Chargers.
PFF lists Inman, Herndon and rookie tight end Hunter Henry as key-depth players in the receiving corps. While I am glad they included Inman and Henry, I would have liked to see them add Tyrell Williams in place of Herndon. Herndon’s impact will most likely be as a kick returner should he not be supplanted by another Charger at the position.
Williams’ combination of size and speed cannot be taught, and I believe that we’ll see the youngster continue to mature and develop his route running, while providing quarterback Philip Rivers with the sizeable target who we all know he loves. It is imperative that Williams and Rivers continue to build a solid rapport if the receiver wants to find a regular spot on the club’s 53-man roster.
At this time, it is difficult to predict how much Henry will be used as a rookie. Though he’ll see a large number of snaps in his first season, the number of targets he receives is completely up in the air.
Overall, ranking the Chargers as having the 13th-best receiving corps sounds about right. That being said, don’t be surprised if we see them exceed expectations as long as the offensive line can keep Rivers clean, giving him ample amounts of time to find one of his many offensive weapons.
Where do you rank the Chargers’ receiving corps?
Please let me know in the comments below.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Dave Booga Peters
On paper, The San Diego Chargers have had one of their best offseasons in recent history when it comes to player acquisitions. Their 2016 NFL Draft averaged out to a B grade if you listen to the talking heads and draft gurus on TV and radio. Chargers fans once again have reason to be optimistic about the team’s chances of going worst to first and returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season.
Improving the wide receiving corps, adding team speed and improving special teams were high on the Chargers’ to-do list this offseason and they succeeded in all three facets. The loss of Malcom Floyd (retirement) was answered by the free agent signing of speed burner Cleveland Browns’ Travis Benjamin. Healthy returns of Javontee Herndon, Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman are also expected to help.
The San Diego Chargers/Denver Broncos intra-conference pipeline was still shown to be intact when the Chargers signed Broncos’ kick returner/wide receiver Isaiah Burse to their practice squad in November 2015. Now entering his second season as a pro, Burse played 12 games as a rookie in Denver as a punt returner. Last season he had 29 returns for 211 yards, good for a 7.3-yard average.
The 5’10”, 187-pound Burse showed in college at Fresno State that he has what it takes to be an elite returner as he posted an FBS single-season record for kickoff returns in 2012 with 75 returns for 1,606 yards; an average of a scorching 21.4 yards per return.
Over his four seasons at Fresno State, Burse had 126 kickoff returns for 2,835 yards (22.4 yards per return) and 29 punt returns for 344 yards (11.5 yards per return). He also caught 210 passes for 2,503 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 191 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.
After being signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent in May of 2014, Burse played most of the season before being waived then placed on the Broncos’ practice squad that December. Waived again in early September 2015, Burse was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad and released later that month. San Diego signed Burse in November 2015 and he re-signed with the Bolts’ on a Futures contract in January.
In Denver and Pittsburgh, Burse was lost in the shuffle of an already deep talent pool at wide receiver and returner. In San Diego, he will have every opportunity to claim a spot at both positions. We know the punt returner slot is already claimed by Benjamin, but a dynamic kickoff returner is something the Chargers have lacked for a long time. Given the opportunity, Burse can show he is the future of the position and etch his name in stone as a kick returner and as added depth on the wide receiver depth chart.
One look at the video below and it’s easy to see why Chargers GM Tom Telesco has tracked the 24-year old native of Modesto, CA, for so long. He runs faster on the field than the 4.58-seconds 40-yard dash time he posted at the 2014 NFL Draft Combine. He is sudden, can stop on a dime and effortlessly change direction. Burse is shifty, elusive and tenacious when attacking the defense as a receiver or returner.
The competition at wide receiver for spots on the 53-man roster will be one of the top position battles to watch when camp opens in less than two weeks. Get your popcorn ready.
Good luck, Mr. Burse.
The Greg One
In part one of my analysis of the San Diego Chargers offense I covered the quarterback, running back, fullback and tight end positions. Simply by using their stats and past history I gave a number of points per game I expect that group to get every week. Today I break down the rest of the offense, looking at the wide receivers, offensive line and coaching staff.
The most hard to read of all the skill position groups, the wide receiver position has been long on potential but short on production and consistency. Injuries have decimated the wide receiver corps year after year.
Keenan Allen is leader of the wide receiver group who have dubbed themselves the ‘Aliens’. Allen was off to an amazing start in 2015, hauling in 67 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns in his first eight games. In a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Allen lacerated his kidney when he landed on the ball while catching a touchdown, ending his season. He was on pace to shatter the Chargers’ single season record for receptions (100) held by Ladainian Tomlinson and the break the NFL record for receptions in a single season (143) held by former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison.
Now armed with a brand new four-year extension in hand Allen is locked in through the 2020 season. Allen has established himself as a star on the rise and will be taking the field with a chip on his shoulder after the way his 2015 campaign ended. In 37 games he has caught 215 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, the success of the receiving corps will be dependent on Allens’ supporting cast.
Getting Allen help was a priority heading into the offseason and the first splash the Chargers made into the free agency pool was acquiring former Cleveland Brown Travis Benjamin. The 5’10” speedster caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Aside from a knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of the 2013 season, Benjamin has only missed the first two games of his NFL career with a tweaked hamstring.
In his four years in the NFL, he has established himself as a dangerous return specialist. At the 2012 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and it has carried over into the pros. As a punt returner, Benjamin gained 324 yards on 28 attempts. Of those 28 attempts, four returns were over twenty yards and one was a 78-yard touchdown return. By comparison, the Chargers had 20 punt returns for 84 yards as a team last season. Their longest return was 18 yards.
Benjamin automatically legitimizes the punt return game and now gives the Chargers what they haven’t had in years, a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense. At 26, Benjamin is just beginning to enter his prime. This signing could trumpet a revival of the vertical passing game that we haven’t seen since the height of the Tomlinson era.
In his first season with the team, Stevie Johnson showed excellent chemistry with Rivers. Johnson was second among wideouts catching 45 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Hamstring and groin injuries caused him to miss seven games, including the last five games of the 2015 season. The nine-year pro is a dynamic receiver who has shown he can make an immediate impact if he can stay healthy.
Dontrelle Inman started in seven of the 14 games he appeared in last season. The CFL import continues to improve as he caught 35 balls for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Heading into his third season he will become a bigger part of the offense, likely assuming the role formerly held by the now-retired Malcom Floyd. Moving off the bench into a full-time starting role should greatly increase his numbers across the board.
Tyrell Williams can be penciled in as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart at the moment. Williams made his presence felt in the final game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos with a two reception for 90-yard performance, highlighted by burning Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib on a scintillating 80-yard touchdown catch. Those were his only stats of the 2015 regular season. Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft he spent time on the active roster and practice squad. He has the size (6’3″, 205), speed (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds) and agility (39.5-inch vertical jump) to be a dominant pro wide receiver. Will he live up to his potential going into his second season?
The rest of the receiver field is comprised of undrafted free agents and second-year pros. Unless a veteran is brought in, this is the group that will likely start the 2016 season.
Points-per-game expectation: 6
All the new additions to the skill positions mean nothing if the offensive line can’t provide continuity, open holes for the running backs and allow Rivers enough time in the pocket to throw the ball. That has been a large task that has fallen woefully short in those categories in the last number of seasons. In the last four seasons Rivers has been sacked 155 times, 40 times in 2015. The running game was dead last in touchdowns (4) and 31st in yards (1,358) last season.
Last season the offensive line had 25 different combinations due to injury. This season San Diego boasts the biggest projected starting offensive line in the league, but can they stay healthy? Veteran free agent Matt Slauson was brought over from the Chicago Bears to finally stop the turnstile at the center position. Lining up next to him will be guards Orlando Franklin, D.J. Fluker and tackles King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. Concussions, knee and lower leg injuries were the downfall of this group last season. What will they do differently to stay on the field this season? The success of the season rides on it.
Points-per-game expectation: -4.
As frustrating to watch as the play on the field at times were the decisions of the coaches in key game situations. Last season the Chargers lost four games by three points. Eight of their twelve losses were by a touchdown or less. More often than not the staff played not to lose instead of playing to win. Head Coach Mike McCoy and then offensive coordinator Frank Reich called conservative games, focusing on short to intermediate routes in the passing game and running almost exclusively out of the Pistol formation.
The playcalling was predictable and did not attack downfield enough to make opposing defenses concerned about getting beat deep. Injuries played a big part but so did not having the personnel to execute that type of game plan. Blame can be laid at the feet of those in the front office for lack of quality depth once the injuries started mounting.
Thankfully, Reich is out and Ken Whisenhunt returns to take his place. Whisenhunt parlayed a successful 2013 season as the Chargers’ OC into a head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Not coincidentally, 2013 was the last season the Chargers made the playoffs.
Whisenhunt is intent on revamping the run game first and foremost. The Pistol formation will be scratched in favor of having Rivers back under center and using short drops. Expect to see a return of the power run game highlighted by Watt and Gordon in their familiar college roles. In 2013, Whisenhunts’ running attack averaged 122 yards per game and Rivers was fourth in the league in passing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns.
If McCoy trusts Whisenhunt with the playcalling duties the Chargers should be able to take advantage of a last-place schedule and return to the playoffs as long as the team can stay healthy at key positions. It is a positive sign that the front office reached out to Whisenhunt and bring back a system that worked with this group of players. His track record speaks for itself going back to his days in Pittsburgh, then leading the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII to coordinating the Chargers offense to its only payoff appearance in the last six years. Until McCoy steps away from the playbook, I remain skeptical.
Points-per-game expectation: -2
In all, my points per game expectation went like this: QB (14), WR (6), TE (4), RB (6), OL (-4) and coaching staff (-2) for a total of 24 points per game. Until the offensive line proves they can stay on the field and the offense is shown to be run through Whisenhunts’ headset instead of McCoys’ will I believe they won’t be a detriment to the team. Right now I believe those factors will cost the team one touchdown per game.
The 24-points per game are an improvement over the 20 points per game the Chargers averaged last season (26th in the NFL in 2015) and is on par with Philip Rivers’ lifetime average. Over his career, the Bolts average 25.6-points per Rivers start. That number has been as high as 27-points per game during the Tomlinson years.
This team has all the tools for a worst-to-first turnaround. The question is can they do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
After Week 6 at Green Bay during the 2015 season, it seemed that Keenan Allen had finally put it all together. Allen was nearing the halfway point of his third NFL season and had just posted 14 catches for 157 yards. This was one catch shy of tying the Chargers’ record for most receptions in a single game…. The same record he did tie in the first week of the season against Detroit.
In fact, that was his third game with 10+ catches in the first six weeks of the season. Allen was on pace for 134 catches, 1,450 yards and eight touchdowns. Forget the Pro Bowl, those are numbers that get Offense Player of the Year consideration.
That stat line, though, is only what could have been, after he was injured in Baltimore on a leaping catch for a touchdown that ended in a landing where he lacerated a kidney.
After beginning the year with a torrid pace of 67 catches, 725 yards and four touchdowns, Allen would be forced to watch his team struggle to a putrid 4-12 record to finish out the 2015 campaign.
Now, the self-proclaimed defensive back “Slayer” is ready to make the same noise he started to make last year. He returns to old friend Ken Whisenhunt making a return as offensive coordinator, who held the same position during Allen’s stellar rookie campaign which saw him break a numerous amount of franchise rookie records and earn multiple awards from different media outlets.
The San Diego aerial attack will undoubtedly rely on Keenan Allen once more this season. While it seems like All-World tight end Antonio Gates is not aging, he most certainly can no longer bare the weight of being a No. 1 passing option week-in and week-out. His newly acquired replacement, Hunter Henry, is promising, yet unproven. Danny Woodhead along with the remainder of the wide receiving corps can only serve as a complement to Allen.
There is no question as to whether or not Keenan can continue to produce what he gave us a sneak peek of last year. As long as he remains healthy, Keenan Allen will be able to produce at a high level for the Chargers this coming season.
Combine Allen’s talent with the over-the-top speed of free agent signee Travis Benjamin, the versatility of Woodhead, and the craftiness from slot receiver Stevie Johnson, No. 13 should flourish once again with quarterback Philip Rivers knowing he has an incredible arsenal of weapons, namely Allen.
Do you believe that Keenan Allen be a top-tier receiver this year?
Let me know below or on twitter — @DefineRoyallty.
That’s how you #ReadTheBlitz