Late last week multiple sports outlets reported that Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will not show up to camp without a new contract. In addition, if they can not come to a deal, Gordon is demanding a trade. Gordons’ agent, Fletcher Smith, told the media that he and his client are dug in on the matter. Reportedly, there has been no progress in negotiations which spurred them to take this drastic action.
Gordon is in is option year, set to make $5.6 million dollars. Given his production since being drafted in 2015, he has transformed into a top-5 running back in the NFL. Last season, he ranked fifth in yards from scrimmage. Over the last three seasons, he’s only second to Todd Gurley in carries with 1,079 and third in the league in touchdowns (38) and yards from scrimmage (5,205) over the last four seasons. Undoubtedly contributing to their decision making process are the recent long-term extensions given to fellow running back contemporaries Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (4-yrs, $60 million, with $45 million dollars guaranteed), Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (3-yrs, $39 million with $30 million dollars guaranteed) and Le’veon Bell (4-yrs, $52.5 million with $25 million dollars guaranteed). All three threatened to sit out until they got a new deal and only Bell actually sat out a season.
To holdout now will be the greatest leverage he has to use. The Chargers are coming off a 12-4 season highlighted (and lowlighted) by a trip into the AFC Divisional Round against the eventual Super Bowl champions, New England. The window of opportunity for Philip Rivers and company is now and Gordon is a big piece of the pie in that equation. At 26, this is the best time for Gordon to holdout. His value is at its peak, this is the moment of greatest need for his team with the Chargers ascending to championship contender status and he has proven himself to be a durable, reliable, elite dual-threat running back.
The only reason Bell didn’t succeed in getting paid with the Pittsburgh Steelers is because he waited until after he had been franchised twice. Bell and Gurley got their deals before the team had that control in their hands. The Chargers have the same leverage inasmuch that they can franchise tag Gordon for up to two more seasons at the league average of the top-5 running backs in the league. It’s in the Chargers’ best interest to get a long-term deal done or trade Gordon now as opposed digging in and letting him go (after sitting out the season) and getting nothing in return. Gordon loses all leverage by playing the season and allowing himself to get franchised for two seasons. What team is going to give a long-term contract with a boatload of guaranteed money to a 28-year old running back?
So what do the Chargers do?
The Chargers have a lot of big contracts of core players coming up at the end of 2020 and not a lot of cap space to sign them all. Rivers, Gordon, tight end Hunter Henry, linebacker Jatavis Brown, cornerback Trevor Williams, safety Adrian Phillips and center Mike Pouncey headline the players who will be looking to cash in on their on-field success. By the way, franchise defensive end Joey Bosa will be looking for big bucks at the end of the 2021 season. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco has some big decisions to make and Gordon is forcing his name to the top of the list.
Without Gordon, the running back depth chart will be Austin Ekeler, second-year pro Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome and Troymaine Pope. Ekeler has proven his versatility and ability to make plays in space but the group behind him is unproven to say the least. Gordon, obviously is the element that takes this group from good to great. As seen by the recent signings of guys like Bell and Gurley plus the growing influx of backs that are as deadly catching the ball as they are running it; the devalued running back position is making a comeback. If Telesco makes a trade he is hamstrung because no team is going to make a fair offer knowing the position he is in. At best he may be able to acquire a package of draft picks. A first round pick isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The Oakland Raiders received a first-round pick from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper. Weeks earlier, they had received two first-round picks, a sixth-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick plus a conditional fifth-round selection for Khalil Mack. Cooper was coming off a down 2017 season and found himself lost in the wide receiver shuffle until newly-hired Raiders coach Jon Gruden shipped him out of town. Mack has established himself as a top-5 if not the best pass rusher in the league before Gruden sent him away. Gordon is closer to the Mack end of the spectrum than the Cooper end. The problem is draft picks are always a crapshoot. A package of picks including a first-rounder or two is all well and good, but it does not result in equal value and it does nothing for the loss of production for a team that is among the favorites to appear in the Super Bowl.
The other side of the coin is to sign Gordon and judging from the deals mentioned above, the terms are going to be in the neighborhood of a three- to f0ur-year deal worth $13- to 16-million dollars per year with two-thirds of that money guaranteed. Can the Chargers afford it? According to Sportrac, Over-The-Cap, ESPN Stats and Info and other sources, the Bolts have just under $11 million dollars in cap space. Still, cap space backdoors are known and utilized by ever GM in the league. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers consistent and on course for that long-awaited Super Bowl return. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers in place as the biggest threats to Kansas City, who will be heralded as the heir apparent to the Patriots’ franchise based on the trajectory of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is coming into this, his third season, on the heels of winning the NFL MVP award after his first season as the Chiefs starting QB.
As a fan and as a man who was there at the NFL Draft when Gordon was drafted, I want him to stay a Charger for life. I’ve met the man, had a conversation with him and shook his hand on the very first day he was tapped to be a Charger. He’s a solid guy, very kind, very active in the community and has a sparkling reputation as a teammate. That being said, I believe Gordon will be traded. I cannot blame the Chargers front office as much as I’d like to do so. The system is flawed with the way teams can get away with so many years of control before a player can cash in on a long-term deal. I can’t blame Gordon for holding out as much as I can’t blame the Chargers brass for wanting to hold onto control for as long as they can before backing the Brinks truck up to his door. Players are now getting wise to the fact that this is the road to hoe if they’re going to avoid overuse and get paid before getting stuck on a series of one-year contracts.
Whatever they decide, they don’t have long to do it. Gordon and Smith have established the beginning of training camp, July 24, as their hard line date to get a new contract done. If they don’t get a deal, they want the Chargers to start looking for trade partners. There’s no reason at this point to believe they won’t follow through on their threat since no new news has come through the pipeline since this story broke. I believe the Chargers will shop Gordon and take the best offer they can get. Having a disgruntled player in the fold will be a huge distraction to the team, the fan base and the bottom line knowing he is at home while the team is fighting for a playoff spot. If Gordon is gone everyone has no choice but to accept it and move on. The Chargers should be able to get a Khalil Mack-esque deal. It won’t be as good but comparable in the sense that it will be multiple picks and at least one first-round pick. Brace yourselves Chargers fans. It won’t be pretty but we know, now more than ever, how much of a business the NFL has become. May the football Gods have mercy on our souls….
The Greg One
The NFL Draft kicks off in three weeks from today and the Los Angeles Chargers are doing their due diligence in their search to find the heir apparent to Philip Rivers. The team made news Wednesday when NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported they have scheduled highly touted quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen for private workouts. The visits are considered local visits for UCLA product Rosen and USC product Darnold. As a result, they do not count against the Chargers’ thirty allowed draft prospect visits.
Both quarterbacks are projected to go at the top of the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft. Most projections indicate they will go in the top five, almost certainly in the top ten selections of the draft. The Los Angeles Chargers select 17th. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco would have to sacrifice high draft picks in this draft and likely the 2019 draft as well to get high enough to select one of them. Darnold and Rosen are considered two of the top four quarterbacks in the draft alongside Wyoming product Josh Allen and Oklahoma product Baker Mayfield. All four are projected to be off the board before the top ten selections are complete.
The Chargers know the clock is ticking when it comes to finding the man who will take the team into the future once Rivers calls it a career. Now 15-years a professional, Rivers will not be around very much longer. The franchise quarterback has taken an extraordinary amount of wear-and-tear on his body and he’s going to want to spend more time with his wife and eight children. The Chargers quarterback room currently consists of Rivers, the recent addition of veteran quarterback Geno Smith and the raw talent of project Cardale Jones.
This is nothing new of the front office to bring in the top quarterbacks in the draft for a visit during the weeks leading up to the event. This is the time to recognize the window on stability at the quarterback position is about to close. Not selecting a franchise-caliber quarterback to be groomed and mentored behind one of the best quarterbacks in the game would be a great setback to a young team that is trending in the right direction. Let’s hope the team acts on that need sooner than later.
Do you believe the Chargers will select a franchise quarterback in the draft or is this much ado about nothing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Mandatory photo credit courtesy of chron.com
Business is certainly booming around Chargers Park these days. In the final weeks before the team moves up the I-5 to their new digs in Carson, GM Tom Telesco is bunkered in and hammering out contracts. On Wednesday, the Chargers announced the signing of a four-year deal for fourth-round draft pick Rayshawn Jenkins. Jenkins played safety at the University of Miami. Heading into training camp the popular opinion is he will be groomed for that position.
Jenkins is listed at six-foot-one, 214-pounds. At the NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and vertical jumped 37 inches. Add in 19 reps on the bench press and you have a combination of size, speed and power that makes coaches drool. Coming into Chargers camp, Jenkins will have a willing mentor in former teammate and Chargers starting linebacker Denzel Perryman.
Below is a highlight reel from Jenkins’ senior season with the Hurricanes. What jumps out right away are his instincts, speed to the ball, ability to tackle in the open field and his ferocity when tackling as he’s not one to shy away from contact. Jenkins seems to seek out contact.
The Chargers weren’t finished there. Undrafted free agent punter Toby Baker was also signed on Wednesday. Baker was a tryout participant during rookie mini camp and impressed enough to be signed. He will battle incumbent Drew Kaser as part of the 90-man roster.
The 6″3′-inch, 215-pound Baker played his college ball at Arkansas and averaged 43-yards per punt over his 27 games with the Razorbacks. His 44.4 average in his senior season was good for fourth in the SEC and 13th in the country. Per the Razorbacks’ team website, Baker had 27 punts of 50 yards with a career-best of 60 yards. In his junior and senior seasons he dropped 45 punts inside the 20-yard line with only five total touchbacks.
Not a stranger to making a team as a walk-on, he made the team in Arkansas the same way. Baker won his spot and a scholarship after the 2015 season through a tryout. Baker will also be meeting a familiar face in camp as he follows in the footsteps of former teammate Hunter Henry.
The Greg One
Former Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston arrived in San Diego on Monday. The Los Angeles Chargers worked him out in hopes of adding a veteran safety. The safety position has been in a state of flux since the departure of Eric Weddle last season. The team did take a step toward remedying the situation in their latest draft when they tapped Rayshawn Jenkins out of the University of Miami in the fourth round.
Boston has been making the rounds as he looks for a new team. He’s already completed a stops in Pittsburgh. He’s been documenting his travels on his Twitter page, @TreBos10:
— Tre Boston (@TreBos10) May 5, 2017
Boston was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Standing 6″1′-inches tall and weighing in at 205 lbs., Boston is the blend of experience and youth (he’s 24-years old) Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco craves. Arriving in San Diego on Monday, Boston ran into a former Chargers standout cornerback and Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie. He then tweeted out this photo:
— Tre Boston (@TreBos10) May 8, 2017
Boston accumulated 108 tackles (77 solo), ten passes defensed, three interceptions, two sacks and two touchdowns in his three seasons in Carolina. He’s a playmaker on the rise who would be a great addition to Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradleys’ defense.
The safety left San Diego after his physical and workout Tuesday and now is weighing his options between Pittsburgh, Buffalo and LA per his most recent tweet Tuesday afternoon:
Headed back to CLT, Chargers and Bills definitely made it a tough decision for me! I’ll go home and weigh the pros and cons with the Wife.🙏🏾
— Tre Boston (@TreBos10) May 9, 2017
Where will Boston be shipping off to? Stay tuned…
The Greg One
For those of you who still care about the fate of the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers, I bring you my one-and-only mock draft. Yes, I know they are now the Los Angeles Chargers, but like a vast amount of you I hate the sound of it, the look of it and my fingers hurt just typing it. We all cope in our own way and I go forward with solid belief that by the time the two years in the StubHub Center is over, Dean Spanos will have sold the team (by will or force) to an owner who will return the team where they belong in America’s Finest City.
With the draft only a few days away, thankfully, the season of a million mock drafts will also come to an end. I’m throwing a wrinkle into this year’s edition. Since the team never picks the player I want, for the first few rounds I am separating my dream pick (the guy I want) and the actual pick (the guy I believe they will actually take). I’m happy to be wrong on last year’s first round pick (I wanted Jalen Ramsey. Joey Bosa was and will be a home run for the next decade as long as he can stay healthy).
I hope you enjoy my mock. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Round 1: (My pick) QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson. It is that time. Time to pick a quarterback of the future. Like I’ve admitted many times over, I’m the President of the Philip Rivers fan club but even I can see that his run is coming to an end. I’m not saying his skill is declining. He will be among the league leaders in passing as usual this season. However, his body takes a pounding every season from having a suspect offensive line blocking for him. We never see his name on the injury report but we’ve seen him labor during games. Couple that with his disdain for leaving San Diego to play in Los Angeles and I say he’ll bridge the two-year gap leading into the permanent residence in the Taj Mahal Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building.
Hence, the benefit of having a star quarterback on the roster. All the talk is about how none of the quarterbacks in this draft are ready to be day one quarterbacks because none of them came from a pro-style system. Air raid quarterbacks fail at large because they’re thrown into the fire too soon.
Watson would come into a perfect scenario where he would get to sit for two seasons behind Philip Rivers and learn the game from a master of the craft. That would be more than ample time to master the playbook and learn the nuances of a pro-style offense from taking the ball from under center to reading defenses and making calls at the line. This is the perfect time for a top-tier quarterback. Watson brings an undeniable charisma, raw natural talent, athleticism rarely seen in a quarterback, and the swagger that comes with leading his team into the National Championship game two seasons in a row and winning one.
In my opinion, Watson is the best quarterback in this class. Everyone will say taking him at pick seven will be a major reach. They won’t be saying that when he’s torching defenses in 2019. The precedent is as close as the guy he will be replacing. Rivers sat two years behind Drew Brees and I’d say that turned out pretty damn well wouldn’t you?
On to the man I think Telesco will actually pick…
S Jamal Adams, LSU. It seems to be six of one, half a dozen of the other when it comes to the top two safeties in the draft, Adams and Malik Hooker out of Ohio State. Both are big, physical and versatile playmakers who will provide an instant impact when they step on the field. Given the fact that seemingly every year two teams trade up into the top five for a quarterback, I believe this year will be no different. The teams trading up will push both safeties into the Chargers spot and given the choice, I believe Telesco will take Adams. If Adams is gone, the pick will be Hooker.
Round 2: (My pick) S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan. I know what you’re thinking. Two safeties? Not quite. Peppers is listed as a safety because he can play both safety positions exceptionally well. However, he can play slot corner and linebacker, too. Talent that versatile is a steal in the second round. Up until a short while ago, Peppers was considered a top-ten talent. A failed urine test revealed this week has damaged his draft stock and will lead to a precipitous drop. First round talent will drop into the second and this will be the biggest name of them all.
Speaking of steals, the second round pick of the Chargers also managed to fall from grace and into Day 2 for reasons unknown.
OT Cam Robinson, Alabama. The Chargers can’t have enough help on the offensive line and the 6’6″, 322-pound behemoth will be a Godsend if he’s still on the board when the Chargers pick.
Round 3: WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State. Dual-threat capability as a running back and wide receiver fills a need to find a replacement for the now-departed Danny Woodhead in the backfield and adds depth to the receiving corps. By the way, his 4.3-speed would also come in handy in the return game.
Round 4: DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama. More beef in the center of the defensive line is always a good thing and a blue blood at this spot is a great value pick.
Round 5: ILB Ben Boulware, Clemson. Boulware is a bulldog on the field. He is always near the ball, a tackle machine and a defensive leader. Great football IQ.
Round 6: QB Josh Dobbs, Tennessee. This is the point where the Chargers waste a draft pick on a quarterback project. Could be a different QB, but a QB nonetheless.
Round 7: RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson. The Chargers lack depth in the running back room. Gallman is an excellent all-purpose back and powerful rusher.
So concludes my Tigers-heavy, (If I get my way) mock draft. What do you think? It will be fun to see the drama unfold over the next three days — especially since we are here in person, AGAIN!
The Greg One
The best piece of advice I can give a sports fan is this: cheer for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
No matter how wonderful a player is on or off the field, someday either the team or the player will make the difficult decision to go a different direction. The team remains, but the players go through the never ending revolving doors known as free agency and retirement. Remember the aforementioned advise when you look at the following list of fan favorites and impact players who are on the last year of their contracts with the Chargers. Here is the list of the players who may leave at seasons end. The departure of some will leave a hole in the team. The departure of others will leave a hole in fans hearts. So as I crank up The Clash in the background, let’s take a look at who should stay and who should go, as well as what they are making for the 2016 season.
Melvin Ingram (OLB) $7.751 million: Staying: Although Ingram has had to deal with injuries and has under achieved in a statistical way, the future of Ingram seems bright. The addition of Joey Bosa has made this pair of pass-rushers quite a handful for offensive lines. The sack totals are not as impressive as their AFC West rivals, but the fact that the Chargers lead the league in interceptions is a sure sign that these guys are putting pressure on quarterbacks and forcing errant throws. For a defensive front seven to be effective in today’s NFL, there must be two dominant pass rushers and a strong Nose Tackle. Ingram, Bosa and Mebane fit the bill for now. Ingram will be pursued by other teams, but expect the Chargers to overpay a little to keep their former first round draft pick around for the next three to four years.
Danny Woodhead (RB) $5.5 million: Going: I want to be clear about something here. Danny Woodhead is a wonderful player who can be a spark-plug for an offense, and a true leader. But along with his greatness is a serious problem. Since joining the Chargers, Woodhead has only played in 37 of the 64 games he was eligible to participate in. He has had two full seasons and two cut seriously short by injury, including the 2016 campaign. Not only does Woodhead have a hard time staying healthy, he is 31 years old. Not many running backs maintain their effectiveness for long after age 30. I’m sorry to say, the Chargers will move on from Woodhead. He will either sign somewhere as a free agent for the 2017 season, or hang up the cleats. Of course, there is the possibility that the Chargers would try to sign him at a discounted price on the chance that he will stay healthy. Unfortunately, he will most likely find a better offer somewhere else.
Mantai Te’o (MLB) $5.172 million: Going: Te’o is another player who has been plagued by injuries during his time in San Diego. By seasons end, he will have played in just 38 of a possible 64 games, over his four season tenure with the Bolts. He has been improving every year, and the improvement of the defensive line has helped him scrape down the line and get to ball carriers. But, it hasn’t helped his foot-speed, or ability to cover backs in the flat. Look for opposing quarterbacks to pick on Te’o on third and long. The fact is, Te’o will go down in Chargers history as a borderline bust. Nice enough guy, just not a great football player.
Jahleel Addae (SS) $2.553 million: Going: Chargers fans seem to have a great deal of respect and admiration for SS Jahleel Addae. Why? Because he is a hitter! Fans love players who come in and lay some hat on opposing teams. Addae certainly does just that. He has been a Charger for four years and has quite the reputation for having no fear. The problem is that all those hits have really taken a toll on Addae’s body. In fact, he has had several injuries, including concussions. Having only played 43 of his possible 54 games so far as a Charger, there must be concern that he will spend more and more time on the injured list. He is fairly inexpensive, but you do not want to pay anyone to ride out injuries. I believe that if Addae fails to get through the remaining five games of the 2016 schedule without incident, the Chargers will have no choice but to let him go.
Branden Oliver (RB) $1.53 million: Staying: Normally I would have said that a player who really hasn’t done very much, and has missed an entire season to injury, would not be returning. In Oliver’s case, I think the Chargers may take one more chance. He is the epitome of a fan favorite. Bolt fans just love watching Oliver run/return the ball and bang into those large defenders. Yes, Oliver plays larger than his 5’8″, 208 lb frame. He is such a fan favorite, some fans wanted Melvin Gordon either cut, or dropped to second string, so that Oliver could get his chance. The fact of the matter is that despite a few impressive games, Oliver does not have the stats to explain the love he receives. That being said, the Bolts may just bring him back because he will be cheap and the fans love him.
Korey Toomer (OLB) $600,000: Staying: It could be a little premature to add Toomer to this list, but he has been an impact player since joining the team in week four. With his playing time increasing, Toomer has racked up 33 tackles in the last three weeks! He is an aggressive player who likes to hit. The Seahawks and the Raiders are going to regret letting this guy go. Look for Toomer to get another two the three years added to his already very affordable contract.
Dontrelle Inman (WR) $600,000: Staying: Without a whole lot of playing time, Inman has managed to have some big games. He is a sure-handed receiver that was plucked from the Canadian Football League to fill in for injured receivers. Although much of the success of the young Chargers receivers can be credited to Philip Rivers, there is no denying that Inman has the ability to get open and catch the ball. He just may be part of a talented youth movement at wide receiver in San Diego.
There are many more players to make decisions on at the end of this season. Very few are notable. None are tremendous impact players or former high draft picks. Even though these names seem less important, some of them will return because they are affordable and they add much needed depth. The following is a list of players who will most likely be brought back to fill various roles: Mike Windt (LS), Tenny Palepoi (NT), Sean McGrath (TE), Damion Square (NT), and Isaiah Burse (WR/KR), Kenny Wiggens (G).
Finally, the list of potential free agents who are either doomed to be shown the door, or will fight hard and get back on the team: Sean Lissemore (NT), Tourek Williams (OLB), Trevor Williams (CB), Asante Cleveland (TE), Adrian Phillips (FS), Kellen Clemens (QB), Javontee Herndon (WR), Codero Law (OLB), Jeff Cumberland (TE), Dexter McCluster (RB/KR), Ronnie Hillman (RB), Jeremy Butler (WR), Geremy Davis (WR), Tyreek Burwell (T), Chris Landrum (OLB). Some of these guys have a real shot at making the team next year, they just will not be high priorities for Chargers GM Tom Telesco.
So, what do you think? Which of these guys will be sporting lightning bolts next season? Leave your comments below.
The Chargers announced on Tuesday that offensive lineman Chris Watt was waived from the physically unable to perform list after failing his physical due to a knee ailment that has kept him sidelined all of the 2016 regular season.
(The team had yet to make a corresponding move prior to the publishing of this article.)
Watt, 26, was originally drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft by San Diego. He was selected as the heir apparent at center, hopefully becoming the long-term replacement for former Chargers great Nick Hardwick.
Sadly for Watt, who never played center during high school or college, the transition from guard to center proved to be too difficult for the former member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Coupled with multiple injuries — concussion, shoulder, knee, ankle and groin issues — over his brief career, the switch to snapping the ball and his inability to stay healthy have plagued Watt during his short tenure in the league.
Dave Booga Peters
Hopefully all those people – those would be the voices of last season which were scathing at times – are eating their words this season with regard to Melvin Gordon. Bust, you say? Maybe that was a bit premature.
Why? First a little bit of Gordon’s background.
There was speculation aplenty when Chargers’ GM Tom Telesco and the San Francisco 49ers swapped spots in the 2015 NFL Draft. Telesco moved from 17th position to 15th and took Gordon. Many fans were disconcerted, some even loudly outraged, that the running back pick was Gordon and not Todd Gurley. Personally, I felt that with the Bolts needing a better running back than Ryan Mathews had been, plus the fact that Gurley was still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, it was a good choice.
What wasn’t there to like? Gordon finished his career at University of Wisconsin-Madison having played in 45 games where he had 631 carries for 4,915 yards and 45 TDs. As a receiver out of the backfield there were 22 catches for 228 yards and four TDs. In his senior year, the former Badger hauled in 19 receptions for 153 yards and three TDs while also accumulating 343 carries and 29 TDs for 2,587 yards (second most in the FBS). He also had six games of 200+ yards, a school record.
Being chosen as a first rounder is a huge responsibility coupled with as much, if not more, expectation. Not just the expectation of teammates and coaches, but also what the individual places on themselves. As a rookie the playbook is just one part of the whole; the speed of the game is vastly quicker and the majority of guys you suit up with are playing at a level considerably higher than your own.
Contributing factors to Gordon’s lower-than-anticipated numbers were the woes of the offensive line play of the Chargers. The team went through 24 O-line combinations. Play-calling was WAY too predictable. The line could not create holes on a consistent basis for the rookie to run through. Perhaps the biggest disservice to Gordon was the fact that his entire career at Wisconsin he had a fullback in front of him, yet there was no such position on his new team.
It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
This year saw a change at offensive coordinator as Frank Reich exited San Diego for Philadelphia. Ken Whisenhunt returned and brought with him the hope for a more productive running game. At the end of his 2013-14 stint as OC, San Diego had the No. 5 offense overall and was 13th in rushing. In 2015, the team was ranked ninth in total offense and they were 31st in rushing. Gordon was ranked 37th amongst all running backs.
With Whisenhunt, Gordon seems to have flourished. Through eight games (no update to include week nine yet), NFL.com has him ranked twelfth amongst running backs with 572 rushing yards (161 carries) and 219 receiving yards (24 catches). Including week nine stats, Footballdb.com has Gordon listed in the No. 3 slot behind Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (891 yds) and Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray (807 yds). Gordon has logged four games with over 100 combined rushing and receiving yards: Jacksonville 120 yards, Atlanta 121 yards, Denver 155 yards and last week at home against Tennessee he racked up a whopping 261 yards.
Even better is the fact that after nine games, Gordon is leading the league with 11 touchdowns. After not crossing the goal line once last year, the guy that many called a “bust” is number one in touchdowns scored!
The early season loss of Danny Woodhead, one of the best pass-catchers out of the backfield, is part of the reason for the uptick in Gordon’s numbers. When Woodhead went down, and Branden Oliver out for the year since pre-season, it meant that Gordon had to step up his own game. It had been stated several times from OTA’s through training camp that he appeared more confident and sure of himself. Now, HE is the one taking the hand-off from Rivers in those 3rd down conversion scenarios when the call is for a run. HE catches some of those 3rd and long passes, and HE is the guy scampering in when they are in the red zone. Except of course for the Broncos game when he should have been given at least ONE shot from the 2-yard line to tie the game and Whisenhunt called for four straight pass plays.
Gordon has the vision this year that he was lacking throughout his rookie campaign. Having Derek Watt, his fullback from Wisconsin, blocking in front of him in games has helped. Less turnover along the offensive line has also made it easier to get off the line of scrimmage. He has fumbled twice this year versus the six from a year ago. The frenzy of 2015 has slowed a bit in his second year.
Gordon has been running so well that after last week’s Titans game in which he accumulated 196 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards and darted in for another rushing TD, the second-year back was nominated for, and won, both the AFC Offensive Player of the Week and the Castrol Clutch Performer of the Week!! Take that, all those Melvin Gordon haters of 2015! Not so much of a bust, after all, is he?!
My prediction is that Gordon will be the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Chargers since LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 1,110 in 2008; LT had 11 TDs that year and 154 receiving yards. Gordon needs only 232 yards to hit the 1,000 mark in rushing. If he continues at the pace he is on now, he will exceed that number. As of this writing he has already reached 1,032 yards combined. I anticipate he will score a total of 18 touchdowns and amass 1,300 rushing yards by season’s end. Bold? Perhaps. But I think he is up to the task.
Now if only he can continue to get the ball put in his hands in those short red zone TD situations!
Week 5 is upon us! If the Chargers want to finally get a divisional win, here are three things they MUST do.
1.) Unleash the Bosa
He is finally ready to play! The Chargers No. 3 overall pick hasn’t suited up for them yet this season and has been listed on the injury list the last 4 weeks despite practicing. Darius Philon has been starting in his spot and hasn’t done much, notching six combined tackles with two assisted. He has been losing snaps to Caraun Reid, who has been somewhat impressive, even though he has four combined tackles and one sack. But, it’s time. Bosa is a playmaker and the guy I wanted since Day 1. I know he is already in deep shit with the fans, but, believe me, he is worth the wait.
2.) Someone needs to step up
No Verrett this week just adds on to the playmakers who are on the IR for the Chargers. Who is going to step up and take over? This is a perfect time for Craig Mager to step up and show why Telesco reached for him in the third round. He’s been doing it, but this is also time for Jatavis Brown to step up and fourth-round pick Joshua Perry to step up, as well. These next 12 weeks will be huge for the youth on this team and could be very beneficial to the future success of the Chargers.
3.) Get out of shotgun
I was out with my buddy last week (every week actually) and I kept noticing one thing that was driving me insane: we are continuously in the shotgun slinging the rock 40 times when we have a lead. Now, I get you want to put the ball into your best players’ hands, but it’s looking like last year’s offense and the predictability is through the roof. If you have a lead, run the ball. I’m not a fan of Melvin Gordon, but play the clock and quit trying to outscore the opponent when you are already winning.
Melvin Ingram stated that he had things to show this year.
All the time he has spent studying film, all the hard work and sweat have coalesced into an opportunity he might have briefly thought about: defensive captain. On Wednesday, the Chargers named Ingram as the player who would wear the big “C” on his jersey in place of Manti Te’o, who was recently placed on IR (Achilles’ tear). The other defensive captain is nose tackle Brandon Mebane.
“I ain’t showed nothing,” Ingram told U-T San Diego back in June. “I have so much to show…It ain’t even started. You ain’t even seen what I got going on…When the season starts, everyone is going to see. It’s fixing to get real.”
The fifth-year pro appears to still carry a chip on his shoulder as a result of having missed 25 games in a little more than a year due to injuries. The 2015 campaign was his first full 16-game season since his 2012 rookie year. First there was the torn ACL which occurred May 14, 2013, during OTAs. He did not return to action until early December. Next came the hip injury sustained in a 2014 game against the Seahawks that caused him to miss seven weeks of playing time.
I think after all that adversity I’d be frustrated too!
Through the first three games of 2016, the former South Carolina Gamecock has pretty much matched the statistics of his initial year. Already, No. 54 has collected a combined eight tackles with seven of those being individual efforts. Additionally, Ingram has totaled two sacks, a forced fumble (FF) and a lone defended pass. In his first four career games, he was well on is way to being a force with seven solo tackles and an assist, three PDs and one FF.
In April of 2015, Tom Telesco and the Chargers chose to exercise the fifth-year option of Ingram’s rookie contract. It is worth $7.751 million, per Spotrac.com. It includes a guarantee for injury and becomes fully guaranteed should the stud linebacker be on the roster come Day 1 of the 2017 League Year.
The 2016 season is indeed a year in which “SupaMelvin” will be showcasing his worth from now until December. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017, so he is also playing for the future. Whether that career remains in San Diego or continues elsewhere is unknown.
Fellow teammate Jeremiah Attaochu said it best to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com: “He is a leader first and foremost. And he does it all by example with the way he comes out there each day and plays. He is motivating to all of us with the way he does that. We need that right now as a defense with Manti going down. When Melvin speaks, everyone listens.”
The future is now for Ingram, and if he can get back to the level of play he was on the last nine games of 2015, he’ll receive a large contract and, most likely, remain with the Chargers for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for reading!