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 hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.
After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.
At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.
Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:
August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.
August 15, 2014: Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.
Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.
The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.
Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.
Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.
Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”
Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.
I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.
What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
As you all may now know, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco got a three-year extension right before the start of the 2015 season. But did he deserve it? Here I breakdown his three draft classes, free agent classes and contract extensions. I will be grading by a very easy criteria: Performance (worth the draft pick, money, etc), Value (starter or depth) and if they’re still on the team. It will be broke down by a number scale of 0-10, 0 being very bad and 10 being very good. At the end of each section I will give a percentage and a letter grade to that category by adding up the number I give to the player and divide it by 10 (max number a player/move can get). 90-100% = A, 89-80% = B 79-70% = C, and anything below that is an F. Lets get to it:
His Draft Classes
***Note: these rankings are how they have played since joining the Chargers. 2015 draft class is too early to judge, I get that, but it’s on how they have played as a Charger.
2013: #11 OL DJ Fluker, #38 MLB Manti Te’o (traded up), #76 WR Keenan Allen, #145 CB Steve Williams, #179 OLB Tourek Williams, #221 QB Brad Sorenson
DJ Fluker: Started off as a Right Tackle and played fairly well in 2013 before injuries in 2014 set in and he was recently moved to Right Guard in the offseason. He didn’t play as well as hoped, but it was his first time ever being there so it wasn’t really unexpected. Grade: 6
Manti Te’o: Trading up in the draft for anyone who isn’t a playmaker is a very big loss no matter what you gave up to get said player. Manti has been battling injuries most his career and is still having troubles wrapping up and tackling NFL sized players. He isn’t terrible like Donald Butler and did play better next to Perryman. Grade: 5
Keenan Allen: This was the best draft pick Telesco has had and Keenan is quickly developing into one of the best receivers in the AFC. He was on a torrid pace this season leading the league in catches and yards and was well on his way to breaking records until he got hurt. Again. Ended the season on IR with a lacerated Kidney. Grade: 9
Steve Williams: Keenan’s roommate at Cal, he hasn’t really done much before this season and even ended his rookie year before it started. He’s looking more and more like depth than he is a solid part of the team and wouldn’t be missed in terms of production if cut. Grade: 3
Tourek Williams: Tourek hasn’t done anything either since his rookie season. He was injured the entire year this season and even ended up finishing the year on IR. Grade: 1
Brad Sorenson: Has never been listed as more than the third-string quarterback, he spent 2014 on another team and 2015 between free agency and practice squad. Grade: 0
2014: #25 CB Jason Verrett, #50 Jerry Attaochu (traded up), #89 OL Chris Watt, #165 DT Ryan Carrethers, #201 RB Marion Grice, #240 WR Tevin Reese
Jason Verrett: Verrett is quickly becoming a lockdown cornerback, if only he can stay healthy. He had 3 picks this season, one for 6, and was ranked the fifth best CB this season according to pro football focus. Grade: 8
Jerry Attaochu: Again, trading up in the draft for players who aren’t playmakers hurt your team no matter what you gave up. Attaochu is one of those guys. Chargers moved up to get him and he has been getting better, but isn’t a playmaker who can bring it from week to week yet. Grade: 5
Chris Watt: Watt was a reach when drafted and a guy the coaches are hoping to be the heir to Hardwick at the center position. It hasn’t worked and he hasn’t stayed healthy. In fact, he has been graded as one of the worst offensive linemen in football. Grade: 3
Ryan Carrethers: Carrethers shows promise but for some reason, the coaches don’t play him. Whether it’s work ethic or attitude, we don’t know. But for him being a second year, 5th round pick, it’s not really uncommon. Grade: 5
Marion Grice: Got beat out by undrafted free agent Brandon Oliver and then swooped up by Arizona. Grade: 0
Tevin Reese: Never had a chance at the NFL level because he was way too small. His speed was for real but his size and catching were not. Never made the roster. Grade: 0
2015: #15 RB Melvin Gordon (Traded up), #48 MLB Denzel Perryman, #83 CB Craig Mager, #153 OLB Kyle Emanuel, #192 DE Darius Philon
Melvin Gordon: For trading up in the draft, see Manti Te’o and Jerry Attaochu. Yes, ANOTHER trade up and this time for a running back. Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin was most everyone’s pick that were Charger fans. But he has shown tremendous flaws in his game and hasn’t been anywhere close to the guy the Chargers had hoped for. The line was a problem as well, no doubt about it. Grade: 2
Denzel Perryman: Perryman looks promising and has quickly become a fan favorite. By the end of the year, he took the starting job from Butler (and deservedly so) and shined. He is by far the best linebacker we have on this team and he only started in about 5 games. Grade: 7
Craig Mager: Mager couldn’t find the field in 2015. He was a very big reach in the third round to begin with, but I understand why he did it. He has a lot to work on to become valuable and it’s going to take a few years to see that most likely. Grade: 3
Kyle Emanuel: Emanuel started strong. First game of the year vs the Lions he had a sack and an interception and then eventually was nowhere to be seen. He has tackling issues and doesn’t seem to set the edge like an OLB needs to do. He does come from a small school and was a 5th round pick so it is warranted and excusable. Grade: 4
Darius Philon: A guy I really liked coming out of Arkansas, Philon has shown some promise but overall looks to be a very good rotational player. He was put on the IR-designated to return list during the season but was playing well before that. Grade: 3
Final result: 64/170 = 37%, F
His free agent signings (major ones only)
***Note: these are how the players have played since joining the Chargers
2013: RB Danny Woodhead, OT King Dunlap, CB Derek Cox, OG Chad Rinehart, TE John Phillips
Danny Woodhead: Probably Telesco’s best signing and a big reason why we made the playoffs in 2013. Woodhead brings that “security blanket” the team had been missing since Sproles signed with New Orleans. He was versatile up until the Bills game last season where he ended it with a broken fibula. Other than that, he’s been a rock. Grade: 9
King Dunlap: Another strong signing by Telesco. Dunlap wasn’t much in Philly but Chargers brought him in on a very team friendly deal and he excelled and actually earned a pay raise this last offseason. Another solid signing by Telesco that year. Grade: 8
Derek Cox: The biggest miss by Telesco in 2013. He was toast everytime he touched the field and eventually was benched and ended his time with the Chargers. Cut after his first season. Grade: 2
Chad Rinehart: He was average at the guard position in 2013 and awful there in 2014. He was a fill in for the future and expecting anything other than below average was a pipe dream. Grade: 4
John Phillips: Nothing flashy but he was the blocking Tight End that the team needed. Being mostly used as that, he has caught a few passes and even a touchdown. He was eventually cut by the team this season and brought back as well. Grade: 4
2014: RB Donald Brown, CB Brandon Flowers, MLB Kavell Connor, TE David Johnson. Quick note: Kellen Clemens was also signed, but as a backup QB it is unfair to grade so I left him off for those purposes
Donald Brown: Terrible signing by Telesco as he was brought in for RB depth and got $5 million a year. He went inactive for most of this season as well. Grade: 3
Brandon Flowers: As bad as the Brown signing was, is how good of a signing the Flowers one was. He really boosted this secondary and his lockdown play earned him his new contract in this past offseason, something I will get to in a bit. Grade: 8
Kavell Connor: Brought in for LB depth, Kavell had a big workload in 2014 as he filled in for oft injured Manti Te’o and played fairly well when called upon. Grade: 6
David Johnson: Brought in to be the FB, David Johnson is brutal. He constantly looks lost and doesn’t know where he’s going and doesn’t seem to find the field that often now as well. Grade: 3
2015: WR Jacoby Jones, OG Orlando Franklin, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Patrick Robinson, DB Jimmy Wilson
Jacoby Jones: He was brought in to give us a feared return game. He never lived up to that and in fact, wasn’t even half of what we expected. Cut halfway through the season. Grade: 0
Orlando Franklin: Big money linemen signing, Franklin has been a HUGE disappointment as he isn’t even close to the guy who Telesco thought he was signing. System fit, as they ran a zone scheme could be a huge factor of why, but overall he was as bad as Rinehart. Grade: 3
Stevie Johnson: Started out strong, pulling in touchdowns in each of his first two games played for San Diego, but then seemed to check out and then eventually got hurt. Grade: 6
Patrick Robinson: The sneakiest of signings, PRob may have been the best signing of Telesco’s tenure. He graded as a very solid corner this season by Pro Football Focus and was a bright spot in a secondary that had high expectations going into the season. Grade: 7
Jimmy Wilson: Jimmy Wilson was brought in to be a Marcus Gilchrist type safety. One that could play safety and cornerback but actually do it well. Well, he couldn’t and eventually got cut at the end of the season. Grade: 2
Final Result: 65/140 = 46%, F
His contract extensions/re-signings (major one’s only)
2013: K Nick Novak, RB Ronnie Brown
Nick Novak: There wasn’t many re-signings his first year, which wasn’t bad. But Novak was solid here as he was very reliable. Grade: 8
Ronnie Brown: Ronnie Brown was brought in as a veteran backup and one who was very reliable with the rock. He had one big touchdown vs the Benagls that sealed the deal in our first playoff win since 2008. So for that, he gets a little extra love from me in his grade. Grade: 7
2014: MLB Donald Butler, S Darrell Stuckey, OG Chad Rinehart, CB Richard Marshall
Donald Butler: This couldn’t have gone any worse than it has. 2014 he was rated as one of the worst MLB’s in football and in 2015, rookie Denzel Perryman took his starting job and his time as a Charger may be over. Grade: 0
Darrell Stuckey: Solid as a special teamer, Stuckey was another sneaky good extension. He has made the pro bowl a few times as a special teamer but as a safety, he has been very limited in playing time. Grade: 6
Chad Rinehart: From an average 2013, to an awful 2014, Rinehart was below average for us. I understand the signing, but should have had a plan B. Grade: 3
Richard Marshall: Marshall had a knack at getting turnovers at the end of 2013, but most of that was due to him being in the right place at the right time. He was brought in for depth because he knew the system in 2014 but due to injuries, he played more than he should have. Grade: 3
2015: OT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers
King Dunlap: Dunlap was a rock for us since 2013, but after his extension, he was very concussion prone again. Missed a chunk of the season and hasn’t lived up to his extension quite yet. Grade: 4
Brandon Flowers: Another player hit by injuries and possibly even coaching, Flowers under performed big time and was even rated as a bottom third corner this season. He really needs to have a bounceback season for his contract to not look so bad. Grade: 2
Final Result: 33/80 = 41%, F
Final overall result: 162/390 = 41%, F
Using my grading scale, Tom Telesco has gotten an ‘F’ grade as a general manager hitting on only 4 of every 10 personnel decisions. This doesn’t even include an undersized defense he has put together and coaches that are not good at what they do.
We all have differences of opinion on the different players aforementioned, but we can all agree that most his decisions have been sub-par.
Agree or disagree with my assessment? Did Telesco deserve this extension? I don’t think so, as my grading scale has proved. Let me know below!
The now 2-6 San Diego Chargers are living out the meaning of the old cliché “backs against the wall”. This week alone, star receiver Keenan Allen, Branden Oliver and Tourek Williams were all placed on season-ending injured reserve. Corey Liuget and Ladarius Green left Baltimore in walking boots after Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. Thirteen players were injured during the Ravens game alone. Only 46 are allowed to play on Sundays. The Chargers literally lost over 25% of their active team on Sunday.
The offensive line is in shambles. Quarterback Philip Rivers has been sacked 19 times. Now the league’s top passer is down his best receiver, an emerging tight end (Green) and a running back that gained eight yards per reception in Oliver.
The defense is not faring much better. Team Captain Eric Weddle and Manti Te’o have missed multiple weeks. Both were entrusted with the ‘green dot’ helmet that receives the play transmission for the defense. Now that helmet resides in the locker of linebacker Donald Butler. Recent losses include rookie Denzel Perryman (biceps) and now Liuget. Unable to get pressure on the quarterback, the Bolts have only managed 15 sacks and four interceptions. To make matters worse, they’re allowing 28.4 points per game.
Coming into San Diego for a Monday Night Football showdown will be Jay Cutler and the 2-5 Chicago Bears. Like San Diego, the Bears lost their greatest weapon last week when Matt Forte was lost for the game and will miss time with a knee injury. On paper, the Chargers are more talented and should beat the lowly Bears rather easily.
The same thing was said when they went to the east coast to face the then 1-6 Ravens.
If the Bolts win, that will put them at 3-6 with a slim but still possible chance of challenging for a wild card spot in the playoffs. A loss makes a third straight 9-7 season nearly out of reach and a .500 season a daunting task. That being said…
Is it time to start tanking for a high draft pick?
We all want to see the Chargers go on a long winning streak that finishes in the playoffs. Realistically, they are five games behind the still undefeated Denver Broncos. The Broncos have been woeful offensively but their defense has been unstoppable and the main reason they have been able to stay undefeated. The fact that they have played weak opponents all the way up to last week’s impressive win over the then undefeated Green Bay Packers didn’t hurt either. The AFC West title is effectively out of reach barring Peyton Manning going down with injury.
By the way, the Chargers play the Broncos twice in the last five weeks.
That leaves the possible wild card. As of today, San Diego finds themselves two games behind the 4-3 Oakland Raiders, the 4-4 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 4-3 New York Jets. They have already lost to both Pittsburgh and Oakland and it would take massive collapses by those teams to give San Diego a chance of getting one of those two wild card spots.
At this point, it’s time to empty the playbook. It’s time to use every untested player, dust off every odd formation, gadget play and blitz strategy in hopes of getting a spark that will carry into next season. Unfortunately, the Chargers are playing for pride. They have dug a hole too deep to extract themselves from. I want them to go on a 8-0 run to finish the season in the playoffs like the rest of you. In the part of our brain that is responsible for rational thought, we know it isn’t going to happen.
Should the Chargers tank the season? No.
Should the Chargers play fast, loose and with a nothing-to-lose mentality for the rest of the season? Yes.
Go for it on every fourth-and-one. Mix up the play calling. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment with Gordon (Get the man a fullback). Experiment with the passing game (Green at WR? Yes, please). Experiment with movement. Boots, waggles, and bubble screens to get Gordon in space would be a nice start. Replace all those inside handoffs with toss sweeps to get the backs to the edge quicker. Go deep more. A LOT more. If you’re gonna go down, go down swinging.
At this point, the game with the Bears is the season. If the Bolts win, they maintain course as long as they continue to win. If they lose, time to blow up the formula, wing it and play for draft position. Get a top blue-chip prospect who can help the team immediately before Rivers’ window is closed forever. The top-ten picks are where game-changing, franchise-changing players can be found.
Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston, Oakland’s Amari Cooper, St. Louis’ Todd Gurley all have their respective teams on a trajectory to finish with a higher win total than last season. All were top-ten picks. The Chargers hope to have found the same fortune with Gordon but they had to trade up to 15th to get him, sacrificing a needed draft pick along the way. The jury is still out on Gordon, seeing as he only surpassed 100 carries for the season in the Ravens game.
San Diego needs a change of fortune and philosophy to get this uber-talented team over the top. As sad as it sounds, it’s going to take a step back, a change in coaching philosophy and a wise top-ten pick to finally move forward.
What do you think? Should the Chargers tank for a high-draft seeding? Leave your comments below.
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 Chargers have announced their weekly injury report for this Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. Although things on the injury front seem to be improving numbers-wise, the team will be without marquee starters at multiple positions.
- LG – Orlando Franklin (Ankle)
- ILB – Manti Te’o (Ankle)
- FS – Eric Weddle (Groin)
- OLB – Tourek Williams (Foot)
- ILB – Denzel Perryman (Biceps)
- TE – Antonio Gates (Knee)
- NT – Sean Lissemore (Hamstring)
- CB – Craig Mager (Hamstring)
- RB – Melvin Gordon (Ankle)
- C – Chris Watt (Groin)
The Chargers’ offensive line will once again be without left guard Orlando Franklin, but it will be getting back center Chris Watt this week. Reserve center Trevor Robinson played well in Watt’s absence, and he could possibly force the Bolts to keep Watt on the shelf for one more game in order to ensure he gets back to full health.
Also on the offensive side of the ball, Philip Rivers could be without his favorite target, Antonio Gates, for the sixth game in 2015. Gates tweaked his knee on the final drive of the team’s loss to the Packers in Week 6. Should the future Hall of Famer miss the game on Sunday, Ladarius Green will once again be called upon to start at tight end.
Green, 25, has already set career-highs in receptions (26) and touchdowns (4), adding 304 yards receiving. The fourth-year veteran is only 73 yards away from his career-high in receiving yards, too.
While the offense is slowly getting healthier, the defensive side of the ball is not so lucky.
The Chargers’ defense will be missing inside linebacker Manti Te’o and free safety Eric Weddle for the second consecutive week. Te’o was one tackle behind Weddle for the team-lead prior to the two starters becoming injured. Weddle, nursing a groin injury, is missing consecutive games for the first since 2009.
Te’o’s replacement, Denzel Perryman, is listed as doubtful for the game on Sunday, forcing back-up linebacker Kavell Conner into the starting lineup.
Conner was signed as a free agent from Indianapolis two years ago.
Though he won’t play against the Ravens, outside linebacker Tourek Williams returned to practice this week for the first time since August. Upon his return, he will be a welcome addition to the anemic pass rush in San Diego. He is also a prime performer on special teams.
This week’s game is a must-win for the Chargers. It is up to the players and coaches to get this thing turned around starting Sunday.
Should the team lose to the Ravens on the road, they can basically kiss goodbye to any opportunity to make the playoffs this year.
It is that time of the week again, Chargers fans. The team has released its weekly injury report.
Some of the “usual suspects” find their names listed as out or questionable, but there is one new addition that is sure to change the way the defense runs its game plan on Sunday.
CB – Craig Mager (Hamstring)
OLB – Tourek Williams (Foot)
FS – Eric Weddle (Groin)
ILB – Manti Te’o (Ankle)
WR – Keenan Allen (Hip)
LT – King Dunlap (Concussion)
TE – Antonio Gates (Knee)
RB – Melvin Gordon (Ankle)
OL – Chris Hairston (Ankle)
WR – Stevie Johnson (Hamstring)
OL – Chris Watt (Groin)
SS – Jahleel Addae (Back)
OLB – Kyle Emanuel (Shoulder)
OL – D.J. Fluker (Ankle)
OG – Orlando Franklin (Ankle)
That places 15 players on the injury report for Week 7.
Free safety Eric Weddle will miss his first start since 2009. The three-time All-Pro is arguably the best player on the Chargers’ defense. It goes without saying that he will be missed, and his absence puts a lot of pressure on all of his fellow members of the secondary.
With Te’o listed as doubtful, it appears that rookie Denzel Perryman will get his second-consecutive start. Last week in his first start of the season, Perryman led the defense with eight total tackles and a forced fumble.
Due to the absences of Weddle and Te’o, it will be interesting to see which defender receives the green-dot helmet used as the defense’s communication device to the sideline with defensive coordinator John Pagano.
In what I believe is the most disheartening news on the injury report, both Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen are listed as questionable. Having just come back from a four-game suspension, Gates has had back-to-back nine reception contests, adding two touchdowns. Allen has continued to shred opposing defenses, leading the league in receptions (53) while standing at third in receiving yards (601).
Early reports are stating that Allen is likely to play despite his questionable status. Gates, however, does not appear to be in the same boat, as many fear that he may end up missing Sunday’s game against the hated Raiders.
Sticking with weapons being at the disposal of quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Stevie Johnson is in jeopardy of missing his third game in a row. That being said, after being a limited participant on both Wednesday and Thursday, he was a full-go in Friday’s practice.
Prior to suffering a hamstring injury, Johnson was proving to be a reliable target for Rivers in the passing game.
The offensive line appears to be getting left guard Orlando Franklin back this week. Though he was struggling a bit to get acclimated to the blocking schemes in San Diego, he will be a welcome addition to the starting lineup. Fluker, like Franklin, is listed as probable and he will be starting next to right tackle Joe Barksdale — the only opening-day starter to start every game this season.
Rookie running back Melvin Gordon is making his first appearance on the 2015 injury report. He suffered an ankle injury during last week’s loss to the Packers. I feel his pride may be in worse shape than his ankle, as he fumbled twice, losing one, and was also denied a touchdown for the sixth consecutive game.
All in all, the injury report has lengthened but it seems as though the team is getting healthier along the offensive line. The offense is still struggling to open up any semblance of a hole in the running game, but has done an impressive job of keeping Rivers clean in the passing game. Getting some starters back should help in both areas.
The defense will be worth keeping an eye on this week, seeing as Weddle is out and Te’o will be joining him in street clothes come Sunday. This situation provides a great opportunity for some of the reserve defenders to come n and make their mark, showing they deserve more playing time.
It is imperative that this team finds a way to get healthy as it enters the more favorable part of their schedule. With the exception of Denver, not one team left on the docket has a winning record.
Coach Mike McCoy and company have their work cut out for them. Now is the time for the coaching staff to prove that they are better than their 2-4 record shows.
The Chargers have announced the game status of each of their players that are on the team’s injury report.
Once again, the offensive line will be without major starters. Another starter on the O-line — that quite frankly shouldn’t play while dealing with an ongoing ankle issue — is listed as questionable.
- LT – King Dunlap (Concussion)
- CB – Craig Mager (Hamstring)
- DL – Darius Philon (Hip/Thigh)
- C/G – Chris Watt (Groin, Concussion)
- OLB – Tourek Williams (Foot)
- WR – Stevie Johnson (Hamstring)
- LG – Orlando Franklin (Ankle)
- RG – D.J. Fluker (Ankle)
- OL – Chris Hairston (Ankle)
- ILB – Manti Te’o (Ankle)
- OLB – Kyle Emanuel (Shoulder)
When looking at the depleted mess that is the offensive line in San Diego, two opening-day starters will not play in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers (Dunlap, Watt), while both Franklin and Fluker are listed as questionable.
Franklin hasn’t played in two weeks after being carted off the field with an ankle ailment. Fluker has tried to gut out multiple contests while limping on, off and around the field. He is whom I mentioned above that it may have served him better to rest, allowing him to fully heal.
Just for kicks, reserve lineman Chris Hairston did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He was a limited participant Friday. He has filled in decently, though it sure would be nice if he didn’t account for multiple penalties each time he sees game action.
The wide receiving corps will most likely be without Stevie Johnson again. Hamstring injuries are very tricky and players dealing with them should not be rushed back. Although it would obviously be great to have him available to play, the return of Gates can help alleviate some of the stress of him not playing.
The newest and biggest concern regarding the injured Chargers is the fact that Te’o did not practice in any kind of capacity this week. Despite leading the team in both total tackles and missed tackles, the third-year inside linebacker will be missed more than some would like to think. His replacement, second-round draft pick Denzel Perryman, will be asked to step in should Te’o not be able to play. Kavell Conner will see the field more often than he has recently, as well.
It will be interesting to see which player on the defense would then don the green-dot helmet with the defense’s communication device in it. Last ear it was free safety Eric Weddle. But with 2015 seemingly being Weddle’s last year with the team, the Bolts decided to give Te’o the honor this season.
One thing of note worth pointing out is that not one member of the Chargers’ secondary is on the injury report, save Mager. After Addae camped out there for the better part of a month and Flowers and Verrett took turns missing time, it is great to see the defensive-back unit of the Chargers’ defense healthy and ready to roll.
They need that health, and a bit of luck, as they are set to face one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Aaron Rodgers.
Due to the fact that the Chargers versus Pittsburgh game is on Monday night, the team did not have to release their Week 5 injury report until today. Although it looks a little better than it did last week, there are still some concerns on the offensive line and in the secondary.
- G – Orlando Franklin (Ankle)
- WR – Stevie Johnson (Hamstring)
- CB – Craig Mager (Hamstring)
- OLB – Tourek Williams (Foot)
- LT – King Dunlap (Concussion)
- SS – Jahleel Addae (Ankle)
- CB – Brandon Flowers (Concussion)
- WR – Malcom Floyd (Concussion)
- OL – D.J. Fluker (Ankle)
- WR/KR/PR – Jacoby Jones (Ankle)
- CB – Jason Verrett (Foot)
- OL – Chris Watt (Groin)
- OL – Chris Hairston (Ankle)
Obviously, as mentioned in the title, the offensive line is still banged up and expected to be without its starting left tackle (Dunlap) and starting left guard (Franklin).
Though Watt is listed as questionable, his groin injury was initially thought to be pretty serious. If he does play, he could see time at right guard, depending on the health of Fluker, as reserve center Trevor Robinson has done a fine job in place of Watt.
Fluker has been nursing an injured ankle for the better part of a month. He has gutted out some performances as of late, but one could wonder as to whether or not it would have been wise to rest him, allowing him to fully heal.
After finishing the win over the Browns with only two available wide receivers, the Bolts are again looking at slim pickings at the wideout spot.
Stevie Johnson will miss Monday’s game with a hamstring ailment. His numbers will be difficult to replace, especially considering that Rivers looked his way quite often.
Dontrelle Inman, 25, will be pressed into action again, helping to pick up the slack for the missing Johnson, and possibly Floyd should he not be cleared to play due to a concussion suffered in the second quarter last week.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see the team promote Javontee Herndon from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Herndon could also help in the return game should Jacoby Jones not be able to go again.
Speaking of Jones, he was a limited participant in practice for the second day in a row. The 2015 free-agent acquisition has not played in a game since injuring his ankle during the Week 1 victory over the Detroit Lions. If healthy, Jones would be a welcome addition at both kick returner and punt returner.
The Chargers’ special teams unit is averaging just over 20 yards per kickoff return, while they have totaled a league-worst five punt return yards.
To put it lightly, that is beyond pathetic.
Three of the team’s four starters in the secondary are listed as questionable. Flowers, Verrett and Addae being hurt leaves only Eric Weddle as a starter that is guaranteed to play on Monday.
In the last two weeks, first Flowers in Week 3 and then Verrett in Week 4, the team’s cornerbacks came into the week listed as probable, yet, neither ended up playing in those respective weeks. Verrett was on the club’s 46-man active roster last week, but he did not even suit up, as he was in street clothes for the game. Flowers left last week’s contest with a concussion.
It goes without saying that the Bolts would be far better off if they had both Flowers and Verrett healthy and in the starting lineup. It is going to be interesting to see if the extra day off helps ensure they get back into game action.
Nickel corner Patrick Robinson has done a solid job filling in for the injured starters, proving that he was a great pickup in free agency this offseason. One can only wonder how the defensive backfield would perform if all four starters were healthy, but Robinson has made his share of impact plays during their absence.
The Chargers may not be the most-injured NFL team, but it sure seems like it. The adversity they have had to overcome has already become a bit overwhelming. It is up to the coaching staff and the veteran players to keep this team focused, concentrating on improving and stacking up wins as the season progresses, regardless of who is out there on the field.
Missing the playoffs again is not an option.
Thank you very much for reading.
The Chargers released their updated injury report on Chargers.com on Wednesday.
Prior to breaking down what it means to the team, here’s the report.
Did not participate:
- S Jahleel Addae – Ankle
- OL D.J. Fluker – Ankle
- WR/KR/PR Jacoby Jones – Ankle
- OL Johnnie Troutman – Arm
- OL Chris Watt – Groin
- OLB Tourek Williams – Foot
- TE Ladarius Green – Concussion
- OLB Kyle Emanuel – Shoulder
- OL Chris Hairston – Knee
The initial timetable on Fluker’s return made it seem as though he would miss a serious amount of time; as much as six weeks. But reports have come out that his time on the sideline will not be as long as expected. This is great news seeing as Hairston had a miserable game against the Bengals, being beaten multiple times and drawing a couple of flags. Hairston, despite a knee ailment, was a full-go at practice as mentioned above.
After watching the Chargers’ defense force Cincinnati to a punt due to a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive in Week 2, Keenan Allen muffed the punt, allowing the Bengals to recover inside the 20-yard line. Although Jacoby Jones hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire with his returns in the offseason and season opener, it would be great to have him back there, at least to secure the ball and get the Chargers’ offense on the field. Jones suffered an ankle injury against the Lions in Week 1. His return date has yet to be determined.
On paper, it appeared that safety Jimmy Wilson filled in admirably for the injured Addae. I am not, by any means, going to sit here and say that he had a bad game, but it looked as though defensive coordinator John Pagano changed up his strategy in the secondary. Could this have been due to the fact that Addae was not available? It is hard to say, but I sure would like to see Addae back on the field making plays.
Though he struggled against a stout Cincinnati defensive line, seeing that Watt is injured is troubling. The offensive line has already been banged up, and don’t get me started on the injury issues the hogs upfront faced in 2014. Watt is still learning his role as the team’s starting center. That being said, Mike McCoy and Frank Reich named him the starter for a reason. If for some reason Watt is unable to go this Sunday in Minnesota, reserve center Trevor Robinson is more than capable of stepping up and starting.
As expected, both Johnnie Troutman and Tourek Williams were non-participants in today’s practice. Troutman should be inching closer to health as his diagnosis has him being available to return by about the fourth week of the season. Williams is still a wait-and-see type of scenario. The outside linebacking corps surely could use him.
Finally, the news that tight end Ladarius Green showed up to Chargers Park with concussion-like symptoms is very alarming. If he does indeed have a concussion, this would be a third concussion-related report on Green since being blown up by former Patriots’ cornerback Brandon Browner last season in Week 14. Green laid on the field after taking the hit from Browner. The play drew a 15-yard penalty.
With Antonio Gates continuing to serve his four-game suspension due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the fourth-year tight end is crucial in the success of the San Diego offense. He has already made his mark through two games, catching 10 passes for 121 yards and one touchdown. Green was shutout of the end zone in 2014. He is on pace for career highs in all receiving categories should he get back on the field.
On a bright note, it is good to see that rookie outside linebacker Kyle Emanuel was a full participant today. He played a major role in the team’s win over the Lions in Week 1. Allowing him to rotate with Jerry Attaochu keeps him fresh and should enable him to continue to make an impact.