“Chargers Training Camp Primer”
STADIUM DRIVE….The push has begun, and getting the Chamber of Commerce to say ‘we back it’ is a positive, but small step forward….The inability to rally support from the Mayor’s office, City Council, County officials, the Hotel Industry, Comic.Con and others, still means there are huge obstacles ahead, but still time to rally support. I still maintain all the historical things that owner Dean Spanos has done in operating this team, the stadium, his friend Fabiani, the ticket guarantee, the move to LA, has left him with no political currency downtown. And that is why the polls show tons of people are not siding with him on the stadium.
THE GM….Tom Telesco had a good off season, not a wild spending spree, not names in neon lights, but affordable people, who can change the chemistry of the defense, and anchor the offensive line.
THE SALARY CAP…Still some 6M in dead money they must swallow, the aftermath of the Donald Butler contract mistake, then release, but the roster is young, athletic, and they are in good shape going forward.
THE FIRST ROUND PICK….The agent for Joey Bosa is trying to change the NFL landscape, but the club will not give him the entire 17M signing bonus upfront, and surely will not change language in any contracts for offset payments, if he is ever cut loose. Bosa is all football, and should be in camp from minute one. They’ve had 7-weeks to solve this, and as of Thursday night had not. 7-weeks of camp lays ahead.
THE COACH..Mike McCoy may have had an extra year added on his contract, but if they don’t make the playoffs this year, he could be headed out of town. Last year was a fluke-no team loses its offensive line, and a couple of running backs, and survives. But the scoreboard does not lie, the Chargers have 1-playoff win in 7-years, even with the greatness of that quarterback in the huddle. McCoy, and the 9-new coaching staff members, better rally this in 2016.
THE QUARTERBACK….We head to the final years of the brilliant career of QB-Philip Rivers, who has done more with less recently. This should-could be a brilliant offensive season, with depth at the skill positions, an improved and healthy offensive line, solid running backs, and multiple pas catching tight ends. That plus the addition of Ken Whisenhunt.
THE RUNNING BACKS…Too much blame is being placed on Melvin Gordon for his strange season last year, not enough blame on the coaching staff, use of personnel, and the trauma upfront. He never got comfortable in a 1-back set; there was no continuity upfront with 11-different starting OLineman; there were no holes. He seems completely recovered from the microfracture knee surgery, as does his alter ego Brandon Oliver. The group will be good.
THE WIDE OUTS….Goodbye Malcom Floyd. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin get first shots to make plays opposite Keenan Allen. There will be fierce competition from some of the younger, but with some experience, backups. And Stevie Johnson looms out there with ability, but not alot of consistency.
TIGHT END….Farewell tour for Antonio Gates. Welcome Hunter Henry, the heir apparent. If they can spot the use of Gates, no reason he cannot have a strong final year, as Hunter proves his ability down the field.
OFFENSIVE LINE…So far so good, nobody hurt yet, after last year’s Red Cross season. They are lying if they are saying they are not concerned about OT-King Dunlop becoming concussion prone. File and forget the injury riddled season Orlando Franklin had last year. Welcome in the street toughness of ex-Bears center Matt Slauson. One of the young lineman, who played in spots last year, Ken Wiggings or Tyreek Burwell needs to step up, just like Chris Watt needs to stay healthy.
DEFENSIVE FRONT…The entire personality of the front changes with the arrival of big body NT-Brandon Mebane, and the speed of Joey Bosa. It allows them to move some other people around. They do like oft-injured pass rusher Tenny Palepoi and 2nd year man Darius Philion.
LINEBACKERS…Melving Ingram is in a contract year, coming off 10-sacks. Jerry Attaochu has shown flashes. Now both must showup every Sunday and make plays, but maybe having Bosa as a running mate will help. They do like the combo of Danzell Perryman and Mantei Te’o but the truth is, Perryman is a small inside backer, and Teo’ still seems a step slow. And depth here is lacking.
SECONDARY…There is no Eric Weddle, but there is Jason Verrett, a fast emerging star, a tough guy growing into the job Jahleel Addae, and the addition of two steady secondary veterans in Dwight Lowrey and Casey Hayward. Watch and see what kind of growth they get from Craig Muger, Stevie Williams and Adrian Phillips. Brandon Flowers is not what he used to be, but played better as an inside slot cover guy last year after a horrific start.
SPECIAL TEAMS….Josh Lambo was very strong. The new punter Drew Kaser has a strong leg, and it will be fun to see if Travis Benjamin can be as good in San Diego as he was in Cleveland bringing kicks back.