Tom Telesco did an excellent job in the 2013 draft.
Many analyst were saying immediately after the draft that, in their opinion, the San Diego Chargers had the best draft. Many people would probably still agree. DJ Fluker had an excellent season winning All-Rookie honors playing better than every OT that was selected before him. We all know how good of a season Keenan Allen had, so far already winning PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Manti T’eo was injured early on in the season, but got a lot of playing time throughout the year. He consistently got better and seems as if his ceiling is still pretty high.
Let’s think about Manti T’eo. He is a solid young player and there is a lot to like about him moving forward. We drafted him in the 2nd round. Seemed like a steal at the time. Even though he has grown, he has also got pushed around consistently and still does not demonstrate being NFL-ready.
Back in April, Tom Telesco had the 45th pick in the draft, the 13th of the second round. Telesco made a trade with the Cardinals to trade up to the 38th pick, which was the 6th of the second round. San Diego gave up a 4th round pick, which could have been used for any such depth on defense or offense.
Kiko Alonso was named the PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year this week. He was third in the entire NFL in tackles with 159. That is tremendous production for a rookie linebacker. Kiko Alonso plays the same position Manti T’eo does.
When was Kiko Alonso drafted? 46th, 1 pick after the Chargers initial pick of 45th overall.
It is always easier to look in the past and say what you would have done. Manti T’eo really did get pushed around by Alabama in that National Championship game, similar to the way he gets pushed around by Guards in the NFL. Kiko Alonso was dominates at the same position. T’eo was out for an injury most of the preseason and the first quarter of the season which had to have halted his progress.
One can only imagine if the Chargers weren’t so high on the Manti T’eo “hype”, and waited for Kiko Alonso. Would have been acceptable to take Alonso at the 38 spot they traded up to. General Managers are always going to make mistakes at times, and one can easily argue this was a mistake by Tom Telesco. Kiko Alonso is a top franchise defender you can build a defense around.
Tom Telesco had a great draft overall and there is a great deal to look forward to in the Chargers world. Manti T’eo has a lot of promise and should only get better with experience. Hopefully he can duplicate and continue his drafting success in 2014.
Keenan Allen was officially named the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Allen emerged throughout the year in a Philip Rivers led San Diego offense. He had a tremendous season, and could have easily been considered the overall Rookie of the Year, who went to Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy. Kiko Alonso won the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Alonso was third in the entire league in tackles (159) and was also able to haul in 4 interceptions as an Inside Linebacker. That is pretty incredible considering he is a rookie.
Eddie Lacy played well in 15 games rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns which led all rookies. He also added 35 receptions for 257 yards. Lacy was plugged in as the go-to guy midway through the season after Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury. The Packers leaned heavily on the rushing game during the 7 game stretch.
Keenan Allen had a fantastic season as well. He led all rookies in receptions (71), receiving yards (1046), and receiving touchdowns (8). He also had five 100-yard games. After the Chargers lost their 1 and 2 Wide Receivers in Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd, it created an opening for Allen. He really did not get going until Week 5 in Oakland. From there on out he was pretty consistent.
The Charger Opinion:
Generally, it is harder for a receiver to put up as many yards and touchdowns as a running back. Many teams have one go-to running back who accumulates all the yards, while receivers are one among many. Over half of Lacy’s touchdowns were from 5 yards out or less, with more than a few 1-yd TD runs.
It took about 5 weeks, but Keenan Allen connected with Philip Rivers and became his go-to guy. He was able to consistently get open on crossing routes and corners. Allen was getting matched up against the opponent’s best CB at times, and even getting double teamed. San Diego has a Top-5 Offense with a lot of playmakers. Quarterbacks have to throw it around to more than just one guy. They hand it off to just one. That is the argument.
WIthin 48 hours after the San Diego Chargers season ended, the front office is already making moves.
WIth Ken Whisenhunt signing on with the Tennessee Titans to be their next head coach, the Chargers had an open vacancy at Offensive Coordinator.
Frank Reich has done an excellent job in his first year here in San Diego. He came over from Arizona with Ken Whisenhunt where he was the Wide Receivers coach. Frank played a big role this season in resurrecting Philip Rivers’ career back to elite status. As the Quarterback’s Coach, some may argue that Frank actually had more to do with Rivers’ excellent season than Ken Whisenhunt.
The only concern about Reich is that he has never actually been an Offensive Coordinator. Even though he played in the league for 14 years, and has been an Assistant Coach and a position coach, he never made it to a Coordinator position.
The only minor concern that may arrive is that Frank Reich has never called plays as an Offensive Coordinator.
Mike McCoy can take this team whatever direction he wants. He may have Frank Reich put together the offensive game plans but not actually call the plays. In this scenario, it would mean that Mike McCoy would go back to calling plays like he did as a Coordinator.
Chargers fans saw with Norv Turner how ‘having too much on one plate can spoil dinner,’ so to speak. Norv Turner called the plays while in San Diego as the Head Coach. The problem was he made a handful of mental and boneheaded mistakes a Head Coach should never make (i.e. clock management, etc). It may be better if Mike McCoy works with Frank all offseason and gets him up to par on calling plays so it is one less burden McCoy has to worry about.
Chargers fans should be excited about Reich’s promotion. His promotion means consistency for Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense. The Chargers had a great year offensively in 2013 and they can only build off of that. San Diego may look to go back to a deep passing game with Reich as coordinator. Philip Rivers should get at least one of his deep threat WRs back this year in Malcom Floyd or Danario Alexander. After a year of learning to be responsible with the ball and not throw as many interceptions or fumble nearly as often, Rivers may be primed to let it all loose in 2014.
Even though the San Diego Chargers did not have particularly a good season on defense, John Pagano has done an excellent job. The San Diego defense is primarily young players. This defense in places is not so talent either.
Pagano has done a great job late in the season changing schemes and disguising blitzes. With a little more personnel that will fit his 3-4 scheme, this defense can be good in years to come.
According to ESPNs Adam Schefter, had drawn attraction from the Tennessee Titans where Ken Whisenhunt had just departed too. John Pagano’s contract was over this year and he proved enough to Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco that he deserved an extension. Terms not yet known.
The San Diego Chargers defense had a roller coaster of a season.
Statistics can be straight to the point and tell you how a team played. Some may be misleading causing a diluted reality. Studying statistics is something I have done since college and something that will really help paint a picture. By dissecting stats from the 2013 Chargers Defense we can see just how well they played.
John Pagano and his defense seemed to get a slow start. Injuries to linebackers Donald Butler and Manti T’eo, among others, could be to blame. Having a free agent bust in CB Derek Cox could also have something to do with it. The San Diego defense did heighten its play towards the end of the season. Maybe it was the help of some of these injured players returning, most notably Melvin Ingram. Even with their level of play rising, Pagano’s defense still showed its holes at times.
The last 5 regular season games, the Charger’s defense only gave up an average of 17.6 points/game (17.4 pts/game including 2 playoff games). The Charger’s defense actually finished the season giving up only 21.8 points per game which was the 11th best in the NFL. With an elite Chargers defense, one would expect that stat to translate into more wins. The Chargers actually lost a few games where they could not manage 20 points (Chargers lost to Titans 20-17, Dolphins 20-16). So the defense did their part then right? Might I remind you the Chargers led 17-13 to the Titans with 30 seconds left in the game? A 6th or 7th CB on the depth chart (Crezdon Butler) got burnt for a 34 yard TD pass to a rookie WR with 16 seconds left in the game.
What does this really tell us?
Think about the Chargers offensive game plan for a majority of the season. Ken Whisenhunt brought back a consistent running game as the Chargers wanted to play ball-control all season. The San Diego offense led the NFL in 2013 with the most 10+ Play drives. Not coincidentally, the Chargers also led the entire NFL in Time of Possession Per Game (33:35).
This leads to my next stat – 959. That is the total number of plays the Chargers had on defense. This is 2nd best in the NFL. The time of possession stats mentioned above make this believable and understandable.
Despite having the 2nd least defensive snaps in the entire league, the Chargers give up 366.5 yards per game which is ranked 23rd (10th worst) in the league. When taking into account how long the Chargers defense was on the field, San Diego totals 6.1 yards per play. 6.1 in SECOND Worst in the entire NFL.
That stat is what tells the true tail of the 2013 San Diego Chargers.
Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt must have known their weakness laid in the defense. They must have known they would have to play the ball control game to keep the ball out of the opponents hands, and keep the defense on the sideline. San Diego got back to the run game in a balanced attack where they rooted their identity in long drives.
These stats are key indicators in the efficiency of a defense/offense. Balancing those stats that are aided by the opposite side of the ball and plugging in the true numbers shows you how well this defense played.
One of the huge factors in the fate of the Chargers 2013 Defense was their 3rd down efficiency. They got in 3rd down situations numerous of times throughout the season, including this past weekend at the end of the Denver Broncos NFL Playoff game. The way the Chargers lost that game in the end was the epitome of the season. Coming back from all the mistakes they had made throughout the game, all the Chargers needed was a defensive stop to give Philip Rivers back the ball one last time to tie it up. San Diego could not get off the field. They blew a 3rd-and-17 as well as a 3rd-and-6 and inevitably a 3rd-and-1. For the year, the defense’s 3rd down percentage was 39%, tied for 12th-worst in the league.
Considering last year’s San Diego defense was the NFL’s worst 3rd down defense since the 1990s, they have seen improvement. This stat is even more telling considering that the San Diego Offense led the entire NFL in 3rd down percentage (49% which is outrageous).
Although San Diego’s offense really could do a better job of scoring points (12th in the league), their defense seems to be the weak link.
Early on it seemed as if John Pagano’s defense was struggling. As the season progressed, it became apparent this struggling defense had a great deal of young starters — and not the best talent in the veterans. Towards the end of the season he did an excellent job scheming and setting up blitzes with his personnel. The Chargers really need to focus on defense in the offseason and get Pagano some more talent upfront and especially a lock down cornerback. The Chargers were ranked 29th in the league in passing yards per game. A better pash rush will help this, but they simply need more talent on the backend.
San Diego needs to cause turnovers. The San Diego defense failed to effectively force turnovers this season only causing 17, which was 3rd worst in the entire NFL (ranked 30th). The defense has to help the offense out more and come up with big plays. It seemed all season the Chargers just could not make a play on defense when they needed it. Shareece Wright dropping an easy interception, this past weekend against Peyton Manning, sums up the year. The Chargers Defensive backs 7 ints (team total 11) ranked worst in the league.
Furthermore, San Diego’s turnover margin was -4. The Chargers were 1 of 2 playoff teams with a negative-turnover margin (Green Bay -1, Denver Broncos 0). You cannot expect to win the Super Bowl with a -4 Turnover Margin.
More Big Plays: There is a lot to like with young defensive ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes. The reality is, they are defensive ends in a 3-4 defense. Their main goal is to open holes for the linebackers to make plays while rushing the quarterback. A Defensive End in this role will not produce many sacks because 3-4 defenses rely on the OLBs to provide the pass rushing.
These two young stars combined for only 10.5 sacks this season. With better players on the outside, you would like to see this number rise to 14-15 while your two outside linebackers are combining for about 20+. Corey Liuget led the team with 5.5 sacks. A 3-4 Defense should never have its Defensive End lead the team in sacks.
For the season, the Chargers only obtained 35 sacks. Chargers were tied for 23rd in this category. Thomas Keiser led all linebackers with 4.5. Keiser was on the practice squad at the start of the season and only got playing time due to numerous injuries on the defense. He had never really had any consistent production in his career at the NFL level, and two of his 4.5 sacks came in one contest.
This is unacceptable by a group of LBs. Jarrett Johnson only had 3 sacks, but he is also the anchor that sets the edge in the running game, not a guy who attacks the quarterback very often. The Melvin Ingram injury and Dwight Freeney injury obviously played a role in the poor production of our OLBs. A full offseason next year for both of these players will be huge. The big question is if Freeney can stay healthy and continue to produce at the high level of his old Hall of Fame self.
San Diego has a lot of room for improvement on defense. Their stats were primarily aided to the superb ball control of the offense. John Pagano’s late season schemes and blitzes also helped these numbers. With a couple additions up front, and a star player in the defensive backfield, this team could easily improve.
Less than 24 hours after the San Diego Chargers season came to a close, former Charger’s Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt signed as the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans.
This week Ken Whisenhunt interviewed with the Titans, Lions, and Browns leading up to Sundays Divisional Round matchup against the Broncos. Many people in San Diego are buzzing about just how ‘all-in’ Whisenhunt was in preparation for the Playoff game. The Chargers had a lackluster first half performance where they gained less than 100 yards and were held scoreless.
Despite this poor outing on offense, Ken Whisenhunt has had a very successful season as the Chargers Offensive Coordinator. Mike McCoy must have known when hiring Ken that it may be a one-and-done type year for the new Titan’s head coach. Philip Rivers has had what many think as a renaissance year where he set a career record in completion percentage leading the league at 69.5%. Rivers was also top 5 in the league in passing yards, touchdowns, and QB Rating. Rivers had his first ProBowl season in a couple years and truly deserved it. Whisenhunt did a good job at pinpointing Rivers strengths and added a short passing game which proved to be effective. He also greatly improved his turnovers as he only had 11 interceptions all season and 1 lost fumble. The 11 interceptions were the fewest since 2009 in which he only threw 9. Rivers also enjoyed his highest yards per attempt since 2009.
Not only did Whisenhunt improve the overall efficiency of the passing game, but he also resurrected the Chargers running game. Ryan Mathews had arguably his best season of his career rushing for 1,255 yards and 6 touchdowns. He set a career high in rushing yards after rushing for less than 800 yards last season. He also enjoyed his first full 16-game season. He left a few of these games early (including a game early in the season where he only rushed 3 times for 8 yards). Although Mathews had much more passing receptions and yards in previous seasons, his opportunities were limited with the emergence of Danny Woodhead in the Charger’s offense and passing game.
For the Titans:
The Titans have to be pretty satisfied with who they obtained as a head coach. Jake Locker is an up-and-coming quarterback with his own Ben Roethlisberger-esque style of play. Tennessee has a few playmakers on offense including Kenny Britt and Chris Johnson. Both are set to be free agents so depending on if they retain those players this could be a different team. If they can retain those players than I would expect CJ2K to have a rebound season. Norv Turner led Chargers teams of the past were known for abandoning the run. Ken Whisenhunt committed to the run for the first time since LT was with the Chargers and it proved dividends for both the running and passing games.
Many thought that Ken Whisenhunt would have taken the Detroit Lions job, as did I. The Lions have a potential elite defense stacked with talent, especially on the front 7. Also they have playmakers on offense. Matt Stafford has had similar problems that people saw in Rivers in past years. Ken Whisenhunt would have been a perfect candidate to ‘fix’ Stafford and resurrect his career as he did to Rivers’. Also, the Lions have the NFL’s best Wide Receiver in Calvin Johnson. Reggie Bush has proven himself as a legitimate feature back in the past couple seasons as well.
There must have been something he saw in Tennessee.
Tennessee has historically had a solid defense, but it has not been as good in recent years. Ken Whisenhunt really does not have any defensive experience and it will be interesting to see what route he goes with his hirings. One thing to mention is that when he had success in Arizona it was with a Hall of Fame quarterback in Kurt Warner. Before that his success in Pittsburgh was with Super Bowl winning QB Big Ben. Just this last year he has had success with a great QB in Philip Rivers. The success of Ken Whisenhunt will be judged primarily on the progress and production of Titans QB Jake Locker.
But who knows? Maybe Ken wants to completely switch it up and get new players all around.
What this means for Chargers:
Mike McCoy and San Diego’s front office now need to start looking for an Offensive Coordinator. Ken Whisenhunt was an excellent addition to McCoy’s staff in his first year. As mentioned above, he truly resurrected Philip Rivers career.
WIth that said, this has been a pretty conservative year for the Charger’s offense. Yea, Ken did a good job in committing to the run, but he also got away from the passing game at times. Also, he had some questionable play calling at times (see Washington game).
The major reason for all of this conservative play calling was to limit Philip River’s turnovers. He did a great job in this. With the experience of this year under his belt, I feel Rivers will continue to make strides next year. The Chargers should still incorporate the short passing game and lock and load with the run. I believe Rivers will get back to his gunslinging ways in 2014. The Chargers should have an additional deep threat WR (depending on the future of Malcom Floyd/Danario Alexander) next year which will help Rivers numbers and help all the other players on the offense get open as well.
So what’s next? Many people have speculated that Chargers will promote QB Coach Frank Reich to Offensive Coordinator. Those are also the same people that thought Ken Whisenhunt would sign with the Detroit Lions, so who knows. Frank has done a great job with Rivers this year. The only concern really is that he has not been an OC or called plays in 8 years.
Will McCoy call plays next year? Mike McCoy could go back to calling plays until Frank Reich gets his feet wet as an offense coordinator and becomes comfortable calling plays. Personally, I think the Chargers should consider this option, but not be blind to outside options as well. There are not many good candidates for OC positions because most good OC’s are trying to be head coaches and non of the coaches that got fired this year were among the better OC’s in the league. Maybe Rod Chudzinski will be looked at.
Either way the Chargers offense has a lot to look forward to next year and should be happy with what Ken Whisenhunt has brought this team. His one year here will leave lasting impressions with the Changes he made to the passing and running game. Best of luck to Whiz.
Going into the game on Sunday, there was one thing the Chargers knew they could not let happen. Fall behind. Even with the help of two first half turnovers caused by the Charger’s defense, San Diego saw themselves down 14-0 at half time.
Similar to the previous week in Cincinnati, Philip Rivers barely threw the ball in the first half amassing less than 50 yards in the air. Ken Whisenhunt attempted to stick with the offensive game plan the team had finished the season with. The only problem was Ryan Mathew’s health. The feature back that got the 2013 Chargers to where they are was simply not good to go. Many were optimistic of his chances to play based off of his practicing regiment in the weeks leading up to the playoffs. He had practiced only one day a week the last few weeks of the season in order to nurse his ankle injury. San Diego probably knew Mathews was going to be limited as he only rushed 5 times for 26 yards.
Despite Ryan Mathew’s limitations, Whisenhunt tried to keep with the game plan. Instead of going to the air, in which we all know Rivers has had success in his career, the Chargers offense stuck with a running game in Danny Woodhead. The problem was it was not getting them anywhere.
The Chargers only had 4 offensive drives in the entire first half (excluding the kneel down possession at the end of the first half). Their game plan was to waste the clock and keep Manning off of the ball. The irony is their game plan did the exact opposite. The Chargers were conservative and ran the ball in the first half. On the first drive, Rivers was sacked twice. Maybe this had something to do with the play calling decisions, but Rivers was only sacked 2 times thereafter.
Denver’s first scoring drive was the longest of the season, running 14 plays for over 7 minutes of game clock. It was if the Bronco’s took a page out of Mike McCoy’s playbook and ran the ball against the Chargers. It was not even the running game, but it was the short passing game that kept the clock going too. That is something many will speculate and point out the Chargers should have switched to in order to keep their ball-control game plan. The Chargers defense forced 2 turnovers in the first half, one which seemed to be a sure touchdown drive as Manning was intercepted in the end zone with 30 seconds left in the first half. The fact that the Chargers were only down 14 at halftime was lucky.
Here is a stat for you. Even though the Chargers turned to Danny Woodhead to run the ball, he still only gained 29 yards on 9 rushes. The Chargers only had 15 carries from running backs. That tells us mainly that the Chargers just did not have the ball that much in this game. What is even more peculiar is Ronnie Brown only received one carry in the entire game. Danny Woodhead is a great player but he is nothing more than a role-player 3rd down passing kind of a back. Ronnie Brown is your backup guy and he had a decent game last week. Sure, his stats were aided by a 58-yd touchdown run, but he still came to play. He is a bigger guy and I feel they should have given him more opportunities if they were trying to run the ball.
The Broncos did an excellent job of playing keep away from the Chargers offense, who only hurt themselves by not converting on 3rd down. This season the Chargers led the entire NFL in 3rd down percentage but only went a mere 4/12 (33.3%)on 3rd down in this contest. Meanwhile the Denver Broncos went an excellent 9/13 on 3rd down. Even going down 17-0, the Chargers still had a chance to win this game. All the Chargers needed was stop on 3rd down on the Broncos last drive which would have given San Diego the ball with over 2 minutes left in the game down 7. The first opportunity was a 3rd-and-17 which they predictably blew. Demaryius Thomas was wide open on the sideline. At that moment there was actually over 3 minutes left to play. The second opportunity was barely at midfield where San Diego had a chance on a 3rd-and-6 and could not convert.
This is similar to how the Chargers were in 2012. Their defense recorded the worst 3rd down percentage since any defense in the mid-90s. Although they moved up to 12th worst this season, it still has not cut it.
Sure the Chargers fell behind in this game, but still put themselves in position to win. A great deal of things happened and did not go San Diego’s way, but that could have all been forgotten about with a slim victory. Keenan Allen did an excellent job in the second half where he scored 2 touchdowns and helped lead the comeback for the Chargers. He finished with 6 receptions for 142 yards. Keenan seemed to be the only Chargers player to get open all game. Or maybe it was the the aggressiveness of Rivers to go to Keenan in crunch time. It really makes one think how this game would have gone if they opened up the passing game in the first half instead of trying to be conservative and inevitably having to go to the passing game.
To me this game showed a lot about just who the 2013 San Diego Chargers are. Yes, the defense came alive late in the season, but still overall did not play very well. They got knocked off the ball on many occasions and really struggled against both the pass and run. They cannot get stops when you absolutely need them too in the clutch. This game might have been different since they were on the field a majority of the game, but Championship teams and defense find a way to get off the field on 3rd-and-17 when a Superbowl Run and your season is on the line.