The San Diego Chargers 2016 offseason is in full bloom. There may not be weekly games going on however the NFL is anything but sedentary in it’s “offseason.”
First teams decide about their own free agents, then sift through the available league options. After that a little event called the NFL Draft delivers hope to all and salvation to few. Now it’s time for the OTA popcorn machine. Lot’s of activity, but little in the way of satisfying consummation.
OTA’s are happening right now. May 23-25 is the first OTA. Another on May 31st. Then June 1-2 and June 6-9. The last session is a mandatory minicamp June 14-16 before the Boltz first day of training camp Thursday, July 30th. Still two full months before hitting starts. Questions however have their own schedule. Below I posit three of the biggest.
Question #1 – Can Last Years 1st Round Pick Bear Fruit?
Melvin Gordon was a stud in college. That was then and this is now. After a rookie campaign that saw Gordon eek out 641 yards in 184 attempts and zero touchdowns it’s safe to ask if the former first rounder was worth the selection.
Gordon is the unlucky recipient of top end thinking. A common fallacy in the NFL. The Chargers were correct in identifying the running game as an area of need two years ago. However they are being taught the same lesson NFL coaches and players have been learning for years. You build your team from the inside out. The lines (both of them) come first. The pro game is the ultimate team sport. After having four lane gashes to run through in college Gordon is looking at slivers of daylight that close the moment he looks at them. The RB isn’t the issue.
The club needs upgrades along the offensive line. Until they get them the running game and pass protection will be a “work in progress.” Another brutal year of injuries certainly didn’t help in 2015. Shuffling D.J. Fluker to RG helps. Fluker’s issue with speed rushers will be greatly diminished inside allowing him to use his natural strength to greater effect. Kink Dunlap needs a bounce back year on the left side and third round pick OC Max Turek needs to be able to step up sooner rather than later. Barksdale is over matched on the left side. He is much better suited to the right and has the potential to blossom in the position.
The line should be able to offer more power between the tackles and that’s where Gordon makes his money. Having two healthy WR’s on the edges will help spread the field. The team waited until the third round to address the offensive line despite not adding any players during free agency. This has a huge effect on the passing game as well. I don’t care how fast newly acquired Benjamin is. You need at least a few seconds to setup and get rid of the ball.
Quick note – Drafting FB Derek Watt in the sixth round was a steal.
I like the new arrangement for the current players but unlike the team, I thought going OL in the first round made a ton more sense than DL.
Question #2 – How Much Difference Can Joey Bosa Make?
Speaking of the defensive line it just got a lot better. You may not be a huge fan of the Chargers taking Bosa in the first round (I’m not) but there is no doubting the young defensive linemen’s talent. The pick I’m not fond of. The player? I’m all in. The guy can flat out ball.
Bosa is a football player. Last time I looked adding those to your team was a good thing. That’s the case here. Bosa can stop the run which is job one. He has a complete skill set however and will put consistent pressure on the QB. Not possessing that elite first step Joey gets there with technique and a non-stop motor. Like J.J. Watt Bosa won’t often get to the QB unabated or so quickly a hot read can’t be made. What he will do however is not allow a signal caller the ability to work through their reads. With Bosa on the line you better make your first read count because he will be in your grill right after that.
The hand work by Bosa is a joy to watch. While on the move his hands are like windmills on acid. He uses strong hands and incredible hand eye coordination to pick the opposing players hands out of the air and redirect them all the while blowing by the man. It’s hard to block someone you can’t get your mitts on. This is Bosa’s biggest weapon.
Instincts, strength, intelligence, explosiveness, technique, vision. Bosa is the real deal. How big of an impact will Bosa make? I don’t see him taking over a game. I do see him being a guy who will deliver a few splash plays each week at critical times while holding down his responsibilities from down to down in a professional manner. A position of weakness is now a position of strength and along with free agent NT Brandon Mebane makes the Chargers defensive front a much bigger headache on game day.
Bosa will have a bigger impact than last years misguided pick RB Melvin Gordon. You build teams from the pit out. A pick on either side of the ball as long as it’s the line is a good pick until you get the core of your team built. Sure myself and Mrs. Philip Rivers would have preferred a stud OL. I’ll take a stud DL and not look back however.
Question #3 – Can Travis Benjamin Be Robin To Keenan Allen’s Batman?
Yes. Benjamin can outrun a bullet train in wing tips. The dude is greased lightning. Having real boltz on his helmet and shoulders should make it look even better when he blows the top off of defenses.
Unlike drafting a stud RB you punish behind a sub-par line obtaining a perfect pairing for incredible WR Keenan Allen is a fantastic move. Each player has the skill set that will allow the other to be better. Travis stretches a defense vertically giving Allen more room to work between zones. Throw in more horizontal room for TE Antonio Gates along with an elite QB that has a big arm and their is a LOT to get excited about. Rivers will be able to look for his targets in the expanse of a big, wide secondary due to the addition of one player.
Three questions. Confirmation on answers soon to come.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over