Remember the 2015 season Boltz faithful? The 4-12 campaign that brought your team the right to be negotiating the rookie contract with the third overall pick of the 2016 draft while camp starts? That season.
When considering the 2015 record many will remember the lack of a cohesive offensive line. Still others may lament the lack of production from collegiate stud RB Melvin Gordon or the big plays the defense gave up late in games. Me, I recall a week eight play versus the Ravens at the end of the first half and what became the end of the season for Keenan Allen. In the corner of the endzone he hauled in another impossible catch and score while injuring his kidney, ending his season and ending the Chargers offense threat in the process.
With no running game to speak of and a crippled passing game who knows what problems the defense really has with them being put in impossible situations game after game. 2015 was a cluster. It’s over. 2016 is here. Keenen Allen is back and …. wait for it … he has a new buddy!
Speed kills in the NFL. You put a speedy wide-out on one side of the formation to get what coaches refer to as “stretching the field.” Simply put the safeties and CB’s have to give more cushion to a player with serious wheels. This creates more space between defenders in the secondary that disciplined route runners and RB’s can exploit.
Enter Travis Benjamin. Say hello to Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Danny Woodhead and the running game. Let the opposing CB’s nightmares begin!
Travis Benjamin – Snatched the speedy WR from Cleveland in free agency. Travis turned in a 4.36 40 yard dash at the NFL combine which was tops in his class. Let that sink in. A 4.5 guy can generally blow the doors off just about anyone. He can make the edge if he’s a RB. He can run the nine if hes a WR. He has makeup speed if he’s a defender. Benjamin ran the 40 yard dash in 4-point-freaking-3-6 seconds. How big of a cushion do you think he’s going to get from defenders? Oh yea.
The gaps between zones become chasms when Benjamin is in the game. Man defenders are faced with either giving a big cushion as well or attempting press and living with the results.
But what happens elsewhere with Travis stretching the field and pushing the defensive backs away from the line of scrimmage? Let’s look.
Keenan Allen – The incredibly talented WR runs the entire route tree and can receive the ball at any point during the route. He eats zone coverage alive if given enough gaps between zones. Keenan consistently gets behind man coverage and has an incredible catch radius due to his athleticism. A stretched field plays to his strengths making him even more dangerous.
Antonio Gates – The all-world TE only has three routes he runs and he does each with precision. He attacks the seams and crossing routes. He eats zone coverage alive and has an incredible catch radius. He’s too tall and too big for most defenders in man and he lives for third down. A stretched field plays to his strengths making him even more dangerous.
Danny Woodhead – The versatile RB can turn in 600-800 yards receiving any year. He hits the traditional RB routes but can be deployed in the slot as well. He eats zone coverage alive with his underneath routes and man defenders can rarely stay with him after his initial cut. Reliable hands even though he’s a RB. A stretched field plays to his strengths making him even more dangerous.
Running Game – With second level defenders giving cushion this creates more lanes for the running game and gives the RB an extra step to get up to speed before hitting the next level. In a game of inches that’s huge and a stretched field plays to the running games strengths making it even more dangerous..
By now everyone sees the theme. Travis Benjamin’s speed stretches the defense which plays to the strengths of those around him making them even more dangerous.
It’s going to be a fun year for Philip Rivers, the Chargers passing game and the Boltz faithful.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over