Offseason to-do list for the Chargers

While the Chargers are officially out of the postseason, our eyes have turned to their 2016 prospects. Greg DePalma breaks down San Diego's offseason needs.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Frank Victores)

(AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Offseason to-do list for the Chargers

The San Diego Chargers franchise is on shaky ground for more than one reason. While their possible relocation to Los Angeles has been a distraction, it’s been their questionable front office decisions that have threatened to lower their win total to proportions not seen around San Diego since before the franchise hired A.J. Smith as their general manager following the 2003 season (4-12).

GM Tom Telesco replaced Smith in 2013 and received a three-year extension this past summer after presiding over back-to-back nine-win campaigns, including the Chargers’ first post-season appearance since 2009.

But, if you take a closer look, the Chargers placed either first or second in the AFC West eight times under Smith, including five division titles until his final season in 2012. Under Telesco, the Chargers will finish third or fourth in all three of his seasons.

No matter what you think of Telesco, the extension means he’ll be the man in charge of getting the team back on track. The question still remains, will the head coach remain Mike McCoy? McCoy, who was hired by Telesco, has so far received no such extension, with his deal set to expire after the 2016 season. That lame-duck status more than likely means McCoy will be the fall guy as Telesco tries to save his job with a new field general.

Since the team of Telesco/McCoy took over in 2013, the Chargers overall grade has fallen each season from +67.7 (20th overall) that first season to -29.6 (25th overall) in 2014, to a staggering -203.0 (32nd overall) so far this season.

The primary culprit has been where games are often won or lost: the line of scrimmage.

On offense, the line has degraded each of the last three seasons from a -18.4 pass block grade (22nd overall) in 2013 to a -75.7 grade (32nd overall) so far this season.

The run blocking has suffered even worse, falling from a +41.1 (11th overall) in 2013 to a -44.3 (29th overall) so far this season.

The run defense also ranks dead last this season at -54.0.

Telesco has over $28 million dollars in cap space, available thanks to expiring contracts from several starters, including safety Eric Weddle and defensive end Kendall Reyes.

Reyes has been a second-round bust the past four seasons and ranks dead-last (128th) among all PFF interior defenders this season, with a 42.8 season grade (on a scale of 100).

The rest of the line is not much better, as DE Ricardo Mathews (123rd) and DT Sean Lissemore (116th) are just stop-gap players, so expect Telesco to look for at least two defensive linemen this off-season to help DE Corey Liuget up front.

Speaking of Liuget, Telesco gave the average talent a $51 million five-year extension with the second-most guaranteed money for a 3-4 end. Considering Liuget was the 78th ranked linemen this season for PFF before landing on IR last week, and the top-ranked 3-4 end for guaranteed money is the one and only J.J. Watt, you have to question just what Telesco was thinking.

As far as Weddle goes, he’s been a top-five safety for PFF from 2010 through 2014 including being labeled as the top PFF safety overall on two separate occasions (2014 and 2012), but he’s coming off his worst season since 2008 and turns 31 next season. I would therefore be surprised if he returned. That would open up a huge hole in the secondary for Telesco to address.

On the offensive line, only RT Joe Barksdale has performed above expectations. Barksdale is the 12th-ranked tackle (84.5) for PFF this season, and has been an undervalued player the past three seasons. He should be re-signed.

The major needs are along the interior of the line. Trevor Robinson ranks 40th of 41 centers for PFF this season (22.6), while guards Kenny Wiggins (76th) and Orlando Franklin (78th) both rank in the bottom seven.

Left tackle is also a concern because of repeated concussions to King Dunlap. Dunlap suffered three concussions in 2013, but rebounded strong last season. Unfortunately, the concussions returned for Dunlap this season, and his play suffered.

Additionally, Telesco must acquire more weapons for QB Philip Rivers. With WR Malcom Floyd set to retire and neither Steve Johnson nor Dontrelle Inman appearing to be adequate targets opposite injured Keenan Allen, it’s important to provide Rivers with some weapons on the outside.

At tight end, soon to be 36-year-old Antonio Gates is a free agent, but even during a season that currently ranks him fifth overall at the position (83.0), the Chargers do have 25-year-old Ladarius Green ready to take over. Green is currently the 16th ranked tight end for PFF (75.6).

Depending how free agency and potential trades go for the Chargers, the best-case scenario would be to trade down in the 2016 NFL Draft and acquire much needed picks to replenish their prospect pool.

If they decide to keep their pick, here is their likely first selection, per PFF’s initial mock draft.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Chargers should begin the rebuild by acquiring a second glove for Rivers although the article pic suggests he wants antenna instead.

  • Help!

    This list is only half complete. You have the tear down complete, what I don’t see is any plan for the rebuild. Who should they seek to sign in free agency?

    Also, unfortunately Green is also a free agent, so they could lose both Gates and Green.

    • crosseyedlemon

      They might be able to re-sign Antonio who would likely only be offered a one year deal by other teams because of his age.

  • Sifter

    Hard to rebuild it all in one year. I’d say focus on one side of the ball – defense. Despite the awful line, the Chargers offensive performance has actually been pretty decent. Hopefully your offense can hold together another year with Rivers. Therefore, the FA money and at least the first round pick should go on defense. Then some mid round O-linemen, and a WR. Still gonna be a bad team, but that’ll be a start.

  • Jackson

    To save space, all they had to say was the QBs, RBs, and DBs are the only things that don’t need immediate attention. My Chargers are in an incredibly terrible spot if you base their future projections on this years performance. However, I think that if we can get a good coach, a lot of the problems along our Offensive Line will be solved. Dunlap, Franklin, Fluker, and Barksdale all have a lot of talent and potential, and if they can be coached up, that could solve a lot of the issues. However, the same can not be said for the rest of our issues. Talent and potential (Outside of Keenan Allen and Ladarius Green) are nowhere to be found among our needed positions, and it will take a lot of work to fix. If Telesco trades up even once in this upcoming draft, he should not be retained if the seasons results are similar to this year. He has traded up 3 times in the last 3 drafts and has given away a lot of picks that could have potentially been good players. The only trade so far that has been justified was Attouchu. A 33% success rate in draft day trades is not encouraging.

  • MachoMenos

    I’ll be laughed at for this but here is my take. Do my Bolts have a lot of work ahead of them? Yes. Are they as bad as PFF say they are? Also, yes. But this article takes none of the reasons for their god awful performance into consideration.

    Look at the defense. You do not mention our young but promising linebackers. How good could they be with a De Forest Buckner or Jarran reed/Sheldon Day(if they trade down) on that line. Yes, Reyes has to go but Luiget was playing hurt since game two of the season and finally went on IR. Again, everyone has injuries but Luiget, Lissemore, Te’o, Attaouchu, Emmanuel, Perryman, Verrett, Flowers (also IR), Addae, Williams and Weddle all missed significant time. Speaking of Verrett, he is healthy (finally) and has looked the part of a player that will be good for years too come. Yes, I know injuries happen. But the right players in the draft can give this team a much different defense.

    The problems on offense are almost exactly the same on defense, but like you said in the article, will be much trickier to solve. The Chargers have had 21 different offensive lines in front of Philip this season. This last Sunday they had Barksdale replaced by an UDFA at RT (Burwell) for a few snaps until he came back in the game, a practice squad guy at RG (Wiggins), second teamer at Center (Robinson), an injured Franklin at LG and Dunlap replaced by second team G Hairston at LT after a few snaps. Again, injuries have devastated this team like no other. Keenan was having a monster year before his injury placed him on IR. Stevie Johnson, while serviceable at the beginning of the season, has been just bad since pulling a hammy in week 6 (?). Malcolm Floyd is ending his long and admirable career playing with a torn labrum. While Greene really stepped up when Gates missed the first 4 games of the season due to his suspension, since the receiving core went missing, teams are just focusing on covering our tight ends and Woodhead out of the backfield. Our offense is basically non-existent since. While Melvin Gordon is getting killed here in the media and by fans for his fumbles and non-production I feel that you’re not going to produce yards if you keep getting hit in the backfield play after play after play. And Rivers, whatever you think of him, is Rivers. Eeking out the most out of a bad situation.

    While getting a Center will be priority #1, we need to draft a WR because there will be none available that could help us in FA and we need to sign Greene who will be a free agent. Also, unless he comes back on the cheap, let Gates go and draft a blocking TE late. This will get Greene more snaps and help out Gordon out in the run game. As far our offensive line? Your guess is as good as mine. How bad are Dunlap’s and Flucker’s concussion issues? Can they re-sign Barksdale? Are Franklin’s issues due to getting hurt in Week one of the season? PFF seemed pretty high on this signing when Telesco made it early this year?

    Speaking of Telesco, if he fires McCoy there is no way that you can say that he is being used as a scapegoat. McCoy has to be one of the most timid coaches in football. Look back to his first two years as coach and you will see a coach who was afraid to be inventive. No guts whatsoever. To me the last straw was when he said after the Raider game. After getting the stuffing knocked out of them for 3 and 1/2 quarters the Raiders rested their players and the Chargers scored a few TD’s in garbage time. So what does McCoy say after the game? “We played very well after halftime”. ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS! It doesn’t matter if Telesco has the best draft since the ’74 Steelers. If McCoy is still the coach he will ruin their careers. Firing McCoy is step #1 after the season is done for Telesco.

    This team may have a lot of issues but they are nowhere as bad a the fans and the media make them out to be.

    Of course, if they do move to LA they can all go to hell.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Something tells me Menos is going to face a major challenge condensing this into a 140 character tweet.

      • MachoMenos

        OT, NT, Center, Safety and a WR. Made it with 109 characters to go!

  • Malachi

    step 1: fire the strength and conditioning staff.

  • kok

    Too much to do!!!

  • Dale

    Update since McCoy retained- McCoy is a double edge sword for me. He got the most out of his players and held Denver in check in the last game. On the other side he cannot win the close games. They lost many games in the last few minutes.

    Glad they fired the OL Coach and Reich is gone. Even since the first game against Lions they could not run the ball, when they had all the starters in. Play calling the last game was horrible. Run up the middle, one yd. gain, then one yd. loss then 3rd and long. Despite a JV defense they still got 4 turnovers and found a way to lose the game.

    Telesco really screwed up- No depth on OL and some bad moves in Frankin, Wiggins, and Watt who is a bust. Maybe next year a back up Guard when he played in college.

    Reyes is a huge 2nd round bust but that is on AJ I think.

    I said before the season started the weakest link on the team was NT and it looks like I was right.

    I also think Rivers’ is not getting a fair break. He set records for the best production on a 4-12 team and since the article pointed out he was hurried 26 of 37 (?) throws in the last game in Denver you cannot put that on him.

    Reality says trade Rivers’ for a high pick, but you cannot do that to the fans. I think if they improve the OL and DL they can be a playoff team again.

  • BO_stinks

    they did everything this article suggests…. so?