Welcome to the dramatic conclusion of my "Top 10" list of moves Tom Telesco should make to help improve the San Diego Chargers roster this offseason.
Now, back to the list:
5. Keeping Rivers Upright
2012 was a disaster, so 2013 had to be better. The Chargers were a very good run blocking unit, but the pass blocking could stand to get better. PFF ranked them as the 24th best pass blocking unit. Though the line was 8th in adjusted sack rate, this was due to the design of the offense.
I feel confident that D.J. Fluker will continue to improve. All signs are pointing to at least 1 new starter along the line (to replace Jeromey Clary), and they'll need depth at guard either way. Whether it's Johnnie Troutman or an outsider, the interior line will have to be better than they were in 2013.
4. Get Someone to Anchor the Defense
Telesco chose to roll the dice and enter '13 with Cam Thomas as the starting nose tackle. That was a mistake. It's not even that Thomas is as bad as fans made him out to be. He was just playing more than he should have. On top of that, he was playing hero ball. What made Aubrayo Franklin so good was that he wasn't overused, and he played his assignment. Thomas was often gassed, and played like every down was 3rd down, trying to shoot gaps and make plays, instead of holding up blocks for his linebackers to make plays.
There are several mid-to-late round guys who could instantly help, as well as free agents who fit the bill. Two free agents to keep an eye on, both 25-years old coming off solid seasons, Terrence Cody (360 pounds) and Linval Joseph.
3. Build Around Keenan
Keenan Allen is a #1 WR in the NFL, period. He needs help. The Chargers can save $4.5 million if they cut Eddie Royal. Vincent Brown doesn't seem to be a good fit in the offense. For his sake, Malcom Floyd should retire, unless he's 100% healthy. Counting on Danario Alexander for more than 6 games just isn't smart.
San Diego was 17th in the NFL in "Big Plays", or plays of 25+ yards. Tom Telesco said he wanted to infuse some speed into the offense; this will only make the Allen and Ladarius Green better. I personally think WR is a bigger need than most, and I think it's a good idea to build on your strength, the offense. There are some very good, young receivers in free agency that'll be available, all who can stretch the field. This is also the deepest position in the NFL Draft.
2. Get Somebody Who Can Cover!
Telesco said Derek Cox will get another season as a Charger. I'm calling his bluff. Even he stays, will he work his way back into the lineup? Richard Marshall is a free agent, and Steve Williams will effectively be a rookie. I thought Shareece Wright started to play better at the end of the year, but I think his skills are best suited in the slot. It's a good draft if you need a corner, but like Williams, asking a corner to come in and be your #1 is a disaster waiting to happen.
There are about six #1 CB's that are set to hit free agency, and they are all under 27-years old. There are more good ones that are over 27, so I believe the price won't be as high. I believe that Telesco should dip into the free agent pool again this year for a corner, as well as draft one.
1. "Show Me a Good Secondary, I'll show you a Good Pass Rush"
John Pagano's scheme is to play coverage, and hope that four rushers get after the QB, which is fine (it's really not) if you have, you know, actual pass rushers. He relied on Thomas Keiser, Larry English, and Reggie Walker this year. Dwight Freeney (33 years old) should be back, and Melvin Ingram is more of a chess piece that should be moved around.
Telesco will need to bring in someone explosive, who can win 1-on-1 match-ups. Pass rusher is one position where you usually have to overpay in free agency, making it an easy decision to draft an impact pass rusher. If you are able to get a pass rusher at a bargain deal through free agency, great. However, getting someone who you can develop for about half of the price is a much better deal.