In case you aren't on Twitter or were busy this morning, I told people to tweet their questions at me and I'd answer them on the site today. Considering the huge response I got, and lots of good questions to boot, this might have to be a regular thing. To the questions....
@BFTB_Chargers best guess at first three picks in the draft?— Bryan Utu (@Utu3) February 7, 2012
A nearly impossible question this year because, opposite from last season, free agency has been restored to its normal schedule and will be before the NFL Draft. We know the Chargers will be looking for a pass-rusher and an offensive lineman. We know they could use some help/depth at WR, TE, RB/FB and Safety as well.
I think the Chargers use their first-round pick on an offensive lineman of some sort. Either a Guard/Center for whatever hole is left by Kris Dielman (who might retire) and Nick Hardwick (who is currently a FA with leverage), or a Tackle that would let them move Jeromey Clary to Guard. After that, I'd say they go after a Wide Receiver and a Defensive Lineman.
@BFTB_Chargers I am admittedly draft stupid, but with all the emphasis on Pass Rushers, wasn't our big weakness OL depth this year?— DanielNava (@DanielNava) February 7, 2012
Yes and no. The depth was actually good enough that the Chargers were usually down 60% of their starters and the only backup that couldn't hold his own was Brandyn Dombrowski. However, with Hardwick a FA, Marcus McNeill recovering from another neck injury and Dielman's future uncertain, OL depth becomes an issue again.
The emphasis on pass-rushers is simple, though. Pass-rushers are a cure-all. A dominant pass-rusher can make up for a bad secondary. Hell, he can make up for a bad offense (see: Von Miller). Pair him with a good secondary or a good offense, and you have a 14-2 season or a run to the AFC Championship Game. If you didn't get that reference, the Chargers need to find someone to fill Shawne Merriman's shoes.
@BFTB_Chargers Does the Bolts FO stick to their normal offseason routine or do you expect some "splashes" be it FA signings, cuts,or trades?— Daniel Britton (@TheZappaz) February 7, 2012
I expect a splash. A.J. Smith is not stupid. He knows that building for the future, while still important, is not as important as keeping his job. A winning season and a playoff win or two would go a long way towards accomplishing the latter, and he might be willing to mortgage a tiny bit of the future to get it.
@BFTB_Chargers: is Gaither coming back next season?— scott (@ChargerMetal) February 7, 2012
Yes. He'll probably start the season as the backup OT, which makes him a giant upgrade over Dombrowski.
@BFTB_Chargers: if you could add any upcoming free agent, money aside, who would you add and why?— scott (@ChargerMetal) February 7, 2012
Based on need, Mario Williams. As mentioned earlier, a dominant pass-rusher can carry a team on his back. In his first season as a 3-4 OLB, Williams was on pace for 16 sacks last season. That's dominant. He's also only 27 years old, so he could be worth whatever he costs at the end of a long-term deal.
Williams might not be Julius Peppers, but he has that potential and he's younger. Whoever lands Williams is going to immediately boost their pass-rush significantly, and he's not bad against the run either. If anyone is going to step in and be the new Merriman from Day 1, Williams is the best candidate.
@BFTB_Chargers Chance that Norv gets let go mid-season, if Bolts go through mid-season struggle again?— Albert Ma (@albear) February 7, 2012
Are we talking 6 consecutive losses again? Because that was somewhat unprecedented for Norv. If he can pull that one off again, then it's possible.
I know everyone hates Norv and wants to fire him ASAP. There are plenty of good reasons not to fire him mid-season though....
1. He runs the entire offense by himself, although that may be less true with Steve Fairchild here (like it was less true when Rob Chudzinski was here). Getting rid of him means starting from scratch, going back to step one, in the middle of the season. So you're essentially eliminating your chances of winning for the rest of the year because.....yeah, I know know either.
2. If there was a hot young assistant or coordinator on the team and you wanted to "test him out" as the head guy, then maybe you try it. Who would that be on the Chargers? I guess it depends on their opinion of Pagano mid-season, but if the team is losing 6 straight I can't imagine that it will be good.
3. When you make someone an Interim Head Coach, it's awfully hard to them demote him after that. So, even if they hate Norv by mid-season, they stand a better chance at retaining a coordinator they like (like Pagano) the following year if they just let Turner play the year out. Again, if there's less of a chance to win games by firing the guy, why would you do it mid-season?
@BFTB_Chargers what do you think the best course of action is for the secondary.. Jammer to safety? Cason? Lots left to figure out.— Chris Garcia (@sportsbrain) February 7, 2012
I think the situation needs some decisive action, honestly. If they're ready to call Darrell Stuckey their starting Safety, then do it. If not, they can't keep teasing people with prospects of Quentin Jammer playing there sometime in the future. Move him now (he can play lots of man, blitz a lot and even play nickel CB in one of those "3 Safeties" formations...so not always a Safety), name Antoine Cason and Marcus Gilchrist as starters and work from there. If the CBs don't play well, we can draft more or sign more later. The only reason to move Jammer back is if he plays horribly.
I just think the indecision and the waiting aspect of it is hurting everyone, including Jammer. Let him get on with the next part of his career instead of trying to figure out if that starts now or later.
@BFTB_Chargers Pass rusher in draft or free agency, or both? Same question in regards to the SS position.— Patrick Green (@SDfan4life) February 7, 2012
I sort of answered both of these in terms of my opinion. I'd go after a pass rusher in free agency and I'd move Jammer to SS.
We already have our "project" pass-rushers in Antwan Barnes and Larry English (assuming he's back). Adding a third one to the mix with Shaun Phillips seems like a step sideways instead of forward. Adding an accomplished pass-rusher like Mario Williams, who makes Phillips the 2nd best pass-rusher on the team, seems like a big step forward for a defense that needs it.
I don't think I'd be thrilled with an early SS draft pick just because Darrell Stuckey hasn't been bad when he's been out there. Now, if the team could sign someone like Tyvon Branch away from the Raiders, I'd be okay with that. However, I don't think that's a high priority with other SS options on the team (Jammer, Stuckey, Gilchrist, Eric Weddle).
@BFTB_Chargers Top 5 targets in FA (assuming they don't re-sign with current teams)?— Ryan Brown (@ryanbrown77) February 7, 2012
1. Mario Williams
2. Cliff Avril
3. Carl Nicks
4. Robert Mathis
5. Michael Bush
@BFTB_Chargers 0-100% What % of the decision to fire Scott Kaplan can directly be attributed to your hatred for the show? Don't be modest.— LobShots Sports (@LobShots) February 7, 2012
20%, if I'm not being modest.
@BFTB_Chargers when will the hat be eaten...— Nick Shepherd (@NickNRickShep) February 7, 2012
Sometime before the draft. Perhaps the weekend right before.