Have you heard the news today? Oh, boy. The New York Jets want to trade away Darrelle Revis for a first round pick. Say, the San Diego Chargers have themselves a first round pick!
Now, before you start crying about how the Chargers need to improve their offensive line, let me remind you of a few things.
- When you have as many holes on the roster as the Chargers have, you can not fix them all through the draft. There just isn't enough talent and the team doesn't have enough early draft picks.
- The offensive line is not the only part of this team that was terrible in 2012. Strong Safety and both Cornerback spots were just as bad.
- The New England Patriots, who have a fantastic offensive line, have won nothing in recent years besides an invitation to lose to teams that have strong defenses.
- Without a good secondary, a good front seven on defense is meaningless.
Are we good? Let's move along.
The San Diego Chargers have a slew of players on their roster that will hit free agency in less than two months. Among them are Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, Corey Lynch and Chris Carr. Atari Bigby might be back before the start of the 2013 regular season, but he was terrible in coverage in 2012. Brandon Taylor won't be back before the start of the 2013 regular season. That leaves the team with a secondary of Eric Weddle, Marcus Gilchrist, Shareece Wright and... that's about it (unless you want to include Special Teamer Darrell Stuckey).
Any way you slice it, San Diego needs help in the secondary. They would prefer to find themselves a shut-down Cornerback that doesn't need Safety help because (1) it would allow the team to help Shareece Wright or whoever is playing the role of #2 Cornerback and (2) it would make it a hell of a lot easier to find a Safety to play next to Eric Weddle.
Can the team find themselves a shutdown corner in the first round of the NFL Draft? Maybe, but CB is one of those spots where you expect rookies to suffer from a steep learning curve (and the lack of favor from referees). Much safer just to go with a proven guy. Which isn't to say that Revis is simply "a proven guy", either.
Darrelle Revis is the single best Cornerback to play in the NFL since Deion Sanders' initial retirement, and he's as good (if not better) than Quentin Jammer in run support as well. To put his effectiveness in its simplest of terms, Revis makes it so that your defense can use 10 players to cover half of the field instead of using 11 to cover the entire thing. That makes it much easier to scheme your opponent into a situation where they make mistakes.
Trading for Darrelle Revis probably means trading a first round pick. You could maybe get away with trading a 2nd rounder in 2013 with a conditional pick that's either a 1st or 2nd rounder next year (dependent upon number of snaps or whatever the Antonio Cromartie deal was).
Adding Revis to the team probably also means a new contract for the lad, something that pays him in the vicinity of $10 million per year (he's due to make $9 million in 2013 and $6 million for each of the three years after). That would make him the second-highest paid player on the team behind Philip Rivers.
Follow my train of thought here.....
- A great defense gives the offense a chance to run the ball more frequently (because they're more concerned with burning clock than they are with putting up points, since they're not playing "catch up").
- It's harder to pass block than it is to run block, making it harder to find offensive lineman that can effectively pass block than it is to find offensive lineman that can effectively run block.
- An effective running game keeps opposing blitzes and pass-rushers in check, forcing them to maintain their gap on play-action fakes rather than pinning their ears back and coming for the QB.
See what I'm getting at? Chargers fans are stuck in the mindset of A.J. Smith and Norv Turner. Allow me to make a metaphor to explain this.
Let's say A.J. Smith is general manager of a aquatic shipping company. When he takes over, he's given four boats (named Offense, Defense, Special Teams and Coaches) to make large shipments, so he ties the boats together with rope. Each shipment, something seems to go wrong. One of the ropes break, there's a leak in one of the boats, one of the four engines powering the thing gives out, etc. He can't seem to figure out why, when he fixes one small problem, another problem arises.
Meanwhile, for the same amount of money that he spent trying to fix every small problem that arose, Smith could have easily afforded to buy a new boat, one just as big as the four boats when they're tied together. A new boat without the issues of the old boats, and without the complications that arise when you try and use four boats for one shipment.
Fine, maybe that's confusing. I'll try again with a simpler a metaphor.....STOP PLUGGING LEAKS. As soon as you "fix" the offensive line, the Linebackers or Wide Receivers or Secondary will tear the team down. It's time to rethink this thing from the bottom up instead of the top down.
A Change of Culture, Philosophy and Identity
Darrelle Revis does not simply fill the hole the Chargers have in their secondary, he changes the identity of the team. He changes the philosophy of the team. He changes what the team needs out of a Strong Safety, rather than spending year after year trying to find one that can fit into whatever the team thinks it wants our of a Strong Safety. He even changes what the team needs our of its offensive line, Quarterback and running game.
If Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy are serious about shaking things up inside of the Chargers organization, they need to at least consider the possibility of trading for Darrelle Revis and becoming a team that wins games (and maybe championships) by dominating defensively. It's how Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger got their four Super Bowls rings (hell, it's how Mark Sanchez got to two AFC Championship games despite being less than half the QB of those two) and it's how the Chargers should go about getting one for Philip Rivers.
So, Is It Worth the Price?
Revis is coming off of a season lost to a torn ACL. That's not an easy injury for Cornerbacks to come back from. Many also fear that Revis would demand a new contract before playing a down of football in 2013. He would require a long-term investment with whichever franchise he is with before feeling comfortable enough to get on the field. Also, as you saw with the Jets in 2012, building a team's philosophy and identity around a Cornerback can end disastrously if that CB were to get injured.
It would be a big gamble. No, a huge gamble. However, Telesco and McCoy don't have a lot of time to try and rebuild whatever A.J. Smith was trying to put together in San Diego (Philip Rivers will be 32 this year and Antonio Gates will be 33). If they're going to try and win with the "stars" that convinced them to leave their jobs and come to the Chargers organization, they're going to have to take a risk.
My opinion on this matter isn't all or nothing. I think there are other risks that can be taken. This is just one path of several that the new Chargers brass can take towards become a championship contending team. However, I do believe it will transform the team in a way that makes it easier to win (and hide the roster's immediate flaws) in 2013.
What do you think?