It is nice to see the news, the stats, the contracts and the signings, but how good are these new guys that Tom Telesco is bringing in? The Chargers have signed several players in free agency now, some bigger than others. In this NFL, nearly the entire depth chart will be used at some point in the game. Even a few plays in one season by a poor player can bring disastrous results. Every play matters, therefore every player that comes into the game matters.
I will be watching the game film for the new Charger signed this offseason, and breaking down their strengths, their weaknesses, and what they will bring to the table to their new team.
This offseason has seen the Chargers get thin on the defensive line depth chart, with the departure of Antonio Garay, Aubrayo Franklin, and Vaughn Martin. To help shore up the rotations, the Bolts signed Defensive End Jarius Wynn to a one-year contract. Wynn has been in the league for 4 years, the first three with the Packers and last year with the Titans. He appeared in the last 7 games for the Titans, rotating in off the bench. There is a very real chance he will be on the roster after training camp.
So what does he bring to the Chargers? Let’s delve into the Titans 27-23 loss to the Colts on Week 14 last season. Wynn played 25 snaps, 36% of the defensive plays. During the game, Wynn picked up 2 tackles and a sack. Let’s take a look at five plays that highlight his good points and his bad points.
The Situation : TEN 10, IND 7; 12:27 left in 2Q; 1st and 10 on the Indianapolis 20
The Play: On the first play of the Colts 3rd series of the game, Wynn comes in and lines up on the defensive left side opposite TE Colby Fleener. Wynn’s initial responsibility on the play is to jam Fleener at the line. He fails to do this spectacularly, barely getting his hands on Fleener as he runs right on by him. By this point RT Winston Justice is set and easily keeps Wynn from threatening Luck. Fleener would get open deep in the middle of the field, but Luck overthrows him and the ball bounces off Fleener’s hands.
The Lesson: Jamming receivers is not a task a DE is asked to do often. It was the only time Wynn was given this task in the game. Hopefully Pagano won’t be asking Wynn to do this at all. Wynn’s flailing was TDNLA material.
The Situation: TEN 17, IND 7, 3:47 left in 2Q, 1st and 10 on the Indianapolis 39
The Play: Wynn is once again lined up on the defensive left, and his assignment this time appears to be contain. Wynn keeps his focus on Luck, and sees Luck looking to throw to TE Dwayne Allen on the right side about 15 yards down the field. He gets his hands up, and Luck is forced to delay his pass, leading to the pressure getting to him and Karl Klug picking up the six yard sack.
The Lesson: Wynn does a good job here, keeps in his contain lane, and gets his hands up to force Luck to move along his progressions. Wynn gets some solid credit for helping bring along this sack.
The Situation: TEN 20, IND 7; 11:31 left in 3Q, 2nd and 10 on the Tennessee 37
The Play: Here we have Wynn’s sack on the day. On the play, Wynn lines up on the defensive left, and is blocks at the start of the play by Reggie Wayne. Wayne proves to be no match for Wynn, and Wynn pushes him back several yards before Wayne breaks off to the flat. Jurrell Casey also has success, pushing back even further into the backfield, and forcing Luck to step up. This give Wynn a clear lane to Luck, and he gets after him.
The Lesson: Don’t block defensive linemen with your star wide receiver. If Casey hadn’t pushed so far back as well, Wynn might not have had as clear of a path to Luck, and that might have been all the time Luck needed to find his man and get the ball out. Still, don’t block defensive linemen with your star wide receiver.
The Situation: TEN 23, IND 21; 8:32 left in 4Q, 2nd and 10 on the Indianapolis 46
The Play: We’re getting late in the game now, Tennessee has a 2 point lead, and Indianapolis has driven to near midfield. With a 2nd and 10, a solid stop here could force a punt. A solid gain would help keep the drive alive. Wynn lines up on the defensive left, and Luck hands the ball off to Ballard, who takes it off tackle to the offensive left, away from Wynn. Wynn is initially blocked easily by TE Dwayne Allen, then peels off to chase after Ballard. Wynn takes a horrendous angle, and is a full yard behind Ballard where he was planning on intercepting him.
The Lesson: This is the first run play covered, but it is fairly typical-Wynn is terrible in run defense. He would routinely get blocked by tight ends on run plays. Just a few plays earlier, he was effortlessly blocked by Allen on a run that went right by him.
The Situation: TEN 23, IND 24; 4:44 left in 4Q, 2nd and 7 on the Tennesse 25
The Play: This is truly crunch time now. Indianapolis is up one and in field goal range with less than 5 minutes left on the clock. Wynn lines up on the defensive right, and the Colts are about to run a little trickery. Wynn goes unblocked as Luck fakes the handoff to Ballard. Ballard sets up to block Wynn, and Luck hands the ball off to Avery for the end-around right in front of him. Wynn chooses to follow Luck, but doesn’t even do that very well.
The Lesson: This play would keep a guy from having a good Awareness rating in Madden. I don’t blame him too much for following Luck. Even though the handoff happened right in front of him, Luck might have held on to the ball. Unfortunately, Luck would have easily escaped Wynn anyway, because Wynn took such a bad angle.
Wynn was in the game for 22 meaningful snaps (the final three were kneels to end the game). Eleven were pass plays, ten were runs, and 1 was an aborted snap (which is also where Wynn got his second tackle of the game). On run defense, Wynn was pretty useless. He would take bad angles to the runner, or he would be blocked by a tight end without difficulty.
Wynn was more useful on pass defense. He would provide an occasional disruption, and was able to get close to Luck a few times. The Chargers would be best served using him as a rotational guy on obvious passing downs. He has the potential to help makes plays there, but his difficulties on run defense would make using him more often than that troublesome.
Next we’ll look at someone a bit more significant to the Chargers success next season, new tackle King Dunlap. How much should Philip Rivers invest in icepacks for next season?