Earlier we asked who the most impressive Charger has been this year. Now, the easier question. Who hasn't lived up to expectations? The sad thing is you can make an argument for the majority of the starters. Orlando Franklin went from being one of the better offensive lineman in the league a year ago to playing like some recent guards I won't name and being injured. Stevie Johnson was supposed to give this offense a much needed weapon opposite of Keenan Allen and he just has yet to perform at a consistent level. Don't even get me started on the defensive side of the football. It's hard to be disappointed in Donald Butler, Kendall Reyes, or a Trevor Robinson because there were no real expectations to begin with. Anyways, here are our answers.
A year ago he was a top 10 player at a premier position in the NFL. On Monday night they hid him in the slot because they didn't trust him to run deep. They didn't put Stevie Willams on Alshon Jeffery because they felt like it was a better matchup. There are times in obvious passing downs where Flowers has come off the field this season. I don't know how it's not Brandon Flowers. It's one thing to give up completions, which Flowers is giving up a disgustingly high rate of 68%, it's another thing to not be in position to make plays. Flowers isn't giving himself to make a play on the pass this year. I'm not sure if it's injuries, lack of confidence, or just a decline in athleticism, but Flowers has been a huge letdown this year.
Honorable mention: Orlando Franklin, Melvin Gordon, Ricardo Mathews, Kyle Emanuel, Jahleel Addae
Manti Te'o. Third year in a row now and it's the same thing. Season recap: Te'o reads the play, gets in position, misses the tackle, gets injured, people make invisible girlfriend jokes. Injuries you can't control and maybe he will play a season fully healthy but the fact that he still can be so close to making a play and routinely not make said play is just frustrating all around. This is the year everyone thought Te'o would make that jump, he hasn't.
Kyle Emanuel. Not fair, he's a rookie 5th rounder from a D2 program. That's all well and good, but you need to be able to tackle, no matter your level. Emanuel has shown the ability in both the preseason and the regular season to be where he needs to be to make a play. The problem is, he just doesn't tackle well. He consistently lunges for the feet and comes up short. The disappointment is that you expect tackling to be a skill all LBs have at this level, and you expect the gap between rookies and veteran's, stars and also rans, to be in terms of learning the schemes and the speed of the game. He's disappointingly backwards in that regard.
D.J. Fluker. Most of us thought that moving to guard would take Fluker to a different level as a player. And he has been much better there than he was at tackle. However, he is in his third year and he continues to make rookie mistakes. Perhaps this choice is due to recency bias because he committed two of the dumbest penalties I have ever seen this past Monday. Who gets caught holding on a screen? He was supposed to let his guy through anyway. And please don't even get me started on that ineligible receiver downfield mess.
Brandon Flowers - He played so well last year that it is hard for me to grasp how badly he has played this year. There are 3 losses out of the 7 that can be directly traced back to plays that he did not make and this entire season might be looking a lot different if he was playing as well as he did in 2014.
The biggest dissapointment this year has to be Eric Weddle. I'm not sure if his holdout has anything to do with it, but he seems a bit off this year. Perhaps it was telling that during his holdout he said thru his agent that 2015 would be his last in S.D. If there was any chance the Chargers would franchise him for next year, every passing game he's doing his best to ensure that doesn't happen. Its particularly dissapointing because Weddle is my favorite player on the team.
Man, there are so many choices here. Jacoby Jones, Donald Butler, Melvin Gordon, Eric Weddle...But I think I have to go with Brandon Flowers. He does get a LITTLE bit of a pass due to Pagano somehow forgetting how best to use him over the offseason, but he has looked bad. Not just not as good as last year, but bad. He is more disappointing than Butler ONLY because Butler has been this disappointing for a few seasons. Flowers was good last year, he was not a liability, he was mostly healthy but this year he is probably the 3rd best CB on the team on a good day.
Corey Liuget. He's been a terrible disappointment after signing his big deal. He just seems complacent and generally disinterested from play to play. I don't see any really energy, effort or leadership from him.
Just throw a dart at the offensive line, or rather don't do that because it'll like result on the recipient being placed on IR. If I had to single out a player along the front I'd go with Orlando Franklin. I was thrilled with his signing this spring as he was coming off of a terrific 2014 campaign and is a young player who should be in his prime. What the Chargers got instead was a guy who hasn't been able to stay healthy or play well in his limited time on the field. Given the Chargers almost comedically awful previous forays into free agency, from Robert Meachem to Derek Cox and Jared Gaither, to have Franklin blow up in their faces is monumentally disheartening.
Mike Scifres. There are so many options to choose from, and I get that Scifres is probably not near the top of this team's problem list. That said, watching Scifres this year has been painful. I'm accustomed to his being so good that he makes Mike McCoy's otherwise insipid 4th down decisions look smart. And while I'm not sure if Scifres has simply hit a wall, if he's still dealing with the effects of his 2014 injury, or if he doesn't trust the blocking in front of him - one thing is evident, and that is Scifres is nowhere near the Pro Bowl caliber player he was for over 10 years. He seems to shank at least one punt per game and his hang time has dropped off a cliff. Scifres at his best was once good enough to swing a playoff game against the Colts... and now he's only another problem on a team loaded with them.
Melvin Gordon. I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn't know it was going to be this bad. Even against bad teams and bad run defenses, Gordon can't do anything. Even when Danny Woodhead is able to find space and get yards as a runner, which is not his forte, Gordon can't get anything going. His performance would be incredibly disappointing for a 3rd round pick. For a 1st round pick that the team traded up for? A guy that was immediately named the starter? Someone who was glowed about by the team during Training Camp? It's been shocking. It's so bad that, at this point, it can't just be that he was overrated. Something is wrong.
Let's hear it, who can you not believe that they are playing so poorly this year?