We’ve come to the end of the 2016 NFL season (for the Chargers, at least), and I’ve been feeling very reminiscent lately and thought I’d do a write up on how I felt about this season. Hopefully, it will catch the feelings, good and bad, throughout the season, and you can relate.
The Chargers finally got rid of Donald Butler in March, which made me incredibly happy. It angered me more than I’d like to admit that someone who did so little, made so much money. It made me happy that he no longer had job security, and that the millions he practically stole from the Chargers should be able to last him a lifetime if he spends like the smart man he probably was not.
I loved the re-signing of Joe Barksdale, the two-year extension for Antonio Gates, and the re-signing of Jahleel Addae and was cool with Dontrelle Inman signing his tender.
The Chargers signed Travis Benjamin, who I was less than elated about, and made it known. While he did exceed my expectations, he still vastly under-performed expectations, with 677 yards and 4 TDs. For a guy who is making $24 million over 4 years, those marks are pathetic. Let’s compare him to $600,000 WR, Dontrelle Inman, who has 759 yards receiving and 4 TDs. If you can get that production out of a guy for that cheap, you don’t need Travis Benjamin. Oh, it also stings that he stinks at returning punts, and fumbled the ball 5 times. When you add the fact that he had every opportunity to carve out a role as the guy in the Chargers’ offense, due to the Injuries to just about everyone, it makes it even worse. I was right.
I was stoked about the signing of Brandon Mebane and felt okay about the signing of Dwight Lowery. While I was livid regarding the treatment of Eric Weddle in the offseason, I thought Lowery would be an okay replacement, and while he wouldn’t offer the leadership, nor the personality that Weddle did, I thought he’d at the very least be a solid player in what looked to be a badass secondary. Add the signing of Casey Hayward, and I was thinking we were in for a show this season. A reemerged Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett, and Casey Hayward? It was too good to be true. Literally.
What happened: Jason Verrett hurt himself again, and Brandon Flowers showed he’s too slow to keep up with top-end receivers. Casey Hayward, however, came even better than he was advertised, and at the time of writing, leads the league by a sizeable margin of 2 INTs. The secondary has been pretty damn good, and it makes me wonder what could have been if Jason Verrett had been able to stay healthy.
Joe Barksdale proved that he was a bit of a fluke the season before, and while he’s a great locker room presence, and the best damn photo-bomber this side of the Mississippi, he just is not a long term solution at RT.
Oh, I was also right about Travis Benjamin.
I was pretty heavy on the bandwagon for Jalen Ramsey. I was a little disappointed with the pick of Joey Bosa, and I am so happy that I turned out to be wrong. I wrote quite a bit about how he was basically just a man among boys in college and would get schooled in the NFL. I thought he was just a big dummy with his mom running the show, and the complete one-eighty I’ve done since seeing him play and in interviews, really excites me. While he may not seem like a smart guy, he is in the Philip Rivers mold. He works hard, is the first one in and the last one out, is a vocal leader, and seems to have a steadfast determination to be the best he can be. Spoiler alert: It’s really, really good.
I was pumped about the Hunter Henry pick in the 2nd round, and gave the 3rd round pick of Max Tuerk a B. Some people believed that the Chargers reached in the 2nd round, but considering he was the only TE worthy of a first round pick, getting him in the second seemed like a steal to me. Max Tuerk looked like a hard worker coming off an injury and is a bit small for the position, which is why I couldn’t give it an A at the time. I just hope his career doesn’t end like Chris Watt’s.
Rounds 4-7 got me even more hyped. On day 3, the Chargers added ILB Joshua Perry, OLB Jatavis Brown, P Drew Kaser, FB Derek Watt, and G Donavon Clark. I compared Joshua Perry to Denzel Perryman, and Jatavis Brown to a much quicker Manti Te’o, and I feel even better now about Jatavis Brown. He is going to be something special. I felt good about having a capable punter take over immediately for the vacated hole left in my heart, left by the release of Mike Scifres. Derek Watt looked to be icing on the cake, and at the very least, a pump up for Melvin Gordon. I had no clue about Donavon Clark and didn’t really care because I don’t generally expect 7th rounders to even make the roster.
What Happened: After I predicted 40 tackles and 4 sacks from Joey Bosa, starting week 3, he actually started playing in week 5, and has racked up an insane 9.5 sacks with 36 tackles. According to PFF, he has 54 total QB pressures, which is similar to Jason Pierre-Paul’s numbers (who is a damn good pass-rusher by the way), but when you realize that he has 300 fewer snaps, you might look like this.
Hunter Henry has been good, but will always be limited by Antonio Gates’ presence on the roster. Knowing that Antonio Gates is leaning towards returning is a bit depressing, but being depressed that this guy is sitting behind a future Hall of Fame Tight End is a pretty big compliment. He has exceeded NFL.com projections (of 300 yards and 1 TD), with 7 TDs and 435 yards. He’s shown that he is a valuable target, and is a good safety blanket for Philip Rivers, and all I wish is that he would have been used more instead of Travis Benjamin. I can’t complain about Antonio Gates, because he’s had some really good games, and they are both catching roughly the same percentage of balls thrown their way, for roughly the same amount of yards. He’s still the 23rd highest yardage receiving TE and is tied for 2nd with 7 TDs. Definitely a very good rookie season from someone who many people weren’t excited about.
Joshua Perry has had 16 tackles, Jatavis Brown had 72 tackles in only 11 games, with 3 1⁄2 sacks, which is pretty damn good for a 5th rounder, and looks to be a starter going into next season. Drew Kaser has averaged 46.2 yards per punt, which is slightly better than Scifres career mark, but he had a reaallyyy bad game in there. You remember it.
Derek Watt went from confidence booster for Melvin Gordon, to almost non-existent in recent games. Melvin Gordon is making his own holes, and Derek Watt is not a good FB. The Chargers brass realizes that now. Donavon Clark looked really good but was hurt early, which was a disappointment.
Keep an eye out for my next post, which should conclude my long-winded thoughts. Thanks for reading this season!