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By: Ryan Watkins
Your source for all Chargers and NFL news from around the web. The Chargers’ defensive back room is heading for a welcome reset as contracts expire but how many roster spots will need to be replaced?
Good Morning, Bolts From the Blue.
When assessing the defensive disaster we all experienced when the Chargers allowed the Detroit Lions to do whatever they felt like on Sunday, I felt that this defense are once again split in two. The front seven remains a bit of an enigma but they have been much improved against the run and their pass rushing prowess has been dominant at times. They have done well in my eyes however the same cannot be said for the secondary. The stats don’t even do justice to how poor their coverage was this past week and it just confirmed what we already knew; Brandon Staley’s 2023 secondary are just flat out terrible. The stats show it, the game experience shows it and the tape shows it. I have drawn a line through any hope of seeing them improving this season, the hill is just far too steep for them to climb to be even considered average. So I have decided to take a look at how many of the current defensive backs on the roster are going to be a part of this rebuild.
The red text shows the six players who are out of contract and I will mention them all but it is the two starters that are going to be the feature of most of the discussions this offseason so we will start there. I am of the opinion that Alohi Gillman has done enough to earn another contract but with the caveat that this is only if Brandon Staley is not running this defense. Gillman is a force coming downhill and has created some incredible turnovers in key moments but he is lost when operating 30 yards downfield trying to out leverage receivers with elite speed. If the Bolts are going to continue to play him that deep then there is no point in wasting a contract on him. The other starter in line to be a free agent is Michael Davis, I think by now we know what kind of player he is; he can play press man well for four to five seconds but anything outside of that and he doesn’t quite have the skills to win those matchups. I am fine with bringing him back on a low end starter deal but with the cap savings the Bolts have to make I am of the opinion that it is better to see what the younger players on the roster have to offer.
The original 53-man roster had a huge ten spots dedicated to this position group so I think the three spaces left spare beyond the seven remaining guys under contract are going to be for new acquistions via the draft or the very cheap end of free agency. The injury cover replacements in Jaylinn Hawkins and Essang Bassey will be unlikely to return having hardly featured outside of garbage time snaps and minor special team roles. Dean Marlowe and Raheem Layne are also out of contract but they have played more significant roles to a satisfactory degree when needed, so they could be brought into camp to compete for roster spots with bubble players like Deane Leonard, AJ Finley and Amechi Uzodinma.
Beyond these six players there is another decision to made and that is whether or not to give Asante Samuel Jr. a new contract. This next opinion is where I think I will differ to some fans; I think the Bolts should not offer him a new deal and that Asante should be used as a rotational piece in his final year before letting him walk. He may have the most interceptions in this group since Staley arrived but his tape shows that he has poor man coverage skills and relies on taking risky chances in zone to make up for it, this is not a sustainable quality to rely on. However, it is his physicality that stands out to me as the main thing he is lacking to be a starting outside corner, teams have targeted this weakness consistently and it is costing this defense more often than can be stomached in exchange for his two interceptions on the year.
Overall this position group is really poorly constructed mainly because of the mismatch between the roster and the unique requirements of Staley’s system. There are talented players he inherited from the previous era that just don’t fit into what Staley requires and despite this being evident, Tom Telesco and Bradon Staley have shockingly stuck with them. Additionally their first and only acquistion of merit was J.C. Jackson and whilst we all know how that ended, the huge dead cap hit remains on our books next season and beyond so it is still going to hurt this team further.
So the defensive back room is due for a revamp of sorts whether Telesco and Staley are part of it or not. As the team are well over the projected cap next year there will be no significant free agency additions so the draft is going to be the primary means of improving a group that so desperately needs it. I am of the opinion that major changes are needed beyond just plugging the minor support spots. In fact, I think this team should take begin by being bold and taking two corners in the first two days of the draft to become starters as right now it is the worst key position group on the team.
And now, for today’s daily links:
More candidates are being named to replace Brandon Staley should he be fired at the end of he season (Bolt Beat)
The Chargers will need more than five wins from their remaining games to make the playoffs according to the LA Times roundtable (LA Times)
Keenan Allen likens his performance in a loss to the late Lakers great Kobe Bryant (Charger Report from SI)
Amon-Ra St Brown admits that the Detroit Lions were in the wrong personnel on a game changing touchdown run play (Charger Report from SI)
Mac Jones says that the New England Patriots haven’t talked to him about who their starting quarterback is going to be for Week 11 game (NFL.com)
The Los Angeles Rams have unveiled plans for new training facilities in Woodland Hills (NFL.com)
Ken Dorsey has been fired as the offensive Coordinator of the Buffalo Bills (ESPN)
Runningback Michael Carter heading out of New York as the Jets make him a surprise midseason cut (ESPN)
Dallas Cowboys’ linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is out of the remainder of the season with an injury that could cut his career short (CBS NFL)
Turns out Patrick Mahomes is superstitious as he admits he has worn the same underwear for every game of his career (CBS NFL)
Originally posted on Bolts From The Blue – All Posts