With Chargers’ Allen & Woodhead Out, Who Will Be the Next Man Up?
It’s no secret that the San Diego Chargers have something seriously, possibly systematically, wrong with the overall health on the team. Most of us can relate to what Dwight Lowery said earlier this week, “It just seems like a reoccurring thing, a little too consistent…it gets to a certain point where we need to take another approach.” He also said, “I don’t believe it happens at this rate with other teams.”
He is totally right, it feels like every week the Chargers are losing at least one key starter to the system. Stevie Johnson, Jeff Cumberland, Branden Oliver, and Javontee Herndon were all out for the season before it had even started. Johnson and Oliver where key pieces in last years offense, both being in the top five for receptions for the Chargers. Cumberland was signed to replace Ladarius Green who was top five in receptions for the Chargers last season as well.
Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Stevie Johnson, and Ladarius Green were the top five offensive targets for the Chargers last year, of those five only the aging, but without a doubt productive, Antonio Gates remains.
Something has to change and it needs to happen fast. But before the Chargers figure out what’s wrong within the system that leads to so many injuries, they must first replace those injured with the next guy who’s willing to step up and make a name for himself.
In seven games last year, he managed two receptions for 90-yards. However, he caught every ones attention late in the season when he caught an 80-yard bomb from Phillip Rivers for a touchdown. With Keenan Allen going down in just the second quarter of week one, Williams got his first real opportunity to step up. He caught two passes for 71-yards, including a monster 38-yard gain on one of his two receptions. In week two he stepped up significantly as well, he caught three passes for 61-yards and a touchdown. If he can continue to put up a lot of yards with a small amount of receptions, the weight can be taken off of other receivers shoulders.
The Chargers first free agent pick up after taking two major hits in the offensive line up was Whalen and not a lot is known about this kid. He stands at just five feet and eleven inches and is in his fourth year out of Stanford. In three seasons with the Colts, he has caught 45 passes for 487-yards and only three touchdowns. He has also fumbled six times and lost three of them. However, he has returned 25 kickoffs for an average of 25.8 yards per return as well as 46 punt returns for an average of 8.1 yards. As we all know last season the Chargers barely managed to put more than one punt return up on the board and could be bringing him in as a reliable returner to avoid overworking Travis Benjamin, who is now our number one receiver, and causing injury while returning kicks and punts.
Yes. McCluster. I think many of us Chargers fans are all to familiar with McCluster’s work against us, particularly when he and 20 backup players almost kept the Chargers from making the playoffs in 2013. Dexter is the second major free agent signing for the Chargers since week one. It made the most sense to go ahead and give the opportunity to him since he does already have experience in Ken Whisenthunt’s system after the two were together over in Tennessee. McCluster plays a very similar game to Danny Woodhead. He is able to move the ball forward on runs, and is also able to run out of the backfield or even line up in the slot to catch passes. Now don’t get me wrong here, no one can provide the same type of football Danny can, but McCluster will be a great addition to the Chargers as the depth at running back is looking very shallow. McCluster also gives us another option to return kicks and punts as well.
Kenneth Farrow is coming into this year as an underrated free agent. With injuries to both Woodhead and Oliver, and the addition of McCluster, look for Farrow to be stored as the Chargers number three running back. He is small, but he is known to have short-area quickness and is more than capable to block as well as catch passes. In the preseason, he rushed for 123 yards on 23 attempts and scored one touchdown in just limited amount of playing time. Coming in as an underrated rookie, look for him to stretch these numbers out when he gets opportunities to step up.
Fortunately, the Chargers haven’t gone down with too many injuries on defense. Beside the circus show that is surrounding Joey Bosa, only one major defensive player has been ruled out with an injury. That player is the hard-hitting Jahleel Addae, who broke his clavicle on a hit that was not necessarily needed.
Dexter McCoil made a hug name for himself in just two seasons in the Canadian Football League. He achieved the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie award after having six interceptions and three defensive touchdowns in 2014. In 2015 he led his team with 76 tackles, three interceptions, a forced fumble, and two sacks. The Charges saw a lot of promise in him and decided to bring him in. At first, it was unsure whether or not he was going to be playing linebacker or safety at 6’4″ 220 pounds, but with the injury to Addae it gives McCoil a chance to step in at safety and make an impact. He’s wrapped up four solo tackles so far in limited play (three in week one, one tackle in week two) and also had a nice pas deflection last game against the Jaguars. McCoil is a big, young player with lots of potential upside and is going to do everything he can to take advantage of the opportunity given to him.
Another year, another long disabled list. The offensive line has been very healthy outside of a couple of minor injuries, and we have seen just how much damage they can do to a defense when all of our number one guys are blocking. Let’s all knock on wood and make the necessary sacrifices to the football gods to prevent any more significant injuries to our beloved Chargers.
Derek is a 22-year-old out of Lemon Grove, California. A burning passion for San Diego sports led him to pursue an opportunity to write and share about what’s going on with the teams in America’s Finest City. A young and aspiring sports journalist looking to grow his knowledge and expand his experience at any opportunity.