Posts Tagged ‘Craig “Buster” Davis’

The NFL draft begins Thursday and I am noticing I’m not really looking forward to it.

That’s an odd feeling in that I covered the draft as a professional more than a dozen times at either the professional or college level. And always made sure my Saturdays were clear to watch it prior to that well before this decade’s dumb three-day format.

Analyzing things, I can see why I’m not all that interested in the 2017 NFL draft.

That’s because this is the first draft in my lifetime in which my hometown doesn’t have an NFL team.

Not the least bit interested in who the Los Angeles Chargers pick. Geez, it is hard writing that city’s name before Chargers.

The Chargers belong to San Diego, not the smog clowns and silicone fakes of Los Angeles. The draft is really the first time a big NFL event happens in which the Chargers aren’t referred to as “San Diego Chargers.”

When Roger Goodell reads that phrase off the cue card as the Chargers make their first-round pick, it is a loud reminder to the football world that San Diego is no longer an NFL town.

Dean Spanos had ample opportunities to make it work in San Diego and didn’t have the big-boy leadership abilities to make it happen. Good riddance to him and his poorly run organization.

That is where we will miss the draft — mocking the Chargers for their sad first-round picks.

The lousy picks roll off the tongue easily — receiver Walker Gillette in 1970, running back Leon Burns in 1971, fullback Bo Matthews in 1974, cornerback Mossy Cade in 1984 (Google him to see what a total reject he is) and the biggest draft bust of all-time in quarterback Ryan Leaf in 1998.

There are many other busts — one of my favorites being receiver Craig “Buster” Davis in 2007. I called up Davis’ receivers coach at LSU while writing a profile story and got greeted with all kinds of criticisms of Davis’ desire, toughness and inability to stay healthy.

Guess what Davis was known for during his 26 total games over four seasons with the Chargers? Yep, low desire, no toughness, always injured.

During Davis’ second season, I already wrote song lyrics about him called “Wasted Draft Pick,” to the tune of Rod Stewart’s “Infatuation.”

Great pick, A.J. Smith! Might want to talk a player’s position coach before you select him.

Of course, there were superb first-round picks over the years too — defensive tackle Gary “Big Hands” Johnson in 1975, tight end Kellen Winslow in 1979, defensive end Leslie O’Neal in 1986, linebacker Junior Seau in 1990, running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 and the great quarterback maneuver of 2004 when Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers but Smith drafted him anyway before working out a trade with the New York Giants for Philip Rivers.

General manager Tom Telesco has fared well in the first round of the last three drafts with cornerback Jason Verrett, running back Melvin Gordon and defensive end Joey Bosa.

The Chargers select seventh this time around so they are positioned well to land another good talent.

But there will be a different feeling when Telesco makes his pick.

You see, these aren’t the San Diego Chargers anymore. So it no longer is a big deal if the team scores with its pick or lands another bust.

Perhaps that is why the draft’s appeal isn’t there for me this year. My hometown doesn’t have a team and the fun is gone.

You see, I could care less if a team from Los Angeles messes up its draft.

So I took a vacation to Drought Land and amazing amounts of rain fell from the sky.

Well, I did joke about taking a wheelbarrow full of water past security at the Boise airport so I’m guessing that the Weather Gods somehow learned of my zany request.

Regardless, I wasn’t expecting that a vacation home to San Diego would become memorable for crazy rainy weather. On one July day, it poured so hard that it set the record for most rain in the MONTH of July in San Diego history.

Then the record was broken the following day as it rained even harder and longer. And I recognized all the thunder and lightning as I seemingly brought it with me from seeing it for five straight nights in Boise.

Oh yeah, that thunder and lightning somehow followed me back to Boise too. I like being magical but this is a bit ridiculous.

Anyway, you surely recall the drill from past years. Vacation by tweets is back for another run and you can catch all the action of #VacationInDroughtLand below.

Enjoy.

 

JULY 12

–Vacation to #DroughtLand begins tomorrow … my biggest concern is whether there is enough water left for me to take a shower.

JULY 13

#VacationToDroughtLand about to commence. Hope TSA doesn’t mind me checking in a wheelbarrow full of water.

#ThatProudMoment when other passengers gawk at Coronado Bridge & I’m staring down at cemetery where father is buried #VacationInDroughtLand

–No sound on for All-Star HR Derby … That means no Berman Buffoonery … Life is good. #VacationInDroughtLand

JULY 14

–Always fun to visit the cemetery and see my father’s tombstone. #VacationInDroughtLand https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/621101597167255553

–OK, guess the tombstone is just coming in upsides down on Twitter. It is fine in my laptop & came in fine on Facebook. #UpsideDownUpsideDown

–Was feeling pretty young on my vacation. That ended when I saw Joe Morgan with a cane. #VacationInDroughtLand

–Pretty sure several All-Stars born in the 1990s just made fun of a lot of us. #RotaryPhone #CassetteTape #GoToBankToGetMoney #VCR

–Nothing like the cool breeze of a SoCal summer night. #SanDiego is known as paradise for a reason.

JULY 15

–Freeway traffic, ugh. Feel like I competed in NASCAR race & none of the other drivers had Dale Earnhardt Jr’s brain. #VacationInDroughtLand

JULY 16

–Great time at my sister’s house last two days. Eight-year-old niece didn’t want me to leave. Smart kid. Ha! #VacationInDroughtLand

JULY 17

–At CreamOfTheCrop elite hoops tourney in #GardenGrove. Cousin’s son is a prospect. #VacationInDroughtLand

–Look! Pay phones! Spotted in Orange County. The MLB All-Stars born in the 1990s don’t understand them either. https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/622245299000455169

–Spoke to diehard #Cardinals fan today in Orange County. She was EXTREMELY BITTER about Albert Pujols. Told her he was just a few miles away.

JULY 18

–The #Padres have seats that cost $94. Outside of the very rare playoff game, who would pay $94 to see #Padres play?

–Rain in #SanDiego, where people have forgotten what it looks like. Must be that wheelbarrow full I brought on plane. #VacationInDroughtLand

–What good is having free #Padres tickets if it is raining yaks & mooses? Maybe go downtown & just watch it pour? #VacationInDroughtLand

–My buddy just asked me if I “packed rain gear.” Of course not, I traveled to #DroughtLand. #SanDiegoTorrentialDownpour

–There was a better chance of me packing reindeer than “rain gear.” #VacationInDroughtLand

–Lunch at Mona Lisa, the best pizza place in #SanDiego. Always a high point. https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/622526154080063488

–We will be having baseball tonight based on the view from my free seats at #PetcoPark. https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/622557525280329728

— Cleaned up my dad’s brick like any good son would. #VacationInDroughtLand https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/622566452671844352

— Congrats to the Colorado #Rockies for getting two runners to third base. But having them get there at the same time isn’t good.

— What I learned tonight: Relatives of Colorado #Rockies players don’t pay attention to the game. Except when relative bats. #Weak #NoManners

— Said relative — Brandon Barnes — Ks to end game. #Rockies #Padres … His daughter stepped on my foot at least a dozen times. #NoControl

— Replica of PetcoPark was Saturday giveaway. #VacationInDroughtLand https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/622638733938921472

JULY 19

–Nephew & niece want me to join them in pool — & now it is pouring mules & donkeys for second straight day. #VacationInDroughtLand

–Pretty sure the drought is over in #SoCal. Just spent more than an hour battling monsoon-like rain. More water on freeway than at Sea World.

— Being on vacation & not seeing any TV, I don’t know what all these Donald Trump comments are about. But isn’t he a dorky doofus every week?

— Thought I went on vacation to #SanDiego … apparently I’m in #Seattle … more rain in one day than entire month of July in history of SD.

JULY 20

Yep, two more In-N-Out burgers. Each bite feels like heaven. Last ones until next CA vacation. #VacationInDroughtLand https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/623225606705016832

–Highest-priced ticket for #Padres game tonight is $122. As a kid, you could have gone to all 81 games for a buck & had $41 left over. #Sad

–The TV woman telling us about the weather is named Dagmar Midcap … got to be a real name cuz you wouldn’t make that up as a stage name.

–Taking trolley to #PetcoPark & worst nightmare occurs: Dude twice as big as seat sits next to me. How come 90-pound women don’t go to games?

–The famous Western Metal Supply Co. Building beyond LF at #PetcoPark. #VacationInDroughtLand https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/623311283295653892

–So the #Padres can’t show a replay when the opposing team homers? Is that because they themselves hit so few? #VacationInDroughtLand

–Matt Kemp homers for the #Padres … Multiple replay angles … Maybe they can show it another 42 times.

–Gerald Dempsey Posey III just got an RBI single for the #Giants. … Sounds a lot less imposing than “Buster.”

–Speaking of athletes nicknamed “Buster,” how about that time #Chargers selected brittle bust Craig “Buster” Davis in the first round?

–Remember when there was no LOUD MUSIC every minute at #Padres game? Only Danny Topaz playing the Lowrey Organ. Can we go back to organ days?

#Padres unbeaten (2-0) with me in the ballpark in 2015. Some rich person ought to bankroll me an August vacation. https://twitter.com/MrSportsBlog/status/623371872231501824

JULY 21

–Why are the lights on at Qualcomm Stadium? Did the field flood again?

–My mom has a phone book in her house. MLB All-Stars born in 1990s: Why doesn’t she just Google to find the number?

–Look what I brought from #SanDiego — lots of rain. Sorry #Boise, blame me. Pours wherever I am last 2 1/2 weeks. #VacationInDroughtLand

Let’s get this out of the way first:

No, the San Diego Chargers aren’t going to fire Norv Turner this week.

Won’t happen.

That would mean general manager A.J. Smith having to admit he made an error. “Long of No Rings” doesn’t do such things.

Now on to the sad truth:

The Chargers are an embarrassing 2-4.

San Diego has gone 2-4 with a gift six-game schedule that several college teams would’ve swept.

Boise State would have been criticized for playing the same slate and the Broncos would have been dropped in the coaches’ poll.

It is beyond embarrassing that the Chargers were manhandled by the St. Louis Rams during a 20-17 loss on Sunday.

You remember the Rams, right? Yeah, they went 1-15 last season.

Seven days earlier, the Rams were spanked 44-6 by the hapless Detroit Lions.

St. Louis isn’t a team that is supposed to be physically superior than the Chargers. But they were Sunday.

The Rams played hungrier too. And were much-more prepared by their coaching staff.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was sacked a career-high seven times and hurried another dozen times or so.

And the San Diego defense was powerless to stop the Rams when the Chargers needed a stop late in the game. On a third-down play where everybody in the nation knew St. Louis was going to hand the ball off to star back Steven Jackson, he plowed up the middle for nine yards and a game-icing first down.

The run was right where teams used to refuse to venture when the game was on the line. You know, right where Pro Bowler Jamal Williams used to be stationed. Williams was one of the guys pushed out the door in the offseason.

The Chargers are now 0-4 on the road – that falls squarely in Turner’s lap – with the other losses coming to the Kansas City Chiefs (4-12 in 2009), the Seattle Seahawks (5-11) and Oakland Raiders (5-11).

In case the point isn’t clear, the Chargers have lost four games to teams that lost 11 or more games last season. Pathetic.

Do you hear that mouth-watering sound coming from the East? That’s the New England Patriots, licking their chops to see the Chargers next on their schedule.

Tight end Antonio Gates left the Rams’ game with an ankle injury and wide receiver Malcom Floyd suffered a hamstring injury. Legedu Naanee missed the St. Louis game with a hamstring injury and Vincent Jackson is still a holdout.

Yikes – if Craig “Buster” Davis is your second best receiver entering a game, you are in huge trouble.

On the St. Louis side, somebody named Danario Alexander schooled former Chargers first-round pick Antoine Cason for a 38-yard touchdown pass in the opening quarter. Sam Bradford, the top pick in the most-recent NFL draft, looks like a future star.

As for the Chargers, their star is dimming rapidly. They’ve lost the swagger they had a few seasons ago and haven’t adequately replaced all the players Smith pushed out the door.

As with the 2008 season, the best thing the Chargers have going for them is that they play in the weak AFC West. Oh wait – San Diego is 0-2 against division foes this season.

Want to know bad things are? San Diego State has won twice as many games as the Chargers. The Aztecs last had a winning season in 1998.

Touche.

Either the San Diego Chargers got good really fast or the Jacksonville Jaguars are very bad.

Or perhaps the Jaguars’ West Coast jinx is pretty real.

Whatever the reasoning, the Chargers got into the victory column on Sunday afternoon despite committing three first-half turnovers and having a punt blocked, beating turnover-prone Jacksonville 38-13.

The Chargers (1-1) still have to suffer the mortification of looking at the AFC West standings and seeing the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) ahead of them but at least they played much better than the sad opening-week effort in which they lost to the young Chiefs before a national television audience.

Jacksonville has now been outscored 99-16 in three West Coast games over the past two seasons. The Jaguars were humiliated by Seattle 41-0 and lost to San Francisco 20-3 last season.

Sunday’s game didn’t go well for the Jaguars. Jacksonville committed six turnovers and quarterback David Garrard was intercepted four times.

Antoine Cason had two interceptions and forced a fumble for the Chargers, who marched downfield for a touchdown on their first possession and continued the assault all-game long. Quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns, with two of the scores going to Antonio Gates. Malcom Floyd caught the other TD, while backup Mike Tolbert rushed for 82 yards and two TDs.

Tolbert replaced Ryan Mathews, the rookie tabbed as LaDainian Tomlinson’s heir apparent. Mathews injured an ankle and also is beginning to look like the anti-Tomlinson in that he has now lost two fumbles in two NFL games. Tomlinson, of course, was a staunch protector of the football while rolling up Hall of Fame numbers for the Chargers.

San Diego rolled up 477 offensive yards and did a much better job throwing the ball downfield, minimizing the absence of holdout receiver Vincent Jackson (badly missed against the Chiefs). Offensive tackle Marcus McNeill also is holding out and his absence was a nonfactor against the Jaguars.

Floyd had 95 yards receiving and Gates caught five passes, sharing the lead in that category with Craig “Buster” Davis, the often missing-in-action receiver who is staring opportunity in the face with Jackson holding out.

The Chargers now enter a relatively easy stretch of games despite the fact that three of their next four contests are on the road. The Chargers visit the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, return home to face the Arizona Cardinals, and then play road games against the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams.

If San Diego is as good as it looked against the Jaguars, the Chargers can look forward to a 5-1 start. Anything less than 4-2 would be a major disappointment.

I seldom buy the spin control NFL teams work hard to get their fan bases to believe – teams truly think they can fool their fans ALL the time – but it did make sense to me that the San Diego Chargers wouldn’t miss receiver Vincent Jackson as much as they would miss left tackle Marcus McNeill.

After all, McNeill’s job is to protect quarterback Philip Rivers, the person the Chargers are paying $93 million to in hopes of making a rare Super Bowl appearance. McNeill is a two-time Pro Bowl player entering the prime of his career.

And well, receivers come a dime a dozen, right? Well, at least that’s what NFL teams like us all to believe.

But dissect Monday night’s dreary season-opening 21-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and you’ll see the Chargers missed Jackson just as much – if not more – than they missed McNeill.

Jackson, also a two-time Pro Bowl pick, is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and averaged 17.2 yards per catch last season and 18.6 yards the season before. Without him, San Diego lacked the ability to stretch the field vertically against the Chiefs and Kansas City defensive coordinator Romeo Crenell had his defenders blanket Antonio Gates most of the second half.

That inability to make Kansas City pay for the double teams and occasional triple teams of Gates was alarming. Those type of tactics would have meant Jackson left with single coverage and the receiver with 16 touchdowns over the past two seasons would have surely been in position to make several big plays.

Malcom Floyd (one touchdown in 2009) is a nice player and even a nicer person. But he’s never been a No. 1 NFL receiver before and he shouldn’t be expected to suddenly become one this season just because the Chargers want to play hardball with Jackson, who declined to sign his restricted free-agent tender.

Think about those final four plays from inside Kansas City’s 6-yard line where the Chargers came up empty and headed home trailing the Chiefs in the AFC West. You would have liked San Diego’s chances of scoring a lot more if Jackson was on the field for those four plays.

What general manager or coach in their right mind would prefer having Craig “Buster” Davis on the field in such key situations over Vincent Jackson?

I can tell you Chargers coach Norv Turner would much prefer Jackson – he has to toe the party line and pretend it’s not a factor – but San Diego general manager A.J. Smith and CEO Dean Spanos would prefer to teach players lessons for not bowing down to the franchise.

The Chargers prompted these long holdouts by reducing the tenders to the two players instead of figuring out a way to solve the impasses. Once the team cut both players’ restricted free-agent tenders by 80 percent, there was no chance of either player reporting.

Think about it: Would you continue working for your employer if you were told you were going to be paid 80 percent less for doing the same amount of work?

Answer: Not if your brain works properly.

The Chargers have to decide what’s more important – winning football games or playing games with two of their top players. Based on what we saw in Kansas City on Monday night, the Chargers might have trouble doing the former if they don’t solve the latter.

The positions of McNeill and Jackson were both strengthened by the loss to the young up-and-coming Chiefs. Particularly Jackson as Floyd caught just 3 of the 12 passes Rivers threw his way.

There are other reasons why the Chargers lost – the list includes Ryan Mathews fumbling to set up the Chiefs’ go-ahead touchdown, the run defense allowing Jamaal Charles to race 56 yards through a hole the size of Texas and atrocious punt return coverage (where are you, Kassim Osgood?) that allowed rookie Dexter McCluster to score on a Kansas City record 94-yard return.

Rivers passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns (a short one to Gates and one of 59 yards to Legedu Naanee on a broken coverage) but he needed to pass for 304 on this night. Turner has struggled as a red-zone play-caller as Chargers coach and Monday’s game highlighted that flaw (the Chiefs were prepared for the second-down run by Darren Sproles), and that blemish stood out even more with his top wide receiver relaxing somewhere other than working at Arrowhead Stadium.

Jackson, of course, has had off-the-field troubles and will have to serve a three-game suspension for DUI issues prior to being eligible to return to the field. But what was clear in losing to the once-sad Chiefs in the opener was this:

The Chargers have no chance to advance deep in the playoffs without Vincent Jackson.

That’s the truth no matter what kind of silly spin the Chargers try to trick you into believing.

Contract situations involving the San Diego Chargers have been an interesting topic this summer and the five-year, $36.2 million extension given to tight end Antonio Gates on Wednesday will only increase the banter.

Gates’ deal makes him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. It also comes not long after Chargers general manager A.J. Smith made comments that inferred the organization couldn’t move forward on big-money contracts per holdouts Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson because of the uncertainty regarding the soon-to-expire labor agreement.

Hard to buy into believing the possibility of a 2011 lockout as the reason for the McNeill and Jackson impasses now that the Chargers have gone ahead and given Gates a contract through 2015.

Part of what’s going on here is that Gates, who was entering the final year of his contract, has been around the team facilities all offseason preparing for the 2010 season. He’s been the good soldier in addition to being a great player coming off one of his best seasons.

Gates had a ton of leverage and is also one of the team’s most valuable commodities. Plus, he’s one of the few Chargers that you know won’t stumble into off-the-field problems.

Like Gates, McNeill and Jackson are both Pro Bowl players. But the difference is both McNeill and Jackson were restricted free agents this offseason.

While NBA players rule the roast when they become free agents, football players don’t. Especially restricted free agents.

Early in the process, the Chargers placed the high tenders on both McNeill and Jackson to make it highly unlikely any of the other 31 teams would sign either player to offer sheets. That part of the process worked for the Chargers.

I’d say it also destroyed the leverage of the two players but restricted free agents in the NFL never have much leverage because other teams aren’t willing to give up two high-draft picks to sign them.

Then the Chargers reduced the tenders, which was within the club’s rights. But reducing McNeill’s 2010 salary from $3.168 million to $600,000 and Jackson’s pay from $3.268 million to $583,000 was not going to get deals done.

How happy would you be if your boss cut your expected pay by more than 80 percent?

So McNeill and Jackson are likely going to sit out the first 10 games of the season and then report so they can accrue another season toward unrestricted free agency.

The way I see it, the Chargers eventually have to get McNeill in the fold. When you give quarterback Philip Rivers a $93 million contract and he’s the difference between your team going 11-5 and 5-11, you are taking too big a risk playing without your Pro Bowl left tackle.

Jackson has as many DUI arrests (two) as 1,000-yard receiving seasons and I can see his impasse ending early in the 2010 season – when the Chargers deal him to another organization for a draft pick or two. But without him, San Diego is thin at wide receiver since Smith missed badly on 2007 first-round pick Craig “Buster” Davis.  

Of course, former Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman still hasn’t signed his tender either, and it’s clear the Chargers have no interest in extending his contract.

And first-round pick Ryan Mathews, the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson, is unsigned as well. Mathews was selected No. 12 overall after the Chargers moved up in April’s draft to pick him.

So all Gates’ signing has accomplished is this – the NFL’s top tight end appears destined to spend his entire career with the Chargers.

The banter over the Chargers’ contract disputes can now recommence.

Hey Chris Chambers, thanks for the key catch in the fourth quarter Sunday. Oh, by the way, pack your bags and get the heck out of the complex.

Pretty interesting timing on Monday for Chambers to be released by the San Diego Chargers. His playing time had dwindled and he had finally lost his starting wide receiver job to Malcom Floyd but nobody foresaw him being cut less than 20 hours after making his biggest contribution of the season.

But Chambers is now an ex-Charger less than 25 months after the team traded a second-round draft pick for his services. He had a good second half of the 2007 campaign but had just nine receptions for 122 yards this season.

Overall, it’s a pretty poor payoff for a second-round pick. The Miami Dolphins used the pick to grab quarterback of the future Chad Henne so it could eventually turn out to a be a monumental transaction for the Dolphins.

Chargers coach Norv Turner said that Chambers was released to open up a roster spot to add a defensive or special teams player (linebacker Tim Dobbins, who plays special teams, hurt a knee Sunday). OK, we get that somebody has to go.

But what about Craig “Buster” Davis? You might remember the name — he’s the third-year receiver on the verge of replacing cornerback Sammy Davis (2003) as general manager A.J. Smith’s worst first-round draft pick. Davis hasn’t even played a single down this season as he makes his case at being this decade’s Bryan Still (you may recall the soft wideout from the 1990s that former general manager Bobby Beathard drafted).

For a team that fancies itself as a playoff squad, you’d think they would prefer having a veteran like Chambers around when you need a key play — you know, like the 20-yard grab on third-and-10 that Chambers snared Sunday against Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

There’s no problem with Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd as the starters but the receiver depth is now made up of third-year player Legedu Naanee (29 career catches), special teamer Kassim Osgood (32 catches in seven seasons; and only two receptions since Turner became coach) and the oft-injured Davis (24 catches — and active for just four games over the past two years).

In other words, if go-to receiver Jackson goes down with an injury, the Chargers will be in a world of hurt (pun intended).

Chambers was in the final season of his contract and wasn’t going to be resigned by the Chargers. But he still has some value so the organization should have moved him before the trading deadline and picked up a mid-round draft pick if it was planning to release him.

Then again, perhaps there isn’t a plan when it comes to the Chargers. After all, Chambers just made one of the most significant plays of a victory.

His reward — a pink slip the next day.

The NFL is one tough, thankless business.