Posts Tagged ‘Tom Telesco’

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.

The San Diego Chargers reminded everybody on Wednesday that they actually do excel at something.

It is called pettiness.

The Chargers are always a championship organization when you measure them up in that regard.

The Chargers sent out a statement Wednesday designed to make sure everybody on the planet knows Joey Bosa is the bad guy in their testy negotiations with the former Ohio State defensive end.

Bosa was the third overall selection in the draft and the Chargers say he and his representation rejected their “best offer” on Tuesday night and that they are now pulling the offer off the table.

They say this move is necessary because Bosa will no longer be able to contribute in all 16 games.

Got quite a laugh over the sudden concern about whether Bosa will be in the fold prior to the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 11.

If the Chargers were so worried about this, why didn’t they make their “best offer” two days before training camp started?

Funny how all the other 31 NFL teams know how to get a rookie into training camp.

Here is the Chargers’ statement:

“Our contract discussions and offers to the representatives of Joey Bosa have been both fair and structurally consistent with the contracts of every other Chargers’ player.

“Our offer included:

“An initial signing bonus payment that is larger than any player in the League has received in the last two drafts.

“More money in this calendar year than every player in this year’s draft except one (Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz).

“The largest payment and the highest percentage of signing bonus received in the first calendar year of any Chargers’ first-round selection since the inception of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (2011).

“We gave Joey’s representatives our best offer last night, which was rejected today. The offer that we extended was for Joey to contribute during all 16 games and beyond.

“Joey’s ability to contribute for an entire rookie season has now been jeopardized by the valuable time he has missed with his coaches and his teammates. Since Joey will not report at this time, his ability to produce not just early in the season, but throughout the entire season, has been negatively impacted.

“As a result, we will restructure our offer since Joey will be unable to contribute for the full 16-game season without the adequate time on the practice field, in the classroom, and in preseason games.”

One thing to keep in mind is that NFL teams nearly always keep negotiations quiet and out of the media.

But the Chargers chose to reveal their differences publicly to EVERYBODY on Wednesday.

So you have to try to think like the Chargers — in other words, not rationally — to figure out why they would pull such a maneuver.

We know the two sides disagree on how much of Bosa’s signing bonus is deferred and also over offset language that only comes into play if Bosa is cut and signs with another team before the end of his rookie contract.

Well, if Bosa is indeed cut before the end of his rookie deal, then the Chargers have bigger issues as they must explain how they took a guy with the No. 3 overall pick that couldn’t play. (That will be general manager Tom Telesco ducking under the table).

Pretty soon, some details from Bosa’s side will be leaked out and things will really get messy. That’s because every agent knows an NFL media source or two that will love to write Bosa’s side.

But for now, we have the Chargers’ side and it is hard to understand the club’s rationale.

At face value, this statement was a dumber than usual move for an organization that excels at stupidity — remember the public relations manager telling the fans to take “chill pills?” — and has a history of acrimonious holdout situations with first-round picks.

The team has just assured that its relationship with Bosa will be adversarial and you can expect Bosa’s representatives to dig their heels in deeper after the Chargers’ threat to reduce the offer.

Bosa’s trump card is deciding not to report to the Chargers at all and then putting his name back into the 2017 NFL draft.

If he were to do that, the Chargers look even sillier for wasting the No. 3 overall pick of the draft.

Funny thing is, if the Chargers had just refrained from being petty, it would have been Bosa drawing most of the criticism as the start of the season neared.

Bosa’s mother was recently ripped for making a Facebook comment about how her son should have pulled an Eli Manning — remember that fiasco, San Diego fans? — and not become part of the Chargers.

Plus, the public typically doesn’t approve of a rookie holdout – you know, unproven player wanting millions of dollars — once a season commences. So Bosa’s desire to play football — and his intelligence — would have been greatly scrutinized.

But not anymore.

Fans of the Chargers and the public in general got a first-hand look at why the organization is considered one of the worst in the NFL.

So while the organization isn’t good at winning football games, you can just picture all the buffoons on the second level of Chargers Park congratulating themselves and high-fiving each other over their “best offer” statement.

Because making Bosa look bad and shaming him is somehow more important than resolving the situation and getting him on the field.

So congratulations to the Chargers, you won Wednesday with your petty statement.

But your fans wish you could learn to do more winning on the field on Sundays.

First of all, NFL preseason games mean very little – except to the greedy NFL owners who pocket millions of dollars charging full prices for a meaningless exhibition game.

But other than the first offensive drive of San Diego’s opening exhibition game, there really wasn’t much to be impressed by in terms of the play of the Chargers, who suffered a 31-10 loss to the visiting Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.

And even that one strong drive by Philip Rivers and the first-team offense didn’t result in a touchdown as the 13-play excursion that took up half of the first quarter ended with Nick Novak’s 28-yard field goal.

This was Mike McCoy’s initial contest as an NFL head coach – yes, we will say the same phrase when the Chargers line it up for real – and the best thing you can say about seeing him on the field is this: Norv Turner really is gone as San Diego’s head coach.

Also gone is most of the talent that the Chargers possessed in the second half of last decade. It figures to be a long season in San Diego that ends without a postseason appearance for the fourth straight year.

That playoff window has been slammed shut for a few years now – even if the franchise didn’t want to admit to it until sacking Turner and general A.J. Smith after last year’s dismal 7-9 campaign – and it isn’t about to be pried open this season.

After Thursday’s rocky performance, you can expect the Chargers will bring out the excuses about how this was McCoy’s first game as coach and that it will take time for new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s offensive philosophies to be integrated and fully understood by the players.

OK, fine.

But what about the Seahawks? It was Dan Quinn’s first game as Seattle’s defensive coordinator and the Chargers had three measly points entering the final quarter.

Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst tossed two second-quarter interceptions to help the Seahawks move into the lead and the Seattle players fighting for the final rosters spots were significantly better than the Chargers who are in a similar position.

The second-half dominance by the Seahawks was so prevalent that San Diego general manager Tom Telesco might want to consider picking up some of Seattle’s final cuts to build up his depth-challenged roster.

On that front, San Diego certainly suffered a blow earlier this week when receiver Danario Alexander suffered a season-ending knee surgery. Alexander’s loss means the Chargers may have to rely more on Robert Meachem, a huge disappointment last season.

I’d rather count on Charlie Joiner finding Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth and suiting up before expecting Meachem to earn any of that ridiculous contract the Chargers awarded him. Remember, the franchise let Vincent Jackson get away before desperately signing this stiff and another underachieving wideout in Eddie Royal.

Even though exhibition results don’t matter, there really wasn’t all that much to feel good about in terms of this first game. Rubbing it in is that the stadium was so empty in the fourth quarter you would’ve thought it was a San Diego State game.

It goes without saying that there is plenty of time for improvement. The important thing is that the Chargers don’t look this bad in the first week of the regular season.

Unfortunately, in today’s social media world, the Chargers were taking a pounding for the poor performance. One guy even declared that rookie linebacker Manti Te’o is a bust – after the first quarter of his first preseason game.

Now that is ridiculous.

That’s even more absurd than Dean Spanos pocketing your hard-earned money to watch a meaningless game.

The highlight of the first night of the NFL Draft was seeing the comments on the social media site Twitter anytime Manti Te’o was mentioned as a team’s possible first-round pick.

There would be dozens of people begging their favorite team not to draft Te’o, the former Notre Dame standout who became America’s biggest punchline when it became publicly known his dying girlfriend story was bogus.

Whether or not he was duped, Te’o told people over and over about meeting this young woman who never existed. Hard not to be a laughingstock when you make comments that silly on countless occasions and your lie later gets exposed.

But on the second night of the draft, Te’o found the perfect fit for an employer – the team that doesn’t listen to their fans and was proud to mock them last season.

Yep, the San Diego Chargers.

When San Diego fans got fed up with the perennial underachieving team coached by Norv Turner, the team’s public relations director ripped the fans and told them all to take a “chill pill.”

Repeat, the person in charge of public relations – might as well strive to be last in the NFL in public relations if you can’t be first – made it clear to the fans that their opinions don’t matter. Well, you know, unless they were to ignore what a mess the franchise has become and pretend all is well.

So now the San Diego fans who implored the Chargers not to draft Te’o face that uneasy feeling of pulling for the inside linebacker tabbed with the No. 38 pick to become a bona fide player.

Of course, it will be hard for him to live down his fake girlfriend named Lennay Kekua.

Now the guy with the disappearing girlfriend plays for the team that disappears when the playoffs arrive.

You can call that the perfect fit.

Te’o is a bit slow and a bit undersized when it comes to inside linebackers at the NFL level. He was badly exposed by Alabama in the national championship game and his draft stock plummeted. His stock fell both due to his on-field abilities and his bizarre love story.

But the Chargers are in need of major rebuilding so Te’o will get a chance to prove that he is better at football than storytelling.

New general manager Tom Telesco and new head coach Mike McCoy inherited a mess that needs major reconstruction so if Te’o proves to be a long-term solution in the defense, the pick could eventually be solid from a football perspective.

Te’o doesn’t need to develop into a Pro Bowl player, he just needs to improve a position that has been lacking since Stephen Cooper – who was undrafted by the way – began to decline and was eventually released in 2011.

But from a credibility level, Te’o will continue to run into roadblocks. The fake girlfriend ordeal raised issues about his intelligence and there will certainly be some teammates throwing out some unsavory remarks about falling for a fake girl who was really a guy.

An NFL locker room is a ruthless workplace – try pulling some of the antics these guys do in your own workplace and see what happens – and that applies even if you have an unscathed image.

Can you imagine the first time Te’o messes up an assignment and says he didn’t recognize the play? Those “maybe it didn’t exist” jokes will be flying.

Hey, this Te’o on the Chargers thing could turn out to be pretty fun. As long as the Chargers really do exist.