Fixing The Chargers Depth: The Secondary

July 24, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers assistant secondary coach Cris Dishman (left) gives instruction to defensive back Sean Cattouse during training camp at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

When The Chargers started the 2013 NFL season, it began with many question marks. There was hype but no real belief, there was talk but no real expectations. Going into week eleven of the season, The Chargers may have more questions to answer now then they had to begin the year.

Through the course of the season, Charger fans have come to realize that this is a team that is young and full of inexperience. In a word, The Chargers are in the middle of a “rebuilding” year, a year that unfortunately the team and the fans will have to swallow and wait for the organization to acquire and develop new or better talent.

Over the next few weeks we will break down the positions on both sides of the ball and figure out where the Chargers should focus their attention to improve the roster for the future. First up, we will start with the position that has garnered most of The Chargers criticism, the defensive secondary.

Let’s begin by dissecting the players of the Chargers secondary unit:

Derek Cox: High paid free agent in the offseason, has struggled in coverage throughout the season, has been burned on numerous occasions, been benched twice in back to back games.

Shareece Wright: 3rd year player, first season as a starter, has shown flashes of good play, been in and out of the lineup throughout the year due to injuries.

Marcus Gilchrist: 3rd year player, former 2nd round pick in 2011, versatile DB can play both corner and safety.

Darrel Stuckey: Quality special teams player, reserve safety, main impact comes on kick off and punt returns, free agent in 2014.

Eric Weddle: Unquestioned leader of the secondary. Has had an up and down season.

Johnny Patrick: Decent backup corner, played well in nickel situations, good plug and play option on defense.

Jahleel Addae: Undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan, has become regular in the starting rotation, big hitter, lots of potential.

Brandon Taylor: Former 3rd round pick in 2012, rookie season was cut short due to ACL tear, been a healthy inactive majority of 2013 season.

Steve Williams: Rookie 5th round pick, tore pectoral season in preseason training camp, very fast, good potential as a future starter.

Richard Marshall: Free agent pick up after he was released from Miami early in the season, backup rotational cornerback brought in for depth. free agent in 2014.

Crezon Butler: Street pickup for depth, mainly known for giving up the game winning touchdown to Tennessee WR Justin Hunter. free agent in 2014.

So where do the Chargers go next year? The Chargers will have 3 free agent DBs next year.(Butler, Stuckey, Marshall) Stuckey is the most likely to stay, his contributions on special teams have been greater than most people will talk about. The rest of the secondary that will remain will be one of the youngest groups on the team. There is not much experience but there is a lot of upside for the future.

The big question will be what will the Chargers do with Derek Cox? So far he is has not lived up to the 4 year 20 million dollar contract that he was signed to back in the offseason. If Cox is let go, I don’t see them replacing him with a “big name” free agent. The Chargers will have way too much money wrapped up in their secondary with Weddle’s contract and the money that will be needed to keep key players for the future.

However, if The Chargers do choose to go the free agent route, here are some names that could interest them at a lower price: Alterraun Verner from Tennessee, Brandon Browner from Seattle, Vontae Davis from Indianapolis or Chris Harris from Denver. The draft could be another answer to shore up the secondary. If that is the option The Chargers choose, keep an eye on Jason Verrett from TCU, Bradley Roby from Ohio State or Ifo Ekpre-Olomu from Oregon.

Regardless of how The Chargers decide how to fix their secondary, one thing is for sure it has to be one of the top priorities for the team heading into the 2014 season.

 

Bolt so hard

Topics: San Diego Chargers

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  • Stefanie Smith

    I guess we have no choice but to put up with another excuse in the form of rebuilding. Same story, different day. Last year, we had to look to the future because of Norv and AJ. However, last year, sportscasters put our secondary and defense in the middle–not great, but not lousy. With all this rebuilding going on, now sportscasters pretty much characterize our secondary as lousy. So where is the progress occurring? Or should we wait for another excuse next year?

    • Jake Hefner

      Stephanie I am totally with you. Whether it’s injuries or youth or inexperience or lack of depth it doesn’t matter. Excuses can only go on for so long, unfortunately this is just the reality of the situation. It’s a year difficult year that we will have to go through, but hopefully with if the right personnel moves are made this team could be made for the immediate and distant future.

    • shayaaa

      Last year Jammer and Cason were rated as the worst CB tandems in the league per PFF. Our secondary is lousy.. have you seen a single game? Our lack of pass rush doesn’t help the situation but these things were all addressed in the off season… they just haven’t panned out.
      Cox was supposed to be the CB1 on this team, “our big FA pick up” and he hasn’t been that guy. S. Williams was another CB we drafted but was injured before the season started.
      If you haven’t seen progress frrom the Norv and AJ days I don’t know what to tell you… We may not be winning a lot of games but I am so much more positive about this team going forward.

      • Jake Hefner

        Much more positive YES. alot of potential for this team

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        I agree, we are just a couple key pieces here and there from being really good. Once our depth is legit we will be really really good.

      • Stefanie Smith

        Yes, I have seen the games. I am recounting what the sportscasters were saying about our defense last year. Whether or not you or I agree is not the question. But I think you would be hard pressed to say that our secondary or anything about our defense has improved–because it has not

        Okay, then am I to understand you believe our defense has improved from last year?

        • shayaaa

          Yeah.. here you go:
          http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2012/opp.htm

          2012 ranking of overall defense at 16

          http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2013/opp.htm

          2013 ranking of overall defense at 11 even with the 28th ranked pass D.

          • Stefanie Smith

            I feel better now. Thanks for posting that link. I had read and heard on the sports channels that SD has the worst defense in the NFL. So I assumed it was actually the worst.

            So our overall defense sits at 11th in the NFL. Hmmjm.

          • Nick in PB

            Wow… that kind of took me by surprise. Although we haven’t given up a ton of points, I still would have thought we were in the bottom 5 in total defense. Maybe Pagano isn’t as bad as we all think… considering what he is working with.

          • shayaaa

            Yeah Stefanie, to be honest I’m right there with you, our defense seems worse this year compared to last. Our rankings in pass D and rush D have dropped off a bit; pass d went from 18th to 28th and rush d went from 6th to 17th.

      • Nick in PB

        Shayaa made a good point, considering that most of our pass rushers are on IR, this secondary has no chance of success. Even the best corners in the league will get beat (not as often as ours) when there is no pressure. When the year began, I had high hopes for this secondary. Cox was suppose to be an upgrade. I saw good things from Wright before this season. We had Cason and Jammer last year and a much better pass rush and they still stunk. I really can’t remember a Chargers defense that looks as bad as this one. Again, without the injuries to erode the pass rushing situation, the secondary would look better than it does. Still, we need better players, period. After a full season, this new crew is going to have a better gauge of what we need. We really need a draft that goes 10 deep but that’s not going to happen.

  • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

    The secondary has been a top priority for so long, that I can’t remember the last time we had a decent CB, or SS. It keeps getting skipped every year, and here we are… it’s costing us close games, yet again. I pray that common sense & urgency prevail, and our new GM puts words & promises into action. Good article, Jake. I look forward to the rest of the series.

    • Jake Hefner

      Thank you Peter

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        It would have been great to get Vacarro but I wouldn’t give up Fluker for anybody.

  • Moke Braddah Boltz

    Awesome post Jake! CB, SS and OL have GOT to be the main focus in the upcoming draft … Maybe WR OLB, and RB for depth.

    • Jake Hefner

      I agree with you, In my order i would say 1. OLB 2.CB 3.OT

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        I’d have to say DT is #1 CB #2

        • Moke Braddah Boltz

          great point, NG will definitely be a big key factor this year … maybe the dude from Notre Dame.

  • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

    I think if we are sticking to a 3-4 we need a huge NT that knows what he’s doing and is a playmaker, Cam sucks and is neither of those, he’s a good bench DT. I would try to get Nix in the first round, if he’s gone then Ifo or Roby would be great but not all 1st round CB’s work out right away. I would actually really like to see us go after the Raiders LT Veldheer, dude is a beast like Fluker and young put him at starter and let Dunlap be a more the above avg. backup swing tackle. SS I really don’t know, I’d cut Gilchrist and look for one in 3rd or 4th round or pickup a FA. With so many guys hurt this year we are going to see alot of turnover again next season and alot alot of cuts, I can’t wait.

    • Jake Hefner

      I like this idea.

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        I’m just jaded from his terrible start, I know he’s played better of late but still isn’t a good or great SS. We need someone who doesn’t play like a CB playing SS, need that hard hitting guy that can also cover the deep routes.

    • shayaaa

      Why would you cut Gily? He’s our 2nd best safety right now and costs us almost nothing. He’s signed to 2015.. I don’t see a cut happening.

      • Jake Hefner

        neither do i, i like the NT idea, but until there is a proven SS that will make and IMMEDIATE impact we will need Gilchrist for depth

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        2nd best safety ya but other then Weddle none of these guys would start on other teams. Another best of the worst scenario.

        • Tyreece Kaete Sr.

          Gilly. Could start on numerous teams, especially the ones that run zone

      • Tyreece Kaete Sr.

        True he is a Zone guy with good speed for a Saftey and could tackle

    • Mark Viguri

      Chargers were loaded at NT last year with Franklin, Cam and Garay. Telesco let half the starters on defense walk and it shows.

      • Jake Hefner

        That i agree mark was a mistake, especially on Franklin

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        Garay’s in SD but nothing to do with the team he’s a non factor, Franklin should have never been let go but I get it that TT & MM wanted to start over and bring in some of their own guys, every coach does that, but it was a mistake not having any competition for Cam what so ever, I think they thought they had something in Geathers but he really fizzled out quick.

        • Stefanie Smith

          How is cutting decent players so they can bring in some of their own guys,making it better? They brought in new guys and our defense is still lousy or worse than lousy.

  • Epeeze

    Quandre Diggs!!!!

  • Mark Viguri

    Patrick is decent? You’re joking right? Patrick and Marshall are terrible. Wright is always hurt and was burned for 2 TDs last week. In spite of the Media hatin on Cox he is by far the Chargers best corner. Go back and look at the past 2 games. RGIII and Peyton Manning only scored 1 TD when Derek Cox was in the game and scored 3 TDs when he was benched. So far Gilchrist looked better as a corner than safety and Chargers are loaded at safety. Chargers will probably end up losing Stuckey who should be starting. Smart move would be to trade Weddle for draft picks and have Stuckey, Addae and Taylor complete for starting safeties.

    • Jake Hefner

      I said Patrick was a decent back up not a good backup. And Cox couldn’t shed one block to knock someone out of bounds.

      • Mark Viguri

        I know but Patrick is also a terrible backup. RGIII had a field day with Patrick playing soft. He never closed and gave up huge yards in overtime unable to cover his receiver. Marshall is worse. Cox is not like Cason who was always giving up big plays and TDs. Last week Thomas runs for 74 yards because Manti was late and Weddle shows no hustle but only Cox gets benched? Pagano is costing the Chargers games benching Cox and no one on the coaching staff will explain why. The tape doesn’t lie, there is a clear double standard when only Cox gets benched. http://www.chargers.com/multimedia/videos/Game_Highlights_Chargers_vs_Broncos/fc1caccd-8122-4693-8af7-24e7f8751eb6

      • Mark Viguri

        Cox was the only one trying to make a play. He had Decker in front of him and yes should have stood on the line forcing Thomas inside but he was the only Charger trying to make a play and that’s the guy Pagano benches? Pagano giving away 2 games and the 2013 season is some way to provide a point to the newly acquired Vet.

        • Tyreece Kaete Sr.

          True, because whats been going on with this Dumbass coverage in the 4th QR

    • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

      If Charger’s were loaded at Safety why is Gilchrist one of the bottom of the barrel worst SS’s in the NFL? Stukey is on the team because he found his niche on special teams and is better then anyone on the team at it but he’s not a guy who’s going to play a bunch of mins at a regular safety position.

      Also I think Wright was accountable for 3 Td’s last game.

      • Mark Viguri

        That would be a great question for Pagano. Every time Wright gets hurt ask yourself would you rather have Patrick or Marshall or Gilchrist step in? Stuckey, Addae and Taylor are much better safeties than Gilchrist. Sorry but Weddle is no Ronnie Lott or Atwater with all the holes I say trade him at peak value!

    • Ioane

      Not very smart at all if we trade Weddle. Stuckey has been here long enough to of earned a starting role at Safety. Must be a reason why he hasn’t. Cox is atrocious. He can’t cover anyone and he’s just an awful tackler. It’s time we hit the reset button on the Corners. Chargers should draft Ifo and cut Cox.

  • Ioane

    IFO Ekpre-Olomu is the best CB in college right now. We should invest our 1st on him. Can’t afford the FA corners next year.

    • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

      I think he would be a excellent starting point for a new CB group, I’m kinda brutal but I’d get rid of every corner on this team lol (except Stevie Williams) and completely start over. I really like that IFo is a great tackler and looks to make big tackle’s unlike Mr. Cox who ducks behind his own guys to get out of plays so we doesn’t have to make tackles, Cox is so good at taking himself out of tackling situations lol Antonio Cromartie would be proud.

  • Gunnar Martin

    Verner, Browner, and Davis would all come at pretty high prices. I would love it if we go after them, but they are all pretty quality players that will demand some real dough. Depends how mcu cap space we can free up by cutting a few of our own guys.

    As for SS, we really can’t tell exactly what we have until B Taylor gets on the field and shows us his stuff. Until then, I won’t be one for spending a high draft pick/millions in FA. Really wish the coaches would stop going all Norv-ish on us and give the young guy a chance.

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