How much better will Manti Te'o be?

Manti Te’o played through last season with a foot injury and had surgery at the end of the year to have that repaired. He was able to focus on what he needs to improve on in the offseason and he feels that he is ready to make a big step forward in his sophomore season.

“The offseason was great,” Te’o said. “Rookie year is possibly the hardest year. Everyone told me that it was. You go non-stop. It’s all football from your last game in college to preparing for the combine to preparing for the draft to getting drafted and then coming straight to rookie minicamp and going through the real thing. The offseason allowed me to just get some away time and get a jumpstart in my workouts. It was good.”

Te’o was selected in the 2d round of the draft last season and was expected to provide his playmaking ability in the middle of the defense. He had his struggles during the season, but strides were made during the year and people saw improvement game after game. How much more improvement can be seen after a whole offseason and after a whole season of experience? Will he be able to become the playmaker that he was at Notre Dame?

The Chargers are looking for playmakers on the defense. The team needs players to step up to make some game changing plays. Eric Weddle had been the only player on the roster that was able to provide that type of play. Melvin Ingram stepped up and made some of those plays when he returned to the field. Will Te’o be able to become another one of those guys in his second season. If he is able to make that jump, then the face of this defense could be changed drastically… for the good.

I am ready to see some plays from the middle linebacker.

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  • Tazzster

    I’m hoping for … lots. Which should happen… I am sure the foot was bugging him last year. And with a year under his belt … all things point to him being improved over last years version.

  • Eli Rodriguez

    I’ve had a lot of confidence in Teo. I have no problem with the way he played during his rookie year. He played hurt the entire season and did well. I have a feeling he’s going to come back stronger, quicker, and hungry for the football.

  • powderBLUE801

    I say he will end up with 90 tackles 9TFL, 3 picks and 2 sacks. ⚡️⚡️Bolt up ⚡️⚡️

  • Sergio Quintero

    Several points on Te’o he played his best ball when allowed to drop into zone coverage, if the chargers want a return on investment in terms of big plays and actual plays on the field, they need to keep Te’o out there on all downs, and trust him over Reggie Walker, if not they are just kidding themselves in getting fair return on the 38th pick. A big reason why Te’o was picked as high as he was, was the 7 INT’s he picked up his senior season, hard to take advantage of his instincts in coverage if he isn’t on the field.

    I went back a couple of weeks back to view his draftbreakdown videos, and he’s 2 different players from junior to senior, junior he’s bigger but a little more lumbering, better at run defense as he can get of blocks, senior he dropped weight but lost strength but was much better in coverage. He has to regain the strength he had as a junior but keep the speed and quickness he currently has, so the guy has to work hard in the weight room.

    He has to trust his instinct and shoot gaps, when he actually did he made plays was, when he trusted himself and played forward, he is not a good player when he is waiting for running plays to come to him, he has to play with aggression based on shooting gaps based on his instincts. Is his unwillingness to shoot gaps related to lack of experience, for all the parties involved lets hope it is, as this was a player known for instinctive play, so making plays in the line of scrimmage or even behind it should come when he’s reacting and not thinking about what he has to do.

    For all of the criticism Te’o got he still led the linebackers in tackles for loss, and the number should grow, he needs to get stronger to get off blocks and need to trust his instincts and not wait for plays 5-7 yards after the line of scrimmage, he is known for an excellent work ethic so both strength and instincts should be better, put me down for 100 tackles, 12 TFL, 3 INT’s and 2 sacks.

    • NateLew

      Only thing I wanna point out is we’ve signed Kavell Conner. Walker didn’t look bad at all last year but I think Conner is an upgrade, and may be the favorite to steal Te’os snaps if he doesn’t develop this year. Interesting point about his build and leading our LBs in TFL. What site do you find TFL stats on? and how many did Manti get as a rook?

      • Sergio Quintero

        On the Conner topic, Te’o is really screwing up if Conner is playing ahead of him, or got hurt, lets remember there are politics related to contracts and draft position, as much as Vincent Brown struggled last year there was basically no effort to bench him in favor of Ajirotutu.

        If Te’o is healthy he’s playing, his position is even more secure than V.Brown & Clary that have inspired fanbase frustration.

      • diomar espinal

        i agree with this and came her to point this out. Kavell Conner did a good job with the colts before his injuries and was a tackling machine. If he comes in and plays aggressively against the run then Teos snaps indeed will be cut down. But i also agree with the sentiment that Teo should be out there on third downs so we can take advantage of his insticts. Hopefully Pagano uses him correctly, something he hasnt done with alot of other players .

    • Ernie Padaon

      i agree with you. i was wondering why he was taken out so many time during third downs and thought that he could excel in that part of the game. It seemed that Pagano was too concerned about getting everyone a chance to play the game over keeping the right players on the field.

  • Marcel West-Bailey

    I suspect much better. I’m not saying he’s the next Juinor Seau or Shawne Merriman (healthy and on the field) but I think he can play a big role. Let’s not forget he was a Heisman runner up with a game that translates to the NFL. He’s quite possibly one of the most instinctual players on the team. He’ll do well this year. Not to mention he was hurt.

  • NateLew

    If Te’o can become a middle of the road linebacker this season, and play to say around the level Donald Butler did through injury last year, I believe we’re capable of being in the upper half of the league on defense. Combine that with what should be about a top 5 offense and we’re capable of 11 wins this year if we don’t play down to our opponents like last year.

    • Sergio Quintero

      You add to last year 9 win Playoff team, Ingram & Freeney, Floyd at WR, and they add Williams to this draft class, I think they win 10-11 games even with the tougher schedule.

      • NateLew

        Completely agree. Every team loses a key piece or two. But we lost 4, for the majority or in some cases the entire season, 5 including DAX. Melvin and Freeney never got to play together, add in Attaochu, we should have 2 healthy pass rushers almost all year.
        I feel like Week 1 is as big of a kickoff game as I can remember for us. If we can get a W week 1 that puts us in great position for a 6-3 or 7-2 type start before the bye. Leaving us in great position for playoffs before we face a nasty looking schedule.

        • Nick619chargers4life

          I can’t wait , it’s going to be a good year . I really hope we shock the world this year .

        • Sergio Quintero

          The arizona game is huge, its one of those they have to win this road game on their schedule.

          The chargers have to win all of their “so called easy games”: Raiders(2), Bills, Jags. If they fall on the banana peel on one of these, then they better more dominant then their usual 4-5 wins at home.

      • Nick619chargers4life

        I’m right there with you guys on the 10-11 wins .

  • Gunnar Martin

    Those message boards right underneath the article really need to go. That dude’s comment was twice as long as the article itself.

    • julian vesga is chargerfan#21

      I thought it was part of the article. LOL

  • Nick619chargers4life

    I think he and Butler will do much better. Cam Thomas is gone! Lol

  • afroamongfew

    If he continues to lack aggression, demonstrate poor form tackling, or gets injured again, I don’t know if he’ll ever get truly better. I have Kavell Connor pegged as a guy who will come in and take away some of Te’o’s starting snaps if he doesn’t improve in run coverage. I just struggle to put my confidence behind a player who is clearly lacking the athleticism to succeed at the role of ILB (particularly in his inability to shed blocks, something that he wasn’t particularly great at Notre Dame). I also think that the coaching staff did him a disservice taking him out on third downs, when his instincts and ability to backpedal into coverage are two of his strengths. Sergio did a great job illustrating where Te’o is at, particularly that he needs a LOT of work to demonstrate the kind of value that being shoehorned into the “Telesco’s first draft produced three rookie PHENOMS” narrative (not necessarily his fault, as it’s really the fanbase that keeps on parroting this erroneous notion) actually means.

    • Sergio Quintero

      He still did average 5 tackles per game, if he can get stronger, play on 3rd down, and show comfort playing the run its perfectly reasonable to expect somewhere around 7 tackles per game, that puts you at 100 tackles for a season. My expectation of him is a useful 100 tackle per season guy in the James Laurinaitis & Paul Posluszny vein.

  • Alter Ego

    Okay…I’m going with this – we are on a Super Bowl run. No broken foot – lot like this.