Is Manti Te’o on the Hot Seat in 2016?
By Nick Mansoor
Oh the curious case of Manti Te’o. He is young, athletic, smart and a well rounded football player. But has he lived up to his potential since drafting him in 2013?
Te’o was drafted 38th overall in the 2013 draft after Tom Telesco traded up eight spots to get him. Coincidentally enough, Kiko Alonso was drafted 39th overall that year as well. Since 2013, Manti had a rough start to his NFL career injury wise, coming off of a catfish controversy, being the new kid on the block… Things weren’t fun for the guy at the time, he had to set a tone.
Manti was injured for a good two months into his rookie campaign after the coaching staff reassured the organization that Manti was not seriously injured and that “he should return soon”. He went on that year to finish with 41 total tackles, no sacks, and no interceptions.
2014 was to supposed be his bounce back season, where he continued to start alongside Donald Butler. He finished the year with a slight improvement at 39 total tackles, a pick and a sack. 2015 was quite an interesting year for him as well. He seemed to be playing like he usually would. But up until the coaching staff began starting rookie Denzel Perryman over Butler, things really began to pick up. He finished the year with another interception, half of a sack, and 63 total tackles.
Manti has shown “okay” numbers since his rookie year, but the emergence of Perryman has really benefited him. Manti has always been a coverage stylelLinebacker, even dating back to his college days at Notre Dame. When we drafted him, I didn’t like the idea that much. Why? Butler was already our coverage-style linebacker and we needed a blitz-style linebacker to complement him. The Chargers went on with this experiment for two years and the results weren’t amazing.
Bringing in Perryman has benefitted Manti, he is the blitz-style ;inebacker this team needs to stuff the run and help complement Manti’s playing style. Is Manti to blame for his lack in performance? Especially for the price we paid to get him? It seems like the Chargers staff has already begun to bring in a little competition by drafting Joshua Perry. Could he be the heir to Te’o’s throne, or will he serve as a depth player?
All in all, I can’t really put all the blame on Manti. He was put into a system where we already had a coverage style Linebacker (One that wasn’t playing good at all) and having both guys playing at the same time just didn’t make sense. The emergence of Perryman will go a long way for Manti. This will allow for more schemes to actually put pressure on the QB, while Te’o does his thing and try to sniff out the football.
The young product out of Hawaii has shown improvements every year. Will 2016 be his breakout year? So far, we are placing Manti in the best position to be successful this year. We have brought in the necessary talents to help complement his playING style, and it has shown to work. Can Te’o continue to improve? Or are his days as a Charger numbered at this point? Only time will tell in the 2016 season.