5 Chargers who need to break out in 2016
By Nick Mansoor
The Chargers roster has some great talent heading into 2016, the overall depth to the team looks a lot more rejuvenated than it did 2 years ago. The roster does have some talent that is there, but hasn’t necessarily shown yet, given all the potential these players have.
2016 is going to be a “Make or Break” for a lot of players, especially the ones that are in a contract season and will be up for a possible renewal at the end of the year. I have narrowed down a list to 5 players that I feel need to break out in 2016, not only for the well being of the team, but also for their future in San Diego:
Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones (82) looks to get around San Diego Chargers defensive back Jahleel Addae (37) during first quarter of the AFC wild card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
I really like “The Hitman” and what he has to offer. I mean, his nickname says it all. The guy can SHAKE. YOU. UP. But unfortunately for Jahleel, that’s all he has to his name. He has yet to earn his first NFL interception, but you can’t really blame the guy. He has never played a full season as a starter, he’s been mostly used as a rotational player. It seems like Jahleel has earned a sense of trust from the Chargers coaching staff, since they rewarded him with a two-year extension this past offseason. He will most likely be playing alongside Dwight Lowery deep in the secondary, with more playing time of course. If Jahleel can prove that he can not only be a run stopping safety, but also one that can play in coverage, then there should be no reason why he shouldn’t start. 2016 will be a big year for this man, keep an eye out for the Hitman.
Nov 1, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) gets injured after catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Allen is no doubt our No.1 receiver, and from the looks of it, he will most likely be staying in San Diego for a while. Rumors have it that he and the Bolts are currently in contract talks with a possible 4-5 year extension. The guy is very talented, given we got him in the 3rd Round of the 2013 draft. Keenan has yet to reach the Pro Bowl during his early career in San Diego. Last year looked like a record-breaking, Pro Bowl year, but he suffered a lacerated kidney in Week 8 versus the Baltimore Ravens. Keenan hasn’t seen a 1,000 yard season since his rookie debut and he shouldn’t have that much of a problem achieving that in the future. Keenan Allen is only on this list as a “Make or Break” player to reach the Pro Bowl, this guy is not going anywhere and has locked his spot on this roster, he’s here to stay. The problem with him is that he needs to stay healthy, and if he can, this guy is most definitely a top-five wide receiver in the NFL.
Dec 20, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) is defended by Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (52) on a second quarter run at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Melvin is here to stay in San Diego for few more years. He is not going anywhere either, so don’t think the Chargers will do anything to release him until after his rookie contract is up (If he continues to play badly). Gordon is coming off of a disappointing rookie debut after finishing with 641 rushing yards and he has yet to score his first NFL touchdown as well. Melvin was playing behind a heavily injured and beat down offensive line (to the point where we had third stringers starting), with no fullback in front of him, and with Frank Reich running the show on offense. This couldn’t be any worse for Melvin, you can’t put all the blame on him or even compare him to the likes of Todd Gurley, who had it a lot easier in St. Louis last year. 2016 must be an improvement over last season. The Chargers have obviously been working hard to put Melvin Gordon in the absolute best position to succeed in 2016 by bringing back Ken Whisenhunt as the offensive coordinator, signing rookie fullback Derek Watt, and they have brought in more talent on the offensive line to help move the chains. The rest is on Melvin’s shoulders, he is being put in the best possible situation to actually hit 1,200 yards this year. If he can’t find a way to get the ball moving this year, than we know there is a problem.
I said this once, and I will say it again, Brandon Flowers needs to have a good season in 2016. He played his worst season as a cornerback last year and the guy has never played like that in his career. It seemed like he was playing through an injury last year, so it shows that he is tough and is willing to play for this team no matter what. That is something I really respect about him. Brandon has been interviewed by the press recently and he is already focused on moving on from his performance last year and is looking for a major improvement in 2016. The guy made the Pro Bowl the year before and just had a major slump last season. Expect him to bounce back in 2016. The Chargers are already bringing in more talent to fill his void if he were to show decline once again. Tom Telesco doesn’t play around if he notices someone not playing up to par. Just look at Derek Cox, Richard Marshall…
Manti Te’o is not living up to the second round pick that we used to get him in 2013. Not just yet. Manti has been playing some decent football the past few years, but nothing too flashy. Second-year man Denzel Perryman has been looking far better than Manti and he didn’t even start in the defensive lineup until midway through the 2015 season. But when he did start alongside Manti, No. 50 was playing a lot better too. You could just tell that the two were playing as the anchors for this defense. Hopefully it all translates the same way in 2016. Te’o is in a contract year after the end of 2016. He needs to show up big-time and prove to this coaching staff why he is a valuable part of this defense. We have already renewed D.J. Fluker’s contract, next will be Keenan Allen… Manti needs to earn his by playing well in 2016.
These five players are on the verge of breaking out in 2016, not to say that they are all in danger of losing their jobs in San Diego, but they all definitely have something more to prove this coming year. The potential for these five players is there, they are all tough players and have shown huge flashes of star-level playmaking. But given their situations, they have been hindered the past few years due to injury and what not. Expect these guys to show improvement next year, and if they all do, this team is going to have one very scary roster.