Positional Reviews

Coverage Teams Reloaded, Set to Launch


The Chargers are a much more complete team than they were at this point last year. While the offense has more playmakers and the defense has more muscle, it’s the improvement on special teams that is most apparent.

Yes, the selection of P Drew Kaser in the sixth round will help that aspect of the game, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about special teamers, not specialists, the players who willing run into head-on collisions at full speed between six and 12 times per game.

The Chargers already boasted one of the league’s best special teams players in Darrell Stuckey, who played 68.5 percent of the team’s special teams snaps last season (second on the team behind only John Phillips). Stuckey has emerged as a team leader and is passionate about teaching the younger players the art of dominating the game’s third phase.

“We look at [Stuckey] as another coach,” special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman told the team’s official site earlier this offseason. “We hold him up to a higher standard than a lot of people do, and we expect him to coach those younger guys up. His experience and leadership have always been important, and he is ready to step up even more, which is great.”

Stuckey has plenty of new, young pupils this offseason.

The Chargers spent consecutive draft picks on LBs Joshua Perry and Jatavis Brown, two players who were tackling machines in college (racking up 105 and 116 tackles, respectively, in 2015). Perry’s physicality and downhill playing style make him a natural fit for the coverage teams, while Brown’s combination of speed and instincts will make him an asset, as well.

Another draftee, FB Derek Watt, should spend ample time chasing down return men, too. The last time the Chargers carried a true fullback was in 2013, when Le’Ron McClain played on more than 25 percent of the special teams snaps. McClain was approaching 30 years old that season; Watt, 23, may double that usage rate.

It’s not just the draft picks who will improve the coverage teams, either. Dexter McCoil, the team’s latest CFL import, is a linebacker/safety tweener on defense. But on special teams? He’s a weapon who is comfortable sifting through trash and delivering punishing hits.

“I know that I’m going to have to make the roster on special teams, but whatever my role is on defense I’m here to help us win games,” he said last week.

There are veteran additions who will help on special teams, as well. Travis Benjamin, obviously, will make everyone on the punt return team look a whole lot better. And TE Jeff Cumberland, as we covered in-depth earlier, will play a large role in replacing Phillips on nearly every unit.

However, it’s the rookie pickups that should have Bolts backers most excited. Now, after the Chargers score, Bolts backers should be more nervous about the ensuing extra point (looking at you, Lambo) than the subsequent kickoff.

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for Scout.com and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

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