Free Agency

New QB Zach Mettenberger Brings Familiar Feeling


Back in the 2014, Zach Mettenberger was the starting QB for the Titans, Ken Whisenhunt was his head coach and J.J. Watt was his selfie-hating nemesis.

Fast forward to 2016, where Mettenberger and Whisenhunt have reunited after the Chargers claimed the third-year QB on waivers on Tuesday.

Now, if Mettenberger happens to see the field in San Diego’s Week 12 game against the Texans, it will be J.J.’s younger brother, Derek, who will keep blizters off Mettenberger’s back.

In a league where “who you know” matters as much as anything else, the levels of familiarity here are frothing.

This addition is about more than a reunion between old friends. The Chargers are in need of a developmental QB to groom for the future. Philip Rivers is 34 years old and has absorbed an average of 37 sacks over each of the last six seasons. Backup Kellen Clemens, 32, is on a one-year deal and is not in the team’s long-term plans.

It is too early to say Mettenberger is a worthy long-term project, but he certainly has some tools to work with. He has prototypical size (6’5”, 224 lbs.) and a strong arm that can make all the throws. He also came from a pro-style system at LSU, where he worked under former Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (see, small world).

On the other hand, there are some concerns. Mettenberger has a slow release and questionable awareness. His accuracy is spotty and his anticipation is lacking, although those are things he will continue to work on with Whisenhunt.

If there was ever an ideal situation for Mettenberger to develop his skills, this is it. Not only does he get to learn from Whisenhunt and Rivers, but he gets to play for a head coach in Mike McCoy who is a former QB himself. If Mettenberger’s development goes according to plan, he can take over as the No. 2 QB in 2017 once Clemens’ contract expires.

If not? This is a low-risk venture that does little to change San Diego’s long-term plans at the position.

To make room for Mettenberger on the roster, the Chargers released QB Bryn Renner, who was signed as a free agent/camp arm earlier this offseason.

About Michael Lombardo

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

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