Tag:Randy McMichael
Posted on: April 3, 2011 2:34 pm

Offseason Checkup: San Diego Chargers

Posted by Will Brinson


Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups.

2010 was a weird year for the San Diego Chargers. They had all the tools necessary to contend for a Super Bowl, and in a season when parity reigned supreme, that should have equated with success. It didn't, though, because the San Diego got off to one of its patented slow starts, performed epically horrible on special teams, and couldn't close out inferior teams.

Statistically, though, it was all there. Philip Rivers was a machine on offense, piling up big stats despite throwing to guys like Legadu Naanee, Patrick Crayton, Randy McMichael and Seyi Ajirotutu. Part of what got those A-listers on the top of the Bolts' receiving stats was injuries (well, most was injuries), and part was the holdout of Vincent Jackson. Oh yes, and Mike Tolbert -- just like everyone expected -- was the team's leading rusher.

Defensively, San Diego thrived despite not having an elite pass-rushing presence. In fact, just like on offense, they were the No. 1-ranked team in the league. And yet, again, no playoffs. It's a really odd conundrum, frankly, and it's either a really weird fluke or it's indicative of a bigger problem within the organization. Given the Chargers' typically annual success, the jury's still out on the latter, but another slow start and sloppy manner of missing the playoffs could change that in 2011.

Special Teams, Depth

It's not all that hard to pinpoint the problems for the Chargers in 2010. Pretty clearly, special teams cost them a couple of wins and therefore a shot at the postseason (plus, likely a divisional title). 

Of course, fixing special teams is much easier than, say, fixing a giant hole at quarterback, and it's entirely possible that with the right personnel moves, the Chargers will be fine in that area in 2011. In fact, once some veterans were plugged into the special teams unit, San Diego was much better at the third leg of football than it was earlier in the year. (At that point, though, it was just too late.) 

Perhaps the bigger problem for the Chargers in 2011 will be the status of certain players. Vincent Jackson was franchised, but depending on how the CBA shakes out, he could be gone. It seems somewhat reasonable that he's around for one more year. Malcolm Floyd could be out the door as well, meaning the Chargers' depth at wide receiver could be crushed back to late-last-year levels. If Kevin Burnett, Stephen Cooper, Eric Weddle, Jacques Cesaire, Travis Johnson leave, the defense is going to take a hit too. It's part of the problem with the way A.J. Smith built the team -- if the labor negotiations don't favor the league, San Diego's depth suffers.

1. Defensive End
As might have been said 5,000 times in these previews thus far, it's a pretty good year to need depth at defensive line. So it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Chargers nab a defensive end with their first-round pick. J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan and Adrian Clayborn are all highly likely/possible picks for San Diego at No. 18.

2. Linebacker
Shaun Phillips had a monster year in 2010, but San Diego needs to beef up their linebacking corps, unless they actually think that Larry English can end up performing to his first-round expectations. (And, speaking of which, not exactly a great last pair of years in the first round for A.J. Smith, huh? Ryan Mathews and Larry English aren't exactly justifying their top-20 status.) English could still justify the selection, but there's some serious talent that would fit San Diego's scheme in guys like Robert Quinn, Akeem Ayers and Ryan Kerrigan, the latter two of whom should fall to 18 pretty easily. Quinn's a guy that would be a steal at 18 and could also be a trade-up target for Smith if hops up the board again in 2011.

3. Wide Receiver
Talk about an up-in-the-air position for the Bolts: if Jackson and Floyd end up leaving, they're going to need some serious help here. Buster Davis isn't going to pan out and while Antonio Gates should technically qualify as "depth" at wideout, having Naanee and Ajirotutu as the top receiving options just isn't going to cut it. Smith and Norv Turner know they can have success with less than elite talent, though, so seeing them take a wideout with an early pick would be a bit surprising.

Look, the Chargers are capable of winning it all in 2011. Statistics don't mean everything (obviously), but if a team is the top offensive AND defensive team, it means there's enough talent on the roster to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Living up to the lofty expectations this franchise has set for the past few years in 2011 will require two things: not making simple mistakes and actually remembering that football starts in September.

It would help, too, for the Bolts to address some of their defensive needs as well. And for their last two first-rounders -- English and Mathews -- to play up to their potential. Should all of that happen in 2011 and the Chargers don't win the division and/or at least make a run to the playoffs, it's entirely possible that Norv Turner's job could be on the line once again. At this point, there's no viable reason for a team with this much success -- statistically speaking -- not to be converting their high-end performance into more wins.

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Posted on: December 24, 2010 1:39 pm

McMichael growing into Gates' role

R. McMichael has taken over for the injured A. Gates (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

A nice little story here from the San Diego Union Tribune about the man who’s been charged with replacing the production of injured TE Antonio GatesRandy McMichael.

When McMichael signed with San Diego in the offseason, he wasn’t expecting this much responsibility.

Even when it was still a question whether Gates would play on a week-to-week basis - now we know he's out until the postseason - McMichael still practiced his role as a blocking TE during practice. Then, McMichael on Sundays would have to fit himself into the hybrid TE role that Gates plays. Which obviously means becoming one of QB Philip Rivers’ main receiving targets.

“That just comes with playing a lot of ball,” McMichael told the paper. “I try not to be unprepared for any situation. Football has so many situations that go with it you don’t want to be unprepared. If (the center) might go down, I might have to go in at center.”

More from the story:

The familiarity Rivers has with Gates is an intangible the quarterback relishes and relies on, and it will likely never be duplicated with another player in Rivers’ career. But the quarterback knew early on in training camp that McMichael had an innate football cognizance.

“He’s a super, super smart player,” Rivers said. “He just gets it.”

McMichael doesn’t catch as many passes as Gates or catch them with the splendor that the future Hall of Famer makes look so routine.

McMichael doesn’t get open as well as a healthy Gates or run after the catch like him either. But he’s as close to Gates as anyone the Chargers have ever had, and he can block more consistently and better than would ever be asked of Gates.

With 16 receptions for 186 yards, McMichael is on pace for the lowest production he’s ever had in a full season of his nine-year career. But he’s been crucial to the Chargers becoming at least relevant in the second half of the season as Gates has missed four of the past six games and been hobbled for parts of others.

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Posted on: December 23, 2010 11:08 am

Antonio Gates is not a lock for the playoffs

Posted by Andy Benoit

Antonio Gates HOPES to be back for the playoffs, but hope doesn’t carry a promise. The Chargers tight end is battling super painful plantar fasciitis in his foot.

“Time is the key. There’s not magical treatment for an injury like this,” Gates told Scott Bair of the North County Times. “Just because I hope to come back if we end up making the postseason, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to go. It gives me a chance.”

The Chargers have a decent replacement for Gates in veteran Randy McMichael, though McMichael does not create terrifying mismatches for opponents coming out of the slot.

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Posted on: December 16, 2010 6:45 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 6:48 pm

Gates, Floyd inactive

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Two of the Chargers most important offensive players, TE Antonio Gates and WR Malcom Floyd, are inactive for tonight’s game vs. the 49ers, as reported by the NFL Network.

Gates, as we’ve well-documented, is suffering from plantar fasciitis, and though he played in Weeks 12 and 13, he’ll have missed the past two games with his absence tonight. Look for Randy McMichael to get plenty of time in his place.

Meanwhile, Floyd, who’s dealing with a bad hamstring, simply didn’t have enough time to get healthy during the Chargers’ short week of preparation. Fortunately for San Diego, WR Vincent Jackson will play today.

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Posted on: December 12, 2010 2:57 pm

Chargers deactivate Gates

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In a blow for the Chargers offense, TE Antonio Gates – who’s been bothered by plantar fasciitis – is inactive for today’s game vs. the Chiefs.

After missing two straight weeks, Gates, still dealing with immense pain, managed to play the past two games, combining for 10 catches, 119 yards and a touchdown.

And though he seemed optimistic earlier in the week ("Something would have to be really, really hurting for me not to go,” he told reporters. “This is more of a dire need. Considering how important this game is and what this mean to our whole season I'd like to say that, speaking in the third person, Antonio Gates will play."), but as the week progressed and he kept missing practices, his chances of playing went way down.

Look for Randy McMichael to take his place.

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Posted on: November 22, 2010 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 7:23 pm

Gates won't play tonight

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Chargers TE Antonio Gates won’t play tonight’s game as he continues to deal with plantar fasciitis. Though it’s not a surprising deactivation, it’s still disappointing for San Diego that the team won’t have one of its star players as it participaints in an important AFC West showdown vs. the Broncos.

Although San Diego is coming off its bye week, Gates said the extra time off didn’t help the pain in his feet. He also called the pain “brutal.” And since Gates is known as a tough player, the pain must be extraordinary to keep him out for the second game in a row.

Randy McMichael will take his place in the San Diego lineup as the Chargers prepare to face the Broncos.

Also, RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive for the Chargers.

For Denver, the Broncos have deactivated LB Robert Ayers, who’s dealing with a broken foot. Although he practiced this week for the first time since Oct. 10, he’s not healthy enough to be active tonight.

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Posted on: November 4, 2010 10:33 am

Who will Philip Rivers throw to?

Posted by Andy Benoit

Late Wednesday we shared the news that tight end Antonio Gates could miss San Diego’s Week 9 contest against Houston due to plantar fascia (foot). Because it’s still fun to dump on the Chargers (and because, knowing the Chargers, we probably won’t get a chance to dump on them for much longer), we feel it’s necessary to point out that starting receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are both still out with hamstring injuries.

Neither wideout practiced Wednesday, and neither is expected to play Sunday. Backup Craig Davis was also put on Injured Reserve this week, and recently-arrived star Vincent Jackson must sit out another two games.

Thus, Philip Rivers could take the field Sunday with his top three receiving targets (non running back receiving targets, that is) being Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu and Randy McMichael. That’s a starting trio that would draw nervous looks of skepticism even if this were just a preseason game.

Fortunately for the Chargers, they’re facing a Texans pass defense that ranks dead last in the NFL.

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Posted on: June 29, 2010 4:25 pm

Some Familiar Names Remain Unsigned

There are some big names still on the market. Most of you know about Terrell Owens. But here’s a rundown of other longtime starters who remain unsigned, with a quick explanation for why.

Arizona OT Mike Gandy: Major liability in pass protection.

Baltimore WR Kelley Washington: Solid No. 4 receiver and special teams contributor. The guess here is he’s demanding too much money.

Carolina G Keydrick Vincent: Hard to explain this one. He was near Pro Bowl caliber as a run-blocker last season.

Chicago DE Adewale Ogunleye: Was slowing down before serious leg injury late last season.

Dallas LT Flozell Adams: At 35, too lumbering to survive on an island in pass protection. (Though it's worth noting that, with the injury to Willie Colon, Adams is reportedly visiting with the Steelers.)

Houston G Chester Pitts: Coming off serious knee injury.

Kansas City S Mike Brown: Struggled making tackles in open space last season.

St. Louis TE Randy McMichael: Attitude is iffy, but not nearly as iffy as his blocking.

San Francisco CB Dre’ Bly: Insiders don’t respect his toughness. Cocky demeanor no longer serves him well.

Seattle CB Ken Lucas: Confidence seems shot after miserable ’09 campaign.

Tennessee LB Keith Bulluck: Teams are just waiting out his ACL recovery. He’ll sign somewhere.

--Andy Benoit

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com