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Mailbag: Which Free Agent Pickup Has Been the Most Impressive?

Q:  Our free agent pickups are balling out.  Who has been most impressive? – Jackson Starks

Jeesh – I can only pick one?  That doesn't seem fair at all! Give credit to the front office because the veteran free agents the team picked up have played extremely well.  From Travis Benjamin and Matt Slauson on offense to Brandon Mebane, Casey Hayward and Dwight Lowery on defense, all five players have made a major impact over the first two weeks.  If forced to pick only one, I think I'll have to go with Travis Benjamin simply because of the way he elevated his game once Keenan Allen went down.  He has caught 13 of 14 passes thrown his way for 147 yards and two touchdowns.  Benjamin also ranks seventh in the NFL in receptions and second in catches over 40 yards.

Q:  With the interceptions and good defense by the corners, I have been really happy with the pass defense. Reading the scouting report, it says we rank 29th in passing defense yards allowed. Cause for concern? – Mike Callahan

A: Absolutely not.  Trust your eyes and not the stats in that case as without context, that number is very misleading.  Most of all, the Chargers have raced out to 21-point leads in each of the first two games, meaning the opposition is going to chuck it through the air, which inherently inflates yardage.  In fact, opponents have run the ball only 30 times while dropping back a whopping 103 times to pass.  So don't look at the yards given up and instead, focus on the plays the defense is making. With the way the secondary is covering and getting interceptions, and the pressure the front seven is bringing, the pass defense has been one of the team's strengths over the first two games.

Q:  What are the plans for new receiver Griff Whalen? – Noah Abram

A: Whalen has his first practice this afternoon, so we'll have to wait to see how he is used come Sunday.  He can really do a little bit of everything, catching 45 passes for 487 yards and three touchdowns in 33 games with the Indianapolis Colts plus, 25 kickoffs for an average of 25.8 yards per return.  This morning his former QB Andrew Luck called him "a great player, a stud, (and) a pro who (does) everything right." Here is what Head Coach Mike McCoy said earlier in the week about how the team might use Whalen:

"Tom (Telesco) had him in Indy, and he comes highly recommended from not only Tom, but other people who have been in Indy with (Whalen).  Adam Gase was down in Miami so (Whalen) has a good understanding and understands (our) system.  I think that his position flexibility will help us.  That's one big thing as you guys know in our offense, we're going to move guys around.  We might put him in the backfield (but) I don't know that.  His ability to play both slot and go outside on certain things and schemes will help us. That is what we are looking for in those types of players."

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