The three newly signed Chargers visit the facility for their first interviews and press conference.
When not calling games for the Bolts, Josh Lewin can be heard doing play by play for the New York Mets. While Opening Day is just a week away, Lewin has kept track on all the news coming out of America's Finest City.
We checked in with the voice of the Chargers to get his thoughts on all the Bolts moves, and what he would like to see moving forward:
Chargers.com: Before we get into what the team did in free agency, who would you personally choose if you were making the third overall selection in the draft?
Lewin: There's pressure that comes with having a top three pick. You can't really hide if it doesn't work out. That stated, there seem to be a bunch of "can't miss" types high up on the board. Joey Bosa or Deforest Buckner seem like game-changers, and I like that idea of grabbing a top flight defender. Super Bowls seem to be won that way. Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack would be tough to turn down as well if the Bolts trade down a couple spots. But I don't know any inner workings -- didn't attend the combine, never played the game, and am very deferential to a Chargers front office that works its collective tail off.
Chargers.com: Turning to free agency, the Bolts added one of the most explosive players available in Travis Benjamin. What do you see him bringing to the offense?
Lewin: I remember how much we talked about Benjamin before the Week 4 game vs the Browns last year on the air, and how nervous we all were that he'd break the game open somehow. He actually came close to doing exactly that -- the Bolts were fortunate to win that afternoon, needing a take two last-second field goal. Benjamin seems to be a fun, explosive, jackrabbit of a player, and he will be paired with by far the best QB he's ever had. Also, as lacking in the return game as the Chargers have been for years, finally it seems they have a player in his prime ready to be unleashed.
Chargers.com: Antonio Gates is back and only seven TDs shy of tying the all-time touchdown mark for a tight end. When do you start planning your call if he reaches that mark?
Lewin: When he gets three TDs away, I guess I've got to be ready -- he tends to score in clumps, as he did in Week 2 against the heralded Legion of Boom a couple years back. Antonio has already cemented himself as one of the great stories in NFL history... 17-to-85 is the football version of the swallows returning to Capistrano. You count on it, you look forward to it, and it's beautiful. We can all look forward to his going into the Hall of Fame someday soon, but first things first, grabbing that record.., and frankly, hoping Gronk doesn't speedboat towards it too soon. This is truly the golden age of tight ends, and the Chargers have developed one of the very best there's ever been.
Chargers.com: The Chargers added three new defensive players in Brandon Mebane, Dwight Lowery and Casey Hayward. What stands out to you about those players?
Lewin: Lowery will endure the most scrutiny by far, since he's replacing one of the most popular Chargers of the last two decades. But then again, I hope he just does what he usually does and stays who he is -- he's solid, he plays with passion and seems to have a tremendous football IQ. Hayward has been terrific the last couple years in Green Bay but actually has big shoes to fill too -- I don't think we all appreciated how good Patrick Robinson was while he was here. Flowers' down year was mitigated by Robinson's up-arrow in 2015. Hayward needs to fill that void. And Mebane? Total rock star. SoCal guy. Championship pedigree. I've never met him, but everyone says he's hilarious, positive and a wonderful teammate. I'm already a fan.
Chargers.com: Who from last season do you think is poised take a next leap forward in 2016?
Lewin: Denzel Perryman already took such noticeable steps mid-season last year so I guess he doesn't count for 2016, huh? I still think Manti Te'o has the capacity to be a lot more consistent, so I look for a step-up year from Hawaii 5-0. If Jaleel Addae can reign in his passion and not take those 15-yard penalties, he's absolutely ready to sparkle. And obviously, Melvin Gordon has now cleared his learning-curve season, and is poised to prove he's indeed the potential workhorse running back he appeared to be coming out of Wisconsin. Melvin seemed like he was caught buffering during a download at times as rookie -- in the throes of a potential big play, he would occasionally hesitate or be a little tentative. Now in year two, a deep breath, a clean slate, and a better/healthier offensive line should give him the confidence to do so much more.
Chargers.com: What area of improvement do you think is most needed heading into 2016?
Lewin: Line play and line play - very simple. The offensive line mostly just needs to stay healthy. It's been that way for years now, so maybe they're simply due to get through more than one game out of 16 completely intact. Last year, it was like watching Lt. Nordberg from the original Naked Gun movie, down by the docks. One goofy injury after another, like they were coming down some cosmic conveyor belt.
The defensive line still needs a stud to bookend the stud they already have in Corey Liuget... and with the arrival of Brandon Mebane, there should be a chance for the inside backers to tackle moving forward instead of sideways or backward. Imagine Denzel Perryman getting a running start and a clean shot at a running back who's already been slowed down. And Mebane's one of those high motor guys who will chase a guy all the way to the sidelines too. Not too many nose tackles can or even want to do that.
Chargers.com: Finally, what are your thoughts on the Chargers aiming to build a stadium in downtown San Diego?
Lewin: Again, I yield the floor to the people who can actually move the Earth on such a big issue - the biggest one in San Diego in quite some time. My feeling has always been that civic pride counts, and I can only hope the city leaders and eventually the voters know this to be true. "The time is now" isn't even accurate to say-- the time was actually 12 or 14 years ago. But here we are, and it seems like there's a doable, creative way to keep the Chargers in this wonderful city after all. The guys wearing the logo on their helmets need to block out the noise and make sure it's a winning season -- those tend to perk up the voters, as was proven with the Padres and Petco back in '98. I'll be loyal to the Chargers whether they're in San Diego, LA, or Fairbanks... but their rightful place is in a zip code beginning with a 9-and-a-2.