Random thoughts from a dangerous mind

Strong opinions are well suited for print. Not holding back – unedited, uncut and clearly irrational – makes it even finer. These are my random thoughts of the week which don't seem so random.

When did it become fashionable to make mock drafts a premium piece of news? Pure guesswork gets the nod as the content that sells?

Think about it – I can make a mock draft today, before the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combines, and make people have to pay to read it. Rolling craps has never been easier. Better luck would be found tossing names in a hat and drawing them out one by one.

For all those who do entertain such novelties, save the mock drafts from January and come back to me with the results. Tell me the roulette wheel spun and they picked accurately. Perhaps, if that happened, I would retract my rant but the odds are better that Johnny Carson returns to late night instead of just sending in jokes to David Letterman.

Speaking of the Senior Bowl, which commences this weekend, the Chargers pushed hard to ensure their coaching staff was in place before last year's event and they would like to pursue the same course of action this year. The kicker (no, not Nate Kaeding) is Hudson Houck. He may not be around and the team will be at a disadvantage heading into the week without an offensive line coach.

Does Houck's possible exit push up the need for an offensive lineman?

Toniu Fonoti, Nick Hardwick and Shane Olivea proved they are capable, but is that enough? There is an itch that says Olivea will move inside to guard at some point which leaves the crucial tackle spots open. Will Courtney Van Buren come back with the same fire as Fonoti did? Is Roman Oben done after this year?

There is nothing wrong with grooming an offensive lineman. It may be the preferred method. Checking out the bargain basement to get their stock of linemen has been well and good in the past but at some point they will need a dominant blocker that can pull. Right now, for all the solid work the line did this past year, they were not fleet of foot in getting outside to lead on sweeps and the screen pass was largely abandoned.

Hardwick has the potential to be solid in this area. Ditto Fonoti – the only one worthy enough to pull with regularity right now. Olivea has a little more trouble with it and Oben and Goff are great straight line blockers but aren't the type of guys who do well in space. Van Buren has the speed to be very good at it – if he is the guy.

When LaDainian Tomlinson is your best weapon, wouldn't it behoove you to protect him and utilize his tremendous talents? Breaking down the film for the year, the team ran over 62 percent of their rushing plays up the middle. That is not a misprint and represents anything inside the tackles. They averaged just 3.1 yards per carry up the gut.

After watching the Jets and Chargers blow games in successive weeks because of special teams, is there any debate over how important that facet of the game is?

Kaeding will be fine and Mike Scifres too. But the team desperately needs an upgrade in the return area. Tim Dwight is a fantastic person. Charismatic, energetic and a great leader – but his return ability isn't what it once was.

But he was tenth in the league in kick return average, you say.

Numbers are sometimes deceiving. His average of 24.4 yards per return isn't the problem. His ability to get the occasional 40-yard return was. Thirty eight of his kick returns gained twenty yards or more. Meaning twelve of his 50 on the year fell short of that mark. Take away his one 87-yard touchdown run and Dwight managed just four returns of 30-plus yards, two returns that went 35-plus yards and one over 40-yards.

Improvement is needed in the gamebreaking category.

Conversely, only two punt returns went twenty plus yards this year for the Bolts. Coincidentally, Wes Welker, the man the Chargers cut, led the league with seven punt returns of twenty plus yards.

It is an area that has been ignored for too long and don't say it – Leon Johnson is the antithesis of the answer. Oh yeah, Mr. Kiper – Roscoe Parrish isn't the answer either.

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