Since being signed by the San Diego Chargers earlier this offseason, sack master Dwight Freeney has been anything but shy. The former lifer with the Indianapolis Colts has shared his opinions on a number of different issues before the ink on his deal with the Bolts was even dry, and some of those comments have been quite candid.
Perhaps the mildest of Freeney’s dialogue was in reference to what he will be asked to do with the Bolts in the upcoming season. Clearly the 3-4 alignment didn’t work well for his with the Colts a year ago, but he isn’t worried about the same complications in San Diego. Freeney believes that defensive coordinator John Pagano will utilize his strengths rather than ask him to improve upon his weaknesses. Freeney said:
“I think the biggest thing was that, he was going to allow me to do a little bit of what I do. It wasn’t, ‘Dwight, here, we’re going to take you and put you in this thing and do things that you’re not used to doing.’ He said, ‘You know what, we’re going to put you in place to make plays, in familiar places, so that you’re comfortable and you can just ball out.’ Not a lot of times am I going to be in reverse, you know, backpedaling, going away from the guy with the ball, but I’m sure there will be times when I have to do it. Hopefully the blitz will get there. I’m going to have fun with it.”
Freeney has been an up-field pass rushing kind of player during his entire career thus far, and asking him to drop into coverage is something the Chargers need to avoid doing. It sounds like Pagano assured the veteran that he will be going forward far more often than not in the upcoming season with the Bolts.
Speaking of moving forward, the pass rusher may want to do that in regards to his next set of comments directed toward NFL owners in regards to why it took him so long to find a new home this offseason. Freeney said:
“I basically think the owners got together and decided not to spend the cash on free agents. I definitely think that’s part of it. I think the owners made a pact. There’s only 32 of them and none of them broke ranks. I think they all decided not to spend money. It takes one team to start things going, but what was strange was initially there was not one team. What you saw were guys getting small deals. I haven’t seen anything like it. There was a lot of take-it-or-leave-it from teams. It was crazy. Even a guy like (Elvis) Dumervil didn’t make as much money as he should have. He’s in his prime. I’m going to make all of them regret it.”
These are strong accusations from a player with Freeney’s tenure in the league, but he may have a point to some degree. The fact that proven veterans were passed over time after time this offseason defies logic in many ways. Some guys with productive pasts are still available on the open market like John Abraham and Ahmad Bradshaw.
The latest comments from Freeney are forward looking. The pass rusher discussed his two future meetings with former teammate, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the upcoming season. Freeney said:
“Ten years of hearing him in the huddle in practice, going against him in practice every single day, not being able to hit him, is something for me. As a D-lineman, or rush man or linebacker, one of the things you really take pride in is hitting the QB. You kind of want to hit them all, whether they’re on your team or not. For me, it’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be fun. Hopefully, I’ll get some good opportunities this year.”
Controversial or not, it seems like the Chargers have themselves a hungry player on their roster in Freeney. Whether it is proving that he can excel in a 3-4 defense, proving the other 31 owners wrong for overlooking him, or proving to Peyton Manning just how hard he can hit, Freeney has plenty of gas left in the tank for the upcoming season.