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QB Carousel: Lorenzo Neal, Former Los Angeles Chargers Fullback

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2023 9:24 pm

QB Carousel: Lorenzo Neal, Former Los Angeles Chargers Fullback

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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March 20, 2023 9:24 pm

Lorenzo Neal joined Zach to discuss where Justin Herbert ranks amongst quarterbacks in the NFL and if the Chargers can succeed on offense without Austin Ekeler. 

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Step right up here. Don't be shy. The Super Bowl is over, but the NFL quarterback carousel is just beginning. You could ask yourself a question.

Do I feel lucky? What does the future hold for all 32 NFL teams at the QB position? Now, I'm gonna give you an opportunity to spin this wheel right here. Let's spin the wheel and find out which teams we hit today. Los Angeles Chargers.

And we welcome in one of our favorites, Lorenzo Neal, the two-time first-team all-pro fullback who joins us right now. Lorenzo, we all know the goal for the Chargers from the start of the season was to make the playoffs, so they make the playoffs, so they just had that devastating defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Just how do you look back on the Chargers season from a year ago?

Yeah, I think it was a successful failure. You know, Zach, thanks for having me on the show first of all, but when you look at their season, you think about some of the situations that they were in and some of the things that they were not able to overcome, it makes you say, okay, how can this team better itself? And I think that's why you think that that's why the head coach went out and said, I'm going to get an analytics guy that's going to tell me what do I do on these fourth down situations. I got to remove myself from the game because sometimes when the game's going on and trying to make these decisions, it costs the Chargers and it cost them dearly I think this year. How do you recover from that mentally as a player? Because they were up so big, you're probably thinking, okay, you're going to the second round and then boom, it smacks you right in the face and you don't even walk out with the victory and your season ends.

Yeah, it's not the crash that kills you, it's the sudden stop. So I think mentally this team has gone through some things and the guys are looking around in that locker room and that's why you've seen the moves that the organization did, you know, by bringing in a new offensive coordinator, you brought in a guy that, you know, is with the Dallas Cowboys, you said, let's try to get this offense even more prolific, let's go do other things to try to strengthen this team. So because it's hard for guys to overcome, especially when they look around and when it's not a self-inflicted wound, but it comes from sometimes the coach's decision, that's really tough for guys to get over but you have to because it's a national football league. How do you view Justin Herbert as a quarterback, Lorenzo Neal? I think Justin Herbert is one of the better quarterbacks in this league. Let's look at Mahomes, what he can do. Mahomes, you know, he's magic in the back.

We watched this guy, Superman, without the cape, even with the half leg, he was able to win a Super Bowl. Mahomes, and then you look at, I think, Cincinnati, when you think about what that quarterback and the way that he plays and how, you know, how he handles the game. Herbert to me, he's, I would say, five or, you know, five, maybe some would even question four. I think that there's not a lot of quarterbacks that are better than Justin Herbert. He's got a big arm, he's mobile, he can get in and out of, he can get out of trouble.

The guy, he has a rocket of the arm. I like what he does in the pocket, so Justin Herbert to me is a game changer. He is an elite quarterback and he's definitely on a short list.

He's not the best, but I guarantee he's in that top five to me. Yeah, the toughest part, and I love Herbert, but you're in a division with Patrick Mahomes, you just talked about Joe Burrow, you're in the same conference as the Cincinnati Bengals. You know us, we're all about, can you win the Super Bowl or not? I think Herbert can win a Super Bowl, but then you look at the conference and the division, it's like, man, how far can this guy really take the Chargers?

Yeah, and you know what? The biggest thing for me, the Chargers, Chargers got to get better consistently in between the tackles. You know what you have in Joey Bose and you know what you have in Khalil Mack, those guys are, you know, they're getting a little older.

We understand injuries, but you got to win the trenches. Those guys are those boy dogs that on third down and third and long, the third and five or more, you can pin their ears back and they go after the quarterback because you got to pick which one you're going to double team. They have to do a better job on first and second down. Getting guys in third and long, that's what this team needs to do. They need to be more physical against the run. They got to be stouter in the run and I think that's what this organization is going to try to do in the draft and free agency.

You see I'm trying to address that. What do you think ends up happening with Austin Eckler because he's allowed to speak to other teams right now and try to seek a trade? Yeah, I look at look around the league and everyone's talking about, okay, we're going to bring in, you know, you think about a team that's played very, very, very well running back. You know, when you talk about the Tennessee Titans, Derrick Henry, they're saying, well, Derrick Henry might come there, but when you lose Austin Eckler using a guy who's a chain mover, this guy can catch the ball out of the backfield. He brings you a dimension that Derrick Henry doesn't in the passing game. I like Derrick Henry, but if he, are you going to be more expensive and how much more thread does Derrick Henry have on his? When you look at Austin Eckler, only 26 years old, 27 years old, the guy still has some threat and he's a big help to the quarterback, huge for the quarterback.

It would be a massive mistake if they can't find the way to keep him this year. I know for running backs, right, the shelf life is, it goes very quickly, but there's not a lot of wear and tear on that body for Austin Eckler. It really is and that's a great point, Zach, because you look at Austin Eckler, the way that he plays. He plays, he's a perimeter type of running back. They give him the ball outside zone.

They give him in the screen game. They pass the ball to him. They throw the ball. Derrick Henry's a guy that runs in between the tackles, makes a lot of his live in between there. So you're talking about Austin Eckler, Derrick Henry, and you just look at the offense that the Chargers have. Derrick Henry, he would fit it because now you got a new type of offensive coordinator, but you got to realize Austin Eckler in the passing game. I don't think there's two other running backs out there that are better passer exception receivers out of the backfield. Of course, McCaffrey and you know was pretty good. One of those guys is probably better, but Austin Eckler is on a very, very short lease. It'd be too bad if the Chargers can't get this thing to work. And if you look at probably the three most important players to the success of the Chargers, it's Herbert, it's Bosa, and I know some could say Derwin James, but Austin Eckler to me is in the top three. I'm absolutely with you.

You're a smart man, Zach. 39 touchdowns in the last two years. I mean, come on, look what the guy's doing for this team as far as touchdown machine. So you look at it, yes, there are some guys that you can't replace.

I get it. But Austin Eckler is the offensive guy to me that's been consistent. Keenan, you know, I had some injuries.

Keenan, you know, Keenan, I was a good receiver, love the guys, possession receiver. But to me, like you said, Herbert needs Austin Eckler because he is that security blanket and that safety blanket that Justin Herbert needs. Were you surprised that Keenan Allen's going to be back with the team? I know how important he is to their success as well, but the feel going into free agency was that they probably were going to move him. I thought they were.

I was a little surprised. I thought they were, but see that he restructured his contract. But Keenan is a chain mover. You look at this guy, what he is, he's a possession receiver.

The guy knows how to find, he knows how to get open. So I understand the Chargers looking at the leadership and also just his ability on those third downs on third and five or third and ten when you need it, he knows where to go. And Justin Herbert loves Keenan when it comes to being that guy on third down. But I did think the Chargers was going in a new direction because they say, you know what, you've got to be healthy.

You can't make the club in the tub. And Austin Eckler unfortunately had a lot of injuries that he's been in the tub. Lorenzo Neal here with us. Brandon Staley, your views of him as a head football coach after this year or what? Yes, Brandon Staley. When you look at Staley as a head coach, the guy, one thing you know, he's riverboat.

He's not, he's not shy. He's going to go for it. I thought we talked about it earlier. You remember the game against Cleveland. You're winning the game.

You got a minute, something left. You punt the ball, don't leave it up to your defense. You punt it, punt it deep, need the field goal to beat you.

And they decided to go for it on their own 47. That play right there. If you lose that game, unfortunately the field goal kicker from, you know, from Cleveland Browns missed the field goal. But that game right there, when you see, after that game, you shook your head and you say, okay, coach, you got lucky there. You should have punted the ball and leave that to your defense to give them a short field. Only thing they needed to get was 20 yards to get a field goal. Should have lost that ball game. Talking to Lorenzo Neal, do you think it was the right decision to bring him back as the head coach, Brandon Staley?

I think so. And that's why you took some of the, you took, you took some of the, you took some of the responsibility off his chest. You took some of the things out of his hands because Staley is, you know, Staley always wants to say, I want control. And he's a good man. I met the guy as a coach. He's a good coach. I think you're going to see him have more success because he's going to delegate more opportunities to other coaches to stand up and do the things they need to do. He can't make all these decisions as a head coach. It's too much.

Sometimes you got to, you got to lighten your plate in order to be successful. The only thing that's tough for me is that Sean Payton was available. I know the Chargers probably weren't interested, but he was definitely interested in them. And then you let him go to the, to a team inside your division in Denver.

Yeah. And I, and I totally understand your point of view there. We look at Sean Payton, what he's done to this league and how he is as a coach and a motivator, and he's a leader of men and Staley though, we got to look at you brought this guy in, he won a Superbowl with the Rams. So you look at and say, God, who do you want?

And yes, it's a huge, it's a slide. It's not even close for what Sean Payton has done in this league and more gravitas. And he walks in that locker room and he has instant credibility.

So without a doubt, we understand the magnitude you're talking about a Sean Payton, a revolutionized revolutionary type of coach. So yes, that was tough that they didn't go after him, but I think that Staley is going to get it together. And I'm telling you right now, this is a year without a doubt that the Chargers have to go to the soup. They have to get in the playoffs and they just can't limp in. They have to get in the playoffs. If not, I think Staley will be the last year. I got to go win some playoff games this year.

They got to at least win one. I'm with you. I'm with you. We're in the same church, same pew.

I'll be sitting on your lap. I'm with you there. Lorenzo, before we let you run. So we know the chiefs are the best team in the division. I would still say the Chargers are two.

How do you differentiate the Raiders and the Broncos right now in terms of who you believe in more? Yeah, I think those two guys that we talk about, when you look at the NFL, it's a quarterback driven league. Zach, it's a quarterback driven league.

You think about those two quarterbacks. You have a guy that's won a Super Bowl and probably should have won another one in Russell. Russell this year was not Superman without the cape. Russell Wilson struggled and he struggled awful. And it was a situation where I think where Russell Wilson, in Seattle, he had so much gravity and had so much leeway, he could do what he wanted to do. And he had the legion of doom, the legion of doom, the legion of boom.

And now you don't have that. And so Russell Wilson is going to have to refine his game and he's gotten a little older. He's gotten a little slower.

He can't get out of, can't get out of harm's way. They're going to have to protect Russell Wilson, but I'm telling you the biggest thing with me, I'm going to take Denver because like you alluded to, the coach, I trust the coach. All things being equal, Zach, remember this, all things being equal. Players make plays, but coaches make decisions that determine outcomes of game. So I'll put a lot on coaches. And I think that the Denver Broncos have a better coach. I know the easy answer is winning, how you win back over a locker room, but I'll be fascinated, Lorenzo Neal, to see how Russell Wilson wins back over that locker room in Denver and how McDaniel's after getting rid of Waller and Carr wins back over that locker room in Las Vegas.

Yeah, both these, both of these, yeah, both these organizations have an uphill battle because you're right. Russell Wilson has the quarterback. That's your leader of the team. And you lost a lot of gravitas and a lot of guys didn't want you there. And you're like, Hey, let's cook you.

All you would do is be positive. Let's cook. And the team was in a dire state of winning need to win.

And you just like, let's cook. And I know you're trying to be positive, but a lot of people took that in a negative. They wanted to see more, you know, a guy be more, not humble necessarily, but more sad. And you look at the Raiders, Josh McDaniel's really haven't won anywhere. So it's going to be interesting just to see what he can do with this team. Cause a year before the Raiders were in the playoffs. So now you go out and you bring in a Jimmy G who's everyone wanted out of San Francisco. Not that Jimmy's not a good quarterback. He's a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. He's a change. He's a, he's a game manager, not a game changer. I don't think that either one of these quarterbacks right now are game changers. When you talk about game changers, you Allah, you know, Patrick Mahomes, when you look at Herbert, you look around the league, Josh Allen, those guys are game changers.

And some of these other quarterbacks, when you're talking about Russell Wilson now and you're talking about Jimmy G they're just game managers. Lorenzo Neil, thanks so much. I always appreciate you joining us. You're the best at it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-20 22:28:24 / 2023-03-20 22:35:11 / 7

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