TE Scott Chandler (U.S. Presswire)
Scott Chandler's journey began buried on the depth chart in San Diego. After spending a couple years battling injuries and learning from veterans, he bounced around and soon found an ideal landing spot in Buffalo, where he has hauled in 11 touchdowns since 2011. He looks back on his time in San Diego in this interview with SDBoltReport.com.
The Chargers drafted Scott Chandler in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. The team was high on his potential as a complementary pass catcher, a role filled by Justin Peelle from 2002-2005. But Norv Turner could never find room for Chandler on a roster that owned Antonio Gates, Brandon Manumaleuna and, in 2008, Kris Wilson.
Chandler spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants before being brought into Buffalo by Bills GM Buddy Nix, who was the assistant GM in San Diego when the Chargers drafted Chandler. Nix knew about Chandler's skills and, unlike San Diego, had a need for a tight end.
The match has been as good on grass as it looked on paper. Since the start of the 2011 season Chandler has caught 67 passes for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Chandler opens up about his journey, beginning with his time in San Diego, in this SDBoltReport.com exclusive.
Brian Ducoffe: When you were in San Diego the Chargers were loaded with veteran tight ends. Did you always feel like you would have to move on to another team to get significant playing time?
Scott Chandler: I was pretty young and impressionable back then. I just thought that I would somehow find my way onto the field. But I kind of got knocked around by those guys and got injured out there. So it didn’t really work out for me.
BD: During your three years with the Chargers, what is the one thing you would have changed?
SC: I wouldn’t have gotten hurt. It was really two years because of that.
BD: Talk about playing with Antonio Gates. What are some of the things you learned from him that have helped you succeed?
SC: His approach to the game was the big thing. Physically, he’s able to do some things that, athletically, I’m not sure I’m capable of doing. He was really able to teach. I was able to learn about his game, how he saw things and how he and Philip [Rivers] interacted. I think those things have really been able to help me out a lot in my career.
BD: You’ve found your niche with the Bills. What is it about Buffalo that clicked?
SC: The biggest thing was being given an opportunity. After I was in San Diego, I went to Dallas and they’ve got another Hall of Famer tight end in [Jason] Witten. Then I was able to come to Buffalo and there wasn’t anybody here. I was able to get playing time right away and I ended up being a really good match with the offense. The QB and I got a good rapport going on pretty quick, so that helped.
BD: What is your relationship like with Buddy Nix? How big of a role did he play in bringing you to Buffalo?
SC: I owe a lot to Buddy. He helped draft me out to San Diego and really kept my career alive and revived it here in Buffalo. I can’t say enough about that guy and him giving me another shot. I’d like to think that paid off for him. I really enjoy Buddy, but he’s a pretty straight shooter, which makes him a great GM to be around.
BD: When you see a former team of yours struggling, how do you react as a player?
SC: Honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to it because I’m too busy dealing with my own team’s struggles or triumphs. I think we’re in the same place San Diego is. You just really don’t have enough time to sit there and look at what your old teams are doing. Maybe when I’m done playing I’ll pull a little bit for those guys. But if anything, I’ve enjoyed some of the relationships I’ve built along the way, so if anything I’m rooting for those guys on the Chargers.
BD: The tight end position has significantly changed in the past few years. How do you see the position evolving?
SC: So far they haven’t found a good matchup for someone who’s as big as we are and able to move like we are, but it’s hard to find a guy who can guard that. You get matched up on linebackers, and if they start putting DBs in there, not only do they give up size, but then we can get into the run game. We can move the ball really well with us blocking. I just think it’s a really tough matchup. You’d like to think that the defense won’t find an answer and tight ends would just rule the game forever. But I’m sure they’ll find somebody. The game constantly evolves and right now it’s a pretty good time to be a tight end.
BD: You were knocked out of a game in September with a head injury. With the abundance of concussions within the past two weeks, when do you begin to worry about your own safety when it comes to head trauma?
SC: I don’t know. I didn’t even get a concussion when that happened; they just had to follow protocol. And it was a bad hit -- the guy got fined for it. I mean, I’ll probably start worrying about it if I start getting concussions, but so far that hasn’t been a problem for me, thank God. Me being 6-foot-7 helps because it’s a bit hard for [the defenders] to reach my head.
BD: But with concussions constantly being in the news, does it become something you worry about when you walk onto the field?
SC: No, I don’t think about it at all.
BD: You've played with two franchise quarterbacks who are now getting a lot of heat (Rivers and Ryan Fitzpatrick). What would you say to casual fans calling for them to be benched?
SC: Both of those guys are really good. Philip’s one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve ever been around. And I just think people don’t understand just how difficult the quarterback position really is. They’re taking way more heat than they should, but most of the time when they’re doing well they’re also getting a little more praise than they should. But there are not guys like Fitz and Philip coming out of the draft every year. I just think people really need to take a second look at some of the other options, because [Rivers and Fitzpatrick] are pretty good.
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Brian Ducoffe is in his second year of covering San Diego sports. He has been previously published in University Link Magazine and wrote as an NBA columnist for Gacksports.com. Follow Brian on twitter @brianducoffe.