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Latest move with Chargers special teams is a strange one

They do keep things interesting, don’t the Chargers’ special teams?

A year after having everyone in Los Angeles short of Paris Hilton kick footballs for them, the Chargers on Tuesday cut the strong-legged punter who held the ball on kicks.

The shakeup, which reunited kicker Caleb Sturgis with his former holder (and new punter), Donnie Jones, was “geared toward fixing the team’s troubled kicking situation,” reports beat writer Eric Williams of ESPN.

So, for the team’s kicking crimes of 2017 and this young season, are we now to believe that not the kickers nor the butler but the Kaser did it?

Drew Kaser is the punter who took the fall this week.

To solve the kicking problem in March, the Chargers had gone large on Sturgis — pledging $4.45 million over two years to the former Eagles kicker.

Looking suspiciously like the others, Sturgis missed three extra points and two field goals through four games.

The intricacies of snaps and holds escape the untrained eye, but as a holder, Kaser had one miscue that was plain for all to see: The infamous muff at Oakland in 2016, his rookie year.

Kaser lost the holder’s role then, but kept his roster spot as a punter.

Why not have someone else hold for kicks and keep Kaser to punt?

I suppose the answer is nearly as obvious — that the folks making the decision weren’t in love with Kaser’s punting, either.

In the Week 3 loss, a big play was the blocked punt in the end zone resulting in a Rams touchdown.

Yes, the Rams outfoxed the Chargers with a stunt that enabled an inside rusher — Cory Littleton (shout out to Spring Valley’s Mt. Miguel High School) — to charge through and smother Kaser’s launch.

Kaser, though, took too long to get the ball off, per Lynn and Kaser himself, and outsiders with NFL expertise.

Strange sight

What you also don’t see every Sunday in the NFL is the franchise quarterback holding for a kick.

Yet when Kaser was unavailable due to a leg injury after Littleton had rocked his world, by golly if Philip Rivers didn’t trot onto the Coliseum field and hold for Sturgis.

Starting quarterbacks have plenty of other stuff to do.

Rivers, as he did so many times in San Diego after weird developments, put a Smiley face on the move afterward.

“I’ve got about five or six in the last 20 years,” Rivers joked when asked how often he had practiced holding. Then he was asked the last time he held in an actual game. “1999,” he said. “High school. That’s my second hold of my life.”

The previous backup holder, the backup-quarterback Kellen Clemens, was cut in March. Seems the coaches didn’t trust Rivers’ new backup, Geno Smith, to hold for Sturgis.

What next?

Kaser, 25, has too much leg not to get another NFL job, though he could stand to punt with more consistent results and better aim.

Getting cut by the Chargers worked out well for Kaser’s buddy Josh Lambo, who has made 96.4 percent of his field goals since joining the Jaguars last season.

It’s easy to say it after the fact, but the Chargers’ decision to cut Lambo two summers ago looks like a big mistake.

The job went to Younghoe Koo, an undrafted rookie.

Koo missed too many kicks, although he wasn’t to blame for the block that marred his first game.

Weirdly even by Chargers standards, the misfiring continued from the three other kickers who came and went last year. Even Kaser took a few swings filling in for the injured Nick Novak.

In his 2017 season review, General Manager Tom Telesco seemed to own the Lambo-for-Koo swap when he told reporters Lynn had done a great job and that Telesco should’ve done more to help him.

Why Koo over Lambo?

Lynn gave no specifics when pressed.

In my view, Lambo had outkicked Koo that summer by a small margin on field goals and PATs but lost out due to his uneven work on kickoffs, where Koo seemed to show a more varied game. The previous season — when Telesco was watching and Lynn was coaching with Buffalo — Lambo had hooked a few attempts out of bounds, putting the opponent on its 40.

Lynn hired a special teams coordinator, George Stewart, for his first Chargers staff. This year, he brought in a new assistant to Stewart.

In the season opener this year, misadventures from “teams” included a 91-yard punt return that created a 7-0 deficit and a fumbled punt that set up Kansas City’s clinching touchdown.

The Chargers placed a premium on reliability last week, and got rewarded for it when Desmond King had two long punt returns that led to 10 points in their 29-27 victory. A starter at slot cornerback, King isn’t a burner like rookie returner J.J. Jones, but the second-year player was a sturdy returner for Iowa.

Nevertheless, give the Chargers’ special teams performances a “D” for the four games this season. And give them a D-minus or F for Lynn’s first season and a fail for the five-plus years under Telesco and John Spanos, the president of football operations.; Twitter: SDUTKrasovic

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