The Chargers currently sit at an abysmal 1-3 record. Chargers fans all around the world are used to the Bolts blowing leads and not being clutch when it matters most, but this season takes on a whole new level of the word “disaster.”
Essentially speaking, for every lead they have blown thus far (three) they have had major injuries. Just to name a few key players that were going to help this team compete this season, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, Manti Te’o and Jason Verrett have all suffered season-ending injuries and its only Week 5.
So, to say that this season isn’t a rose garden in heaven is an understatement. However, I feel like these next two games can entirely make or break what the Chargers want to do this season. Facing the Raiders this Sunday in Oakland and the Broncos on a short week will be one of the biggest two-game stretches of games the Chargers have had in recent memory.
In the past 13 division games dating back to the start of the 2014 season, the Bolts are a lousy 2-11. That pair of wins coming from a sweep of the Raiders in 2014. Other than that, the Chargers could now easily be considered the little brother in the AFC West. The 2015 season in particular stands out the most because they just continuously kept getting pummeled.
The Raiders dominated the Chargers in their first meeting in 2015 at Qualcomm, much like the Chargers were doing to the Chiefs Week 1 of this year. The difference in those games? The Raiders didn’t fold completely and let the Chargers back into the game, as that game ended in a Chargers’ loss, 37-29. A couple of games later they hosted the Chiefs in a game where they failed to find the endzone. In fact, they failed to find the endzone in both meetings last year against the Chiefs and in one meeting against the Broncos.
Everything seemed to be different this year, as the Chargers literally bolted out to a 21-3 lead at the half. Well, we all know what a big lead meant at that point when you have Mike McCoy: a blown lead. The Chargers failed to get into the endzone in the second half of that game and gave us all flashes of last year while the Chiefs came all the way back to tie the game up on a two-minute drill drive aided by a very poor punt from the Bolts that gave the Chiefs life around midfield. The Bolts got hit with a double whammy that game, as their star receiver Keenan Allen went down with a torn ACL forcing him to miss the entire season.
Sunday, they face the Raiders at O.Co Coliseum. While the Raiders will most likely be without recently emerging Latavius Murray, the Chargers will also be without a stud of their own in Jason Verrett.
Just a couple of days ago, the Bolts learned that Verrett had been playing with a partial tear in his ACL. He underwent tests and, like Keenan, is now out for the rest of the season. This injury is devastating to an already banged up secondary.
Brandon Flowers is dealing with a concussion and Craig Mager is also banged up. It’s most likely going to be the Cooper and Crabtree show, and if they can’t get some magic going of their own on offense, they could be in for a very long day and an even longer week.
Now, if you can develop a consistent pass rush on the quarterback, it could in some cases make the most average corners look elite. It looks like the Chargers are getting major reinforcements in that department, as Damion Square’s four-game suspension is up and the God, Joey Bosa, is making his NFL debut. Though both will most likely be on limited snap counts, it still helps the defense immensely.
While Oakland’s offense has been great this year, ranking 4th in the league in total yards with 392 yards per game, the Chargers are no slouch. Even though they are ranked 14th in the league, their offense is scoring a scorching 30 point per game. Both defenses could be better as the Raiders are ranked 31st in the league and the Chargers are 20th. If the Chargers want to have a shot at taking control of this game and creating serious momentum, they are going to have to get Melvin Gordon going. While he has scored a TD in every game including two in Week 1, the run game has taken a dip in production in the yardage department. After totaling 305 rushing yards through the first two weeks, the Bolts got slowed down to just a measly 75 yards in the last two games against two of the worst rush defenses in the Saints and Colts.
It can be argued that Derek Carr is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league this year, posting a blistering TD/INT ratio of 9 to 1 and having a 104.6 QB rating while completing almost 60% of his passes. He’s been great for the Raiders and, without a doubt, clutch on a couple of game-winning drives. The Chargers must make him feel uncomfortable right out of the gates. Bosa will play a key part in this game. Although he could very well struggle in the early parts of the game, his athleticism and length will draw double teams at some point, giving other players like Jeremiah Attaochu, Corey Liuget and Melvin “Supa Mel” Ingram one-on-ones.
This game should come down to the last couple of minutes. The outcome of the game will be determined by who punts the ball more and who gets more turnovers. I can honestly see the Chargers winning this game as long as they play their own game. Keep scoring, don’t take your foot off the gas, get some stops on defense and come away with a huge upset. Easier said than done.
Unfortunately for the Chargers, things don’t get easier. They have a short week and host the Broncos on TNF next week. So while coming away with both wins would be monumentally huge for the team going forward, it’s a daunting task that the team has to step up to and be willing to face head on. This Broncos’ defense is scary. You don’t have to check out stats to know who Von Miller, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib are. They anchor a fast, young, ball-hungry crew that almost is a lock to score a defensive touchdown every game. They only give up around 170 passing yards per game. They have an excellent secondary benefited by a great pass rush, which is the recipe for success as they are 4-0. It’s not too far-fetched to say the Bolts can grab one of these wins, because when you have Philip Rivers, you are truly never counted out of any game until the clock hits :00.
The Chargers are 0-2 on the road this season, but I believe they should win this Sunday at the Raiders. That will prove to be a small spark to what can be fireworks next Thursday.
Oh yeah, have you guys seen those Color Rush unis?!? They are to DIE for!! Possibly my favorite looking unis I have ever seen over all sports.
So, tell me and let me know what you guys feel or think about this hell week coming up. Can the Chargers end their 0-9 drought against their division, or will it turn to 0-11 by next Thursday?
Anything can happen on any given day. If there is one thing we can all agree with, it’s that the Chargers are the hardest team to predict how they’re gonna play or what’s going to happen. It makes it hard to predict but I will take a whack at it.
I say the Chargers lose a tight contest to the Raiders by the score of 35-31, with the defense having an opportunity to stop the Raiders and give the ball back to the Chargers’ offense to finish it off. They’ll come up short, however, they will rebound at home and look good while doing it with a 27-17 win against the Broncos.
This Sunday marks the first time Drew Brees makes his return to San Diego since leaving in free agency for the Saints in March of 2006. Brees owns a 2-0 record against the Chargers since his departure from America’s finest city.
While the Chargers are a couple of plays and injuries away from being 3-0, the Saints are as well. New Orleans looked as if they were going to go 1-0 until the Raiders scored with 52 seconds left and Jack Del Rio elected to go for two and the win instead of the tie. The Saints failed to get into field goal range and lost a heartbreaker to fall to 0-1.
The Chargers lost a heartbreaker to the Chiefs in Week 1, as well. In Week 2, the Saints’ defense held the New York Giants’ offense in check, but lost a tough one 16-13; largely in part to a blocked field goal attempt which was returned for a touchdown.
Their Week 3 contest proved no different, as they lost a shootout to the Falcons 45-32. The Saints have fallen to 0-4 only twice in the Drew Brees’ era, and one of those seasons – 2012 – they ended their losing skid against the Chargers.
Brees is an excellent Quarterback. Despite being vertically challenged for his position, it makes me appreciate his game even more having to stand on his toes to make plays at times. He has a serious weapon who cannot be overlooked in Brandin Cooks, who I believe is a better version of T.Y Hilton, and can cause serious problems for this defense come Sunday if they aren’t well prepared.
Mark Ingram a solid back who’s off to a bit of a slow start but San Diego is notorious for letting players get hot. Willie Snead has emerged as a top target for Brees, but he has a toe injury that caused him to miss his last start against the Falcons. Should he play against the Bolts this Sunday, containing him and Cooks will be a really tough challenge.
I can see this game being a high-scoring shootout, seeing as the New Orleans’ defense ranks 31st in the league. They’re giving up 299 passing yards a game and 149.3 yards on the ground.
San Diego’s defense ranks 25th in the league, giving up 322 passing yards a game and 81 yards on the ground.
Drew Brees currently is 1st in the league passing with eight touchdowns and only one interception while throwing for 1,025 yards.
On the other side, Philip Rivers has 755 passing yards with five TDs and no interceptions. Granted, San Diego is a more leveled offense this year having more running plays than passing plays and the Saints have been in two shootouts; so it warrants a team to pass more than run.
Let’s take a look at how the Brees-Rivers matchup has looked in 2012 and 2008.
In 2012, the Chargers and Saints played a close game in which the Saints came out on top 31-24. A couple of questionable calls on the last drive ultimately stalled the Chargers from possibly tying the game up. A couple of holding calls and an offensive pass interference killed all the momentum the Bolts had going on their final drive. Rivers passed for 354 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception, while Brees threw for 370 yards slinging four passing scores and one interception.
In 2008, it was a similar result. The Saints took that matchup, 37-32. Brees and Rivers had identical numbers in that matchup as well, throwing for three touchdowns and roughly 340 yards.
Historically, the Saints have been a tough team for the Chargers to beat. It is like Brees has the cheat sheet to barely escape with victories over his former team. In my opinion, this game on Sunday will once again be a close one. There are a couple of things that the Chargers need to do and do well to keep Brees and company. on their toes and against the ropes.
Melvin Gordon has had a good year up to this point, scoring a TD in every game so far and two in Week 2. His four rushing scores tie him for the league-lead in rushing touchdowns. He currently has 194 yards and has been running with confidence and has patience. He has not fumbled yet this year in 54 carries (I’m hoping I don’t jinx him). He will play a huge role in this game. I want to forget about that Colts’ game as a whole, because I felt like while the Chargers only lost by four, they should’ve won by at least seven. They were out of sync for a large part of the game.
Which brings me to my next key: Philip Rivers trusting his receivers.
Philip looked off that game, missing a wide-open touchdown to the newly acquired Dexter McCluster in the endzone, and a crucial 3rd down to wideout Travis Benjamin which would’ve essentially put the nail in the coffin and given the Chargers the win.
It is never easy losing your top two targets and having your No. 1 all-time target out for the game, but Philip must find a way to get on the same page with his receivers. Benjamin is almost always open and Tyrell Williams is a beast waiting to be awakened. They did look as if they were going to make an interesting ending to the game, until rookie tight end Hunter Henry fumbled on the 40-yard line. But that doesn’t take anything away from what Henry has done. He’s been brilliant for the Chargers, especially as a blocker, but he has flashed some of the receiving ability that made the Bolts select him in the second round of this year’s draft.
Lastly, my final key is getting a consistent pass rush. Melvin Ingram, the newly elected team captain after Te’o went down for the season with a torn Achilles, will have a big game here. He has two sacks on the season so and he happens to be in a contract year. Due to his recently appointed captaincy and the fact that he is in a contract year, I think a flame will be lit under his tail to kick it into high gear and perform consistently the way we all know he can.
So, with all that being said, I believe the Chargers can squeak out a win despite Drew Brees being hungry and being eager to return to the Q to play the NFL team who drafted him. It will be a back-and-forth affair with the Chargers pulling ahead by 10 late in the 4th for a 31-21 Chargers victory and the Bolts will move to 2-2.
Let me know what you think below in the comments section, Chargers fans.
The 2016 season is finally here. For some Chargers fans, it’s another season to be excited while for the rest of the fans it’s another season of getting ready for let downs.
Starting the season off against the Chiefs IN Arrowhead is monumentally huge for the Chargers. The last time these teams met for an important game was Week 17 of the 2014 season. If the Chargers won, they would get into playoffs. Unfortunately, they would play like absolute trash against Chase Daniel, and Justin Houston single-handedly stalled the Chargers offense and had them rattled the entire game with four sacks and a forced fumble.
During the 2015 season, the Chargers failed to score a touchdown in either game against the Chiefs, losing the games 33-3 and 10-3, respectively.
Now, dating back to that Week 17 game in 2014, the Bolts have missed a key component in all three games since, Keenan “Secondary Slayer” Allen. It’s no secret to anybody or any team in the league just how good Allen is. His most impressive season was his rookie season, by far, where Malcom Floyd went down with a serious neck injury. Allen stepped in Week 2 and from there on, amassed a stat line of 71 receptions, 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that season up with 77 receptions, 783 yards and four scores. Injuries had an impact on those years and it felt like every other week he was dealing with something new. He played the first meet up between the Bolts and Chiefs, where the Chiefs did win 23-20, but Allen contributed fairly well with six receptions for 58 yards.
KA13 was on a historic pace last season where he compiled 67 receptions through eight games, putting him on pace for 134 all season. He was putting in a different level of work. Unfortunately for him and the Chargers, an outstanding circus catch against Baltimore — which resulted in one of the greatest touchdowns of the season — ended his 2015 campaign due to suffering a lacerated kidney, forcing him to miss both ’15 contests against Kansas City.
Now, the focus is on Week 1 in Arrowhead where the Chargers will not be seeing Justin Houston, who has tormented the Chargers, or Jamaal Charles, whose speed and elusiveness is and always will be a pain to cover. Tamba Hali is dealing with knee problems but is expected to play on a short workload and the same goes for Phillip Gaines.
As for the Bolts, knock on wood, everybody is healthy. All 22 starters will be playing. Yes, that’s right; even Keenan Allen. The Chargers have a rough time playing in Arrowhead where they are winless in their last two seasons. Their last win came in 2013 and featured a game-winning touchdown with about 20 seconds left from Philip Rivers to former Bolt Seyi Ajirotutu. The Bolts won that game 41-38. Chargers have an all time record of 55-56-1 against the Chiefs and can tie their record with a win Sunday.
The Chargers added Brandon Mebane to stuff the middle and to free up Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Kyle Emanuel and others for one-on-ones. We all have seen what Liuget can do going one-on-one with people. Add the fact that this is a contract year for Ingram and Denzel Perryman’s first season as a full-time starter, and I believe the Chargers have some heat the Chiefs are going to struggle with.
A huge factor to this game will be pressure. The Bolts have an up-and-coming defense; young, fresh and fast. But they need to play up to their potential right out of the gates.
The offense features Philip Rivers at the helm, and with him you always have a chance to win. He may have the best offense he’s had in years with Antonio Gates, Allen, Danny Woodhead, Travis Benjamin, a revamped Gordon and a O-line where as long as they stay healthy, and that’s a stretch, they should provide Philip with more than enough time to get the job done.
In a way, this is a trap game for Kansas City. Everybody is writing the Chargers off immediately. Nobody is giving them a chance.
This is a huge game for the Bolts and they know that. Coming in Week 1, the start of a new season, against a rival and coming home with a win can seriously put an enormous amount of energy and hope moving forward in the season.
Controlling the clock and field position is huge. Sustaining long drives and coming away with more than 3 points is critical. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is back, so expect a variety of plays from all types of different formations. It will be tremendously loud and the team will have to overcome a lot of adversity early in the season, but if it’s any Chargers team of late that I think can do it, it’s this one.
Assuming that everything goes right for the Chargers and they come out and play to their potential, I can see a realistic scenario where they win by a margin of 10-13 points. My prediction is 27-17 Chargers. But if they come out and play sloppy and are lethargic, it could be a very long day and could shape up to be a disappointing loss.
By all means, do not sleep on the Chiefs! They are a dangerous squad. They might be perhaps the most complete team in the AFC West with Houston and Charles at full health. But neither of them are playing on Sunday, so the Bolts must take advantage.
I do expect Gordon’s first NFL touchdown coming in a 20-plus-yard run fashion or a catch-and-run. Keenan Allen is the X-factor in this one. He’ll create tons of space for the rest of the offense and the same goes for Benjamin. The Chiefs haven’t faced a Chargers team like this in a while.
What a great game to kickoff the 2016 season.
Good luck, Bolts!
When the average football fan thinks about the best quarterbacks currently in the league, they acknowledge Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees as the best in the NFL, and understandably so. But why does Philip Rivers continue to get overlooked? Why can’t he be considered a top-5 or even top-3 signal caller?
Or can he?
It goes without saying that the quarterback position is the most important position in football. Rarely do you see teams succeed without quality quarterback play.
Take the Broncos and Manning last season as an example. The Broncos’ defense was great. Statistically, Peyton had the worst season of his career and had a below average playoffs. But his leadership qualities and his football-genius mind was enough to lead the Broncos to a title (which still haunts me). If you were to put any other QB that had that kind of season that wasn’t Peyton, the Broncos don’t have a Championship right now. Having a quarterback who can take full command of the offense and be trusted day-in and day-out to lead your team to a victory no matter what the scenario is, should be treasured.
Philip Rivers is the embodiment of leadership.
In 2004, the Chargers selected Eli Manning with their 1st overall pick in the draft. However, Eli made it clear he did not want to play for the Chargers. Three picks later, the Giants picked Philip with the 4th pick and the teams managed to come to an agreement that included the Giants getting Eli and, in exchange, the Chargers got Rivers, a 2005 first-rounder which turned into Shawne Merriman, and a 2005 fifth-round pick in which the Chargers traded to Tampa for offensive tackle Roman Oben.
The Chargers were then stuck with a tough decision following the 2005 season: should they go with Drew Brees or Rivers as the team’s quarterback. The choice was obvious in Rivers, as Brees had injury concerns due to a shoulder ailment suffered at the end of the previous season.
In 2006, Rivers’ first full season as the starter under center, he took full advantage of the promotion, throwing 22 touchdowns with nine interceptions and 3,388 yards. Impressive, right? What’s more impressive is the 14-2 record the Chargers produced. Now, of course they benefitted from a historic year from LaDainian Tomlinson, but that is still quite a welcoming to the league for him.
Philip has had a great career in San Diego. There can be endless arguments made as to whether or not quarterbacks like Big Ben, Brady, Rodgers, et cetera are to be considered better than No. 17, having more successful careers even though some of them have benefitted from having great defenses, numerous groupings of clutch players and, most importantly, great coaching.
Philip also has a trait that only he and Eli stand up atop the list among active QBs for… DURABILITY. Including the playoffs, Rivers has started 169 consecutive games. That’s 10 full seasons and nine games of another. When you put into perspective that he tore his ACL against the Colts in the 2007 playoffs and came back in the AFC championship after surgery to play, it tells you a lot about the toughness and leadership he wields.
Another gritty performance that is framed in my mind is in 2014 in the latter half of the year. Philip was dealing with back spasms against the 49ers. He led a furious comeback win in overtime despite having a bum back. Health or off-the-field issues have never been a problem for Rivers.
It goes without saying that Rivers isn’t the best QB in terms of rings or playoff wins. Now that being said, he brings one quality that next to nobody can match, and that is competitiveness. It doesn’t matter if you’re a punter, water boy or 330-pound defensive lineman, Philip will always be in your face. Even if he’s having an off-game, his mouth is always running. The heart and devotion he pours into the Chargers isn’t comparable to any others. The energy Rivers brings to the team is both fierce and contagious. He’s able to develop chemistry with his players exceptionally well,which is evidenced in his relationships with players such as Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen and, obviously, Antonio Gates.
In 2013 against the Denver Broncos on TNF, the Chargers took the 11-2 Broncos down at Mile High. This performance had to have been my favorite; not only because of what proved to be a very crucial game in an improbable Chargers’ playoff run, but because Rivers handled it like it was just another day at the office. He was out there as competitive as ever, having a good time.
Being a huge fan of Brady, a fan of Brees since the SD days, liking Rodgers cause he’s a surgeon while slinging the rock, I still feel confident in saying that none of the aforementioned signal callers can match Philip’s intensity. That is a really good thing going into this season, because this is a sneaky good team on both sides of the ball.
If Philip can get these young rookies’ heads on straight quickly, this team can be very scary. I truly stand by my opinion when I say the resurgence of Melvin Gordon and the O-Line staying healthy will give Rivers the opportunity to cement his status as a top-3 QB this year. As long as this roster continues to gel and get better, he should have multiple shots at championships, and that might be the only thing separating him from being thrown into the mix with everyone else’s favorite quarterbacks.
Rivers is currently 14th all-time on the passing list with 41,447 yards, and can move into 7th or 8th with a 4,500-yard-plus campaign. He also has 281 passing TDs, which is ranked 11th in NFL history; having as little as 20-25 touchdowns this could move him up three or four spots. All of this is incredible when you realize that he didn’t start for the first two years of his career.
In comparing him to another Chargers great, Dan Fouts, let’s take a look on how their stats match up.
Fouts had a 14-year career in San Diego ranging from 1973-1987. Philip has been in the league for 12 years now, so their stats should match up similarly, right? Well, in terms of durability, they’re both as reliable as super glue for a school project. Fouts played in 181 games in his career and started 171, while Philip has played in 164 and started 160.
A lot of people consider accuracy to be the main ingredient in selecting a QB. While Fouts does have roughly 2,000 more career passing yards — 43,040– than Rivers — 41,447 — while his accuracy is far worse. In fact, Philip makes Fouts look little league when I researched each of their completion percentages.
Rivers boasts a 281-135 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while as Fouts holds a 254-242 ratio. Rivers’ career completion percentage of 64.8 is exactly 6% points higher than that of Fouts (58.8%). Total QBR — Quarterback rating — is another stat in which Philip takes a dominant lead on Fouts. Philip clocks in with a whopping 95.5 QBR compared to Fouts’ number of 80.2.
In terms of records, Philip also grabs the crown. Rivers has piled up a 92-68 record and Fouts had 86-84-1 record. Fouts does have an MVP award and one more Pro-Bowl nod than Rivers, six to five, respectively.
In 1993, Fouts was elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Rivers still has a couple of years or so to grab every possible passing statistic in Chargers history and, furthermore, climb up the NFL’s all-time passing ranks. So in that theory, I very much expect Philip to be a sure-lock for the Hall Of Fame.
Now, lets take a look and compare his stats to his fellow 2004 draftees, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
While you can easily say that both of them have the easy edge over Rivers by having 2 rings, that doesn’t define one player as a whole. I did some research and noted that both Ben and Eli started the year they were drafted. Philip did not start a game until the 2006 season. But what shocks me most is that Philip isn’t too far behind in stats and, in fact, had the same kind of seasons, if not better seasons, the years Ben and Eli won their respective rings.
We can look at Eli’s numbers first. In 2007, the year the Giants made history and took down the Patriots, Eli’s stat-line finished with 23 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 3,336 yards and a 56.1 completion percentage. Philip had almost identical numbers that season with 21 touchdowns 15 interceptions, 3,152 yards and a 60.1 completion percentage. You could even make a case that had Philip not torn his ACL those playoffs, that Chargers-Patriots game would have finished with a different victor.
Next, let’s touch base on Big Ben’s 2008 championship season.
Roethlisberger’s stat-line for that year included 17 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 3,301 yards and a 59.9 completion percentage. Now, at the end of the day, he won a ring, but Philip’s 2008 season was far superior. In fact, that could’ve been Philip’s best year stat-wise, despite the Bolts finishing 8-8. He produced 34 touchdowns to just 11 Interceptions with a completion percentage of 65.5, boasting an outstanding QB rating of 105.5.
Has Philip had the success both Eli and Ben have had in terms of winning rings? No. Has he put his team on his back more and given his teammates more opportunities to win? Certainly.
Philip currently ranks behind both of them on the all-time leaderboards for passing. Rivers is ranked 14th behind Ben by about 1,500 yards, and is behind Eli — 11th — by roughly 3,000.
In my honest opinion, I believe when it’s all said and done, he’ll be above both of them. Additionally, he’s 11th on the passing TDs leaderboard — in front of Ben by nine touchdowns and behind Eli by 13.
Taking these facts and stats into consideration, the rings weigh a huge amount in terms of Philip not getting the credit he deserves.
So, while there might a small strain of bias on my part, I ensure you that Philip is everything I have made him out to be in this article, and everything he’s proven via the numbers provided above. He’s a franchise QB, a positive role model on and off the field and a rare leader, competitor and talent that you won’t come across very often. It is also worth noting, he’s a damn good dresser. You can never go wrong with rattlesnake-skin boots and a bolo tie.
I encourage you all to tune into some Chargers games this season and check him out and let me know what you think.
Where does Philip rank on your list? Let me know in the comment section below.
EDITOR’S NOTE: BoltBlitz.com staff writer Charlie LaFurno is expecting some big things for your San Diego Chargers in 2016. In an effort to explain how the team will be able to achieve the expectations that LaFurno has for them this year, he highlights three keys which will enable the Bolts to be very successful during the ’16 campaign.
First, let’s start things off with giving both the Chargers and Joey Bosa several rounds of applause until our hands hurt. They FINALLY reached a contract agreement of $25.8 Million over four years this Monday. The contract comes with a $17 million signing bonus and makes him the highest paid upfront rookie in Chargers history.
As it stands after the Bosa signing, I certainly believe the Chargers can be a 10-plus win team and, depending on how they play their division games, they could very well end up at 11-5 or 12-4. Now, in order for this to actually happen, and for Chargers fans to stop dreaming and this finally become a reality, a couple of things need to play out in the Bolts’ favor.
Melvin Gordon having a breakout season is a KEY part to the Chargers’ success this season. He showed flashes of the Wisconsin version of Melvin Gordon this preseason, albeit a small sample size. He had three carries for 12 yards against the Titans in Week 1, adding a 44-yard touchdown catch — something he failed to do all last season was getting into the endzone. Hopefully that shook the jitters off for the youngster. But, he continued to stay hungry even though the starting position is his. He didn’t have a huge second game, rushing six times for 18 yards, but he came back the next week against the Vikings and had a BIG performance even though the Bolts fell short. Gordon rushed four times for 51 yards, including a 39-yard TD. Granted the play was audibled by Rivers and Gordon got a little lucky with the Vikings linebacker completely misplaying it, but No. 28 finished the play, showing elite speed and burst. THAT play got me extremely optimistic and enthusiastic. Gordon did not play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the 49ers. Keep him fresh for Week 1 in Arrowhead. The team is really going to NEED him.
The offensive line staying healthy and getting continuous reps and playing time together will come a long way in developing the chemistry that they have failed to sustain for a while now. Barksdale is the only lineman that played in every game last year. Last season, the Chargers used 26 different O-Line combinations.. TWENTY SIX. To say that is putrid would even be an extreme understatement. The Bolts averaged a measly 3.46 yards on the ground last season — 32nd in the league — and it needs to improve going forward if they want to have a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
This offseason, San Diego signed Matt Slauson and drafted former Trojan Max Tuerk in the 3rd round. I loved the pick because I watched some film and saw that he has good athleticism and outstanding movement. He doesn’t overcommit on plays which is huge and could be a clutch player for years to come. The starting offensive linemen should consist of Dunlap, Franklin, Slauson, Fluker and Barksdale. That is a very capable group of talented individuals to create space for MG28 to eat, eat, eat and eat some more. We already know what Philly Riv can do when given the proper amount of time to throw the football to his bevy of weapons.
Last, but not least, the defensive line. I feel like the last time I saw a good Chargers’ rush unit was when I was on the couch at nights before bed playing Pokémon. And no, I’m not talking about Pokémon Go, I’m talking about the actual Gameboy games. In the midst of the contract stalemate Bosa and the Chargers had, he was still working out at different facilities in Florida up to three times a day. His work ethic and leadership are lights out. He reminds me of somebody. As it stands now, the starting defensive line will feature Liuget, Mebane, Philon with Bosa coming in on 3rd downs or in sub-packages until he gets fully ready to man that right spot. The Chargers also have Ingram, Emanuel and Attaochu as the outside linebackers. Both Ingram and Attaochu are speedy, freakish athletes but they have to remain healthy and produce consistently. Emanuel is solid on early downs, setting the edge and helping to slow down opposing ball carriers.
This is a year where the Bolts might know what it feels like to get to QBs that still have the ball in their hand and what does that lead to?? Turnovers. Everybody loves turnovers. It’s just us Chargers fans who aren’t really used to them. To make the Joey Bosa addition even better, the Chargers went and got Jatavis Brown. where they ranked 1st and 5th, respectively, in TFL in FBS over the last two seasons.
There’s going to be some plays where the defensive line doesn’t look good, but John Pagano’s defensive unit features Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o to clean it up, along with the Electric Avenue secondary!
All in all, if all three of those things can happen at a consistent rate, the Chargers will be in very good shape to make a run this year. I predict Melvin to produce 1,200 yards, 8-9 TDs and 30-40 catches with 2 TDs. His improvement in the running game will open up play-action passes and defenses are not going to be ready for Keenan, Gates and Benjamin on the field; there are just too many weapons to account for, especially when you have one of the greatest QBs in Philip Rivers.
I predict the Chargers will have a top-5 offense and a top-10 defense. My honest prediction is 11-5 — if healthy — with a 4-2 division record.
Get hype Chargers fans!!! This franchise is ALIIIIIIVEEEEE!
The Chargers need help in a big way at numerous positions between now and Week 1 of the regular season if they want to make a push for the division and make their first playoff appearance since 2013. The number one thing Tom Telesco should search for in a player is a distinctive nastiness giving them that much-needed enforcer.
The Bolts need help at O-Line, and what better way to beef it up by adding a brute up front. Inconsistent play has led to a porous run game that yields next to nothing, and Philip Rivers finds himself on his behind a lot more than he should be.
Re-signing Joe Barksdale to a four-year, $22.2 million deal that includes $10.5 million guaranteed was a step in the right direction to help rectify that problem. Also, the Chargers have a lack of depth and experience at receiver with Keenan Allen being the only receiver with continuity with Rivers, as he’s served as one of Rivers’ three core targets over the last two and a half seasons.
Lastly, the Bolts’ D-Line resembles that of a pillow fight. It almost feels like it’s impossible to get pressure on opposing signal callers and get stops in the run game. The Chargers can go out and sign a quality D-Lineman or a run-stuffing specialist.
There’s plenty of talent out there this year, but, most importantly, they need to snag a defensive enforcer off of the market. A player that will not only be a good influence in the locker room and the community, but a player that will get the team fired up in practices, on game days and will keep them amped up throughout the duration of contests. That being said, there are a couple of names out there who I believe fit that category, and I even have a couple combo signings/draftees that together could bring that to the team.
Derrick Johnson (MLB; Kansas City Chiefs): A player that I like for the Chargers’ defense is someone who I cannot envision in a different uniform than the one he is currently in and that is Derrick Johnson. Johnson was the catalyst for an elite Chiefs defense and although he was one the shelf for virtually all of the 2014 season, he had a solid bounce back campaign in 2015 with 116 total tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and eight passes defended. Johnson would be an instant impact from the moment he puts the pen to the paper.
He impacts every facet of the game, while possessing undeniable talent. He also plays the run well and can cover running backs out of the backfield. Johnson is entering his 11th year in the NFL. What stands out most is a career 68 passes defended. He is by no means afraid to step up and cover anybody across the middle or creeping outside of the numbers.
Not only would Johnson be a huge help with his leadership on the field, but his locker room presence has the ability to bring everybody together and make them really play for each other like they should be doing. San Diego has the talent and tools on the defensive side of the ball, but they lack the grit and determination to be a truly imposing defense. A Johnson-Te’o-Perryman trio could have the potential to stir up some ruckus on that side of the ball, and when you add that to Ingram and Attaochu rushing, with the possibility of drafting Bosa, the defense would have fun and fans would be thrilled while watching them perform. That’s what Johnson can bring to the table.
He makes everybody better and, in addition to all of this, he knows the Chiefs’ defense and could provide leverage on those key divisional clashes. We couldn’t picture LT in another jersey; same with Peyton, Dwight Freeney, and even McNabb. But it certainly does happen. Let’s see if the Bolts can pry Johnson away from KC.
Tashaun Gipson + Jalen Ramsey: Next up is a signing and draftee duo. They go by the names of Tashaun Gipson and Jalen Ramsey. Gipson has grappled with health issues during his tenure in the NFL, as he’s only played one full season during his four seasons in the league. But when he’s healthy, he is indeed a playmaker and a highly qualified candidate to replace Weddle. He plays fast and can play the run, as well playing in space.
Jalen Ramsey is just about as good as they come. His broad jump, 135.0″ and his vertical leap of 41.5″ were the best at the combine and matched the likes of Patrick Peterson. He could improve on his speed, but I would really like the Chargers to select him with the third pick, and sit back and watch the Bolts groom him into a dominant, energetic force on a soon to be electric defense.
These two would bring a new element to the Chargers’ defense that would be not only highly flexible, but would add to an already up-and-coming unit lead by stud Jason Verrett. I don’t expect Telesco to go safety in the draft if he goes after Gipson, but this combo would be very nice to have. This obviously means Addae would be relegated to the bench again.
That is something I don’t mind as he seems to thrive in that role, and to be completely honest, I don’t trust him as a starter. What he lacks in speed he surely makes up for with power and hitting, but his big plays always seem to get nullified by flags. San Diego would rather prefer conservative tackling’ especially with the way the league is becoming receiver friendly, and that’s something that is not Addae’s forte.
Chris Long: Another signing that would bolster the defense is recently released DE Chris Long. Primarily a 4-3 player in St. Louis, it would be a slight stylistic shift, but I’m sure Long wouldn’t scoff at making that adjustment. He wasn’t cut due to performance issues or battles with injuries, a contractual stalemate between he and the Rams was the reason for his release.
I can see Long coming in on a two-year, $9 million deal and being a more dynamic Jarret Johnson. Johnson was a reliable tackler as well as a great locker room presence. Chris Long could be “the guy” in a system tailored for him, and I believe that system to be John Pagano’s. What’s best about Long is that the Chargers could get him for a bargain. He’s not so much an enforcer or an outlaw, but he’s the next best thing.
Joey Bosa: Lastly, a guy that sticks out more than all the others is Joey Bosa. The Ohio State Buckeye is projected to go top five in a slew of mock drafts, and the Bolts hold the No. 3 pick. With the Browns’ situation at QB, it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to see them go searching for a QB at No. 2, leaving the Chargers either Bosa or Ramsey to choose from.
Either of them make sense and would propel this defense to destructive heights, but Bosa is a freak of nature. His body is NFL ready and he boasts an ultra-competitive attitude. Bosa could not be slowed by the opposition in college even when specifically schemed for, illustrating the level of talent he claims. He was constantly in the backfield whether it be for a sack or a tackle for loss. His firm and strong hands are a huge reason as to why he can be a defensive pillar in the NFL, but Pagano must be willing to move him around.
A player such as JJ Watt cannot be duplicated, but when you are compared to him in any way, you know you’re doing something right. His speed is a rough patch, but there’s always time to get faster. Adding him to this defense will not only take the heat off some of the cornerbacks, but would alleviate pressure off of most everyone on defense. This, in turn, would spawn more wins, less communication errors and, importantly, happier fans.