Travis Blake

May 14, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa looks on during rookie mini camp at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

May 14, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa looks on during rookie mini camp at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

 

It is game day, Charger Nation! Time for another installment of Keys to The Game. I am filling in for Zak Darman, who is on vacation. This week has been a short one for the Chargers as they get set to take on their second division rival in a row, the Denver Broncos, on Thursday Night Football. The Broncos come into this game with a record of 4-1, the opposite of the Chargers’ 1-4 record. The Broncos are coming off a tough road loss to a 4-1 Atlanta Falcons’ squad.

As fellow BoltBlitz.com staff writer Brian Scott pointed out in our staff predictions article: “Denver holds a 9-1 record over the last 10 games against San Diego, winning the last five in America’s finest city. In San Diego, the last five (games) against Denver, the Broncos outscored the Chargers 23.6-14.” These are not encouraging numbers for our Bolts, however, these are not the same Broncos the Chargers faced last year.

 

The Broncos lost some key pieces on defense via free agency and no longer have The Sheriff, Peyton Manning, slinging the ball around. Still, the Broncos pose a significant threat to the Chargers’ chances of winning. The Broncos’ defense is still dominating at times, and they have a pair of promising young quarterbacks to throw the ball to a talented receiving corps.

So, here are four keys to the game that I think the Chargers must complete to win this first match-up of the season again the Denver Broncos.

 

No. 1): Get pressure on the young quarterbacks!

 

I say quarterbacks because Trevor Siemian is going to get the start for Denver, but he suffered a sprained left shoulder against the Falcons five days ago. If Joey Bosa gets a hold of him and he plants him on that tender left arm his night might be done early.

Paxton Lynch is the next QB up for Denver. He is tall and can run but is very unpolished as a passer. If the Bolts can contain Lynch and put consistent pressure on him, I foresee several interceptions by the Chargers’ defense this evening. The same prediction goes for Siemian if he lasts the whole game. Remember, the Chargers forced five turnovers last year at the Q against Denver.   

 

The Chargers’ pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season has been spotty at best. If they want to win this game they have to get consistent pressure, while containing Denver’s more athletic quarterbacks. Consistent pressure will help the Bolts banged-up, waiver-wire secondary not give up so many long plays in the passing game.

 

No. 2): Breathe on offense, don’t turn the ball over.

 

Breathe, meditate, hum Hindu mantras, I don’t care what these offensive players do to calm down, but they need to stop pressing, including Philip Rivers. As much as we enjoy a fiery Rivers, his passion for the game and him shooting laser beams out of his eyes, we equally dislike “chuck-and-duck” Phil playing “Three Flies Up” and heaving the football up for grabs fifty yards downfield into double coverage for an interception.

Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates, Travis Benjamin all need to breathe, hold on to the ball and have a good game.

 

No. 3): Contain. Von. Miller.

 

Demarcus Ware is ruled out for this game (phew), so that leaves Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to apply pressure on Rivers. Miller has had success at getting to Philip in the past. To make matters worse, three of San Diego’s five offensive linemen showed up on the injury report for various ailments. It could be that King Dunlap and Matt Slauson are the Bolts only healthy starters along the offensive front. Special attention needs to be paid to Miller if he is to be kept out of Rivers’ face. If that happens, I believe the Bolts could win this one.

 

No. 4): Unleash the Bosa!

 

In recent years, the Chargers have failed in the primetime spotlight. Pass rushers like Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu have, at times, disappeared in big games. This is a BIG GAME, perhaps the biggest of the season. If the Chargers lose, their season is essentially over. If they win, there is hope. Joey Bosa played 27 snaps on Sunday and looks primed to play in double that amount of time in this game. Unleash the Bosa and see if he can provide the spark this team needs to win, allowing the rookie to tally a few sacks. 

 

One thing I know: The Chargers are going to look like the best team in the NFL in their Color Rush uniforms!

Go Bolts!

 

Let me know what you’ll be looking for in the Chargers versus Broncos match-up on Thursday Night!

 

#BeatTheBroncos

 

#ColorRush

Travis Blake

@TravisBlake101

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09: Joey Bosa #99 of the San Diego Chargers sacks Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

OAKLAND, CA – OCTOBER 09: Joey Bosa #99 of the San Diego Chargers sacks Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

 

Joey Bosa gave all the Chargers fans who threw shade on him for his contract holdout a big “F YOU” on Sunday, and I couldn’t have been happier for him. Bosa dominated in his first NFL game while providing one of several bright spots in yet another dark and dumbfounding loss, this time to the hated Oakland Raiders.

 

Officially, Bosa recorded three tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits and two sacks of Derek Carr. On one of the most impressive sacks this season for a Charger, Bosa initially got pushed out of the play, showed incredible hustle and motor to stay with it and blasted Carr for a monster 12-yard loss. Caraun Reid helped set the sack up by pushing his offensive linemen about 10 yards backwards into Carr’s lap, allowing Bosa to loop back in and level Carr. This one play was an excellent example of why the Chargers drafted Bosa and of team defense; how one player doing his job can aid another in getting to the quarterback.

 

Let’s revisit one of Bosa’s first tackles for a loss that came early in the second quarter. Joey beat the brakes off of Oakland’s left tackle, knifed into the interior of the line from his defensive end position and absolutely swallowed up Raider running back Jalen Richard for a two-yard loss on the play.

The Chargers drafted Bosa as much for his dominance against the run as the versus the pass. Fans tend to only look at quarterback sacks as impact plays, but tackling the runner for a loss, or no gain, can be just as effective as a sack.

Getting pressure on the opposing quarterback and stopping the run were two things the Chargers were not good at last year, and that has continued through the first five games this season. That trend started to change Sunday for the Chargers as Bosa was able to do both effectively on only 27 snaps.

 

Let’s put Bosa’s numbers into perspective for those of you who are still on the fence. DeForest Buckner, who many Charger fans wanted the team to take over Bosa, has zero sacks and only 6 total tackles in four games played this season. Bosa has outplayed Buckner, and it only took Joey 27 snaps to do it.

Let that sink in for a moment.

 

Many fans saw on Sunday what the Chargers saw during Bosa’s entire career at Ohio State. The kid is a game changer. In fact, he is no kid at all, he is a fully grown man capable of swallowing other grown men whole. This defensive line got a lot better Sunday. I credit John Pagano for getting Bosa in there for more snaps than I thought they would give him. The fact he played nearly 30 snaps means he’s healthy and his dominant play got him more time on the field. I also credit Pagano for moving Joey around and not sticking him solely at the left end position like some pundits had feared they would.

 

All in all, I don’t think Joey Bosa’s Charger debut could have gone any better. He looked healthy, strong, fast, smart and, most importantly, fired-up to be playing football again. It’s a shame that parts of the rest of the team are a raging dumpster fire.

Despite another terrible loss, Joey Bosa has given me something to look forward to again on game day. I am confident he will continue to impress fans and make impact plays. Let’s hope the rest of the team can find that fire for winning once again.

 

Let me know what you thought of Joey Bosa’s NFL debut in the comments section below!

Travis Blake

@TravisBlake101       

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This team, this organization called the San Diego Chargers, is a roller coaster that never lets you off. It’s a roller coaster that makes its passengers, the fans, want to throw our arms up in the air and yell for joy one minute, and the next minute vomit like we’re filming a Jackass movie. It’s a roller coaster that defies the physics of most roller coasters because it, somehow, has more downs than ups. It’s a roller coaster that can’t find the finish line, leaving you stuck on the ride until you decide whether or not to stick with it or jump off of the ride, ending your fandom of the San Diego Chargers.

 

What does finishing even mean? I don’t know, I’m a San Diego Charger fan. I suppose it means winning, but I wouldn’t know much about that either. This organization has failed in almost every way imaginable for decades, on and off the field. Sunday’s most recent soiling of the bed, while trying to spoon the Saints, came as little surprise to most Charger fans. Either someone (Tom Brady) put Crisco on the footballs, or the Chargers found yet another way to lose a game. It’s gone beyond embarrassing, isn’t it? What’s wrong with this team, this organization? Why can’t they finish?

 

Well, there are many theories out there as to why this team can never seem to finish. Mike McCoy is the front-runner, followed closely by the Spanos Patriarchy. John Pagano, Ryan Leaf, Joey Bosa, Marlon McCree, Norv Turner, AJ Smith, Qualcomm Stadium and the ghost of Ray Kroc round out the Top-10 of 3rd place qualifiers. My point is, what is wrong with the Chargers can’t be put on one man’s shoulders.

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, V for Vendetta: “…how did this happen, who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those that are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.”

That’s right, fans are responsible, too. After all, some of us have been supporting this team financially for most of our lives; I know I have. Support is not translating to wins, but why not?

 

Let’s boil the Chargers down to a failing bar that has been featured on the popular TV show Bar Rescue. The bar is a mess. The manager of the bar and head bartender are getting drunk and playing darts but none of the darts are hitting the board and the head bartender is constantly losing track of time. The employees are bumping into each other behind the bar, constantly fumbling glasses and mixing utensils. The kitchen is minutes away from catching fire or giving someone salmonella poisoning. The loyal customers are wondering why they even come here anymore.

 

The star of the show, world-renowned Bar Expert Jon Taffer, enters the failing bar and immediately seeks out the owner. The owner and his son’s come waddling out of the tiny office in the back, rubbing their eyes from the nap they just got rudely awakened from. Taffer begins yelling at them. They immediately start making excuses that the bar is too old and dilapidated to attract new customers, and that the town they are in doesn’t want to build them a new bar closer to the center of town. They say they are going to have to move to the next town over if things don’t change, the customers hear this and some of them leave the bar they used to love.

 

In this scenario, it’s easy to see that the problem with this bar is the owners; the problem with most failing businesses starts with the owners. The same can be said of the Chargers. The main difference is the Chargers can fail and still make money because they have the only “bar” in town. The owners hired the manager and head bartender who can’t get the staff to stop bumping into each other and fumbling the glasses. Some of the staff may not even be bartender material, but the head bartender wouldn’t even know because he can’t even get them to work together.

 

Many fans want Dean Spanos to sell the San Diego Chargers. Let me just tell you, that’s not going to happen, because Alex, Dean, John and AG Spanos all like money. The NFL makes owners LOTS of money. Most of the Spanos family’s 2.4 billion dollars (Forbes) we’re talking about came from Alex Spanos’ real estate investments in apartment housing. The Spanos family made its money in real estate, not football, and boy is it starting to show. The Spanos contingent like money so much they tried to keep about three hundred thousand dollars away from first-round pick Joey Bosa, causing an unprecedented contract holdout, injury and missed games. Withholding $300,000 when you have $2.4 billion is like chopping up a penny into four or five pieces. Let that sink in.

 

So what would Jon Taffer do? Well, often when he encounters a dysfunctional bar owner group that is made up of family, he suggests that one or more of the family members step away from the business and appoint a general manager who has experience to right the ship. If Dean were to sell his family’s stake in the Chargers down to a non-controlling interest, say 49%, to let’s just say AEG for argument’s sake, this would do several things.

First, and most importantly,  it would get the “family” out of the “football” operations. Secondly, it would serve to preserve Dean’s legacy because if it works, he is the hero for doing what was necessary for the team to start winning. If it doesn’t work, he can point to whomever is the majority owner. Plus, Deano and Sons are still the owners in the eyes of the media and fans, they are just no longer running the team.

 

This potential decrease in ownership stake is not going to happen as long as the Chargers are playing in Mission Valley, because they aren’t worth enough.

Let’s just say that a new downtown stadium gets approved and built.

The Chargers are suddenly worth substantially more. They are now worth enough that Deano can sell a portion of the team; have way less responsibility; have more money to invest in the family’s true cash cow of real estate; and still make the same, if not more, money from football than when he was majority owner.  

 

In my opinion, the only way this roller coaster, this failing bar, will start trending up is if the Spanos family is no longer at the helm. The only way that’s going to happen is if the Chargers Downtown Stadium Initiative is passed and the facility is built. Only then, when the team is worth its maximum, will Dean consider selling the team, or a portion of it.

 

So, what can we do besides cry ourselves to sleep every Sunday? Well, trying to punish Dean and Sons buy voting no on Measure C is definitely not the answer. This thinking is so backwards it actually makes my head spin. Voting no on C does nobody any good. Measure C is about way more than the Chargers. It’s about jobs, economic growth and a major improvement to our city. If you’re not on board with that, vote no. A yes vote on C does not guarantee the Chargers will suddenly figure out how to finish. Just like Petco Park did nothing to guarantee the Padres would be winners. I don’t follow baseball anymore, but I love going to Petco Park, and you know what? Every now and then the Padres actually win a game when I go.

 

The bottom line is the Chargers are never going to finish and win a Super Bowl with the Spanos family running the team. That’s not to say they are bad people, in fact, their generosity to the San Diego community over the years actually points to them being concerned about this community. They are obviously shrewd real estate moguls, but they are a totally incompetent football family. It’s time for fans to start calling it like they have been seeing it for so many years now: a failure of ownership.

 

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

Travis Blake

@TravisBlake101

 

BoltBlitz-800x450-e1412795490245

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Staff writer Travis Blake took the time to speak with the BoltBlitz.com staff and ask their opinions on what they believe the record of the 2016 Chargers will be. Travis asked me to include my opinion, but I am working on a full 16-game breakdown and record-prediction article as we speak. That being said, the record I am predicting will agree with a couple of the writers in this article, but for different reasons than they listed. 

 

Are you ready for some football? Are you ready for some Chargers football?? The start of the 2016 NFL season is imminent, and since our beloved Bolts don’t kick off until Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, I thought it would be fun to ask the BoltBlitz staff writers for their predictions for this season. I asked what they thought the Chargers’ record would be after the 16 regular-season games, and a brief description of how they came to that conclusion. Will this season be one to remember, or yet another we quickly move to forget? Here’s what we said:

 

Corey Decker: Record 10-6. “The Chargers need to do two things this upcoming season: communicate and stay healthy. We noticed this team can compete after last season’s match-up versus the Packers.”

 

Zak Darman: Record 5-11/6-10. “Offensive line is still suspect. Safeties and linebackers suck. Defensive line is improved but still a hole. Depth is thin and team has no balance on offense and the division as a whole is very difficult.”

 

Laura Leech: Record 8-8. “Chargers should win more games than last season, as long as they stay healthy. The schedule is fairly easy, with the exception of having to play their own division twice. The AFC West will be the toughest division in football, so they must win at least three division games to be contenders for the playoffs but they are playing the reigning Super Bowl Champs, a rising Raiders team and they haven’t fared well against the Chiefs in the last couple years.”

 

Chris Hoke: Record 9-7. “Although this team has talent, there’s a ton of question marks to go with it. The health of the line(s). How far along will Bosa come? Will he actually matter? Can the back-end of the defense compensate for the loss of Weddle? All these factors, plus the fact that McNorv can’t manage a game for his life will cost us seven, if not more, losses.”

 

Debra Zettelmier: Record 8-8. “They did a lot in the off season to address weakness on the defensive line. Lately, they’ve been working on offense and the power run. But I think they win eight games because of Whisenhunt. A team coming off a 4-12 season last year isn’t going to have a 10-6 season. Technically, it takes 5-7 years for a team to become playoff material after the changes the Chargers have gone through (with) Reich and injuries have held this team back. I just wish (the) Chargers would have kept Bercovici, even though he threw a lot of interceptions, he could have been trained under Rivers for a couple (of) years. Peyton lit up the field with interceptions his first rookie year and look how good he became. I like our draft picks a lot but I’m not secure with a 10-6 season.”

 

Cheryl A White: Record 10-6 with a wildcard playoff berth. “Because I think the division will be won by Kansas City or perhaps Oakland. Pittsburgh and New England will be in the mix for the wildcard in the AFC. Health of offensive line will be a huge factor. Also return game/blocking will need to be really improved, as will 3rd down conversions.”

 

Greg Williams: Put me down for an optimistic 10-6 with their last place schedule, offseason and draft acquisitions. I’d go higher but won’t until they can keep the injuries at bay.

 

Mike Pisciotta: Record 7-9.…. they still lack depth on both fronts. Mike McTurner all by himself is good for 2 losses.

 

Travis Blake: Record 6-10. I was finally able to nail my prediction down to 6 wins, 10 losses. All offseason I have made it known on Twitter that I believe the Bolts will win between 4-6 games in 2016. The main reason for that is Mike McCoy and John Pagano…… I just can’t even. I was hoping — praying — that I would see something from the first-team offense or defense that would change my mind. The short story is: I didn’t. While it was nice to see Melvin Gordon break some long runs, all I could think about was how predictable the Chargers first-team offense was. If PR17 was under center, Melvin Gordon was lined up with Derek Watt at FB and Hunter Henry was in to block, it was a guaranteed run play. Come Sunday, if I’m a Chiefs linebacker, I’m going to run-blitz the crap out of that formation all day until they show me something different. That’s just one example of a very predictable offense I saw as a whole. Let’s hope it was Ken Whisenhunt being extra vanilla at the behest of Mr.Vanilla himself, Mike McCoy. I also see no true depth at offensive or defensive line as a potential problem.      

One encouraging thing I saw was the development of safety Dexter McCoil. He was everywhere on the field, and multiple times I saw him fly in from his “deep safety” position to aid in run support and make tackles missed by inside linebackers and even linemen. Based on his performance, he should be one of the two starting safeties, but everything I have heard is it’s going to be Dwight Lowery and Jahleel Addae starting. Thanks, Pagano. He’s more physically talented than Eric Weddle, but we’ll have to wait and see if he has what it takes between the ears.

I hope I am wrong about my prediction! I hope we go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl! I am excited to watch players like KA13, Travis Benjamin, Brandon Mebane, Hunter Henry, Denzel Perryman and Darius Philon. My prediction is not going to stop me from going to games and yelling my head off in support for these players, or pushing for the new stadium initiative.

How do you think the Bolts will do this season? Let us know in the comments section below!

#RockTheQ

Travis Blake

#VoteYesOnC
@TravisBlake101

CherylJoeyBosa

 

 

Joey Bosa is officially a Charger! Chargers fans everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief when news broke around noon Monday that Bosa and the Chargers had finally agreed to bury the hatchet. Bosa signing his nearly 26 million dollar contract has been a long time coming for many disgruntled fans. The collective pulse of Charger Nation seems to be coming down to a level that no longer requires hospitalization. Fans seem eager to move on, and so was I, until I thought a little deeper about what I watched unfold over the last 20 or so days.

 

We all saw what happened, and we all participated in it. We watched a loving mother trying do what she thought was best for her son. We watched her son allow his parents, and the people they hired to look out for his best interests, do what they believed to be right for him, to get him what was normal and fair. These agents got him millions from a man who has billions. So, for the fans who called him a mama’s boy, a moron, a little boy, and a pussy — to name just a few — I have a message to relay to you. 

 

We all know what Cheryl Bosa said that made fans so mad. Her comments about Eli Manning brought up old wounds for many Charger fans. I understand why you got mad, Charger fans, but where is that anger coming from? Is it because of what she said, or was it because she is a strong, protective woman who started to speak in “man’s world.” Cheryl was there with Joey when he was drafted, as many other moms are for their son’s, to hug them before they go off into their “man’s world,” and we never see the moms again. But then Cheryl showed up again at Chargers Park, okay, no big deal. Then she spoke out on Facebook, in a message thread she thought was private. Then she spoke out again on Twitter. She was getting too close, too close to a world few women are allowed to speak in. Fans lashed out. Joey Bosa became the biggest “mama’s boy” in Chargers history, almost overnight.

 

Cheryl Bosa isn’t the first woman in history who has gotten too close to a realm controlled and dominated by men, and while I doubt she was trying to make a major social statement in defending her son, this “situation” demonstrates a fatal flaw in our society. What gives us the right to call another human being a mama’s boy, or a pussy? You may say freedom of speech, but it really goes deeper than that. What gives men the right to whistle at woman walking by their construction site? Or to grab or grope a drunk girl at a concert or club as she walks by? What gives men leading the world the right to send other men to war to kill other men over land, religion, ethnicity or race? One word, patriarchy. Our patriarchal legacy of living in a society that is male centered and male dominated controls almost everything we do and fear.

 

Let’s look at calling someone a pussy; let’s look particularly at men calling other men pussies. So, we are likening another man to female genitalia, essentially. Why are lady parts associated with being weak when they are in fact some of the strongest and most resilient examples of human anatomy, not to mention the means by which human life continues on this planet? It’s because our patriarchal society tells us that women are the weaker sex, and anything they do is thus devalued, including the miracle of childbirth. Thus, their female organs that produce the child are also devalued and assigned a weakened, oppressed status, and then used as an everyday insult by men and some women.

 

So, what does it mean to be a “mama’s boy?” Moms in today’s society carry a small human inside them for nine months, give birth, are primarily responsible for the child’s care for a majority of its life; all while cooking food, cleaning the house and many other tasks many associate as “women’s work.” Many women work a job on top of all that! Moms are some of the most valuable and strongest people on the planet in every way imaginable; so why is it a bad thing to be a mama’s boy? Because, again, our patriarchal society has devalued most of the things women do. In fact, the only way for most women to get respect in this secular world is to enter the workforce full time. Even when they do, they are often overlooked for promotions, paid far less than men who are less qualified than they are, and their every success is measured against how a man would have achieved it.

 

So, are you mad yet? Well, I want to make something clear: I am not mad at you, it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault; it’s not your dad’s fault; it’s not your grandfather’s fault; it’s not Joey or Cheryl Bosa’s fault. Patriarchy has been going on for thousands of years. It’s a part of our legacy whether we like it or not. It’s going to continue unless we do something about it. As long as it goes on, we will continue to see war, crime, violence, rape, shootings and the continued pollution of our planet. Patriarchy, and the unearned privilege it bestows on every man, comes at a price. Patriarchy drives a destructive cycle of fear and control. Men fear losing control, and the only way to temporarily alleviate the fear is to gain control over something or someone. Of course, the more a man controls, the more fear he has of losing it, the only way to fix it is to control something else, a vicious cycle. For some desperate men who have lost much, the final act of control is taking a gun and killing, or to take a woman and rape her.                  

 

You have to be mad by now. However, the purpose of this article wasn’t to make you mad, because I believe we can make this right. For me, it starts with writing this article. Obviously, this wasn’t easy for me to write, but I believe it’s an important topic to discuss. And from discussion may come an awareness some of us can use this football season in how we interact with one another and the team and players we admire.

 

Woman have made some incredible advances in the world in the last one hundred years, but it hasn’t been nearly enough. The NFL is one of the few remaining institutions in our society that is exclusively dominated by men. Even the few women who have made it into the media side of the NFL face almost constant criticism, bullying and trolling on social media, mostly from men. I see this bullying or trolling a lot on Twitter in our own Charger community. Women who have strong opinions are often challenged and shamed by men for their football IQ or acumen.

 

Remember, this isn’t about shame or blame, there’s something bigger than any one person driving this. My only want is that we take a moment and evaluate how we treat other people, men and women. I can only hope one day I will become a pussy and a mama’s boy, because I will have become one of the strongest men on the planet. Go Chargers!

 

@TravisBlake101

GatesAllen1

I was at the joint practice between our San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium Tuesday night. Just before it started, it was announced on social media that Cardinals’ head coach, Bruce Arians, had been taken to the hospital experiencing stomach pains. Best wishes to him in his recovery.

The practice started with special teams drills (yawn). Then it was time for 1-on-1 drills,  consisting of wide receivers versus defensive backs that were much more exciting. Brandon Flowers was burned for several deep passes. His days as an outside cornerback are hopefully over. Jason Verrett also struggled early trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald.

After good coverage caused Philip Rivers to be unable to connect with Keenan Allen twice, the duo started lighting up the Cardinals secondary. First, with a deep bomb over coverage from Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals top defensive back. Allen looked unstoppable all night, catching nearly everything thrown his way, and getting open early and often.

Travis Benjamin made several nice and difficult catches where he used his quick twitch speed to change direction and come back to perfectly placed balls from PR17. Rivers later said that he and Benjamin “needed” that type of connection in practice. The duo looks to be gelling nicely.

During 11-on-11 drills the Chargers got the best of the exchanges on offense and defense. Melvin Gordon had several nice runs through the middle of the Cardinals’ defensive front seven. The Cardinals’ defense had trouble covering Tyrell Williams, because he is a beast.

Melvin Ingram looked like a man on a mission. He set the edge on back-to-back run plays to the outside with tackles for a loss or no gain. Early, Arizona was running almost every play to the outside, no doubt from watching the Chargers get gashed by the Titans on Saturday. With Ingram in the backfield on almost every run they changed the plays.

Casey Hayward looked very good; he had tight coverage on several plays resulting in pass breakups. In my opinion, Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward need to be the starting outside cornerbacks this season. Dexter McCoil ran stride-for-stride with Arizona receivers and had a great pass break-up in the end-zone.

Something interesting I saw during linebacker interception drills; both Manti Te’o and Jeremiah Attaochu had balls clank off their hands and land on the ground. As soon as they got to the huddle they were told to bust out push-ups in front of everyone. I personally love this kind of accountability. I have heard that this has happened before in some practices this year. In those cases, the whole front seven had to do push-ups during a practice when the unit was not getting enough pressure on the quarterback.   

Hunter Henry had a nice toe-tap touchdown, he looks to be a better red zone weapon than Ladarius Green was.

No major injuries to report. The “no-tackling” practice was competitive but not combative.

Quickly, I will give my thoughts on that sorry excuse for a preseason game that was played on Saturday between the Titans and Chargers:

Obviously it was great to see Ken Whisenhunt getting the Bolts’ offensive linemen coming forward on run plays instead of skating backwards. It was great to see Melvin Gordon finally get in the end-zone on a long catch-and-run. Gordon looked more confident and decisive. Not much bad to say about the first team offense. A low-light on offense was too many penalties on the line (coaching); hopefully they can get that cleaned up before they play Arizona on Friday.

The defense was terrible. They picked up right where they left off last season with not being able to tackle and giving up big plays in the run game. Of course this shouldn’t be a surprise because it’s been like this for five years now. John Pagano is still the defensive coordinator, and his defense still looks like they have no clue what they are doing with tons of missed assignments.

Now, I’ve heard people say it’s the first preseason game. Tackling across the league is bad right now since these players haven’t really tackled in 7-8 months. Okay, but this defense was missing it’s assignments, shooting the wrong gaps, and looked woefully unprepared. All of which is coaching. They have a lot to clean up.

One of the few bright spots on defense and special teams was Dexter McCoil. He blew up a Titans’ returner on a special teams play that caused him to lose about ten yards. He’s big, fast and can cover and tackle. He also had a fumble recovery. He needs to be one of the starting safeties. The kicking game and punt game both looked good. That’s all for now, thanks for reading.

 

#Preseason

 

@TravisBlake101            

bosa4

 

Several former Chargers made headlines on Wednesday in a flurry of NFL news that hit the interwebs as teams start making moves for the start of their respective training camps.

 

It looks as if former Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler has finally found a new home. Via multiple reports, he signed today with the Arizona Cardinals. This is interesting for several reasons. First, the Cardinals and Chargers are scheduled to hold a joint practice before both teams meet August 19 for a preseason skirmish. It will be interesting to see if the Arizona coaching staff can get any productivity out of a player who had woefully underwhelmed in his last few seasons with the Bolts.

 

Former Charger running back Ryan Mathews is hurt again, and he didn’t even get hurt playing football. The Eagles announced today that they are placing him on the Non-Football-Injury list for an ankle injury he suffered last week when the team was on their CBA- mandated break before training camp. There are literally so many potential jokes here that I can’t even pick one. It looks as if parting ways with Mathews after the 2014 season was the right move for the Chargers. Mathews’ NFL career could possibly be in jeopardy.

 

In other NFL news, Nick Foles asked the Rams to be released and they obliged him. Via ESPN, the Rams released Foles after he agreed to take less guaranteed money if they let him walk. Foles was benched last season after going 4-5 with six touchdowns and throwing seven interceptions. The Rams drafted Foles’ replacement a few months ago with the 1st overall pick in Jared Goff from Cal.

 

The New York Jets’ first-round pick, linebacker Darron Lee, signed his contract Wednesday. Lee was one of three remaining first-round draft picks that had not been signed. The others are 49ers’ Joshua Garnett and, of course, Chargers’ Joey Bosa. All three players are represented by the same agent, working for Creative Artists Agency. All three players are fighting for no offset language in their contracts (essentially allowing them to be paid double if they are cut from the team that drafted them before their rookie contracts are up). Many first-round draft picks fight for no offset language, but few get it. It’s unclear whether Darron Lee’s contract has any offset language, but his signing is good news for Chargers fans that the Bosa signing could be next.

 

Personally, I think these contract disputes are less about the players and more about the “business” of the NFL. I don’t think college players start off as freshman saying, “I want to play in the NFL and have a contract with no offset language.” I think the players and players’ families are talked into these situations by profit-driven, money-hungry agents who take advantage of a vulnerable and critical time in a young man’s life for their own benefit. Hopefully Bosa signs soon and we can all forget about offset language until next year!

 

Who is excited for training camp to start?!

 

@TravisBlake101

McCoy5

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am not the biggest fan of Chargers’ head coach, Mike McCoy. I want so badly to be excited about this upcoming training camp and ensuing season. I want to be excited about Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen on offense, and Jason Verrett and Denzel Perryman on defense. But there is one person standing in the way of my excitement — freaking Mike McCoy.

Many of McCoy’s coaching deficiencies are well documented. Blunders like terrible clock management in big games, recycling the same game plan from week to week, overly conservative play-calling (punting on 4th down when he should go for it), or questionable player development and usage are some of the big problems. Seeing these mistakes being made for three straight seasons, I was confident that the axe was finally coming down for a coach who had just steered his ship to twelve lost games, including no wins in his own division.

Enter the stadium saga. Perhaps the most important era in San Diego sports history began in early 2015 with Dean Spanos’ bid to move the team to LA. The bid ultimately stalled because a bunch of billionaires, who all have bigger piles of money than Dean, decided it was going to be the Rams who would move to LA with an option for the Chargers to follow if they couldn’t get a stadium built in San Diego. One of the underrated effects of this decision was that Mike McCoy got to keep his job.

The team’s future was uncertain. The only way to appear like a stable football organization was to give the illusion of some sort of stability. So, in an all too predictable and equally conservative move, the Chargers gave McCoy a two-year contract extension. The 4-12 record for the 2015 season was essentially erased and McCoy is back at the helm for 2016. However, there is one major problem for McCoy this year that he did not encounter last year: The Chargers HAVE to win this year.

I am calling it. This is the most important season ever for the Chargers as an organization. They have to have a winning record going into the November 8th vote of the downtown stadium initiative. Even if they have a winning record, it’s still going to be an uphill battle to get the two-thirds majority approval many are saying they will need for the initiative to pass. Having McCoy calling the shots at this critical juncture is a mistake. I would have taken the chance and tried to lure Hue Jackson to San Diego before he got a chance to go to Cleveland. But what is done is done, so let’s look into the future as we so often do as NFL fans.

This team has so many question marks. Will the offensive line be better? Will Melvin Gordon be better? Will special teams be better? Will the return of Ken Whisenhunt improve the offense? Will the defensive line be better? Will they be able to run the ball? Will this team have better injury luck? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, I think the Bolts will have a winning record and maybe make it to the playoffs. If the answer is no to even some of these questions, I do not believe that Mike McCoy will be able completely change his coaching style.

So what if the Chargers are 2-3 going into week six against the Broncos and lose? Many fans would be calling for McCoy’s head, including myself. Should he be removed midseason? Well yes, but also no. He should have been fired midseason last year. So if the team tanks in the first half of 2016, what do you do? The Chargers have put themselves in a very difficult situation. The conservative “old” Chargers philosophy would probably be to keep him until the end of the season. But this is not a normal season, and if a new football operations strategy is being formed within the organization, we could see its first really bold move of firing McCoy as early as Week 7.

It just so happens that Ken Whisenhunt used to be a head football coach and even took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl. So you have McCoy’s potential interim replacement already on the team. Many fans might call for John Pagano to step in as McCoy’s potential proxy. I disagree. Pags has been behind the wheel of a defense that is full of first- and second-round draft picks, but has consistently given up big plays and underwhelmed in big games. If McCoy goes, I believe Pagano is not far behind.

I actually hope McCoy can break out of his shell this year and coach the Bolts back into the playoffs. As many of you know, I am critical of the Chargers, and will continue to be until they win a Super Bowl. But, I never root for players or coaches to fail. I simply point out where I think they can improve if a player or coach is not performing well.

We as fans need to show up in support of these players this year, and hopefully these players will feed off of our energy and dominate like we know they can. For once, let’s take it out of the coach’s hands. These players could be playing for the team to stay in San Diego forever. Isn’t that something worth showing up for and cheering for? I sure think so. Winning will solve many of our problems. Winning this year will take all of us together, and maybe one day, we will look back on 2016 as this being one of the greatest years in the history of San Diego sports.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

#RockTheQ

#WinAsOne

@TravisBlake101  

gordon3

It’s officially the doldrums of the NFL offseason, the lonely time between mini-camps and the start of training camp. Made worse by the fact that the NBA and NHL seasons are over, this could be considered a sports fan’s darkest hour. Coaches and players are on “vacation” until the last few days of July. For many players this is the only time they will have to take care of important personal business like buying and selling houses and cars, renewing or obtaining driver’s licenses, and other important “housekeeping” duties.

For other players, it party time! The next four weeks are their last bit of freedom to let loose before another grueling season begins. Let’s hope our Bolts can focus on staying in shape and the playbook instead of “making it rain” and the local clubs.

Usually during this time sports news is hard to come by. Most local sports talk show hosts and news reporters are on vacation, and aside from the occasional story of some bonehead NFL player getting into trouble outside a local strip joint or night club, NFL news is fairly non-existent. So I was delighted to see an interesting NFL story break recently.

The Associated Press published an article about how a few NFL teams are using beeping footballs to help their running backs hold on to the ball more securely. The footballs are equipped with pressure sensors and an audible beeping device that emits a sound when the runner holds the ball by key positions tight enough to avoid being dislodged via a hit. The article states the ball could reduce fumbling by nearly sixty percent. The article also states that the Tampa Bay Bucs, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins are all using the device. More interestingly, it also stated that the Chargers are reportedly going to start using the football when they commence training camp on July 30th.

This is something worth taking note of when camp starts. Running back Melvin Gordon’s fumbling issues were well known last season. Putting the ball on the ground is unacceptable, especially this season for a team in “win now” mode for several reasons, including a potential stadium vote in November. The ball helps with muscle memory, training backs to grip the ball properly as well as with the correct amount of force. Instead of thinking about holding on to the ball, they can think about hitting the hole in front of them.

One potential hiccup I foresee is Mike McCoy will have to turn down the training facility’s boom box during practices. A staple of McCoy’s practices, and one of the few things he does that I actually approve of, is playing loud music during practice. Blaring rhythmic tunes over the facility’s speakers helps simulate loud stadium environments the Chargers play in on a weekly basis such as Arrowhead Stadium. I am not sure how Gordon and company will be able to hear a beeping football over Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit screaming expletives. If the new footballs help reduce fumbling I am all for shelving McCoy’s playlist and listing the boom box for sale on Craigslist.

Hopefully these new balls can help Melvin Gordon, who has many facets to his game that need improving, as well as the other running backs on the roster. I would actually give this device to any players who handle the ball such as receivers and return men, maybe even the whole team. It will be interesting to see if this new training tool will make an impact for the teams using it this year, especially our Bolts!

What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

 

Travis Blake

 

@TravisBlake101
#WhatTheBeep         

Seau1

My girlfriend, Megan, and I had the opportunity to travel to Canton, Ohio and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame and attend the Class of 2015 Enshrinement Ceremony last year. Personally, I was excited to attend as a diehard Charger fan and show support of Junior Seau, who was to be enshrined that day.

Another player to be inducted that day was Steelers halfback, Jerome Bettis, evidenced by the foam school buses on many people’s heads. Canton, Ohio is only about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Needless to say there were Steelers fans everywhere. Some of them complimented us on coming so far to support Junior, saying he was a great player, or said it was sad he had left us so soon. The respect Steelers Nation showed to him and to us will be with me for a long time.

We eventually met a group of Seau fans from Oceanside, Junior’s hometown. We talked about our favorite memories of Junior and took pictures together. A great moment was shared when the group was asked to cheer in front of the Hall of Fame for the NFL Network broadcast, all in our Charger gear.

The day of the Enshrinement Ceremony is the busiest day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, something to keep in mind if you are ever planning to visit. The line to enter the Hall of Fame Gallery, where the bronze busts of each inductee are on display, was very long. We were told by an employee that they couldn’t guarantee we would get in to see the busts because they were closing the museum early so the Packers and Vikings players could have a private tour before the Hall of Fame Game the next day.

We risked it, and about two hours later, made it in to see the great Charger players already enshrined: Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts, Sid Gillman, Charlie Joiner, Ron Mix, Kellen Winslow and Fred Dean. Junior’s bust would be revealed to the whole world in a few short hours. It was worth the wait.

Soon it was time to leave the Hall of Fame and enter Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium next door. It’s a 22,000 seat, outdoor football venue, perfect for the Enshrinement Ceremony. The Hall of Fame stadium plays host to many high school and college football games during their seasons as well as the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, and Hall of Fame Games, played the the day after the ceremony to kick off the NFL preseason each year.

We made it to our seats and I started to reflect. I thought about Junior as his transcendent smile would flash on the jumbotron every few minutes. The jumbotron started to show career highlights of the other members of the Class of 2015. When Bettis’ highlights came on about 20,000 Terrible Towels would go up in the air accompanied by loud cheers and chants. Ironically, many of Junior’s highlights were of him tackling The Bus in the backfield for a loss, effectively quieting the crowd, if only for a moment.

It was finally time for Junior’s bust to be revealed. Master of Ceremonies, Chris Berman, introduced a short tribute video to Junior. Next, Junior’s children were allowed on stage to reveal his bust to the world. Due to a controversial NFL policy on posthumous inductions, none were allowed to speak. Junior’s daughter, Sydney, was then taken off stage and interviewed by an NFL Network reporter. Despite the NFL-induced oddity of the whole situation, Sydney spoke with the poise, bravery and the heart of a true champion. The emotion permeated all in attendance.

During her interview, I thought about Junior’s career with the Chargers, his legend, what he meant to the fans and to the City of San Diego. I thought about what he still means to us all. Men who give their hearts and souls to their community, never truly leave us. They live on in all of us, in our memories, in what we say and do every day.

San Diego had lost it’s two favorite sons, Junior and then Tony Gwynn. At the time of this ceremony it was all but certain, we would lose the Chargers as well. For me, that’s when the tears came. At some point I looked up to the sky and imagined Junior and Tony, shoulder to shoulder, smiling down on us.

This experience has given me the determination to follow the exceptional example set by these two great San Diego men; to do what I can to make my community a better place. I won’t be able to be the best player on the field, or donate millions to local charities, but I can treat everyone I meet with respect and love, as these two did. I can take the time to educate people on the downtown stadium proposal, or at the very least, talk with them about it. I think that’s what Junior would have wanted. If we all do a mere fraction of what these two men did over their lives, we can make this town a better place, maybe even keep our beloved Bolts!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

#RIP55

#RIP19

#SaveOurBolts

 

@TravisBlake101

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