Monthly Archives: August 2013
NFL quarterbacks don’t wear gloves during a game as a fashion statement. Even though they may help keep their hands warm during the winter months, that is not their primary reason for wearing them.
As you know controlling the ball is one of the prime objectives of this game and that’s not easy to do with an object that is a “pointed prolate sphere”.
Don’t worry, I have no plans to drag you through a high school geometry course but as most of you know a football is not easy to control or throw for that matter. These gloves that some quarterbacks wear, called tact gloves, have a sticky rubber palm that helps give them a better grip on the ball providing them more control.
Now, as Charger fans we know that it is illegal to put any additional kind of gel or “stick ’ems” on these gloves to increase the stickiness. However, even without gels or stick ’ems these gloves provide the extra control necessary to provide pinpoint accuracy.
In order to test this theory my son and I went to the local sporting good store to try these gloves out. Once I found stickiest ones I could find I rushed down the adjacent aisle to find a football. I was amazed at the level of control these gloves provided me. As an example, I could take the ball by the end and hold onto it with 2 fingers without fumbling it to the ground. And even though the store manager didn’t appreciate it, I had to send my son long down the aisle to see just how well I could throw the ball with these gloves on. As you can imagine I threw a perfect strike and one of the tightest spirals that I’ve ever thrown. There’s no doubt that wearing these gloves gives quarterbacks better control of the oddly shaped ball.
As we all know last year Philip Rivers threw 15 interceptions, mind you a lot of them were thrown under duress. However, after he put the tact gloves on for the last 4 games he didn’t throw a single pick and he raised his passer rating by 20 points. When asked, Philip said “good chance” he wears gloves in 2013. Now we didn’t see the glove on his throwing hand in the first two preseason games so you have to wonder is Philip toying with the idea “to glove, or not to glove”? I guess we’ll have to wait and see but my bet is we’ll see both gloves very soon.
The term three yards and a cloud of dust began with the teachings of the great Woody Hayes. The former Head Coach at Ohio State believed that the benefit of passing the ball was far outweighed by its negative possibilities. With a pass three things could occur. It could be intercepted, incomplete or the receiver could catch the ball. Hayes’ thought process was that running the ball could lead to less opportunity of bad things happening that could influence both the momentum and the final outcome of games.
When looking at the bulk of what will be San Diego’s final 53 man roster, I am beginning to think that the team should implore the same exact strategy.
Below I’ll examine the reasons that I think prove the Bolts should be a run-focused offense that limits opportunities for errors to take place than if the game plan is centered more on the passing game.
Although there is a bit of uncertainty as to who will start at Left Tackle – not in my mind – the line is pretty much set in stone. Similar to that of the feet of Max Starks, pun intended, it is for the most part cemented. Due to the poor play of Starks it appears as though the job is King Dunlap’s to lose.
Regardless of which of the two men earn the starting nod, it is guaranteed that an extremely large individual will be protecting the blindside of Philip Rivers. In addition to Dunlap, the team has Chad Rinehart, Nick Hardwick, Jeromey Clary, and rookie D.J. Fluker slated as starters.
When looking at the beef up front, the Chargers are have one of the bigger Offensive lines in the NFL. The physicality they possess as a group is something to be looked at as well. The unit does have some weaknesses when it comes to pass protection.
Fluker is not to be confused as a stalwart in the pass protection portion of his game at this point in his career. The same can be said of Dunlap. But one must give Fluker credit where it is due in the running game. Fluker is a beast that excels at opening holes and running lanes for backs. Clary had major issues when left on an island at Right Tackle but has since been moved inside to Right Guard. He has shown that he is adequate, not great, as a pass-blocking Guard in only two preseason games. Rinehart is a little above average in pass pro. However, watching him pull in the Seattle game was an eye-opening experience. His strength is in the run game and also his knowledge of Joe D’Alessandris’ blocking scheme.
This Offensive line seems to be built to run the ball. Whether playing against a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, it might be safe to say that the Charger Oline could wear down both front sevens, regardless of scheme, when establishing the running game.
Wide Receiving Corp
Let me begin this by stating that the team has taken some serious hits at Wide Receiver. Although many had believed this to be a position of depth, there were multiple question marks even before the injuries to this unit.
After losing Danario Alexander for the season, and perhaps his career, the team suffered another blow with the scare of a knee injury to Malcom Floyd. The hope is that Floyd will be healthy enough to play by week 2 of the regular season after he suffered a knee strain in practice. Initially the worry was that he had torn his ACL like Alexander.
As if there weren’t enough blows dealt to the wideouts at Chargers Park, an ambulance took Eddie Royal from the facility to the hospital today after he caught a pass and landed awkwardly on his back. The diagnosis is that of a bruised lung and a concussion. Although neither ailment is desired, it was speculated to be even worse than that right after it happened. Royal had already been labeled by some as injury-prone prior to today’s events.
Though he played in the second preseason game of the year against the Bears, rookie Keenan Allen left a practice after tweaking the same knee that has been known to act up for him during his college days. That knee is rumored to be one of the reasons that he fell to the third round of the 2013 draft.
I am almost certain that you can see where I’m going with this portion of the article.
The health issues with this group, coupled by the ineptitude ( cough, cough Meachem ) and inexperience of some, leave even the casual fan with an uneasy feeling regarding the team’s ability to be successful through the air this year. This only adds further evidence to the idea that San Diego should be a run predominant-offense this season.
Those of you that have been long-time supporters of BoltBlitz, follow me on Twitter or Facebook, and/or know me personally are very well aware of my feelings about Philip Rivers. Although he has made some decisions that are impossible to defend at times, I feel that the lack of a stable Offensive Line and a non-existent running game have been the bigger issues with San Diego’s signal caller.
I feel that Rivers would be the biggest benefactor of the three yards and a cloud of dust mentality. Philip still has some good years ahead of him, in my opinion, but it is safe to say that he has already reached his ceiling as an NFL Quarterback.
My peers over at Boltsfromtheblue.com have actually provided statistical data showing that the less Rivers has to do, the better off it can be for the team. ( That is a great site for people who are trying to learn the game of football. John Gennaro has some quality writers in both Jerome Watson, whom I have the utmost respect for, and Patrick Green, among a couple of others.) Although I am not nearly as concerned as some are about where Rivers is at in this point of his career, I do feel that it is necessary to have an offense that puts far less pressure on him to carry the load. He has shown that he will be the team’s leader regardless of how often he drops back to pass. But as mentioned above, his numbers go down with the increased volume of throws.
Establishing a solid running game could help extend the stay of Rivers in America’s finest city. Because with the way some of the members of the media have been talking, it is not out of the realm of possibility that 2013 could be his last in San Diego.
The 2013 campaign will show that the shift from being an offensive-driven team to the defense being the strength of the 3 phases of the game is complete. Despite the fact that depth is an issue at all three levels of the defense, one could still say that this defense will help keep the Bolts in games. The front seven should be especially strong. I’d even go as far as saying that the Defensive line will be in the top 5 in all of the league.
The way the defense benefits from running the ball is simple. The more often you run the ball effectively, the more time you chew off of the clock. In turn, you are giving the defense more time to rest and get ready for their next series on the field. I believe that the Charger defense will be forcing a lot of three and outs and the offense will have many opportunities to put points up on the board.
Due to the lack of depth, it is crucial to keep the team as well rested and fresh as possible.
Let us hope and pray that the defense, as well as the rest of the team, can stay healthy!
The Bottom Line
The health of the team, or lack thereof, is extremely frightening right now. When Corey Liuget went down against the Bears there was an obvious drop off in performance defensively. That is with the loss of just one player. I don’t even want to think about what the Offensive line would look like if it were to suffer an injury. It would not be pretty.
Running the ball, in my opinion, is the best way for the Chargers to stay in games. I don’t even want to say this out loud, but Ryan Mathews has looked rejuvenated during the first two preseason games. He looks like the running back that I hoped the team had drafted in 2010. But he still has some things to work on as well. And he must stay healthy.
The Charger Running Backs should figure to rotate and operate as a backfield by committee. That method is completely fine with me as it should help keep fresh legs on the field at all times. The battles behind Mathews at the RB2 and RB3 spots are very intriguing as we’ve seen some decent play from multiple youngsters in Fozzy Whittaker, Edwin Baker and Michael Hill. I expect the wily veteran, Ronnie Brown, to make the roster due to his reliability in pass protection and also his receiving skills out of the backfield.
I must admit that I am very skeptical that this team is capable of finishing above .500. Feel free to doubt my fandom because I have not chosen the Bolts to win the Super bowl in 2013. There are still a lot of holes and Tom Telesco has quite the mess to clean up to field a quality roster. But I firmly believe that making this offense a “run first to set up the pass” system will pay dividends in 2013.
In what is another blow to an already banged up San Diego Charger team, Steve Williams has a torn pectoral muscle and is expected to be out for the rest of the 2013 season. Williams, a speedy Cornerback out of Cal, was playing respectfully as a rookie at the Nickel CB spot and on the outside as well.
Chargers CB Steve Williams tore his pectoral muscle during Thursday’s game. Fifth-round pick expected to miss season.
— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 17, 2013
The Chargers have depth issues all over the roster at various positions. The secondary is no exception. The team is still ironing out who will start where minus the outside corner spots being manned by Derek Cox and Shareece Wright.
During the Chicago game, former New Orleans Saint, Johnny Patrick, suffered an injury as well. Rumors have been that it was either a jaw injury and/or concussion that was suffered by Patrick.
The injury bug has seemed to turn to more of a legion of bugs casting a dark cloud over Chargers Park.
Four turnovers in the first half? Please say it ain’t so!
The Chargers lost their second preseason game. Ok, so what. I can hear the collective “here we go again” among bandwagon Charger fans. Is that a loud squeak I hear from the bandwagon getting lighter?!
Good. Jump off and don’t jump back on! Weed out the part-time Charger fans. We know who you are. You’re the ones that start talking crap about everyone on the team and how the Chargers are going to suck this year, after only the second preseason game.
Wow. How can you call yourself a fan if you don’t know a damn thing about why there is a preseason?
Preseason, exhibition season whatever you want to call it, for all intents and purposes, is evaluation season. Period.
Marc Trestman was asked yesterday how he thought his team was progressing so far. He said he didn’t know because their weaknesses haven’t been identified yet. As a coach, I think I would want to find out my team’s weaknesses and areas that needed work as soon as possible, wouldn’t you? Don’t get me wrong, the Bears looked fairly dominant over the Chargers, sad to say. I’m hoping and praying that we don’t look as bad during the regular season. There were some bright spots but I’ll leave that for other writers do cover, if they haven’t already.
Well, buck up little Charger campers. I’m here to tell you some good news.
An online 9 year study has shown that teams with only 2 preseason wins did quite well during the regular season. With teams that had only 2 preseason wins, in 86 cases, 32 teams had a 10+ season win record. Comparably, teams that had won all 4 preseason games, only 27 had won 9 or more games during the regular season.
Just a little tidbit of information I thought I would pass along.
Better late than never. Madden fans everywhere, myself included, have been clamoring for the release of the player ratings for this year’s version of Madden. Below you will see the San Diego offensive players and their ratings.
Needless to say, Donnie Moore and company are not expecting much from the Charger offense in 2013. Here’s to hoping that a ratings adjustment is earned by that side of the ball once the season gets underway.
It has been said that the defensive player ratings will be released during the first part of next week. I am interested to see what the ratings are of guys like Donald Butler, Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget. All three are well known to Charger fans. But I’m not so sure that the rest of the NFL is paying much attention these up-and-coming defenders for the Bolts.
This chart was found on OperationSports.com. They are great about providing top-of-the-line information on gaming.
No insult intended to my Charger Nation brethren, but nobody half-way sober would have projected our Chargers to be pertinent this season. They are rebuilding and with all the holes in the roster that Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy inherited, it’s going to take a couple offseasons to fix.
What this preseason has shown us so far is that Mike McCoy’s work is indeed far from complete. Physical and mental lapses are to be expected in the preseason. There are aspects, however, to be concerned about. The OL was manhandled under the physical Chicago DLine. Jeromey “The Turnstile” Clary and Max Starks both jumped out to me as completely out classed. Philip Rivers has to learn to hold onto the football, even when he’s blindsided like he was today.
There were some bright spots too. Ryan Mathews seemed to run with authority and a sense of purpose. The no-huddle, overall, didn’t look too bad. After all, it’s the time for veterans to shake the game-rust off, and for the kids, especially College Free Agents to prove they belong on the 53-man roster.
In the words that vilified Chargers PR Director, Bill Johnston last season, it’s time to take a chill pill. Really, it is. This is only week two of the preseason. We’re seeing guys in roles we won’t see them in come September. We’re also seeing guys who will be flipping burgers come September.
Remember that our beloved Chargers are rebuilding from the destruction wrought by A.J. Smith and Norv Turner and it’s going to take time. They will be back, just not this year.
Editor’s Note: I had just recently titled an article similar to what Mike had chosen for this one. I changed it to power tools. Why, you ask? Because I think it’s funny.
It’s easy to go straight to negative town after last night’s game, but let’s all take a deep breath and remember it’s PRE-SEASON. Sure, this is when things are fine tuned and tested out for the regular season, but let’s not get too high or low on performances from week to week. That being said, let’s examine what we saw last night. It’s not all doom and gloom, there were some bright spots last night (Mathews, Fluker run blocking, Green, Whitehurst, Mike Willie, backup OLine, Frank Beltre had some good playsetc.)
Key positions to watch tonight:
Left Tackle – King Dunlap seemed to really solidify his hold on the starter spot. Max Starks looked pretty bad on that sack/fumble and it wasn’t against a Julius Peppers. Starks is much more used to a mobile Ben Roethlisberger and Rivers is definitely not that. Big adjustment there for the LT. Interesting that Dunlap blocked for Vick and looks to be more suited for a pocket passer.
Safety – This one may go on into the season as Brandon Taylor gets healthier.
2nd string O-Line – A better performance this week that saw Rich Ohrnberger taking snaps at center and guard with Molk rotating at guard/center as well.
Special Teams – It was mentioned by Trent Dilfer that Mike McCoy wasn’t going to risk players by having them play special teams in the preseason. So let’s just assume he’s throwing rookies and young guys out there to see if anyone rises to the top. Will be tough to find in the game tape. Keenan Allen with a fumble, Richard Goodman with a near turnover in the endzone and Jahleel Addae missed a block that led to the blocked punt. They also gave up big returns on both kickoffs and punts including a 100 yard return right after the Chargers pulled closer. A bit incomplete until we see starters there, but this also speaks to depth and the need to coach the young players up.
Wide Receiver – Zero catches until the second quarter. Mike Willie was a bright spot and even Robert Meachem caught a pass against 3rd stringers when he was wide open.
Coaching and GM
- Mike McCoy was praised for his adjustments from Orton to Tebow. Without his top two WR’s, what adjustments are made with this shorter group of receivers. Still incomplete. The running game was strong but the pass protection wasn’t good and didn’t allow Rivers to get into a groove.
- Depth was a big question mark after the first team came out last week. Seems the camp performances didn’t translate to the field. Look for the second and third units to be shifted around from last week. Almost a reverse from last week, where the backups performed better than the starters.
- The first unit was impressive last week, getting off the field twice against a potent Seahawks offense. Can they repeat that success? Corey Liuget is the key to this defense. With him on the field that front was dominant. As soon as he left, the game changed.
- Bront Bird (starting for Te’o) got some starts last year towards the end of the season, can he show he’s an improved player? An ok performance. Got blocked on the big run by Forte, but it was also away from him.
- Wright looked solid last week, especially against the run. Cox had a breakup, but wasn’t looking for the ball and was playing the man. Need these guys to continue to take steps forward. Wright looked good again. He was knocked down on the big run by Forte but recovered to actually make the tackle. Coverage on the Marshall touchdown was almost as good as it could be (without breaking up the pass)
- Gilchrist, let’s see what you got Nothing too special about it although no big mistakes either. Got caught up in the box on the big run and stuck behind Larry English which prevented him from going with the play, but again the run was away from him.
- Not one turnover in the game last week. That has to change. Hello, Donald Butler. A great pick on a bad throw by Cutler. Also liked the forced fumble on special teams.
- Great pressure last week by the front, with a less mobile quarterback this week, can we see a sack or two? Ask and you shall receive. Two sacks on the first series for the Bears. That defensive line hinges on the health of Liuget.
- Couple of miscommunications last week, can they clean that up? For the most part, nothing that stood out as a MAJOR miscommunication, but that long run wasn’t good.
- Two words: Vincent Brown Was more excited to see him on the field and get a catch. It’s been almost a year since he played a game.
- Check downs – Rivers threw a few of them last week and he’s got the ultimate check down in Danny Woodhead this week. Woodhead didn’t play this week, sounds like he will next week.
- Keenan Allen is getting the chance to prove he belongs again. The rookie looked good again (minus the muffed punt). The catch that wasn’t because of a questionable no call. I’ve watched it over and over and can understand the non-call, but I also thought the defender made a play on the ball very early (ball was almost 10 yards away when he made his move to cut in)
- Left tackle should see some rotations for Starks and Dunlap. Who has the better night? Starks looked awful on that sack. Dunlap did his job, so I think this job is pretty much his.
- 12 snaps last week and a good pocket. I don’t expect perfection again, but hope to see at least a drive or two with good protection. Well this was the exact opposite from last week. The protection was inconsistent and sacks were given up by Fluker, Clary and Starks. Finally provided a good pocket for Whitehurst, but that was against the Bears backups. Need more consistency. Maybe now that the decision should be made on Dunlap, that will help. Man can Fluker run block. On one run he moved his man all the way across the field and on the touchdown run by Fozzy he blocked two guys. Really good.
- Ryan Mathews looked good. Need to keep it going. Zone blocking seems to suit him. One of the other bright spots in the game. He ran hard, finished his runs and held onto the ball. He looks comfortable and fast.
- Can the offense establish a rhythm early and even score points on the first drive? Same as last week. Absolutely no rhythm. Out of sink and too much pressure to get into a rhythm.
- Can Rivers keep a clean sheet (last year in week 1 he had an interception and a fumble)? Well, had both last night. But with only 2.7 seconds (according to Darren Smith on Twitter) I challenge anyone (including Trent Dilfer) to hang onto that ball 9 times out of 10. I mentioned the interception already, Allen was tripped up with the ball about 10 yards away from him.
- Ladarius Green had a TD last week, can he make it 2 for 2. He made it 2 for 2 and was a yard away from having 3 touchdowns in 2 weeks. At times his routes are very reminiscent of Gates, but let’s not get crazy and say he’s the second coming just yet. He finished with 5 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
- Dan DePalma had a great showing last week. With another solid performance, he may be pushing for a roster spot. Another solid performance by DePalma but not as flashy. Had 2 catches for 27 yards, and one that setup a touchdown. However, Mike Willie (a favorite of BoltBlitz readers) was the star with 3 catches and 2 touchdowns.
- Robert Meachem – it seems all he’s needed to do is bounce back in his time in San Diego. Time may be running out with another poor performance. He had 1 catch for 40 yards and it was against probably the 3rd string for the Bears. He was also wide open after the DB looked like he tripped. But, did his job on the one reception. Still on the bubble.
- Second string O-Line – I expect some different combinations as Troutman and Molk struggled big time. Does Colin Baxter get a chance with the 2’s? Molk and Ohrnberger swapped center/guard duties on the 2nd and 3rd string. Schilling got a lot of time as well. Dunlap also played later into the game with the 2’s. Troutman may be in trouble as Ohrnberger and Molk at C/G proved to be a good combo all night. Much more consistency on the 2nd and 3rd line.
- Gave up a sizeable punt return last week, need to bring more speed and sure tackling across the board. I’ll reference this again that Dilfer noted during his interview with McCoy that he wouldn’t risk injuries by putting his week 1 starters on special teams in preseason. Time will tell if this approach is smart, but the performance last night was abysmal at best. Bears kickoff returners (Ford, Golden and Hester) averaged 53, 22 and 45 yards respectively.
- Looking for stability and consistency from this unit. Lack of stability last night. Turnovers, bad coverage and the only positive was a forced fumble.
- Who starts on kickoff coverage, this could indicate which players are on the bubble for the roster. Addae who is pushing for a roster spot, whiffed on a block that led to the blocked punt. Backup ILB DJ Smith had the forced fumble.
Based on this week, we have a lot more to watch next week. See you then!
Game 2. Here we go! We should see a bit more game planning tonight now that the players had a little bit of tape to watch on the 2013 Bears after their preseason opener. More story lines developing this week as we head towards some critical roster decisions.
Key positions to watch tonight:
2nd string O-Line
Coaching and GM
- Mike McCoy was praised for his adjustments from Orton to Tebow. Without his top two WR’s, what adjustments are made with this shorter group of receivers.
- Depth was a big question mark after the first team came out last week. Seems the camp performances didn’t translate to the field. Look for the second and third units to be shifted around from last week.
- The first unit was impressive last week, getting off the field twice against a potent Seahawks offense. Can they repeat that success?
- Bront Bird (starting for Te’o) got some starts last year towards the end of the season, can he show he’s an improved player?
- Wright looked solid last week, especially against the run. Cox had a breakup, but wasn’t looking for the ball and was playing the man. Need these guys to continue to take steps forward.
- Gilchrist, let’s see what you got
- Not one turnover in the game last week. That has to change.
- Great pressure last week by the front, with a less mobile quarterback this week, can we see a sack or two?
- Couple of miscommunications last week, can they clean that up?
- Two words: Vincent Brown
- Check downs – Rivers threw a few of them last week and he’s got the ultimate check down in Danny Woodhead this week.
- Keenan Allen is getting the chance to prove he belongs again.
- Left tackle should see some rotations for Starks and Dunlap. Who has the better night?
- 12 snaps last week and a good pocket. I don’t expect perfection again, but hope to see at least a drive or two with good protection.
- Ryan Mathews looked good. Need to keep it going. Zone blocking seems to suit him.
- Can the offense establish a rhythm early and even score points on the first drive? Same as last week.
- Can Rivers keep a clean sheet (last year in week 1 he had an interception and a fumble)?
- Ladarius Green had a TD last week, can he make it 2 for 2.
- Dan DePalma had a great showing last week. With another solid performance, he may be pushing for a roster spot.
- Robert Meachem – it seems all he’s needed to do is bounce back in his time in San Diego. Time may be running out with another poor performance.
- Second string O-Line – I expect some different combinations as Troutman and Molk struggled big time. Does Colin Baxter get a chance with the 2’s?
- Gave up a sizeable punt return last week, need to bring more speed and sure tackling across the board.
- Looking for stability and consistency from this unit.
- Who starts on kickoff coverage, this could indicate which players are on the bubble for the roster.
Look forward to grading the players and the facets of the game on Friday!
Even as an eternal optimist, it’s not always easy to stay positive. But all faith in the Bolts, and I’m bought into the message that McCoy will focus on what his players do best. Malcom Floyd is a good dude and while he doesn’t have the comparable stats, I’ve always thought his grace and leaping ability was much like a Bambi Jr. Let’s face it, the NFL is tough enough with your best players on the field.
With Alexander gone for the year and Malcom diagnosed with a “sprain” and return date unknown, the Chargers WRs could potentially take on a very different look. So much of the Chargers recent success has featured tall wide receivers, usually in the neighborhood of 6-4 or 6-5. If Floyd misses a lot of time, out of the remaining players on the roster, the tallest receivers left would be Keenan Allen, Mike Willie and Robert Meachem, all listed at 6-2.
Even with this injury, Meachem is fighting for a roster spot. Go watch the pick that Whitehurst threw his way. You’ll see a receiver who starts to come back for the ball and then simply tries to shield the defender from the ball. You can even see his body positioning like he was sitting in a chair waiting for the ball. But I digress.
Now that leaves the following receivers and heights for the remaining receivers on the team:
5-10 – Eddie Royal and Deon Butler
5-11 – Vincent Brown, Dan DePalma and Luke Tasker
6-0 – Richard Goodman
6-2 – Allen, Willie and Meachem
With the talent remaining on this team (Gates, Phillips, Green at TE and Woodhead, Mathews and Brown at RB) there are plenty of guys to pick up receptions. We’ve seen some creative bunch formations already (with Royal, Phillips and McClain against the Seahawks) that could help create space for these playmakers. But the Chargers will still need the deep threat to truly keep those Safeties from coming up. Looking forward to seeing how the Chargers adapt their game plan should Floyd miss any major time.
Thanks for reading.
UPDATE: Michael Gehlken, beat writer for the SDUT, has since tweeted out that the team is calling it a knee “strain.”