Monthly Archives: September 2013
It’s quite a fickle world we live in. It almost seems that play to play this team is either playoff bound or headed for the first pick in the 2014 draft. But after two years of good play (but not up to his standards) #17 has his swagger back.
All offseason we heard “Philip Rivers needs to be fixed.” Now 4 games is a small sample size. But let’s look at the numbers. Through the first 4 games, Rivers has completed 74% of his passes and he’s averaging 8.4 yards per throw. There’s only one player who is playing more out of his mind than Rivers and that’s Manning. But people expect Manning to be elite, most thought Rivers was flat-out done and broken.
Credit can be given to the new coaching staff and the great play calling of Coach Whisenhunt. It’s been a lot of taking what the defense gives you and taking shots when they are there (the Gates TD pass was a perfect example of that). Most importantly, Rivers is confident and the coaches have focused on getting him in a rhythm early in the game.
So sure, you can say that Rivers needed to be “fixed” but maybe more of the issue was play calling and how the previous coaches were forcing the ball down the field when they shouldn’t have.
Not only is Rivers off to the best start of his career, but he’s the 3rd quarterback in Chargers history to throw 200 touchdowns. Let’s stop the madness of saying Rivers needs to be fixed or we need to find another franchise quarterback. Even after he throws a pick 6 (off a tipped pass). Franchise QBs don’t grow on trees; if they did, every team would have one. Clearly, #17 didn’t need to be fixed. Perhaps it was coaching all along.
In a tweet from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, the Chargers will most likely be without 3 starters on the Offensive line for the game against the Cowboys. See the tweet below.
Three starting OL — Dunlap (concussion), Clary (clavicle) & Rinehart (foot) — expected to sit for Chargers vs DAL (2nd in NFL w/ 13 sacks)
— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) September 28, 2013
Had the team been going into the game with it’s starters it still would have had it’s work cut out for them. Dallas switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense under new Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin. Expect the Cowboys to test the Offensive line with a lot of pressure.
This news obviously does not bode well for Philip Rivers. Look for the Chargers to attempt to lean on the running game and it’s safe to assume getting the ball out of Rivers’ hands quickly will continue to be focused on this Sunday.
In a move reported via Marty Caswell, the Chargers have released Fozzy Whittaker and moved OL Nick Becton up from the practice squad. Although Whittaker has had little impact in the running game, he has been the starter at Kick Returner for the Bolts. This most likely means that either Eddie Royal or Keenan Allen will see duties returning kicks.
Also worth noting, as mentioned in the tweet below, this does not bode well for the health of King Dunlap.
Chargers have signed OT Nick Becton off practice squad & released Fozzy Whittaker. Might indicate status of King Dunlap for Sunday
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) September 28, 2013
The Chargers are banged up at a lot of positions and are having to improvise a bit. As if the team didn’t already have their work cut out for them versus the Cowboys on Sunday. Though Dunlap’s status has been up in the air, I was holding out hope for a return in what is a big game despite it only being week 4. The difference between being 1-3 and 2-2 is much bigger than the record would indicate.
I have been off the Ryan Mathews train for the last two seasons at least. Mathews history with the Chargers has been one steeped in injuries, fumbles and terrible numbers during the times he is healthy enough to see the actual field. The old regime made him seem like the next big thing when they traded up to the twelfth spot in the draft to get him. They traded up from the 28th spot in the draft to exchange places with Miami. We know how that deal has gone so far. And let’s see, in the 16 spots that passed between 12 and 28, DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15), S Earl Thomas (14), C Maurkice Pouncey (18), WR Demaryius Thomas (22), and WR Dez Bryant (24) all could have been had if the Chargers has stayed put.
As for running backs, in the second round Dexter McCluster, Ben Tate and Toby Gerhart were still available but wait…the Chargers included their second round pick in the package to trade up to get Mathews. Also plucked during that second round were names like Rob Gronkowski, Sergio Kindle, Daryl Washington. Oh yeah, the Chargers still had Darren Sproles on the roster at the time. Buyer’s remorse anyone?
This offseason when the new regime arrived, they took a look at Mathews and decided to give him one more chance. He is still a young 26 and the incumbent. New head coach Mike McCoy decided he will be a featured cog in his revamped offense. Mathews is supposedly in great health and he played great in preseason. For the first time since his drafting, I was excited to see if Mathews had turned the corner and we were going to see the dynamic runner AJ Smith thought he had drafted in 2010.
Then the season started. Mathews first touch of the ball against Houston in the season opener on Monday Night Football came on a 14 yard lob from Philip Rivers for a touchdown. Mathews showed the same straight-forward style he showed in the preseason only this time he got nowhere. Mathews had 13 carries for 33 yards and mysteriously disappeared for a quarter and a half stretch during the game. In the second game against Philadelphia, Mathews fumbled in the red zone, giving the ball to the Eagles. Mathews again disappeared for a large part of the game afterward. Mathews did have 16 carries for 73 yards, a quarter of that production coming from one 20-yard run. Last week against Tennessee, Mathews had 16 carries for 58 yards.
It took three games for me to fall, no, JUMP back off the Mathews’ bandwagon.
I’m done with Ryan Mathews.
So apparently is Mike McCoy. Mathews has not shown up on the injury report so why has he disappeared during long stretches during games? The feature back doesn’t watch from the sidelines for over a quarter if he’s trusted to carry the load. McCoy is doing what he said he would and giving Mathews plenty of touches but aside from that first pass of the season, McCoy’s faith has yielded unfavorable results. The team is suffering because of their lack of a running game.
If this continues, the Chargers number of consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance could extend to four. The only positive to come from that is Ryan Mathews will no longer be around to steal money from the organization. In his short career Mathews has a 1:1 touchdown to fumble ratio (14 tds, 13 fumbles) and has missed 20% of his games due to injury.
It is time to call an end to the Ryan Mathews experiment. The Browns shipped their 2012 top pick Trent Richardson to Indianapolis last week for a first round draft pick. In addition to offensive line depth, running back is going to be a need area to fill now. GM Telesco will have to be aggressive and bring in a solid back who can stay on the field, keep the ball secure and get good positive yardage.
T.J. Yeldon anyone?
Mathews reputation preceeds him so who knows if anyone would do Telesco the honor of taking him off the Chargers hand, ANY trade will do. The sooner the bust is gone, the better. Yes, I know the season is only three games old but like a good referee, I’m calling this fight. His body of work during his pro career supports the argument. How many more 15 carry, 50 yard games do you need to see to know this is NOT WORKING?? I’ll take any trade for Mathews and feel like we won the day. ANY trade! I have ideas…
5. Mathews for a free pizza at the Q. It will only be four slices because Mathews can never make it through a season whole but we’ll take it!
4. Mathews for a season free of Chargers blackouts.
3. Mathews for a new stadium.
2. Four words: Annie Heilbrunn Swimsuit Calendar.
1. Mathews for Tebow! As a running back only. At least Tebow gained positive yards and doesn’t fumble. There, I said it. Satan is ice skating right now.
If nothing else, I’m all about solutions. I have no optimism Mathews finds his groove but I do still have faith in the Chargers, which is all that matters. I think it’s time to start the #FozzyWhittakerforstarter movement in San Diego. What do you think Bolt Nation?
The Greg One
The negativity surrounding Ryan Mathews’ is as thick as it has ever been. Although his contract is not up until the end of the 2014 season, fans are calling for something to be done to remove him from the Charger roster.
If the team was to make a move to send Mathews away, a trade seems like the best option. Quite honestly, many fans would prefer to jettison the 26-year-old Running Back by flat-out releasing him. Obviously, there would be salary cap implications if the team were to release the former first round draft pick out of Fresno State. I don not believe the team would even consider this as an option in 2013. Next year it could be a different story if the beleaguered back doesn’t find a way to turn his career a round in a hurry.
For the right rate of return, I am in favor of trading Mathews. What I would like in return is much higher than what Senior Writer Greg Williams is asking for in a trade of Mathews. You will see this in his article later this morning. Williams suggests a trade for something that would make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proud, among other items.
As I like to do with all topics involving your San Diego Chargers, I want to get your input and see what you have to say. As listed in the title, this is a poll and you know the question. Place your vote and then leave a comment below in the comment section to let us know why you voted the way that you did.
I am looking forward to receiving your opinions regarding the future of Mathews with the Bolts.
Thanks a lot for reading and voting.
Sunday’s heartbreaking loss in the last-minute to the Titans made me so sick, I’m just getting around to grading the Chargers against my keys to victory:
1) Front 7 needs to keep CJ2K in check. In this pass happy early 2013, Chris Johnson averaged 83 yards per game and ranks #6 in the league. Put 8 in the box and make Jake Locker (only 136 yards per game) beat you. Pray a lot with our pass defense. Time for all good Catholics to light tons of candles!
Grade: C Defense kept CJ2K to right around his season average and prevented the talented running back from hitting any home runs. However, the grade slips because they gave up 68 yards to Jake Locker on five carries, including letting him break off a 39 yard scamper.
2) Defensive Line has to apply pressure when Locker does throw. Part of the defensive woes plaguing the Bolts is that they have only produced three sacks and one takeaway in two games.
Grade: F Outside of two sacks for 17 yards, lack of pressure on Locker allowed him to shred the Bolts’ secondary for 282 yards, almost 150 yards more than their season average. They also failed to contain Locker, letting him break contain for 68 yards on five attempts. Locker had way too much time to survey the field, enabling him to take advantage of a poor Charger secondary.
3) If you’re going to make Locker beat you, the secondary has to cover better than they have so far. John Pagano has to protect the secondary with pressure on Locker. So far, playing zone doesn’t seem to help the secondary either.
Grade: F- ‘nuff said. Defense allowed six third down conversions out of 14 third down plays and batted one for two on fourth down. Tennessee went 95 yards in barely a minute to edge out a victory against the good guys.
4) Block, block, block on offense. The Titans have recorded seven sacks in two games. When he throws, Rivers is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly. Going no huddle and varying how much play clock is used before snapping the ball should keep the Tennessee defense off balance.
Grade B: This is a generous grade considering the patchwork line that had to play Sunday. The longest run broken was 11 yards. Hardly stellar. Running back committee gained only 102 yards. Philip Rivers was only sacked twice, so the line did hold up better than expected.
5) Ryan Mathews has to run well and often against the league’s #21 rated run defense and he has to hold that ball like it’s his only worldly possession. The red zone fumble against Philadelphia didn’t influence the outcome of the game, but his and Gates’ fumbles sure made the game closer than it needed to be. Mister Mathews has to realize he’s a marked man and act like it.
Grade C: Mathews was a no show again on Sunday, running for 58 yards on 16 carries, but he didn’t fumble either, so that’s a plus. The running star was Danny Woodhead with 31 yards on only five carries, but he did turn the ball over.
The Chargers still haven’t shaken the ghost of Norv Turner, finding creative ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The secondary was awful against a pedestrian quarterback. Lack of a pass rush makes this secondary look even worse. Philip and Ken Wisenhunt did not use the game clock as an asset the way they did against the Eagles. The Titans won the time of possession 31:38 to 28:22, largely due to the Bolts’ failure to convert on third down (three of nine). This is going to be critical going forward for the Chargers to win ball games.
Three weeks into the young season and I’m extremely impressed with the Mike McCoy rejuvenated Chargers’ offense. Philip Rivers has positioned himself once again as a top-tier quarterback in this league with his 116.2 QB rating. Rivers has led the offense to averaging 26 points a game in the last 3 outings, while throwing for 8 TD’s, 798 yards with only 1 interception. The running back by committee has been effective, but not spectacular, as the three-headed RB’s, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown, have done a capable job of providing the needed balance to Rivers’ impressive aerial attack.
The problem focuses directly on the Chargers Defense. Once believed to be the strength of the team, this has become their true Achilles heel. The defensive collapse reared its ugly head in all three games this year. The 28-7 lead against the Texans in week one became a distant memory in the 4th quarter of the game, as the Texans used a no huddle/quick huddle approach to quicken the game, driving up and down the field and easily scoring much-needed points. The Rivers’ pick-6 to Brian Cushing didn’t help this already weakened defense that wasn’t able to thwart the Matt Schaub-led offense to a game ending field goal.
This trend was prevalent in the week-2 Eagles game, as Michael Vick exploded on the weak secondary and threw for 428 yards, with 2 TD via the air and 1 on the ground. Shareece Wright was burned consistently by Desean Jackson, as the Bolts were fortunate that Vick misplaced a deep pass to his explosive receiver that should have been another easy TD for Jackson.
The third week tested the Chargers defense yet again, as Titans QB Jake Locker had never rallied for a 4th quarter win in the NFL. That trend was snapped as Locker led a 94-yard drive with a little over 2 minutes left on the clock, and snapped the back of the Chargers with a game winning 34-yard TD pass to rookie-Justin Hunter with 21 seconds remaining.
In all three games the Chargers offense was in control and had dictated a strong pace, including time of possession. The Defensive front, led by Dwight Freeney and Cory Liuget has got to bring the much-needed heat in order to rush the passer. The Bolts secondary has been nicked up with injuries to Shareece Wright and has left them exposed at crucial times. The linebacking corp gets Donald Butler back on the field this week, as well as the debut of high-profile rookie linebacker Manti Te’o. The Defense needs to pick it up and make an impact. It’s up to this Chargers Defense to change these last-minute/second close losses, to wins for the Bolts.
Going into the 2013 season, the Chargers made a lot of changes all over the organization from the front office to the field. The additions of Danny Woodhead and Fozzy Whittaker might have led some to believe the backfield in San Diego received a facelift. While taking a closer look, there are the obvious returns of both Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown.
Many fans were excited about the free agent signing of Danny Woodhead. The interest of people was certainly peaked as Fozzy was able to make the 53 man roster. The level of excitement surrounding the re-signing of Ronnie Brown did not even reach a dull roar. I was one of the very, very few fans to state that retaining Brown should have been in the cards. And then there is Ryan Mathews….
The opinions on Mathews range all over the board. Yet, that range usually consists of varying levels of negativity. People are able to recognize the physical abilities of the former Fresno State Bulldog. That being said, he still has yet to put it all together.
When looking at the 2013 San Diego backfield, the plays are trending toward a new face receiving the bulk of the time on the field. Take a look at the plays per Running Back below.
Danny Woodhead 79 plays
Ryan Mathews 66 plays
Ronnie Brown 53 plays
As you can see from the numbers, despite all 3 players having completely different styles, the numbers aren’t incredibly far apart. It is also obvious that Woodhead seems to be the most reliable of the backs in the eyes of the coaching staff. Old man Ronnie Brown’s numbers prove that his spot on the team is not only welcome, but necessary. Mathews does seem to receive a high majority of the carries on running downs, but when it comes to crunch time and plays in which reliability is a must, Mathews is passed over for Woodhead and Brown.
I am interested to see if the gap between Woodhead and the other two main RBs continues to increase. The team seems to really like what Danny brings to the table. Another thing to keep an eye on is how much Whittaker is integrated into the mix. Though he is seeing time as the primary Kick Returner, he has not been called on to carry the ball often.
Quite honestly, I couldn’t care less about who is toting the rock for San Diego. I just want the guy they put out there to be the best man for the play and the situation. If the Chargers agree with that theory, then we could perhaps be seeing this running back by committee approach for the duration of the 2013 season.
For the Charger fans that tend to wear their heart on their sleeves and jump to conclusions, this is mainly for you. Since, in your minds, we have already been eliminated from playoff contention, have gone 1-15, and need to fire everyone, I have a couple of bright spots for you to look forward to. Especially on Sunday.
Barring any setbacks, we could finally see our defensive unit in its entirety, step on the field for the first time this regular season on Sunday. Both inside LBs Manti Te’o (foot) and Donald Butler (groin) were full participants in practice on Wednesday in preparation for Sundays contest against Dallas. Should both linebackers play this week the only defensive personnel with a question mark is CB Shareece Wright who is currently nursing a hamstring injury and did not practice Wednesday.
Another thing to look for is Philip Rivers’ continued excellence. Rivers, while only 14th in passing yards, has been efficient with the ball, throwing 8 TDs which is tied for second with Aaron Rodgers. He also has just one interception through three weeks (knock on wood). His completion percentage (70%, 3rd), passer rating (116.2, 2nd), and his yards per attempt (7.98, 8th), are all top 10 statistics among QBs. Seeing how Philip continues is another exciting thing to watch for.
The season is far from over, and whether we are playing for a playoff berth or a draft pick, every game has something to be excited for.
As announced by multiple sources, Manti Te’o was a full participant in practice today for the first time since August 8th. The initial injury was stated to be a sprain and he was said to be day-to-day.
Well, it is now the 25th of September and he is just now practicing without limitations, so to speak.
Manti’s only NFL experience came in the team’s first preseason game against the Seahawks. Te’o was on the field for 9 plays and then the second team unit came into the contest.
His full participation does lead one to believe that he will play in his first NFL regular season this Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys travel to San Diego. Due to all of the missed practice time, it’s hard to say how much he’ll play and if he’ll have much of an impact. It’s worth noting that the Charger defense was torn up by the Titans offense in week 3. The defense made Jake Locker look phenomenal. Still a bit sick over that game but I’m done whining about it.
I am very interested to see what he can do. The knocks on Te’o include his inability to shed blocks and he also drops his head when attempting to make tackles. Doing the latter can allow for tackles to be missed and that will surely be the case at the NFL level if he continues to do so.
It also looks like the team will be getting Donald Butler back on the field which is huge. Butler was sorely missed in last week’s loss to Tennessee. The fact that Butler will be on the field will definitely benefit Te’o.
As I mentioned above, it’s hard to say how much of an impact Te’o will have on the field. But I know that the spotlight will be on number 50 when he is out there.