Monthly Archives: September 2013
Everyone out there knows the drill. It’s poll time. Now that we are 3 games into the season, I figured that I would guage the “optimism” of the fans regarding the Chargers final win total.
Once you have voted, please make sure to leave a comment breaking down why you voted the way that you did.
Thanks a lot for reading and voting.
The most shocking news in the NFL last week was of the Cleveland Browns trading their 2012 first round pick in running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick in 2014. Last season Richardson amassed over 1300 yards of total offense (950 yards rushing, 3.6 yard avg, 11td’s and 51 catches for 367 yards and a touchdown in 15 games) as the Browns only offensive weapon. Every down running backs are a dying breed these days but Richardson is a stereotypical old school back. A first rounder is a high price to pay for a running back entering his sophomore season but if there would be a time to do it, now would be the time before he amasses a lot of miles on his tires and will only gets better as he learns the NFL game.
Unlike most NFL deals, the rumors never got out. No one even had an idea Richardson was a trade possibility. Why should they? The Browns used the third pick in the draft to get him! According to the execs involved, the idea and the deal was conceptualized and executed almost overnight. One team made the call, the other said yes. No bidding war. No rumor mill. No game distracting reports for weeks on end.
If a first rounder was all it took, should GM Tom Telesco have moved on that deal?
Obviously, this could have been done in the offseason. Richardson would have fit the Telesco youth movement that is underway in San Diego. Unlike Ryan Mathews, Richardson has shown his durability and the fact he was able to produce such big number on such a horrific team shows he has tons of upside. Why didn’t this deal happen?
1. Ryan Mathews. Next year Mathews will be in his contract year, meaning he should play like his life as a starting running back in this league depends on it. Telesco was not hesitant to jettison seasoned veterans upon arrival but Mathews fit the age (26) requirement Telesco prefers.
2. Preseason. Mathews did run like his hair was on fire in the preseason AND he never fumbled. Mathews looked like a changed man and the motivation of a change in team stewardship may have reinvigorated the troubled future star. The acquisition of running backs Danny Woodhead and Fozzy Whitaker also made the position look deeper than it actually is.
3. Vote of confidence. New head coach Mike McCoy gave Mathews the vote of confidence, emphasizing Mathews will play a huge part in the team’s success this season. Despite his history, he was getting one more chance from all the powers that be which is why all the attention went to (correctly) stabilizing the offensive line and adding depth to the defense amidst a string of ill-timed injuries to key players. Woodhead was the acknowledgement of adding punch to the running game and it was on to more pressing matters.
Would a first rounder in 2014 have been too high a price to pay for a player the caliber of Trent Richardson? Here’s two ways to look at it.
If the answer is Yes. The Chargers have more pressing needs , primarily fixing the offensive line and stocking it with more blue chip players who can control the line and grow together in the process. D.J. Fluker is a good start. Another top shelf tackle next season and some interior line help will provide the wall Philip Rivers needs to show off his pro bowl form. In the end, that is the most important thing. After that, stocking the secondary with ball hawking playmakers has to be the next order of business.
If the answer is NO. If Ryan Mathews fails to impress and completes his descent into draft bust then that means two things. The Chargers will have trouble scoring because of an ineffective ground game. Teams will play with extra defensive backs to take away Antonio Gates and bracket the best wide receiver at the time, be it Royal, Brown or other. The pressure will be back on Philip Rivers and he will try to do too much like he did last season. The Chargers will trade or cut Mathews and need to replace him with a running back that can actually stay on the field and help move the chains in the process.
Unproven commodities like Fozzy Whittaker wait in the wings but do you want to pin your hopes on an unknown quantity who is only now getting his NFL feet wet? That has happened before, however. Twice. Their names were Darren Sproles and Michael Turner. The Chargers would have to address the need with fresh legs through the draft. Richardson would have been a great fit in this offense. Not only has he shown he can take an NFL pounding, he was able to succeed on a terrible team, run for almost four yards a carry, catch passes out of the backfield and prove himself to be a back defensive coordinators have to game plan for. I really doubt DC’s are doing much planning for Ryan Mathews other than to tell their players to aim for his collarbones. Richardson is a true feature back who strikes fear in defenses and the Chargers haven’t had that since Ladainian Tomlinson left town.
It’s easy to look back now and say the Chargers should have been the team to make that move. However, Telesco was hired to make moves and that is what he has done. The new coaching staff came in, looked at Mathews and his situation knowing this is his make or break year and rolled the dice to keep him and let him show he deserves to continue to wear lightning bolts. The season is only three games old and there is plenty of time to turn things around. That being said…
I miss Trent Richardson already.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Would you have given up a first rounder in 2014 to get Trent Richardson?
The Greg One
Although the team came away with a loss, Philip Rivers had another steady effort against the Titans on Sunday. He finished the game completing 20 out of 24 passes for 184 yards while throwing for one score.
The most common misconception about the Chargers is that the former NC State signal caller needed to be “fixed.” Some critics even became worried after watching him in just one practice (Fan Fest) this offseason.
Not a game but a practice.
During each and every guest appearance I have done on numerous radio and internet shows in the last two years, I learned to wait patiently for my opportunity to defend Rivers and his playing ability. I always tried my best to be convincing, but it was clear that not everyone was buying it.
Despite some of his poor decisions and throws being impossible to justify, it seemed obvious to me that what was really ailing Rivers was terrible Offensive line play and a lack of playmakers. More the former than the latter. The guy had to have had zero confidence in the big fellas upfront providing him with the necessary time to complete passes in the Norv Turner-led offense.
Well, as we all know, Turner is gone.
I saw some of what a few highly respected fans saw – and commented about – of Rivers in the preseason. His timing was a bit off and as opposed to throwing receivers open, he was waiting for them to break open. Doing this can cause the ball to be late and even result in turnovers. The guy was learning a new system with what was primarily a new cast of characters. It should be expected that the rapport and chemistry would need to be built over time.
The jury is still out on Philip for so many. Some have already made their minds up that he is garbage and will never be able to bring the Chargers back to the playoffs. There are a select few, like myself, that respect both his ability and his leadership. I am not trying to say that he is an elite QB. That elite term provides a mess of epic proportions anyway. I find him to be a solid answer at the position for the near future. I think that next year’s draft class would be a good time to draft the eventual replacement for Rivers. The situation that he faced as a young player in the league seems fitting for San Diego, in my opinion. Select a player and groom him for 3 or 4 years.
His fiery personality is something that is respected by some and misconstrued by many. People went berserk when Rivers was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in Sunday’s game. Of course, I hated that the team would be penalized for his outburst. But my immediate thought was here come all the angry villagers that don’t need a reason to bash the 10th year leader of the Bolts. I am not, by any means, condoning his actions that caused the flag. I just feel that he is unfairly labeled by some as a whiner. That play certainly fueled the fire for the naysayers. But it’s not like he is drawing flags on a weekly basis. I can’t recall, off that top of my head, him ever being flagged for his behavior on the field during a game. Perhaps I am just forgetting an instance or two.
We are now only 3 games into a long season. There is obviously time for things to change in a hurry as far as his performance is concerned. It would take only one poor game for those that are just now beginning to support him to jump ship again.
But, for the time being, take a look at his numbers below. When doing so, keep in mind that he lost his number one Wide Receiver, Danario Alexander, for the year. Also, I’ll remind you that Malcom Floyd has missed a game and a half thus far. Floyd will be missing more time and my only wish is that he is not rushed back under any circumstances.
Other factors to take a look at include the defense is not to be counted on and the running game is a hot mess. Against the Titans on Sunday, the Chargers had their first rushing touchdown since the New Orleans game in 2012. I am working on an article regarding the Charger defense and will be posting it in the next few days.
Thanks a lot for reading.
ESPN the Magazine just came out with their annual team rankings. The Chargers came in at 115th out of 122 teams. The only NFL teams ranked below the Chargers are the Raiders (116) and the New York Jets (121). Norv Turner and the Browns came in at 109, of course that was before the Trent Richardson trade. Last year, the Bolts came in ranked 95th.
The teams best ranking came in 2008 which shouldn’t surprise anyone, as they came in ranked 34th. There are several criteria that go into determining the teams rankings. There are 8 different categories each franchise is ranked on to help determine the overall ranking. The categories the Chargers most likely suffered are:
Bang for the buck – How well a team translates revenue from fans into wins
Coaching – How strong of a leader they show on the field
Title track – Has the team won any championships or are they expected to in the near future
Stadium Experience – The quality of the stadium and the overall experience
While the 2013 rankings are posted on their site yet, you can review the Chargers previous rankings from 2003 – 2012. I personally think the Chargers are ranked too low, but it’s hard to rank a team with a first year head coach. Let us know in the comments if you agree with the rankings.
Thanks for reading!
This weekend the Chargers make their 2nd cross country trip in as many weeks, this time taking on the 1-1 Tennessee Titans. Tennessee has been rather unimpressive on both sides of the ball in both of their games so far this season but still are a 1.5 point favorite against the 1-1 Chargers.
The Titans had a boring 16-9 victory over the Steelers in week 1. They followed that up by dropping an overtime game against the Houston Texans.
The Texans game should never have gone to overtime. The Titans punted a whopping 8 times, including 6 3-and-0uts. If not for an untimely penalty on JJ Watt the Titans 1st drive would have been a 7th 3-and-out, instead it became an 80 yard touchdown producing drive.
So let’s take a look at why the Chargers will win.
Reason number 1:
The reason the Titans have been able to stay close despite their pathetic offensive production is their 3rd down defense. Through two games the Titans are only allowing a 33.33% conversion rate on 3rd down and have forced an amazing 14 punts. That is tied for 3rd in the league with Denver. The only teams that have forced more punts are Kansas City, who’s numbers are inflated having played the Jaguars week 1 when they forced 11, and New England who have forced 18. New England, much like the Titans, have had disappointing offensive production so far this season and 3rd down defense has kept it close enough for them to win.
Answer: San Diego, however, is converting 59% (17/29) of their 3rd downs and have only punted 7 times through 2 games. If the Chargers can stay above 50% on 3rd down, the Titans just will not be able to keep up.
Reason number 2:
The weakest link in the Chargers armor so far this season has been their pass defense. Through 2 games the Chargers have allowed a league worst 740 passing yards and 5 passing touchdowns.
Answer: Jake Locker. The Titans QB has passed for 273 yards, lowest among QB’s that have started both games this season, and only 2 touchdowns. Locker has also only completed 56% of his passes this season. The one bright spot for Locker this season is that he has thrown 0 interceptions through two games after averaging 1 per start last season. As long as the Chargers can apply a little pressure and the defensive backs play a DECENT game, Locker shouldn’t be a threat to our biggest weakness.
Reason number 3:
Familiarity. The Chargers played the Titans in week 2 of last season and destroyed the Titans 38-10. They held Locker to 50% completions, under 200 yards passing, and forced an interception. The Bolts defense also kept star RB Chris Johnson bottled up giving up only 17 yards on 8 carries. I’m sure Pagano, Wiz, and McCoy pulled out the tape of last years game and have some great notes. The Chargers also have plenty of familiarity with Jackie Battle who played for the Bolts last year and played for the Chiefs before that.
If all 3 of these situations play out as I talked about above, the Chargers will return home next week with a 2-1 record to face the inconsistent Dallas Cowboys. Even if Fluker can’t play and the Chargers are forced to start Harris at right tackle, between multiple TE sets and with how good some of our RB’s are at picking up blocks, I think Rivers will have enough time to get the ball out. Rivers will not get sacked more than twice and the Chargers win by 10.
As always you can follow me on twitter @boltfanindenver
What happens when the league’s worst passing offense plays host to the league’s worst passing defense? Clearly, something has to give, right? Or does it?
Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans features one of the lesser producing offenses (ranked 31 out of 32 teams in the pass game after two weeks and the 11th most efficient ground attack) against one of the league’s most generous defenses (dead last against the pass and 22nd against the run). Expect this game to come down to the trenches. Don’t look for another 400 yard performance from Philip Rivers against the Titans #12 rated pass defense. Look instead for Ryan Mathews and Tennessee’s Chris Johnson to get a lot of work this week.
This game looks pretty evenly matched. Even Vegas thinks so with the good guys opening as a two point underdog (only because it’s another trip to the East). Here are my 5 keys to this week’s game:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
In addition, this game will be a huge test of Philip Rivers’ resurgence. Tennessee has three interceptions through the first two games. They also average 20 points surrendered per game, so this game will be a major challenge. If the Chargers can deliver on these five keys, I like their chances of winning their second straight road game to the Eastern Time Zone.
While it’s only been two games, there are some things we know about this team and some that still need to be determined. Let’s focus on what we know.
Philip Rivers DOESN’T need to be fixed
Outside of the second half of the 1st game, Rivers has been brilliant. His 7 touchdowns to only 1 interception is the best start of the season in his career. The only other year where he came close was 2008 (6 TDs to 1 INT). While the Eagles defense is suspect, the Texans defense is highly regarded (currently ranked 5th in passing defense).
The No Huddle Offense is Working
Rivers success is in part because he’s only been sacked 3 times in 2 games. But it’s also giving the offense mismatches and tiring out the defense. We are seeing a lot of great formations and different plays off the same formations. Really liked the quick pass to Royal with the Dunlap clear out block to score against Philly. Also, the Ryan Mathews wheel route on the 1st play against the Texans was brilliant since they’d run that with Woodhead in the preseason.
The Defense Hasn’t Been the Strength
I think everyone was worried more about the offense and protecting Rivers for the 2013 season. With Butler, Liuget and Weddle anchoring the defense, we thought they would start fast. It’s been the opposite and we need them to start making plays. Getting off the field on 3rd down is critical. They did a good job of that against the Eagles holding them to 5 of 11. Through two games, they are ranked 31st in the league.
Offensive 3rd Down Efficiency is Off the Charts
The Chargers offense is currently ranked 2nd in the league in 3rd down conversions (behind the Bengals who are playing right now). They were 10 of 15 against the Eagles and are 17 of 29 overall. Last year they were 23rd in the league at 37.8%. **UPDATE** After the Bengals game last night, the Chargers are now first in 3rd down conversions.
He only played 20 snaps in the first game partly because in the 2nd half, they couldn’t get the run game going. Then the fumble came. Much like the feeling we had after the Texans game, some things feel all too familiar. I am pulling for Mathews, and I think based on his performance in the preseason he gets a chance to prove himself. But Mike McCoy probably won’t give him many more chances to fumble inside the 5 yard line.
Two games isn’t a large enough sample size to make sweeping statements about this team. But we can look at the stats and see things I think we all know. Rivers has been really good for 97 minutes of the 120 the team has played. The defense needs to play better and when the team gets more comfortable in this offense lookout.
Thanks for reading.
Broncos starting LT Ryan Clady was injured in Sunday’s “Manning Bowl” in New York. Initial reports were a minor sprain and a 2 week out time. However, newest reports are saying that, after a more thorough inspection and diagnosis, Clady could be done for the season.
The Denver Post is reporting – click here for the DP article – that the Broncos front office staff is currently looking at their options including season ending IR.
This would be a huge blow for the Broncos. Clady is an All Pro LT and his backup, Chris Clark, has only started 6 games in his 4 year career and those starts came during the 2011 season. Peyton Manning will have significantly less time to work in the pocket with Clady not on the field.
More updates will surely surface soon.
Although it comes as no surprise, Adam Schefter has reported that it is unlikely that we’ll see Malcom Floyd play in San Diego’s upcoming game against Tennessee.
Floyd was down on the field for several minutes at Lincoln Financial field at the beginning of the third quarter. He was in the process of trying to secure a pass from Philip Rivers when he was blown up by Linebacker Demeco Ryans. Defensive back Nate Allen was in on the play as well but the shot delivered by Ryans caused the injury.
Malcom did have his head down on the play but it seemed to me as though the nature in which Ryans attempted to complete the hit could have been altered. I wondered whether or not a flag was going to be thrown for contact to the head. Noting the speed of the game and the fact that it is Ryans’ job to stop the completion, I still think he could have gone about the tackle differently. But the officials didn’t agree.
In addition to the initial reports stating that the results came back negative, Floyd is doing the right thing and seeking a second opinion per a tweet by Mike Garafolo. As you can see, Ian Rapoport added his two cents saying that the specialist, Robert Watkins, is the same guy that has worked with Rob Gronkowski.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 16, 2013
It goes without saying that we all will keep Malcom and his family in our thoughts and prayers.
I will be keeping this short and sweet. It appears as though I was wrong about the necessity to move on from Eddie Royal. After an injury-riddled, ineffective first year as a Charger in 2012, Royal has come out on fire in just two games by scoring an NFL-leading 5 touchdowns.
Who knew? Not this guy.
I have never had a problem admitting when I am wrong and it sure looks like I was wrong on this one. Although it has only been two games, his contribution in the infant stages of 2013 has been nothing short of amazing.
Considering the Charger Wide Receiving corp has taken quite a few blows, and felt another thud after the scary injury to the neck of Malcom Floyd, Royal has been a serious bright spot in what appeared to be a position of doubt.
I do not believe that anyone expects him to continue this torrid pace of racking up multiple scores each game, but I am looking forward to seeing him try. The rapport that he has with Philip Rivers is something that was missing in his playing time last season. Rivers certainly seems to trust him. If the Charger signal caller is comfortable looking to Royal to make plays, then who am I to have my doubts regarding the former 2nd round pick in the 2008 draft by the rival Denver Broncos.
Perhaps the fact that he is a former Bronco makes his early performance that much sweeter. It will be even better if he can put up these kind of numbers against his former team when the Chargers face the division-favorite Broncos.
In conclusion, I was wrong. This is not the first time and it certainly won’t be the last.