Monthly Archives: November 2013

Coming into this year, I don’t think I was alone in thinking that the defense would be the strength of this team.  Rivers was coming off a couple of bad years and there seemed to be a lot of unknown around the offense.  It’s not as if the defense hasn’t been good in certain games.  I mean, only giving up 28 points to the Broncos is somewhat impressive given the year they are having.  Some blame Pagano while other’s blame the players.  But let’s look at the players on this defense a bit more and some of the challenges they’ve faced.

New Starters

  • Cam Thomas and Kendall Reyes both have put in snaps but they are both now starting for the first time for a whole season
  • Shareece Wright probably would’ve benefited from more playing time last year if it wasn’t for that ankle injury in week 1

New Positions

  • Marcus Gilchrist played safety at Clemson but was always thought to be more of a corner

New Players

  • Manti Te’o may or may not be getting better when you watch him play but he’s still a rookie
  • Derek Cox – I don’t think I need to say much here…but this was almost as bad as the Meachem signing just with a slightly better contract
  • Every other cornerback.  Let’s be honest, if you had Richard Marshall on this team during training camp you probably are Doc Brown and have a DeLorean

Injuries

  • Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney are bad enough but throw in Donald Butler, Jarret Johnson, Wright and Te’o missing camp it’s been a tough go.  That’s not even mentioning Brandon Taylor not being on the field.  With him at safety you could move Gilchrist back to corner and some of the issues may be fixed.

Now I’m not making excuses for these guys, but I definitely see a lot of new players and a lot of moving parts coming in and out.  But with injuries like this the only thing you can do is play hard.  What we saw from Weddle who is the captain on this defense against Denver was not good.  I’m not in the team meetings but I hope someone called that effort out because the captain should set the tone for this defense.

It’s pretty clear that the secondary will need to be addressed next year.  But I for one was surprised that the defense wasn’t the strength I thought it would be for 2013.  There’s still some games left, time to see if they can bounce back.

Brees

To say that the Chargers have underutilized Ryan Mathews this season is somewhat of an understatement.  But, that is only my opinion.  Right?

Or is it?

Two weeks ago he only received seven carries.  Six of the aforementioned runs were in the first half of play.  In Sunday’s loss to Denver, Mathews was called upon 14 times to tote the rock.  Still not enough.  But am I alone in this thinking as well?

After having a 39 yard run called back due to a holding call on John Phillips, Mathews still seemed to run with the vigor and power of a determined back  when called upon.  He is working on developing a stiff-arm that could eventually rival some of the greats.  That is if he continues to put in the work to hone that certain part of his craft.  This leads me to the next part of this piece.

In past seasons the work ethic of Mathews has been questioned.  And, perhaps, rightfully so.  It is known by the masses that he has failed at least one offseason conditioning test.  I recall a mention/rumor of him failing a second during his time with the Bolts.  I can’t fully commit to that being a fact, although I feel as though I remember that being reported.

But enough of that negative hype.  This part of the post is supposed to be focused on the positive.  Specifically the positive yardage that could be gained by increasing the touches of the former Fresno State Bulldog.  Seau1

Though my frustration with Mathews in the open field has yet to receive the necessary “adjustments,” he has done a few things that have shown me that he is improved in more aspects of his game than I expected during the 2013 campaign.

Mathews looks to be a rejuvenated, motivated back that is ready to churn out yards at a game-changing pace.  He runs hard and with authority.  More impressive is the fact that he, at times, has exercised the patience to find holes and blow them open.  His trouble making the last man miss is still a high priority on the “Mathews must improve list,” but he has been improving in other areas, nonetheless.

Knowing that Ryan is currently under contract until the end of the 2014 season, it is worth speculating if he will be a Charger the following year.  Furthermore, if the new offensive regime is not fully committed to him, as it may seem during this year, how much will the running back command on the free agent market?  What scares me, in all honesty, is that the team may even decide to get rid of him prior to the start of the 2014 season.

I must admit that I have been back and forth on my support of Mathews.  My feeling at this point is if you are truly trying to evaluate his worth, then why not run him into the ground?  Not literally run him into the ground, but why not find a way to get him 25 touches a game?

As Charger fans, we have watched the likes of Drew Brees and Darren Sproles go on to have tremendous success with the New Orleans Saints.  Both have set NFL records and won the Superbowl after leaving San Diego.

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We all remember watching Rodney Harrison unceremoniously ousted from the Bolts only to be signed by the New England Patriots.  He won Superbowl Championships in both of his first two seasons with New England in 2003 and 2004.  He was named first team All-Pro in ’03 and 2nd team All-Pro in ’04.  He would play in a third Superbowl in 2007 with the Pats, but would go on to lose to the underdog New York Giants.  That losing team included another former Charger.  In fact, everyone’s favorite Charger….. Junior Seau. Though he was not the same player that he was in his younger years, Seau managed 3.5 sacks and 3 interceptions during the 2007 regular season which ended with a loss in his quest for the Lombardi trophy.

Heck, you can even go back to Lance Alworth.  In 1971, Alworth’s first season as a Dallas Cowboy, despite finishing below 500 yards receiving, the Cowboys would win Superbowl VI.

I am sure that I am leaving out a few other big names that went on to have great success in the NFL after departing the San Diego SUper Chargers.  These men are the ones that stick out in my mind.  I could have even brought up Wes Welker but he was hardly in America’s finest city long enough to see the ocean.  That does make him a former Charger.

But I digress.

The question remains the same.  Will Ryan Mathews be the next Charger to move on and find success?  The Mathews’ situation wreaks of one that could be very similar to those of the aforementioned players above.  He has all of the talent in the world.  He also has a set of limitations that could lead one to understand why he has not been used more often.  But does he have what it takes, when provided with the proper coaching, to help be the missing piece for a team in need of a talented running back?

My hope is that we won’t have to see that happen for another team.  My hope is that a light-switch will click for both him and the Charger coaching staff.  But most of you know my theory about hoping in one hand and “expletive-ing” in the other.  We all know which hand will fill up first.

 

Thanks a lot for reading.

 

Booga Peters

 

 

 

 

 

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Here we are again. Another season, another Larry English injury. The difference this time is I actually feel bad for the guy. He was having his best season as a Charger, this is the last year of his contract, and most importantly, with all the other injuries to our OLB’s we needed the body.

With English heading to IR the Chargers needed to bring in another OLB. They decided to bring in a player very familiar to me. I got my start with sports blogging almost two years ago heading into the 2012 NFL Draft. The Chargers needed, among many other positions, an OLB who could rush the passer. I started looking at later round pass rushers and found a very productive OLB from Temple University named Adrian Robinson Jr.

Adrian wound up being my first ever interview of a player. He came across as a serious and hard working young man who loves the game of football and will work his tail off to make the most of every opportunity he earns.

In college he was extremely productive. He collected 156 tackles including 33.5 TFL and 22.5 sacks. He snagged 2 INTs, had 6 passes defended and forced 8 fumbles, returning one of them for a TD.

He was not drafted, however he was signed quickly by the Steelers after the draft and made the team. Adrian appeared in 12 games for the Steelers, no starts, but was not able to make an impact. He was traded to the Eagles just before the season, but with limited time to prove himself was ultimately released.

Robinson was then signed by the Denver Broncos who needed an athletic LB for depth with Von Miller having been suspended for the first 6 games of this season. Robinson had very limited playing time in all of the first 6 games of the season and had 2 tackles on special teams and 1 on defense. He made the most of his limited opportunities with the Broncos. He had a total of 21 defensive snaps and came away with 2 hurries and a tackle. His best game came against the Giants when in only 8 defensive snaps he had a QB hurry and a tackle, then added a second tackle on special teams.

He isn’t going to come in and be the next Merriman (in his prime) for us. However, what he will do is come in and give us 110% on every down he plays for us and grind out some plays, think a slightly smaller but faster Thomas Keiser.

Good luck to him in his time as a Charger! If you would like to welcome him to the Bolts and wish him well you can find him on twitter @Cuatrotres

Here are his answers from the interview back in April 2012, his answer to my last question is my favorite and is the most applicable today.

@boltfanindenver – With 22.5 Sacks and 33.5 TFL during your college career, you obviously know how to get into the backfield and make plays. Do you also think you can drop back and cover a TE or RB out of the backfield if needed at OLB?

Adrian – Yes, and I’ve actually been dropping back during all of my Temple years. Playing LB is not foreign to me because my coaches have been using me at that spot from time-to-time throughout my entire college career.

@boltfanindenver – The San Diego Chargers biggest need going into the draft is pass rusher and they are rumored to be targeting one in the early rounds. Do you think they should also pick you later on? Why?

Adrian – Yes they should, and if they need pass rushers, I’m one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft.

@boltfanindenver – If the Chargers picked you, who would you be most excited to learn from on their defense? And who would you most like to test your skills against on offense?

Adrian – On defense, I would be most excited to learn from Shaun Phillips and Takeo Spikes. It’s a tough choice on offense, but I will have to go with Jared Gaither, who is a great offensive tackle.

@boltfanindenver – What was your most memorable game in college?

Adrian – There’s a lot of great games to choose from. But it has to be our game versus Navy on Halloween in 2009 during my Sophomore season. I ended that game with 2 sacks in the final series of the game, including on the very last play. I also had 6 tackles on that day.

@boltfanindenver – What would be your message to the fans of the team that takes you in the draft? To introduce yourself to fans that may not recognize you and let them know what to expect.

Adrian – I’m going to come in and be a hard worker for the coaches and the fans. I will be the best player that I can be for my new team.

 

Despite expecting only a 7-9 season from the Chargers prior to 2013, they have, at times, shown that they could possibly exceed my expectations.  That being said, a second consecutive loss stinks.  But, at least this time we faced a Denver team that no one gave us a chance to beat.  It’s not like this was a loss to the likes of the Tennessee Titans or the Oakland Raiders.

The sky is not falling.  All is not lost.  But I agree with Jim, in a sense.  After back to back losses, I just hope we can win a game.  For starters, a victory versus Miami next week would be a step in the right direction.

 

Booga

Pags

 

For the fourth time in five losses, Charger coaching decisions and play calling can be directly blamed. The Chargers lost to Denver on Sunday by a narrow eight point margin, 28-20. While there were positives to come out of this game, the hole dug in the first half proved too much for Philip Rivers and the offense to overcome.

For the first time all season, Denver was held to less than 30 points. They scored under 40 points in a game only three times before visiting the Murph. Most of the damage was inflicted in the first half, and in the opening drive of the second half. By then, John Pagano’s epiphany of pressing the Denver receivers was too late. Peyton Manning had his way with the Bolts’ defense in the first half, throwing 3 of his 4 touchdown passes. Manning threw for less than 100 yards in the second half, thanks in part to defensive adjustments.

Derek Cox was pulled again in the first quarter after whiffing in a weak attempt to knock Julius Thomas out-of-bounds on a 74 yard touchdown pass on Denver’s first possession. He was in and out of the lineup after that due to injuries. The injury bug again bit the Chargers with King Dunlap leaving the game with his third concussion of the year.

The Chargers showed they can stand toe to toe with high-powered offenses like Indianapolis and Denver, but inconsistent play and inconsistent play calling on the defensive side of the ball left the Chargers with little chance after falling behind 28-6 after the opening drive of the third quarter. The Jekyll & Hyde performance on the defensive side leave a lot of fans wondering just which squad will show up on a given Sunday.

If the Chargers are to have any kind of chance at finishing .500 or better this year, they will need both consistent play on the field, but also consistent game planning and play calling from the coaching staff. They can ill afford to lose games due to poor play calling and decision-making by Mike McCoy and his staff like they have two weeks in a row.

 

Mike Pisciotta

JJ

Here is the injury report for both teams that is posted on NFL.com.  The Broncos seem to be coming into this game relatively healthy. Peyton Manning will have all of his weapons at his disposal.  Philip Rivers looks to have his original starting five offensive line for only the third time all season.

Seeing Jarret Johnson listed as questionable is a bit worrisome.  It was reported that he aggravated his hamstring while at practice on Thursday.  The team will have Donald Butler back and that is huge when you look at the performances of the inside linebackers when he is not in the lineup.  The Chargers are going to need all hands on deck if they want to stop the potent offense of the Broncos.

 

   Denver Broncos  at  San Diego Chargers   
Name Position Injury Practice Status Game Status
DEN
Chris Kuper G Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable
Peyton Manning QB Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable
J.D. Walton C Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable
Wes Welker WR Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable
Duke Ihenacho S Ankle Limited Participation in Practice Questionable
Knowshon Moreno RB Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable
Julius Thomas TE Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable
Champ Bailey CB Foot Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Eric Decker WR Toe Full Participation in Practice Probable
Manuel Ramirez C Knee Full Participation in Practice Probable
Orlando Franklin T Ankle Full Participation in Practice Probable
Danny Trevathan LB Ribs Full Participation in Practice Probable
Joel Dreessen TE Knee Full Participation in Practice Probable
SD
Mike Remmers T Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice Out
Tourek Williams LB Thumb Full Participation in Practice Probable
Lawrence Guy DE Toe Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable
Mike Scifres P right Knee Full Participation in Practice Probable
Eddie Royal WR Toe Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable
Donald Butler LB Groin Full Participation in Practice Probable
Chad Rinehart G Toe Limited Participation in Practice Probable
Jarret Johnson LB Hamstring Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable

 

 

Booga Peters

 

 

 

Woodhead3

 

The offseason free agent acquisition of Danny Woodhead has already paid dividends through 8 games in 2013.  Not only does Woodhead have the most receptions in the NFL at the running back position, he leads the Chargers with 49 catches thus far.

 

Woodhead4

 

Although I expected Woodhead to shine for the Bolts, I imagined an offense that would focus more on Ryan Mathews.  But that’s another story for another day.  Woodhead’s contributions have been significant both in the boxscore and the gameplan.  Despite having less than 200 yards rushing (193 yards on the ground), he has 391 yards receiving.  Among those yards, Woodhead has accounted for 4 touchdowns, 3 through the air and one rushing score.

What you don’t see in the stat column is the trust that the team has in the former Chadron State player.  When it comes to clutch situations, third down, and hurry-up offense, the team turns to number 39.  He has also showed that he is solid in pass protection while in the backfield.

Having the reliable Woodhead as a safety valve for Philip Rivers is one of many contributing factors in the resurgence of the quarterback this season.  Although many people have made the mistake of comparing Danny to former Charger Darren Sproles, he does provide a similar kind of ability.

 

Woodhead1

 

Another misnomer regarding Woodhead is that he is small.  He may only stand 5’8″, but he weighs in at 200 pounds.  He has a solid, compact frame which, when coupled with an impressive leg-drive, allows for him to grind out the tough yards as well.  His height certainly makes it difficult for defenses to find him behind the offensive line.  And when he is found, getting your hands on him is another issue.  Woodhead is very quick in and out of his cuts.  He has a very decisive running style where you do not often see him hesitate in his moves.

The importance of Woodhead in this offense will definitely be shown today as the Chargers will need every advantage they can get against the Denver Broncos.  Danny is a big mismatch for the Denver linebacking corp.  A big game from Woodhead would absolutely aid in the effort to beat the favored Broncos.

It is safe to assume that the steady play of Danny Woodhead has made him the most impressive free agent signing during Tom Telesco’s rookie campaign as General Manager.  As the season progresses it appears as though the team will continue to lean on Woodhead when the going gets tough.  Considering that he is as tough as they come, I believe that Danny is, without a doubt, up for the challenge.

 

Booga Peters

 

 

Fouts

 

After reading that it was Kellen Winslow’s birthday, I began to reminisce about past Charger greats. That led me to think about who would make up my ultimate Charger dream team.

First, I’ll focus on the offense. After reading this, I hope you’ll think about your dream team and let me know where you agree and disagree.

I’m going to start in the trenches, give the love first to the least glamorous guys. For tackles, I would go with Russ Washington and Ron Mix both manned the RT spot but studs in their day protecting the likes of John Hadl and Dan Fouts. Roman Oben deserves honorable mention for his work at LT and in helping bring Marcus McNeill along. Guards are Doug Wilkerson and Kris Dielman. Wilkerson leading Chuck Muncie while running Air Coryell sweeps were a thing of beauty. Dielman was one of the nasty dudes opening holes for LaDainian Tomlinson. At center would be Don Macek, who captained the Air Coryell offensive line, followed closely by Nick Hardwick and Courtney Hall.

 

LT6

 

The skill positions are tough because there have been so many standout players in Charger history. Wide receivers have to be Lance Alworth and Charlie Joiner for pretty obvious reasons. Both rewrote the record book for their day. At TE, who else besides Kellen Winslow? Without Winslow redefining the position, we may not have the contributions of my #2 TE Antonio Gates. Running back has to be led by Tomlinson. Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln follow LT as they formed a very formidable backfield tandem in the infancy of the Bolt’s history. At QB is another no-brainer in Dan Fouts. The records he set stood for many years as he and coach Coryell were ahead of their time.

Next time, I’ll feature the defense. Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Let me know who makes up your Bolt Dream Team!

 

Mike Pisciotta

The Chargers have been a walking M.A.S.H. unit all season. Every week it seems like a player gets injured for the year or a key player won’t make it into the starting lineup. Despite Philip Rivers’ hot start, the Chargers are a pedestrian 4-4 at the halfway point. Not good. Not bad. Still in the race for a playoff spot in the AFC.

The defense has been great at times and in others, not so great. The defensive line has played well but the secondary has failed as a whole. The defense has allowed only 18 fewer points (174) than they have scored (192). The Chargers are -7 in turnover ratio meaning the defense is not forcing turnovers and the offense is giving up too many. This can’t all be put on the secondary but the secondary did fail to deny big pass plays to Houston and Tennessee, resulting in last second losses. Big pass plays were allowed to Washington on their final drive allowing the Redskins the final touchdown in overtime.  That’s three wins that should be on the Chargers ledger right now.

The Chargers don’t have a secondary that strikes fear into the heart of quarterbacks. New GM Tom Telesco has done his due diligence in addressing the short time he’s been on the scene. He brought Derek Cox from Jacksonville. He drafted Steve Williams out of Cal in the offseason who is short in stature but is a big time playmaker at the cornerback position. Williams unfortunately was lost for the season in the preseason. The cornerback play has been underwhelming. Only two cornerbacks have interceptions, Cox and Marcus Gilchrist each tied with one. The Chargers only have four interceptions for the season and two of those came from defensive linemen.

A few days ago, the San Francisco 49ers released former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The Chargers should bring in Asomugha to add some punch into the secondary. For the sake of argument, a look at both sides of the coin.

Why the Chargers shouldn’t sign Asomugha:

1. The 49ers didn’t float him as a trade possibility because they knew he had no trade value. Asomugha was third string in San Francisco, barely making the team. He was used sparingly and eventually lost his slot to an undrafted free agent. Not a good sign.

2. Asomugha is 31-years old. Thirty flies against Telesco’s pattern of adding in young, fast, hungry players. Asomugha looks to be the opposite of all three. Thirty seems to be the age a player’s skills start going downhill. Could this be the case for Asomugha? He has now been released twice since leaving Oakland as a free agent. Not traded. Released.

3. Passion. Where is Nnamdi’s passion? This man used to be the biggest name at the cornerback  position and now he is not even an afterthought. At what point does personal pride step in and help him find the drive and will to prove the doubters wrong? Asomugha has fallen off the map since his signing with Philadelphia in 2011. Asomugha had the chance to step back into the spotlight on (arguably) the best team in the league and he was released. Has the passion gone?

Why the Chargers should sign Asomugha:

1. The Chargers are still a few healthy bodies away from contending. The Chargers love to do things the hard way. What should have been a big win against Washington failed when they couldn’t get in on goal to go from the one yard line. The defense is banged up, the offense is banged up. Still, at .500 the Chargers are still in position to make a run. A player with Asomugha’s pedigree would be a great addition to a struggling secondary and probably add some energy among that unit.

2. Reputation. Asomugha was known as the best shut down cornerback in the league during his years in Oakland. Quarterbacks quickly learned not to throw to his side of the field and that ability, with Weddle manning the middle of the field and Cox on the opposite side, would  lead to more big plays. Gilchrist and Wright would be much-needed depth and a way to keep the unit fresh late in games when opponents attempt to go on late game-winning drives. Even now, there’s not a quarterback in the league who doesn’t know what Asomugha is capable of.

3. Opportunity. As I mentioned before, Asomugha was third on the depth chart in San Francisco. The Niners have the luxury of an excellent secondary which is why Asomugha was deemed expendable. In San Diego, Asomugha would be an instant starter and that opportunity to rejuvenate his career and his former status as the best cornerback in the league could see a return of the All-Pro Asomugha. The Chargers are paper thin in the secondary and as a midseason add would not cost much and would be expendable if he doesn’t perform.

Just two seasons ago, Asomugha was the biggest free agent on the market, now he can be added for almost free. Bring him in, add him for the rest of the season and see what he can do. It’s a no-lose situation for the Chargers. He either makes the secondary better or he fills in and the unit stays as they are now, not getting interceptions and giving up big chunks of yardage. What’s the worst that could happen?

What do you think Bolt Nation? Would Asomugha be a good addition?

 

Bolt Up!!

 

#TelescoMagic

 

 

The Greg One

As a fan of football, I could not be happier to be able to say that I was at the Chargers vs Redskins game this past Sunday.  As a Chargers fan, I wish it never happened.

It was a great on Sunday.  Sitting on the visitors side, I was among a surprising number of Chargers fans considering FedEx Field is cross-country from San Diego.  Most Bolts fans were residents of the metropolitan area, but I did speak with a strong number of fans who made the trip to this side of the continent.

From the shortest pick 6 you will ever see, to Keenan Allen’s late touchdown in regulation, there was nothing more I could have asked as an NFL fan attending only my second game.  Unfortunately, there was an overtime.

Just about every Charger fan shook their head with the “here we go again” attitude as Nick Novak punched in the tying field goal to send the game to extra time at 24 a piece.

The Chargers lost the coin toss, which would be a foreshadowing of the final result. Washington drove down the field and gave FB Darrel Young his third score of the game on the goal line.  Redskins fans all over the stadium celebrated and shamed all Chargers fans from the seats to the parking lot.

Loss aside, I was excited to be able to see my favorite team play in a great contest.  It was a great day overall and the Redskins fans with some sense were actually fairly pleasant to talk too until the conclusion of the game.

It is fair to say I have not attended my last Chargers game.  It is also fair to say this loss probably hurt the most seeing it first hand.

#ReadTheBlitz

Jarvis Royall

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