Monthly Archives: January 2014
Last Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop lined up to kick a 41-yard field goal that would give the Chiefs a victory and simultaneously eliminate the Chargers from the playoffs. After a wild game and a great second half effort from the Chargers, all hope was about to go down the drain. Again. Another year, no playoffs. Same old Chargers, a day late and a dollar short. The ball was snapped, the kick went up, then the improbable happened.
As we all know by now, the Chargers won the game in overtime and got the last AFC golden ticket into the playoffs. After the game, attention was called to a missed penalty on the fateful field goal attempt. In short, the Chargers lined up seven players to the left side of the formation when NFL rules state that no more than six players are allowed to be on any one side of the formation.
Had the referees caught the misalignment, Succop would’ve had a rekick from five yards closer. The result had no impact on the Chiefs, they had already locked in their seed for the playoffs and were playing the game with reserves. Fans in Pittsburgh were upset because the no-call eliminated them from the playoffs. The Steelers would have got in if the Chargers lost.
All long suffering Chargers fans know that these are the types of mental errors that have cost the Chargers dearly in the past. The Chargers have been adept at ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Bad penalties, bad clock management and untimely injuries have derailed past Chargers teams destined for greatness. Non calls like this one don’t go the Chargers way. Ever.
That game, that no-call, that missed kick could signal a shedding of the ‘same old Chargers’ to the Chargers of this year and beyond. That play was fate finally smiling on the Chargers. That game is one more degree of separation between the Norv/AJ era and the Telesco/McCoy era. To that end, my best example of a similar moment in football history:
The Tuck Rule Game
In the Tuck Rule game pitting New England vs. Oakland in the 2001-02 playoffs, Tom Brady began to throw, pulled the ball back down and had the ball knocked out by the Raiders Charles Woodson. The Raiders recovered and the game would have been over. The referees reviewed the play and overturned the call, ruling it an incomplete forward pass. The Patriots won the game and two games later won the Super Bowl.
That call changed the fortunes of both franchises. The Raiders have not had a winning season since the 2002 playoffs and the team on the fortunate side of the call, New England, has had ten wins or more every season since the Tuck Rule game.
The great Missed Call game of 2013 could wind up being one of those seminal moments in Chargers history. The Chargers have bounced back from their first losing season in a decade and made the playoffs as soon as new management was put in place. The new regime has found talent and a system that maximizes the abilities of its franchise quarterback and numerous offensive weapons.
The Chargers enter the postseason on the second longest win streak of any team in the playoffs. This team is finding ways to win and coming together as a team. This playoff run, however long or short it is, will change the locker room culture. Very few remain from the yearly playoff runs during the Ladainian Tomlinson era. The playoffs will galvanize the Chargers and with Telesco and McCoy at the controls, the team will only get better. A long run as playoff entrants await. The winds of change are blowing in San Diego.
And for once, the Chargers have a reason to thank the refs.
Now that the regular season dust has settled, the playoff pictures have been etched in stone. We now know who made the playoffs and who didn’t. The matchups seem to look good across the board. But there is something that stands out to me, even at first glance of the teams that have made the postseason dance.
The AFC West, once dubbed by many pundits as the AFC Worst, is sending multiple teams to the playoffs. Well how about them apples? What do ya know?
For those of you that live under a rock, the AFC playoffs will feature three teams from the AFC West division. The Oakland Raiders are the only AFC West team that won’t be playing football beyond the regular season. ( That was fun to write )
Although there are no locks in the NFL, it was darn near certain that Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos would be making another playoff appearance. The addition of Wes Welker, and the emergence of tight end Julius Thomas, made the Denver offense a serious monster to be reckoned with.
When you look at Kansas City, it was hard to say what the 2013 season would look like for them. The Chiefs sent 6 players to the 2012 Pro bowl. That just so happens to be three times as many wins, two, as they had during the season. The Chiefs then bring in Andy Reid to take over the reigns and, as importantly, added quarterback Alex Smith. Kansas City started off this year 9-0 and have one of the best defenses in all of football.
Looking at the Chargers, you saw a rookie GM, a rookie Head Coach and a roster that had far more question marks than any fan would like. In Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy, the Chargers forced a much-needed infusion of youth at two of the most important spots in an NFL organization. In three coaching moves, the Bolts hired Ken Whisenhunt, Joe D’Alessandris and Frank Reich as the Offensive coordinator, Offensive line coach and Quarterback coach respectively. What a difference they have all made in San Diego. Going into this season the belief by many was that the defense would be the strength of this ball club. Turns out, that could be further from the truth. That being said, the Chargers fought their way to 9-7 and gave the AFC West division its third team in the playoffs.
Then there’s the Raiders. Da Raiduhs… (Chris Berman voice ). What a dumpster fire/hot mess/dirty baby’s diaper covered in indian food. They stink. BUT, I actually like what Reggie McKenzie has done in Oakland. He’s gotten rid of a lot of the absurdly high-priced contracts on that roster. He knew what he was getting into when he took the job. Despite having a long way to go, I actually believe that the Raiders are on the right track to becoming competitive in the league.
The fact that the AFC West has three representatives in the postseason is great for a division that has been mocked for the last few years. This is not to say that the division will repeat such a feat, but I expect the level of competition in this division to ramp up even further. For Charger fans, let us hope that we continue to improve at a high rate so that we can be the one team that can forge ahead in what should be an ultra-competitive division.
Peyton can’t play forever and I’m not sold on Alex Smith as a perennial, solid performer. The Raiders need time. I am overly excited about the second season of the Telesco and McCoy connection. With a future that bright, all fans might want to consider wearing shades.
In an effort to deal with covering the playoffs, Super bowl and the offseason, I am looking to ramp up the efforts here at BoltBlitz.com. I want to add at least 10 quality writers and/or podcast personalities to our already solid staff here at the site.
We were fortunate enough to just add Ron Rogers, @CoachRRRjr from Twitter, to the writing team here. I am looking for more writers like him, Justin Holmerud, Matt Stanley, Greg Williams, Mike Pisciotta and Mari Rivers.
Heck, if Jarvis remembered to write I would have included him on that list too. The bottom line is that the more quality writers you have, the more quality you’re providing the fans regardless of their individual productivity. I wish nothing more – Charger fans – than for BoltBlitz to be your site for everything Chargers.
That being said, we know we have a lot of work to do. I genuinely hope that a good amount of you reading this have the itch to write or contribute. It’s because of people in the comment section like Lee and Churchill that this site is as successful as it is at this time. Let’s all work together to make it even better!
If you are interested in writing about the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos or even the Oakland Raiders, do not be shy to contact me regarding a writing position here with the site. We are looking to expand into the rest of the AFC West. It should be a fun time here on the site with all four of the AFC West teams being represented.
To apply or submit a piece, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to know in advance what both your strengths and weaknesses are with your writing. Perhaps you might be better suited as an on-air personality? But I won’t know that until you inquire about the openings.
I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you. Stay cool and rep the Bolts to the fullest all day and every day!
Last season, Tom Telesco took the reins of an Indianapolis Colts franchise that had finished last in the league in 2011. Telesco was named Vice President of Football Operations in 2012. Telesco used his newfound power to overhaul the Colts roster. The Colts had gone 2-14 in 2011. Telesco dismantled the team, jettisoning long standing players such as Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark and Dwight Freeney. That year, Peyton Manning was also allowed to leave after missing the season with a neck injury followed by multiple surgeries.
By the time the 2012 season rolled around, there were 36 new faces on the roster. Telesco learned from one of the master executives in NFL history in longtime Colts General Manager Bill Polian. Telesco was able to be in on the scouting and player analysis aspect in the Colts war room, having input on what players to bring in. Coincidentally, his first season was also Manning’s first season in Indianapolis.
As a result of Telesco’s overhaul, the 2012 edition of the Colts led by top draft pick quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went 11-5 and into the playoffs. The Colts won their division again in 2013 and are prime for a long run as mainstays on the playoff landscape. Telesco’s eye for bringing in fresh talent took the Colts from worst to first in the AFC South. The Chargers noticed and in the 2013 offseason signed Telesco to become the new General Manager of the San Diego Chargers.
Right away, Telesco used the same blueprint he used in Indianapolis. Longtime Chargers were seen out the door. Among them, Louis Vasquez, Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, Antonio Garay, Takeo Spikes and Antwan Barnes were among many to find themselves exiled from Chargers Park. In their place, Telesco filled their slots with young, mostly unproven role players who were capable of playing multiple positions. Players like Thomas Keiser, Sean Lissemore, Chad Rinehart, Rich Orhnberger, Derek Cox and Dunlap are all Telesco signings who have had great impact in their first season on the team.
The draft got the Chargers off and running at the 2013 NFL Draft with Telesco at the controls. The first round pick, DJ Fluker, has been a stabilizing force at right tackle. When left tackle King Dunlap missed games with a concussion, Fluker moved to the left side of the line and played great there as well. In the second round, Telesco moved up to select Mantei Teo out of Notre Dame and got California wide receiver Keenan Allen in the third round.
Telesco was hailed for the picks. All were seen as first round talents. Teo unexpectedly dropped into the second round on the heels of the fake girlfriend scandal. Allen’s stock dropped because he participated in the NFL draft combine injured. Teo’s play has gotten better as the season wears on after missing almost all preseason and a quarter of the regular season with a foot injury. Allen is the odds on favorite for Offensive Rookie Of The Year after being pressed into service following an injury to Malcolm Floyd. Sixth round pick Tourek Williams has has substantial playing time in the wake of numerous injuries on the defensive line and has played above expectations.
Telesco also spearheaded the search for a new head coach, nabbing the hottest name on the market in Denver’s Mike McCoy. McCoy’s reputation with quarterbacks is well known, as all he has coached have had career seasons under his guidance.
The Chargers have missed the playoffs three years straight. Last season they had their first losing season since 2003, finishing 7-9. On the way out the door former coach Norv Turner was quoted as saying the Chargers are a few years from being a playoff team. Telesco’s vision and eye for talent has again gotten the Chargers back into the playoffs after only one season. The Chargers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in a thriller at home 27-24 to claim the last playoff spot in the AFC.
Telesco’s magic has worked again. One season on the job, he has taken a team with a losing record and given them the personnel that got them into the playoffs the very next season. Similar to the Colts situation, the Chargers are being restocked with younger, faster players and a solid young core to build around with Fluker, Allen and Teo as the cornerstones of the new Telesco/McCoy era.
The Chargers will have cap flexibility this offseason, unlike the dire financial straits they found themselves in last offseason. Telesco reworked contracts and used the limited funds available to sign the likes of Cox, Freeney, Johnny Patrick and Danny Woodhead among others. This offseason, the Chargers have cap flexibility. The Chargers faithful finally have reason to believe with Telesco making deals and picking winners on draft day that this team is finally ready to take the next step to being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Telesco magic is working.
The Greg One
As the Chargers prepare for a chilly playoff matchup with the Bengals this Sunday, it behooves us all to take a gander back at what transpired between these teams a month ago in San Diego. Though the weather will be immensely different than the first meeting, the players and coaches remain the same. To what extent the offensive game plans for each team change due to the sloppy weather forecast remains to be seen, but these are the PLAYOFFS…both teams will look to their “money” players regardless.
The biggest stat that jumps out at me from the first meeting is the way each team achieved their first downs. The Bolts made a total of 19 first downs: 13 through the air, 5 on the ground and 1 due to a penalty. Conversely, the Bengals achieved their 19 first downs primarily on the ground. Cincinnati racked up 13 first downs by rushing the ball while attaining 6 by way of the pass. The Chargers cannot allow the Bengals to dictate tempo by allowing BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard to consistently move the chains this Sunday. To win defensively, we must stuff the run and put Andy Dalton into known passing situations. By doing so, the Bolts can send additional pass rushers. Our cornerbacks will have a tough time keeping up with Bengal wideouts A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins, so not allowing Dalton time to sit comfortably in the pocket is paramount to achieving more 3-and-outs.
Nearly all of the other pertinent stats from the first meeting were identical. If our offense can maintain balance, keep feeding Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead the ball and control the clock with quick high-percentage passes, the Chargers have an excellent chance of moving on to the next round of the playoffs. These two teams match up very evenly and should provide for a very exciting, down to the wire finish. What a way to start off 2014!
In the words of Philip Rivers himself…”Keep believing!”