Monthly Archives: July 2014
It is that time of year again, it’s Fantasy football time! Last year, I ran a 12-team league and the number of people who wanted in was incredible. It was unfortunate, but I had to turn away over 50 people who wanted in on the league.
We are doing it again this year. The only fair way for me to run with this is to do it the same way I did last year. The first people who contact me and are able to paypal the $50.00 buy-in to me, will be included in this elite league. We had a great time last year and I hope the trash talk is even greater this year.
Prior to sending me the money, make sure that I can confirm your place in the league. Despite going into the playoffs in last year’s league in first place, I ended up losing. Some very close friends of mine, Larry and Valerie Karr, won the league.
Here is the breakdown of the winnings:
1st Place: $450.00
2nd Place: $100.00
3rd Place: $50.00
Clearly, this is a fantasy football league that truly believes in rewarding the winner. If you are interested in joining, contact me via these ways: direct message me on Twitter, @BoogaP or private message me on Facebook, Booga Peters. You can also send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will warn you that my email inbox is inundated each day with 300-500 emails each day. You have a much better chance of reaching me via Twitter or Facebook.
So, let the games begin! And just a reminder, I’ll be in the league so you better bring your A-game.
Good luck and I look forward to taking your money.
A few weeks ago newly appointed Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich announced a more attacking offensive philosophy. Big deal. All offensive coordinators say that. What he said next IS a big deal, and it has been a statement which seems to have been ignored by the rest of the league. The Chargers are going to run a no-huddle offense similar to the one Peyton Manning ran in Indianapolis during his rise to quarterbacking Godhood.
THIS. IS. HUGE.
We already know Rivers is a top-ten quarterback in the NFL, his laundry list of accolades and NFL records prove that point. What this means is Rivers will have on-the-field playcalling control. The Chargers thrived in a short pass, timing, ball-control offense that put the Chargers fifth in the league in yards per game (393) and first in time of possession (33:35). San Diego will be leaving the conventional style offense for one that is more explosive.
Who better to install this offense than Frank Reich? No one. Reich was Manning’s quarterback coach in Indianapolis. He knows the intricacies of that offense. During Peyton’s time in Indianapolis, he only missed the playoffs twice, in 1998 and 2001. The Colts averaged 11 wins a season and were at or near the top of the league in total offense annually. Reich was an assistant coach on the Colts from 2008-11. While Frank was Manning’s quarterback coach, horseface won the league MVP award in back-to-back years, 2008 and 2009. The Colts also landed in the Super Bowl in 2009, although they would lose to former Charger signal caller Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
During his playing days, Reich served as the backup to Hall of Famer Jim Kelly with the Buffalo Bills. He played in the famed K-Gun offense that would send the Bills to four straight Super Bowls. Although his starts were sporadic, when he came in the game he proved to be very capable. There’s no better evidence of this point than the 35-point second half comeback he engineered against the Houston Oilers in the 1993 playoffs. That win was key in getting the Bills to Super Bowl XXVII. That comeback is still the largest comeback in NFL history to this day.
Frank Reich knows offense. Giving the keys to these prolific offenses in a no-huddle format to Rivers will produce similar results. Manning was able to use the quick tempo to exploit matchups and take advantage of a defense that tired chasing fleet-of-foot backs and receivers for four quarters. Kelly and Manning were able to manipulate the defense by adjusting plays at the line of scrimmage without the defense being able to substitute.
Why doesn’t every team do this? Honestly, every team can’t. Only the most cerebral of quarterbacks have the ability and the personnel to be able to orchestrate such an offense. These quarterbacks have to know every single page of the playbook backwards and forwards. They have to be mentally quick enough to see and react to the defensive formations multiple times pre-snap and adjust to an advantageous play. They have to be able to process the accelerated pace for an entire game for an entire season.
We all know Philip Rivers has those qualities. With the added freedom of making his own calls, he will be even better than we’ve already seen. I have observed quite a few games last season where Rivers spotted the weak link on the defense and exploited it over and over.
In the preseason game against Arizona, he found a cornerback matchup he liked, and kept attacking that player until the Cardinals took him out of the game. Against the Chiefs, he exploited safety Eric Berry trying to cover Antonio Gates one-on-one and kept hitting Gates for completions until the Chiefs decided to take Berry off of Gates and double cover him for the rest of the game. In the playoffs against Denver, once Bronco cornerback Chris Harris was injured, Quentin Jammer took over the duty of covering Keenan Allen. Rivers attacked Bailey him away and Allen had two touchdowns in the fourth quarter after being nearly invisible for the first three quarters.
It doesn’t matter if they’re Pro Bowl players like Bailey and Berry, or a rookie corner, once Rivers sees a weakness he will attack it until the other team adjusts. With the defense being unable to substitute without sacrificing timeouts, Philip will find more flaws in the defense and the offense will look like the juggernaut we saw on the ’90’s era Bills and 2000-10 era Colts teams that dominated the AFC. Both teams were annual playoff entrants and made multiple Super Bowls. That makes me, and it should make all the Charger faithful, extremely happy.
This offense will be great for Rivers and the Chargers, and terrible for the rest of the league. Fans should not be bothered by the loss of former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to the Tennessee Titans. Rivers has been on record, via multiple media outlets, stating that he loves the fact that Reich is a former NFL quarterback and he brings an insight to the gameplan that only a former QB can. It appears as though the offense is moving full speed ahead and will continue to run a fast-paced playbook that will constantly keep opposing defenses on their toes.
Look out for the 2014 San Diego Chargers. Don’t be surprised if they play in Glendale twice this year. Is it our year? Leave me your thoughts below.
The Greg One
After finishing up his career in college as a California Golden Bear, Keenan Allen was said to be a possible first round draft selection in 2013. Many draftniks considered him to be the best wide receiver in last year’s draft class. Despite displaying many valuable traits that would translate to success in the NFL, Allen fell right into the laps of the San Diego Chargers in the third round.
It goes without saying that Keenan made his mark, even as a rookie, in 2013. Though he was frustrated by a lack of reps to begin the season – he even considered quitting football altogether – he put together an extremely solid rookie campaign. Allen finished the regular season with 71 receptions good for 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those numbers had him with an impressive 14.7 yards per catch. In his first year he managed to have five 100+ receiving yard games which tied him for the most by a rookie receiver since 1961.
Not too shabby.
The rapport that he built with quarterback Philip Rivers in such a short time certainly stood out to me. As the season continued, KA13 became a reliable weapon that Rivers would look to early and often. He became the serious threat the Bolts were in dire need of due to the losses of Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander to injuries. He did not disappoint.
Though he had a spectacular first year in San Diego, I believe he’ll have an even better season as a sophomore in the NFL.
Are my lofty expectations for Keenan Allen a mistake? Is that asking too much of a second-year wideout?
I do not believe so.
Allen has looked fantastic thus far throughout training camp. His route running is crisp and on point and he manages to snag every pass thrown in his general vicinity. Quite frankly, he has made some of the San Diego secondary look silly at times. And that group is, without a doubt, improved from last year. He is great in and out of breaks and attacks the ball at its highest point. Some of the plays he has made in the redzone during drills have me thinking that our putrid 2013 redzone proficiency – bottom half of the league – will be improved as well.
The Charger wide receiving group should help provide Keenan with the opportunity to make even more plays than he did last year. Watching Malcom Floyd on the field at training camp means that he has a true playmaker opposite him on offense. Add in guys like Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal and Ladarius Green and you have a solid stable of weapons. Not to mention, the trio of running backs consisting of Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown will give defensive coordinators nightmares leading up to games against the Bolts as they are all very capable receivers out of the backfield.
I’m not prepared to predict a 1,500 yard and 15 touchdown showing from Keenan Allen in 2014. But, I feel very comfortable saying that his numbers will be better this year than they were as a rookie. The good news is we don’t have to wait much longer to see it all come to fruition.
The San Diego Charger season is creeping up on us. Are you ready? I know I am.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Heading into the second year of the Mike McCoy era, it seems most fans and pundits don’t expect the offense to change much from year one to year two. It is impossible to predict how different the offense will be in the second year, but as the Chargers are grinding out training camp we can predict a few things. We can do this by taking a closer look at the differences between the playcallers and the changes on the roster.
While talking to Dan Sileo (Local talk show host and college teammate of Reich at Maryland) on the Mighty 1090 morning show, new offensive coordinator Frank Reich did everything he could by humbly claiming that the offense would not change much this year. What do you expect from the QB that lead the Buffalo Bills to the NFL’s largest second half comeback in history (1992 Bills wild card victory over Warren Moon’s Oilers) and refuses to take any credit?
Reich claims that the blueprint for the system was a total collaboration between all the offensive coaches. Stating that his transition will be seamless and Rivers has certainly echoed that sentiment. Pundits from the NFL Network and ESPN seem to already declared that Reich will be running a version of the Buffalo no huddle K-gun offense. This type of offense could be stretching the field with the home run plays he was known for and putting the skill position players in the best spot to accentuate their abilities.
Reich understands this offensive system as well as anyone after backing up Jim Kelly for nine years (1986–1994), one of the longest starter backup combos in the history of the league. His former Buffalo teammate, Bucky Brooks, visited the Chargers opening day of OTAs and he seemed amazed with the grasp Rivers and Company had on the no huddle offense so early in the process.
On July 25th, I attended the open training camp practice and watched the offense run the no huddle with all three Quarterbacks. Does this signal a move to no huddle like the national pundits believe?
While the system last year included some no huddle, circumstances and gameplans dictated a clock-draining, ball-hogging strategy. The Bolts often ran these plays without a huddle, but slowed down with Rivers taking time to audible at the line.
This was a reaction to the poor play on defense, especially on 3rd down and at the corner positions. McCoy couldn’t trust his defense, thus the need to control time of possession while the offense was on the field.
One major difference between last year and 2014 is the massive investment in the defense. I expect the defense to be able to create pressure with a slew of returning pass rushers and a hot new rookie in Jeremiah Attaochu. The improved secondary should provide the offense with some security. This gives Reich the ability to take a few more risks in playcalling. I think the stronger defense is likely the reason we will see no huddle more so than the presence of Frank Reich on the head set.
Mike McCoy’s philosophy is one of adapting to the players skills and the gameplan needed for which ever opponent is on the schedule. The defense has spent the offseason building off the high level of turnovers they started to create during the late season winning streak. If this high rate of turnovers continues, I believe you will see the Bolts attempt to strike fast with the no huddle and build early leads.
So, how are Whisenhunt and Reich different? We all know that Ken was calling most of the plays from the sideline. We also know Rivers was given the ability to check at the line to one of several options. Whiz did a fantastic job at the position, although many of us still have heartburn from that final yard in the Washington game. The entire BoltFam was screaming for Mathews, and the choice to not put #24 back in on third down likely cost the team a win. Not to mention a comfortable one game lead in the Wild Card race. Ultimately, that decision falls on McCoy.
Still, it is hard to be angry with Whisenhunt as the Bolts went from 31st in total offense during 2012 to 5th overall in 2013. I would argue that has as much to do with Oline coach Joe D’ as much as it did with the former offensive coordinator. Often considered a conservative playcaller, Ken actually called the first TD pass from a wide receiver in a Super bowl for the Steelers in the Q against the Seahawks. He had the ability to think outside of the box, but the system was built around Ryan Mathews, in many ways, and the running game in 2013. Short, full contact downhill runs on first and second down chipped away at yards. This gave Rivers shorter distances to achieve a first down on third down plays. It is the reason the Bolts led the NFL in 3rd down conversions. The addition of Donald Brown, who has a history with Frank Reich, also helps the Chargers continuing with the chip-away strategy.
Whisenhunt was a Tight End during his playing days, while Reich played QB. Rivers values having someone on the headset that has played the position. He has said it almost as many times as he has said, “Fight like crazy.” He values Frank’s history as a comeback artist, having engineered two of the greatest foot ball come backs in history. His comeback in college stood as the largest comeback for almost 30 years until Michigan State came back from more points down in 2006.
I think the new offensive coordinator’s personality and history cannot tell us as much as the personnel on the team. That is how McCoy thinks and plans. I read a lot about how Reich will have us using the K-gun and no huddle, but I have never heard that from anyone on the team. Magic Mike doesn’t like to provide information, he would not even confirm what time he set his alarm during an interview on day two of training camp. Sure, they practice in no huddle, but not constantly. The use of the no huddle has as much to do with what happens on defense as it does with who is talking into Rivers’ ear.
*On a side note, I got a laugh out of Peyton Manning dismissing Rivers while doing this in the postgame after the Thursday night upset – Claiming River wasn’t actually doing what Peyton does at the line. Rivers was just draining the clock. Sorry, oh Great Manning, but you are wrong.
The offense under Frank Reich could be a bit more exciting and it has been rumored that more shots will be taken down the field. But only time will tell. Are you Charger fans excited to see how this plays out? I know that I am. There is a lot to be excited about and, although we won’t see a huge difference from last year’s offense, the fact that Rivers will have even more freedom at the line of scrimmage gives all of the fans something to look forward to for the 2014 season and beyond. Stay tuned!
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David Agranoff is the Wonderland award nominated author of three published novels Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich, Hunting the Moon Tribe and The Vegan Revolution…With Zombies. You can follow him on twitter @DAgranoffauthor or look him up on Facebook. Just be ready for all kinds of horror and Science Fiction nerd talk.
Looking at what the Charger wide receiving group had to go through in 2013 due to the losses of Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd, the team has a couple of new faces making plays and impressing at Chargers Park during training camp. Those two players are Tevin Reese and Dontrelle Inman.
When comparing them physically, they couldn’t be any more different. Reese stands 5’10” and weighs 170 pounds while Inman is 6’3″ and has a 205 pound frame. One thing they certainly have in common through the first three days of training camp is that they are impressing the coaching staff and making plays.
Tevin is a burner out of Baylor that Tom Telesco selected in the seventh round of this year’s draft. His speed and quickness have both been highlighted in the first days of training camp. After dropping a couple of passes, and bobbling a few others as well, Reese has been securing the ball and catching it outside of his frame. He has made some fantastic plays thus far. He’s made a few defensive backs look silly with his ability to take the top of the defense with his blazing speed.
The rookie is also seeing a lot of time returning punts all throughout camp. You’ve also seen Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal back there in addition to Reese. I certainly don’t want to see San Diego’s number one wideout – Allen – risking injury during return duties and the team knows the importance of a healthy Royal after he missed most of last year’s practice time.
If Tevin Reese continues to make strides as both a returner and a wide receiver, the Bolts might have found a serious threat that can provide the game-changing playmaker the team has lacked since the loss of Darren Sproles.
The 25-year-old Dontrelle Inman comes to the Chargers via the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. As mentioned above, Inman has good size and he’s shown that he has very reliable hands as a receiver. Like Reese, his play has been solid and he is earning kudos from Charger head coach Mike McCoy.
Inman will have to keep working hard and find a way to contribute on special teams if he wants to carve out a spot on the 2014 Chargers. But his ability to position his body and fend off members of the secondary while getting after passes is exciting. Although his route running needs a little work – rounded off a few routes the last couple of days – he is above-average in that department. He’s made some great plays in both 7-on-7 and full team drills.
It will be a difficult path for both of the young men to make the roster this season. But if they both keep wowing the coaching staff with the same highlight plays as they have up until this point, they’ll definitely garner an extra look from McCoy and Telesco.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The roster bubble is a constantly moving boundary. What little we do know about General Manager Tom Telesco’s methodology includes his noticeably “anti-that last GM that was in San Diego” style of tinkering up until the day the season starts. Late offseason additions of players like Reggie Walker and Lawrence Guy, as they were released by their respective squads, paid huge dividends for the Bolts’ roster in 2013. Telesco likes to keep a few rotational roster spots on the back-end and wait for final cuts to come throughout the league. Cut down day can become a day for wins as well as losses for an opportunistic GM.
Getting the roster to 75 in August isn’t terribly difficult as many of the camp bodies are easy to identify and likely knew their time would be a struggle and simply a learning experience for future endeavors. Getting down to the final 53 is a bit trickier.
Looking over the current Charger roster, it’s clear that the depth is stronger than it has been in quite some time. Keeping in mind that Telesco will more than likely seek to snag a couple of strong releases from various teams in the twelfth hour, that leaves about 50 or so roster spots guaranteed. Again, looking over the current roster, this process begins to show the difficulty of some of these decisions.
Once the team is down to 53, here are some thoughts on the last five current Chargers to stay on the back-end of the roster, and the last five difficult guys that could be cut before the 2014 campaign officially begins.
Potential Last Few In:
DT Tenny Palepoi or Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe:
It’s clear that after last season John Pagano needs space eaters in the middle of his 3-4 defense. Sean Lissemore does a nice job getting pressure on passing downs, and in this pass-happy league, he was able to make a noticeable impact. What became obvious toward the end of the season, is that as winter and playoffs set in, the Chargers couldn’t stuff the run when it really counted. The addition of Ryan Carrethers shows a step in the right direction, but rotation and competition will be necessary. One of these two undrafted behemoths (6’1″ 298, 6’2″ 309 respectively) will likely find a spot on the bench and possibly on the field.
WR Dontrelle Inman:
Tevin Reese looks to be a nice surprise for a late round pick, but he’s another smaller guy in the receiving corps. The Chargers will be on the look out for affordable targets for Philip Rivers for several years to come. Vincent Brown hasn’t yet panned out, and most of the rest of the gang are average to small route runners moving the chains. Along with Malcolm Floyd (and the tight ends of course) look for the Bolts to hang on to a couple of other receivers to both fill out the roster and potentially make a special teams impact. Inman is 6’3″, making him one of the three tallest receivers on the roster. Improvement in the red zone is an offseason focus for coaches McCoy and Reich, if Inman’s hands are good enough, his size could be enough reason to keep him around.
LB Cordarro Law:
A CFL pass rush standout last year, Law looks to follow in the footsteps of Cameron Wake and make an impact in the NFL. With his skill set and experience, Law shouldn’t have a difficult time making the roster, but the position is now stacked. With Telesco guys like Tourek Williams and Reggie Walker already in the fold, Law will have to work to maintain a spot. Jarrett Johnson is on the decline, and until second round pick Jerry Attaochu or future Hall of Famer Dwight Freeney can prove accountable all season, Law should be kept on for talent sake.
CB Chris Davis:
The Chargers have a rich history of talented undrafted free agents. Davis was brought in along with many others in order to solidify a glaring area of need at cornerback. Now that Brandon Flowers has signed and Jason Verrett is cleared for practice, the depth is starting to show. Lucky for Davis, he’s known in the football world for one thing, and it happens to be another area of need for San Diego, the return game. Davis figures to be a near perfect special teamer. He’s played in plenty of big time situations, he is a stout hitter, and played starting corner at Auburn. Those skills mixed with the now fabled ability to return kicks, may land him a comfortable spot on the roster as a depth defensive back and Swiss Army knife special teams guy.
OT Nick Becton:
Another undrafted player Becton joined the Chargers out of Virginia Tech and spent 2013 on the practice squad. With Mike Harris nursing injuries, and the pure tackle position being thin, Nick could turn into a nice option for coach Joe D. At 6’6″ 323, Becton has hung around with the team long enough to say that he has something they like. Probably size and some athletic ability. King Dunlap is the only true left tackle to block the blind side from a year ago, and he certainly had his struggles with concision problems. Harris and Fluker both tried their hands on the left and both looked overmatched. Giving him more time with the line coaches this offseason, there may be a jump in production. He’s young and fits the size part well and could make his way into the future grooming role behind Dunlap.
Potential Last Few Out:
CB Marcus Cromartie:
The corner position is currently a crowded one. Aside from the clear top four, there’s Brandon Ghee and Steve Williams seeking nickel duties as well. Chris Davis may have an edge if he can be a contributor on special teams, and Crezdon Butler got to play some actual minutes last season, recording a very memorable goal line forced fumble against the Cowboys. Although talented and well liked by the team, it’ll be an uphill battle for Cromartie to make the final 53.
DT Kwame Geathers:
With his 6’6″ 335 frame and athleticism, any football fan would inherently want Kwame Geathers to work out for their team. Fact is, Geathers’ abilities never quite fit into Pagano’s scheme. Built like a young Albert Haynesworth doesn’t necessarily mean that he would have to play best as a 4-3 defensive tackle, but after seeing what he’s brought to the Chargers this far, it would appear that he may be better suited for it. The other DTs picked up this far in the Telesco era show a trend where Geathers doesn’t quite fit. Low to the ground and wide. Space eaters. Run stuffers. After drafting Ryan Carrethers out of Arkansas State and bringing in three others for a shot at the active roster, it would appear that Geathers is a man without a natural place on the line. If only he would be open to trying left tackle.
TE John Phillips:
Phillips is the perfect football player to have somewhere on your team. Well, he was. Having been injured most of last season, the mostly blocking tight end now has some competition for his spot. Veteran fullback Le’Ron McClain was let free in exchange for David Johnson, who can also be effective at tight end. Having the pleasure of choosing between Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green on any given down puts Phillips into a full-time backup role as it is. A versatile player like Johnson and some buzz around a young Michael Flacco could spell the impending end for an occasionally banged up veteran like Phillips.
RB Kerwynn Williams, Marion Grice, Branden Oliver:
One of these guys will stick, and the one that does will be well above the rest. The name of the game in this crowded backfield is versatility. Pass blocking, receiving, special teams, possibly returning, and oh yeah, running the ball. There will be a healthy competition until the last day for this fourth back roster spot, but it’ll likely go to the guy who can do the most to help the team in a variety of ways. All these guys are hard workers and show flashes, which is why I say they’ll be tougher to let go. But it looks like, in the end, Grice will likely fit the bill.
Honorable mention stiff competition:
Tourek Williams versus Thomas Keiser versus Jarrett Johnson
The team could feasibly hold all of these linebackers, as they did last year. All showed value on the field in 2013, and youth is certainly on the side of Williams and Keiser. Johnson is a valued team leader and mentor, but with Freeney healthy, Attaochu brought in, and Ingram eyeing a full season, the need for utility outside backers has hopefully gone down. Williams was drafted by Telesco which gives him a bit of an advantage, Keiser had off the field issues, and Johnson’s salary could be saved nicely. Johnson would be a surprise last out, but it could happen.
Looking over this roster, it’s difficult to want to envision releasing any further prospective Chargers. Due to Tom Telesco’s concept of how to build a roster, it must be stated that it will take quality work to stay on the back-end of this roster going into 2014. Here’s a sampling of roster bubble guys from around the league who could fit the bill on the bargain hunt:
WR Brandon Tate, Cincinnati Bengals:
Brandon has been in the league since 2009, and spent his first two years with the Patriots. He came out of North Carolina in a pair with fellow Tarheel Hakeem Nicks, although hasn’t had nearly the success. Tate has been a kick returner for the Bengals in recent years an is 6’1, 210 pounds. His experience in the league and special teams focus should net him a roster spot somewhere in the league in 2014.
WR Kenny Britt, St Louis Rams:
Britt has had a troubled NFL career after being selected in the first round of the ’09 draft by the Titans. A mix of behavior, attitude, and lack of elite play has him simply looking for a team to prove himself to these days. Britt has struggled through quarterback issues with Tennessee, and now is trying to stick with an up and down Sam Bradford. It’s possible that bringing him into a roster with a solidified quarterback and a well oiled offense could be a chance for him to finally shine. At 6’3″ 223, he has always had the physical tools.
G Cyril Richardson, Buffalo Bills:
Apparently this guy is not what he was thought to be coming out of college. Listed as one of the highest first round possibilities along the offensive line early in the draft process, he ended up being drafted in the fifth round, having been passed over by Telesco several times in an area of need. He’s big, as in huge (6’5″, 329) for a guard. If he doesn’t make the cut for some reason in Buffalo, Tom and Joe D may want to take a flier on the massive prospect.
I had the pleasure of being at the first day of Chargers training camp today. Due to the fact that there were no injuries, the only negative takeaway I have is that I am, slightly, resembling a lobster. I was offered sunscreen by my great friend, Chris Garcia ( @sportsbrain on Twitter ), yet I, regretfully, declined. I am burnt to a crisp.
But enough about me and my sunburn. There are a lot of positive takeaways from the first day of Charger training camp. One of which was getting to see Joel Price again. He runs the Chargers Twitter account – @Chargers – and you can find his personal account at @joelprice as well.
Let’s go straight to my analysis of the first day of training camp. I mean, it’s not lot the major networks are talking about it…. AT ALL!
1) Brandon Flowers is extremely aggressive. Do not let his size fool you. He was all over receivers and looked quick all practice long. He actually made me shudder on a few plays where he was right on top on Malcom Floyd. Lord knows we don’t want him to be the new Shareece Wright, in that he manages to find ways to hurt Charger players during previous training camps.
2) Donald Brown’s feet are much quicker than I expected. His ability to cut and change direction is very impressive in person. Way to go, Tom Telesco. This signing will pay dividends.
3) When watching Tevin Reese he bobbled,yet caught, and dropped, a few passes at the beginning of the day. But he finished strong by making at least three remarkable catches. There were a few other catches that were impressive as well. I am a bit concerned that he shows, at times, a propensity to not be able to secure the ball when it initially hits his hands. But his speed and quickness make him an asset to this team. Telesco made it clear that he wanted to add more speed. And he did just that with the acquisition of Reese. He made plays that other wide receivers would not be able to make.
4) Jason Verrett is great at high-pointing the ball and his instincts make you forget about his lack of height and size. Verrett is still not 100%. But watching him today makes me believe that the Chargers made an undeniably excellent choice with the 25th pick in the first round of this year’s draft. When you add in his aforementioned traits, and his quickness and speed, Jason is just what this Charger secondary needs in having a playmaker that can contribute right away.
5) These players were in on punt return duties: Tevin Reese, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal. It would appear that, considering that Reese was the first man up to receive the first punt, the team is looking long and hard at Reese as a punt return guy. I am not a fan of using Keenan Allen back there; as most of you have read via my posts on BoltBlitz.com, tweets and Facebook posts. I refuse to be able to get behind using the team’s number one wide receiver as a punt returner. I don’t like Eddie Royal back there either. We all should be on the Tevin Reese train and hoping that he continues to produce on a consistent level.
6) Melvin Ingram had to pull up often. He was on the other side of the ball and, being a veteran, he knew that getting too close to Philip Rivers was not an option. He looks fast and ready to make an impact in 2014.
7) Marion Grice, although he didn’t look overly quick, had a few runs that reminded me of some of the tape I received from Arizona State. He also made a few catches that would make some wideouts jealous. He’s got great hands. I’m excited to see what he can do.
8) Craig Watts Jr. was effective when on the field. He needs to work on his footwork a bit, which I’ve told him via text. But his play at the point of attack will, without a doubt, land him on the practice squad. Book it. I would not be surprised if he made the 53-man roster.
9) In his time with the second and third units, Alden Darby was in the right place at the right time. His coverage was tight and I look forward to his progress once he makes the squad. Yup, he will make this team.
10) Marcus Gilchrist looks bigger, and more stout this year. His muscle mass seems more defined and it looks as though he has embraced his new role as a strong safety on the Bolts. Only time will tell.
11) Keenan Allen looks determined and focused. He absorbed all comments from coaches during today’s training camp willingly. His cuts in and out of breaks were so solid. His hands continued to prove reliable and I can’t wait to see what he can do during his sophomore campaign in 2014. Not only will there not be a sophomore slump for Allen, I see him having an even better year this season.
12) Sean Lissemore looks bigger. He created a solid push. Yes, they aren’t in full pads, but I might have been too quick to judge him as a starting nose tackle in John Pagano’s defense. Although I’d still prefer him as defensive end depth, he may be a stop-gap for the time being.
13) Philip Rivers has one of the quickest releases in the NFL. Some may question his arm strength, but he gets the ball out so fast. He is an elite quarterback and those of you that do not believe in him, you should completely reassess your evaluation.
14) Brad Sorensen was out of sync and threw behind receivers often. Fans near me wanted to credit the defensive backs for making good plays. Truth be told, he just didn’t look very impressive. Sorry to all of you that think “Sorensen is the Charger quarterback of the future,” I just don’t see it.
15) The battle at strong safety is hot and heated already. Although Marcus Gilchrist saw the starting snaps with the first team, Jahleel Addae is learning Pagano’s defense at a quick pace. I can’t wait for them to put on the pads and see what he can do. My biggest concern regarding Addae during training camp? He may hurt a fellow teammate.
16) Jeromey Clary was on the side cheering on his peers due to being on the PUP list. Johnnie Troutman saw snaps with the first team. I am not sure that is conducive to success for the offensive line, nor the offense as a whole. For those of you that are not in favor of Clary making the roster, be careful what you wish for. Be very careful.
There’s my incredibly premature breakdown after the first day of training camp for your San Diego Chargers. Be sure to leave your thoughts below and let me know what you think. I am especially interested in what you saw if you were there today to enjoy the festivities.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The NFL has managed to do what I once thought was impossible. They have made football the number one story all year-long. No longer does the last snap of the year mark a mass exodus of fans to baseball, basketball, hockey, NASCAR, or any other sport (yes, even soccer). Nope, football fans now focus on the combine, OTAs, the draft, contract signings, mini-camp, injury reports, hold-outs, police blotters, and finally training camp. Yes, all year is football season and we can’t get enough!
Chargers fans have been fortunate to find many local media outlets that quickly share the news of their favorite team just moments after it happens. Websites dedicated to Chargers football (Boltblitz.com comes to mind), social media, San Diego television and print media, and even one relatively new, but wonderfully innovative and fascinating radio show (too much?) give Bolt fans almost everything they need to know about their beloved Chargers….Almost everything.
What more could fans want? National attention and respect! If you stand by the cross on Mt. Soledad, or down by the border at San Ysidro, “East coast bias” can be heard echoing throughout San Diego County. You see, the sentiment is that the national media doesn’t give the Chargers enough attention. Turn on Sports Center and you get endless stories of Rex Ryan bragging about his team, Tom Brady sporting his latest fashion risk, “Johnny Football” doing anything and everything, and all the news, signings and cuts from any team from the Atlantic to the Pacific North West. For some reason, the team from the Pacific South West only gets mentioned when major events that cannot be ignored take place.
After dwelling on this East coast bias for a number of years now, I have come to one conclusion…..GOOD! I don’t want the national media to report on the Chargers, especially during the off season. Why? Because, no news, is good news, when it comes to the national media.
Think about it. Positive, “feel good” stories don’t move the needle too much these days. National media swoops down on negative stories like vultures zeroing in on a dead rabbit on the side of the road. Here are some recent story teasers that demonstrate what I’m talking about:
– NFL suspends Ravens Rice for 2 games
– Banned Blackmon arrested again
– Source: Gordon to appeal suspension
– Ravens CB Ross tears Achilles, done for year
– Caliendo gives advice to Johnny Manziel
Now there were some positive stories too, but right off the bat, there were five stories that were either focusing on injuries, suspensions, arrests, or distractions. Who needs that kind of attention? Seems to me, since it is understood that there will be very few stories about the Chargers, there is a good chance that the vast majority of reports will be negative. Remember some of the headlines from the past?
– Chargers’ linebacker shot by off-duty cop
– Seau’s death ruled suicide
– Chargers’ Merriman succumbs to the inevitable
– Norv Turner lands job as Chargers head coach
I’ll be the first to admit that if you do a search for Chargers news, you will find some analysis, and some pieces that talk up star players. Those are normally filler stories that beat writers have to produce to keep San Diego fans from rebelling. The stories that get the most attention and the top billing are the negative ones.
On the bright side, there was a time when the Chargers did get national attention. Yes, everyone was jumping on the Chargers bandwagon. The Bolts were actually the trendy pick as preseason Super Bowl winners! It felt great! It was wonderful to see the respect that the Chargers were getting around the country. The only problem was that if we can read it, the players can read it. Overconfidence was the result of that media attention. It seemed that the Bolts thought that they would have teams lay down at their feet in total awe of their greatness. That over confidence led to two playoff losses to the Jets and another to the Patriots. The “Ferrari” crashed and burned. Now, before you jump all over me about who was in charge then and how things have changed, I do realize that Mike McCoy seems to run a tight ship and will not tolerate such behaviors. Then again, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bolts flying under the radar for a while. It’s okay to be underdogs. Let the enemy look past them and get surprised by the aerial attack led by Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen, and the “three headed monster”running attack featuring Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, and Donald Brown.
So, where does that leave the average Chargers fan? Do not worry, you don’t need the ESPN’s of the world anyway. This is the 21st Century and there are so many local outlets that all you need to know about the Chargers is readily available to you after a few keystrokes of your computer keyboard, pushing an app on your smart-phone, or tuning into AM 1700 “The Mountain” on Wednesday evenings.
So let’s try to forget that certain national media outlets seem to forget the Chargers played when they are showing highlights (unless they lose), or that there is more to this team than the occasional arrest, or injury. Let’s try to remember that the Chargers do not need national media to gain respect. They need wins to get respect. More importantly, they need a ring to gain respect. Look at the Seahawks, they won the Super Bowl and have become news worthy. That is how to gain respect and national coverage. Until the Bolts win it all, the national media can continue to forget they exist as far as I am concerned.
Enjoy the season, everyone! Hopefully, the Chargers will be the best kept secret in the National Football League from opening kickoff, until they are at the White House celebrating their Super Bowl victory!
With the first day of Training Camp in San Diego having been completed, I would like to address some competitions I find interesting that will take place as well as a few players I am looking forward to watching grow.
The biggest position battle on defense, and maybe for our entire team, is who will be placed next to Eric Weddle at strong safety. As an undrafted rookie, Jahleel Addae was more than respectable. He brought the type of aggression San Diego has been looking for since Rodney Harrison and could get from Bob Sanders. His competition is Marcus Gilchrist, who obviously has been in the league longer than Addae but does not have that much more experience at safety than Jahleel. Gilchrist was moved to safety last season to fill a hole in the defense. But as the season went on Addae was able to find himself some playing time as well. I favor Addae to win this due to him being able to better defend the run and would also give Marcus the opportunity to serve as not only a backup safety, but depth at the cornerback position which can come in handy in sub packages.
Another battle I look forward to is the WR corps, particularly the #2 receiver. Malcom Floyd was the hot topic of spring training as it is reported that he looks like his old self, he will be “duke it out” with Vincent Brown who was disappointingly quiet in a year where he was supposed to be the go to guy with Floyd and Danario Alexander out and a rookie WR as the only other viable wideout. With Keenan Allen locked in as #1 and Eddie Royal almost certainly our slot losing this battle could prove costly for one of these receivers, throw in a rising TE in Ladarius Green and I do not see many targets for the odd man out in this situation.
I, as well as most Charger fans, am always excited to see how our incoming rookies will fare in training camp and beyond, and while I am very fond to see what Jerry Attaochu can bring, I will talk about some other players that I cannot wait to see.
Manti Te’o is a guy I expect to make leaps and bounds this year as he will have the opportunity to come into OTAs healthy and no distractions. While he struggled to get on the field (whether it was from his foot sprain that kept him out from Week 2 of the preseason to week 4 of the regular season, or just his number not being called) he managed to get accustomed to the NFL game and has something to build on for this year.
Lastly, another Charger primed for production is Ladarius Green, with Antonio Gates getting up there in age, nobody can argue San Diego preparing themselves and looking for his successor and Green is the guy. He showed what he is capable of last year but I will stave off calling it breaking out because I believe that was only a sampling of the type of things he will do for us in San Diego. Green has the build of the new era of TEs such as Jordan Cameron and Jordan Reed, that combine speed and catching ability with their strength.
This all goes to say, I am ready for another Chargers Training Camp and thoroughly excited to see what player(s) develops in the process.
My first plate appearance in college was as a junior transfer during an inter-squad game. With two runners on, and a 2-1 count against me, I tattooed the slider over the left field fence. With limited playing time, due to a senior ahead of me at my position, I batted .289 with a few dingers and a good OBP. My GPA for my freshman year was a nice 3.45 and the college life seemed perfect. Then I hit the “Sophomore Slump,” and never really recovered – athletically or educationally.
When people talk about going through the slump, it can range anywhere from movies to music, and from sports to education. Some examples include that of the band The Strokes – their first album “Is This It” was followed up by a sub-par “Room On Fire.” The movie “Ocean’s 11” was a great reproduction of the original; however it was followed up by a porous “Ocean’s 12.” Of course the clichéd term is often used to us sports fanatics as a stellar rookie year, very high expectations for next year and then being let down.
Whether you are talking about sports or education, the second year is a phase of developmental confusion. It’s a time of uncertainty and a realization that hard work is up ahead. During the second year we look for growth, all the while struggling with achieving competence, establishing an identity and desiring autonomy. I decided to take a look and compare Mike McCoy and Keenan Allen to well-known people in their jobs in the organization to, perhaps, get a glance of what we might see in the upcoming season. Now, I understand that there are many circumstances involved, so I went with basics for my assessment.
Coach McCoy during his rookie year as a head coach posted a solid 9-7 record and went on to play in the Divisional round of the playoffs. In doing research on five of the top 20 greatest coaches (NFL.com), one glaring point that I want to share is that Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells or Jimmy Johnson had a winning record in their first year. Gibbs was the closest with an 8-8 clip. The most notable trend is that all of them improved their record and their offensive and defensive rankings in their sophomore season. The biggest improvement was the Parcells’ hire with the New York Giants. In 1983, the Giants’ record was a dismal 3-12-1, while their 1984 record was 9-7. They played all the way through to the Divisional round of the playoffs. Some of you might argue that Joe Gibbs had the best second year due to winning the Super Bowl. As impressive as that is, and I am not taking that away from him, it was the strike-shortened season of 1982. I believe through polls and Twitter questions, most Charger fans are predicting at least a 10-win season and going deep into the playoffs. This would continue the trend as relating to these other great coaches.
Keenan Allen was very close to winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year last year. Expectations are going to be huge for all of the San Diego fans, as well as fantasy football players. Keenan, during his rookie campaign, amassed 71 catches for 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns. In reviewing five wide receivers, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones and Larry Fitzgerald and no one on that list had a better first year than Keenan. In addition, they all improved vastly during their second season. Fitzgerald made the biggest jump with adding 45 catches, 629 yards and 2 touchdowns compared to his rookie season numbers.
Are you getting excited yet? Are you feeling that with a healthy Floyd and a resurgent Vincent Brown that this could be one of the most explosive WR corps in the NFL? We all should be. However, I did stumble across a statistical graph at rookies winning honors and comparing it to their sophomore season. In the results it appears that the WR who won the Offensive Rookie of the Year made a dip, especially in yard differential, in all categories: victory differential, receptions and touchdowns. Are we now glad Allen didn’t win Offensive ROY? Nah, I would argue that he should have won the award last season.
So, does this jinx, an old wives’ tale, prove to be fictitious? According to my research, I see nothing but improvements for our sophomores of McCoy, Allen and others; Fluker, Addae and Te’o. Perhaps those that define the “Sophomore Slump” do not realize what they can do to overcome this demon. I thought of a few things that could be beneficial for the Bolt sophomores, especially the players.
- Get involved in extra-curricular activities such as community service or fund-raising events. When you immerse yourself into helping others, you gain a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, increases your self-confidence, combats depression and defeats isolation.
- Swallow your pride and seek out a counselor, and/or coaches, that you can open up to. Talking openly and becoming vulnerable can help you get “unstuck” when things aren’t going the way you expect them to go. After all, just because the first year was so successful, the professional opposition is now aware of what you did and will try to defend it. That is unless you make a change. Opening up to others also develops insight and increases self-awareness by understanding your behaviors and the issues or events that motivate you or bring you down.
- Attach yourself to a veteran. They have gone through what you are currently experiencing. Sure, there are certain circumstances that might have changed, but the basis and certain scenarios are the same.
I believe that the great players overcome and conquer the potential downfall by staying humble and work their butts off. I have no doubt that McCoy, Allen and the others, have the intellect and the resources to assist them during this transition. Only time will tell. But I have a good feeling that our sophomores will be just fine. Let me put it on you, Charger fans, which Sophomore will have continue the trend and explode. Who do you feel will buck the trend and implode? State your answer and reasons why below. Let’s get some good conversation going!
LET ME HEAR YA, BOLTFAMILY!!
“PEACE….and Boltness forever” – BWK