Monthly Archives: December 2014
Coming into the 2014 NFL season, the Chargers had some significant talent on the team. Future Hall of Famer tight end Antonio Gates, no.1 wide receiver Keenan Allen, and even running back Ryan Mathews were some that were to make big strides this season. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out like most expected which left some areas with a void. Yet somehow, there was still one player who stepped in and produced great numbers, but remained under the radar. The unsung hero of the 2014 season for the San Diego Chargers is Eddie Royal.
The Chargers picked up Royal back in 2012 via free agency who previously was drafted by the Denver Broncos. He was signed to a 3-year contract worth $13.5 million, $6 million of which was guaranteed. He was set back his first year due to injury and personal matters, yet was determined to prove his worth. This season alone, Royal accumulated 62 receptions, 778 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns. Not to mention, Royal made some catches in clutch situations to give the Chargers their much-needed wins. Do you remember who caught the game winning touchdown with only 38 seconds left in regulation against the Baltimore Ravens, leaving the Chargers to become the only west coast team to defeat them in Baltimore? It was Royal, the slot receiver that seems to always go unnoticed.
This season, Royal had his best year yet with the Chargers. With injuries to Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews, and a late injury to Keenan Allen, Royal was just the guy to fill the void. He averaged 12.5 yards per reception and had a long of 47 yards. Although his punt return stats weren’t stellar, he still had 100 in return yards with a long of 58 yards.
Royal is also the type of player that will help the Chargers in any way he can. This last offseason, Royal restructured his contract and took a pay cut in order to create cap space for free agency. The details were not released, but he took the cut from the $4.5 million salary he was set to make. Chargers general manager, Tom Telesco, inherited a team with limited cap space, but Royal again delivered to help in any way he could. It was blatant that Royal was committed to remain a Charger.
If there was a post-season award given for the Chargers unsung player of the year, Eddie Royal would be the recipient. He continuously comes through in clutch situations and delivers for the team. He has even become the player that Philip Rivers leans on to convert a much-needed third and long. I believe he has a great chance to extend his tenure in San Diego. Looking back at the 2014 season, Royal led the Chargers in a much undisclosed manner.
If you need to be motivated for this game, you may want to check your pulse! The game between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs is of huge importance for both teams. If the Chargers win, they are in the post-season. If they Chiefs win, they have a chance, however so slight, to grab the last wild card spot as well. It is week 17 and this is no time to hold anything back.
With that in mind, the coaches have to walk the fine line between getting their team too fired up, which would cause reckless play, and too loose, which could cause lazy mistakes. Let’s take a look at how Coach McCoy (Chargers) and Coach Reid (Chiefs) can spin what they know in a way that will inspire just the right amount of emotion and confidence. Remember, these are my words, not actual quotes. Please comment below and let me know how you would motivate your players in this situation.
Kansas City Chiefs: Coach Andy Reid
- Win and We Have a Chance: “Let’s face it men, we need some help to make the playoffs. After we beat the Chargers, we still need the Browns and the Jags to win in order to make the playoffs. Yes, that sounds like a longshot. That’s okay! Longshots come in all the time! Strange things happen in sports. It will not upset me to win this game and not make the playoffs. What would really eat at me would be to lose this game and then watch the Jags and the Browns win their games. Then we would have to live with the fact that we had the post-season in our hands and we let it slip through our fingers. Can you live with that?”
- Next Man Up: “We are all very well aware that we lost Alex (Smith). Well boo hoo for us! What are we going to do? Cry? Not me. I’m going to help get Chase (Daniel) prepared to play a football game. Chase can play! We almost beat these guys in San Diego last season with Chase at the helm and our second team in the game! He is a quality professional quarterback. We are fine.”
- Meet Their Intensity: “The Chargers are going to come out on fire! If they beat us, they are in. They know that and we know that. If we go out flat, they will run away with the game. We need to go out there like a team that believes that they will be playing next week. We need to show them early that all their excitement is for naught. That being said, they showed last week that they have the ability and the heart to come from behind, so if we get them down, we need to step on their throats and keep them down. Hold nothing back. We have all offseason to rest.”
- Ball Control: “Last time we played these guys we held the ball on offense for 39 minutes! That gave Philip Rivers and their offense 21 minutes with the ball. It is hard for a team to score points when they do not have the football! The Chargers are decent against the pass, but they have been getting torched on the ground. That plays right into our hands. We need to run it down their throats and methodically move down the field. If we get them worried enough about the run, it will open things up for the passing game. I foresee a lot of long drives for our offense. The keys will be to not turn over the ball, move the chains, and do not settling for field goals! If we can do that, we will win this game.”
- Home Field Advantage: “No one likes coming into Arrowhead Stadium to play. We have one of the loudest crowds in the history of the NFL. That is an advantage that we need to capitalize on. If we let them get out in front early, that will quiet our crowd and there goes our advantage. Again, I must emphasize the importance of starting the game with a bang. Score early and often. The crowd will feed off of our momentum and life will be very difficult for the boys in blue.”
San Diego Chargers: Coach Mike McCoy
- Inspiring Comeback: “Men, we showed a lot of heart last week in San Francisco. To come back from 21 down on two occasions against a very good Niners defense is not something just any team can do. Did we do that for nothing? Because if we lose this week, that victory was wasted. Keep believing, men. If you show the same heart this week that you showed in the second half of last week’s game, we will be on to the tournament! I’ll be honest with you, as great as that victory was I would be much happier with a nice comfortable early lead that we stretch throughout the game.”
- Win and We’re In: “I doubt I need to explain this to you, but do you all completely understand our situation? We are one game away from competing in the tournament! If and when we beat the Chiefs, we are on to the post-season. We are in control of our own destiny. Are you going to let the Chiefs take away what is ours? Are you going to waltz into Arrowhead Stadium and lay an egg and have to spend the entire offseason wondering “what if?” Not me! I’m not going down without a fight! In fact, I have no intension of going down to defeat! This is our destiny, not theirs. Let’s go on and see what the football gods have in store for the San Diego Chargers.”
- Offense: “We need to control the ball much better than we did in our last meeting with the Chiefs. We need holes for our running backs. Running backs, we may need you to break a tackle, fight for extra yards, or juke someone out of their jocks! I don’t want any excuses! We need to be able to run the ball and protect our quarterback! You know that Philip is banged up. You also know that he is tough as nails, but he is also human. Keep him clean. Receivers, you can help with that too. Get open ASAP! They have a good pass defense. Who cares? We will get open and we will move the football. No excuses!“
- Defense: “WE MUS STOP THE RUN! If we cannot stop Charles and their other backs, we cannot win this game. The Chiefs offense runs through Jamaal Charles! Hit him every play! Wrap up on all tackles! Team tackle! Make Chase Daniel beat us….or at least try to beat us.”
- Professional Football Players: “We are all aware that Alex Smith is out for this game. We are also aware that Charles and Bowe are on the injury report as questionable. I have an opinion about this situation. My opinion is…..I don’t care! We will be facing professional football players. If you recall, their second team, led by the same QB we will face tomorrow, took us to overtime last year in week 17. We took them lightly last season. We should know better this season. I say we play as if we are going against the best team in the league and we have to play with great intensity and we must shut up that crowd early and break their spirit. We have been going with the next man up philosophy all season. They are using it now. We know it works for us. It doesn’t have to work for them. Get them down and keep them down and it’s off to the playoffs.”
There you have it! That is how I would address both teams before this giant of a game. I’d love to hear your opinion and your ideas how to do the same. Thanks for the read and Go Chargers!
(Thanks to KCChiefs.com and NFLRush.com for the pics)
We all have moments in our lives when we are presented with situations which, perhaps, would allow us to take the next step toward greatness. A step that could possibly enable us to achieve the ultimate goal. Whatever that goal may be, were you threatened and terrified by the opportunity? Did it cause you to fold and stop believing in yourself due to the pressure? Knowing that failing would end in taking a step back, were you able to overcome your deficiencies and insecurities to ensure that you were positioning yourself for that next step toward everything you have worked for to avoid failure?
At some point in our lives, we have all been there.
To a degree, these are the issues that face the Chargers this Sunday.
Injuries and a lack of consistency — both offensively and defensively — have plagued the Bolts. Are these excuses or reasons for having to battle their way into the playoffs this Sunday? Perhaps even a bit of disbelief in their ability to achieve greatness due to so many wrongs that needed to be righted may have come into play?
I have no clue.
There is a knock on the door, San Diego. Before you find out who it is, reach deep down and ask yourself if you’ve done all you can to succeed and achieve all that you’ve “said” you’ve wanted.
It is no longer about lip service and broken promises within one’s own mind. Talk is cheap. And that includes when attempting to convince yourself that you’re doing everything within your plan to be where you’d ideally like to end up.
Are you actually doing it?
Sure, the fact that the team is employing the one-game-at-a-time strategy makes sense. Each win gives them another chance to further the levels of their confidence and mojo. But keeping your eyes on the long-term prize shows that each and every game could be your last, unless you refuse to believe in that.
The ultimate prize in the NFL is to win a Super bowl. A second trip to Glendale, Arizona for the 2014 season would be just that for the San Diego Chargers. It could even equate to an opportunity to get even with the week 1 opponent that beat them should Arizona do the unthinkable and play a Super bowl in their own stadium.
As many analysts, media members and myself have pointed out, the Chargers control their own destiny.
Let’s get back to that knock at the door.
You answer the door, and it just so happens that it is destiny. Would you prefer to see them as a mother-in-law you’re determined to get out as quickly as possible? Or that future wife that you have prematurely decided could be a mainstay in helping you become everything you want, need and deserve to become? Maybe that knock from destiny gives you the hope you have been searching for. If you can find it within yourselves, San Diego, make destiny a long-term solution. But it all starts with you; not the ones that surround you and that you believe in.
Believing in yourself only allows those around you to better themselves. Which, in turn, establishes a trust that they can do all that you’re doing while they’re watching you give it your all. Why? Because they will see the example you’re setting and latch onto what you’ve shown them is possible. That is when the chemistry begins and unfolds. That is when a team, whether it be a married couple, two partners dating, a friendship or a football team begin to overcome the odds.
It has to start with you. It’s infectious and it will spread like wildfire if you can show the rest of your peers that you have what it takes to give it your all. Not many people are built like that. Especially not in today’s society. Giving just enough to get by has become the status quo and new goal in the world that we live in today. But who is willing to rise above?
Chargers, don’t fall into that trap. Do not allow yourselves to rely on others to pick you up at this time. As the NFL goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. But what have you done to set an example for that person to become better? And what have they done to elevate your abilities? That means that everyone must play their best for the remainder of this campaign. There are no excuses or reasons. It is all about moving forward and, to a degree, answering that knock on the door of destiny knowing that you are ready to finish what you started.
Destiny is knocking on the door for the San Diego Chargers. Fling that door open and make sure that you are willing to give all that you have to make sure that you leave with a sense of satisfaction that proves destiny chose its destination appropriately.
It is mirror-time. But don’t wait for it to happen. Generally, waiting for it to happen means that you’ve waited too long and it is too late. Get in that mirror tonight and prove to yourselves that you’re prepared and ready to give your best. It is now or never. That doesn’t only pertain to the Chargers; it goes for a lot of us as well.
The Charger running game has been missing in action since another Ryan Mathews’ injury. His inability to make an impact on the offense when not on the field does not allow it to function to the highest of its capabilities. He is sorely missed; pun intended?
A backfield consisting of Branden Oliver, Donald Brown and Ronnie Brown has not produced a ground attack that has put any fear into opposing defenses. The Chargers currently have the 29th ranked rushing game in the NFL. That clearly is not good enough, especially when it comes to offensive success in January and beyond.
In comes Philip Rivers and his receiving targets to help save the day.
Rivers, despite 3 interceptions in San Francisco, helped ensure that the week 17 contest against the Chiefs was a meaningful game. With 355 yards passing and 4 touchdowns, his ability to find open targets and complete passes carried them to the victory last week on the road. Those numbers, and his gritty performance, earned Rivers the FedEx Air Player of the Week award in the overtime win in Santa Clara.
More of the same will be needed in Kansas City. The problem is that the Chiefs have the second-rated passing defense in the league. Much of that production has to do with a stout front-seven, but the receiving options must find a way to create separation and allow Philip to get the ball out of his hand quickly. There won’t be a lot of time to get rid of the ball with players like Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey looking to feast on a depleted Charger offensive line.
Though he is listed as doubtful on the injury report, Keenan Allen is not playing on Sunday. With a fractured clavicle and an ankle injury, he may as well have been listed as out for Sunday’s tilt.
Eddie Royal has been a recipient of a good number of passes from Rivers. He has been called upon in the clutch as was seen versus San Francisco. A game-winning touchdown reception on a screen play against Baltimore provides further evidence of the trust the team has in him.
Some of the biggest receptions of the year, yard-wise, have gone to Malcom Floyd. The acrobatic receiver has a team-high 59-yard reception. He has multiple catches over 40 yards in 2014. His six touchdown snags are third on the team behind Royal with seven and Antonio Gates with twelve.
Ah, yes. Gates.
Prior to the 2014 season, many people had given up on Antonio and stated the need to make Ladarius Green take over as the main tight end in the Charger offense.
Not this guy. Not for a second.
Green has a bright future with the Bolts, but Gates is clearly the better option as of now. And he’s proving it. His 12 touchdown receptions are the second-most in his career. He remains a safety valve for Rivers and the two have the utmost trust in each other. Last week marked the fourth time this season that he hauled in multiple touchdowns in a game. Not too shabby. With several milestones on the line for Rivers and Gates, don’t be surprised if the two look to connect early and often.
An unlikely hero emerged in the absence of wideout Allen last Saturday. Former CFL product, Dontrelle Inman, played a big role in the San Diego passing attack. In his first NFL start, he had 7 catches for 79 yards; including a huge 4th down grab that helped keep the Bolts breathing and giving them the opportunity to continue fighting. He’ll be asked to replicate his week 16 performance and make an impact that lends itself to a Charger win.
After mentioning Ladarius Green above, the best play of his career came against the Chiefs at Arrowhead. He had a 60-yard scoring catch that proved to be huge in helping the Bolts eventually get the W on the road. He has not been a big part of the offense in ’14, but he did start to play a bigger role last year once in the playoffs. He might be the secret weapon this week and he could be used to exploit a linebacker or safety that doesn’t have his kind of speed or size.
One can only hope that the running backs and offensive line find a way to get churning on all cylinders. But if that isn’t the case, Rivers has multiple weapons to sling the ball to in his receivers, tight ends and running backs. It would be nice to see some screen plays incorporated into the playcalling to keep the front-seven honest and on their heels.
Win and you’re in. Lose and it’s all over for the 2014 San Diego Chargers. Now is the time. No more excuses. They now control this next week of what is their playoff destiny. Sunday cannot get here quickly enough.
Thanks a lot for reading.
This Sunday the Chargers face off with the Chiefs in a win and you’re in game. It is a playoff game for the team in Blue and Gold, but there are some interesting things happening record-wise for two of the best players in Charger history. All that really matters is that the Chargers score one more point than KC. But there are lots of fun milestones that could be passed if everything goes well for San Diego’s dynamic duo consisting of Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates.
First let’s talk about Antonio Gates. Earlier in the year, Gates passed Lance Alworth as the franchise leader in receiving yards. He currently leads the Chargers with 9,947 yards. Do the math. That means he could become the first and only Chargers player to pass 10,000 yards receiving with just 53 yards on Sunday.
He can do that, right???
That is not all for Gates. Each time he and Rivers connect, like they did twice last week in SF, it is history. The 73 touchdowns they have connected for is an NFL record for a QB and tight end combo. Antonio, however, did some damage with Drew Brees, too. One more TD from the duo and Gates will hit triple digits. Having 100 touchdowns will bring Gates into a 7th place tie with Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Tim Brown.
One more year like 2014 and Gates will pass fellow tight end (and recently retired) Tony Gonzalez for the TD’s at the position.
But the man throwing the passes has some milestones to pass as well. As a matter of fact, there are a few big ones. With his four touchdown passes in Santa Clara last week, Rivers’ career scoring strikes reached 252. With just three touchdown passes Philip Rivers will pass Dan Fouts as the Bolts all-time leader in TD passes.
He can do it, right???
Dan Fouts is 15th all-time in touchdown passes for the NFL. If he matched last week’s output with 4 scores he would pass Sonny Jurgensen’s 255. The Hall of Fame signal caller is currently 14th.
That is not all. Rivers has thrown 31 touchdown passes in 2014. If he gets three he will match his 2008 mark of 34.
Oh, Rivers is not done. One pass completion of 5 yards and he will pass 4,000 yards on the season. He is the franchise’s all-time leader with five 4,000-yard campaigns.
Keep your eyes out, Chargers fans. You may see history on Sunday!
In case you slept through Friday, unplugged for the day or live under a rock, you’ve heard Kansas City’s QB Alex Smith won’t play Sunday against the Chargers due to a lacerated spleen. What you may have missed is that this does not change anything on Sunday.
Chase Daniel, Kansas City’s backup QB, will start in Alex Smith’s place. Last year, with a playoff berth already secured, Daniel started the season finale in San Diego with 19 other backups, a game in which the Chargers narrowly escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory. In that game, Daniel connected on 21 of 30 pass attempts for 200 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Jamal Charles sat out that game, but Knile Davis ran 27 times for 81 yards. Daniel added 59 yards of his own on the ground.
That said, a Charger victory in this season’s regular season finale in Kansas City is not a foregone conclusion. Last year, everyone said that with KC’s backups, it would be a cake game. Far be it from me to throw ice water on the pom pom parade, but a loss in Kansas City ends the 2014 season for San Diego. Lock, stock and barrel.
The key to this game is in the hands of John Pagano and the Charger defense. In all reality, the game plan should remain the same: stop Jamal Charles and you stop the KC offense. Make the quarterback beat you. Rewind to Week 16 in San Francisco. Take away Colin Kaepernick’s 90-yard run in the 3rd quarter which featured glaring whiffs by both Melvin Ingram and Eric Weddle, the defense made the right adjustments and stymied San Francisco’s running game.
Easier said than done
How to stop Charles, you ask? It’s easier said than done, but Pagano needs to put eight in the box. These eight men (front-7 plus the aforementioned Weddle) need to maintain gap discipline. The front three need to tie blockers up (HINT: Chargers need a stud NT like they had in Jamal Williams). ILBs Mantei T’eo, Donald Butler, Andrew Gachkar and Kavell Conner need to be clean and crisp in their tackling. Whiffs cannot happen. And the proper angles toward opposing ball carriers must be taken.
Billy, don’t be a hero
Chargers defenders need to tackle, tackle and tackle some more. Heroism is not appropriate, and may be idiotic when it comes to proper tackling. First man, or two, to get a hand on the ball carrier need to wrap him up, then let the cavalry come in for the strip. All too often, it seems the first man to the runner goes for the ball instead of the tackle. Get the runner on the ground, limit the big plays and play for the third down stop.
Secondly, stop the pass
Concussion protocols notwithstanding, Shareece Wright needs to take a back seat to Steve Williams. Against San Francisco, the ball was thrown in Williams’ direction six times for three completions and a pedestrian 15 yards. I think it’s safe to say that’s a better performance than Wright has produced. With eight in the box, the Chargers’ corners and safeties, Flowers and Williams/Wright/Gilchrist/Addae, et al. will have to play press man coverage. The defense is better when Pagano employs press coverage.
The key to beating the Chiefs and advancing to the postseason is to stop Jamal Charles. It’s that simple, kids. Force Chase Daniel, with limited reps, to have to try to beat the Chargers. Do this, and they’ll advance to the Wild Card Round.
Thanks for reading!
El último juego de la temporada regular se acerca rápidamente, donde culmina una montaña rusa que ha tenido momentos de gloria para la escuadra relámpago, y otros momentos de cierta caracterización abismal. Simplemente para resumirlo, como cualquier temporada de los Chargers, ha sido una temporada intensa, no solo para el staff y los jugadores, sino también para la afición.
La escuadra de San Diego va a Kansas City con solo una meta: Ganar. Ha llegado al punto donde no importa qué suceda con los demás equipos, la única preocupación ahora es que se lleven la victoria y pasen al repechaje en la postemporada.
Para el Domingo, veremos un encuentro un poco similar al de la temporada previa; Alex Smith, el QB estelar se encuentra lesionado; por lo cual, el suplente Chase Daniel tomará control de la escuadra de los Chiefs para terminar su temporada. Otro aspecto similar es que los Chargers, nuevamente buscan pasar a la postemporada. Las diferencias en esta ocasión son:
- Kansas City también busca pasar a la postemporada
- San Diego sufre de jugadores lesionados como Mathews, Allen, Scifres, etc.
- El juego esta vez será en Kansas City, no en San Diego
Claro, podemos decir que ya estas cosas no tendrán nada que ver con el resultado del partido, ya que ha sido una temporada muy diferente para ambas escuadras.
Les comparto unos puntos que creo que servirán para que San Diego se lleve la victoria en el territorio enemigo:
Empezar a jugar desde la primera serie
Si, sabemos que la 2da mitad contra San Francisco estuvo espectacular y un capítulo que se irá en la historia de los Chargers (y me atrevo a decir, de la NFL), sin embargo, estando tan cerca de tener la postemporada asegurada, no se pueden arriesgar a dejar pasar cualquier oportunidad. Deben tomar ventaja, desde la Ofensiva hasta la Defensiva, de poder hacer el mayor número de jugadas positivas para anotar puntos y salir con el juego ganado
Confianza y Seguridad entre todos los jugadores
Si es la primera participación estelar de un jugador o la décima-sexta de la temporada, todo jugador es clave, y todo el equipo debe sentirse seguro de que hay apoyo entre sus compañeros para asegurar una victoria.
No desanimarse si hay obstáculos durante el partido
Ya vimos que ocurrió en Baltimore y San Francisco, si los Chargers quieren ganar el encuentro, lo pueden lograr, y lo pueden hacer con estilo. Entonces si van en algún momento con una pequeña desventaja, no desanimarse y jugar su mejor juego.
Sabemos que es un buen equipo, que ha pasado por muchas cosas esta temporada: Lesiones, grandes victorias, pésimos encuentros, jugadas espectaculares y momentos que nos han dejado con la esperanza de que los Chargers siguen ahí, o como bien lo diría nuestro QB Philip Rivers: ¡Los Chargers están vivos!
– José “Joe” Martínez
@JoeLovesMusic24 – TWITTER
As I have stated each time I write the Charger injury report articles, I hate doing these. Quite honestly, it’s depressing. This week is just as bad but it seems to be just as expected when it comes to the game status of each individual.
RB – Ryan Mathews ( Ankle )
P – Mike Scifres ( Shoulder/Clavicle )
WR – Keenan Allen ( Ankle/Collarbone )
C/G – Chris Watt ( Ankle )
DT/DE – Corey Liuget ( Ankle )
QB – Philip Rivers ( Chest/Back/Ribs )
CB – Shareece Wright ( Concussion )
Sadly, it was expected that Ryan Mathews would miss this week’s game. Despite Mike McCoy claiming that he hoped both Mathews and Keenan Allen would play, everyone had their doubts. With Allen having a fractured collarbone and injured ankle, I’m not sure why it was brought up that he might play. Listing him as doubtful seems “interesting” to me. Another non-surprise was that Scifres would not be able to play. Thanks again, Donald Brown.
Chris Watt has flashed some true ability during his play as a center. He has made some rookie mistakes, but that can be expected due to the fact that he has never played center prior to this season. Getting him back would be very helpful. Trevor Robinson filled in admirably but even having Watt for depth would be nice.
Was there any doubt as to whether Philip Rivers would play on Sunday against the Chiefs? Not only is he the toughest quarterback in the NFL, it would be fair to debate whether or not he’s the toughest player at any position. Battling multiple ailments, Rivers is a gamer and he knows what’s on the line in week 17.
Although he was replaced by a capable Steve Williams, getting Shareece Wright back from a concussion helps the secondary. With Jason Verrett already lost for the year, the more healthy corners there are, the better. Despite the solid performance from Williams against the 49ers, expect Wright to be inserted back into the starting lineup.
The Chargers have been banged up all year. After losing players like Danny Woodhead and Nick Hardwick to injured reserve, among others, the injuries have continued to pile up. Is anyone sick of hearing “Next man up?” Quite frankly, they have been rather successful by using this mantra and getting reserve players ready to contribute and even start in games. This week is no different. Now go get this W and earn your way into the playoffs.
There is nothing like going into week 17 knowing that if you win, you’re in the playoffs. That is exactly what the Chargers are facing on Sunday as they travel to Arrowhead stadium to take on the division rival Chiefs.
It was just announced today that Alex Smith has a lacerated spleen and Chase Daniel will start at quarterback for Kansas City.
Despite the difference in venue, this year’s situation is very similar to last year’s when the Bolts played the Chiefs in week 17 with Daniel at the helm. KC was already a lock for the playoffs in 2013, while the Chargers, with a little help and a win, would secure a trip to the postseason.
This season San Diego wins and they immediately punch their ticket to the playoffs. With the defense stepping up as of late — 11th overall in the NFL — they now have the task of slowing down running back Jamaal Charles. His speed and overall ability could pose problems if he is allowed to get going. He is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
The Chief defense features one of the best pass rushing duos in the league in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. They have combined for 24 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. Defensive linemen Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey have 9 sacks between the two of them. The Charger offensive line must find a way to keep Philip Rivers upright. Due to the lack of a running game, expect Rivers to be dropping back quite often.
The 2014 season has been all over the place. We have all seen a 5-game winning streak, a 3-game losing streak, a 3-game winning streak followed more recently by a 2-game losing streak. With a win over Kansas City, they would end the regular season on a 2-game winning streak after last week’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
It has been an emotional roller coaster as a Chargers fan. The injuries have piled up and reserve players have been called upon at numerous positions. Despite the losing streaks and missing players, San Diego can make it the second consecutive year in a row that Mike McCoy has led them to the postseason.
The topic of debate that has been a mainstay this season in Charger camp has been the running game. Fans have expressed their frustration with oft-injured Mathews, the UFDA Oliver and the 10-million dollar Brown. Every Facebook post, Tweet or article which spurns this discussion often has a few replies regarding the offensive line; I being one of them. Ever since my interview with Branden Oliver I have been one of his biggest fans; to this day I still believe he can be a featured back. My alliance with Ryan Mathews continues as well. I have often stated openly how any RB that was drafted to replace LT, a Charger legend, was going to be strongly criticized unless they produced those same HOF numbers. So with this much talent in the backfield, why are the Bolts not producing on the ground?
Every football fan is now fully aware of our offensive line woes – injuries and ineffectiveness. Some have even commented that regardless of what back we have, there is no room to run. Sure, great running backs create their own lanes. However, they need to have a chance to create those lanes. When they are handed the ball and look up to see a team portrait of the Broncos defense, explain to me what running back would gain positive yards.
In looking at the numbers of the Chargers running game, it wasn’t the productivity of each running back per say; comparing numbers of Mathews, Oliver and Brown. It was where they ran the ball. I started noticing a trend after Oliver dismantled the then #1 rush defense of the Jets, and where he ran to get the majority of his yardage.
Standing 6’9” and 330 pounds, King Dunlap was a steal from the Philadelphia Eagles. All sorts of negativity spawned upon his arrival; how many times he’s been injured and that he isn’t all that good. Quarterback Philip Rivers has something to say about the King.
“He’s been awesome,” Rivers said. “I wouldn’t know what kind of credit he’s getting on the outside. I know how much we appreciate him on the inside. To play left tackle against who we’ve gone against all year, he’s playing awesome.”
“A guy like that, left tackles aren’t just walking around, a dime a dozen. Thank goodness we got him two years ago.” – per Michael Gehlken of UT San Diego.
In Mr. Gehlken’s article about King Dunlap, he mentions that #77 has only given up 3 sacks this year. Rivers has been sacked 29 times if that helps put it into perspective. The more astonishing statistics comes from the backfield and when the run play calls to veer left.
Pulling the numbers of Mathews, Oliver and D. Brown, it shows that when the run play is called to the left, the Chargers gain 4.6 yards per carry. To the right side? The average yard per carry diminishes to the likes of 2.9. When the Bolt backs run up the middle, they gain an average of 3.3 yards per carry. Right side?!?!…..you are the weakest link.
Breaking down the numbers ever more, a run play to the left-end, meaning around Dunlap, equates to an astronomical clip of 6.18 yards per carry. The next highest average would be to run at the LT King himself, where the backs are averaging 3.91 yards a carry. Of course needing something to compare those numbers to, we can look at how effective the Chargers run towards the right side of the line. In this scenario, the best chance for success is running at our RT DJ Fluker, where the backs average 3.7 yards per carry. However, running to the right-end (2.6 yds/carry) or the RG position (2.5 yds/carry) has not profited well.
The Chargers have the weapons to be a lethal offensive unit that is well-balanced. It is true with every team, of course, that becoming one-dimensional is not successful in the NFL; especially in the playoffs. Even though in the 4th quarter of the San Francisco game proved otherwise, with only one rushing play called, the Bolts can ill afford to rely solely on the arm of Rivers. With Mathews, Oliver and D. Brown running the rock towards the kingdom of victory, the path of least resistance goes through the King himself.