Monthly Archives: December 2014
This Sunday, the Chargers officially head to war. This marks their last cross country trip of the season as they head to Arrowhead stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle for the playoffs. A win secures a playoff berth, and well, a loss sends the Bolts packing. Unfortunately, the Chargers might not have their “bell cow” running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) or number one wide receiver Keenan Allen (collar bone, ankle); both sat out of practice on Tuesday. Taking chances this late in the season isn’t entirely customary, yet contemplating the signing of Ben Tate is one the Chargers should take a gamble on.
Yesterday, Tate was released and sent back to wires by the Minnesota Vikings. It comes to no surprise since the running back was only limited to only 13 attempts over three appearances. Yet, the Chargers are in desperate search for a run game, and Tate’s release couldn’t have come at a better time. With Philip Rivers’ dealing with a bulging disk in his back and a team with a heavily beat up offense, the resurgence of a run game is highly sought after for the Chargers.
You might be wondering, “How can Tate be singed?” well here’s how it will play out. Ryan Mathews, an incredible running back, was injured shortly after being cleared from the knee injury he sustained earlier this season from a tripping penalty on the New England Patriots. He hasn’t practiced since and may not for a while. Even with a few weeks off to recover, he doesn’t look to be progressing as quickly as the Chargers need him to. That being said, placing Mathews to injured reserve and signing Tate will be the best option at this point.
Factoring the NFL’s waiver wire, there are running back hungry teams heading into the playoffs. From what it looks like, the Chargers have a better shot at Tate than the Arizona Cardinals or their AFC opponent, the Indianapolis Colts; both teams previously attempted to claim him after he was waived by the Cleveland Browns last month. The Chargers are ranked almost dead last in the rushing offense and a change is urgently needed right now.
In the 2010 NFL draft, Ryan Mathews was selected twelfth overall and just a round later, Ben Tate was selected fifty-eight overall by the Houston Texans. Since then, Tate has averaged 4.4 yards over his career with his longest run being 60 yards. Tate stacks at 5’10 and 220 lbs., very similar to Mathews’ stature. It’s a running back like this that can boost the run game and lift the Chargers to another level. A level that we have only seen glimpses of all year.
There will be a lot of noise made about Tate today, and I suggest you listen carefully. The Chargers need a win this Sunday to earn a spot in the playoffs. With no run game, the chances of the playoffs, or even succeeding in the post season, seem very questionable. I say place Mathews to injured reserve in order to prevent from further injury and bring in a veteran that compliments rookie Branden Oliver. At this point, there’s isn’t much to lose, but absolutely everything to gain.
One day at work I happened to be on a Charger fan page on Facebook. Shhhh. I came across a post from a mother that happened to have a 3-year-old son, also a Charger fan, that had terminal brain cancer. His name is Killy.
I’ve seen so many of these posts on social media. For one reason or another, it really got to me. It was touching to see him in his favorite player’s jersey, Ryan Mathews. I kept looking at it and thinking that there must be something that I can do. I had no clue what it would be initially, but it came to me shortly thereafter the next morning. After seeing that Joe Allen — of Strikes for kids — commented that he would be connecting with Mathews to send Killy an autographed photo by Ryan, I wanted to contribute and help make Killy’s Christmas the best it could be from people outside of Killy’s family.
My decision kept him on my mind after speaking with Booga Peters. The connections that BoltBlitz.com has, between Booga and myself, with the players, San Diego media and Charger front office, must allow us to figure something special out for a young boy that deserves so much. After talking to Booga at length, it no longer became a matter of doing something, it was a matter of doing something BIG!
It was done. This is going to happen. By big, I thought that, perhaps, 50 people would find a way to do their part to ensure the best Christmas of all-time for this young child. We had almost 100 people show up and gifts were sent from all over the United States and outside of the country. I am not kidding. Gifts from Japan, hard work to spread the word from England and Belgium helped make this happen.
Within the US, Eric Carroll and Guillermo Sandoval, which I still can’t pronounce Sandoval’s first name, collaborated to design a banner, have it sent to Los Angeles and then have it shipped to my place. Prior to having it shipped to San Diego, the LA fans, under the direction of Carroll, signed the banner and flooded it with well-wishes and prayers for Killy.
This is one of the closest, most giving, fanbases in the country. Fans exploded, exclaiming, “What can I do?”
Momentum was growing faster than expected. Killy’s story touched everyone as much as it touched me. His mother, Amanda Marie Sardellis, provided a documentary video that was filmed by Ron Parida.
Grab your kleenex, folks.
That video, even after the fact, is difficult to watch. And that confirms why this was a mission that had to be accomplished.
As mentioned above, the event was amazing. Not only did 100 Charger fans show up, a few non-Charger fans attended with Charger gear on in support of Killy and his special day.
The number of people who changed their profile picture on Facebook and avatar on Twitter was overwhelming. It was an indicator of things to come. Talk about a serious level of nervousness to ensure he had the best Christmas ever. We, Booga and I, were a wreck for days. And that includes the day of the event.
San Diego media members, among the Charger fans, that joined the photo switch included Derek Togerson, Annie Heilbrunn and Nancy Castro. Another clue that the support for Killy’s family and his situation was strong beyond words.
The UT San Diego even caught wind of the event. Via Matthew T. Hall, an article and interview was even posted on their website and in the newspaper.
Take a look at this link. #Killy’sArmy #KillyStrong
Back to where the gifts were sent from. Fans from Arizona, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois were sent to us. In fact, one of the gifts that was sent from Arizona was done so by former Charger Thomas Keiser.
The plan was to meet at Chargers Park. Despite a bit of difficulty making that happen, we decided to move forward with the beginning of his special day. I met Charger fans at the complex and we all awaited Killy’s arrival. Booga was with his family right down the road. It was time. They then left to head our way.
After arriving to a resounding ovation and loud cheering that about had me in tears, the family approached the group. It got really loud. Peters was carrying Killy and then handed him off to me. Booga then “jogged,” he’s not much of a runner, to the office at Chargers Park to pick up a special gift. Because of Craig Watts Jr., we were able to drop off the ball days before the event and have almost all of the Chargers sign it. He then came speed-walking back with the signed ball.
Talk about special.
Upon receiving the ball, Killy kissed it and then continued to spike it on the sidewalk while we moved the convoy to Qualcomm stadium.
Here is where some more magic happened.
I took the time to contact the Make-A-Wish foundation. Knowing that Killy was a huge fan of Elmo, I wanted an Elmo to be at the Q! Then Make-A-Wish hooked me up with Animals for Little Kids. After a few days, that was exactly what was secured. We knew Elmo was coming.
Due to the media contacts we have, I spoke to Dan McLellan, formerly of CBS Rapid Reports and knowing his background in acting and theater, he volunteered to show up as Santa Claus.
Wait a second. Elmo and Santa Claus? Now we’re cooking with fire.
The event started like no other. Will anyone show up? This was about two weeks before Christmas. There is so much for families to do that involved their own families during this time of year.
We all started this to change the life of a little boy who deserved it so much, but he never asked for it. In turn, he changed our lives. He single-handedly changed the lives of people in so many places.
We love you, Killy, Amanda, Valerie Jimmy and the rest of the family. We were incredibly blessed by meeting your family. We all may be Charger fans for life, but, don’t forget, we’re all Killy fans for life as well.
Here’s how the video of the event went from Chargers Park to Qualcomm. The video below is courtesy of Adolfo Villanueva.
Thanks to EVERYONE that was a part of this amazing event. So many people did their part to help ensure Killy would have the best Christmas ever. I have never been more proud of the Charger fanbase. I can’t say that I ever will be this proud again.
Merry Christmas, Killy and Charger fans!!!
At the beginning of the season, everyone knew that the Chargers had one of the toughest schedules and had match-ups with some of the league’s top teams. The combined coaching record of the Chargers opponents (not including the Oakland Raiders due to coaching changes) has a record of 543-344, five Super Bowl wins, and nine Super Bowl appearances. The Harbaugh Brothers alone, John and Jim, have 114 of those wins. Most recently, John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens won a Super Bowl title over his brother’s team, San Francisco 49ers, just two seasons ago; labeling it the Harbaugh Bowl. If I had told you in September that the Chargers were to sweep the Harbaugh Brothers this season, you probably would have laughed. Turns out, they pulled off the unthinkable.
It all started when San Diego marched into Baltimore and defeated the Ravens on their own turf; something that has never been accomplished by any west coast team. After a miraculous win, the Chargers hit a two-game losing streak at home against the New England Patriots and division rivals, the Denver Broncos. Even after an eventful win in Baltimore, the Chargers found themselves needing another win in week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers to keep their playoff dreams alive.
After a 21 point rally, the Chargers defeated Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers in a Saturday Night Football thriller in Santa Clara. No one crashed and burned as bad as the 49ers did that night; at least in a while. Can we say the NFL’s top 5 games of the year? In that moment, almost speechless from the incredible overtime win, I realized the Chargers defeated and swept the infamous Harbaugh Brothers in a single season. That’s right, it hasn’t ever been done before. For the record, the Chargers also defeated the Manning Brothers, Eli and Peyton, last year in similar fashion. Somehow, the football God’s spoke on Sunday and the much-needed Ravens loss occurred; leaving the Chargers in control of their own destiny. As Quincy, a long time Charger fan would say, “yeah dat”.
When it comes to the San Diego Chargers, they seem to always accomplish the improbable every season; giving Chargers fans constant anxiety attacks. I forgot to mention that I woke up Sunday morning with no fingernails left and parts of my hair ripped out. Almost everyone, including some Charger fans, doubted the team when they traveled to Baltimore. There wasn’t much difference in Santa Clara this time either. Someone, please let the NFL know that the Chargers are making their distinctive December run and that all future Chargers opponents should take caution.
The Harbaugh Brothers have had some great success as head coaches in the NFL, but Philip Rivers and the Chargers have something on them no other team has; the Harbaugh Sweep. Something about it just brings music to my ears. I almost want to hashtag it and start a social media trend. Moving on, the season isn’t over just yet and the playoffs look closer than ever. However, if the Chargers season were to end next Sunday, there is plenty to look back on. This season, history was made, records were broken, and of course there was the Harbaugh sweep.
Well, I think it has finally sunk in that what we all watched on Saturday actually happened. After being down by 21 points twice, and giving up 355 yards rushing, the Chargers did indeed leave San Francisco with a win over the 49ers.
Their hopes for the playoffs were kept alive and they now control their own destiny in the week 17 contest at Kansas City against the Chiefs.
But back to the game at Levi’s stadium.
In game that had a ridiculous amount of lows, the highs proved to be the deciding factor this past Saturday. For the fans that were ready to give up, I can’t really say I blame you. There were so many moments where it appeared as though the game would end in a loss for the Bolts.
After the game both, Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers stated the obvious that the first half was about as bad as it gets.
Going into the second half down 28-7, the Chargers were able to score two unanswered touchdowns. And then came another one of the lows. As Colin Kaepernick dropped back, he saw a running lane from the pocket. That running lane would lead him 90 yards down the field for a touchdown. Both Kaepernick and Frank Gore ran all over the San Diego defense.
Philip Rivers, as everyone knows, is playing with a bulging disc in his back. Not a bulging…. nevermind. Despite 3 interceptions on the night, he managed to tough it out, play through the pain and finished with four passing touchdowns; two of which were to his favorite target, Antonio Gates. There is no doubting the toughness of Rivers. The concern was whether the line could keep him upright due to another game with moving pieces in front of the man who rocks the bolo tie.
Chris Watt, rookie guard that has been forced to the center position due to injuries, went down in the game and in comes free agent pickup Trevor Robinson. He would mark the 5th center in 2014 that Rivers would play with this season. As if that wasn’t enough, Johnnie Troutman gets hurt and in comes undrafted free agent rookie Jeremiah Sirles. He is the third player to man the right guard position this year. Sirles actually played pretty darn well.
Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve in the week 2 victory over Buffalo. The running back ahead of him on the depth chart, Ryan Mathews, has missed significant time this year and neither played versus the 9ers. The theme of ‘Next Man up’ in 2014 is getting put to the test, to say the least. The reserve Charger ball carriers, Branden Oliver, Ronnie Brown and Donald Brown, managed to grind out 98 yards rushing as a group. This softened up the defense enough to where Rivers was able to atone for a poor first half and finish the day 356 yards passing.
After fighting through an ankle injury and broken collarbone against Denver, Keenan Allen expectedly missed the San Francisco game. As mentioned above, two of Philip’s touchdown strikes were to Gates. But Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd accounted for the other two scores. Royal came up huge with 10 receptions for 94 yards including a phenomenal catch on fourth down to keep the drive alive late in the fourth quarter. Floyd — 4 catches for 50 yards –had the game-tying score that would take the game into overtime. Talk about two receivers stepping up in the absence of Allen.
As Nick Novak kicked the game-winning field goal, the euphoria that initially started as lost hope and a sea of emotions took over. We were at La Bella’s in Chula Vista with a group of about 100 Charger fans. As I’m sure it did every single place where fans were watching the game, the room erupted and stayed loud for quite some time.
It goes without saying that this year’s Chargers have faced a ton of adversity. Though the injuries have piled up to insane numbers, they have found a way to get it done and now they control their own destiny when they travel to Arrowhead stadium.
This is all a team and NFL organization can hope for when going into a season. Earn a chance at the playoffs and then see what happens once you get there.
The journey continues this Sunday because of the collective effort of men that refused to give up last week despite all of the odds.
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” – Seneca
Thanks a lot for reading.
Two decades are a very long time to hold onto a grudge. Twenty years are far too long to still feel disappointment and humiliation. But here I sit, stewing in self-degradation and sadness. That symbol, that “SF” encompassed by gold and red enrages me to the point of maximum workout efficiency. Yes, I worked out because I remembered what happened, the after effects and the personal toll that those two letters did to me and my beloved Chargers twenty years ago.
People were stating that the Bolts were not supposed to be in the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. We were the Cinderella team of the 90’s, knocking off the Steelers in dramatic fashion. Across America, people were saying that the NFC Championship game was the “true” Super Bowl game; that San Diego didn’t belong. Then Vegas put out the line . The 18.5 point spread is the second largest one in Super Bowl history; falling just below the Super Bowl III spread of 19.5 favoring the Baltimore Colts over the Jets. Thoughts of Joe Namath and the Jets upsetting the heavily favored Colts team, the Cinderella season for the Chargers all mashed into three weeks of my thought process back then.
In hindsight, Vegas would prove worthy with that high of a spread. Many records were set in that game. It’s the first Super Bowl where every quarter each team scored. It was the highest total points of any Super Bowl. The 49ers would set the record for the fastest touchdown in the game, and then topped it off with another record of the fastest second touchdown in Super Bowl history. Steve Young’s pose after the game with the Lombardi Trophy in his hand continues to burn in my brain. Young had thrown 6 touchdowns and was the leading rusher for San Francisco as well. Is your temperature boiling right now? Do you want revenge yet? I was proud of the Bolts for accomplishing something literally nobody thought that they would do. Yet, I was honestly still a bit embarrassed at the outcome where all the naysayers were proved right. But then….the following Saturday Night, I became filled and consumed with loathing and malevolence towards Steve Young and the 49ers.
I was watching Saturday Night Live at home alone in 1995. Norm MacDonald came on with the Weekend Update sketch which I always found hilarious. Then he did an update; an update on the Super Bowl. “This just in: San Francisco has just scored again on the San Diego Chargers, putting the score at….” Honestly I can’t remember what he said the faux score was, but it was awful. I felt like Bobby Boucher from The WaterBoy when he sees his favorite wrestler laugh at him.
There were enough reasons to beat the 49ers yesterday. The Chargers needed this win to keep their playoff hopes alive. San Francisco is falling apart like a cheap K-Mart lawn chair and even with our massive injuries continually piling on, we proved to be the better team. I for one, will have a bit more excitement in my voice. A little more passion, laced with deep-seeded vengeance with every cheer. Out here in SW Florida… I was doing my part
“THE AXE FORGETS, BUT THE TREE REMEMBERS.” – African Proverb
If you have been paying attention, you very well understand the importance of this game against the Niners. Let’s be honest, if the Chargers lose, they can start planning vacations, hunting trips, and tee times. If they win, they are still very much in the playoff race and will be fortunate enough to have an extra day to prepare for Kansas City.
Honestly, Head Coach Mike McCoy should not even have to talk to his Bolts this week, other than to implement the game plan. If they can’t get up for this game, they are dead in the figurative sense, if not the literal. That being said, coaches like to put their stamp on games and Coach McCoy is no exception. I’m sure he will try to get the troops even more fired up as game day approaches.
As for Coach Jim Harbaugh of the Forty-Niners, his job is a bit more challenging. After dropping three straight games and being officially knocked out of the playoff race, he has to find a way to keep his team from quitting. He also has to prove to them that even though rumors are running rampant about this being the last two games that Harbaugh will coach for San Francisco, he is still fired up to lead his team on to the field of battle.
Here is what I would say if I were in the shoes of the two head coaches for this game. Remember that these quotes are not true but simply my interpretation of what a coach may say to his team in this situation. After you read what I have to say, please comment below and let me know how you would handle this game as a head coach of either, or both teams. Now let’s get started.
San Francisco – Jim Harbaugh
- Three Straight Losses: Ok, so we lost three straight games and we are out of the playoffs. I get it; that sucks. You hate it. I hate it. Our fans hate it. So what do we do about it? I’ll tell you what I am doing. I am moving forward. I am acting like a professional and I am doing my job to the best of my ability. I am trying to prepare for the San Diego Chargers as if it were the Super Bowl! I need you to do the same.
- Professionalism: Men, when all of the crazy math equations finally rule you out of the post-season, there are still reasons to go out there and give it your all. There are still reasons to risk injury and play as hard as you ever have. Right off the top of my head, I can think of four different reasons to keep playing hard. Let me run them by you and see if you agree. It all starts with professionalism. Every player in this room is a professional athlete. Everyone here is making very good money to go out and play a kids game for a living. We must be professionals and do our job, no matter what the circumstances. There is no time to pout. There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves. There is plenty of time to prepare for the off-season, when the season is done. It comes down to earning our money by doing our jobs.
- Pride: Next, we have personal pride. You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror. You have to be able to look into your loved ones eyes and know that you did your best. If you quit, you need to live with that decision for an entire off-season and just pray that next year comes and you are able to restore your wounded pride. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in spending my time ashamed of what I have done. Win or lose, I will always give it 100%. I’m asking you to do the same. I believe you will.
- Fans: How about the fans? The San Francisco Forty-Niner fans are some of the best fans in the league. They support us win or lose. They are so loyal that we were able to get a nice new stadium approved. Do you see a new stadium across the bay in Oakland? How about down south in San Diego? I don’t! That is because our fans think we are worth it. Our fans do not want us to leave, no matter what our record is. Our fans deserve to be rewarded.
- Spoilers: If none of those reasons get you pumped, try this one. We have the opportunity to be spoilers. We do not want the Chargers to get what we can’t have. If the Chargers beat us, they are still in the playoff hunt with just one week to go. The road to the playoffs should not pass through San Francisco. If they try to roll through us to get to their destination, we need to throw a monkey wrench into their plans and welcome then to the pack that is outside looking in. The Niners were the team that shot down the Chargers dream of getting a ring back in the ‘90’s. We want them to think of us as a team that they never want to face. They are not better than us. Let’s spoil their season and show them that they do not match up with the San Francisco Forty-Niners!
San Diego – Mike McCoy
- Moving On: Men, I’m not going to sugar coat this. We had our destiny in our hands and we let it slip through our fingers. We lost to two very good football teams, but the way we lost was rather disappointing. We are good enough to beat those teams. We did not execute. We had some very untimely penalties. We had unfortunate injuries. Some of the play calling could have been more aggressive and so on and so on. They were team losses that we need to learn from. We can’t afford to get depressed. We have work to do. Unlike our opponent, we still have life. We can still make it to the tournament. We must move on from our losses and understand that we can no longer make the mistakes that we made in the past. We must play passionate, focused football. That is all there is to it. We have to move on.
- Must Win: I don’t often use the term, “must win”, but there is no avoiding it here. If we want to make it to the post-season, we must win in San Francisco and then win again in Kansas City. Is it possible? If you ask the talking heads and “experts” you would think not. If you ask me, absolutely! The Niners have lost three straight and they have inner turmoil. The Chiefs are a good football team, and it is difficult to play in KC, but they are certainly beatable. If and when we beat those two teams, all it will take is a Baltimore loss, or two losses by either Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. I know you think that is a long-shot. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The Ravens play on the road this week, the Bengals play the Broncos and the Steelers play the Chiefs! The following week, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh play each other. One of them will lose one there for sure! It is obtainable men. But none of that matters if we don’t take care of business.
- Don’t Sleep on These Guys: Although the Niners are down, they are still very dangerous. They are ranked above us is rushing offense, rushing defense and pass defense. Don’t think we can just show up and they will lie down. They are professional athletes, playing for their jobs right now. Yes, there are issues with their coaching situation, but they still have a lot of talent on the field.
- Protect Our QB: Offense, you have got to do a gut-check this week. We have been struggling to move the ball and that is not acceptable. Now we are dealing with an injured quarterback. I believe that Philip still gives us the best chance to win, so he will be out there. Offensive line, you must make your blocks. You must keep Philip upright. Running backs, you must not miss the blitzing backers or safeties. I don’t want any grass stains on Philip’s jersey tomorrow. Now, there are other ways to protect the QB than just pass blocking. Being able to run the ball protects the quarterback. We need holes to run through and we need backs that can either make someone miss, or break tackles for first downs. If we can get them to respect the run, that buys Philip time to throw and slows down their pass rush. Believe it or not, wide receivers can help with protection as well. It cannot take five or six seconds for you to get open. You need to shake your man fast and get open right now! Allow Philip to get rid of the ball in three seconds or less and that will keep him clean and open up deep balls later in the game.
- Dig Deep: Men, sometimes we forget why we are here. We get all wrapped up in the money and the glamour of being a professional football player; we forget what it is all about. I for one am not in this for the money. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get paid, but that is not what pushed me through the hard times that lead to where I am today. I also do not do this for the media attention. God knows that is true. Do you know why I am standing in front you today? Hopefully the same reason that you are here as well. I love football! It was all about the love of the game back then, and it should be now. Take the field Saturday night like team possessed. Go out there and have fun like when you were a kid. Play smart, but play hard. We have all off-season to rest and recover. Let’s leave it on the field and see if we can make next week just as meaningful as this week. If we play the way I know we can, I truly believe we will punch our ticket to the post-season. Now that is fun stuff. Let’s go out and have some fun! Winning is fun!!!
There you have it! My work is done! I really appreciate you taking the time to read this article and visiting BoltBlitz.com. Please leave your comment below; I will surely get back to you. Enjoy the game and Go Chargers !!!!
(Thanks to Chargers.com for the pic)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The debate surrounding whether or not Ryan Mathews should be re-signed is widespread, but a lot of it swings toward people giving up on number 24. I am in the minority when it comes to this subject. Not only do I think he should be re-signed, I think it would be incredibly detrimental to the team if he is not brought back via a new contract. Mike Pisciotta, Senior writer and assistant editor here at BoltBlitz.com, does not agree. Let the debate begin.
Ryan Mathews has been a valuable part of the Chargers offensive attack. He’s worked his tail off to improve his ball security and has learned to let plays develop in front of him before he commits. Problem is, he just can’t seem to stay on the field.
Booga Peters and I will debate Ryan’s future with the Bolts: do they offer him a new deal or is it time to part ways?
Mike: There is no debating Ryan Mathews’ value to the Chargers and to Philip Rivers. He is responsible for the playoff run the Bolts made in 2013 and for his role in the defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild-Card Round of the 2013 Playoffs. Problem is, he can’t stay healthy and can’t stay on the field. Therefore, his contributions are mitigated by the negative impact felt when he’s watching the game in street clothes.
Booga: Whether it has been bad luck or fluke-like injuries, Mathews has had trouble staying on the field. The 2013 season is the only year that he has played 16 games in his 5-year career. That being said, I think it would be a mistake to not find a way to work out an incentive-laden deal with the former Fresno State running back. I can’t imagine it would be a long-term contract, but given the right deal it makes sense to me to make it happen. The Charger offense is clearly better when he is on the field.
Mike: The offense is better WHEN he’s on the field. But at what cost when he’s not? First off, it’s a waste of cap money to keep him anywhere near his current salary, not to mention that the offense has ZERO balance without him. Could be a waste of a precious spot on the 53-man roster that Tom Telesco can ill afford to blow.
Booga: You kind of contradict yourself saying that he’s a waste of cap money and then following that up with the offense has zero balance without him. Telesco will actually have a tremendous amount of cap space in 2014. A two-year, incentive-laden deal with a third-year option at a price tag outside of the top-ten salaries at the running back spot makes sense.
Mike: Not a contradiction at all. Point being, the Chargers cannot afford to give up a roster spot to someone who’s only going to be good for half a season’s worth of games. The team would be better served with a running back who doesn’t spend more time on the training table than he does on the field. Look, I like Ryan. I want to see him do well. However, I would rather see that roster spot go to someone who can play 16 games and not vanish for series at a time in the games he’s suited up for.
Booga: There are no guarantees when it comes to playing time or health in the NFL. Mathews has had more than his “fair” share of injuries; most of which have been to areas of the body that he hadn’t had injured in the past. You did contradict yourself in your statement prior to your last reaction. You can’t say it is a waste of cap space and then say that the offense is better when he is on the field when debating that he isn’t an option for a re-signing.
Additionally, a waste of a roster spot? When it has become insanely obvious that Ryan makes the offense better and less predictable, wouldn’t a player like Mathews make Donald Brown expendable? Wouldn’t the money freed up, along with the much-needed cap space for Telesco to utilize in 2015, make signing him more realistic? Let’s keep it rolling with you addressing the situation and my rebuttals.
Mike: This team needs, or should I say deserves, a man who can give 16 games and 25 carries each and every game. I think the numbers bear out that Ryan just isn’t that guy. Over his tenure in San Diego, he averages just over 14 carries per game/12 games per season and that just isn’t enough. That’s a lot of pressure on the passing game.
Booga: The only running back in the entire NFL that is on pace to carry the ball 25 times a game is DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys. It is completely unrealistic, in this day and age, to expect 25 carries a game for a 16-game season. There is literally one player doing it. Today’s NFL doesn’t require a back to carry the ball that many times. Ball carriers cannot be asked to tote the rock for 400 carries a season. Your request is unrealistic; especially considering the nature of today’s NFL.
Mike: The nature of today’s NFL… please, dude. You’re using the “monkey see, monkey do” defense, but that’s another topic. On topic, Chargers will be lucky to get six games from Ryan this year, let alone seven. He hasn’t practiced again this week. To be available for less than half the games is a waste of precious cap money and a roster spot. Regardless of why these injuries keep happening, be it bad luck or any other reason, the production when healthy is grossly overshadowed by the lack of availability to help the Chargers take the next step.
Booga: Despite my initial excitement over the Donald Brown signing, he seems to not make an impact in the running game when on the field. The cap-hit taken due to a release next year would not be that steep if Tom Telesco decides to part ways with number 34. I believe that Mathews is worth taking “another” risk on by re-signing him to a short-term deal that is based on performance and health via incentives. The offense is nowhere near as potent when he is not out there. His health has been a concern, but this is a gamble that I think Telesco should feel confident in taking.
Booga: It is clear that Mike and I agree that the offense is much better when Ryan Mathews is on the field. He changes the offense for the better. His ability to wear down opposing defenses helps the Charger defense as well. There is no denying that he has had trouble staying on the field. I think the reward outweighs the risk if the team takes the chance on re-signing him. There are multiple types of contracts that could be put together that protect the Chargers from spending too much money should he get injured. Mike makes great points in his portion of the debate. But as I said, it would be a mistake to hope to find someone to replace Mathews and then find that the replacement may not pan out. With many needs all over the team come 2015, addressing the running back position via the draft or free agency would mean that another hole may not be filled; or they may have to settle with a player that is not at the caliber of Ryan Mathews.
What are your thoughts on re-signing Ryan Mathews? Let us know by leaving your opinions below in the comment section.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Mike Pisciotta and Booga Peters
Heading into the 2014 season, the San Diego Chargers looked incredibly promising; even with one of the most difficult schedules in the league. General Manager, Tom Telesco, worked extremely hard in the offseason in order to add depth to the roster; even with an extremely small salary cap. To be specific, Telesco only had roughly $625,000 left in cap space after paying the offensive, defensive, and special teams’ salaries; the dead money hit alone was $16,335,000. Even under those circumstances, Telesco was able to beef up the backfield with multiple running backs, regain some game changing defensive players, and added a very talented draft class to the roster. Yet, the season didn’t play out as most expected when the pandemic of injuries hit the Chargers team. At that point, the motto “next man up” was adopted.
The next man up is a phrase that most professional teams technically want to reframe from using; it essentially indicates the starter is unable to play and another player has to fill in. Yet, the Chargers have embraced it since week one. Pro Bowler center, Nick Hardwick, was placed on injured reserve after the Arizona match-up, granting center Rich Ohrnberger the starting role. However, Ohrnberger struggled with injuries, forcing the Chargers to sign guard, Doug Legursky. Not even a month later, Legursky was placed on injured reserve, leaving an ailing Ohrnberger and rookie guard Chris Watt as the next men up. It doesn’t stop there, Ohrnberger was added to the growing injured reserve roster and Watt held the starting role at center. Who would have thought that Watt would then leave the Baltimore Ravens game with a calf injury; leaving the Chargers with their fifth center to play, Trevor Robinson.
The center position wasn’t the only one to face heartache. During the second week against the Seattle Seahawks, star running back Ryan Mathews sprained his MCL and was expected to miss a significant amount of time. If you ever think that lighting doesn’t strike twice, think again. The follow week, running back Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve due to a season ending leg injury. The originally stacked backfield wasn’t looking so stacked anymore and the Chargers soon expected undrafted rookie running back, Branden Oliver “Bo”, to fill in. Not only did he fill in, he impressed the entire league with over 215 rushing yards and three touchdowns in week’s five and six; awarding him with Pepsi’s Rookie of the Week in week 5. To add depth, Telesco brought back veteran running back Ronnie Brown who spent last year on the Chargers active roster.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Third year linebacker, Melvin Ingram, was placed on the Reserve-Injured list with the designation to return after suffering a hip injury in week two. The next week, second year linebacker Manti Te’o suffered a fractured foot which sidelined him until week eleven. Already missing two starting linebackers, rookie linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu was ailing a hamstring injury which limited his productivity and playing time. Again, next man up, fourth year linebacker Andrew Gachkar filled in for his injured teammates. Not only did he bring passion and fire to the field, he was able to accumulate 7 stuffs, 21 total tackles, and a fumble recovery.
Gachkar wasn’t the only one to step in, outside linebacker Cordarro Law has stepped up when given the green light. An undrafted free agent in 2012, Law signed with the Chargers in February of 2014. Spending much of his time on the practice squad, Law continues to get the job done. With veteran outside linebacker Dwight Freeney becoming a free agent after this season, there’s a no question that Law can earn a 53-man active roster spot if he continues the hard work he puts in.
Starting at cornerback was the Chargers first round draft pick, Jason Verrett. Impressively, he was making a contending run for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year by week 9. However, just after the bye week, Verrett was placed on injured reserve due to a torn labrum. At this point, you might be asking, “How does an NFL survive all these injures?” and the answer again is simply, next man up.
Not only has the offense and defense suffered from the injury bug, but the special teams took a big blow a few weeks ago. One of the league’s top punters, Mike Scifres, broke his clavicle during the New England Patriot Game; forcing Nick Novak, who had not punted a ball since high school, to take on the punting duties for the remainder of the game. Much can be said about a player filling in for a position they have no training on, but Novak impressed with what little he was given. Shortly after, Pro Bowl punter, Mat McBriar, was signed to replace Scifres. McBriar was a mentor to Darren Bennett, the Chargers longtime punter who preceded Scifres. He brings to the punting unit an average of 45.1 yards per attempt with 201 landing inside the 20.
The next man up saying isn’t exclusive to sidelining injuries, rather those playing through the bumps and bruises; quarterback Philip Rivers is a prime example. It’s no secret that El Capitan has been playing through some bruised ribs and a sore back. Along with Rivers, brute defensive end Corey Liuget is also playing through injuries. Just the other day, Liuget was seen sporting a walking boot; most commonly used to keep the player mobile as much as possible, yet still protecting the injured structure. Although these top Charger players give us a heart attack when we don’t see them at practice, they still show up on game day ready to get the win.
Heading into week 16, the Chargers are faced with more anguish. Veteran linebacker Donald Butler was placed on injured reserve after suffering a dislocated elbow against the Denver Broncos last week. A day later, it was announced that second year wide receiver, Keenan Allen, suffered a broken collarbone and ankle injury. With San Diego fighting for their lives to earn a spot into the post-season, the next man up motto is being used more than ever. In the much-needed win against the San Francisco 49ers, expected to be active is tight end Ladarius Green, wide receiver Seyi Ajurotutu, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Let’s not forget the impact Branden Oliver and Donald Brown need to make against the stealthy 49ers defense as Mathews recovers from an ankle injury suffered in week 14.
Many would think that it’s impossible that a team could possibly have an 8-6 record with all the injures the Chargers have accrued this year. With nine players on injured reserve and a few other active roster injuries, any team would have faulted and given up hopes by now. Yet, these are the San Diego Super Chargers; the underdog, the dark horse, and let’s not forget the team that no one ever expects much from. It’s alright, the Chargers still have a chance at the post-season and the opportunity to prove that anything can be done. The next man up motto has been the staple of the organization all year, but why stop now? The season isn’t even close to being over…
Dark and stormy times are surrounding America’s most beautiful city. We all know about the different scenarios if the Chargers beat San Francisco and Kansas City. Needing help from other teams to get in. Like most of you, I would prefer just cheering on the Chargers and not have to show any signs of allegiance towards teams like Cleveland or Houston.
There has been so much negativity this season, especially these past few weeks. Can we blame those nay-sayers? Here are some examples of what San Diego and their fans have had to deal with recently:
- The talk about a new stadium/city.
- The Chargers were once one of the hottest teams in the NFL but then a three-game losing streak happened. What followed was a 3 game winning streak where the combined margin of victory was 3.67 points, and now a current two game losing streak.
- Rivers once lead the MVP ballots and now shows mediocre numbers all the while talks of him not being an elite QB consume social media.
- Injuries have continued to spread like the mumps in the NHL.
- Charger players are actually vocalizing about the opposing fans out-numbering the home faithful.
Perhaps they need a hand up – it is the holiday season after all. Having to play with their backs against the wall, along with gifts from other teams, might turn out for the better after all. In looking back, the Chargers made a good run last year and again back in 2008 under the same types of situations. In those years not only did they need to win to get in, but they needed others to fail; such as this season. Sure it is stressful times for players, coaches, management and fans when our hopes of glory comes down to winning out, and getting help from the outside. But what a rush right?!!?? Take last year for example, when the Chiefs missed that FG, how loud did you scream? How many bottles of whatever you were drinking ended up broken on the floor?
Do you all remember what we accomplished in the playoffs last year? We went into Cincinnati facing a team that had not lost at home during the regular season and who had also claimed victory against San Diego weeks prior. Since your memories are in full force, take the time travel portal back to 2008. The Super Chargers had clinched a playoff berth and AFC West title after the last game of the season. We then beat the Manning-lead Colts on their own turf. Both of these seasons we would lose the next round, however we extended our optimistic joy about the team, even if it was for one extra week.
Now take the 2006 season. We were the best. Super Bowl bound the Chargers were, and the first seed is what they achieved; along with our only MVP to put in the trophy case. Our confidence was soaring high. Bolt believers were laid back believing that nobody could touch us; The Untouchables. Then…..the interception was fumbled. In 2009, the Chargers had clinched the AFC West in week 15 which resulted in home-field advantage in the playoffs and…a one-and-done loss to the Jets. Somewhat similar is the 2004 season when, in week 15, the Cinderella story Lightning Bolts cemented entry into the playoffs as well as the AFC West title; only to, again, be one-and-done with a loss to the Jets.
This season, like others in our most recent past, has been an emotional roller coaster. As much as I would prefer to win every game and not have to worry about every single loss, or count on another team losing, it seems that perhaps we live for this type of stressful, thrill-seeking adventure; we yearn for it. Sounds ridiculous but hear me out: What did we all used to pretend would happen when we were alone playing ball in our backyards as kids?
“It’s the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the World Series. Two down, base loaded and the tying run on second. There’s the pitch..BOOM!…little Johnny goes back, leaps over the fence and catches the ball to win the game! The crowd goes wild!”
“4th down, team is down by 4. The QB is reading the defense. Hut..Hut…HIKE! The QB has to scramble and with no time left on the clock, he chucks it down field and…..it’s caught!!! Johnny catches it in the endzone to win the Super Bowl!!!”
Or how many times do we still do this today with a balled up piece of paper and a trash can:
“10 seconds on the clock and down by 1, Johnny brings the ball up the court with Michael Jordan in his face. 9….8….7….6…..5….4….3..Johnny shoots the ball….2……1…SWISH!”
As euphoric as it might have been to patiently wait for the playoffs to start and not be concerned with the final two games of the regular season, our team is making this an edge-of-your-seat thriller. December is Philip’s month and even though we are 0-2 to start, he has that fiery edge of competitive spirit we all love to see. December is knocking Rivers and company around in the ring so far, but like Joe Frazier coming back fighting through an injured right hand against Ali in 1975, he is not going down without a fight. Would we or our Bolts want it any other way?
“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” – Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption.
There is still hope Charger fans. Hope for a new stadium. Hope that despite the injuries, the boys in blue and yellow will get red-hot and march into the playoffs. Hope that our fearless leader, and toughest QB in the game, plays to an elite level. And with hope spreads optimism. Isn’t it more enjoyable to hang on to even a shred of hope than to wrap up in pessimism and negativity? I for one, am ready for this week-to-week thriller and who knows…maybe the good guys win in the end.