AFC West

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Currently, many NFL fans have been faced with a very difficult decision. Now that my team has moved away, or will soon be moving away, who should I root for? It seems that the answer should be obvious: Root for anyone you want!

But, alas, it is not that simple.

Unfortunately, right now in “Chargers Country” there is a bit of a civil war. Long-time Chargers fans who feel deeply hurt by their team moving to Los Angeles are not only rooting against the Bolts, they have elevated owner Dean Spanos to the level of Osama Bin Laden on their list of most evil men who have ever walked the earth.

All I have to say to those people is that I understand and feel their pain. I was born and raised in San Diego and I certainly get why you feel abandoned, bullied, and misled. I especially feel for those who knocked on doors, gathered signatures, joined fan groups, et cetera. I also feel for those who live in the county and did not get a chance to vote.

On the other side are the fans who believe that they can move on despite their dislike for Mr. Spanos. They just want to watch and enjoy NFL football and not have the same passion for any other team than their Chargers. Yes, Spanos benefits from their support, but they don’t really care because they put the players above the ownership. To those people I would say that I am in your boat. I have come to grips with the fact that my team has a very flawed owner, but I will continue to root for my Bolts.

Now the interesting group….the undecided. These are Chargers fans who just can’t make up their mind. Should they remain Chargers fans? Or, should they shop for a new team? If they decide to move on to greener pastures, what team should they choose? For those people, I offer some facts to ponder. I hope they help. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular teams in the NFL and why they may or may not deserve your loyalty, love, and hard-earned dollars.

New England Patriots

If you are looking to celebrate championships, this may be the team for you. At least while they still have head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, I would never bet against them. But hold on just one minute before you choose the Pats. Consider the fact that they have been caught cheating multiple times. Everything from filming other teams signals to deflating footballs. I won’t even go into the Aaron Hernandez story. They like to say that they push the envelope. In reality, they rip the envelope open and rely on their popularity and extremely wealthy owner, Bob Kraft, to save them in the end. So far, their plan has been successful. So, you need to ask yourself if you can root for a team that has possible morality issues and one that has most likely been one of your most hated teams for years? If you can get past all this, enjoy the next few years as a winner.

Oakland Raiders

I can’t even believe that I am listing the Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders as a viable option, but here they are. Yes, I have heard many ex-Chargers fans saying that they are switching their loyalties to the Raiders. As always, I believe that is their choice and they are welcome to it. I just don’t understand it.

Let’s be fair. The Raiders are an up and coming team that honestly has a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy within the next two or three years. That can be enticing to any waffling fan. They have a great, young quarterback, outstanding pass rushers, and exciting play makers. All that being said, they are still the Raiders! If you have been loyal to the Chargers for any length of time, you most likely have a deep-seated hatred for the Silver and Black. But let’s put rivalry behind us for a moment. In my opinion, it makes absolutely no sense for a Chargers fan to jump ship and join Raiders Nation. You are mad at Dean Spanos for not being loyal to his fans, yet you are willing to give Mark Davis a pass? The Raiders have a long history of screwing their fans. They went from Oak-town to Los Angeles (sound familiar), back to Oakland and now they are moving to Vegas. All along they have used cities like Irwindale and Los Angeles as leverage to use against the city of Oakland to force them to build them a new stadium (sound familiar?). It is quite confusing to me why anyone who quotes loyalty as the reason that they are leaving their team would go to a team that is quite possibly the least loyal franchise in sports. But that is just me.

Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos

Good teams. Quality ownership. Chance to win in the future. The only real negative would be that you would be going from hating them to loving them just because you are mad at Dean Spanos. If you can sleep at night, go for it.

New Orleans Saints

I have heard other Chargers fans say that they are going to follow the Saints because of Drew Brees. Yes, Brees is great and he was a fan favorite (more-so after leaving) in San Diego. The problem is that he will only be around for a short time and then you are stuck with this decision all over again. Do you stick with a team you don’t have any passion for? Or, do you become a free agent again.

Los Angeles Rams

Again, I don’t get it. Yes, I have heard the argument that supporting the Rams would be a throat-punch to Dean Spanos. I suppose there is some validity to that. But once again, we are talking about supporting an owner who abandoned his fans. Yet another owner who sees the bottom line as dollar signs, rather than loyalty to those who love their team. Also, an organization that has gone from Los Angeles, to Anaheim, to St. Louis, and back to Los Angeles. Once again, it is your right to make this choice, but to me, your logic is flawed.

Arizona Cardinals

If you are old like me, you may think of the first time that they fans in St. Louis lost a team. It was the Cardinals, not the Rams. I’ll admit that the Cardinals have been in Arizona for quite a while now and do not seem to be heading out anytime soon. I think you are safe to root for them, if location is your biggest concern. Arizona isn’t even that far to drive if you want to make an annual trip or two to see a home game. They will also play in Los Angeles at least once a year. I don’t have any reason to like the Cards, but if you do, knock yourself out.

Pittsburgh Steelers

“Sixburgh” knows how to win championships. They must be a fun franchise to watch. They play at a high level year in and year out. They have cool looking uniforms and a unique helmet with a logo on just one side. They do have a history of paying guys who have some pretty serious “character flaws”, but most teams in the NFL can say the same. My favorite memory of the Steelers is watching them go down to defeat to my Chargers in the AFC Championship game, just a week after producing their own Super Bowl video. Makes me smile every time I think of it.

Dallas Cowboys

“America’s Team”! You are most likely an American, so it makes sense to like the Cowboys. Right? Seems to me that the Cowboys are one of the most polarizing teams in the NFL. People either love them or hate them. Either way, they have a very solid team and have a real chance to be playing on the next several Super Bowl Sundays. I’m sure there is room on the Cowboys bandwagon (or wagon train in their case). Perhaps before long, you will find yourself as passionate about that star as you were the lightning bolt. Do remember though, owner Jerry Jones came up with the framework for the Chargers and Rams to share a stadium in LA.

Philadelphia Eagles

This choice was interesting to me. It came up the other day on social media that an ex-Chargers fan was going to root for the Eagles going forward because of Darren Sproles and the recent drafting of Donnell Pumphrey (RB out of San Diego State University). I have no real argument against this choice. Perhaps by the time Pumphrey concludes what is hopefully an illustrious career with the Eagles, the new fans will have found a way to attach themselves to Philly and will continue on. Perhaps not.

Atlanta Falcons

This could be the flavor of the month, or it could be a legit choice for free agent fans. Everyone seems to love their owner and there aren’t many negative stories plaguing the roster. They were Super Bowl runner-ups last year (they should have won) as well. So again, good team with a chance to win. Perhaps you can find a way to jump on board. If so, enjoy the ride. It should be fun for a while.

The Field

“The Field” would consist of all the other team except the Los Angeles Chargers.  These are teams that have no obvious reason to pick them. Sure there are great players like JJ Watt or Aaron Rodgers out there who you may like enough to start following. But beware, players careers are short. Do you really want to be right back in the same spot again in five or 10 years? Perhaps there is a city that is important to your family. Your Dad grew up in Chicago and is an avid Bears fan. Okay, root for “da Bears”. Maybe you are moving elsewhere and your new city or state has a team. Great! Your choice is easy. Maybe you want to pick your team the way you pick your horse at Del Mar. “I really like the colors on this one.” Whatever your method, the choice is yours and no one else’s opinion matters. Peace and love, Baby. Peace and love.

And finally….

the Los Angeles Chargers (that is so strange to type)

Let’s assume for a moment you are straddling the fence and you just can’t decide what side to come down on. The side that shows Dean Spanos how much you despise him, or the side that shows how much you love the team despite how much you despise Dean Spanos. Notice, I am working on the assumption that the vast majority of Chargers fans, current and ex, share a hatred for Spanos. Anyway, you have a decision to make. Let me see if I can help. First of all, consider the aforementioned teams and whether or not you have any passion for any of them. If you do, problem solved.

If you are one of those “two favorite teams” people, your task is easy. But, if you are like me and do not believe in having two favorite teams, you still have work to do.

Here is what worked for me.

I simply paid attention. I paid attention to what was going on in the NFL. I listened and read about the various news on players, owners and teams. Then I paid attention to how that news made me feel. It didn’t take long before I realized that I was still far more interested in Chargers news than any other team. The more I heard about the players, the more I realized that Dean Spanos means nothing to me. Yes, I realize that every shirt, hat, jersey, or ticket I buy puts money into Dean’s pocket. I just don’t care. Dean Spanos is rich and he will continue to be rich, with or without me. Why should I let him ruin my enjoyment?

It finally hit me last week. There was a build up for the draft and I found myself paying more attention than in recent weeks and checking mock drafts for who people thought the Chargers would pick. Then draft day came and I got more and more excited as the Chargers pick drew near. I can’t say that I had the same level of interest or excitement as I have had in the past. But I can say that I had far more interest and excitement when the Chargers picked than any other team. I even got frustrated as I noticed the NFL network kept going to commercial break before the Bolt’s picks and therefore didn’t have much time to discuss the team or their needs.

Yes, I have decided to stay with my team because I do not care in the least about any other team, and I do not feel the desire to waste all that I have gone through for the past 39 years. That being said, I am not saying that you have to feel the same way. Although, if you are reading this on Boltblitz.com, you still have some interest in the team. That much is obvious.

If you choose to move on to another team, or no team at all, or whoever is playing the Chargers on any given Sunday…good for you. I respect your choice. It is a personal decision for every individual to work out. I hope you don’t waste your time and energy trying to spread your hate to others. Who I like doesn’t affect you in the least. Nor does who you like affect me. Football season will be here before you know it. I hope you find your team and manage to enjoy the season. Remember, it’s a game.

Thanks for reading.

Go Bolts!

Will McCafferty

 

 

 

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It is no secret that the San Diego Chargers are on the hunt for a new head coach. Yes, Mike McCoy has worn out his welcome and has been shown the door. As Chargers coaches go, he wasn’t anywhere near the worst. Nor was he near the best. Some give him the excuse that injuries handcuffed McCoy and made it impossible to win. There is an element of truth to that statement, but the fact that he still showed poor game management and lacked any kind of personality didn’t help his argument for staying on and at least finishing his contract. No, McCoy had to go and a new coach must be ushered in. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that this hire may be the most important decision that the Bolts have moving forward. More important then who they re-sign, who they draft, and as far as wins and losses go, where they play.

Judging by the list of candidates that the Chargers have lined up, it appears that the upper management may want a defensive minded coach. In fact, the first three candidates interviewed were all current defensive coordinators. History shows that building a team with the attitude of a defensive mind has worked well for the Chargers. I know what you are thinking, if you are old enough to remember, “The Chargers earned their stripes as an offensive juggernaut!” Well that is true, but that style has not worked in decades. The last two coaches who truly built a formidable contender were both defensive minded; Bobby Ross and Marty Schottenheimer.

Taking a look at all 15 former head coaches of the San Diego Chargers, you will see that only six have a winning record. Here is the list of former coaches, when they coached, their record and winning percentages:

Sid Gilman                                    ’60-’69 & ’71            87-57-6         .600

Charlie Waller                              ’69-’70                       9-7-3              .553

Harland Svare                              ’71-73                         7-17-2            .307

Ron Waller                                    ’73                              1-5                  .166

Tommy Prothro                           ’74-78                        21-39             .350

Don Coryell                                  ’78-’86                      72-60             .545

Al Saunders                                  ’86-’88                      17-22             .436

Dan Henning                                ’89-’91                       16-32             .333

Bobby Ross                                   ’92-’96                       50-36            .581

Kevin Gilbride                              ’97-’98                       6-16                .272

June Jones                                     ’98                              3-7                  .300

Mike Riley                                      ’99-01                        14-34             .292

Marty Schottenheimer              ’02-’06                      47-33             .588

Norv Turner                                  ’07-’12                       59-43             .578

Mike McCoy                                   ’13-’17                        28-38            .424

As you  can clearly see, it has been a long time since an offensive mindset has been successful for the Chargers. Sid Gilman was the only coach to ever lead the Chargers to a championship and he was most definitely an offensive coach. But Gilman was doing things offensively with the passing game that had never been done before. Defenses had not had time to adjust to his aerial circus.

Sure, Norv Turner had the fourth best winning percentage of any Chargers coach in history, but it is widely understood that he inherited a great roster from Schottenheimer and systematically burned it to the ground in just a few years.

Yes, Don Coryell is a legend and had one of the best offenses in NFL history! But, the lack of importance placed on the defense in those years doomed his teams to falling short of their ultimate goal. Now, the same thing could be said about Schottenheimer and the post-season. He did indeed fail in the post-season as well, even with his defensive mindset. That is true, but let’s not forget that Marty was fired with a 14-2 record and a roster that could still be dominant for years to come. He was not given the chance to run the full course. We will never know what could have been.

As previously stated, it does appear to be time for a new sheriff in town. Not just a new face saying the same old garbage. The Chargers need a new face, with a new attitude. An attitude of accountability and determination. An attitude of winning is what matters, not excuses. If they fail to find the right man for the job, look for beloved players like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates to end their potential Hall of Fame careers without any jewelry to show for it. It’s now or never for those great Chargers.

Whether the Chargers go with an offensive or defense coach, or even a special teams guy, there is one thing that they need to do above all else……GET IT RIGHT!

 

 

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So, I’ve been reading lots of comments about how we should hire either Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. Let’s take a look at both candidates and a few other names that have been mentioned by Chargers fans.

 

Jon Gruden: Personally, I don’t get it. I don’t see Gruden as a great coach who can walk in and save the day. After two minutes of research, I found that Jon Gruden has a career coaching record of 95-81 (.540). He coached for 11 years. He had a record of 5-4 in the playoffs with one Super Bowl win. His best single season record was 12-4 and his worst was 4-12.

 
Gruden’s record shows that he is an adequate coach who can win with the right players. I believe his reputation as a tough guy (Chucky) and his recognizable name are the two reasons he is considered a “sexy” pick.

 
Bill Cowher: A much better choice, in my humble opinion. He has a career record of 149-90-1 (.623). He coached for 15 years. He was 12-9 in the post-season with two trips to the Super Bowl with one victory and one loss. His best single season record was 15-1 and his worst was 6-10. There are two knocks that go against Cowher. 1. He is too old. 2. He has a cushy job and doesn’t want to leave it.

 

I don’t buy number one. He is 59 years old. That is not old in coach years. He just retired young. Number two, on the other hand, I totally believe. I don’t think he would want to leave his TV gig for the grind of the NFL. Also, if he came back and failed, it would tarnish his legacy.

 

Let’s just move from both of these guys. If Cowher says he wants the job, I’m fine with that. But I don’t think he will. If Gruden wants the job, I would not be excited.

 
For comparison’s sake, Bill Belichick’s winning percentage is .670 and Norv Turner’s winning percentage with San Diego was .583 with a career percentage of .483.

Other names being talked about by Chargers fans on social media:

Rex Ryan: Coached for eight years so far. Record of 60-65 (.480). Playoff record of 4-2 with no Super Bowl appearances. Best record 11-5, worst 4-12

David Shaw: No NFL head coaching experience. .788 winning percentage while at Stanford.

Ken Whisenhunt: Head coach for eight years. Overall record of 48-71 (.403). Post-season record 4-2 with one trip to the Super Bowl (loss). Best record 10-6. Worst 2-14.

Sean Payton: Head coach for 10 years. Career record of 92-65 (.586). Post-season record 6-4 with one Super Bowl victory. Best record 13-3 (twice). Worst 7-9.

Mike McCoy: Head coach for four years. Career record of 27-34 (.443). Post-season record 1-1 with zero trips to the Super Bowl. Best record 9-7. Worst 4-12.

 

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The best piece of advice I can give a sports fan is this: cheer for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.

No matter how wonderful a player is on or off the field, someday either the team or the player will make the difficult decision to go a different direction. The team remains, but the players go through the never ending revolving doors known as free agency and retirement. Remember the aforementioned advise when you look at the following list of fan favorites and impact players who are on the last year of their contracts with the Chargers. Here is the list of the players who may leave at seasons end. The departure of some will leave a hole in the team. The departure of others will leave a hole in fans hearts. So as I crank up The Clash in the background, let’s take a look at who should stay and who should go, as well as what they are making for the 2016 season.

Melvin Ingram (OLB) $7.751 million: Staying: Although Ingram has had to deal with injuries and has under achieved in a statistical way, the future of Ingram seems bright. The addition of Joey Bosa has made this pair of pass-rushers quite a handful for offensive lines. The sack totals are not as impressive as their AFC West rivals, but the fact that the Chargers lead the league in interceptions is a sure sign that these guys are putting pressure on quarterbacks and forcing errant throws. For a defensive front seven to be effective in today’s NFL, there must be two dominant pass rushers and a strong Nose Tackle. Ingram, Bosa and Mebane fit the bill for now. Ingram will be pursued by other teams, but expect the Chargers to overpay a little to keep their former first round draft pick around for the next three to four years.

Danny Woodhead (RB) $5.5 million: Going: I want to be clear about something here. Danny Woodhead is a wonderful player who can be a spark-plug for an offense, and a true leader. But along with his greatness is a serious problem. Since joining the Chargers, Woodhead has only played in 37 of the 64 games he was eligible to participate in. He has had two full seasons and two cut seriously short by injury, including the 2016 campaign. Not only does Woodhead have a hard time staying healthy, he is 31 years old. Not many running backs maintain their effectiveness for long after age 30. I’m sorry to say, the Chargers will move on from Woodhead. He will either sign somewhere as a free agent for the 2017 season, or hang up the cleats. Of course, there is the possibility that the Chargers would try to sign him at a discounted price on the chance that he will stay healthy. Unfortunately, he will most likely find a better offer somewhere else.

Mantai Te’o (MLB) $5.172 million: Going: Te’o is another player who has been plagued by injuries during his time in San Diego. By seasons end, he will have played in just 38 of a possible 64 games, over his four season tenure with the Bolts. He has been improving every year, and the improvement of the defensive line has helped him scrape down the line and get to ball carriers. But, it hasn’t helped his foot-speed, or ability to cover backs in the flat. Look for opposing quarterbacks to pick on Te’o on third and long. The fact is, Te’o will go down in Chargers history as a borderline bust. Nice enough guy, just not a great football player.

Jahleel Addae (SS) $2.553 million: Going: Chargers fans seem to have a great deal of respect and admiration for SS Jahleel Addae. Why? Because he is a hitter! Fans love players who come in and lay some hat on opposing teams. Addae certainly does just that. He has been a Charger for four years and has quite the reputation for having no fear. The problem is that all those hits have really taken a toll on Addae’s body. In fact, he has had several injuries, including concussions. Having only played 43 of his possible 54 games so far as a Charger, there must be concern that he will spend more and more time on the injured list. He is fairly inexpensive, but you do not want to pay anyone to ride out injuries. I believe that if Addae fails to get through the remaining five games of the 2016 schedule without incident, the Chargers will have no choice but to let him go.

Branden Oliver (RB) $1.53 million: Staying: Normally I would have said that a player who really hasn’t done very much, and has missed an entire season to injury, would not be returning. In Oliver’s case, I think the Chargers may take one more chance. He is the epitome of a fan favorite. Bolt fans just love watching Oliver run/return the ball and bang into those large defenders. Yes, Oliver plays larger than his 5’8″, 208 lb frame. He is such a fan favorite, some fans wanted Melvin Gordon either cut, or dropped to second string, so that Oliver could get his chance. The fact of the matter is that despite a few impressive games, Oliver does not have the stats to explain the love he receives. That being said, the Bolts may just bring him back because he will be cheap and the fans love him.

Korey Toomer (OLB) $600,000: Staying: It could be a little premature to add Toomer to this list, but he has been an impact player since joining the team in week four. With his playing time increasing, Toomer has racked up 33 tackles in the last three weeks! He is an aggressive player who likes to hit. The Seahawks and the Raiders are going to regret letting this guy go. Look for Toomer to get another two the three years added to his already very affordable contract.

Dontrelle Inman (WR) $600,000: Staying: Without a whole lot of playing time, Inman has managed to have some big games. He is a sure-handed receiver that was plucked from the Canadian Football League to fill in for injured receivers. Although much of the success of the young Chargers receivers can be credited to Philip Rivers, there is no denying that Inman has the ability to get open and catch the ball. He just may be part of a talented youth movement at wide receiver in San Diego.

There are many more players to make decisions on at the end of this season. Very few are notable. None are tremendous impact players or former high draft picks. Even though these names seem less important, some of them will return because they are affordable and they add much needed depth. The following is a list of players who will most likely be brought back to fill various roles: Mike Windt (LS), Tenny Palepoi (NT), Sean McGrath (TE), Damion Square (NT), and Isaiah Burse (WR/KR), Kenny Wiggens (G).

Finally, the list of potential free agents who are either doomed to be shown the door, or will fight hard and get back on the team: Sean Lissemore (NT), Tourek Williams (OLB), Trevor Williams (CB), Asante Cleveland (TE), Adrian Phillips (FS), Kellen Clemens (QB), Javontee Herndon (WR), Codero Law (OLB), Jeff Cumberland (TE), Dexter McCluster (RB/KR), Ronnie Hillman (RB),  Jeremy Butler (WR), Geremy Davis (WR), Tyreek Burwell (T), Chris Landrum (OLB). Some of these guys have a real shot at making the team next year, they just will not be high priorities for Chargers GM Tom Telesco.

So, what do you think? Which of these guys will be sporting lightning bolts next season? Leave your comments below.

 

 

(Credit: Getty Images/Harry How) Korey Toomer #56 of the San Diego Chargers recovers a fumble stripping Jordan Taylor #87 of the Denver Broncos of the ball during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on Oct. 13, 2016 in San Diego.

(Credit: Getty Images/Harry How) Korey Toomer #56 of the San Diego Chargers recovers a fumble stripping Jordan Taylor #87 of the Denver Broncos of the ball during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on Oct. 13, 2016 in San Diego.

 

Korey Toomer has only been wearing lightning bolts since September, but it surely seems longer.

The former Oakland Raider is as happy to be with the Chargers as they are to have him. He is finally getting an opportunity to put his talents on display, especially that 4.53-second 40-yard dash.

After being drafted by Seattle in 2012 (round 5, selection No. 154). He was on the roster for 20 (including preseason) games during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory in 2013. Between being on injured-reserve for two straight years and having guys like Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner ahead of him, it was difficult for Toomer to get on the field in Seattle. He was released from the Seahawks in 2014. Subsequent stops in Dallas and St. Louis with minimal playing time (special teams only) garnered three tackles in seven games. More of the same followed in Oakland, so much so that he terminated his contract with the Raiders to sign in San Diego.

The signing of the ultra athletic Toomer has gone a long way towards solidifying the linebacking corps. Season-ending injuries to Manti Te’o and Nick Dzubnar left a void that demanded filling. Recent injuries to both Jatavis Brown (knee) and Denzel Perryman (hamstring) only increased the necessity of his presence.

Ahead of the match-up against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Toomer had started in four out of seven games. One of his best plays to date came in the Thursday Night Football game when he tackled Broncos wide receiver Jordan Taylor and the Broncos’ player coughed up the ball. The fumble recovery led to a San Diego field goal and put the Chargers up 13 points on their division foes. San Diego went on to win that game, their first victory in the AFC West since 2014.

Since mid-October, Toomer has amassed 51 tackles, the majority of which are solo (37), defended against two passes, forced three fumbles and notched one fumble recovery. There were impressive stats against both the Tennessee Titans (nine tackles/eight solo) and the Miami Dolphins (11/10), including three-and-a-half tackles for lost yardage. In the Houston game, the veteran linebacker recorded 13 more tackles (four solo) and a quarterback hit.

Having Toomer back there to get receivers off routes has been fun to watch, as well. His ability to reroute crossers and drags which run through the linebacking corps’ area can significantly alter the short passing games of opposing offenses. He has helped solidify that inside linebacking group.

Speaking to Ricky Henne of chargers.com in October, Toomer stated:

“Pags’ system is benefitting me because he is letting me play fast. He is putting me in positions not to fail. That is why it is working for the both of us. I feel like these coaches are giving me a chance. Granted, I made good on the situation. These coaches have put me in position to make plays and are not putting too much on my plate. They are letting me fly around. I am grateful for these coaches giving me a call and giving me a chance to play this game. I want to show people I can bring more to the table than just special teams. I love special teams, that’s where I want to play for the rest of my career as well, but I want to play defense, too.”

Whether he plays defense or special teams, the fact that Toomer left a division rival in order to grasp an opportunity with both hands shows he has gained confidence in himself and his ability.

Bring on the Bucs and Mike Evans!

Cheryl White

#practicesquadnomore

#boltnup

 

*Featured image credit: AP – Denis Poroy

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I don’t know about you, but if I have a great vacation planned on Monday, I have a hard time focusing on being productive at work on Friday. Someone better say or do something to keep me focused on my job or I might as well stay home. Apparently, the Chargers players feel the same way. Since Mike McCoy took over as Head Coach (HC) of the Chargers, the team is 1-3 the week before the bye. Their only win coming against a very poor Jacksonville team. So, am I suggesting that coaching has something to do with the team losing focus? You bet I am! Taking a look at recent Chargers history, it seems the better the coach, the better the team stays focused the week before the bye.

So let us take a look at the last three Chargers coaches and see how each one did before the bye. We will go in reverse order, starting with Mike McCoy. This is McCoy’s fourth season as the Chargers Head Coach. He has had four opportunities to go to the bye with momentum. He has squandered three of those opportunities. Time to take a look at McCoy’s 1-3 pre-bye record:

Year          Week          Opponent                    W/L          Score

2016          10                Dolphins                        L              24-31

2015           9                 Bears                               L              19-24

2014           9                 Dolphins                        L               0-37

2013           7                 Jaguars                           W              24-6

Those are not exactly juggernauts that the Bolts fell to the last three years. Although the Chargers are not to be confused with a team that contends for the championship each season, they are certainly good enough to win against this competition. It appears to this viewer that the Chargers do not come out to play going into a bye under Mike McCoy.

Okay, so maybe the players are mentally fishing, hunting, or golfing while they await permission to leave for vacation. Is that really on Mike McCoy? Not completely, but in my humble opinion he should shoulder much of the blame.

Despite the negative opinion that most Chargers fans have about former HC, Norv Turner, I think most would agree that he was better than McCoy. Turner did lead the team to as high as a 12-4 record during his tenure. Yes, he did have a very nice roster to work with, but he still had to coach and motivate the team. Turner’s record going into a bye very much resembles the average coach that he was. Norv teams were 3-3 the day before vacation. Here is the breakdown:

2012          6               Broncos                           L                24-35

2011           5              Broncos                           W               29-24

2010          9              Texans                             W               29-23

2009         4              Steelers                            L                28-38

2008         8              Saints                               L                32-37

2007          6              Raiders                           W               28-14

Now let us take a peak at a coach who was considered a winner, a disciplinarian, and a leader. Yes, Marty Schottenheimer was the Chargers HC for five seasons. Schottenheimer was known for not allowing his players to lose focus. He kept his players accountable. They knew that if they slacked off, they would be invited to watch the rest of the game from the bench. It is no coincidence that his record going into a bye was excellent. Here is what Marty accomplished:

2006         2             Titans                               W                 40-7

2005         9             Jets                                   W                 31-26

2004         9             Saints                               W                43-17

2003         5             Jaguars                             L                   21-27

2002         7             Raiders                             W                27-21

Sure enough, the Chargers, under Schottenheimer were a very respectable 4-1 heading into a bye. Before you start talking about how great the players were in Marty’s day, remember he had teams that went 8-8, 4-12 and 9-7 to go along with his 12-4 and 14-2 teams.

In this writer’s opinion, there is no doubt that a coaches ability to keep his team motivated and focused on the goal at hand, rather than their upcoming vacation, is paramount to a team’s success. What is your opinion? Please leave your comments below. I’ll get back to you. #gobolts!

 

 

McCoy3

Currently, the San Diego Chargers are showing signs of improvement. Despite many injured, “stars”, the makeshift team has taken the field and beaten the reigning Super Bowl champions and then followed that up by squeezing out a victory over the Atlanta Falcons and their number one rated offense. Yes, Chargers fans have reason to feel excited about the future of this team. Who knows, maybe there is a chance for Philip Rivers to win a ring before he retires, without trading him away. Time will tell.

 
One thing most fans don’t consider is that if this teams continues to play well, Head Coach Mike McCoy, or, “McNorv” as some fans call him, will not only survive the season, he will most likely get an extension! Remember, when fans were screaming for the departure of Norv Turner, he received an extension.

 
One thing NFL teams do not like to do is have a lame-duck coach. Whenever a coach is on the last year of his contract, the front office worries that the team will not listen to him and will not buy into his system anymore. After all, why learn from a guy who is on his way out the door?

 
For McCoy, there is one more year on his contract after this season. Many fans do not expect him to survive the season. After the last two victories, it appears he has saved his job, at least until the bye week. More than likely, he has saved his job for the rest of the season. If the Chargers continue to improve and end the season at .500 or better, expect Coach McCoy to be locked into another two, to three years.

 
We should be honest, if Coach McCoy turns this team full of rookies and backups into a playoff team, or at least a winner, he probably deserves an extension! (That was painful to type)
Looking around the NFL, it is obvious that some teams have different philosophies when it comes to making coaching changes. The Cleveland Browns have had 18 different coaches since 1969. Even the great Bill Belichick couldn’t win there. He left with a dismal record of 36-44. The Browns front office decided it was his fault and cut him loose. Now, with the Patriots, he has a record of 193-70, and a handful of rings.

 
The Steelers, on the other hand, do not like to change coaches. They have had just three coaches since 1969. The three of them have totaled a record of 726-290 and six championships between them. It seems there is something to be said for continuity.

 
Our Chargers have had 14 different coaches in the same time span. In all those years, our Bolts have made it to the Super Bowl one time and have no jewelry to show for it. Perhaps it is not so much the coaches, but more on the players. Then again, Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner had some great talent on their teams and never made it to the big show. I suppose that is what makes the decision to fire a coach so difficult.

 
I do not know the answer, so you tell me: Should the Chargers fire Mike McCoy? If so, when? Or, assuming the team ends this season .500 or better, should the Chargers offer McCoy an extension? If you go by recent decisions made by the Chargers front office, I think an extension is more likely than a firing. Leave your answer below and I’ll get back to you.

Do you remember what is was like to simply be happy with a Chargers victory? Those good ol’ days when it didn’t matter if your Bolts won 3-2 or 50-0. You were just thrilled that they left the field with a “W”. If you are like many Chargers fans these days, those feelings are long gone.

 
Maybe it is because you know more about football then you did when you were young. Maybe it is because you have been a Chargers fan so long that you are tired of playing a certain type of football that you know will not yield you a Super Bowl ring at season’s end. Maybe it is just because you have been disappointed so many times, that you refuse to let your guard down. Whatever the reason, many Chargers fans cannot enjoy victories. They must pick the game apart and focus on the negative.

 
I’ll be the first to admit, that I fit that description for many years. I clearly remember commenting after wins, “Sure we won, but if we play like that against a good team, we don’t stand a chance.” Or, “We didn’t win. The other team lost.”

 
It is fair to feel that way. Too many times in the past, the Chargers have gotten their fans hopes high, only to crush them like one of Gallagher’s watermelons. Be honest, it is not easy to be a Chargers fan.

 
All that may be true, but I think it is time to change our way of thinking. We are talking about the NFL. A league where on any given Sunday, (almost) any team can beat any other team. Winning a game is a difficult thing to do! That should be evident by the Chargers 4-12 record last season.

 
Look at this season. The Chargers seemingly should be 6-0 right now. They should be the talk of the NFL, for all the right reasons. Instead, they serve as a punchline for jokes and the guinea pig for various studies. What a difference a few plays can make.

 
So, why should you try to put your cynicism behind you and appreciate every win your favorite team manages to secure? Because right now, you are looking into the future. The Chargers are playing games with kids all over the field. They just beat the reigning Super Bowl champions, with six of the eight players who were just drafted month ago! Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry, Jatavis Brown, and Drew Kaser (yes, that Drew Kaser) all were impact players in that win. Fourth-round pick Joshua Perry and sixth-round pick Derek Watt also participated in significant snaps and made some plays as well. That bodes quite well for the future of this team.

 
Going back to the 2015 draft, players like Melvin Gordon, Denzel Perryman, Craig Mager, Kyle Emmanuel, and even Darius Philon are all still with the Chargers and are important players moving forward.

 
What I am saying is that 12 of the last 14 players drafted by the Chargers are playing important snaps for the 2016 team and the team is competing every week. Sure, they are struggling to close out games. They are kids! Yes, it could be that they are not playing for a coach who can take them to the next step as well. That problem is a lot easier to solve than trying to replace failed draft picks.
Okay, I’ll admit it. Some of these young kids are playing because of need more than because they beat someone out. Injuries have forced the Chargers to play kids before they may be ready. Ready or not, these kids just beat the Broncos. That should be celebrated!

 
Do yourself a favor. Watch these games with your heart, rather than your head. All that matter at the end of the day is who has more points on the scoreboard. There will be plenty of time for us to mope and complain about heart-breaking losses. It feels good to celebrate the wins. So take off your annalists hat and go back to being a fan. You will probably live longer too. Remember, the longer you live, the more chances you have to see our Chargers hoisting up that Lombardi trophy!

 
Thanks for reading. Please leave comments below. I will be sure to get back to you.
Go Bolts!! #VoteYesOnC
Will McCafferty

ChargersRaiders

 

The Chargers currently sit at an abysmal 1-3 record. Chargers fans all around the world are used to the Bolts blowing leads and not being clutch when it matters most, but this season takes on a whole new level of the word “disaster.”

Essentially speaking, for every lead they have blown thus far (three) they have had major injuries. Just to name a few key players that were going to help this team compete this season, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, Manti Te’o and Jason Verrett have all suffered season-ending injuries and its only Week 5.

So, to say that this season isn’t a rose garden in heaven is an understatement. However, I feel like these next two games can entirely make or break what the Chargers want to do this season. Facing the Raiders this Sunday in Oakland and the Broncos on a short week will be one of the biggest two-game stretches of games the Chargers have had in recent memory.

In the past 13 division games dating back to the start of the 2014 season, the Bolts are a lousy 2-11. That pair of wins coming from a sweep of the Raiders in 2014. Other than that, the Chargers could now easily be considered the little brother in the AFC West. The 2015 season in particular stands out the most because they just continuously kept getting pummeled.

The Raiders dominated the Chargers in their first meeting in 2015 at Qualcomm, much like the Chargers were doing to the Chiefs Week 1 of this year. The difference in those games? The Raiders didn’t fold completely and let the Chargers back into the game, as that game ended in a Chargers’ loss, 37-29. A couple of games later they hosted the Chiefs in a game where they failed to find the endzone. In fact, they failed to find the endzone in both meetings last year against the Chiefs and in one meeting against the Broncos.

 

Everything seemed to be different this year, as the Chargers literally bolted out to a 21-3 lead at the half. Well, we all know what a big lead meant at that point when you have Mike McCoy: a blown lead. The Chargers failed to get into the endzone in the second half of that game and gave us all flashes of last year while the Chiefs came all the way back to tie the game up on a two-minute drill drive aided by a very poor punt from the Bolts that gave the Chiefs life around midfield. The Bolts got hit with a double whammy that game, as their star receiver Keenan Allen went down with a torn ACL forcing him to miss the entire season.

Sunday, they face the Raiders at O.Co Coliseum. While the Raiders will most likely be without recently emerging Latavius Murray, the Chargers will also be without a stud of their own in Jason Verrett.

Just a couple of days ago, the Bolts learned that Verrett had been playing with a partial tear in his ACL. He underwent tests and, like Keenan, is now out for the rest of the season. This injury is devastating to an already banged up secondary.

Brandon Flowers is dealing with a concussion and Craig Mager is also banged up. It’s most likely going to be the Cooper and Crabtree show, and if they can’t get some magic going of their own on offense, they could be in for a very long day and an even longer week.

Now, if you can develop a consistent pass rush on the quarterback, it could in some cases make the most average corners look elite. It looks like the Chargers are getting major reinforcements in that department, as Damion Square’s four-game suspension is up and the God, Joey Bosa, is making his NFL debut. Though both will most likely be on limited snap counts, it still helps the defense immensely.

 

While Oakland’s offense has been great this year, ranking 4th in the league in total yards with 392 yards per game, the Chargers are no slouch. Even though they are ranked 14th in the league, their offense is scoring a scorching 30 point per game. Both defenses could be better as the Raiders are ranked 31st in the league and the Chargers are 20th. If the Chargers want to have a shot at taking control of this game and creating serious momentum, they are going to have to get Melvin Gordon going. While he has scored a TD in every game including two in Week 1, the run game has taken a dip in production in the yardage department. After totaling 305 rushing yards through the first two weeks, the Bolts got slowed down to just a measly 75 yards in the last two games against two of the worst rush defenses in the Saints and Colts.

It can be argued that Derek Carr is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league this year, posting a blistering TD/INT ratio of 9 to 1 and having a 104.6 QB rating while completing almost 60% of his passes. He’s been great for the Raiders and, without a doubt, clutch on a couple of game-winning drives. The Chargers must make him feel uncomfortable right out of the gates. Bosa will play a key part in this game. Although he could very well struggle in the early parts of the game, his athleticism and length will draw double teams at some point, giving other players like Jeremiah Attaochu, Corey Liuget and Melvin “Supa Mel” Ingram one-on-ones.

This game should come down to the last couple of minutes. The outcome of the game will be determined by who punts the ball more and who gets more turnovers. I can honestly see the Chargers winning this game as long as they play their own game. Keep scoring, don’t take your foot off the gas, get some stops on defense and come away with a huge upset. Easier said than done.

 

Unfortunately for the Chargers, things don’t get easier. They have a short week and host the Broncos on TNF next week. So while coming away with both wins would be monumentally huge for the team going forward, it’s a daunting task that the team has to step up to and be willing to face head on. This Broncos’ defense is scary. You don’t have to check out stats to know who Von Miller, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib are. They anchor a fast, young, ball-hungry crew that almost is a lock to score a defensive touchdown every game. They only give up around 170 passing yards per game. They have an excellent secondary benefited by a great pass rush, which is the recipe for success as they are 4-0. It’s not too far-fetched to say the Bolts can grab one of these wins, because when you have Philip Rivers, you are truly never counted out of any game until the clock hits :00.

 

The Chargers are 0-2 on the road this season, but I believe they should win this Sunday at the Raiders. That will prove to be a small spark to what can be fireworks next Thursday.

Oh yeah, have you guys seen those Color Rush unis?!? They are to DIE for!! Possibly my favorite looking unis I have ever seen over all sports.

So, tell me and let me know what you guys feel or think about this hell week coming up. Can the Chargers end their 0-9 drought against their division, or will it turn to 0-11 by next Thursday?

Anything can happen on any given day. If there is one thing we can all agree with, it’s that the Chargers are the hardest team to predict how they’re gonna play or what’s going to happen. It makes it hard to predict but I will take a whack at it.

 

I say the Chargers lose a tight contest to the Raiders by the score of 35-31, with the defense having an opportunity to stop the Raiders and give the ball back to the Chargers’ offense to finish it off. They’ll come up short, however, they will rebound at home and look good while doing it with a 27-17 win against the Broncos.

 

Charlie LaFurno

@CharlieMack29

 

Bosa8

“Bosa better get three sacks and a forced fumble against the Raiders!” This is an actual quote from a Chargers fan on Facebook earlier this week. This fan is completely serious! Here is another good one; “Bosa doesn’t want to play. He is a bigger bust than Ryan Leaf!”

My answer to both of these quotes is the same. For God’s sake, will you just stop already! Take a breath and quit pretending you know anything about the situation. You are not in the trainers room when they are working with Bosa. You are not in the coaches office when they are deciding if Bosa should practice in pads, or continue to limit his duties. Finally, you are not inside the brain of the Chargers first round pick. You have no idea if he wants to play, or if he is just happy to get paid. If you are freaking out over this whole situation, perhaps you are in a little too deep.  Pull back on the reigns and let the situation unfold and not judge the kid on what he has not done. In other words, chill-out already!

Okay, now that is out of my system, so let us take a look at what is fair to expect from Mr. Joey Bosa.

First of all, do not expect him to play 50 snaps. He cannot be in football shape right now, so he will most likely be limited to around 20 snaps or fewer. They may be desperate enough to send him out there more often, but if they do, he will fatigue early and vanish in the box score in the second half. Something to keep in mind is that Joey Bosa has not played a complete football game since Saturday, November 28, 2015, when his Buckeyes destroyed Michigan 42-13. He was scheduled to play a bowl game in January of 2016, but he was ejected early, ending his college career. I do not think it is fair to expect much from a guy who hasn’t played football in almost a year, even if he did hold out and alienate himself from many Chargers fans.

As for sacks, who knows? It is quite possible that he will get a sack, or even two! It is also quite possible that he will end the day with zero sacks. That would be okay, as long as he managed to get pressure on the quarterback (QB) and disrupt the pocket. That kind of play will not show up in the stats, but it is a huge part of the game. Pressuring the quarterback is responsible for many of the interceptions thrown in the NFL today. The Raiders offensive line is not considered elite by any means. That tells me that Bosa could have success on obvious passing downs when he can focus on getting to the QB. But remember, if he has too much success, they will add a second blocker and most likely shut him down. If that happens, look for others to be able to find success in the sack department. That would still make it a positive start for Bosa, even if others were accumulating the statistics.

Finally, as for forced fumbles, that is not something we can predict with any certainty. Last I checked, Ryan Mathews does not play for the Raiders so fumbles are far from certain. Okay, that was a cheap shot. Moving on.

Now, all that being said, I do appreciate the level of frustration that fans feel after what was an excruciating and embarrassing contract dispute. Try to remember that he was a young man trying to trust his parents and his agent. The Chargers had plenty of blame in that situation as well.

Try to have patience. Remember, winning football games is the most important thing. Hopefully, Joey Bosa can help with that.

Oh, as for that, “..bigger bust than Leaf” comment. That isn’t even worth discussing. There will never be another draft pick that will have the negative impact on a team that Ryan Leaf had on the Chargers.

Go Bolts! #VoteYesOnC

Will McCafferty

 

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