See what two of our writers, Zak Darman and Chris Hoke, have to say about whether or not the 2016 San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs this season.
Zak Darman: NO DEAL! The San Diego Chargers will NOT make the playoffs at years end.
The Chargers made some nice moves in the offseason to boost up their offense by signing wide receiver Travis Benjamin and center Matt Slauson. It is no secret that the offense is much improved, starting with the addition of offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt. The offense was looking very good in Week 1, right before Keenan Allen left that game with a torn ACL, ending his season. The running game looked much improved with a better and more decisive Melvin Gordon. The loss of Danny Woodhead from Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will hurt immensely, though, and they hope the recent signing of Dexter McCluster will help. We will see.
On defense, however, is where the weaknesses still stand out. The Bolts used the No. 3 overall selection on defensive end Joey Bosa, who has not played in a single game this season due to contract negotiations/injury, and brought in nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Casey Heyward and safety Dwight Lowery. I still don’t like this group because in my opinion they don’t have enough playmakers to take this team to the next level. Manti Te’o is below average and prior to being lost for the season due to injury, there was a question whether he should be starting or not. The safeties are a joke and the pass rush is still bad. Outside of Pro Bowler Jason Verrett, who else is there? It also does not help to have one of the worst defensive coordinators in all of football in John Pagano. Yes, the defense looked great in the first half vs KC but lets not forget that the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith was missing some wide open short route throws that he usually doesn’t miss. This unit has been overrated from the get-go and it needs to be addressed. The defense looked better in week 2, but that was against a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. On Sunday, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they wanted. Verrett wasn’t on his game and the defense had no shot.
First let me start by saying for the sake of this piece I will make a case for Mike McCoy even if my previous articles and opinions have stated otherwise. Mike McCoy has shown flashes of being a Coach who can lead this team. All of the losses, huge injuries, off the field drama with Eric Weddle and now Joey Bosa, has caused major distractions which is never a good recipe in the locker room. In this case for Mike McCoy winning fixes everything. Even through three major season-ending injuries to key players, this team is built to win and get deep into the playoffs. Here’s how:
As Zak had pointed out above, the improvement of this offense is the running game. Yes it is odd to say this, due to the horrible run game the Chargers have had in a long time, a running game is very much back in San Diego; maligned since the departure of Ken Whisenhunt and Ryan Mathews. It’s no coincidence that since his return to America’s finest city, the run game has been rejuvenated. Gordon, who had zero touchdowns last year, has already compiled four scores along with his first career 100 yard rushing game against the Jags. Follow that up with a passing attack, without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead whom are both lost for the season, still has the weapons to be very dangerous. With the old reliable Antonio Gates on the sidelines, there is not much room for panic with the emergence of second round pick Hunter Henry. Even with the fumbled tragedy that ended any last ditched efforts for a win last week against the Colts, Hunter had a pretty solid game; breaking open for huge yards. Continuity between him and Rivers will only begin to grow more with each big play Hunter makes. The future is still bright for these Bolts offensively.
After being released from the Chargers after the 2012 season, former Head Coach Norv Turner was asked for a quote regarding the new incoming coaching staff. “They need to have a lot of patience with them.”
“Them” referencing all Charger fans.
Maybe we need to really forget about 2013 as maybe the Chargers caught lightning in a bottle with a group of talent that really wasn’t that good, at least defensively. Moving on to this year, it’s been four years and four drafts since Tom Telesco and company took over. Some naysayers have claimed that he has missed on players, but at the same time he has found some gems, such as Jason Verrett. There are others like Craig Mager and DJ Fluker where the verdict is still to be determined however in my opinion they are good additions to this team.
I will say that the defensive talent on this team, is what Pagano has been waiting for. We all have seen what Hayward has done thus far and of course what the Pro Bowler Verrett can do, but the key addition, in my opinion, is the addition to Brandon Mebane – whose presence alone has shifted protection schemes. That ability, to force opposition to change schemes, is not listed in the box score yet it creates room for the linebackers, such as new defensive captain Melvin Ingram, to reap the rewards.
The first round pick Joey Bosa has yet to take the field – signs pointing to week 5 or 6. The Chargers seem fine to just ease him in slowly rather to not risk further injury. Even with the loss of Manti Teo, Jatavis Brown stepped in and showed that he can be an instant playmaker. When Bosa does finally step in and is at game level, this defense will be headed to the next level. We already see what happens when Mebane is on the field and when you add in the beast Corey Liuget and Bosa – the three-headed monster will lead this team to playoffs and hopefully back to the Super Bowl.
In closing, if McCoy can remain aggressive, this team can and will make the playoffs. If his attitude is as assertive as I saw it to be in 2013, it will resonate throughout the whole locker room. As long as we do not continue to lose key players every week, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given Sunday. The defense could easily be ranked in the top five, sans injuries of course, and as we have seen in the past, defense wins championships. Toss in a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a running back who is so raw and talented, and a receiving core who has already manifested themselves as reliable, the San Diego Chargers will make it deep into the playoffs. Perhaps we will hear this again.
Let us know your opinion on whether or not the Chargers, as it stands, will make the playoffs this season.
Thanks for reading
To quote the late Dennis Green:”…..and we let them off the hook!”
That’s the feeling of every Chargers fan after the team blew a 21-3 halftime lead to lose to the Chiefs in overtime. It was a gut-wrenching, morale-killing defeat.
The Bolts got out to a fast and promising start as they scored three touchdowns on three straight possessions. Melvin Gordon and the running game got going as he was responsible for the first two scores (both rushing TDs were Gordon’s only scores of his pro career).
Everything looked amazing early, as the bolts swarmed the Chiefs’ offense causing multiple three-and-outs, giving the ball back to the offense who kept scoring, as Philip Rivers would find Danny Woodhead in the endzone for a 21-3 lead.
The only negative in the first half, and it was a huge one, was Keenan Allen went down with a knee injury. Early tests have shown signs of an ACL tear for Allen, who looks to be all but lost for the season once again. Before he went down, he was shredding the reigning rookie of the year Marcus Peters for big catches. Losing Allen creates a huge hole for this offense moving forward.
The second half is where everything just came unglued. One of the huge knocks on last year’s squad was the inability to finish games. I hate to say it, Bolts fans, but it’s obviously carried over into this season. That stout running game seemed to be non-existent, as Gordon barely saw any carries in the second half. That stout pass rush on defense seemed to disappear into the KC sunshine as Alex Smith and company completely worked the Chargers’ defense in the second half and into OT.
The most disappointing thing about this loss is this coaching staff. McNorv, as I will call him from now on, ran this team scared. The play calls were, dare I say, absolutely pathetic and uninventive. Not once in this game did McNorv show any aggression in his second-half playcalling to show this team, “Yes we are all in! This isn’t last year’s team!”; instead on 4th-and-2 in a turning point in this game, McNorv chose a low percentage field goal. Then Lambo proceeds to push it wide right, giving the ball back to a hot KC offense and getting nothing off a fantastic Jason Verrett interception. Had Lambo have made the 54-yard field goal it would have tied his career-long.
Positive players of this game:
Melvin Gordon – It’s not his fault this coaching staff went away from him in the second half. It was great to see the explosiveness and downhill running that Gordon showed today. Keep that up and you may not be the wasted pick I thought you would be.
Brandon Mebane – What a difference this line looks like upfront when Mebane is in the ball game. He had a huge sack on Smith in the first half. Also, he was one of the reasons Corey Liuget looks like he’s gonna be a wrecking machine upfront. I can only imagine what this line looks like when Joey Bosa is healthy and ready to play. Expect bigger things from Mebane this season!
Jason Verrett – Verrett is gonna be a lockdown corner if he isn’t already. Chiefs wideout Jeremy Maclin only caught two balls in the first half and four the rest of the game. Verrett also stole the ball from him, making you think he was in Maclin’s head the rest of the way.
Bums of the game:
Mike McNorv – This is pretty obvious, I mean, I went into it earlier. Here’s the thing, though: with the Chargers Stadium vote on the November ballot, how many losses can the team suffer before it affects the ballot? This is a time where this organization can’t afford any more embarrassment. This loss wasn’t just bad, it’s unacceptable and embarrassing. How long can this go on? It can’t be much longer in a division that’s tough enough as is. Not to mention, with Sunday’s loss the Chargers haven’t won against a division opponent since 2014. If there was a time to make a change it’s now. Do it early in the season so this thing doesn’t go so far south that the ’16 season is lost.
Drew Kaser – So, we knew following in the footsteps of former punter Mike Scifres would be incredibly difficult. In the preseason, Kaser looked sharp, nailing punts and pinning opponents back. That’s only the preseason, though. Kaser had a horrendous day, averaging a measly 28.6 yards per punt. Most notably what sticks out is his 17-yard punt, which rolled into Charger territory, setting up the Chiefs with amazing field position for the game-tying drive. He’s a rookie; I get that; we all get that. He probably had some jitters understandably. The way he punted on Sunday was a vital reason why the Chargers ended up losing this one.
Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman – Going into this season, I thought both players were a huge strength for this defense. Let’s start with Te’o. Early on, he showed amazing instincts and tackling, busting up some huge plays in the backfield. As the second half began, Te’o began to struggle, missing tackles, taking poor angles and he was exposed in coverage. Can they continue to keep Te’o in on passing situations? It’s highly doubtful. I would’ve loved to see Jatavis Brown or Josh Perry get some more work on passing downs. On to Perryman. This isn’t a game he would want write home about. He was down right sloppy, missing tackles and being completely out of position in pass coverage. It was all bad, overall, for these two inside linebackers. Live and learn, man up and come back strong next week!
Was this a make-or-break game for the Bolts? I hate to say it, but it was. If this team has any aspirations of winning the division and a deep playoff run, winning these games is the everything. The fact that you had a rival on the ropes and you couldn’t finish them off speaks volumes about this team. They aren’t as good as I thought they were. It starts with coaching and this staff did not show the killer instinct needed to win this game; they never have and, guess what, #BoltFam, McNorv never will!
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their picks and analysis of Sunday’s game.
Zak Darman: KC is without Justin Houston and Jamaal Charles, arguably the two best players on the KC roster. Tamba Hali is banged up and Alex Smith is still Alex Smith. BUT, Mike McCoy and John Pagano are still here. The Bolts are without their 3rd overall pick and we still don’t know if they can stop the run yet. The defense should be better and the offense should be immensely better with the additions of Travis Benjamin and Offensive Coordinator Ken Wisenhunt. My fear is the Chargers start out sloppy and slow, as we normally see, and dig themselves too big of a hole to climb out of. It will be closer than many think, but the Chiefs are still deeper than the Chargers and have better talent at most of the skill positions. 24-20 Chiefs
Travis Blake: Contrary to popular opinion, this game is not a low scoring defensive battle many pundits were predicting. Chargers get down early 7-0 but rally back midway through the second quarter and never trail again. Melvin Gordon runs for 99 yards and his first regular season rushing touchdown on a draw play from just outside the red zone. A comeback hopeful drive late in the 4th quarter stalls for the Chiefs as Melvin Ingram gets the strip sack to end the game! Boom! #boltpredictions. Bolts 31, Chiefs 27.
Corey Decker: The Chargers are going into one of the loudest stadiums in the entire national football league. Which means they will be primed and ready to upset the home team. Almost every touchdown in the first three preseason games was scored by the first string, which is a very good sign that the Chargers will score at least one touchdown in the first quarter. The bolts will trail 14-7 going into half time, but will score one touchdown in each of the 3rd and 4th quarters. The Chiefs will kick a field goal with less than a minute remaining and then fail on an onside kick attempt. This game will be close like most division games are. There are a lot of guys that didn’t see much action last season playing which means they are hungry. Chargers 21-17
Cheryl White: Melvin Gordon scores his and the teams first touchdown; the team will be itching to get some work in. KC’s defense will be off kilter a bit w/o Houston and Matt Slauson will show the O-line how to play with NFC North nastiness. Add in touchdowns by Gates and Slayer with good field position for a change courtesy of Benjamin or whomever runs it back. 24-21 Bolts
Chris Hoke: Chargers overcome slouchy first half and squeeze past the Chiefs led by a stingy second half defense and the arm of Rivers. Josh Lambo hits a field goal in OT as the Chargers leave KC victorious. 24-21 bolts
Mike Pisciotta Kansas City’s front 7, even with the absence of Justin Houston will stuff Melvin Gordon and force the offense to become one dimensional. With Joey Bosa out, the Chief’s offense will take advantage with Jamaal Charles and Charcandric West and run all over the Chargers defense. KC 24-17 winners
Will McCafferty: If a healthy Bolt squad can’t beat a banged up KC team, they are in real trouble. 27-24 Bolts
Greg Williams: D will stuff what is left of Chiefs running game. No Justin Houston means they can double Hali without consequence. Chargers will lead wire to wire and game manager Smith will throw two picks trying to play catch-up. Rivers lights up Chiefs secondary for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns. (Two to Gates, who roasts Eric Berry on the regular). 31-13 bolts win
Dave “Booga” Peters: Gordon does just enough, totaling 111 total yards and two touchdowns. Defense forces three turnovers. Joey Bosa was missed in generating pressure, but the front-seven pressures KC enough to allow the secondary to snag two Alex Smith interceptions. Bolts allow QB Smith to rush for 50 yards while Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West chew up 160 yards on the ground, but that isn’t enough for KC. Chargers win 23-20
The San Diego Chargers found another way to lose in heartbreaking fashion Sunday. Outmanned, outgunned and on the road the Bolts found themselves on the doorstep of the Kansas City goal line in the waning seconds of the game only to fall by a 10-3 score. Under gray skies and a game-long torrent of rain, both teams plodded through the mire as the ball took funny hops and slipped out of players hands as if coated in grease.
As you’d expect from a game in the midst of a flood advisory the game was a defensive struggle. Both teams tackled well under the circumstances but offensive line woes were the undoing of the Chargers yet again. Quarterback Philip Rivers, face puffy from battling the flu, was sacked five times. Running back Melvin Gordon was tackled for a loss multiple times. A back-to-back delay of game and false start penalties moved the Bolts back from first-and-goal from the two-yard line back to goal-to-go from the 12-yard line.
San Diego brought the fight to Kansas City. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was sacked twice and intercepted once by Jason Verrett. Coming into this game, Smith had not been intercepted since week three. The lone touchdown of the game came on an odd play call from defensive coordinator John Pagano that brought every Chargers defender within four yards of the line of scrimmage showing an all-out blitz. Smith saw the formation, audibled to a quick slant and 44 yards later Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson was celebrating in the end zone.
The season can’t end soon enough for the ill-fated Chargers. The football Gods have smited the team in America’s Favorite City once again with a bevy of injuries and inconsistent play. With this loss, San Diego has dropped seven of their last eight games. However, those are not the numbers the Chargers fear. The number three has been a fate worse than death, especially recently. Numbers don’t lie.
Number of Chargers wins: 3
Philip Rivers has not thrown a touchdown pass in three of the Bolts last four games.
The Chargers worst loss of the season was three weeks ago to this same Kansas City Chiefs team by a score of 33-3.
San Diego has only scored three points in three of their last four games.
Rivers has thrown one interception in each of the last three losses where the Bolts were held to only a field goal, giving him three picks in that time span.
Headlined by Keenan Allen (13), four of the twelve players on the Chargers injured reserve list have a jersey number that includes the number three. That list includes the player that wears the number three, wide receiver Torrance Allen.
The old adage that good things come in threes has not applied to San Diego this season. Ironically, the highest number of points the Chargers scored this season was the week one season opening come-from-behind win against Detroit where the Chargers scored 33 points. It’s been all downhill for there. Not a minute too soon, the season will be over an we can close this ugly chapter in San Diego football history and start looking forward to free agency and the 2016 NFL Draft.
Only three games left to go…
The Greg One
After suffering an embarrassing loss last week at home to Denver, the San Diego Chargers will have the daunting task of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are red-hot, riding a six-game winning streak and pushing for a playoff spot. San Diego is playing for pride in their last four games as their season has been derailed by a litany of injuries to key players on offense and defense.
Kansas City was also expected to fall into the AFC West cellar after losing their perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season eight weeks ago. Instead, they rallied around each other and have recovered from a 1-5 record to put themselves in playoff contention. Keying their turnaround has been an improved defense led by bookend defensive ends Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Add in an emotional boost from safety Eric Berry (after missing a year and successfully beating Cancer) and you have a defense that has forced multiple turnovers a team record seven weeks in a row.
San Diego has a tall mountain to climb but we all know the old adage about any given Sunday. Last week, the lowly Philadelphia Eagles beat the almighty New England Patriots. Anything can and will happen on an NFL Sunday. The Bolts stand the same punchers chance of winning that the Eagles did. How could if happen?
When the Chiefs have the ball
Kansas City handed the Chargers their worst home loss of the season, 33-3 in week 11. Unknown running back Spencer Ware lit up the Chargers defense for 96 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 52-yard run. Running backs Ware and Charcandrick West will look to ground out a victory as they have been doing during their current winning streak.
The passing game has also found life in Kansas City, led by offseason acquisition Jeremy Maclin. Maclin leads the receiving corps with 66 catches for 817 yards and five touchdowns. A close second is tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 56 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith is known as a game manager but a better adjective would be consistent. Smith doesn’t have gaudy numbers but he also does not turn the ball over. To date, Smith is 246-376 for 2843 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is also dangerous with his legs. While is isn’t a speed demon, he is third on the team in rushing with 60 carries for 326 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he has run for 19 first downs on the season.
San Diego will have to find a way to generate a pass rush which has been easier said than done this season. For as great as their defensive line has been, the same can’t be said for their offensive line. KC’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks. The Chargers are not averaging two sacks a game as they have 22 sacks on the season. Liuget was third on the team with three sacks. Melvin Ingram (5 sacks) and Jeremiah Attaochu (4.5 sacks) lead the team rushing the passer and will be leaned on to continue to do so. The defense will also have to do a better job bottling the KC ground attack. In the last game the Chiefs had three ground touchdowns and one pick-6 by Justin Houston.
When the Chargers have the ball
Quarterback Philip Rivers is losing targets seemingly every week. Three wide receivers are gone with Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman and Stevie Johnson out. Malcolm Floyd is playing through a shoulder injury. During the week, the Chargers enlisted the services of former Charger wideout Vincent Brown. Brown will start in a thin receiving lineup currently consisting of Floyd, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams. The load of a team and a city has rested heavily on the shoulders of Rivers. Somehow, Rivers is third in the league in passing with 3713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rivers is also playing through a foot injury and illness he contracted during the past week.
Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are the most consistent options Rivers has at this point. The two have combined for 70 receptions for 784 yards and eight touchdowns. Using the underutilized option of playing the two together would open running lanes for Gordon and Danny Woodhead and allow the Chargers to move the ball down the field. In their first encounter, Rivers only managed to 178 yards on 30 attempts without a touchdown.
Rivers has had no help in the running game. Melvin Gordon has not been able to get going and carries the ignominious label of running back with the most carries without a touchdown. Gordon has 565 yards on 155 carries. The Chargers offensive line has had more combinations than an Rubik’s Cube and Rivers has paid for it. The line has given up 30 sacks.
Chargers O-line vs. Kansas City pass rush. Rivers was harassed throughout the first encounter by the stout Kansas City defensive front. Rivers was sacked three times, and gave up the pick six to Houston. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generates significant pass rush up the middle. If the Bolts offensive line can keep those three in check, Rivers will have time do dissect the Chiefs’ formidable secondary led by Berry and rookie of the year candidate CB Marcus Peters. Peters has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown on the season.
This game does not look like winnable on the surface. San Diego has lost seven of their last eight games. Three of their last four games are against the AFC West where they are 0-3 to date. Will the Chiefs be looking past the Chargers? Having Rivers under center always gives the Bolts a chance to win. The Chargers know what to expect now that they have game tape on West and Ware. Rivers had his worst game of the season against the Chiefs. Look for the QB to bounce back and put yardage and touchdowns against the Chiefs. While I won’t go so far as to say the Bolts will win, they will give Kansas City a better battle than the 33-3 beatdown the Chargers suffered at home three weeks ago.
The Greg One
The Chargers first game off their bye week is against the Chiefs (4-5) after their Kansas City’s win in Denver. Here are my three keys to coming away with a win on the day LT gets enshrined into the Chargers Hall of Fame.
1.) Get Melvin into the endzone
It has been nine games and Melvin Gordon still hasn’t gotten into the endzone. Whether that’s on him, or the coaching/system, it doesn’t matter. How ironic, or “cool” would it be for MGIII to get his first professional touchdown on the same game that LT gets enshrined? That’s my bold prediction for the week. So it is one of these keys.
2.) Keep Alex Smith in the pocket
Alex Smith is Mr. Checkdown. As long as he stays in the pocket, he is fairly simple to beat and figure out. The Bolts struggle versus mobile QBs, as Pagano as failed to adapt to it, and Smith is one of those QBs who is capable of killing opposing defenses with his feet. Force him to throw passes three yards down the field and WRAP UP.
3.) DO NOT PLAY CONSERVATIVE
Mike McCoy, you are a 2-7 team coming off a bye and you are now at home and *hanging on for your slim playoff hopes. Do not be scared to go for it on 4th-and-1 from your own 45. Do not be afraid to take a chance to score at the end of half and, most certainly, do not be afraid to blowout your opponent.
*although playoff chances may be dead already.
Let me know your keys to victory down in the comment section.
If you need to be motivated for this game, you may want to check your pulse! The game between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs is of huge importance for both teams. If the Chargers win, they are in the post-season. If they Chiefs win, they have a chance, however so slight, to grab the last wild card spot as well. It is week 17 and this is no time to hold anything back.
With that in mind, the coaches have to walk the fine line between getting their team too fired up, which would cause reckless play, and too loose, which could cause lazy mistakes. Let’s take a look at how Coach McCoy (Chargers) and Coach Reid (Chiefs) can spin what they know in a way that will inspire just the right amount of emotion and confidence. Remember, these are my words, not actual quotes. Please comment below and let me know how you would motivate your players in this situation.
Kansas City Chiefs: Coach Andy Reid
- Win and We Have a Chance: “Let’s face it men, we need some help to make the playoffs. After we beat the Chargers, we still need the Browns and the Jags to win in order to make the playoffs. Yes, that sounds like a longshot. That’s okay! Longshots come in all the time! Strange things happen in sports. It will not upset me to win this game and not make the playoffs. What would really eat at me would be to lose this game and then watch the Jags and the Browns win their games. Then we would have to live with the fact that we had the post-season in our hands and we let it slip through our fingers. Can you live with that?”
- Next Man Up: “We are all very well aware that we lost Alex (Smith). Well boo hoo for us! What are we going to do? Cry? Not me. I’m going to help get Chase (Daniel) prepared to play a football game. Chase can play! We almost beat these guys in San Diego last season with Chase at the helm and our second team in the game! He is a quality professional quarterback. We are fine.”
- Meet Their Intensity: “The Chargers are going to come out on fire! If they beat us, they are in. They know that and we know that. If we go out flat, they will run away with the game. We need to go out there like a team that believes that they will be playing next week. We need to show them early that all their excitement is for naught. That being said, they showed last week that they have the ability and the heart to come from behind, so if we get them down, we need to step on their throats and keep them down. Hold nothing back. We have all offseason to rest.”
- Ball Control: “Last time we played these guys we held the ball on offense for 39 minutes! That gave Philip Rivers and their offense 21 minutes with the ball. It is hard for a team to score points when they do not have the football! The Chargers are decent against the pass, but they have been getting torched on the ground. That plays right into our hands. We need to run it down their throats and methodically move down the field. If we get them worried enough about the run, it will open things up for the passing game. I foresee a lot of long drives for our offense. The keys will be to not turn over the ball, move the chains, and do not settling for field goals! If we can do that, we will win this game.”
- Home Field Advantage: “No one likes coming into Arrowhead Stadium to play. We have one of the loudest crowds in the history of the NFL. That is an advantage that we need to capitalize on. If we let them get out in front early, that will quiet our crowd and there goes our advantage. Again, I must emphasize the importance of starting the game with a bang. Score early and often. The crowd will feed off of our momentum and life will be very difficult for the boys in blue.”
San Diego Chargers: Coach Mike McCoy
- Inspiring Comeback: “Men, we showed a lot of heart last week in San Francisco. To come back from 21 down on two occasions against a very good Niners defense is not something just any team can do. Did we do that for nothing? Because if we lose this week, that victory was wasted. Keep believing, men. If you show the same heart this week that you showed in the second half of last week’s game, we will be on to the tournament! I’ll be honest with you, as great as that victory was I would be much happier with a nice comfortable early lead that we stretch throughout the game.”
- Win and We’re In: “I doubt I need to explain this to you, but do you all completely understand our situation? We are one game away from competing in the tournament! If and when we beat the Chiefs, we are on to the post-season. We are in control of our own destiny. Are you going to let the Chiefs take away what is ours? Are you going to waltz into Arrowhead Stadium and lay an egg and have to spend the entire offseason wondering “what if?” Not me! I’m not going down without a fight! In fact, I have no intension of going down to defeat! This is our destiny, not theirs. Let’s go on and see what the football gods have in store for the San Diego Chargers.”
- Offense: “We need to control the ball much better than we did in our last meeting with the Chiefs. We need holes for our running backs. Running backs, we may need you to break a tackle, fight for extra yards, or juke someone out of their jocks! I don’t want any excuses! We need to be able to run the ball and protect our quarterback! You know that Philip is banged up. You also know that he is tough as nails, but he is also human. Keep him clean. Receivers, you can help with that too. Get open ASAP! They have a good pass defense. Who cares? We will get open and we will move the football. No excuses!“
- Defense: “WE MUS STOP THE RUN! If we cannot stop Charles and their other backs, we cannot win this game. The Chiefs offense runs through Jamaal Charles! Hit him every play! Wrap up on all tackles! Team tackle! Make Chase Daniel beat us….or at least try to beat us.”
- Professional Football Players: “We are all aware that Alex Smith is out for this game. We are also aware that Charles and Bowe are on the injury report as questionable. I have an opinion about this situation. My opinion is…..I don’t care! We will be facing professional football players. If you recall, their second team, led by the same QB we will face tomorrow, took us to overtime last year in week 17. We took them lightly last season. We should know better this season. I say we play as if we are going against the best team in the league and we have to play with great intensity and we must shut up that crowd early and break their spirit. We have been going with the next man up philosophy all season. They are using it now. We know it works for us. It doesn’t have to work for them. Get them down and keep them down and it’s off to the playoffs.”
There you have it! That is how I would address both teams before this giant of a game. I’d love to hear your opinion and your ideas how to do the same. Thanks for the read and Go Chargers!
(Thanks to KCChiefs.com and NFLRush.com for the pics)
If there’s one silver lining considering it is a short week and the Chargers-Broncos tilt is the main event Thursday, it’s this: I can slam the last nail in the coffin.
However, after taking a few days to decompress and avoid social media, I have a few observations (and questions) before tying a bow on the Oct. 19th game:
1. Philip Rivers cannot help the team win when he isn’t on the field.
2. Coach John Pagano did not attempt to knock Jamaal Charles into next week, nor did he hit Alex Smith in the back with the crown of his helmet. The result: a roughing the passer penalty that extended the series that resulted in a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a lead. Also, Brandon Flowers suffered a concussion and will miss Thursday’s game.
3. Coach Pagano also doesn’t play defensive line which somehow didn’t pressure Alex Smith enough. Yes, Smith was sacked three times for a total loss of 10 yards. However, he wasn’t sacked once in the second half. Check the box score if you don’t believe me. Pagano also didn’t miss tackles on key plays.
It’s a little premature for me to think it’s time to send Coach Pagano to the unemployment office. As was often the cry during my time in the U.S. Navy, the team needed to improvise, adapt, and overcome. Yes, I think the injuries are starting to leave the Chargers exposed. Yet, is it really necessary to start the impending doom scenario with half the season yet to be played?
Fan forums on the San Diego Union-Tribune are already talking mediocrity going forward with predictions of 8-8 or 9-7 at best. Chances are these are same people who are against using tax money to build a new stadium or expand the convention center.
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As the Chargers get ready for Thursday’s game in Denver, the team will have center stage meaning all football eyes will be on them. What team will show up? Based on Wednesday’s injury report (click here), key defensive members will still be out or doubtful. Will the higher altitude have any effect on the team or will Peyton Manning, after breaking Brett Favre’s all-time touchdown passing mark, still be on Cloud Nine?
What will the Chargers need to do to win on Thursday in a hostile environment at the current leaders of the AFC West?
My five keys to victory:
1. Play keep away: It was the Chargers strength through the first five games. Control the ball and keep Manning off the field.
2. Defense must get into Manning’s face: Manning is not known for his mobility (like Rivers). The defensive line must be disruptive enough to force Manning into forcing passes and/or make bad decisions which could lead to more three-and-outs or turnovers.
3. Play smart: Nothing drove more fans to drink than the bad penalties members of the defense took during key moments against the Chiefs. The secondary has to know that contact beyond five years will be called and the quarterback is almost untouchable once the ball leaves his hands. Manning is a record-holding QB, officials will be watching.
4. Capitalize on red zone chances: The Chargers converted one out of two opportunities against the Chiefs. Rivers must drive the offense into more “goal” situations. Nick Novak’s foot will guarantee points, but I think the team needs more than field goals to defeat the Broncos.
5. Double team Thomas: Believe me, I think Julius Thomas has become the modern day Kellen Winslow, but does he merit double teaming? Perhaps or should the Chargers worry about the other Thomas, Demaryius? It’s hard to say. Somehow, if Pagano doesn’t blitz and plays conservative, double teaming may be a necessary risk if the Chargers want to win.
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I read with great interest Steve Fryer’s column in the Orange County Register that concludes that 63% oppose public funds for a new stadium. Two problems: the poll was conducted two months ago (before the regular season started) and two, San Diego County’s population is 3.2 million people (as of 2013). Does a poll of 375 really speak for the majority? Do I need to retake statistics if I missed something?
As always, your questions and comments are welcomed. The staff and I will respond as quickly as possible.
The Chargers face a run of three straight divisional opponents in weeks 6 through 8. They begin in Oakland, return home to face Kansas City and then fly out to Denver to take on the Broncos. This might be the most important stretch of games during the 2014 season.
Having three games against division foes can make or break a season regardless of a current record of 4-1. When it comes down to tie-breakers late in the season toward a push for a playoff spot, the record against the division is incredibly important. The AFC West is one of the better divisions in all of the NFL. When you face teams like Denver and Kansas City, a split with both teams is welcomed in the scheme of things. The Broncos are a formidable opponent and Arrowhead is a very tough place to go to and leave with a win.
And then there’s the week 6 rival in the form of the Oakland Raiders.
I have no problem admitting that the Raider game causes some concern for me. A recently fired head coach replaced by an interim one and they are coming off of their bye. The fact that they are winless provides an even bigger threat, in my opinion. They are looking at each game as though it is their Super bowl. They will, without a doubt, be fighting tooth and nail to obtain their first win of the 2014 campaign.
The Raiders look to have rookie quarterback, Derek Carr, returning from injury and he’ll eventually be a solid signal caller in the NFL. The running game in Oakland has been abysmal. Their offense is ranked 32nd overall and the San Diego defense must find a way to keep them at that ranking. James Jones is a threat at wideout and Denarius Moore can fly. The defensive backfield for the Bolts will have to shut them down to avoid giving up explosive plays.
Although the Raider offense has been inept to this point, their defensive backs have been impressive. Oakland boasts the 4th rated pass defense in the league. The same can’t be said about their run defense. Their defensive unit is currently ranked 31st at stopping the run. Branden Oliver might be set up to top his career day that he had versus the New York Jets.
Every division game is a battle. The Bolts will need to take this game very seriously and they should fly home from Oakland with the very much-needed divisional win.
In week 7 the Bolts come home to face the Chiefs. Alex Smith is known around the league for being a game manager, but he has a few weapons at his disposal that would suggest otherwise. The running game in KC is stout; featuring running back stud Jamaal Charles and newcomer Knile Davis. Defending the run against Kansas City will be paramount in achieving a home win. The defense is highlighted by players like Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe. Houston and Hali form one of the best pass rushing duos in the league. Poe is a serious force to be reckoned with in the middle of the Chief defensive line. Having a safety that is as athletic as Eric Berry doesn’t hurt their chances. That being said, Antonio Gate has owned Berry and made him look silly in coverage on multiple occasions.
And then there is the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning. Regardless of how tough the game against the Seahawks was in week 2, this is the true test for the team. With San Diego having faced two straight divisional opponents in a row, Denver is ready to do what they can to build on the fact that they beat San Diego two out of three times last season. Manning has weapons all over the offense including Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas. Yikes. Those are a “host” of players that the San Diego defense will be held accountable for limiting in their production. ( That “host” portion was for you, Dad. )
The Bronco defense added pieces such as DeMarcus Ware, Aquib Talib and T.J. Ward in the offseason during free agency. Minus Ware, the other two players have not contributed as expected. But it is safe to say that Denver upgraded those positions due to those acquisitions.
Peyton is stacked when it comes to options in the receiving game. Lord knows he still has some lead left in that cannon. But his ability to throw deep down the field is no longer like it used to be. John Pagano’s gameplan must be aggressive and he must find a way to rattle Manning and make him nervous.
Now that I’ve run my mouth about the next three games, I’ll leave it to you to provide you thoughts via voting and the comment section. The poll below gives you and opportunity to put in your two cents regarding the 3-game divisional foe stretch the Chargers are about to embark on.
Thanks again for reading and supporting BoltBlitz.com. The readers are why my staff works so hard to give you the best Charger content available. We are always open to your thoughts and suggestions.
Every football media pundit on television lauds the NFC West as the by far best division in football. On some shows it has even been mentioned that the NFC West is the toughest division in sports regardless of the sport. While the NFC West is definitely the talk of the league division-wise, it is hardly a forgone conclusion that the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams are the best division in football.
The AFC West would beg to differ. While not as defensively dominant as the NFC West, the AFC West excels in the opposing category. The AFC West is the most offensively dominant division in football. The 1754 points scored by the AFC West teams best the closest division, the NFC North, by over 100 points (1,648). The NFC West led the league in fewest points allowed with a paltry 1,191. The next closest division was the NFC South with 1377 points allowed, a difference of 186.
The AFC and NFC West are the classic example of unstoppable force meets the immovable object.
That story played out in the last season’s Super Bowl as the highest scoring team in the league, the 13-3 Denver Broncos with 606 points scored faced the team that allowed the fewest points in the league, the 13-3 Seattle Seahawks with 231 points allowed. Both teams reached the same record in completely different fashions. Another old adage played out in this contest. Defense wins championships. The Seahawks embarrassed the Broncos 43-8, solidifying their season-long dominance with the Lombardi trophy. The win also put the NFC West as the best division going today.
But are they?
The NFC West was long the laughing-stock of the league until only three years ago. Keep in mind in 2010 the Seattle Seahawks created a national firestorm among football purists and analysts when they made the playoffs by winning the NFC West with a 7-9 record. It was during these three seasons that the NFC West rebuilt itself starting with the Rams drafting Sam Bradford in 2010. The 49ers drafted quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2011 draft. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was drafted in the 2012 draft. Add to the mix players that are now household names like Seattle’s Legion Of Boom members Walter Thurmond (2010), Earl Thomas (2010) and Richard Sherman (2011) or San Francisco’s Aldon Smith (2011) Navorro Bowman (2010) to show how this division has risen only after years upon years as the NFL’s doormat.
On the other hand, the AFC West has long had dominant teams represented with the exception of the 2008 and 2011 seasons when San Diego and Denver won the division with 8-8 records, respectively. In both cases, they won the wild card game and lost in the divisional round. League dominance by a division is cyclical. The last time the NFC West dominated the way they have been in present years was the Steve Young era 49ers in the 90’s. During the second half of that decade, the division also featured the Kurt Warner-led ‘Greatest Show On Turf’ St. Louis Rams team. Now the NFC West looks primed for another long run of dominance as players like Kaepernick and Wilson mature and the team around them gets better suited to their talents. The question is, at this point, are they that much better than the AFC West?
Take a look at the principal teams. In the NFC West you have Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona as the heavies while St.Louis toils away in the basement. In the AFC West you have Denver, San Diego and Kansas City jockeying for control with Oakland living in the cellar. The AFC West was the only division to get three teams in the playoffs last season. The NFC was close to getting three teams in as well as Arizona went 10-6 but failed to make the playoffs. Call them victims of circumstance, but the Cardinals did lose three games last season by a field goal including a loss to the lowly Rams in the season opener. The big three in NFC West had 2 more wins than the big three in the AFC West by a 35-33 margin. They were by far the top two divisions in the NFL when you take a win count of the top three teams. They may be lapping the rest of the league, but not each other.
Look at the starting quarterbacks. Representing the NFC West you have Wilson, Kaepernick and Carson Palmer representing the Cardinals. In the AFC West you have Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith. If you had to select one group of quarterbacks, team notwithstanding, to carry your team a for full season which group would you pick? The NFC group is the young upstarts, (Palmer notwithstanding) but Palmer is only in his second season in Arizona. The AFC West feature the proven quarterbacks. Manning and Rivers can light up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree. Kaepernick and Wilson are on the rise but their best days are ahead of them. The AFC West crop are winding down their careers but Manning and Rivers represent the most dangerous quarterback tandem in any division.
Leaving Palmer and Smith out of the formula for a moment, in Manning and Rivers you have two of the most cerebral quarterbacks in the league. Give them time and they will eat defenses for lunch. There’s nothing they haven’t seen and they are the old-fashioned stand in the pocket, lead-footed gunslingers that are fading out of style in the NFL. Instead, teams fancy the new breed of quarterback with Wilson and Kaepernick as the prime examples. They are quick to scramble to extend a play. They are also very intelligent, game managers. They capitalize on field position granted by their stalwart defenses. Manning and Rivers have rarely had the benefit of top five defenses, instead making their mark with their arms and their superior knowledge.
This season, these divisions will battle it out in the regular season and when the smoke clears two things will be evident. One, neither division will get three teams in the playoffs. Two, we’ll know which division is truly the best in football because as you can see, no other division comes close. However, to answer the pundits, the NFC West is not without a doubt the best division in the NFL. They may be in the lead as they can boast the current Super Bowl champion but not by far. The safer thing to say is the WEST is the best division in the NFL, regardless of conference. Will the unstoppable force or the immovable object come out on top this year? Let the games begin.
What do you think? Which division is better?
The Greg One