Here is my take on what the Chargers (5-7) must do to beat the Panthers in Carolina
1.) Tyrell Williams
Tyrell Williams has become the Chargers best receiver this season as the 2015 undrafted free agent is only a very good game away from reaching 1000 receiving yards this season. He has four touchdowns in four games and the Panthers secondary is very beatable and one the Chargers should be able to exploit.
2.) Get to Cam early and often
I think Cam Newton is good. I think his team over performed last season. I think Cam is a franchise QB but he is very frail. What I mean by that is, his mental game is bad. One thing goes wrong and he starts to break down and give up. If you can rattle him early, he is turnover prone and he will start chucking it with no remorse.
3.) There is still a small chance at playoffs
Chargers won’t make the playoffs. Last weeks lost all but eliminated the bolts from it. But the bolts aren’t eliminated yet, and unless they are worried about tanking, they can still win out and hope for the best.
As Chargers fans are emotionally recovering from the team’s dramatic overtime victory over the Falcons in Week 7, let’s put Sunday’s big win in perspective. There are three different areas about Sunday’s game that shows us as fans that our team is not going to suck as bad as they did the first few games of the season.
- The comeback win itself – One thing that the Chargers could not do when they started this season was finish games. Even though the Bolts are in the top-5 of the entire NFL as far as points scored before halftime, they still are near the bottom, if not dead last, in the point-differential in the fourth quarter. Sunday’s game was different as the Chargers were down 27-10 in just the second quarter. It seemed a very daunting task to complete that sort of comeback with this team, They used to be the only team in the national football league that could have a three- or four-touchdown lead, and their fans would still be on edge like it was a one or two touchdown lead. Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers showed great resilience, creating a daring comeback that would eventually end in an overtime victory.
- Defense – The defense was the unspoken heroes of this game, particularly Joey Bosa and Denzel Perryman. One thing that is overlooked about this game was that the Atlanta Falcons did not just defeat both the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos. They also are the number one scoring offense in the national football league, even earning the praise of San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano. Who stated , “I looked in the dictionary at the word explosive, and when I pulled it up, a picture of the Falcons showed up.” This is very large praise for one team to give to another. So what ended up happening? In the first half, Atlanta scored 27 points, one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and three field goals. They also scored on a fumble recovery. However the narrative changed in the second half, as the Falcons, this super high-powered offense, only managed to score 3 points in the ENTIRE second half PLUS overtime. This is a very large feat, especially against a team like Atlanta who has not scored less than 21 in any game this season, almost racking up 50 points versus the NFC champion Carolina Panthers.
- Special Teams, Although there was the mix-up on the kickoff in which Griff Whalen misread the ball and came out of the end zone instead of just letting the ball roll in and giving better field position to the offense. The special teams in this game actually did really well. After all, it was special teams that won us the game in overtime. It looks like having Kellen Clemens hold the ball on the field goal attempts made a world of difference in our special teams play. Also it doesn’t hurt that the punter Drew Kaser was actually able to kick the ball further than a little girl serving in her little league soccer match. The only times the Falcons started their possession on the Chargers side of the field were because of turnovers and not because of a bad punt or a bad kick, which is a huge bright side.
It seems like there are a lot of things that worked out this past Sunday, not to mention the awesome day that Melvin Gordon had two rushing touchdowns, and a receiving touchdown while averaging 8 yards after the catch. He also made a heads up running play that kept the Chargers hopes alive. It’s beginning to look like the San Diego Chargers are starting to gel, however only time will tell. From what I saw on Monday, I can see the Chargers making the wildcard, if they keep that resilience, and nothing goes too haywire, this team should be in good shape.
A report from Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer is out stating that the Carolina Panthers have cut cornerback Bene Benwikere.
Due to the season-ending injury of cornerback Jason Verrett and the concussion problems for the other starter at corner for the Chargers, Brandon Flowers, San Diego should immediately put in a waiver claim on Benwikere.
If my knowledge serves me correctly, which it usually does, depending on beer consumption, the Bolts should have the third-ranked waiver claim, so to speak, in all of the NFL; thanks in part to a putrid 4-12 season in 2015.
Cornerback Craig Mager, who recorded his first NFL interception against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, is also dealing with an injury (he was limited in practice on Thursday with a shoulder injury).
The team recently announced that they had promoted practice-squad defensive back Trevor Williams to the 53-man roster.
With all due respect to Williams, the Raiders’ passing attack is no joke, and I’m not sure that he wants his promotion to the 53 ending in him having a day where his name is on the wrong end of multiple highlight plays in favor of the opposing team.
When looking at Benwikere, he is not a stud, lockdown corner, but he is a solid defensive back. Though he does not have the most fluid of hips, he does put himself in a position, more often than not, to make a play on the ball, disrupting passing plays often.
Standing 6-foot and weighing 200 pounds, the 25-year-old has good size for the cornerback position, providing a solid frame to help make plays against the running game.
Benwikere, entering his third season in the NFL, has posted 102 total tackles, one sack, 20 passes defensed, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Benwikere is coming off of the heels of a game in which his primary responsibility was covering the impossible — Julio Jones — and watching the Falcons’ wideout haul in 12 passes for 300 yards receiving yards and one score.
Due to all of the injuries and uncertainty surrounding the cornerbacks for the Bolts, Tom Telesco would be wise to get on the horn and see what it would take to get this guy to come in and contribute to your San Diego Chargers.
Dave Booga Peters
The NFL regular season starts in just under two months. The 2016 schedule has the Chargers facing the AFC South, NFC South, the Miami Dolphins (AFC East) and the Cleveland Browns (AFC North).
Below is a breakdown of their 2016 opponents.
Week 1: @Kansas City Chiefs
2015 Record: 11-5, 2nd AFC West
Offense: 27th overall
Defense: 7th overall
The Chiefs started 2015 slow, losing five straight games. They ended the season winning 10 straight and won their first playoff game in 20 years. The running game should be solid for the Chiefs in 2016. Jamaal Charles is coming back from an ACL injury. Along with his fellow running backs, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, KC sports one of the best backfields in the NFL.
Week 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
2015 Record: 5-11, 3rd AFC South
Offense: 18th overall
Defense: 24th overall
The Jaguars had a less than stellar season, placing third in the worst division in the NFL in 2015. Jacksonville only won one road game last year. The Jags took to the draft to help beef up their defense by signing defensive players with their first five picks, including DB Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and LB Myles Jack from UCLA.
Week 3: @Indianapolis Colts
2015 Record: 8-8, 2nd AFC South
Offense: 28th overall
Defense: 26th overall
The Colts had a 3-5 record in the first half of the 2015 season, losing starting quarterback Andrew Luck in Week 8. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and journeyman signal caller Josh Freeman went 5-3 in the second half, but it still was not enough to win the division. If Andrew Luck can stay healthy in 2016, the Colts could make improvements on offense. They drafted a much-needed center, Ryan Kelly from Alabama, with the 18th pick overall.
Week 4: New Orleans Saints
2015 Record: 7-9, 3rd NFC South
Offense: 2nd overall
Defense: 31st overall
The Saints were a very lopsided team in 2015. Their offense averaged 403.8 yards and 25.5 points per game, but their defense allowed an average of 413.8 yards and 29.8 points per game. That is clearly not a recipe for success. The Saints should continue to have a stellar offense with veteran Drew Brees at quarterback.
Week 5: @Oakland Raiders
2015 Season: 7-9, 3rd AFC West
Offense: 24th overall
Defense: 22nd overall
The Raiders made some improvements last year in an attempt to have their first winning season since losing the Super Bowl in 2003, but fell short, again. Their 7-9 record was an improvement considering they have averaged only 4.9 wins a season in the last 13 years. The Raiders will probably continue to improve in 2016. They have a young team lead by third-year quarterback Derek Carr. Don’t sleep on the Raiders in 2016.
Week 6: Denver Broncos
2015 Season: 12-4, 1st AFC West
Offense: 16th overall
Defense: 1st overall
The Broncos won the division — again — for the fifth consecutive season and went on to win Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning had his worst season, finishing with only nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 10 games. The stellar Broncos’ defense allowed an average of only 283.1 yards and 18.5 points per game. The Broncos are bringing back pretty much the same defense in 2016. The retirement of Manning brings veteran Mark Sanchez, back-up quarterback Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch fighting for the starting position. Rumor has it that Sanchez and Siemian are neck-and-neck in the fight to win the job.
Week 7: @Atlanta Falcons
2015 Season: 8-8, 2nd AFC South
Offense: 7th overall
Defense: 16th overall
The Falcons started out the 2015 season hot, winning six of their first eight games. The second half was the exact opposite, as they went 2-6. One of the two wins in the second half was against their division rival, and eventual Super Bowl runner-up, the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons drafted strong safety Keanu Neal from Florida with the 17th overall pick to boost their struggling defense.
Week 8: @Denver Broncos
See week six.
Week 9: Tennessee Titans
2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC South
Offense: 30th overall
Defense: 12th overall
The Titans looked like a sleeper team in Week 1 of the 2015 season, when they won 42-14 against the Tampa Bay Bucs, led by 2nd overall pick, Marcus Mariota, who had 209 yards, four touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Despite Mariota’s success in Week 1, the Titans ended up with the worst record in 2015, averaging only 311.8 yards and 18.7 points per game. It will be hard to do much worse in 2016, but anything is possible.
Week 10: Miami Dolphins
2015 Season: 6-10, 4th AFC East
Offense: 26th overall
Defense: 25th overall
The Dolphins were led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who averaged 263 passing yards per game and had 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. While those numbers aren’t terrible, his offensive line could not keep him standing up, as he was sacked 45 times. The Titans could fare better in 2016 when it comes to sacks with the signing of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss.
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: @Houston Texans
2015 Season: 9-7, 1st AFC South
Offense: 19th overall
Defense: 3rd overall
The Texans started the season off rocky, going 3-5 in the first half of the season but turned it around in the second half, only losing two games. The third ranked defense allowed only an average of 19.6 points for game and even had five games where their opponent only scored six points. The Texans liked what they saw when Brock Osweiler took over the quarterback duties for the Broncos and signed him to be their starter in 2016. This move could either make them or break them.
Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015 Season: 6-10, 4th NFC South
Offense: 5th overall
Defense: 10th overall
The Buccaneers should have had a better record in 2015 since they had a top-10 overall offense and defense. Stats don’t always show the big picture, especially considering their offense averaged 375.9 yards per game, but only 21.4 points per game. The defense allowed an average of 340.4 yards per and 26.4 points per game. The Bucs took to their coaching staff to bring change, naming Dirk Koetter as the new head coach, replacing Lovie Smith, along with Mike Smith as the new defensive coordinator and Todd Monken as the new offensive coordinator.
Week 14: @Carolina Panthers
2015 Season: 15-1, 1st NFC South
Offense: 11th overall
Defense: 6th overall
The Panthers had an explosive offense in 2015, leading the league with 500 total points and an average of 31.3 points per game. Their offense, lead by quarterback Cam Newton, was not able to fare well against the best defense in the league and lost the Super Bowl to the Broncos, scoring only 10 points. The Panthers will be without DB Charles Tillman, who recently announced his retirement after 13 years in the league. They signed former Chargers punter Mike Scifres to a one-year deal.
Week 15: Oakland Raiders
See week five.
Week 16: @ Cleveland Browns
2015 Season: 3-13, 4th AFC North
Offense: 25th overall
Defense: 27th overall
For the fourth straight year, the Browns were in last place in their division. The quarterback situation in Cleveland was their biggest downfall in 2015. The off-field antics of quarterback Johnny Manziel had the Browns switching the starting positions between the former first-round draft pick and Josh McCown. The Browns lost their best wide receiver, Travis Benjamin, to the Chargers during free agency. They went to the draft in hopes of replacing him, drafting five wide receivers, including Corey Coleman from Baylor with the 15th overall pick.
Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs
See week one.
The Chargers only face four teams with a winning record last year, but two of the four of those teams are the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. They will face two teams with a .500 season and seven teams with a losing season in 2015, including the Oakland Raiders.
The schedule seems pretty easy — on paper — and I predict that they will definitely win more than four games this season. The Chargers play in a tough division and will need to win some of those games to be contenders in 2016.
Thanks for reading!
Over a month ago the San Diego Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa with their third overall pick. Along with Bosa the Chargers drafted two more defensive players. One of them was Bosa’s running mate at Ohio State, Joshua Perry. These look to be great additions combined with the free agent signings of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and safety Dwight Lowery.
Some Chargers fans are clamoring for the Chargers to switch defensive schemes. I’ll tell you why this can not and will not happen anytime soon. First, I’ll tell you the difference between the two schemes. For the purpose of this piece it will just be a base 3-4 scheme versus the base 4-3 scheme. After this I will give my opinion on why switching schemes wouldn’t be beneficial for the Bolts moving forward.
I’ve stated in a previous article (Bolt Up For Bosa) that the Chargers only run their base scheme about 50% of defensive snaps. It’s these 50% of snaps I will be focusing on. That being said what is a 3-4 defense? It has been used famously by Bum Phillips, the father of Wade Phillips.
Used by the Houston Oilers in the 70’s, it’s predicated on pressure by overwhelming the offensive line with multiple attacking defensive players. If used correctly this scheme can be virtually unstoppable. This was defensive scheme used most brilliantly by the Denver Broncos to defeat the Carolina Panthers in this past years’ Super Bowl.
The 3-4 was the staple of Dick LeBeau’s defense which helped drive multiple teams to Super Bowl appearances. Lebeaus’ defense has yielded two wins and four losses in the Super Bowl. In New England, the 3-4 has been the driving force behind the Patriots dynasty. Yes, Tom Brady has made his throws but its been the defense that’s given the Patriots four Super Bowl titles in 15 years.
Breaking it down the 3-4 consists of three down linemen and four linebackers. The four linebackers have endless possibilities on how they can be placed. There’s a multitude of packages to utilize. This makes the 3-4 a hard defense to plan against. With four linebackers you don’t know who is blitzing or who is dropping back in coverage. The point of a 3-4 defense is mismatches. It’s built to stop the run and apply endless amount of pressure on the opposing teams’ offensive line. In theory, the Chargers should be good at run-stopping although this has been the Achilles’ heel of the defense over the past several years.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 3-4 defense.
So how will the Chargers look defensively? Let’s start with the defensive line. At left defensive end will be Corey Liuget. Anchoring the middle will be nose tackle Brandon Mebane. At right defensive end will be Joey Bosa. At weak side outside linebacker will be Jerry Attaochu. The inside linebacker will be Manti Te’o. The middle linebacker will be Denzel Perrymen. The strong side linebacker will be Melvin Ingram.
Anchoring the back end of the defense from left to right will be left cornerback Jason Verrett. At Free Safety will be Dwight Lowery. Next to him will be strong safety Jahleel Addae. The right cornerback will be Brandon Flowers. Keep in mind this is how it stands right now. A lot depends on training camp and if the Chargers sign other free agents.
So now know how the Chargers will run their basic 3-4 defense. What is a 4-3 defense? The base 4-3 first came to us under Tom Landry when he was the Giants defensive coordinator in the 1950’s. He then made it even more famous with the Dallas Cowboys and through their vaunted “Doomsday” defense. Ever since, there’s been multiple variations of the scheme from the Bill Parcells stack defense to the Wide-9 defense famously used by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On to the basis of the 4-3. It’s four down linemen and three linebackers. In its most basic form the four down linemen will always have their hands in the ground and be in pursuit of whomever has the ball. The three linebackers are in charge of coverage in this base defense although they may blitz in certain packages.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 4-3 defense.
The Chargers run a variation of the 4-3 in a hybrid nickel package. The nickel package features Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu with their hands in the dirt. The 3-4 defense has been implemented since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach. Since then the Chargers have had a few dominant defenses in ’06, ’07, ’09 and 2010. Its been proven very effective when the right pieces are in place. In 2016 this is such the case. My main reason for this belief is Joey Bosa and the signing of cornerback Casey Hayward. The Hayward addition was an amazing pick up.
It’s all about the anchor of the 3-4, the nose tackle. A viable anchor is something the Chargers have lacked for so long. Since the days of Jamal Williams its been a revolving door at this position. Brandon Mebane probably didn’t make headlines to the casual Chargers fan. I believe this is the most underrated pickup of the whole offseason. Mebane can garner double- and sometimes even triple-teams.
This defense, hell, this whole team is going too shock a lot of people. As I said earlier the 3-4 requires almost pure selflessness from its three down linemen. It starts with Mebane. I may call him Bane by seasons’ end. If you know Batman then you understand the reference. Its been five years in the making with this defense. Why change philosophies now when this defense is so close to grasping greatness? Its proven to be a dominant defense in the past. It can and will be for years to come.
Let me begin by saying that the fan-boy in me is in its usual form regarding the excitement I have about the upcoming NFL season and your San Diego Chargers.
This is the time of the year where all 32 teams are sporting a 0-0 record, and the sky is the limit for every NFL team — well, except the Cleveland Browns.
This is also the time of the year where finding things to write about is difficult but not impossible.
Forgive me in advance for the fluff pieces that will come out until the beginning of training camp.
Below is a look at the Chargers’ 2016 schedule:
Week 1 – @ Kansas City Chiefs
Week 2 – versus Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 3 – @ Indianapolis Colts
Week 4 – versus New Orleans Saints
Week 5 – @ Oakland Raiders
Week 6 – versus Denver Broncos
Week 7 – @ Atlanta Falcons
Week 8 – @ Denver Broncos
Week 9 – versus Tennessee Titans
Week 10 – versus Miami Dolphins
Week 11 – BYE WEEK
Week 12 – @ Houston Texans
Week 13 – versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 14 – @ Carolina Panthers
Week 15 – versus Oakland Raiders
Week 16 – @ Cleveland Browns
Week 17 – versus Kansas City Chiefs
In addition to what I mentioned above about this time of the offseason, this is also when you look at the Chargers’ schedule on paper and decide where the team will finish up this year’s campaign.
Quite frankly, the slate of opponents this season does not seem to be daunting.
Obviously, the team cannot go 0-6 in the division this year like they did in 2015 — not if they have any hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season.
Below is a poll. You know the drill: place your vote and leave a comment stating why you voted the way you did.
Thanks in advance for reading, voting and commenting.
I am really looking forward to your responses.
Dave Booga Peters
The San Diego Chargers hope to keep their legacy of uncovering diamonds in the rough through their undrafted free agent class this season. Many prospects have been brought in when you count the 20-player UDFA class signed immediately after the draft. Another twenty have been to Chargers Park for three-day tryouts.
As the old saying goes: Many are called, but few are chosen.
One player to keep an eye on during training camp will be West Virginia cornerback Terrell Chestnut. Standing 5’11”, 188-pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, vertical jumped 34″, broad jumped 10’2″ and ran the three-cone drill in 7.13 seconds at the Mountaineers Pro Day.
Overshadowed by his secondary teammates Karl Joseph and Darryl Worley, Chestnut had a standout season in 2015. Lining up at cornerback last season, he tallied 35 tackles (25 solo), 7 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. To further show his impact on the field, consider this tweet from Pro Football Focus:
Passers targeting San Diego Chargers UDFA Terrell Chestnut’s coverage had the second-lowest QB rating (47.8) among Big 12 CBs in this class
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 1, 2016
So why did this man go undrafted?
There are two main answers to this question. One is he was overshadowed by his teammates Joseph and Worley. Joseph, a strong safety, was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 14th overall pick in the first round. Worley, a cornerback, was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 77th overall pick in the third round.
Knee injuries derailed Chestnuts’ freshman and sophomore seasons. He played six games as a freshman and ten games as a sophomore. Chestnut did finish strong, as he did not miss a game in his final two years at West Virginia. His draft stock may have dropped due to injury concerns and overall body of work.
The Chargers may have indeed found another gem, this time on the defensive side of the ball. Chestnut is bound to make the most of his opportunity. This is what he tweeted after signing on the dotted line:
Blessed to say that I have signed a free agent deal and will be joining my brother @Shaqpett_36 with the San Diego Chargers!!!!
— Rell16 (@TChestnut) April 30, 2016
Chestnut will be company on the Chargers as the team also signed his teammate LB Shaq Petteway to an undrafted free-agent contract. Current second-year Chargers’ running back Dreamius Smith was a West Virginia teammate who is very excited to see his running buddies coming to San Diego.
— Dreamius (@dreamius2) May 1, 2016
Here’s hoping that West Virginia chemistry spills over onto the field. Good luck, Terrell!
The Greg One
When a dream becomes reality it is always something special. For Tenny Palepoi, that day happened a little over two years ago when he joined the Chargers as an undrafted rookie.
The former University of Utah player is known for his tenaciousness and his work ethic. To put it quite simply, Palepoi works incredibly hard.
Defense runs through his Samoan veins. One of his older brothers, Anton, also a defensive end, was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in round two (#60) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He was one of the highest draft picks to come out of UNLV in 14 years. Father Tony played for the Samoan National Rugby Team.
Whenever Tenny decided to play football, I’m sure the game plan came about as part of his being one of fourteen kids who had to defend themselves growing up with all those bodies!
He began his journey into football at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. While there he collected 49 tackles, 10 TFL (tackles for loss), two sacks and a fumble recovery in 2011. In 2012 he transferred to the University of Utah where he logged 74 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 6.5 sacks. He took over the nose tackle position when teammate Star Lotulelei was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2013. Palepoi was team captain for the Utes and chosen to the second-team All-PAC-12 team (2013). He was also considered one of the best nose tackles in the PAC-12 that year.
Palepoi signed with San Diego just over two years ago as an undrafted free agent. It probably helped having fellow Ute alumni Eric Weddle to help with the transition.
The young defensive tackle played all 16 games of his rookie season. He finished the year with 16 tackles, of which nine were solo endeavors.
One of his best, and most likely difficult, games came November 30, 2014. A road matchup against the Baltimore Ravens mere days after his older brother Francis passed away at just 42 years of age due to a heart condition. That contest saw Palepoi make three tackles in the Bolts’ first win in M & T Stadium in three years.
By all means his sophomore campaign should have been even better. That all went by the wayside when he fractured his foot during training camp on August 1. On August 3, the announcement was made that the young lineman was being placed on the Reserve/Injured list. Coach Mike McCoy further stated, (in part from Eric D. Williams of ESPN)
“This is the part of the business that sucks. I hate to say it, but that’s just the truth. A guy that works as hard as he has…he is one of the guys here all the time…he’s made the most out of every single opportunity he’s had. He had an outstanding year last year, and it sucks to be honest with you.”
I would expect that if he has such a gung-ho work ethic that Palepoi focused sheer determination into getting ready for a 2016 comeback. I know he can be a force once again in John Pagano’s defensive schemes.
Thank you for reading!
Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems like there is a path between Chicago and San Diego when it comes to football and I don’t just mean head-to-head match-ups.
Consider this: Since 2000, there have been three quarterbacks who played for the Bears before coming to the Chargers (Jim Harbaugh and Moses Moreno (1999-2000) followed by Doug Flutie (2001-2004). There was also a defensive tackle in 2011 named Tommie Harris. The year 2000 brought a wide receiver named Curtis Conway, now a studio analyst for the Bolts, who was catching what they threw at him until his 2002 release. Don’t forget that the Chargers had Ron Rivera as their linebackers coach/defensive coordinator during the 2007-2010 seasons. (Yes, that would be the same Rivera who is going to the Super Bowl as head coach of the Carolina Panthers). Ah, what could have been!
The Bears and Chargers have met five times since 1999, with the Monsters of the Midway leading the match-ups 4-1. That sole win, a 14-7 final score, was played in September 2007 at Qualcomm Stadium.
Chicago’s defense sacked Philip Rivers three times and racked up 70 tackles in that game. Do you remember who was the defensive coordinator for Da Bears that day? None other than the Bolts’ new linebackers coach, Bob Babich.
Babich has 33 years of coaching experience, with his first eight having been at the college level. He entered the professional ranks in 2003 as linebackers coach for the St. Louis Rams. The next year, Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith was named head coach of the Chicago Bears and took Babich with him. After coaching linebackers during his first three years, he took over the role of defensive coordinator in February 2007, when the Bears decided not to renew the contract of Ron Rivera. Babich spent three seasons in that capacity, until he was returned to his prior position of linebackers coach from 2010-2012. He then moved on to serve as the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator from 2013 until earlier this month.
Chris Harris recently joined the Bolts defensive staff as an assistant defensive backs coach. Harris is a former safety who played most notably for the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers. In Chicago, Harris was coached by Babich for three seasons (’05-06 and 2010). Chargers coach Mike McCoy was on the offensive side of the ball while Harris was in Carolina.
Harris played for eight years as a safety in the NFL after being selected in the second round (#181) of the 2005 draft by the Bears. His career statistics: 439 tackles (352 solo), 13 forced fumbles, 16 interceptions and one sack. Also known as “Hitman” during his playing days, Harris will most likely be coaching the Bolts’ own “hitman”, Jahleel Adddae.
Harris was an integral part of the Chicago Bears defense which participated in the 2007 Super Bowl against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. He intercepted a deep, third-down pass from Manning, and returned it 6 yards to the Bears’ 35-yard line. Unfortunately Chicago could not convert the pick into points. The campaign saw the Bears defense collect 87 tackles, a sack, defended 14 passes, two fumble recoveries and forcing one. That defense was pretty stout that year with guys like Harris, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Jerry Azumah and Nathan Vasher implementing Babich’s playbook.
I like these two hires on the defensive side of the ball. I like the experience Babich and Harris both bring. With the teaching that will take place when OTA’s and mini-camp arrive, the Chargers 2016 defense can be what we would all like to see: getting after the passer, stuffing the run, making picks, forcing fumbles – you know, stuff we have seen them do in the past.
I can’t wait to see how the DB’s progress! Bring it on!
Thank you for reading!
The 2015 football season has spiraled downhill for the San Diego Chargers. Despite all the issues going on away from the field, there was always the actual game to look forward to. When the game is on, all else fades into the background for three hours.
Thirteen games and a 3-10 season record later, all the off the field issues have spilled over onto the sanctuary of the field as well. Players are crestfallen, reduced to nothing more than playing for pride in this, their worst season since 2003 where the Chargers finished 4-12.
Looming largest of all is the ongoing Los Angeles relocation effort spearheaded by the NFL front office. The league is bent on reclaiming the Los Angeles market and the Chargers are frontrunners to be chosen to do so. Efforts from the community and city officials have been lackluster. According to Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Bolts have not provided a viable plan to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
Anything can happen in the NFL. Carolina can be the last undefeated team in the league. Johnny Manziel can win and lose the starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns in less than a week. There are not one but two divisions in the NFL where not a single team has a winning record. That being said, the only thing left to question for the Chargers is the day the moving trucks arrive.
If that is indeed the case, then Sunday’s tilt against the Miami Dolphins will be the final home game of the San Diego Chargers. The whispers that swirled around Chargers park every offseason for the past 14 years have become roars and no player is immune to it. Every play knows this is their curtain call before the home crowd in San Diego.
Said quarterback Philip Rivers in a press conference this week:
“I’ll probably soak it in on the drive over there a little more than the past hundred-something times I’ve done it before a game. Because it could get emotional thinking about it, riding down that hill for the last time to this stadium.”
Antonio Gates was brought into San Diego as an undrafted free agent and will retire a first ballot Hall-Of-Famer. Said Gates:
“Obviously, San Diego has been phenomenal to me, I’ve played in San Diego my whole career. All I know right now is I’ve got one game left in Qualcomm, and I want to make the most of it. I’m going to go out and play it like any other game. I’m going to do the same thing from a preparation standpoint. Obviously, the assumption is that we’re going into this game to win. That’s my only concern. And if this is our last game, who knows what the future holds, but I want to make it my best game, a game to remember.”
Defensive captain Eric Weddle is the fourth-longest tenured Chargers after Rivers, Gates and punter Mike Scifres. Said Weddle to reporters:
“For us as players, we don’t have any idea or clue what’s going on, so we’re blind just like everybody else. So what we hear is what we hear from the outside. It’s unfortunate. It’s a great city, great fans. I wish we were better and could put a better product out there for them. But you are what you are. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to give it our all for them one last time if it is our last game.”
Win or lose, expect the Chargers to stay after the game and inhale being a San Diego Charger on their home field one last time. The players are as unsure of their moving status as we are but they’re not taking the gravity of the moment for granted. Expect an intense, inspired team hell-bent on winning their final home game. It will be a colossal success or an abject failure from trying too hard and making mistakes. There will be no in-between.
If you’re a Bolts fan, forget about how the season has played out. Show your appreciation to the team and come to the game. Tune in from home. Don’t give up hope that the team will stay, until the moving trucks do in fact arrive. Wear your lightning bolts with pride Bolt Nation. This is still our team.
The Greg One