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
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their predictions on the Chargers Week 4 matchup versus the Saints.
Zak Darman: This is going to be an offensive showdown in Mission Valley. The o/u on this game is 53.5 and, if you’re a betting man, you should take the over. I can see Brees and Rivers going for 300-plus yards each and a couple of scores each. It’s going to come down to who can run the ball more effectively and who can make that one stop. Both teams are even teams, despite what the record says. It can go either way, but for the sake of being biased, I’m going with the Bolts. 41-38 Chargers
Chris LaFurno: MG carries the load this game. 20 carries for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns against one of the worst run defenses in the league. Hayward continues his lights out play with a big interception late in the 4th. Verrett and Cooks butt heads the entire game as Verrett grabs a pick but Cooks scores a TD. Brees and Rivers combined for 800 yards and 6 TD’s. Lets spoil Brees’ homecoming fellas! #BoltUp Chargers 31 Saints 21
Corey Decker: The Chargers will come out swinging in this event, The reason for the 21 is that there are some people in the chargers organization that know Brees from his time here very well. 31-21 Bolts
Travis Blake: Just after the National Anthem, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees both step forward from the sideline and draw their wands. In an epic, wizardly showdown Voldemort and Harry Potter would be proud of, they unleash footballs shielded in blue and gold for Rivers and gold and black for Brees. The footballs collide at midfield causing a rift between the muggle world and the world of magic. The rift sucks in all the evil hoteliers from their mansions overlooking the La Jolla coastline. Brees and Rivers battle against each other all game, the prize? San Diego’s eternal, never dying love. The game itself ends in a tie, 31-31 and personifies The Great Mystery of Life in San Diego.
Laura Leech: They go back and forth scoring. Lot of offense not so much defense. Gordon with touchdown number 5. Heyward gets a pick six. 42-38 Chargers
Brian Scott: Drew Brees struggles on the road. In 2015 his passer rating for away games was a paltry 87.7 where his home games he rated at 112.5. Last year at home he threw 23 TDs with 5 interceptions; whereas on the road he only threw 9 TDs with 6 INTs. This year so far seems to be the same; 7 TDs in 2 home games and 1 TD in one road game. Rivers shows everyone that there is no debate between the two and overcomes a horrid game last week by throwing 3 TDs to 3 different receivers; Gordon scores once and racks up another 100 yards. Final score is 40-28 in favor of the Chargers
Chris Hoke: The Shootout in Mission Valley as the Saints and Bolts score a combined 73 points. The take a note from the Falcons and feed Gordon early and often. Splashing in some McCluster. Tyrell Williams racks up some big yards and 2 TDs. the Bolts narrowly beat the saints 38-35
Cheryl White: They finally remember to keep putting the ball in the hands of M28. Benjamin and Henry get in the end zone too. Hayward and/or Verrett picks off Brees. Chargers 34-28
Mike Pisciotta: Drew Brees throws for 400 yards in his Qualcomm homecoming, as New Orleans romps to a victory. After the game, Mike McCoy is relieved of his duties and Ken Whisenhunt is named interim Head Coach. John Pagano is also let go and replaced by a tackling dummy. 31-17 Saints
Will McCafferty: This has been a difficult game to call. I feel like the Chargers are the better team. But when I consider the Bolts offensive line injuries and the emotions that will fuel Drew Brees, it makes think twice. Since I always pick the Chargers, the Saints defense is horrific, and the Saints don’t play well in the road. Aints 31 Chargers 34
Greg Williams: This game will come down to which team has the ball last as both offenses will score almost at will. This game is the picture of a coin flip. If the game was in New Orleans I’d call it for the Saints but since this game is at the Q, Chargers get the nod. 34-33 bolts
Dave Peters: The Chargers score more points than the Saints. 41-40 Bolts win
Let us know your predictions and go Bolts!
The San Diego Chargers find themselves poised to take the most talented player in the draft from where they sit in the number three slot. The top two slots, held by the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns respectively, will be used on quarterbacks. While Carson Wentz and Jared Goff both grade out to be the top two quarterback prospects in the draft, neither are viewed as a plug-and-play franchise quarterbacks but from where they will be selected in the draft that will be the expectation.
While the jury will be out on the top two picks for the next four years, it put the Chargers in control of their own destiny. The top choice on their big board will be available when their number is called. The right pick can result in a stalwart player who is a day one starter, perennial All-Pro and Hall Of Fame worthy. The wrong pick can set your team back years.
Should the Chargers consider trading down?
It depends on how far down and what the Bolts receive in return. The short answer is no. There is an embarrassment of riches at the top of the draft then it devolves into a guessing game with each passing selection.
Which player is the Chargers golden ticket?
There are only three names that need to be considered with the number three selection. That’s it, three. Any other selection is an out-an-out fail. Those three players are (in my order of preference):
1. Jalen Ramsey CB/FS Florida State:
Standing at 6″1′ and 209 pounds, Ramsey ran an impressive 4.41 in the forty-yard dash and recorded the best vertical (41.5 inches) and broad jump (135-inches) at his position at the NFL Combine last month. The first freshman to start at cornerback at Florida State since Deion Sanders, Ramsey is an exceptional athlete. In 2015 he won the ACC indoor and outdoor long jump titles.
Ramsey split time between cornerback and free safety in his three seasons at FSU. Over his career he compiled 181 tackles, 22 passes defensed, 15.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
Adding Ramsey to the Chargers secondary fills the void left by the departure of Eric Weddle. The Bolts added Dwight Lowery through free agency to fill that position so using Ramsey as a press corner makes a lot more sense. With Jason Verrett and Ramsey covering the top two receivers, Flowers and free agent addition Casey Heyward can come in as slot and nickel corners. The Chargers would instantly have one of the top secondaries in the league.
2. Deforest Buckner, DL, Oregon
Standing an imposing 6″7′, 291 pounds, with 34 3/8-inch arms and the largest hands of anyone at the draft (11 3/4-inch), Buckner is the definition of a freak athlete. He was able to parlay his brute strength and raw athleticism into a successful four-year career at Oregon. As an interior defensive lineman he was able to consistently push the pocket, often able to beat double teams. When he lined up as a defensive end he showed a great nose for the ball as he racked up sacks, pressures and tackles for loss.
At the NFL Combine, Buckner registered a 116-inch broad jump, 32-inch vertical jump and ran the 40 in 5.05 seconds. Those are remarkable numbers when you consider his position and his size. Placing Buckner on the interior defensive line in San Diego alongside Corey Liuget and free agent addition Brandon Mebane would be a huge upgrade and solidify a defensive line that finished 18th against the pass and 6th against the run. Pass rushing has long been a weakness for the Chargers. Adding Buckner to the existing unit greatly improves the pass rush which allows the secondary more time to make plays.
Coming out of Oregon, you know Buckner has a high motor and it shows in his game tape. Over his career he logged 232 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, 10 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. Last season, Buckner had 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss on the way to being named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
3. Laremy Tunsil, LT, Ole Miss
Laremy Tunsil tips the scales at 6’5″, 310 pounds, 34 1/4-inch arms and 10″ hands. Largely considered to be the best tackle prospect in years, Tunsil has not seen his stock drop despite a tumultuous senior season. Tunsil missed time after suffering a broken leg and dislocated ankle in the 2014 Peach Bowl and ran into off-the-field trouble which caused the NCAA to suspend him for the first seven games of the season.
At the combine, Tunsil did not run or jump and stuck to doing positional drills. There, he wowed those in attendance with his size, fluidity and excellent footwork. At the Ole Miss Pro Day he improved his stock as he did 34 reps of 225-pounds, vertical jumped 28 1/2-inches and broad jumped 9’3″.
This isn’t a fast-forward effect.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 28, 2016
Tunsil is undoubtedly a franchise left tackle but it may raise more questions than it answers for San Diego. King Dunlap took less money to stay at left tackle, which includes playing time incentives due to his recent injury history. Joe Barksdale was re-signed to a four-year deal to stay at right tackle. They make too much money to come off the bench and fans will not be happy to see the Chargers number one selection sitting and waiting for his name to be called.
All three of these players have the potential to be Pro Bowl regulars and Hall Of Fame nominees if they can stay healthy. These are the three best at their position and arguably the three most gifted athletes on the board, period. These are the only three players the Chargers war room needs to be discussing and if any of these three are not the pick, personally, the draft itself was a failure.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Agree or disagree? What name would you add to this list? Remember, we’re talking about someone worthy of the third overall selection in the draft! Post your thoughts below.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers have made another addition to their secondary. According to multiple media outlets, cornerback Casey Hayward is now the newest addition to the Bolts’ roster. The contract equates to three years at $15.3 million, including $6.8 million guaranteed. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers were also teams reported to have been in pursuit of Hayward.
Hayward, 26, was a second-round selection of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Standing 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, he will compete with Brandon Flowers for the No. 2 cornerback position opposite Jason Verrett. In his rookie season, Hayward shined by finishing tied fifth in the league in interceptions with six.
Hamstring injuries derailed his sophomore campaign, costing Hayward all but three games in 2013. He has since bounced back and played in every game the last two seasons. During his time in the NFL, Hayward has 168 tackles, 35 passes defensed, nine interceptions, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one touchdown.
The Chargers have a strong top-three-cornerback rotation with this addition. The question now is what will happen with Patrick Robinson. Robinson is a free agent and had a strong 2015 season in San Diego so he’s bound to get offers from other teams. Retaining his services would ensure quality depth, but the price tag may be too high considering other holes that still need to be filled.
Keep in mind, cornerback Steve Williams had a very strong showing on the field in the last games of the season. If he can continue to build on his those games going into the ’16 season, it’s more reason the front office can justify letting Robinson take a deal elsewhere.
What do you think of the add? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One