Note: Before I begin I want to add that this is an opinion article, also known as an editorial
March 27, 2017: the day that 31 NFL owners voted to uproot the Oakland Raiders, and allow the team to find a new home in Las Vegas. Sure, for the Raiders it may be a good option. They are moving to a territory that they would not have to share with anyone except an NHL team. One thing about the business of sports is that, yes, there is a massive business aspect to it; but it is not the same as any other industry. The difference is the fans. Sure, in other industries there are consumers and customers, but that is still different than fan bases in sports.
Fans are practically owners of the teams. Most of the revenue comes from things that fans do such as buy merchandise, food, tickets, etc… Over the past two years there have been three teams that have left the cities that they have played in (some for 50-plus years) in order to go someplace with a bigger market. Now if this were a restaurant or store, it makes sense. More population equals more potential clients/customers. However these are not stores, these are teams with history. These are teams that integrate into the communities and make a personal and lasting impact on each and every fan. There is a reason that fan bases become family and it is that shared bond and experiences of being a fan of a team.
When teams move, they do not realize they are hurting both the image of the organization as well as their fans. Imagine a business that would abandon its largest stakeholder instead of trying to please said stakeholder. The company’s brand may go up in value, but what is the point of an increase of the brand if there is no loyalty to said brand?
Moving away from a large source of money based upon the “chance” that you could double the current revenue is one of the most greedy business decisions a team could make. The only thing that an increase in brand will help is the cost of selling said franchise.
The NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, and NBA are a fan run industry. The reason that the sports industry is worth several hundred billion dollars, is mostly because of the amount of fans it draws. Being a fan is more than just liking this or liking that, being a fan is being a part of a community and supporting the team by spending money on gameday and on different things with the teams logo on it.
Why in the world ruin a good thing? Teams seem to think the way to earn more money is just to move to a bigger market. Maybe they are right in the short-term because since the Chargers moved they increased the value of the brand. However, they still have to play at a stadium that is meant for soccer with a low amount of seats. So even though the brand increased and the potential is there, the teams need to win a Super Bowl to make a “fan base” in Los Angeles. However, the owner doesn’t seem to care about championships.
In short, the NFL is going to feel the repercussions. It is hard to support teams that have a history of leaving. Maybe to begin with they will see an increase because of new markets in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. However, they will not see consistent revenue from the teams. With all of the rule changes and everything else, it is soon to be the NTFL (National Touch Football League) instead of the NFL, which would piss off a major target market in sports.
To the Indoor Football League we go!!! Go Rattlers.
Articles from Chargers.com:
- NFL to implement major changes to commercial breaks
- Chargers to hold training camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa
- Five things about Kenjon Barner
Articles from NFL.com:
Chargers finalize deal for training camp location
Free agency round-up: Manti Te’o signs with Saints
Articles from ESPN.com:
- Chargers hold private workout with Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
- JuJu Smith-Schuster shines at USC pro day, wouldn’t mind staying in L.A.
“In the criminal justice system, moving sports team based offenses are considered especially heinous. In the city of San Diego, the dedicated fans who witness these vicious felonies are in an elite squad known as the Save Our Bolts Unit. These are their stories. BUM BUM!” – Parody of Law and Order Special Victims Unit
The date, January 12th 2017, will be forever known as the day the Chargers died in San Diego. Included in the passing, 56 year of hopes and dreams of many San Diego Chargers fans have been buried. Dreams of seeing this team finally win a Super Bowl, which would included a parade throughout America’s finest city, have now perished. With that murdered dream, so goes the possibility of many San Diegans to finally say “Yes we finally have a winner!”
This is not a game of Clue, or an episode of S.V.U that leaves us pondering who the murderer is. The murderer of those said hopes and dreams of many San Diego citizens and Charger fans worldwide, is Dean Spanos. Instead of being the bigger man and really fighting for a stadium, in which the Chargers have been looking at for the past 15 years, Dean chose the easy way out. He walked away from fighting against a market whom is claiming “LA doesn’t want the Chargers,” a failed Proposition C in which he seemed to turn into a ghost, and debating against hoteliers regarding a huge tax hike.
Even with the attendance down, Dean was making more than enough money to keep this team afloat in San Diego. This move, simply put, is about having more money. This is about greed beating out the loyalty of a fan base that had supported this team through tough seasons when in reality, there were way better things to do in America’s finest city.
The loss of Prop C was just a cop out of Dean and his goons to make a few extra million dollars. What does Dean gain? The so called 25% of fan base that’s supposedly in LA? Does Dean not know percentages? He had 75% of a fan base in San Diego or from San Diego, yet he chose the smaller amount. The ironically humorous part of that is those 25% should probably fill the 27,000 seat stadium the Bolts will play in for the next two years.
Funny to think that if he just showed some commitment to put a winner on the field for the past few years, the city would’ve rewarded Dean with a reasonable offer that worked for everyone. Instead, San Diegans are left without a team that they supported from Sid Gillman all the way to Mike McCoy. This fan base never wavered, staying ignorantly loyal up to the very end.
How fitting though; the team that has made it an art form of crushing our hopes for the past 56 years, breaks our hearts for one last time.
As far as I am concerned, I will not follow that goon of an owner to the city most Charger fans have been raised to root against. Dean showed us no respect leaving San Diego and making a crappy LA logo in the same day. Why show him and his team that same respect?
I will keep my jerseys and my memories of which I have so many to share; perhaps unveiling them in another article. As far as the other city that Chargers team now calls home, I wish the players the best of luck, especially my favorite player Antonio Gates. I can not consciously follow this team to Los Angeles and in reading through numerous social media outlets, it appears many will not as well.
For those staying out of LA and ditching Dean and his organization, like he has ditched us, let’s hear the SAN DIEGO CHARGERS ANTHEM one last time and reflect on our time spent as loyal SAN DIEGO CHARGER fans.
Yesterday was January 12, 2017, a day that shall live in infamy. Some will refer to it as the beginning of the end, and to others just the beginning.
The Chargers are officially moving to Los Angeles, and with this sudden and drastic change, many Charger fans are jumping ship to other teams, or dropping any passion they had for the NFL all together. Of course with those publicly made comments, there have been tons of rebuttals from fans of other NFL teams belittling said fans for doing so.
I say to those that are making the decision to follow another team: Although I am making the decision to follow them in Los Angeles under the condition that they remain the Chargers – I do not blame you.
I also come from a different background. I was not born and raised in San Diego. I became a Chargers fan at a very young age because everyone else around me where I lived, seemed to be an Arizona Cardinals fans. So in a way, I was a fan of the Chargers as an entity, not as a representation of a city.
Regardless of how I became a Charger fan, it still hurts me to watch the team leave by way of a press release; no public meeting, just a cowardly gesture and they are gone like a thief in the night. I understand that the team is now not that far away from San Diego, however the team moved to what is considered to be a rival city. I remember the benches clearing brawl in the Padres- Dodgers game a few years ago between Zack Greinke and Carlos Quentin! These two cities do NOT like each other. It is not to the likes of a New York and New Jersey rival; closer to that of a New York and Boston rivalry. Fans of the NFL born after 1996, who were not alive to witness the move of the Houston Oilers, St. Louis Cardinals and the original Cleveland Browns, do not understand the gravity of this situation.
The social media attacks of Charger fans walking away from the team, seem to forget that a majority of the fans they are chastising, the team was a large part of not only their community, but their upbringing as well. Without actually experiencing the situation yourself, you really have no idea what it is like to lose such a large part of your community – your life. Chargers fans in some of the Facebook groups compare it to having a girlfriend that cheats on you and then shares the picture with you on Facebook with her new ex. You still may love that girlfriend, but it is clear that she did not love you back.
That is the case with the Chargers in my opinion. The reason for the low attendance the past few years is not just because of poor performance, but also the Spanos family yanking the citizens of San Diego around and giving them false hope. It is not just the Spanos family, however, that is at fault. I believe all sides regarding the team and the stadium issue are to blame.
Getting back to my original thought: Fans of the teams that either have not moved in their lifetime or have never moved, where their loyalty has never been tested, should not be telling Chargers fans about how loyal they are and blah, blah, blah. Those casting stones often forget that being a fan of any sports team is a passionate yet gentle distraction from the stressors of our daily lives. We put our heart and hopes into that team, and in return they give us hope and pride in something that is bigger than ourselves. A sports team is a large part of a community; it brings people together and in turn gives back to the community by public works. Now in San Diego, that entity is gone with no public meeting, just a few touches on a keyboard. That is why it hurts the way it does.
So for those who are not, or never were, Chargers fans, please be reminded that everyone is entitled to their opinions and feelings. Your loyalty might not have been tested yet, and even if it has and you choose to stay with your team, I am fairly certain there were numerous fans of your team that jumped ship.
Thanks for Reading
The day of January 15, 2017 is almost here. That day is the date in which the Chargers need to either use the option to move the team to Los Angeles or to stay in San Diego, attempting to work out a mutually beneficial stadium agreement for the Chargers organization and the city of San Diego. Of course, there is also the option that they could ask to extend the option to Los Angeles, adding the much-needed time to keep the Bolts in America’s finest city. The move to Los Angeles would be a costly one, but it also would be a very, very, stupid decision on the part of Chargers management.
This season it was reported that most of the ticket sales for the Chargers-Raiders game in San Diego were from L.A. county, so much so that the Chargers had to practice the silent count in order to deal with the crowd. However, when the game was played, it was not a bunch of Chargers fans, it was a ton of Raiders fans. That game should have been physical proof that the Chargers will not be welcome in Los Angeles.
“So they will re-brand and become more profitable.”
This is a false statement because Los Angeles already has two established fan bases: the Rams and the Raiders. Trying to build a completely new franchise would be next to impossible. Then the money that would be involved in such a re-brand.
First they would have to pay for a firm to conduct the survey about naming the team, then they would have to take the name to digital designers, after that they would have to create the merchandise. Keep in mind, that is not the merchandise that is sold to the general public. Think about the amount of logos you see of a team in any given stadium in any sport. The concourses have logos, the cups, the golf carts, the uniforms, the field of play, the jumbotrons and so on and so forth.
First, imagine the cost of all of that, then add the $500 million dollar relocation fee to the NFL. So, right now it is safe to say moving to Los Angeles will be a costly decision, I mean, it’s only a couple of billion dollars. All spent on the chance they might make a profit due to the larger audience. Personally, that seems like too much money to me to be spent on a “possibility”. If they were to re-brand, as an original team in Los Angeles, history shows that all the teams who have already done that, have eventually moved away from Los Angeles.
With the history of the Spanos family that we have seen in San Diego, we know two things: they are not big spenders and they do not seem to make sound football decisions, they make business decisions. If someone wanted to move a business, why leave all the loyal customers, spend a couple of billion dollars, just purely on the possibility that you might actually turn a profit. In other words, there is a very small chance the Spanos’ clan will be successful in Los Angeles.
Recently the City and County of San Diego, along with San Diego State University, unveiled a new downtown stadium plan. Read about it in this link ( http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/columnists/kevin-acee/sd-sp-charupdate-0103-story.html).
The headline reads that it would be up to the rest of the league to allow Spanos to move the team. I do not think that the owners are going to give up a ninth home game in San Diego. Not to mention, losing one of America’s largest tourist destinations would hurt the NFL’s bottom line in multiple ways.
After the Rams experiment in Los Angeles, the owners are probably very weary of the fans in Los Angeles. This seasons ratings for the Los Angeles Rams were actually LOWER than the tv ratings while the team was in St Louis. (Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/12/st-louis-los-angeles-rams-television-ratings-nfl)
That proves, in my mind, that even though they will be moving to a more populated area, that does guarantee that the team will make money. Even after all the money the Rams spent, they are (so far) not better off in Los Angeles.
In closing, the Chargers will not move to Los Angeles because of the necessary costs of the move and the results of the Los Angeles Rams’ experiment prematurely seeming to be a bad plan.
Not to mention, in the last game, there was a sign that was posted outside of the Q that said,” keeping the tradition in San Diego.” This means either they are staying, or they are keeping the name “Chargers” in San Diego.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Korey Toomer has only been wearing lightning bolts since September, but it surely seems longer.
The former Oakland Raider is as happy to be with the Chargers as they are to have him. He is finally getting an opportunity to put his talents on display, especially that 4.53-second 40-yard dash.
After being drafted by Seattle in 2012 (round 5, selection No. 154). He was on the roster for 20 (including preseason) games during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory in 2013. Between being on injured-reserve for two straight years and having guys like Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner ahead of him, it was difficult for Toomer to get on the field in Seattle. He was released from the Seahawks in 2014. Subsequent stops in Dallas and St. Louis with minimal playing time (special teams only) garnered three tackles in seven games. More of the same followed in Oakland, so much so that he terminated his contract with the Raiders to sign in San Diego.
The signing of the ultra athletic Toomer has gone a long way towards solidifying the linebacking corps. Season-ending injuries to Manti Te’o and Nick Dzubnar left a void that demanded filling. Recent injuries to both Jatavis Brown (knee) and Denzel Perryman (hamstring) only increased the necessity of his presence.
Ahead of the match-up against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Toomer had started in four out of seven games. One of his best plays to date came in the Thursday Night Football game when he tackled Broncos wide receiver Jordan Taylor and the Broncos’ player coughed up the ball. The fumble recovery led to a San Diego field goal and put the Chargers up 13 points on their division foes. San Diego went on to win that game, their first victory in the AFC West since 2014.
Since mid-October, Toomer has amassed 51 tackles, the majority of which are solo (37), defended against two passes, forced three fumbles and notched one fumble recovery. There were impressive stats against both the Tennessee Titans (nine tackles/eight solo) and the Miami Dolphins (11/10), including three-and-a-half tackles for lost yardage. In the Houston game, the veteran linebacker recorded 13 more tackles (four solo) and a quarterback hit.
Having Toomer back there to get receivers off routes has been fun to watch, as well. His ability to reroute crossers and drags which run through the linebacking corps’ area can significantly alter the short passing games of opposing offenses. He has helped solidify that inside linebacking group.
Speaking to Ricky Henne of chargers.com in October, Toomer stated:
“Pags’ system is benefitting me because he is letting me play fast. He is putting me in positions not to fail. That is why it is working for the both of us. I feel like these coaches are giving me a chance. Granted, I made good on the situation. These coaches have put me in position to make plays and are not putting too much on my plate. They are letting me fly around. I am grateful for these coaches giving me a call and giving me a chance to play this game. I want to show people I can bring more to the table than just special teams. I love special teams, that’s where I want to play for the rest of my career as well, but I want to play defense, too.”
Whether he plays defense or special teams, the fact that Toomer left a division rival in order to grasp an opportunity with both hands shows he has gained confidence in himself and his ability.
Bring on the Bucs and Mike Evans!
*Featured image credit: AP – Denis Poroy
Going into Week 13, the San Diego Chargers practically have a full team on injured reserve, placing 18 players on the season-ending list!
I am sure the Chargers can say there is not enough room on the airplane for the players on IR this season and actually mean it.
Here are the players on IR and the date they were placed on it.
May 16th: Brock Hekking (OLB): Charger fans have yet to see what talent this second-year linebacker has to offer. He missed all of 2015 with a foot injury and was placed on IR in 2016 with an undisclosed injury suffered early in training camp.
August 15th: Stevie Johnson (WR) Johnson suffered a torn MCL during practice on July 31st. The nine-year veteran signed with the Chargers in 2015 and had 497 yards with three touchdowns.
August 15th: Sean Lissemore (NT) Lissemore was hoping to come back in 2016 after hurting his shoulder at the end of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, he was not able to recover from the injury and was placed on IR.
August 22nd: Jeff Cumberland (TE) Cumberland had signed a one-year deal with the Chargers after playing six years with the Jets. The tight end suffered an ACL injury in the preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
August 30th: Zamir Carlis (DT) The 6-foot-4, 275-pound rookie out of Stillman College suffered an ankle injury during practice. The severity of the injury is undisclosed.
August 30th: Donavon Clark (G) The 2016 seventh-round pick from Michigan State suffered a torn ACL injury against the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason.
August 30th: Tyler Johnstone (T) The rookie from Oregon suffered an undisclosed injury during training camp.
August 30th: Branden Oliver (RB) Most of us watched Oliver tear his Achilles tendon in the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. Chargers were hoping to have the hard-hitting Oliver back after he missed half of 2015 with a toe injury.
August 31st: Javontee Herndon (WR/KR) The wide receiver suffered a knee injury on July 30th. He played eight games in 2015 and had 195 yards receiving. Herndon also was used in return duties.
September 12th: Keenan Allen (WR) After missing most of the 2015 season, the Chargers were excited to get top-ranked receiver KA13 back on the field. Then, much to the chagrin of Chargers fans and fantasy football players, he suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the regular season. Six offensive plays into the 2016 season and your No. 1 target is gone for the entire year.
September 19th: Danny Woodhead (RB) After Chargers fans saw Keenan Allen go down in Week 1, they saw Woodhead go down in Week 2. The mighty back also suffered a torn ACL.
September 28th: Manti Te’o (ILB) Hoping to finally play a full season after suffering injuries in his first three years, Te’o only made it to the third game of the regular season. The team captain suffered a torn Achilles in the loss against the Indianapolis Colts.
October 7th: Jason Verrett (CB): Verrett suffered a partially torn ACL injury and was placed on IR after the fourth game against the Saints. Verrett was not able to pinpoint when the actual injury happened and therefore most likely continued to play despite the injury.
October 10th: Nick Dzubnar (ILB) The second-year undrafted linebacker from Cal Poly SLO also tore his ACL in week six against the New Orleans Saints. He had six tackles before his season-ending injury.
October 25th: Caraun Reid (DT) Reid tore his ACL in Week 7 against Atlanta. Reid was signed this year after his first two years with the Detroit Lions.
November 5th: Dexter McCluster (RB) If it wasn’t bad enough that so many players were going down on the field of play, McCluster got injured off the field. The running back, signed due to injuries, broke his arm at his home carrying furniture.
November 22nd: Brandon Mebane (NT) The veteran nose tackle, who played nine years with the Seattle Seahawks, made a huge impact on the defense. Sadly, he tore his biceps muscle in the hard-fought loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 10.
November 29th: Jerry Attaochu (OLB): Attaochu broke his foot against the Houston Texans in Week 12. The third-year linebacker had six sacks last year and two this year.
Here is a very scary thought: Nine out of the 18 players on the injured-reserve list have knee injuries, while six of them suffered ACL tears.
Injuries should never be used as an excuse for losing in the NFL but having 18 players out for the year is excessive, to say the least.
Let’s look on the bright side: despite a 5-6 record, the team has been in every contest this year. Each of their six losses have been by eight points or less. That says a lot about a team with so many key players on IR.
It will not be easy, but the playoffs are not out of reach for the Bolts… yet. I just hope they can stay healthy for the last five games, giving them a shot to earn an invite to the postseason.
Thanks for reading!
Man, oh man! What a day to be a Chargers fan!!
That was my reaction to the Chargers vs. Falcons game a few weeks back. And if you had Tyrell Williams in your fantasy football lineup that week – he reaped HUGE dividends! I have him on my team in two leagues and he was well over his projections: 15 points against an 8.64 in my Yahoo league while in my NFL League it was 14 versus an estimated 5.70 low.
Crazy to recall that this huge, raw talent was not invited to the NFL Combine. Guess he was considered too raw as he went undrafted.
That’s okay, because the Chargers picked him up. And while he didn’t see much on-field time until late last year, it’s all good.
Fast forward to 2016.
The 6’4″, 205 pounder made his way up the depth chart after an injury in training camp landed Stevie Johnson on IR. Shortly after that, the Bolts’ number one wide-out Keenan Allen was lost for the season. Where did that put Williams? Squarely in the starting line-up along with slot receiver and off-season signing Travis Benjamin.
During training camp last year, Chargers’ signal caller Philip Rivers made mention of how much Williams reminded him of Malcom Floyd; the way he moved, almost as if gliding his way down the field.
He is becoming adept at using that big body and 4.38 second speed to fly across the middle or along the sidelines. Through 10 games, Williams career stats are 43 catches for 720 yards and four TD scores. The Falcons game saw him mark career-highs in both targets (7 of 10) and receiving yards (140). To date, he is ninth in yards after the catch (YAC) with 317. That breaks down to an average of 7.4 YAC.
Those are all great. There are, however, a couple of things that Williams needs to tweak. One is his sideline awareness.
Early in the second quarter, first and 10 from Atlanta’s 49-yard line, Benjamin threw the ball towards Williams, who caught it and ran. A 22 yard bomb. While the toss took many by surprise, it was an awesome catch…except that it was called back incomplete. A simple nuance – dragging his right toe as he was going out of bounds would have been the difference of another set of downs rather than the challenge that followed. Second and 10 at Atlanta’s 49 yard line rather than first and 10. Sigh. The Bolts kick a field goal to cap that drive.
Williams was kind of quiet in the second half (3/4, 27 yds) as San Diego continued to run the ball with Gordon and began mixing Inman into the offense more. Williams’ last catch of the day converted a 3rd and 10 at the Falcons’ 15 yard line into a Chargers’ 1st and goal at Atlanta’s 5-yard line early in the fourth and Josh Lambo kicked a chip-shot to pull the Bolts’ within three.
The thing with Williams is that he is extremely adept at picking up those yards after the catch, much like Malcom Floyd was prone to do when Rivers was putting the ball up for him to nab. In just his second year, Williams and Rivers have quickly developed a rapport in which when No. 17 fires a bullet in his direction, he is confident that No. 16 is getting his hands on it. The game is not too big for him as he has continued to build on what began last December – opportunity knocking due to Floyd having to leave the Denver game. He hauled in his first NFL touchdown that day in front of Broncos’ corner Aquib Talib.
He hasn’t looked back since.
So what does Williams need to do at this stage of his development? One thing he MUST do is work on his route running. For example, we have all seen how at least a couple of times throughout a game he misses the option route. Those miscues just give Rivers fits. So far there have been 11 times where the chance for better field position has resulted in the ball not being in his hands. Overall better recognition of where the defender is in conjunction to when/where Williams should break or how deep into the route before he does will come with repetition. He needs to get a quicker break off the line of scrimmage also.
When Keenan Allen went down week one, it was Williams’ turn to step up. At that time, Rivers stated to Michael Gehlken (SD-UT) “We need him to catch a bunch of balls this year — a bunch of balls and have some huge days and big gains.”
From the apex of Atlanta to the debacle in Denver, Williams appeared to be hampered a bit in Mile High Stadium. Battling a knee injury had his status questionable all week, so perhaps limited practice time may have affected him in his running and timing ability. A tipped ball off his hands led to a 49-yard interception-TD by Bradley Roby and gave the Broncos the lead late in the second quarter. On the Bolts’ next series, Williams tweaked his knee again going after a pass and was done for the day. Targeted six times, he hauled in a lone catch for four yards.
Though still having a sore knee with minimal practice reps, Williams hauled in six Rivers’ passes for 65 yards and a score this past Sunday against the Titans. This week versus Miami, with fellow wide-out Travis Benjamin inactive with his own knee injury, Williams’ stat line was 5/125 and a TD. It could have been more if not for at least twice where he didn’t even look back to Rivers to recognize that the ball was headed in his direction. Or because he let the defender beat him to the ball and didn’t fight for it, thus causing an interception.
The chemistry between Williams and his signal caller continues to evolve with each rep in practice and on the field. After the Thursday Night game against Denver two weeks ago, Rivers told Tom Krasovic (SD-UT) “Tyrell, as you saw, has the potential to make every play. There’s not a play physically that he can’t make. It’s just a matter of continuing to grow as a receiver – running (optimal) routes.”
They say knowledge is power. Stepping in to fill the shoes of your team’s number one receiver at a moment’s notice shows one’s mettle to teammates and coaches alike.
So far, Tyrell Williams has proven he is up to the challenge. He MUST continue to do so for team to have any kind of chance at winning games.
Hopefully all those people – those would be the voices of last season which were scathing at times – are eating their words this season with regard to Melvin Gordon. Bust, you say? Maybe that was a bit premature.
Why? First a little bit of Gordon’s background.
There was speculation aplenty when Chargers’ GM Tom Telesco and the San Francisco 49ers swapped spots in the 2015 NFL Draft. Telesco moved from 17th position to 15th and took Gordon. Many fans were disconcerted, some even loudly outraged, that the running back pick was Gordon and not Todd Gurley. Personally, I felt that with the Bolts needing a better running back than Ryan Mathews had been, plus the fact that Gurley was still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, it was a good choice.
What wasn’t there to like? Gordon finished his career at University of Wisconsin-Madison having played in 45 games where he had 631 carries for 4,915 yards and 45 TDs. As a receiver out of the backfield there were 22 catches for 228 yards and four TDs. In his senior year, the former Badger hauled in 19 receptions for 153 yards and three TDs while also accumulating 343 carries and 29 TDs for 2,587 yards (second most in the FBS). He also had six games of 200+ yards, a school record.
Being chosen as a first rounder is a huge responsibility coupled with as much, if not more, expectation. Not just the expectation of teammates and coaches, but also what the individual places on themselves. As a rookie the playbook is just one part of the whole; the speed of the game is vastly quicker and the majority of guys you suit up with are playing at a level considerably higher than your own.
Contributing factors to Gordon’s lower-than-anticipated numbers were the woes of the offensive line play of the Chargers. The team went through 24 O-line combinations. Play-calling was WAY too predictable. The line could not create holes on a consistent basis for the rookie to run through. Perhaps the biggest disservice to Gordon was the fact that his entire career at Wisconsin he had a fullback in front of him, yet there was no such position on his new team.
It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
This year saw a change at offensive coordinator as Frank Reich exited San Diego for Philadelphia. Ken Whisenhunt returned and brought with him the hope for a more productive running game. At the end of his 2013-14 stint as OC, San Diego had the No. 5 offense overall and was 13th in rushing. In 2015, the team was ranked ninth in total offense and they were 31st in rushing. Gordon was ranked 37th amongst all running backs.
With Whisenhunt, Gordon seems to have flourished. Through eight games (no update to include week nine yet), NFL.com has him ranked twelfth amongst running backs with 572 rushing yards (161 carries) and 219 receiving yards (24 catches). Including week nine stats, Footballdb.com has Gordon listed in the No. 3 slot behind Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (891 yds) and Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray (807 yds). Gordon has logged four games with over 100 combined rushing and receiving yards: Jacksonville 120 yards, Atlanta 121 yards, Denver 155 yards and last week at home against Tennessee he racked up a whopping 261 yards.
Even better is the fact that after nine games, Gordon is leading the league with 11 touchdowns. After not crossing the goal line once last year, the guy that many called a “bust” is number one in touchdowns scored!
The early season loss of Danny Woodhead, one of the best pass-catchers out of the backfield, is part of the reason for the uptick in Gordon’s numbers. When Woodhead went down, and Branden Oliver out for the year since pre-season, it meant that Gordon had to step up his own game. It had been stated several times from OTA’s through training camp that he appeared more confident and sure of himself. Now, HE is the one taking the hand-off from Rivers in those 3rd down conversion scenarios when the call is for a run. HE catches some of those 3rd and long passes, and HE is the guy scampering in when they are in the red zone. Except of course for the Broncos game when he should have been given at least ONE shot from the 2-yard line to tie the game and Whisenhunt called for four straight pass plays.
Gordon has the vision this year that he was lacking throughout his rookie campaign. Having Derek Watt, his fullback from Wisconsin, blocking in front of him in games has helped. Less turnover along the offensive line has also made it easier to get off the line of scrimmage. He has fumbled twice this year versus the six from a year ago. The frenzy of 2015 has slowed a bit in his second year.
Gordon has been running so well that after last week’s Titans game in which he accumulated 196 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards and darted in for another rushing TD, the second-year back was nominated for, and won, both the AFC Offensive Player of the Week and the Castrol Clutch Performer of the Week!! Take that, all those Melvin Gordon haters of 2015! Not so much of a bust, after all, is he?!
My prediction is that Gordon will be the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Chargers since LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 1,110 in 2008; LT had 11 TDs that year and 154 receiving yards. Gordon needs only 232 yards to hit the 1,000 mark in rushing. If he continues at the pace he is on now, he will exceed that number. As of this writing he has already reached 1,032 yards combined. I anticipate he will score a total of 18 touchdowns and amass 1,300 rushing yards by season’s end. Bold? Perhaps. But I think he is up to the task.
Now if only he can continue to get the ball put in his hands in those short red zone TD situations!
News out of Chargers Park is that ANOTHER player is lost for the year due to injury.
Monday we learned it is defensive end Caraun Reid. And as has been the sickening norm for this team, it was an ACL tear to the big end’s left knee.
Reid sustained his injury in the first quarter of the Atlanta game after being hit in his lower leg as he planted his foot. Linebacker Denzel Perryman was heading for the pile and just caught Reid’s knee.
Claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions roster, the 6’2, 302-pounder (Princeton, round five of 2014 draft) has been with the Chargers for about six weeks. Filling in while Joey Bosa (2016 draft first round #3) nursed his sore hamstring, Reid has been a contributor on the defense. In 103 snaps he collected five combined tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
That notable highlight occurred in the week three game at Indianapolis. Rookie linebacker Jatavis Brown strip-sacked Andrew Luck and Reid scooped up the ball, taking it to the house 61 yards and tying the game at 13 all.
While announcing Reid’s situation, McCoy said “Caraun came in on the very first day and did an outstanding job. He’s a smart player that picked our system up in a hurry and made some big plays for us.”
If anyone is counting, including Reid, that makes TEN – yes, I said TEN – players lost to season-ending injuries. Five of those ten are to the knee and have occurred in the last seven weeks. Here’s the long and incomprehensible list:
Keenan Allen – torn right ACL, week one vs the Chiefs
Danny Woodhead – torn right ACL, week two vs the Jaguars
Jason Verrett – torn left ACL possibly sustained in the Jaguars game
Nick Dzubnar – torn right ACL, week four vs the Saints
And of course, Caraun Reid from yesterday.
Though it was not his ACL, the Bolts lost Manti Te’o to a torn left Achilles’ tendon early in the Colts game.
On top of those, what about the non-contact injuries that besieged the team before the 2016 campaign even began:
wide-out Stevie Johnson tore his meniscus in training camp
tight end Jeff Cumberland was lost to a torn Achilles’ during the pre-season game against Arizona
rookie guard Donavon Clark tore his right ACL in the Arizona contest
change of pace back Branden Oliver had his right Achilles’ snap during the Minnesota game
It is ONLY Week 7 and that list is scary!! I don’t know if there is any other NFL team playing right now that has had the upheaval to their roster that San Diego has endured. There are still nine weeks to go to the end of the season.
I shudder to think what the “football gods” have in store for this group of men and the accursed injury phenomena as time rolls by. Every time a man goes down, I cringe and pray it is just a minor hiccup and they’ll be back quickly.
Time for the CBA to be re-evaluated. Some teams don’t lose any players, some one or two. But to have TEN is like looking at an emergency room full of wheelchairs!
Sorry to see your name added to that list, Caraun Reid. Your presence on defense will be sorely missed.