Charles Clay

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Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell upheld his four game suspension of New England Patriots Tom Brady for his involvement in the Deflategate scandal. There wasn’t a talking head on any network who thought Brady’s appeal of the initial ruling wouldn’t result in a reduction of games. In a move to be applauded, Gooddell forsook the man other NFL owners call the “assistant commish”, Robert Kraft, and stuck to his guns on his decision.

We’ve all been waiting to see if the league held its golden boy Brady to the same standard as all others when it comes to discipline. It’s ludicrous to think that Patriots equipment personnel deflate footballs of their own free will. The fact Brady destroyed the phone containing potentially damning evidence was all the Commish needed in upholding his suspension. No special treatment. No favors for his bestie Robert Kraft. Justice is served.

For now.

Of course, Brady will take the matter to federal court to try to clear his name and eliminate his four game ban. First, he has to get an injunction passed by a judge, putting the ban on hold until after the court process plays out. Of course he does. Instead of accepting defeat and taking his suspension like a man, he will surround himself with high priced lawyers and look for loopholes. Thankfully, getting an injunction isn’t as easy as it sounds. Brady has to prove he has a winnable case and the preceding adjudicator (Gooddell) missed key evidence that would’ve cleared his name. If he has such evidence, you’d think it would’ve been revealed by now.

The NFL is on solid footing. They have the Collective Bargaining Agreement, agreed to by the owners and players, giving the Commissioner the power to discipline and rule over these same cases. They have the Wells report, a 243-page investigation on the matter. Ted Wells is one of the nation’s best white collar trial lawyers and his findings were critical in the Richie Incognito bullying scandal of two years ago.

Karma is finally catching up with the Patriots but what does this have to do with the Chargers?

It has everything to do with the Chargers. San Diego will be looking to supplant the Denver Broncos and win the AFC West. If they can do so they will likely be competing with the Patriots for a potential first round bye. Even if the bolts don’t win the west, this season the team looks deeper than they have in years. If they can eliminate the distractions with contracts, relocation and keep injuries to a minimum they will post a double digit win total.

In their first four weeks, New England faces the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. Pittsburgh and Dallas are playoff-caliber teams and the Bills improved significantly over the offseason. That could be two losses that will be tough to make up for when fighting for a top seed in the playoffs.

San Diego faces the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals in their first four games. That stretch of games could easily favor the Chargers given the advantage they have behind center. That leads to the question no one seems to be asking but everyone is wondering…

What if Brady’s replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo, stinks out loud?

Garoppolo has thrown for 182 yards and one touchdown in his NFL career. His only playing time is when the game is out of hand and the opposition is already demoralized. Defenses are going to throw every disguise and Madden-esque blitz package they can think of at the second-year pro. What’s more, New England lost a lot of key components on defense. All-Pro cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandown Browner left for the Jets and Saints, respectively. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork found a new home with the Houston Texans. This is a team that will have to win by scoring lots of points because their defense will give up plenty of points.

Every team in the AFC East got better while the Patriots took a step back. Buffalo added one of the league’s leading rushers in trading for LeSean McCoy and signed wide receiver Percy Harvin, tight end Charles Clay and the aforementioned Richie Incognito to their offense. Miami signed the biggest name on the free agent market in nose tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins also added tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Greg Jennings to add punch to the offense.

Even the lowly New York Jets pulled Revis out of Belichick’s clutches, then added corners Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine. They signed Brandon Marshall, and running backs Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley to completely overhaul the offense. Offensive coordinator mastermind Chan Gailey will spearhead a revamped Jets attack who’s only glaring weakness is the quarterback.

The sledding was going to be rough for the Patriots if they had Brady for all 16 games. Now, the task  becomes incrementally more daunting with a new quarterback for 25% of the season. Fending off the young guns is getting tougher by the year to the point where a team other than New England winning the AFC East isn’t laughable anymore. It’s closer to reality than we all think and my prediction is the Patriots will make the playoffs but as a wild card.

And that is a very good thing for the Chargers.

What do you think? Are the Patriots still the team to beat in the AFC or does time (and all the cheating) catch up to them this year? What do you think Bolt Nation?

 

Bolt up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

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The Chargers traveled to Miami for an early Sunday game against Eastern Division foes the Dolphins.  Unfortunately, they must have left their talents in South Beach.  That game was over before halftime.  I mean, insert your clichés here.

If the San Diego Union-Tribune thought that the Chargers weren’t ready for prime-time after losing in Denver, Oct. 23rd, what are they saying after the team was dominated in every way Sunday?  Tom Krasovic wrote on his blog immediately after the game that “it feels like (the Chargers) season is over.”  To be honest, they made the Dolphins looked like their 1972 ancestors who went on to win Super Bowl VII and finish 17-0, the NFL’s only perfect season.

I could easily go into my usual narrative on how the game went for the four quarters and how bad the team looked.  So bad, in fact, that outside of Southern California CBS put the rest of the country out of its misery by switching to a more competitive contest.

Here’s a few observations and yes, I watched until the very end which I think is cool no matter what Darren Smith thinks.

  1. The Play of the Game:  On the Chargers opening drive, Coach Mike McCoy decided to gamble on a fourth and one on the Dolphin 22 and Oliver ran left for a loss of one.  The Chargers turned the ball over on downs and the Dolphins promptly marched 77 yards for a score and a lead the team would never relinquish.
  2. Player of the Game:  Special teamer Seyi Ajirotutu had seen enough and was tossed at the end of third quarter for making contact with an official.  He was involved in a few after the whistle scuffles throughout the contest but in my eyes he gets a game ball for his efforts.  Yeah, I’m being a little sarcastic but even the play-by-play team of Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts commented that Ajirotutu had enough and wanted to go to the locker room early.

The game was an embarrassment.  The team had 10 days to prepare.  Dan Patrick, on “Football Night in America,” remarked that the Chargers looked like they needed “a year.”  No one with half a brain could throw the officials under the bus for this massacre.  I think the Chargers have no one to blame but themselves.  The team is now in a downward spiral that now numbers three losses in a row.

They’re limping to the bye week.  Listening to sports radio on Monday, many in San Diego area are questioning whether the imminent returns of Chargers starters will provide immediate relief after the team returns.

Minus the Nov. 16th game at home against Oakland (and we know how well their fans travel to San Diego), the remaining schedule consists of teams all at or above the .500 mark.  As of this writing, two of them are division leaders (New England & Denver).  With the Rams winning Sunday, even they can no longer be a team to take lightly.

At the end of game, I found it disheartening to hear Coach McCoy sound so nonchalant about the loss.  “We need to play better,” he said.  After a loss like I’d expect the visitor’s locker room to need repairs after the coach destroyed the furniture.  In his afternoon show with Billy Ray Smith, Scott Kaplan placed the blame squarely on the coach’s shoulders.

If the season ended today, the Chargers would not be a contender.  I’m sorry, that’s the play I’ve seen on the field.

The game was such a blow-out that Dan Fouts started telling stories about the Chargers last victory in Miami in 1981.  He also added the snark that there’s no one left to tell the stories to.  The 33-year streak continues and I’m willing to bet that if the Miami Dolphins do not appear in next season’s schedule, there will be 53 men who’ll be very happy.

With seven games left, I’m certain I can’t be alone in wondering which way the Chargers go after the bye week.  Are fans left hoping that the team goes on its usual late season run?  Is this same old story we’ve witnessed season after season except with a different coach and front office?

As always, your comments and questions are welcomed in the section below.  Don’t stop believing fans, but is it time to start worrying?

 

David Parada

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