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!
(Photo Credit: The San Diego Union-Tribune)
This past Monday Night football was nauseating to watch. The Chargers, who dominated most of the game, could not hold onto a slim three-point lead in the waning minutes against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. When the clock displayed double zeros and Le’Veon Bell’s reach over the goal line was replayed numerous times, Bolts fans were disgusted. The final score was not the only thing that upset the home crowd. It was all the obnoxious yellow towels that were whirled about Qualcomm stadium. Players from San Diego were even in awe of the strong black and gold front that, at times, overtook the stadium. The game was, after all, played in America’s finest city and not the Steel City from Pennsylvania. How shocking was it to see and hear?
Honestly, it should not have been that big of a surprise.
The Monday Night announcers made sure that people sitting at home were very aware of the Steelers’ fan-base presence; especially after the end of the game. So naturally sports media, talk shows, podcasts…etc. were talking about it. Chargers fans worldwide voiced their frustrations and even compared San Diego’s fanbase to other football teams, asking why Bolt fans were outnumbered at home.
Let me take this moment to state the obvious:
The San Diego fan base will never be at the same level as the fans from Green Bay, Pittsburgh, or Chicago. Period.
Several articles that I scanned through all had this to say about the Pittsburgh Steelers fans:
“Best traveling fans in the NFL.”
Out here on the west coast of Florida, you could maybe find 20 people out of 100 that were born and raised in the Sunshine State. The other 80 hails from the likes of Pittsburgh, Ohio, Massachusetts…etc. Having gone to several Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rays games in my 15 years of living here, it rarely feels like a home game. It’s a transplant state after all. Residents bring their fandom with them. In fact, there is a Steelers bar very close to my home called Fanatics Sports Bar & Grill.
So why do fans from all over outnumber the home team? What does Florida have to offer?
The same thing San Diego has to offer….except the awful humidity, of course.
In America’s finest city, people come from all over to reap the benefits of perfect weather, beaches and the lifestyle. Just like here in Florida, after a few visits, people decide to move and plant themselves permanently, or seasonally. San Diego has always boasted the best weather year round of any other city in America. With the ocean breeze slapping them in the face, the surfing, fishing and the relaxed atmosphere, it is no wonder people from twelve-below temperatures are flocking their way out west.
I am a transplant Floridian, and the only games I really attend are those when the San Diego Padres and Chargers are in town. Do I get nasty looks? Of course I do. Nobody wants to see opposing fans at their home stadium.
As disheartening as it was to see those awful towels seemingly exceed those beautiful Charger jerseys in the stands, it should not have been a surprise. It is painful that this story reached such great heights.
However, Charger fans need to worry less about the number of opposing fans and more about the team itself. Call it like it is, Bolts fans: the city of San Diego is a transplant city and those transplants bring their money as well as their love for their favorite team. All Charger fans need to do is to continue to support the team and “BOLT UP!!”
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott