Coach John Pagano
Watching Mike McCoy’s press conference Monday made me more irritable than watching the Chargers lose another close game against the Miami Dolphins. It was more irritating than watching the anarchy after the presidential election. So for all you protesters of firing McCoy…..
You now have my vote.
Every question during said press conference, seemed to be answered with the preface, “Like I’ve been telling you from day 1…” Yes Mike, you have said the same thing over and over again since the beginning and look where your team is at?
Clearly he does not listen to himself nor reviews his press conferences afterwards. The reason I know he doesn’t?? Nothing seems to change.
I have been giving McCoy a very long leash up until now. I like the man and felt that he was handed a bad product; a product that is always injured and broken – like a Christmas toy that your dad has to become MacGyver in order to get it to work again.
And I still feel this way….to a point. In Sundays loss to Miami, the Dolphins exploited the rookies and sophomores. They knew what we had and punished us for it. Philip Rivers had an awful day, one that I am sure he would agree with. From the onset of the game, there was no continuity between him and his receivers – even with Antonio Gates.
The makeshift defense has done as well if not better than expected. With all the injuries in the defensive backfield, the secondary is playing well due to the dominance upfront with the likes of Brandon Mebane, Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa and Jatavis Brown. Although last week, with not as much quarterback pressure and always worried about the run game, the weak secondary was peppered with blown coverages and missed tackles. Furthermore, their performance, for the most part, in the second half has been nothing shy of depressing. What happens in the locker room at halftime? Isn’t part of the job of John Pagano and McCoy to inspire and motivate the players to continue their supremacy?
Let’s get back to the press conference.
One of the head coach’s remarks was about how the mistakes prior to the 4th quarter is just as big and bothersome as the mistakes made in the last 15 minutes of play. Question after question was brought up about the late let down and Mike continued deflecting those questions and making excuses for bad play earlier in the game.
Hey Mike? Let’s agree to disagree.
Sure there are spots during a game where San Diego has missed opportunities to take a commanding lead, or at least be the cog and shut down any momentum created by the opposition. However, since Mike has been wearing the Charger visor, the team has been awful in close games (8 points or fewer) with or without the lead heading into the final frame. Take a look at these numbers:
Since the 2013 season and through last week’s game, the Bolts are 15-23 in games decided by 8 points or less. For you statisticians, that equals a 39.47 winning percentage.
Now of those 38 games, San Diego was leading at the end of the 3rd quarter 15 times (7-8 record) and behind 20 times (6-14 record). I understand those numbers don’t add up for all you following at home. So let me add that three out of those 38 games they were tied (2-1 record) heading into the 4th quarter.
Closing out games, in my humble opinion, is just as important as controlling the game in the early onset. In fact I will go out on a limb and say that the last quarter is the most crucial. Every team makes mistakes; blown coverages, missed throws, turnovers…etc. Those are bound to happen. In fact, the likelihood of any NFL team playing a “perfect” game is as minuscule as the chances of me dating model Ashley Alexxis.
The simple fact is that not many times is an NFL team going to be blowing out their opponent every week; hence why it is vital to be able to have that “closer” mentality.
Speaking of dominant closers, perhaps Coach McCoy needs to watch San Diego Padres game where Trevor Hoffman comes in and shuts down the opponents. Trevor, one of the best closers in all of baseball, was so dominate and fearless when he came out to “Hells Bells,” that even when he got older, hitters were still in fear of facing him. But that is what a closer is supposed to do. The team battles all game to lead late in the game, and the closer shuts it down.
It would be fantastic if McCoy would stop repeating himself about what he has “…been telling us from day 1.” We know this team has not been able to put the clamps on the opposition in the final quarter. My question, if I were allowed in the press room, would be this:
What are you going to do about it Coach?
Because clearly McCoy is either so obtuse that he is not aware of this lack of productivity in the final moments of the game, or he has tried for three and a half seasons and nothing has worked. The last time I checked, the Chargers play in the National Football League; professional football teams take the field every game. Is there any one team that if they are behind heading into the last quarter, just plain gives up? These players are playing for a starting position, a bigger contract, a long-term contract…etc.
Whether it is holding onto a lead, or trying to dig out of a hole, the simple fact is that this Chargers team, since McCoy took over, CAN NOT CLOSE OUT GAMES.
Sure, the coaches do not take the field – the players have to execute. However whose job is it to make the right play calling? Whose job is it to encourage and be positive around the players to ensure they will continue to fight for the whole 60 minutes? Whose job is it to make sure the players are in the right position to execute?
To have your play calling questioned after so many games is getting tiresome. Perhaps it is time to admit that McCoy just does not have what it takes to close out games. If he did, if he had the aggressive confidence the team needs, San Diego’s record would be more around 9-1 or 8-2, rather than a pathetic 4-6.
I know most of you anti-McCoy constituents have been feeling this way for a while now. I am big enough to eat crow and admit that this just isn’t the massive injuries, or the lack of execution causing the team to fail. There needs to be a change, otherwise this team will not change.
One possible solution: Bring Hoffman in to coach in the fourth quarter of every game. He can even wear a visor backwards if he wants.
Thanks for reading
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
EDITOR’S NOTE: Staff writer Travis Blake took the time to speak with the BoltBlitz.com staff and ask their opinions on what they believe the record of the 2016 Chargers will be. Travis asked me to include my opinion, but I am working on a full 16-game breakdown and record-prediction article as we speak. That being said, the record I am predicting will agree with a couple of the writers in this article, but for different reasons than they listed.
Are you ready for some football? Are you ready for some Chargers football?? The start of the 2016 NFL season is imminent, and since our beloved Bolts don’t kick off until Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, I thought it would be fun to ask the BoltBlitz staff writers for their predictions for this season. I asked what they thought the Chargers’ record would be after the 16 regular-season games, and a brief description of how they came to that conclusion. Will this season be one to remember, or yet another we quickly move to forget? Here’s what we said:
Corey Decker: Record 10-6. “The Chargers need to do two things this upcoming season: communicate and stay healthy. We noticed this team can compete after last season’s match-up versus the Packers.”
Zak Darman: Record 5-11/6-10. “Offensive line is still suspect. Safeties and linebackers suck. Defensive line is improved but still a hole. Depth is thin and team has no balance on offense and the division as a whole is very difficult.”
Laura Leech: Record 8-8. “Chargers should win more games than last season, as long as they stay healthy. The schedule is fairly easy, with the exception of having to play their own division twice. The AFC West will be the toughest division in football, so they must win at least three division games to be contenders for the playoffs but they are playing the reigning Super Bowl Champs, a rising Raiders team and they haven’t fared well against the Chiefs in the last couple years.”
Chris Hoke: Record 9-7. “Although this team has talent, there’s a ton of question marks to go with it. The health of the line(s). How far along will Bosa come? Will he actually matter? Can the back-end of the defense compensate for the loss of Weddle? All these factors, plus the fact that McNorv can’t manage a game for his life will cost us seven, if not more, losses.”
Debra Zettelmier: Record 8-8. “They did a lot in the off season to address weakness on the defensive line. Lately, they’ve been working on offense and the power run. But I think they win eight games because of Whisenhunt. A team coming off a 4-12 season last year isn’t going to have a 10-6 season. Technically, it takes 5-7 years for a team to become playoff material after the changes the Chargers have gone through (with) Reich and injuries have held this team back. I just wish (the) Chargers would have kept Bercovici, even though he threw a lot of interceptions, he could have been trained under Rivers for a couple (of) years. Peyton lit up the field with interceptions his first rookie year and look how good he became. I like our draft picks a lot but I’m not secure with a 10-6 season.”
Cheryl A White: Record 10-6 with a wildcard playoff berth. “Because I think the division will be won by Kansas City or perhaps Oakland. Pittsburgh and New England will be in the mix for the wildcard in the AFC. Health of offensive line will be a huge factor. Also return game/blocking will need to be really improved, as will 3rd down conversions.”
Mike Pisciotta: Record 7-9.…. they still lack depth on both fronts. Mike McTurner all by himself is good for 2 losses.
Travis Blake: Record 6-10. I was finally able to nail my prediction down to 6 wins, 10 losses. All offseason I have made it known on Twitter that I believe the Bolts will win between 4-6 games in 2016. The main reason for that is Mike McCoy and John Pagano…… I just can’t even. I was hoping — praying — that I would see something from the first-team offense or defense that would change my mind. The short story is: I didn’t. While it was nice to see Melvin Gordon break some long runs, all I could think about was how predictable the Chargers first-team offense was. If PR17 was under center, Melvin Gordon was lined up with Derek Watt at FB and Hunter Henry was in to block, it was a guaranteed run play. Come Sunday, if I’m a Chiefs linebacker, I’m going to run-blitz the crap out of that formation all day until they show me something different. That’s just one example of a very predictable offense I saw as a whole. Let’s hope it was Ken Whisenhunt being extra vanilla at the behest of Mr.Vanilla himself, Mike McCoy. I also see no true depth at offensive or defensive line as a potential problem.
One encouraging thing I saw was the development of safety Dexter McCoil. He was everywhere on the field, and multiple times I saw him fly in from his “deep safety” position to aid in run support and make tackles missed by inside linebackers and even linemen. Based on his performance, he should be one of the two starting safeties, but everything I have heard is it’s going to be Dwight Lowery and Jahleel Addae starting. Thanks, Pagano. He’s more physically talented than Eric Weddle, but we’ll have to wait and see if he has what it takes between the ears.
I hope I am wrong about my prediction! I hope we go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl! I am excited to watch players like KA13, Travis Benjamin, Brandon Mebane, Hunter Henry, Denzel Perryman and Darius Philon. My prediction is not going to stop me from going to games and yelling my head off in support for these players, or pushing for the new stadium initiative.
How do you think the Bolts will do this season? Let us know in the comments section below!
Scattered throughout social media concerning the 2-6 Chargers are endless rants about the offense. The porous and oft-injured line, the lack of a running game and the vanilla play calling takes center stage from the voices of the fans.
As true as these perspectives may be, there seems to be an obvious concern that not too many are jawing about. Simply put….
The Chargers cannot stop anybody.
Philip Rivers leads an offense ranked 8th in most points scored with 191. That averages out to 23.9 points per game. Furthermore, San Diego leads all NFL teams in total yards with 3,386 (423.3 per game).
Of course, there are many questions to be asked when comparing these stats with the overall record. Most fans have come up with their own solutions: Fire Frank Reich. Fire Mike McCoy.
I am not here to argue with any of you who voice this sentiment. I am, however, needing to point out a prominent dysfunction with San Diego’s defense.
Ranked 27th in points allowed (28.4 per game), the Chargers players are either ill-equipped to handle the task at hand, or their leader continually is over-matched and out-coached.
What is your opinion? Is it Pagano or the players?
Let us take a quick statistical snapshot.
According to pro-football-reference.com, since 2012, when John Pagano took the reins as the defensive coordinator, the defense has not ranked any higher than 11th. Pagano’s defense is currently ranked 27th, and it shows.
With the Bolts giving up five yards a carry to opposing running backs, they are tied for dead last in that category. The defense has given up 124.6 yards per game on the ground, moving them up to 27th overall.
Opponents thus far have completed 64.75% of their passes against the Chargers’ defense, ranking them 19th overall. Adding fuel to the fire, this same defense is giving up 12.1 yards per completion, ranking them 30th overall.
Needing to find a silver lining with all these statistical rankings, I was able to notice that Pagano’s defense currently ranks 10th overall in holding teams to a 35.96% third down conversion rate. The 2014 team, in comparison, allowed their opponent to convert 43% of third down attempts.
When the Chargers are behind, it is the offense that has to get them back into the game. They must overemphasize time of possession, moving the chains and putting points on the board. If San Diego is ahead in the game, it is up to the defense to secure the victory. With two squeezed-out wins thus far, it appears that the majority of the problem is on the defensive side of the ball. The offense, who definitely has their own issues, is still putting points on the board and moving the ball, despite their lack of a formidable running attack. Pagano and his defense just can’t stop their opponents.
This defensive unit has stars: Jason Verrett, Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, just to name a few. Injuries can certainly be relevant to their struggles, however it can no longer be the crutch that Pagano seems to use. His base scheme is a 3-4, but it is run more like a 4-3. He utilizes the talent he has and plugs them into different packages to offset what the offense does.
One of the main issues of the defensive unit is the fact that they give up far more “explosive” plays than they should. Big, game-changing plays have turned the momentum to the opposing team’s favor far too often, and multiple times within individual games. These plays have occurred due to a multitude of reasons: blown coverages, poor tackling, missed assignments and vanilla play calling. The team rushes four players or less an inexplicable amount of times, making it difficult to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
So, once again, I ask for your opinion…
Is it the players or is it the coach?
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
Before I start here, let me apologize in advance if I repeat the same rhetoric that other writers are saying about our Chargers. I’ll try to touch on some of the key points that maybe others aren’t talking about, and some of the points that are obvious, but with my own opinions.
I saw great play out of Manti Te’o. He was all over the place during the game. Sure, he missed a few tackles and couldn’t wrap up a player now and then, but I have to give credit where it’s due. Te’o was always around the ball and blew up a few plays.
Melvin Ingram was a beast, as usual. Keenan Allen continues to shine, as well. One of my favorite players is Danny Woodhead. This guy continues to amaze me. He’s exciting to watch, as I’m sure you would agree. Realize this as to how heads up Woodhead is: That play where he ripped off 61 yards was never even meant to go to him. He was supposed to block for Rivers but realized that one of the O-linemen had taken care of his block. He jumped out into the open field and gave Philip another target, alerting Rivers to get him the ball. That’s great awareness on both parts.
Of course, one can’t ignore our man behind center, Philip Rivers. At this moment, Rivers leads the league in passing yards with 1,248. Yes, better than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. People laugh when Rivers is mentioned as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but numbers don’t lie. Out of any quarterback in the league, I would pick Mr. Rivers any day in the two-minute offense, period.
First off, we all know that the O-line is plagued by injury. What’s new? I don’t want to hear it. Every team has injuries. This is why depth, especially at the O-line positions, is crucial to the well-being of our quarterback. The more time he gets, the more success he will have going through his reads and finding that open receiver. This is a problem that has plagued this team for several years going back to the knucklehead Turner era. Although
I just don’t understand why some coaches don’t place more emphasis on bolstering the offensive line, especially for a quarterback like Philip Rivers. He’s not mobile by any stretch of the imagination. Why is Tom Brady of the New England Patriots so successful? It’s because he always has protection, allowing him more than enough time to find his receivers. Hello? Is anyone on the Chargers coaching staff/GM listening?
The coaching staff should give more snaps to the second teamers during practice sessions so they can get acclimated to game situations should they be thrown into the fire. Don’t get me wrong, the coaching staff and the substitutes on the offensive line made the adjustments they needed to, but it shouldn’t have taken a couple of series and sacks to get it right. This also goes for the receivers. The Bolts were reduced to two wide receivers heading into the second half. They absolutely need to be on the same page as the quarterback should something like what happened in this game happen again. If the lesson was learned, you could see the reserve wideouts see more practice time with Rivers and the ones.
I would also like to mention something that drives me nuts and you can give your input, but when the opposing team has a 3rd and long, why in God’s name does Pagano call a prevent and only rush three defenders, dropping everyone else into coverage? This gave Josh McCown forever to find an open receiver and on at least two occasions. They came dangerously close to getting a 1st down, and on at least one occasion put them into field goal range. How about a regular cover 2 zone defense and/or put some pressure on the quarterback by rushing at least four so as not to give him so much time in the pocket?
The Chargers’ special teams play was horrible. This is another sore spot that has plagued this team over the years. I’m not sure what the statistics are on kick and punt coverage, but I can tell you they aren’t very good.
Again, the Chargers are abysmal in sacks, ranking 28th in the league with only five; four of which came in Sunday’s win. Sticking with the defensive side of the football, the Chargers’ defense made Josh McCown look like Joe Montana at times.
Despite being bailed out due to an offside penalty on his first attempt at the game-winning field goal, Josh Lambo missed when the team needed him the most. Although the game would have gone into overtime, the youngster has to convert on such opportunities moving forward.
Malcom Floyd and Brandon Flowers both exited the game with concussions, while Stevie Johnson left the game with a hamstring ailment. That’s really ugly.
In closing, if this game had been played in Cleveland, I’m not so sure the Chargers would have come out on top, but I’m certainly glad they did. Let’s hope the coaching staff can clean things up and right the ship because it doesn’t get any easier.