The incoming draft class of the San Diego Chargers have their new jersey numbers, now they will have to earn their stripes. Rookie camp is already underway and the eager new breed are busily taking in classroom and practice time with their position coaches.
Here are the numbers that will be next to their names in your program this year:
TE Hunter Henry-86
The number is fitting since Henry will be the next man up once Chargers legend and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates steps away from the game. Gates wears 85.
Center Max Tuerk-62
ILB Joshua Perry-53
ILB Jatavis Brown-57
P Drew Kaser-6
FB Derek Watt-34
Here’s hoping Watt wears this number better than the last player to don it, the paycheck-stealing Donald Brown.
G Donavon Clark-63
As for your first-round pick, defensive end Joey Bosa rocked the number 97 with pride on his way to becoming the best player in college football.
Alas, that number is already spoken for by Jerry Attaochu.
To whom much is given, much is expected. A tall burden comes with being a top draft pick. Joey Bosa was the first non-quarterback to come off the board in the NFL Draft. No one expects more from him than he does for himself. Bosa already welcomes lofty comparisons due to the eerily identical combine stats to J.J. Watt.
As a constant reminder of that expected greatness, he has chosen the same number as Watt: 99.
It takes a special kind of player to wear the number 99. Not just any player can rock that number. Cordarro Law wore 99 for one season and now he’s gone. Igor Olshansky was the last Charger to wear it before Law. Game changers wear 99. Watt, Warren Sapp, Dan Wilkinson, Jason Taylor, Kawaan Short, Seth Joyner, Pepper Johnson, Marcel Dareus, Mark Gastineau and Cortez Kennedy are just a sample of the natural born killers behind the legacy of the 99.
Wear it well, Mr. Bosa.
The Greg One
The 2015 offseason was anything but enjoyable for Chargers fans. We here at BoltBlitz.com had covered all of the new stadium/relocation to Los Angeles talk, possible pre-draft trade of Philip Rivers, the unwillingness of the organization to work out a contract extension with Eric Weddle and the suspension of Antonio Gates.
It was all quite exhausting.
One of the things that bothered me the most, in addition to the aforementioned issues, was the fact that there are a large number of Chargers on the 2015 squad that are not under contract for next season, including Weddle, Gates, Floyd and Green.
After doing a little research, my fears were heightened when seeing the plethora of quality names who do not have deals for 2016.
Here are the explanations of each free-agent designation and other information you’ll need to understand about free agency.
Accrued season = Six or more regular-season games on a club’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.
Franchise player (exclusive or nonexclusive) = The salary offer by a player’s club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive.
An “exclusive” Franchise Player — not free to sign with another club — is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period on April 19; or (ii) the amount of the Required Tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below.
Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the “Cap Percentage Average,” for calculating the Required Tender for such a player:
The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years…; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year…(the “Cap Percentage Average”)…; or (B) 120 percent of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.
If a club extends a Required Tender to a “non-exclusive” Franchise Player pursuant to this section, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club.
Transition player = A transition player has received a minimum offer of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.
A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.
* Unrestricted free agent = A player with four or more Accrued Seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any club, with no draft choice compensation owed to his old club.
** Restricted free agent = He can negotiate with any club. If the Restricted Free Agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because the qualifying offer entitles it to a “right of first refusal” on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club. In addition, a player who would otherwise be a Restricted Free Agent may be designated by his old club as its Franchise Player or Transition Player.
*** Exclusive rights free agent = Such a player has no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL and may only sign with his prior team, provided, of course, that the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player.
Here is a look at all of the Bolts that are in the final year of their contracts with the team, according to spotrac.com.
*UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- FS – Eric Weddle
- TE – Antonio Gates
- WR – Malcom Floyd
- RT – Joe Barksdale
- CB – Patrick Robinson
- QB – Kellen Clemens
- G – Johnnie Troutman
- DE – Kendall Reyes
- DL – Ricardo Mathews
- FB/TE – David Johnson
- TE – Ladarius Green
- OL – Chris Hairston
- TE – John Phillips
- C – J.D. Walton
**RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:
- SS – Jahleel Addae
- OL – Kenny Wiggins
*** EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS:
- WR – Dontrelle Inman
- OLB – Cordarro Law
- OL – Tyreek Burwell
When looking at the offensive side of the ball, the entire tight end group is not under contract for 2016. Although it would make sense to bring back Green, his concussion problems may prevent the team from doing so. Phillips is primarily a blocking tight end, but he made a few plays during the four-week absence of Gates. Speaking of Gates, it is hard to say whether or not the Chargers will be able to find a team-friendly deal should he decide to continue his NFL career.
At the wideout spot, Floyd has already stated that he will not be back next season, announcing that this year will be his last. Inman looks to be a prime candidate for being re-signed by the club. He is gaining the trust of Philip Rivers in the passing game. His blocking as a wide receiver in the running game is improving with each snap he receives.
Offensive linemen Joe Barksdale and Chris Hairston have started multiple games in 2015, with Barksdale slotted as the team’s starting right tackle. He will most likely be brought back depending on the direction Tom Telesco decides to go in the early rounds of the 2016 draft. Hairston provides sold depth and versatility, making him a possibility for a return to the Chargers. Guys like Kenny Wiggins and Tyreek Burwell could be re-signed to fairly low-salary numbers. Burwell would still have another year of eligibility on the practice squad. Recently signed J.D. Walton will have to impress when called upon to receive consideration for an eventual re-signing.
The defensive side of the ball is obviously highlighted by the last year under contract for Eric Weddle. The team has made it clear that there will be no contract talks prior to the beginning of the 2016 league year. It doesn’t necessarily seem as though the team is willing to pony up and re-sign him to the money he believes he is worth. There is always the option of the organization applying the franchise tag to Weddle, paying him a top-five salary at his position on a one-year deal. Quite frankly, I don’t see that happening.
Fellow defensive back Patrick Robinson has looked to be a solid acquisition this offseason. Due to injuries, he has been asked to start on the outside although his position as the nickel corner is ideal for his skill-set. If he can continue to make an impact, he should be worth a look to remain with the team beyond 2015. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was offered a deal during the middle of this season.
Former second-round draft pick Kendall Reyes has been a bit of a disappoint save his rookie campaign. Depending on the desired contract of the defensive end, he may be hard-pressed to stay with the club past this year. He has not provided a viable solution opposite of Corey Liuget on the defensive line. Liuget needs help upfront, and Reyes does not seem like the guy for the job.
Ricardo Mathews is one of the most versatile defensive lineman on the team. He can line up at multiple spots and his high motor is impressive for a man his size. He comes back for at least one more season, in my opinion.
The situation surrounding strong safety Jahleel Addae is very interesting. Because of a nasty looking injury where his leg appeared to fold in half, he has missed the majority of the snaps through four weeks, allowing Jimmy Wilson to start in his place. If Addae were to come back and make an impact, would the team be willing to make him a long-term offer? It is difficult to say at this point. Similar to Barksdale, a lot of his future with the Bolts could depend on what Telesco plans to do in the draft.
I am not sure if you are as frightened by the number of free agents for 2016 as I am. But it looks like the 2016 Chargers have the chance of looking quite a bit different than this year’s squad.
Thank you very much for reading.
He may be “just a fifth rounder”, but Kyle Emanuel went about his business throughout OTAs, minicamp and preseason to prove his worth. His hard work, determination and attention to detail all culminated with his name being listed in the release of the Chargers’ 53-man roster.
Hallelujah, he made the cut!
His outstanding preseason play was only the lead-in to a stellar debut that saw the 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker do the following: sack Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, nab himself an interception, make three tackles and mess with Stafford’s rhythm. The second quarter sack (a 13-yard loss) caused the Lions to punt. The pick-6 came in the third quarter and the Chargers took over at midfield. Two of the three tackles resulted in lost yardage and the disruption caused a misfire by Stafford that resulted in an interception by cornerback Patrick Robinson. The turnover led to a Stevie Johnson touchdown.
This outing has him nominated for Pepsi Rookie of the Week.
Emanuel played his collegiate ball at North Dakota State University. While there, NDSU had a 58-3 record and won four consecutive NCAA championships (2011-2014). Individually, the former Bison defensive end amassed 234 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 58.5 tackles for loss and two blocked field goals. In his senior year, he led the FCS in tackles for loss (32.5) and sacks (19.5). He was named the Buck Buchanon Award winner for 2014, given to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Now, along with Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attachou and Cordarro Law, he is one of the four who will comprise the 2015 outside linebacking corps for San Diego. That unit last year combined for 46 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and a lonely sole defended pass. His adeptness as a pass-rusher, complemented with his instincts, athleticism and quickness, certainly did not go unnoticed. An upgrade for that squad was writing on the wall for Bolts general manager Tom Telesco, thus leading him to choose the youngster with the 153rd overall pick this past May.
After the draft, Emanuel had this to say about his preparation:
“No team I talked to told me I’d be a 4-3 defensive end, so everything I’ve been doing has been to make the switch. I worked on standing up in a two-point (stance) and worked with my linebackers coach at NDSU just to learn terminology. That way, things wouldn’t be so foreign when I got drafted. So ever since the process started I started that transition, and now that I’m here, I can already tell it’s getting easier day by day.”
San Diego Chargers Linebacker Coach Mike Nolan says that for his unit, “The biggest change and the thing they have to spend more time in is in coverage. That really is the biggest difference when you go from a defensive lineman to a linebacker. It’s that there is coverage involved. If you are a linebacker that just rushed every down, then there is less adjustment. But for Kyle, the coverage will be a big part. Now in the short time thus far, he’s done an outstanding job. Not just a regular job, but an outstanding job, so we’re all very pleased with where he is in the short term. We are hopeful that progress continues at the same pace, and he would surpass some expectations from a coverage standpoint.”
Obviously, this kid is something special. My advice: keep your eyes peeled on the guy wearing No. 51 on his chest and back, sporting lightning bolts. He looks to be a force on San Diego’s D.
Thanks for reading and Bolt Up!
Heading into the 2014 season, the San Diego Chargers looked incredibly promising; even with one of the most difficult schedules in the league. General Manager, Tom Telesco, worked extremely hard in the offseason in order to add depth to the roster; even with an extremely small salary cap. To be specific, Telesco only had roughly $625,000 left in cap space after paying the offensive, defensive, and special teams’ salaries; the dead money hit alone was $16,335,000. Even under those circumstances, Telesco was able to beef up the backfield with multiple running backs, regain some game changing defensive players, and added a very talented draft class to the roster. Yet, the season didn’t play out as most expected when the pandemic of injuries hit the Chargers team. At that point, the motto “next man up” was adopted.
The next man up is a phrase that most professional teams technically want to reframe from using; it essentially indicates the starter is unable to play and another player has to fill in. Yet, the Chargers have embraced it since week one. Pro Bowler center, Nick Hardwick, was placed on injured reserve after the Arizona match-up, granting center Rich Ohrnberger the starting role. However, Ohrnberger struggled with injuries, forcing the Chargers to sign guard, Doug Legursky. Not even a month later, Legursky was placed on injured reserve, leaving an ailing Ohrnberger and rookie guard Chris Watt as the next men up. It doesn’t stop there, Ohrnberger was added to the growing injured reserve roster and Watt held the starting role at center. Who would have thought that Watt would then leave the Baltimore Ravens game with a calf injury; leaving the Chargers with their fifth center to play, Trevor Robinson.
The center position wasn’t the only one to face heartache. During the second week against the Seattle Seahawks, star running back Ryan Mathews sprained his MCL and was expected to miss a significant amount of time. If you ever think that lighting doesn’t strike twice, think again. The follow week, running back Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve due to a season ending leg injury. The originally stacked backfield wasn’t looking so stacked anymore and the Chargers soon expected undrafted rookie running back, Branden Oliver “Bo”, to fill in. Not only did he fill in, he impressed the entire league with over 215 rushing yards and three touchdowns in week’s five and six; awarding him with Pepsi’s Rookie of the Week in week 5. To add depth, Telesco brought back veteran running back Ronnie Brown who spent last year on the Chargers active roster.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Third year linebacker, Melvin Ingram, was placed on the Reserve-Injured list with the designation to return after suffering a hip injury in week two. The next week, second year linebacker Manti Te’o suffered a fractured foot which sidelined him until week eleven. Already missing two starting linebackers, rookie linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu was ailing a hamstring injury which limited his productivity and playing time. Again, next man up, fourth year linebacker Andrew Gachkar filled in for his injured teammates. Not only did he bring passion and fire to the field, he was able to accumulate 7 stuffs, 21 total tackles, and a fumble recovery.
Gachkar wasn’t the only one to step in, outside linebacker Cordarro Law has stepped up when given the green light. An undrafted free agent in 2012, Law signed with the Chargers in February of 2014. Spending much of his time on the practice squad, Law continues to get the job done. With veteran outside linebacker Dwight Freeney becoming a free agent after this season, there’s a no question that Law can earn a 53-man active roster spot if he continues the hard work he puts in.
Starting at cornerback was the Chargers first round draft pick, Jason Verrett. Impressively, he was making a contending run for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year by week 9. However, just after the bye week, Verrett was placed on injured reserve due to a torn labrum. At this point, you might be asking, “How does an NFL survive all these injures?” and the answer again is simply, next man up.
Not only has the offense and defense suffered from the injury bug, but the special teams took a big blow a few weeks ago. One of the league’s top punters, Mike Scifres, broke his clavicle during the New England Patriot Game; forcing Nick Novak, who had not punted a ball since high school, to take on the punting duties for the remainder of the game. Much can be said about a player filling in for a position they have no training on, but Novak impressed with what little he was given. Shortly after, Pro Bowl punter, Mat McBriar, was signed to replace Scifres. McBriar was a mentor to Darren Bennett, the Chargers longtime punter who preceded Scifres. He brings to the punting unit an average of 45.1 yards per attempt with 201 landing inside the 20.
The next man up saying isn’t exclusive to sidelining injuries, rather those playing through the bumps and bruises; quarterback Philip Rivers is a prime example. It’s no secret that El Capitan has been playing through some bruised ribs and a sore back. Along with Rivers, brute defensive end Corey Liuget is also playing through injuries. Just the other day, Liuget was seen sporting a walking boot; most commonly used to keep the player mobile as much as possible, yet still protecting the injured structure. Although these top Charger players give us a heart attack when we don’t see them at practice, they still show up on game day ready to get the win.
Heading into week 16, the Chargers are faced with more anguish. Veteran linebacker Donald Butler was placed on injured reserve after suffering a dislocated elbow against the Denver Broncos last week. A day later, it was announced that second year wide receiver, Keenan Allen, suffered a broken collarbone and ankle injury. With San Diego fighting for their lives to earn a spot into the post-season, the next man up motto is being used more than ever. In the much-needed win against the San Francisco 49ers, expected to be active is tight end Ladarius Green, wide receiver Seyi Ajurotutu, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Let’s not forget the impact Branden Oliver and Donald Brown need to make against the stealthy 49ers defense as Mathews recovers from an ankle injury suffered in week 14.
Many would think that it’s impossible that a team could possibly have an 8-6 record with all the injures the Chargers have accrued this year. With nine players on injured reserve and a few other active roster injuries, any team would have faulted and given up hopes by now. Yet, these are the San Diego Super Chargers; the underdog, the dark horse, and let’s not forget the team that no one ever expects much from. It’s alright, the Chargers still have a chance at the post-season and the opportunity to prove that anything can be done. The next man up motto has been the staple of the organization all year, but why stop now? The season isn’t even close to being over…
San Diego is locked and loaded after resting through their bye week. League-mandated days off allowed them to travel or just stay home and rest. Because it was the bye week, I began to think about the current team and who would remain in 2015. I figured I would check out who was in the last year of their contract and who was extended beyond the 2015 season.
The list of players in the final year of their contracts, otherwise known as their contract year, was a bit longer than I had anticipated. Below is a list of those players.
WR – Seyi Ajirotutu
RB – Ronnie Brown
OT – King Dunlap
CB – Brandon Flowers
OLB – Dwight Freeney
ILB – Andrew Gachkar
CB – Marcus Gilchrist
C – Nick Hardwick
OLB – Cordarro Law
C/G – Doug Legursky
DL – Ricardo Mathews
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger
WR – Eddie Royal
CB – Shareece Wright
RB – Ryan Mathews
There are some major players on this list that would leave major holes in the team if they were not re-signed.
Brandon Flowers was one of the best free agent signings in the entire NFL after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs. He has made a huge impact in the secondary for John Pagano’s defense. I would imagine that Tom Telesco would make a serious effort to sign him to a contract once the time comes in 2015.
King Dunlap has been playing pretty darn well at left tackle. The only problem with keeping him is that he may be looking to be rewarded with a big contract due to his performance since coming to San Diego. Telesco will have the most money he’s had since accepting the role of General Manager when the 2015 offseason begins. If Dunlap keeps playing at a high level, there’s a good chance that he will remain a Charger.
Can you imagine the special teams units without Seyi Ajirotutu and Andrew Gachkar? Darrell Stuckey may be the captain of the third phase of the game, but both Tutu and Gachkar are key cogs in the coverage phases of special teams. Andrew has seen a big increase in playing time at inside linebacker due to the fractured foot of Manti Te’o. He has been playing his heart out.
The sorting out of the center position next year is very interesting. With Nick Hardwick on injured-reserve, Rich Ohrnberger fighting back problems, Chris Watt has seen some time at center. Both Nick and Rich will be free agents at the beginning of the 2015 league year. Hardwick has already contemplated retirement in years past. It is hard to say if we have seen the last of him in lightning bolts. Or maybe it isn’t. Many people do not expect him to come back. Watt may be the future at either center or right guard. The center spot will be something to keep an eye on following 2014.
Eddie Royal has proven to be a playmaker and solid weapon for Philip Rivers. He also sees a lot of time as the team’s punt returner. He has a solid relationship with Rivers and he helped in the recruiting of Flowers to the Bolts. He is good in the slot and he provides a contrasting style to that of starting wideouts Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd. I have a feeling that he may be re-signed.
Marcus Gilchrist is currently San Diego’s starting strong safety. After moving from cornerback to his current position, Gilchrist has made some plays but he isn’t necessarily irreplaceable. Some media members expected him to be a possible cut during the 2014 offseason. If the play of Jahleel Addae continues on the upswing, and he gets fully healthy, the chances of Marcus being re-signed may decrease exponentially.
While examining the corner situation, Shareece Wright is another starter that is in his contract year. He has improved quite a bit since coming into the league. If the Chargers are unable to keep Brandon Flowers, Wright is almost guaranteed to remain a Charger in 2015 and beyond. But if both Flowers and Jason Verrett are other available options, I’m not so sure that Shareece stays in America’s finest city. I hope that he does as I enjoy watching his physicality in the running game and his coverage skills continue to get better as he becomes more experienced in the NFL.
This next one is the toughest one for me. I don’t even like writing about this subject when it comes to this player.
Let me begin by saying that I hope Ryan Mathews remains a Charger for life. He is, without a doubt, the best back on the current roster and his hard-charging, physical running style makes the San Diego offense better. He had a fantastic 2013 year in which he finished seventh in the league in rushing yardage. His MCL sprain in week 2 against Seattle has really affected the Charger offense. He is about to return and do everything in his power to help earn a future contract with the Bolts. He is a threat as a receiving option out of the backfield and he has improved as a pass blocker when called upon to do so in effort to keep Rivers clean and safe while in the pocket.
There are a lot of questions surrounding which players will be re-signed for 2015 and beyond. It goes without saying that the extra cap space Telesco will have should help in retaining the guys that he believes deserve to stay. The question is, who does he want to keep? He has quite some time to think this over. But there are going to be a lot of difficult decisions.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The Chargers have suffered a plethora of injuries in the early stages of 2014. Some impact players such as Nick Hardwick and Danny Woodhead are out for the entire season. Others like Ryan Mathews and Melvin Ingram have already missed time and will for a bit longer; Melvin is currently on the reserve-injured with a designation to return. The hope is that Mathews will be back before, or right around, the bye week.
When looking at the names listed above, each and every one of them are impact players.
This week’s injury report is not short of big names either. Here’s a look at the list of injured Bolts heading into this Sunday’s game at Oakland.
RB Donald Brown – Concussion
RB Ryan Mathews – Knee
ILB Manti Te’o – Foot
CB Shareece Wright – Knee
WR Malcom Floyd – Calf
RT DJ Fluker – Ankle
OLB Jarret Johnson – Back/Ankle
OLB Cordarro Law – Ankle
C Rich Ohrnberger – Back
S Darrell Stuckey – Quad
LB Reggie Walker – Ankle
WR Keenan Allen – Quad
OLB Jerry Attaochu – Hamstring
ILB Donald Butler – Shoulder
OLB Dwight Freeney – Ankle
TE David Johnson – Knee/Shoulder
From what the San Diego media is reporting, most of the players listed as questionable – with the exception of Fluker – are likely to play this week; although Fluker has a shot at playing via Michael Gehlken on UT San Diego. Attaochu is set to play for the first time in the last two games. He was only in on one play three weeks ago after tweaking his hamstring.
The return of Ohrnberger is huge for the offensive line and Philip Rivers. Additionally on offense, Floyd has been a sure-handed target for Rivers and it would be a shame for him to miss the Raider game. Seyi Ajirotutu saw time in his place last week against the Jets.
The Chargers had a decisive victory against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, scoring 23 unanswered points. It wasn’t always pretty, but considering the health of the team: Mantei Te’o, Jason Verrett, Jerry Attaochu, Reggie Walker inactive, Ryan Mathews on the shelf, Melvin Ingram on short-term IR and Danny Woodhead lost for the year, it was a mostly well-played game. I never thought I’d say this, but the Chargers offensive line misses Jeromey Clary. It took the defense the first half to figure Blake Bortles out, but once they did, it was all Chargers.
My May prediction: “Can you say doormat of the NFL? Chad Henne is a pedestrian QB at best. No more MJD? Not that he’s the player he was a few years ago, but he was their most potent weapon. Toby Gerhart will never be confused for MJD. Their pass rush is getting old (Jason Babin 10 years and Chris Clemons 11 years). Because our boys have a habit of playing to the level of the competition, this game will be closer than it should be. 27-17 Bolts (3-1)” Well, I got the outcome right and was close on the score, which was better than I predicted. I’m now 2-2 against my May predictions.
Chris Clemons was a non-factor. In fact, his name was never even called. Toby Gerhart was limited to 32 yards on 10 carries. He also lost a fumble on the opening drive forced by Jarret Johnson that the Chargers unfortunately weren’t able to capitalize on. Henne was replaced by Bortles and it looked like John Pagano and the defense weren’t ready for him in the beginning. That showed in the first half with the ease Jacksonville moved the ball up and down the field. To his credit, Pagano made the right adjustments and the defense pitched a shutout in the second half with the help of interceptions by Brandon Flowers and Eric Weddle. Jahleel Addae, Cordarro Law and Ricardo Mathews each recorded a sack as it was clear Jacksonville was out to neutralize Dwight Freeney.
Philip Rivers had a big game going 29 for 39 for 377 yards. He threw for three touchdowns against no interceptions. Rivers now has nine touchdown passes against one interception through the first four games of the season. Keenan Allen had 10 catches for 135 yards and Eddie Royal had five catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. The gap could have been wider if the Chargers could run the ball. Collectively, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown could only manage 32 yards. Timing between Philip and Doug Legursky and Chris Watt left a lot to be desired as well. Too many misfires on the quarterback/center exchange. They need to get this cleaned up.
Next up, the 1-3 New York Jets who are coming off a 24-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. With being inactive against the Jags, it’d be nice to get Verrett and Attaochu back in action. There are still three games until the bye week. Chargers don’t need any more injuries to pile up.
After a rough first half, the Chargers got it going and beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-14. Despite having a 17-14 lead going into halftime, the first two quarters of the game found San Diego struggling to get going. The necessary adjustments were made during the intermission, and the Bolts turned it on.
Philip Rivers was solid and showed that the only thing that needs fixing about him are the headlines around the media. He finished the day with 377 yards passing and three touchdowns. He was in control of the offense as the running game was a mess. His performance was stellar considering the team only had 42 yards rushing on 20 carries. But don’t forget the Chargers, minus yesterday’s game, have faced three of the best defenses in the NFL in Arizona, Seattle and Buffalo.
That being said, the offense misses having Ryan Mathews. And if you don’t, I can’t help you. I will be writing about that later today.
Rivers was able to find both Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd for a total of three scores. Royal had two of those touchdowns and the crowd went crazy because both scores were long scoring plays. Floyd’s touchdown reception was a 24-yarder. Keenan Allen burst onto the scene with his biggest production of this season. Allen finished the game with 10 catches and 135 yards.
The defense was stout and managed to pick off two passes. Brandon Flowers snagged his first interception as a Charger and Eric Weddle pulled one in, as well. Those were the first two interceptions of the 2014 season for the Charger defense.
Defensively, John Pagano was dialed in and called a solid gameplan. The defense, in addition to the two turnovers, was able to pressure Jaguar quarterback, Blake Bortles, and finished the game with three sacks. Both Ricardo Matthews and Cordarro Law had their first sacks as Chargers. A blitzing Jahleel Addae had a sack, too. They held the Jacksonville running game to 85 yards. The Jags were limited to zero explosive plays while running the ball. Not a single run went for over 10 yards.
In his first start, Blake Bortles showed he can play despite his two interceptions. But the San Diego defense proved to be too much for the rookie. Not even one Jacksonville receiver reached 70 yards receiving. When comparing that to the Chargers, Allen had 135 yards while Eddie Royal racked up 105 of his own.
The team is now 3-1 and they face the New York Jets at home in week 5. It is very important that they keep rolling considering the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning provide quite the competition in the AFC West. The division rival Broncos are currently coming off their bye week and they have a record of 2-1.
This could be a magical year in San Diego. The team has improved its depth and Tom Telesco is responsible for that. Despite being banged up at multiple positions, Mike McCoy’s mantra of “next man up” is being preached all over Chargers Park. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride that the 2014 San Diego Chargers are taking you on this year.
During training camp I continued to hear the mantra “Next Man Up” from players, coaches and front office executives. The cynical side of me thought perhaps it was just another slogan that could be splashed on a t-shirt and sold. Or perhaps a cool saying to put on an edited picture. I took this catchphrase and used it for my selfish benefit; as a tool in raising my enthusiasm about our Chargers. After three weeks of the regular season, I feel that I might understand and value what McCoy and Telesco were really referring to and where this motto came from.
Rewinding a little – After I cleansed my cynical ideals about the phrase, I sat back and thought about it open-mindedly. With early injuries to Clary and season-long injuries to Freeney and Ingram last year, it would make sense to employ this theory. I felt perhaps the dunce cap was coming off and now I was able to leave the corner of the room. I felt relieved, and a honestly a little dimwitted. I realized it was not just a commercialized statement. It actually had meaning. However, I had not yet fully grasped the concept.
Going back even further now – back to the 2012-2013 season. The New England Patriots clinched the 2nd seed in the AFC playoffs with a 12-4 record. They would lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Ravens, but they had the same motto – Next Man Up. All season long they had dealt with adversity, injuries, suspensions….etc. The coveted phrase would have to prove itself in the AFC divisional playoffs. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski re-injured his surgically repaired forearm and a certain running back injured his thumb within the first ten plays of the game. The backup RB, Shane Vereen, scored three touchdowns and amassed 124 total yards. The running back who injured his thumb, was none other than our own Danny Woodhead.
Early in 2014, and more specifically last Sunday’s win against the Bills, I saw……no!…I felt what was happening. It’s not just about being ready to play at any moment with no excuses, it also means producing on the field. I know this might sound muddled, but hear me out. Last season there were no Charger defenders who won “Player of The Week.” Rivers and Peyton Manning played seesaw for the first four weeks with Manning eventually winning the “Player of The Month.” In 2012, we had one Charger win this honor – Donald Butler in week 4. This year, we have had back-to-back winners – Gates and now Liuget. Next Man Up. If Liuget is off his game, perhaps Reyes will pick up the slack and become the fierce warrior. Antonio Gates might have shined in one game, but perhaps Eddie Royal will step up and take a few to the house. Because of this team, this family, this translucent mantra, every player feels that they are next. They believe in this team, this motto, and they want to be a part of it. There is something in the air out in San Diego, an aura of great confidence. Can you feel it?
Fast forward to the here and now. As many NFL teams have experienced thus far, injuries are attacking without any remorse. San Diego is no different. From small irritant injuries to long-term injuries to possible career ending ones, our beloved Bolts have taken a beating….literally. Mathews went down. Insert Donald Brown and Branden Oliver. Woodhead went down. Insert DJ Adams and Shaun Draughn. Melvin Ingram goes down (again) and insert Cordarro Law. What can we expect from them? Only time will tell. In the past, I would have become pessimistic and hopeless watching our starters go down. This year, even with our brutal schedule, I am not panicking. I am not worried, and I am not giving up hope. Why you ask? Because….the Next Man is up.
The day that Charger fans had been waiting for has finally come and gone. In the words of Mike McCoy during last night’s postgame press conference, ” There were some negative things and some positive things that can be taken from the game. But, it is the first preseason game.”
I would like to reiterate the last portion of his statement. It was only the first preseason game.
Before you induct Branden Oliver into the Hall of Fame, and before you act as though Kellen Clemens is the next savior at signal caller for the Charger offense, please take heed of the fact that there is very little that can be drawn from the first preseason game of the year.
I asked McCoy during the same press conference about playing against a team other than your own and he basically said that is what we were wanting to do as a staff, team and organization. Everyone was excited and glad to be lining up against a team wearing different helmets.
There were certainly some highlights last night that had several players deserving kudos. Below I am listing my takeaways from the victory of the Dallas Cowboys last night at Qualcomm stadium.
– In an effort to get it out-of-the-way, Branden Oliver looked solid. He racked up 64 yards on only 7 carries and managed to find the endzone on an impressive 14-yard run where he carried the last defender 4 yards with him in for the score. Additionally, and this needs to be said, he is not, I repeat, not Darren Sproles. I believe he is about 20 pounds heavier. He has quick feet – similar to Sproles, but not as quick – and he is a bit more physical. He runs with a very low center of gravity and his cuts are impressive. But, his foot-quickness is not on the same level as that of Sproles made popular. He’s looked good in camp and he also looked good last night.
– Dontrelle Inman continues to impress. Despite a fantastic showing of surprising speed on that 70-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Clemens, he beat a guy that was just signed by Dallas that had yet to practice with the team. He is another player that has impressed throughout the offseason. He has a big frame and capable hands. Inman is, without a doubt, going to continue to make a strong push for a spot on the 53-man roster.
– The Charger quarterbacks were very accurate. When looking at the trio of Philip Rivers, Clemens and Brad Sorensen, only two incompletions were thrown all night. Both of those were by Sorensen as both Rivers and Clemens finished with 100% completion percentage on the night.
The fact of the matter that remains, as it did prior to the game, if Rivers goes down it’s all over but the crying. If you want to crown the backup quarterbacks as capable starters, then crown their asses. <— Dennis Green voice
– Jerry Attaochu is fast. Really fast. Even though he lost contain due to biting on a play-action rollout, he was still able to turn and make the tackle after a minimal gain. His speed will be an asset to John Pagano’s defense and the quicker he learns the defensive scheme the sooner he’ll be making plays on a consistent basis.
– Ryan Mathews is fine and I would rather him lose a ball in the first preseason game than in any of the games that truly count. The man had only two fumbles last year after having over 300 touches. I have an article coming out this afternoon stating why I believe he’ll have the best year of his career in 2014. So, keep calm and realize the talent this man has. Do not forget, last year he ran as physically as any running back in the NFL and was a key cog to a successful Charger offense.
– Lawrence Guy suffered a shoulder injury after the devastating hit he put on Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden. To add insult to injury, Weeden managed to throw a touchdown pass on the very same play. At this time, I am not sure of the severity of the injury. I saw Guy in the locker room speaking to Coach McCoy while wearing a sling. He provides valuable depth on the defensive line and it could mean trouble for San Diego if he is out for an extended amount of time.
– Knowing this is the preseason, and the playcalling on defense will remain vanilla until the regular season, I wasn’t too surprised by the first-team defense’s inability to impose their will on the Dallas offense. The team did finish with three total sacks as both Thomas Keiser and Colton Underwood each had a sack while Reggie Walker and Cordarro Law shared a sack to end the game with a half a sack a piece. It is paramount that the team is able to generate a pass rush seeing that they play in a division with Peyton Manning. The lack of of a pass rush in 2013 must be remedied this year if the team wishes to contend in a tough AFC West.
– Darrell Stuckey for the Pro bowl will be something that I am going to begin lobbying for very early in the season. He’s a beast and he made a couple of plays that should remind fans of why he is so valuable on special teams.
– Craig Watts Jr. looked good and it is obvious the game is slowing down for him. While playing on both the offensive line, and some of the special teams units, he was impressive. He has improved each and every time that I have watched him. There is a steep learning curve going from West Texas A&M to the NFL. But with Craig’s intelligence and very strong work ethic, I stand by my prediction that he will be a San Diego Charger in 2014 and beyond.
– Marion Grice racked up 35 yards on 14 carries. If you take away his 18-yard run, he had a tough night. It’s not realistic to take out a play that happened, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. He also added a 4-yard reception as well.
– Both the kick and punt return games were pedestrian on limited opportunities. The three returns netted a total of 19 yards. The Chargers have not had a threat in the return game since the days of the Lightning Bug.
– The redzone offense is still a work in progress. This was also touched on by McCoy. It is too early to be concerned but when the regular season begins, I have no doubt that everyone will be paying close attention to how the teams performs inside the 20.
That is what I saw during last night’s game. I am curious to hear what you took away from the game. Let me know by leaving your comments below.
Thanks a lot for reading.