Currently, many NFL fans have been faced with a very difficult decision. Now that my team has moved away, or will soon be moving away, who should I root for? It seems that the answer should be obvious: Root for anyone you want!
But, alas, it is not that simple.
Unfortunately, right now in “Chargers Country” there is a bit of a civil war. Long-time Chargers fans who feel deeply hurt by their team moving to Los Angeles are not only rooting against the Bolts, they have elevated owner Dean Spanos to the level of Osama Bin Laden on their list of most evil men who have ever walked the earth.
All I have to say to those people is that I understand and feel their pain. I was born and raised in San Diego and I certainly get why you feel abandoned, bullied, and misled. I especially feel for those who knocked on doors, gathered signatures, joined fan groups, et cetera. I also feel for those who live in the county and did not get a chance to vote.
On the other side are the fans who believe that they can move on despite their dislike for Mr. Spanos. They just want to watch and enjoy NFL football and not have the same passion for any other team than their Chargers. Yes, Spanos benefits from their support, but they don’t really care because they put the players above the ownership. To those people I would say that I am in your boat. I have come to grips with the fact that my team has a very flawed owner, but I will continue to root for my Bolts.
Now the interesting group….the undecided. These are Chargers fans who just can’t make up their mind. Should they remain Chargers fans? Or, should they shop for a new team? If they decide to move on to greener pastures, what team should they choose? For those people, I offer some facts to ponder. I hope they help. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular teams in the NFL and why they may or may not deserve your loyalty, love, and hard-earned dollars.
New England Patriots
If you are looking to celebrate championships, this may be the team for you. At least while they still have head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, I would never bet against them. But hold on just one minute before you choose the Pats. Consider the fact that they have been caught cheating multiple times. Everything from filming other teams signals to deflating footballs. I won’t even go into the Aaron Hernandez story. They like to say that they push the envelope. In reality, they rip the envelope open and rely on their popularity and extremely wealthy owner, Bob Kraft, to save them in the end. So far, their plan has been successful. So, you need to ask yourself if you can root for a team that has possible morality issues and one that has most likely been one of your most hated teams for years? If you can get past all this, enjoy the next few years as a winner.
I can’t even believe that I am listing the Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders as a viable option, but here they are. Yes, I have heard many ex-Chargers fans saying that they are switching their loyalties to the Raiders. As always, I believe that is their choice and they are welcome to it. I just don’t understand it.
Let’s be fair. The Raiders are an up and coming team that honestly has a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy within the next two or three years. That can be enticing to any waffling fan. They have a great, young quarterback, outstanding pass rushers, and exciting play makers. All that being said, they are still the Raiders! If you have been loyal to the Chargers for any length of time, you most likely have a deep-seated hatred for the Silver and Black. But let’s put rivalry behind us for a moment. In my opinion, it makes absolutely no sense for a Chargers fan to jump ship and join Raiders Nation. You are mad at Dean Spanos for not being loyal to his fans, yet you are willing to give Mark Davis a pass? The Raiders have a long history of screwing their fans. They went from Oak-town to Los Angeles (sound familiar), back to Oakland and now they are moving to Vegas. All along they have used cities like Irwindale and Los Angeles as leverage to use against the city of Oakland to force them to build them a new stadium (sound familiar?). It is quite confusing to me why anyone who quotes loyalty as the reason that they are leaving their team would go to a team that is quite possibly the least loyal franchise in sports. But that is just me.
Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos
Good teams. Quality ownership. Chance to win in the future. The only real negative would be that you would be going from hating them to loving them just because you are mad at Dean Spanos. If you can sleep at night, go for it.
New Orleans Saints
I have heard other Chargers fans say that they are going to follow the Saints because of Drew Brees. Yes, Brees is great and he was a fan favorite (more-so after leaving) in San Diego. The problem is that he will only be around for a short time and then you are stuck with this decision all over again. Do you stick with a team you don’t have any passion for? Or, do you become a free agent again.
Los Angeles Rams
Again, I don’t get it. Yes, I have heard the argument that supporting the Rams would be a throat-punch to Dean Spanos. I suppose there is some validity to that. But once again, we are talking about supporting an owner who abandoned his fans. Yet another owner who sees the bottom line as dollar signs, rather than loyalty to those who love their team. Also, an organization that has gone from Los Angeles, to Anaheim, to St. Louis, and back to Los Angeles. Once again, it is your right to make this choice, but to me, your logic is flawed.
If you are old like me, you may think of the first time that they fans in St. Louis lost a team. It was the Cardinals, not the Rams. I’ll admit that the Cardinals have been in Arizona for quite a while now and do not seem to be heading out anytime soon. I think you are safe to root for them, if location is your biggest concern. Arizona isn’t even that far to drive if you want to make an annual trip or two to see a home game. They will also play in Los Angeles at least once a year. I don’t have any reason to like the Cards, but if you do, knock yourself out.
“Sixburgh” knows how to win championships. They must be a fun franchise to watch. They play at a high level year in and year out. They have cool looking uniforms and a unique helmet with a logo on just one side. They do have a history of paying guys who have some pretty serious “character flaws”, but most teams in the NFL can say the same. My favorite memory of the Steelers is watching them go down to defeat to my Chargers in the AFC Championship game, just a week after producing their own Super Bowl video. Makes me smile every time I think of it.
“America’s Team”! You are most likely an American, so it makes sense to like the Cowboys. Right? Seems to me that the Cowboys are one of the most polarizing teams in the NFL. People either love them or hate them. Either way, they have a very solid team and have a real chance to be playing on the next several Super Bowl Sundays. I’m sure there is room on the Cowboys bandwagon (or wagon train in their case). Perhaps before long, you will find yourself as passionate about that star as you were the lightning bolt. Do remember though, owner Jerry Jones came up with the framework for the Chargers and Rams to share a stadium in LA.
This choice was interesting to me. It came up the other day on social media that an ex-Chargers fan was going to root for the Eagles going forward because of Darren Sproles and the recent drafting of Donnell Pumphrey (RB out of San Diego State University). I have no real argument against this choice. Perhaps by the time Pumphrey concludes what is hopefully an illustrious career with the Eagles, the new fans will have found a way to attach themselves to Philly and will continue on. Perhaps not.
This could be the flavor of the month, or it could be a legit choice for free agent fans. Everyone seems to love their owner and there aren’t many negative stories plaguing the roster. They were Super Bowl runner-ups last year (they should have won) as well. So again, good team with a chance to win. Perhaps you can find a way to jump on board. If so, enjoy the ride. It should be fun for a while.
“The Field” would consist of all the other team except the Los Angeles Chargers. These are teams that have no obvious reason to pick them. Sure there are great players like JJ Watt or Aaron Rodgers out there who you may like enough to start following. But beware, players careers are short. Do you really want to be right back in the same spot again in five or 10 years? Perhaps there is a city that is important to your family. Your Dad grew up in Chicago and is an avid Bears fan. Okay, root for “da Bears”. Maybe you are moving elsewhere and your new city or state has a team. Great! Your choice is easy. Maybe you want to pick your team the way you pick your horse at Del Mar. “I really like the colors on this one.” Whatever your method, the choice is yours and no one else’s opinion matters. Peace and love, Baby. Peace and love.
the Los Angeles Chargers (that is so strange to type)
Let’s assume for a moment you are straddling the fence and you just can’t decide what side to come down on. The side that shows Dean Spanos how much you despise him, or the side that shows how much you love the team despite how much you despise Dean Spanos. Notice, I am working on the assumption that the vast majority of Chargers fans, current and ex, share a hatred for Spanos. Anyway, you have a decision to make. Let me see if I can help. First of all, consider the aforementioned teams and whether or not you have any passion for any of them. If you do, problem solved.
If you are one of those “two favorite teams” people, your task is easy. But, if you are like me and do not believe in having two favorite teams, you still have work to do.
Here is what worked for me.
I simply paid attention. I paid attention to what was going on in the NFL. I listened and read about the various news on players, owners and teams. Then I paid attention to how that news made me feel. It didn’t take long before I realized that I was still far more interested in Chargers news than any other team. The more I heard about the players, the more I realized that Dean Spanos means nothing to me. Yes, I realize that every shirt, hat, jersey, or ticket I buy puts money into Dean’s pocket. I just don’t care. Dean Spanos is rich and he will continue to be rich, with or without me. Why should I let him ruin my enjoyment?
It finally hit me last week. There was a build up for the draft and I found myself paying more attention than in recent weeks and checking mock drafts for who people thought the Chargers would pick. Then draft day came and I got more and more excited as the Chargers pick drew near. I can’t say that I had the same level of interest or excitement as I have had in the past. But I can say that I had far more interest and excitement when the Chargers picked than any other team. I even got frustrated as I noticed the NFL network kept going to commercial break before the Bolt’s picks and therefore didn’t have much time to discuss the team or their needs.
Yes, I have decided to stay with my team because I do not care in the least about any other team, and I do not feel the desire to waste all that I have gone through for the past 39 years. That being said, I am not saying that you have to feel the same way. Although, if you are reading this on Boltblitz.com, you still have some interest in the team. That much is obvious.
If you choose to move on to another team, or no team at all, or whoever is playing the Chargers on any given Sunday…good for you. I respect your choice. It is a personal decision for every individual to work out. I hope you don’t waste your time and energy trying to spread your hate to others. Who I like doesn’t affect you in the least. Nor does who you like affect me. Football season will be here before you know it. I hope you find your team and manage to enjoy the season. Remember, it’s a game.
Thanks for reading.
Hot on the heels of the monumental Thursday morning announcement of the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers moving up the I-5 to Los Angeles, a new head coach was announced to spearhead the new Los Angeles Chargers.
On Friday, the now Los Angeles Chargers officially announced former Buffalo Bills’ interim head coach Anthony Lynn as their successor to Mike McCoy. Lynn was a running back in the NFL for six seasons from 1993-1999. He was initially signed as an undrafted free agent running back by the Denver Broncos. He played a season in San Francisco (1995-’96) before finishing his career in Denver from 1997 to 1999. Lynn has two Super Bowl rings as part of the John Elway-led team that won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998.
Since retiring from playing the game in 2000, Lynn has worked his way up the coaching ranks. After two seasons in Denver as a special teams coach, he was brought in as a running backs coach for Jacksonville, Dallas, Cleveland and New York Jets before landing in Buffalo in 2015. Lynn served as running backs coach until week three of the 2016 season. Bills OC Greg Roman was fired after week two and Lynn was promoted to offensive coordinator. He was the week 17 interim head coach after Rex Ryan was fired in week 16.
Lynn is a low-profile, safe choice for the Chargers. Not much will be expected of him or the team given their recent history. The Chargers have finished in the cellar the last two seasons, only winning a combined nine games. They made the playoffs once in the four years of the Mike McCoy era.
Despite the fact he has no head coaching experience at any level of football, he is expected to keep Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator and various media outlets are reporting he wants to hire former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley to replace John Pagano as defensive coordinator. If the Bradley hire happens, that places two experienced head coaches to accelerate his learning curve.
Lynn becomes the first minority head coach in the history of the Chargers franchise. He is widely respected around the league as a running game mastermind. From 2009-13 his Jets led the league in rushing. Each season in Buffalo, the Bills have led the NFL in rushing. If he can do that with a past his prime veteran like LeSean McCoy, imagine what he will be able to do with a young, budding superstar like Melvin Gordon.
Lynn inherits a roster with many budding stars yet to hit their prime and if they can stay healthy, could make the playoffs as soon as next season. So far, the Chargers have led the league in players sent to injured reserve over the past few seasons. Staying healthy and offensive line stability has been their biggest downfall.
All things considered, there is no place to go but up for Lynn and the Chargers. The stadium drama is over and players now know in which city their future lies. That has to be good for something. Now everyone can focus on getting healthy and just playing football, which may be exactly what this team needs.
What do you think? Good signing? Bad signing? Too soon to care? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Follow me on Twitter @LordOfTheGregs
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!
To begin, I will start with a lyric from Metallica, this comes from their song, Wherever I May Roam, “I adapt to the unknown/Under wandering stars I’ve grown/By myself but not alone/I ask no one/ And my ties are severed clean/The less I have the more I gain/Off the beaten path I reign.” The reason I use this particular lyric is not only because it is a great song, but also because it perfectly encompasses the feeling of being a San Diego Chargers fan in enemy territory, Arizona.
Although the Cardinals and Chargers are not division rivals, there is still the unspoken Arizona versus California rivalry that gets created because of all of the people who have moved between the two states.
The unknown, refers to the feeling of whenever I wear my Chargers jersey to the University of Phoenix Stadium. I am highly uncertain of the reactions that will be thrown my way. Some may approach and try to have a healthy conversation where we discuss sports and whatever is going on with each others teams, such as, Philip Rivers or Larry Fitzgerald.
Others do the uneducated and frankly stupid thing many sports fans on social media are guilty. They utter the short, dastardly and annoying phrase, “Your team sucks!” Now that is all well and good…… If they can back it up. Most times, they are too drunk to remember why they stated that in the first place so it is kinda funny to ask why and watch them stumble on their words.
The wandering stars refers to the fact that I have lived in Arizona my entire life. So how did I become a Chargers fan you ask? It’s kind of a dumb story but I have never looked back since. When I was younger, my family would often vacation to the San Diego area and there was one time I can remember, we were at the convenience store on the southwest corner of Shelter Island Drive and Scott street. Me being my curious young self I picked up a koozie with a Chargers lightning bolt on it. When I got back I turned on the Madden game I had at the time, and I have grown more and more in my fanhood each year since. That was around…… 14-15 years ago.
By myself but not alone, refers to the surprisingly large presence of Chargers fans that inhabit the metro-Phoenix area that I call home.
The less I have the more I gain, off the beaten path I reign, refers to the ability that I was able to find within myself being the only Chargers fan at my school. When I realized it was actually a huge advantage to have a team not in the state of Arizona. Also, to me any team that does not have a Super Bowl ring from after the AFL-NFL merger is off the beaten path.
A lot of sports fans will gravitate to teams like the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their loyalty is purely based upon the fact that they have a pull safe that they can use if they are ever in a sports argument. That pull safe is “Well, we have rings.” It is a luxury a fan of those teams can use without ever watching a football game.
This is what makes the San Diego Chargers fan base so strong. It’s called faith. Similar to the Chicago Cubs, all we are able to do is look forward to the future rather than living our lives in the past. That is what we will do this season. We will charge forward, not just on the field, but off the field. In the stands we will charge forward. Why? It is because that is what our team needs, and also because of the community it builds.
Bolt Up Charger Brigade.
Over a month ago the San Diego Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa with their third overall pick. Along with Bosa the Chargers drafted two more defensive players. One of them was Bosa’s running mate at Ohio State, Joshua Perry. These look to be great additions combined with the free agent signings of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and safety Dwight Lowery.
Some Chargers fans are clamoring for the Chargers to switch defensive schemes. I’ll tell you why this can not and will not happen anytime soon. First, I’ll tell you the difference between the two schemes. For the purpose of this piece it will just be a base 3-4 scheme versus the base 4-3 scheme. After this I will give my opinion on why switching schemes wouldn’t be beneficial for the Bolts moving forward.
I’ve stated in a previous article (Bolt Up For Bosa) that the Chargers only run their base scheme about 50% of defensive snaps. It’s these 50% of snaps I will be focusing on. That being said what is a 3-4 defense? It has been used famously by Bum Phillips, the father of Wade Phillips.
Used by the Houston Oilers in the 70’s, it’s predicated on pressure by overwhelming the offensive line with multiple attacking defensive players. If used correctly this scheme can be virtually unstoppable. This was defensive scheme used most brilliantly by the Denver Broncos to defeat the Carolina Panthers in this past years’ Super Bowl.
The 3-4 was the staple of Dick LeBeau’s defense which helped drive multiple teams to Super Bowl appearances. Lebeaus’ defense has yielded two wins and four losses in the Super Bowl. In New England, the 3-4 has been the driving force behind the Patriots dynasty. Yes, Tom Brady has made his throws but its been the defense that’s given the Patriots four Super Bowl titles in 15 years.
Breaking it down the 3-4 consists of three down linemen and four linebackers. The four linebackers have endless possibilities on how they can be placed. There’s a multitude of packages to utilize. This makes the 3-4 a hard defense to plan against. With four linebackers you don’t know who is blitzing or who is dropping back in coverage. The point of a 3-4 defense is mismatches. It’s built to stop the run and apply endless amount of pressure on the opposing teams’ offensive line. In theory, the Chargers should be good at run-stopping although this has been the Achilles’ heel of the defense over the past several years.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 3-4 defense.
So how will the Chargers look defensively? Let’s start with the defensive line. At left defensive end will be Corey Liuget. Anchoring the middle will be nose tackle Brandon Mebane. At right defensive end will be Joey Bosa. At weak side outside linebacker will be Jerry Attaochu. The inside linebacker will be Manti Te’o. The middle linebacker will be Denzel Perrymen. The strong side linebacker will be Melvin Ingram.
Anchoring the back end of the defense from left to right will be left cornerback Jason Verrett. At Free Safety will be Dwight Lowery. Next to him will be strong safety Jahleel Addae. The right cornerback will be Brandon Flowers. Keep in mind this is how it stands right now. A lot depends on training camp and if the Chargers sign other free agents.
So now know how the Chargers will run their basic 3-4 defense. What is a 4-3 defense? The base 4-3 first came to us under Tom Landry when he was the Giants defensive coordinator in the 1950’s. He then made it even more famous with the Dallas Cowboys and through their vaunted “Doomsday” defense. Ever since, there’s been multiple variations of the scheme from the Bill Parcells stack defense to the Wide-9 defense famously used by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On to the basis of the 4-3. It’s four down linemen and three linebackers. In its most basic form the four down linemen will always have their hands in the ground and be in pursuit of whomever has the ball. The three linebackers are in charge of coverage in this base defense although they may blitz in certain packages.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 4-3 defense.
The Chargers run a variation of the 4-3 in a hybrid nickel package. The nickel package features Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu with their hands in the dirt. The 3-4 defense has been implemented since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach. Since then the Chargers have had a few dominant defenses in ’06, ’07, ’09 and 2010. Its been proven very effective when the right pieces are in place. In 2016 this is such the case. My main reason for this belief is Joey Bosa and the signing of cornerback Casey Hayward. The Hayward addition was an amazing pick up.
It’s all about the anchor of the 3-4, the nose tackle. A viable anchor is something the Chargers have lacked for so long. Since the days of Jamal Williams its been a revolving door at this position. Brandon Mebane probably didn’t make headlines to the casual Chargers fan. I believe this is the most underrated pickup of the whole offseason. Mebane can garner double- and sometimes even triple-teams.
This defense, hell, this whole team is going too shock a lot of people. As I said earlier the 3-4 requires almost pure selflessness from its three down linemen. It starts with Mebane. I may call him Bane by seasons’ end. If you know Batman then you understand the reference. Its been five years in the making with this defense. Why change philosophies now when this defense is so close to grasping greatness? Its proven to be a dominant defense in the past. It can and will be for years to come.
The hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.
After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.
At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.
Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:
August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.
August 15, 2014: Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.
Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.
The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.
Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.
Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.
Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”
Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.
I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.
What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
On Tuesday, Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians addressed the local media. Among the topics he covered, he mentioned his team is in talks with the San Diego Chargers to hold joint practices. The practices would be in held San Diego the week before their preseason game on Friday, August 19. The game would be the second preseason game for both teams.
The proposition is not a done deal but chances of it happening are very good. This is not a practice that is done as regularly as you would think. The last time the Cardinals held a joint practice was with Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. The last time the Chargers held a joint practice was with the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.
Another reason the Cardinals are interested in relocating is the fact that Guns N’ Roses will be taking over University of Phoenix stadium for a concert on August 15. It’s likely that the stadium will be occupied for a couple days by the band’s crew building their massive stage setup. Their prior tour date is in Seattle on August 12.
The joint practice will be beneficial for both teams. By August, teams are already tired of playing against one another and they are already frothing at the opportunity to hit someone in a different colored uniform. Rookies and veterans vying for starting roles will use this chance to step to the front of their respective position battles. Playing against another team with a different offensive and defensive philosophy will also help show who is ahead when it comes to mastering the playbook and using that knowledge in live-game situations.
For the Cardinals, getting out of 110-degree heat for the cool, tropical climate of San Diego won’t suck, either. For the Chargers, it presents a great chance to see how they measure up to a team that played in last season’s NFC Championship game.
A decision on the joint practice should come in the next few weeks. Here’s to hoping they come to an agreement to do the practices as it looks to be a win-win for both sides.
The Greg One
The story of the San Diego Chargers season just continues to go from bad to worse. Here we go yet again, back to the “next man up” philosophy. What else could derail this train?
Chargers fandom was rocked when the story broke that third year wideout Keenan Allen had sustained a lacerated kidney, and subsequently undergone surgery. The rock cracked a bit, as the team later announced that the 23-year-old pass-catcher was being placed on season-ending injured reserve. Tough to swallow because Allen was having arguably the best season since his 2013 rookie year.
That rock is now almost smashed because that plague called injury just will NOT give the Chargers any respite.
The Monday night home game against the Bears saw the ever-reliable and the Chargers own man of some acrobatic catches, Malcom Floyd, go down with a left shoulder injury late in the second quarter. As the game went on, it was announced that he was in sweats on the team’s sideline. Again, the Bolts suffered a huge loss to its arsenal of wide receivers – M80 has a torn labrum. This is so horrifically indicative of the way 2015 has thus far proceeded for San Diego – jinxed.
Word is that Floyd is going to rehab and try to play with the injury. In his final season wearing lightning bolts on his shoulders, Floyd wants to finish on his own terms, not those dictated by injury. If you recall, last year cornerback Jason Verrett tried to play through a labrum torn in three places during the Oakland game. He ended up having surgery and being placed on IR. Will this be the case for M80? We will all know more as the bye week comes to a close and the team monitors his pain level approaching the Kansas City game on November 22.
In the meantime, what will that decimated unit look like going forward? With Floyd’s status day-to-day per Coach McCoy, here is what I anticipate seeing on the field:
Signed in the offseason, the free agent speedster sat out games against Pittsburgh and Green Bay due to a balky hamstring.
From the time he stepped onto the field at Chargers Park, he and Rivers developed a chemistry which Johnson described after an early August practice. Said Johnson, “Phil is great, man. We’ve linked together as brothers, and it’s only four (actually five) days. He makes our job easy. Even when we make a mistake, he can clean it up just with his touch, with his savvy and how he plays the game. He just makes the game easier for receivers.”
Bolts signal caller Rivers and Johnson are going to have to expound and further rely on that rapport as now Johnson will be the go-to guy. He may not have the speed he once had, but he has great hands and is the only veteran receiver left on the roster. Through seven games Johnson has tallied 31 receptions (47 targets) for 351 yards plus two scores. That translates into a 50.1 receiving yard per game percentage (183 total after the catch) that the team desperately needs at this point of their schedule. Here’s hoping Johnson provides much-needed leadership to the young receivers and produces more than the proverbial smack to the forehead when he makes a crucial first down.
At 6’3″, 205 pounds, the undrafted free agent wideout from Virginia is a former player of the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), who won the Grey Cup in 2012.
Inman signed a reserve/futures contract in January 2014. In his first preseason game as a Charger, he had three receptions for 107 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, including a 70-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Inman secured his spot on the 53-man roster with another impressive performance in his last preseason game, leading receivers with three receptions for 54 yards. He would finish the season with 12 catches for 158 yards (13.2 yards per catch) in two games.
Asked recently about how it felt to see more playing time, Inman responded: “Once you gain the confidence of your quarterback, your game elevates ten times. A receiver is nothing without his quarterback. I don’t care how good you are, you’ve seen many great receivers not make it in this league just because they didn’t have a good quarterback.”
To date, the second-year pro has suited up for eight games, collecting 170 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions. As with the rest of the self-nicknamed “Aliens” receiver corps, Inman must step up his game. I have no doubt that he is up to the task, based on what he has already shown.
The explosive Herndon will be able to make something positive come out of the long weeks sitting on the Bolts’ practice squad. The 6’3, 194-pounder out of the University of Arkansas was pegged a starter after seeing fellow wideouts Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones exit the 53-man roster last Tuesday with Allen going to IR and Jones being cut.
The hope is that Herndon will be able to do what Jones could not and create that missing spark in the return game.
The young guy wearing number 81 on his back considers Malcom Floyd his mentor and a player he wants to fashion himself after.
When asked about the similarities of Allen and Herndon and how their playing opportunities came about, Floyd said “I’m sure it’s tougher when you get your opportunity (when a teammate gets hurt), but I don’t think it’s tougher once you get out there. Your opportunity’s the same. I’m sure they hate it had to come at the expense of one of their buddies, but they are excited to get their chance. But I don’t think those two comparisons are parallel in the sense of expectations. We believe in Javontee, but I don’t think we should be thinking this will be like the Keenan of 2013. That’s not fair to him. I’m sure Javontee is fired up, but hates that it happened because Keenan can’t play. But once you get going, you’ve got to go.”
Said Herndon on his upcoming debut:
“I have more experience as a punt returner, but at the end of the day it’s about just going out there and making the play,” he said. “I don’t have as much experience at kickoff return, but if I get the chance, I’ll just go out there and run. The coaches told me just run north and south. Just get some yards. We need some yards. It’s about the field position, and that’s what I’m going to try to do my best to get.”
Herndon had one kick return go for 24 yards plus a solitary 12 yard catch after he was pressed into more playing time once Floyd went out of the game.
Could the divisional game against the Chiefs see the young wideout (6’4″, 204 pounds) take the field? Since signing with the team in May as an UDFA from Western Oregon, the talented rookie has spent his time on the practice squad, with the exception of an appearance against the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason.
At his pro day he ran the 40 in 4.38 and 4.42 seconds, which would have been fifth best if he had been invited to the NFL Combine. He has prototypical size, a mean streak as a blocker and great quickness when setting up defenders and making a move. He also possesses great hands, especially when in traffic and on jump balls. He has a wide catching radius and an impressive vertical (39.5″) to go up and get footballs. After the catch, he is a load to bring down. For the Wolves, Williams played both as outside and slot receiver and his 164 career receptions are a Western Oregon record. In his senior year, he hauled in 56 passes for 950 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his college career with 165 catches for 2,792 yards and 21 touchdowns.
All in all, this group looks like they could rule from goal line to goal line. However, as we have all seen thus far, looking good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate to the playing field. The first and second options will be on the sidelines, watching second stringers and practice squad guys play in their place.
What started with such promise has pretty much crash and burned, and it’s only week ten. Disheartening, certainly. Yet this team has shown us over the years that they have gumption. Whether they manage it this time around is anybody’s guess. With a 2-7 record it appears the best the Chargers can do is focus on the future and a top ten pick in the 2016 draft.
Maybe the retiring of LT’s No. 21 jersey on November 22 will be the catalyst the Bolts need to kick butt the rest of the way.
When all is said and done…I just hope the bleeding of the blue and gold comes to a stop pretty damn quick.
Thanks for reading!
The San Diego Chargers played their first preseason game Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys. In front of their home crowd the bolts won the contest 17-7. As we all know, the score is immaterial. The important thing is how did the team look? There are a lot of players fighting for a roster spot. Who is giving maximum effort and who is not? How big is the talent differential when the second and third units come in compared to the unit before them? These are the key things to watch in a preseason game. Here are my takeaways from the first game.
Preseason or not, it was great to see that it didn’t take long before the team got their first takeaway. The first team defense recovered a snap that went over the head of Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. Donald Butler crashed the backfield and eliminated the quarterback from the play, kicking the ball upfield in the process. The ball was then recovered by an offseason acquisition, cornerback Patrick Robinson. The Chargers would force and recover a second fumble in the half. The Chargers only had 18 takeaways all last season. That stat needs to improve if they’re going to be a serious playoff contender.
The running game looked sharp. Last season the running game was out-of-sync all season with the exception of the emergence of Branden Oliver. After Danny Woodhead went down in week three and Mathews resumed his usual spot at the trainer’s table the Chargers running game died. Woodhead looked great in his return from a broken leg, rushing for an eight-yard touchdown on his first carry. Oliver also ran with power and Barry Sanders-like shiftiness, posting 53 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. Melvin Gordon gained 11 yards on six carries. He will gain more carries and confidence now that the first game jitters are out of the way. We all expect Gordon to be in contention for Rookie of the Year at season’s end but let’s temper our expectations. With rookies come growing pains.
The special teams looked better than they have in previous seasons. Undrafted kicker Josh Lambo provided a welcome sight in sending kickoffs through the end zone. Kicker Nick Novak booted a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that looked like it would have been good from another ten yards back. Punter Mike Scifres looked like his old self after finishing last season on injured reserve with a broken collarbone. Scifres’ first punt pinned the Cowboys inside their own five yard line. Reserve cornerback Chris Davis had a couple exciting kick returns and Javontee Herndon looked great finding holes on punt returns. Paired with Jacoby Jones, this may be the best group of returners the Chargers have had in a long while.
The first team defense showed the ability to get a good pass rush against what is considered to be the best offensive line in the league. Second round draft pick Denzel Perryman showed his nose for the ball with five tackles, a pass defensed and got close on a couple of potential sacks. Manti Te’o disrupted plays. Fifth round draft pick Kyle Emanuel had a great showing with three solo tackles including a sack and tackle for loss. It was also good to see nose tackle Ryan Carrethers finally off the injured reserve list and on the field. Carrethers was double-teamed on every snap he played and still managed to get two tackles.
As always, there are things to work on. The run defense, while only allowing 70 yards on the night could have had an even better output were it not for a lot of missed tackles. On the Cowboys lone score, running back Gus Johnson dragged several Chargers defenders into the end zone for the score.
Special teams did a good job in containment but there were also some tackles left on the field that could have put the Cowboys deep into their own territory. Tackling is an ailment that is usual during the first preseason games because there isn’t much tackling going on in training camp. Expect the tackling to improve as these exhibition games pass.
The biggest downside were the injuries. Offensive lineman Johnnie Troutman worked hard to get on the field after a leg injury only to break his arm during the game. Outside linebacker Tourek Williams was having a great game pressuring the quarterback and running down ball carriers until he broke his foot in the third quarter. Williams underwent surgery on Friday and the timetable on his return is unknown at the moment. While the two weren’t starters they are key depth positions.
All in all, it’s the preseason. There will be plenty of game tape with enough mistakes that there will be no shortage of things to work on this week. San Diego should feel confident in the collection of players on their sideline. This is a team fans should feel proud to come out and support. This is a team (if they can stay healthy) that can overtake the Broncos for the AFC West title. If this is their last season in the 619 area code, they will be going out with a bang.
What did you think of the season opener? Post your comments below.
The Greg One
Golly! It’s about gosh darn time.
Tonight at 7:30 pm your San Diego Chargers will host the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. Although the starters won’t see much playing time, there is a lot to be excited about.
- As mentioned above, the first-team offense and defense won’t be on the field for more than a series or two.
- This is the 16th time the Chargers and Cowboys have met in the preseason. The Bolts hold an 8-7 advantage.
- Please understand in advance that both teams will be very “vanilla” in their play calling on both sides of the ball.
- It will be interesting, due to his inexperience at right guard, how long D.J. Fluker will stay in the game.
- The final score does not matter in the slightest. These preseason contests are about evaluating the players and staying healthy. For example, the 2008 Detroit Lions went 4-0 during the preseason that year. They then went on to finish the regular season as the only team in NFL history to go 0-16.
- The last report I heard about Jason Verrett playing tonight was that it was a “longshot.” It wouldn’t surprise me if Brandon Flowers sat this one out, as well.
Players to keep an eye on:
Melvin Gordon – Being listed as the starting running back on the depth chart, Gordon won’t be on the field too much. But it will be nice to see the first-round draft choice in action. Keep an eye on him in pass protection and as a receiver out of the backfield.
Colton Underwood – Per the advice of Nick Hardwick during his new program “Behind the Bolt,” Underwood is a player that I’ll be keeping an eye on. The second-year linebacker has impressed many people at Chargers Park during this offseason. Underwood should see a quite a bit of playing time tonight.
Ryan Carrethers – The former fifth round draft pick is entering his second-year with the Bolts. With Sean Lissemore sitting this one out due to a hand/wrist ailment, Carrethers could see more of the field than expected. The 24-year-old began to come on late during the 2014 season before getting hurt, pushing the pocket and filling running lanes.
Titus Davis – This will be about the sixth time that I have written about Davis, I know, but I really think this kid has a chance to earn a role with this team. It may only be with the practice squad, but he just looks like he belongs in the NFL. Due to the wide receiving corps being stacked on the 53-man roster, he will have the opportunity to soak in as much knowledge as possible from the veterans at his position.
Josh Lambo – The undrafted free agent has his first chance to show off his leg on kickoffs starting this evening. If he performs well throughout the next month, he may state his case for a spot on the 53-man roster. That is not to say he’ll take field goal and extra point attempt duties from Nick Novak, but it is no secret that Novak struggles on kickoff depth. Keeping two kickers is not completely out of the question.
Michael Huey – The 26-year-old is now in his second stint with the Chargers. He spent some time with the team in 2011. Huey has received a ton of praise from McCoy during training camp. He has recently been working with the second-team offense at right guard. With Johnnie Troutman spending a bit of time watching from the sidelines, this is a good opportunity for Huey to seize the back-up role at right guard.
Craig Mager – This year’s third-round draft choice has struggled adapting to the pace and complexity of the NFL game. Tonight’s game is a great stepping stone for him to begin to slow down the thinking process and just play football. Mager is very athletic with good speed. Another impressive part of his game is his physicality. He is not afraid to stick his nose in there against the running game.