The NFL Network released its annual Top 100 players for 2017. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words so here is a noteworthy picture courtesy of NFL Networks’ Twitter page:
“There’s a reason why he’s been doing this for so many years. Absolute beast, monster.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 9, 2017
last of the true gunslingers, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers made the list at number 73. The Chargers organization retweeted the photo with this reply:
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) May 9, 2017
Looks like the organization is pleased with Rivers simply making the list. Personally, to land at number 73 is a travesty. Is this an individual or a team accomplishment? Considering the list is the Top 100 PLAYERS, Rivers should have been much higher on this list.
Here are my points to back up my claim:
*Rivers finished fifth in the NFL in passing (4,386 yards).
*Rivers tied for fifth in the NFL passes of twenty yards or more (57) and second in passes of forty yards or more (16).
*Rivers was fourth in the NFL in touchdown passes (33) behind Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers.
*Rivers played behind a turnstile of an offensive line (36 sacks allowed) and played the season without a true number one receiver. Keenan Allen was injured in the second quarter of the first game.
*Despite losing a player for the season each week for the first half of the season and the Chargers leading the league in players on IR, no one had to do more with less than Rivers. Even then, eight of the Chargers’ eleven losses were by a touchdown or less.
While Rivers undoubtedly received demerits for leading the league in interceptions with 21, it’s simply because he was the one constant, the one member of the team with the most weight on his shoulders. He gladly took on that weight, suffered the weekly pounding by opposing defenses and sprang back up for more trying to will his team to a win.
That’s leadership. That’s courage. That’s a warrior’s soul. That’s what every professional athlete should strive to be.
Apparently, what that doesn’t get you is much respect from NFL Network…
The Greg One
For those of you who still care about the fate of the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers, I bring you my one-and-only mock draft. Yes, I know they are now the Los Angeles Chargers, but like a vast amount of you I hate the sound of it, the look of it and my fingers hurt just typing it. We all cope in our own way and I go forward with solid belief that by the time the two years in the StubHub Center is over, Dean Spanos will have sold the team (by will or force) to an owner who will return the team where they belong in America’s Finest City.
With the draft only a few days away, thankfully, the season of a million mock drafts will also come to an end. I’m throwing a wrinkle into this year’s edition. Since the team never picks the player I want, for the first few rounds I am separating my dream pick (the guy I want) and the actual pick (the guy I believe they will actually take). I’m happy to be wrong on last year’s first round pick (I wanted Jalen Ramsey. Joey Bosa was and will be a home run for the next decade as long as he can stay healthy).
I hope you enjoy my mock. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Round 1: (My pick) QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson. It is that time. Time to pick a quarterback of the future. Like I’ve admitted many times over, I’m the President of the Philip Rivers fan club but even I can see that his run is coming to an end. I’m not saying his skill is declining. He will be among the league leaders in passing as usual this season. However, his body takes a pounding every season from having a suspect offensive line blocking for him. We never see his name on the injury report but we’ve seen him labor during games. Couple that with his disdain for leaving San Diego to play in Los Angeles and I say he’ll bridge the two-year gap leading into the permanent residence in the Taj Mahal Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building.
Hence, the benefit of having a star quarterback on the roster. All the talk is about how none of the quarterbacks in this draft are ready to be day one quarterbacks because none of them came from a pro-style system. Air raid quarterbacks fail at large because they’re thrown into the fire too soon.
Watson would come into a perfect scenario where he would get to sit for two seasons behind Philip Rivers and learn the game from a master of the craft. That would be more than ample time to master the playbook and learn the nuances of a pro-style offense from taking the ball from under center to reading defenses and making calls at the line. This is the perfect time for a top-tier quarterback. Watson brings an undeniable charisma, raw natural talent, athleticism rarely seen in a quarterback, and the swagger that comes with leading his team into the National Championship game two seasons in a row and winning one.
In my opinion, Watson is the best quarterback in this class. Everyone will say taking him at pick seven will be a major reach. They won’t be saying that when he’s torching defenses in 2019. The precedent is as close as the guy he will be replacing. Rivers sat two years behind Drew Brees and I’d say that turned out pretty damn well wouldn’t you?
On to the man I think Telesco will actually pick…
S Jamal Adams, LSU. It seems to be six of one, half a dozen of the other when it comes to the top two safeties in the draft, Adams and Malik Hooker out of Ohio State. Both are big, physical and versatile playmakers who will provide an instant impact when they step on the field. Given the fact that seemingly every year two teams trade up into the top five for a quarterback, I believe this year will be no different. The teams trading up will push both safeties into the Chargers spot and given the choice, I believe Telesco will take Adams. If Adams is gone, the pick will be Hooker.
Round 2: (My pick) S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan. I know what you’re thinking. Two safeties? Not quite. Peppers is listed as a safety because he can play both safety positions exceptionally well. However, he can play slot corner and linebacker, too. Talent that versatile is a steal in the second round. Up until a short while ago, Peppers was considered a top-ten talent. A failed urine test revealed this week has damaged his draft stock and will lead to a precipitous drop. First round talent will drop into the second and this will be the biggest name of them all.
Speaking of steals, the second round pick of the Chargers also managed to fall from grace and into Day 2 for reasons unknown.
OT Cam Robinson, Alabama. The Chargers can’t have enough help on the offensive line and the 6’6″, 322-pound behemoth will be a Godsend if he’s still on the board when the Chargers pick.
Round 3: WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State. Dual-threat capability as a running back and wide receiver fills a need to find a replacement for the now-departed Danny Woodhead in the backfield and adds depth to the receiving corps. By the way, his 4.3-speed would also come in handy in the return game.
Round 4: DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama. More beef in the center of the defensive line is always a good thing and a blue blood at this spot is a great value pick.
Round 5: ILB Ben Boulware, Clemson. Boulware is a bulldog on the field. He is always near the ball, a tackle machine and a defensive leader. Great football IQ.
Round 6: QB Josh Dobbs, Tennessee. This is the point where the Chargers waste a draft pick on a quarterback project. Could be a different QB, but a QB nonetheless.
Round 7: RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson. The Chargers lack depth in the running back room. Gallman is an excellent all-purpose back and powerful rusher.
So concludes my Tigers-heavy, (If I get my way) mock draft. What do you think? It will be fun to see the drama unfold over the next three days — especially since we are here in person, AGAIN!
The Greg One
I have been a Chargers fan since 2004. I was 11 years old when I first watched Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates shock everyone and win the West only losing to the Jets in heartbreaking fashion. Drafting Eli with the 1st pick overall only to trade him for an even better QB in Rivers plus more. 2006 when the team was by far the best in football only to have Marlon McCree fumble away the Superbowl vs the Patriots.
I have been to countless amounts of games over the past 10 years, seeing LT break the record, beating Denver in 2008 to come back from four games down with four to play. I watched as Antonio Cromartie intercepted Peyton Manning three times and Chargers picking him off six times total on a raining Sunday Night. Ryan Succop missing the field goal in week 17 and the Chargers running a fake punt to clinch a wild card berth.
All these memories, gone thanks to greed and arrogance by an owner, who I can truly say as factual, just doesn’t get it. Spanos may be the worst owner in sports, and has all but lost the San Diego fanbase and doesn’t have any one in Los Angeles who will go to him. There is no one but yourself to blame for this. The city of San Diego tried for 15 years to get a stadium and what did you do? Put out ONE plan that you knew would fail….one. This isn’t on the city. This is on you. You have become the laughing stock of, not just the NFL, but in all of sports. Here are some examples for you Mr. Spanos:
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) January 12, 2017
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) January 12, 2017
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 12, 2017
These are just three examples of national teams/media bashing you. Here is one from my personal Twitter page:
— Padres SZN (@WilMyersGOAT) January 12, 2017
You got what you wanted. You wanted LA, well, have fun.
For the last time blitzers, I leave you. I appreciate everyone who supported but this will be my last post on boltblitz.com. I can not, and will not support this team in Los Angeles. I hope to still engage with you guys on social media, and one day, just maybe one day, we will get our Chargers back. But until then, here is me checking out saying, Fuck you Dean Spanos and Fuck the Los Angeles Chargers.
-Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
I thought Norv Turner was a bad head coach. This guy has nothing on the current train wreck that is Mike McCoy (or Mike McTurner or Norv McCoy or Mike McNorv or Useless, as he is unaffectionately referred to in some circles).
This isn’t the first time I’ve said this and it certainly won’t be the last. Mike McCoy needs to go. He needs to go far, far away and he needs to do it quickly.
Let’s start with the obvious: 23-29 record as a head coach and that really doesn’t begin to describe how bad he truly is. Five wins, count them, F.I.V.E. over the last 20 games. That’s a 25% clip.
This season alone, through four games, he’s guided the ship to a single victory, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars who we all know have been terrible since 2010. He and his squad managed three come-from-ahead losses in the other games.
The Chargers lost games with fourth quarter leads eight times over those 20 games, per ESPN’s Eric Williams (http://www.espn.com/blog/san-diego-chargers/post/_/id/17764/grabbing-defeat-from-jaws-of-victory-a-closer-look-at-the-choking-chargers). Let that sink in for a minute. Eight come-from-ahead losses among those 15 losses since 2015. 50% of losses came in the fourth quarter.
Mike McCoy is NOT a closer. The Chargers have proven that they are NOT closers under his watch.
Divisional games are super critical, right? I mean, each divisional game amounts to two games in the standings for all intents and purposes. Let’s look at divisional games, shall we? Winless in 2016. Winless! Meaning no wins. Zip, zilch, nada. In fact, the last divisional win was November 16, 2014 in a 13-6 barn-burner against the Raiders.
How about away games? One win in the last nine road games. One. That means 3-6 in the last nine home games. So much for home field advantage.
McCoy is a wannabe. He got dubbed a great offensive mind while in Denver. He got lucky with Tim Tebow. He was Peyton Manning’s OC for a year. That makes him a wannabe OC. Hell, Peyton could make ME look like a genius. He’s a wannabe Belichick with his snippy, cryptic, cliche-laced post-game pressers.
Don’t forget his clock management skills. I don’t know how many, but McCoy has left countless points on the board, failing to call time outs late in the first half with his offense driving.
Let’s get more recent — a timeout was called on defense in the fourth quarter against the Saints when Drew Brees had two seconds left on the play clock. Two seconds! Who the hell does that? Well, who besides the second coming of Norv Turner, that is.
Blame injuries all you want. As much as the cliché “next man up” is going to make me lose my lunch, it’s just that. A freaking cliché. Yeah, we miss Keenan Allen, but he’s one player. Who knows, we might even miss Manti T’eo.
Might. Again, one player.
I can’t simplify things more than this: Mike McCoy sucks. The Chargers suck with Mike McCoy as head coach. The time to fire him was yesterday and the day before that and the day before that….
The shootout in Mission Valley became just another 4th quarter collapse under Mike McCoy, who has seen his team fail to close out three games in the second half in the four opportunities of 2016.
The Chargers would fall to the Saints by a score of 35-34 in a contest that they most certainly should have won.
Sunday was no different, as the Bolts carried a 13-point lead into the 4th with 6:50 to go. The Chargers would then proceed to fumble on two consecutive drives; the first by Melvin Gordon and the second by Travis Benjamin.
The real story here is coaching, which if you’re a diehard Bolts fan like I have been, you’ve watched this team your whole life.
Since the miracle season in 2013 which honestly Norv Turner himself could’ve done that, this team has fallen off the rails. McCoy is 13-20 in that span, losing too many games by one score or less than one fan can remember.
If last year didn’t set a precedent, the start to this season should. Simply put, McCoy is not getting it done at the head coaching position. It’s time to make a change before this season gets too far out of reach for these Bolts to even catch a wildcard birth.
Duds of the game:
Melvin Gordon – Yes, he had two touchdowns for fantasy owners. Hooray…. For Bolts fans, this was his worst game of the season. He was never able to get going running the ball. Though the Saints were selling out to stop the run, it is fair to say that good running backs still find a way. His biggest miscue, fumbling the ball with just under seven minutes to go in the game, is something that is just unforgivable. Just hold on to it and live to fight another down for God’s sake!
Travis Benjamin – A miserable day as a receiver: four receptions for 48 yards. His biggest blunder coming a drive right after the Melvin Gordon Fumble, as he caught the ball and carelessly fumbled it, allowing the Saints to get the ball for a go-ahead TD.
Mike “Choke” McCoy – This may seem redundant, but I will do it anyway. What halftime adjustments did you give this team? What was the message given to this team going into the 4th? Whatever it was, it didn’t work.
Mike this loss and the other two fall right at your feet. For two weeks in a row your team had a lead and two weeks in a row they have found new ways to lose it. Here’s hoping the Spanos family wakes up and gives you the ax you deserve, ensuring that I don’t have to put you as dud for the rest of the season.
Dishonorable mentions: injuries at linebacker continuing to mount, DJ Fluker and Spencer Pulley
Studs of the game:
Hunter Henry – After a costly fumble last week as the Bolts were attempting a comeback, Henry had another solid week, gaining 61 yards on four receptions, including his first touchdown as a pro.
Dontrelle Inman – After lackluster games to begin the 2016 season, Inman had the game of his life, totaling 120 yards and a TD on seven receptions. You knew going into this game that the Saints would have hard time with all of the Chargers’ offensive weapons. Have a day, though, Inman.
Craig Mager – Was it just one interception? Yes. It should’ve been a key one if not for the offensive fumbles. Mager did his job, showing up and making a play for this team when it mattered most.
Honorable mentions: Philip Rivers, Jason Verrett(way to come back, kid) and Tyrell Williams
The 2016 season has not gone as hoped in the eyes of Chargers fans all over the world. Despite a heightened amount of excitement surrounding a strong free-agency period and draft, the team has struggled to close out games, losing three games in which they should have most definitely won; the Bolts should be 4-0, to be honest, and I think you all know that.
With that in mind, do you think the Chargers can rebound from their 1-3 record and put themselves into a position to compete for a playoff spot?
Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.
Here is my Week 4 breakdown as I list three things that the Bolts need to do to beat Drew Brees and the Saints.
1.) Finish each half
Two losses and two games the Chargers could not finish when they had the lead. Whether it is keeping the pace in a 24-3 lead or stopping them from scoring a late go-ahead touchdown, the Bolts must find a way to finish.
2.) Just get one damn stop
This game is going to come down to who can stop the other team first. There is no doubt in my mind that this score will likely imitate a college football game. If the Chargers can stop them just one time, they will have a realistic shot to win.
3.) No big plays
The Saints are known for the big plays. Limit them to Brandin Cooks and Mark Ingram. Jason Verrett is going to be busy and the front-seven is going to have to spy on Ingram and stop the run.
What do you think is a key to this week’s game? Let me know!
Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their predictions on the Chargers Week 4 matchup versus the Saints.
Zak Darman: This is going to be an offensive showdown in Mission Valley. The o/u on this game is 53.5 and, if you’re a betting man, you should take the over. I can see Brees and Rivers going for 300-plus yards each and a couple of scores each. It’s going to come down to who can run the ball more effectively and who can make that one stop. Both teams are even teams, despite what the record says. It can go either way, but for the sake of being biased, I’m going with the Bolts. 41-38 Chargers
Chris LaFurno: MG carries the load this game. 20 carries for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns against one of the worst run defenses in the league. Hayward continues his lights out play with a big interception late in the 4th. Verrett and Cooks butt heads the entire game as Verrett grabs a pick but Cooks scores a TD. Brees and Rivers combined for 800 yards and 6 TD’s. Lets spoil Brees’ homecoming fellas! #BoltUp Chargers 31 Saints 21
Corey Decker: The Chargers will come out swinging in this event, The reason for the 21 is that there are some people in the chargers organization that know Brees from his time here very well. 31-21 Bolts
Travis Blake: Just after the National Anthem, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees both step forward from the sideline and draw their wands. In an epic, wizardly showdown Voldemort and Harry Potter would be proud of, they unleash footballs shielded in blue and gold for Rivers and gold and black for Brees. The footballs collide at midfield causing a rift between the muggle world and the world of magic. The rift sucks in all the evil hoteliers from their mansions overlooking the La Jolla coastline. Brees and Rivers battle against each other all game, the prize? San Diego’s eternal, never dying love. The game itself ends in a tie, 31-31 and personifies The Great Mystery of Life in San Diego.
Laura Leech: They go back and forth scoring. Lot of offense not so much defense. Gordon with touchdown number 5. Heyward gets a pick six. 42-38 Chargers
Brian Scott: Drew Brees struggles on the road. In 2015 his passer rating for away games was a paltry 87.7 where his home games he rated at 112.5. Last year at home he threw 23 TDs with 5 interceptions; whereas on the road he only threw 9 TDs with 6 INTs. This year so far seems to be the same; 7 TDs in 2 home games and 1 TD in one road game. Rivers shows everyone that there is no debate between the two and overcomes a horrid game last week by throwing 3 TDs to 3 different receivers; Gordon scores once and racks up another 100 yards. Final score is 40-28 in favor of the Chargers
Chris Hoke: The Shootout in Mission Valley as the Saints and Bolts score a combined 73 points. The take a note from the Falcons and feed Gordon early and often. Splashing in some McCluster. Tyrell Williams racks up some big yards and 2 TDs. the Bolts narrowly beat the saints 38-35
Cheryl White: They finally remember to keep putting the ball in the hands of M28. Benjamin and Henry get in the end zone too. Hayward and/or Verrett picks off Brees. Chargers 34-28
Mike Pisciotta: Drew Brees throws for 400 yards in his Qualcomm homecoming, as New Orleans romps to a victory. After the game, Mike McCoy is relieved of his duties and Ken Whisenhunt is named interim Head Coach. John Pagano is also let go and replaced by a tackling dummy. 31-17 Saints
Will McCafferty: This has been a difficult game to call. I feel like the Chargers are the better team. But when I consider the Bolts offensive line injuries and the emotions that will fuel Drew Brees, it makes think twice. Since I always pick the Chargers, the Saints defense is horrific, and the Saints don’t play well in the road. Aints 31 Chargers 34
Greg Williams: This game will come down to which team has the ball last as both offenses will score almost at will. This game is the picture of a coin flip. If the game was in New Orleans I’d call it for the Saints but since this game is at the Q, Chargers get the nod. 34-33 bolts
Dave Peters: The Chargers score more points than the Saints. 41-40 Bolts win
Let us know your predictions and go Bolts!
Let us begin with one seemingly simple, yet frequently argued truth: the Chargers made the right decision when they let Drew Brees get away.
Those with 20/20 hindsight see how great Brees became and know that he won a ring with New Orleans. They look at his accomplishments after leaving San Diego and compare them to the success, or lack thereof, of the Chargers under Rivers, and envy the fans of the Saints.
That being said, be honest with yourself, Drew Brees was seriously injured in his last game in San Diego and, quite frankly, his performance with the Chargers was average at best.
Please allow me to refresh your memory.
During the Brees’ tenure in San Diego, he was very hit-or-miss. In his first season, he sat the bench and learned behind fan-favorite Doug Flutie. In his sophomore year, 2002, he won the starting role, but was only able to throw for a little over 3200 yards with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, adding two fumbles. Not bad for a first-year starter, but he lead the team to a middling 8-8 record.
Brees came back as the starter in 2003 and only amassed 2100 yards with 11 touchdowns, 15 picks, and four fumbles. He was benched by then head coach Marty Schottenheimer and replaced by Flutie. Despite the efforts of Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the team ended up just 4-12 that season. With Brees seemingly heading in the wrong direction, the Chargers’ brain trust decided that it was time to draft a quarterback.
Enter Philip Rivers.
In 2004, Brees could see the writing on the wall. The Chargers traded for Philip Rivers on draft day and he was the heir apparent to the starting QB job.
Brees’ days were numbered indeed.
Fortunately for Drew, Philip decided to hold out for more money and missed most of training camp. Coach Schottenheimer decided that he could not afford to start their new $40 MIL rookie and put Brees back in his familiar role.
Well, one thing we all know about Drew Brees in current times is that when his back is against the wall, he will come out fighting. He went on to throw for over 3100 yards with 27 touchdowns, against just 7 interceptions and four fumbles. This was by far his most productive season, as he lead his team to an amazing 12-4 record.
What do you do with a quarterback who just lead your team from worst to first in a single year? You start him the next year!
The 2005 campaign rolls around and Rivers is sent to the bench once more. That holdout is proving very costly to the sophomore QB. This was the last season on Brees’ contract. Something had to be decided by the end of the year. Two quarterbacks’ futures were on the line as the season wore on. Brees was quite inconsistent in 2005. He amassed just under 3600 yards and 24 touchdowns, but his interceptions ballooned back up to 15 and his fumbles up to eight!
The decision was going to be tough.
With the team going 9-7 and Brees showing signs of greatness along with signs of ineptitude, no one was sure whom the Chargers would keep.
Word was leaked out that general manager AJ Smith wanted to keep Rivers. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer liked Brees.
Who would win the job?
As it turned out, that difficult decision was made quite easy. Despite many who thought Brees should not play the meaningless final game of the season, Schottenheimer decided he should. Many speculated that Brees got the start because Schottenheimer did not want to showcase what Rivers could do and keep AJ Smith from offering Brees a contract extension.
Whatever the reason was, it backfired in a big way.
While attempting to recover a fumble, Brees suffered a severely torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. This injury is not considered an automatic career-ender, but many do not return with the same arm strength. Brees was not considered a strong-armed QB to begin with, so the thought of him coming back weaker was not attractive. Also, the thought of letting go of their $40 MIL bonus baby was eating away at AJ Smith.
Smith made the call. With Brees’ numbers declining and it being impossible to determine if and when he would recover from his injury, it was time to part ways; thus opening the door for Philip Rivers, who lead the Chargers to a 14-2 record the following season.
With Rivers and Tomlinson playing at an extremely high level, it was obvious that Smith made the right call. Hell, even the Dolphins, who brought Brees in for a workout, refused to sign him. They opted instead for aging veteran Daunte Culpepper. That proved to be an extremely poor decision.
Yet again, when you tell the undersized Drew Brees that he can’t do something, he gets determined to prove you wrong. Brees rehabbed his shoulder and came back stronger than ever before. The New Orleans Saints decided to take a shot and signed him as their new starting QB. Just four years later, Drew Brees was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy high in the air and celebrating his Super Bowl victory with the Saints. He was the king of New Orleans and the top passer in the NFL.
Sunday, October 2, 2016, Drew Brees returns to his roots. He will once again grace the field at Qualcomm stadium in front of thousands of adoring fans who think about what could have been.
You see, Drew Brees didn’t leave San Diego in an ugly fashion. There may have been no love lost between Brees and the Chargers’ front office, but with the community, all was well. In fact, Brees still lives in San Diego in the offseason and is a pillar of the community.
There is no question that the success that Brees has seen in his brilliant career in New Orleans has helped revisionist historians question the decision to let him go. That being said, what choice did the Chargers have? Keep an ailing, undersized, average quarterback? Or, give the young stud who they had invested so heavily his opportunity to shine?
In reality, the decision worked out for both teams. Brees found the perfect situation, team, city and coach to allow his skills to flourish. Rivers stepped in and quickly made fans believers. In fact, they are both considered to be future Hall of Fame QBs by many experts.
My question is, if Brees did not get injured, would he ever have had the chip on his shoulder that allowed him to build up his strength and become a far stronger and more deadly quarterback than he was in his first five years?
We will never know the answer to that question, so the debate goes on.
Thanks for reading. Please leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Go Bolts! #VoteYesOnC
Well, this time it wasn’t an offensive player that left a Chargers’ game with an injury.
It was their defensive signal-caller and captain, Manti Te’o.
In what is appearing to be an extremely freakish beginning to their 2016 campaign, the Bolts have suffered significant season-ending injuries to three of their starters in each of the first three games.
Keenan Allen – ACL tear to his right knee.
Danny Woodhead – ACL tear to his right knee.
Add Manti Te’o to the list, though it was his Achilles’ that gave out, not his ACL.
Even more disconcerting is that each man sustained his injury in a non-contact scenario. We’ll discuss that in another article soon.
Te’o left the game early in the first quarter of the game in Indianapolis with an immediate announcement that he was done for the day. Who was going to be “next man up” this time?
Enter rookie Jatavis Brown, a product from the University of Akron and a fifth-round pick by the Bolts in this year’s NFL draft.
While the former Zips’ linebacker was chosen for a number of reasons, his 4.47-second 40-yard dash was a primary one. His versatility and athleticism only add to his ability. Additionally, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), he was only called twice for penalties (1,629 snaps) over the last two years. PFF also stated that in 2015 when utilized as a blitzer, Brown had 15 sacks, 12 hits, and 22 hurries in 144 pass-rushing snaps. I have to say – just WOW! This from a guy who some considered to be on the small side at 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds. Looks to me like he can hold his own for sure!
Prior to his entering the game on Sunday, the only sighting of Brown was in the preseason game versus San Francisco. He started that game and made five tackles — three of which were solo stops. Since then, he has participated in all three regular season games, racking up 15 tackles (10 solo), four PDs (passes defensed) and collecting a sack and a forced fumble.
His Sunday stats were six tackles with two tackles for loss, defending two passes and adding a sack. His strip-sack of Andrew Luck should be part of a highlight reel, as it was scooped up by the recently signed Caraun Reid and run in for the score.
One of the bright spots of the afternoon in Indianapolis.
So, just who is this guy Jatavis Brown? The answer: he is a player that many scouts, teams and the like knocked due to his size, though his playmaking ability spoke for itself. It was thought that if he couldn’t perform at this level as a linebacker that he could be a hybrid-safety type defender.
In his four years at Akron, he amassed 340 tackles (193 solo), three forced fumbles, two passes defensed and an interception. The 40.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks were not only team-bests but also led the MAC while his total tackles gave him 7th best.
NFL Draft Scout had him ranked #13 out of 203 OLBs. Brown was not only chosen the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year, he was also named to the All-MAC Conference 1st-team three consecutive years.
This is the rookie that after the draft Telesco told Chargers.com writer Ricky Henne, “This is the one guy in our draft room that if we didn’t draft, I think there would have been a revolt amongst everyone else in the room…There are certain guys sometimes that have a trigger for everybody. (Brown) was a guy who everybody wanted on our football team. He’s actually the one guy that (we got) so many different texts from across the league (about) saying ‘Great pick!’ ‘Good pick!’ Those are kind of fun text messages to get during the draft.”
Brown told Henne shortly after the draft, “I do think I’m flying under the radar, but I’ve been flying under the radar my whole life,” he said. “I guess that’s just me. I like to prove people wrong, and that’s how I (operate). I don’t like the spotlight. I’m a laid back, chill guy. So this fits me just fine. I like to do all the dirty work, do what I’m supposed to do and I don’t worry about getting the publicity.”
Well, Jatavis Brown…publicity or no, here is your opportunity to take the bull by the horns and show those detractors just who you are. You had a great start in an unfortunate situation, but it’s always “next man up” in the pros.
Yeah, my money is on this young man to get the job done. I’m looking forward to seeing him blitz Brees and blow up a few plays this Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm.
Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has already set more than his fair share of team records since taking over the reins as the starting signal caller in San Diego. Rivers has passed up the legendary Dan Fouts in most statistical categories, but there are still a few more passing records which he has the opportunity to eclipse prior to hanging up his cleats.
The fact of the matter is, this will be the year that he overtakes Fouts in all major passing stats, make no mistake about it.
Perhaps if Ken Whisenhunt had remained with San Diego after the 2013 season rather than accepting the head coaching job for the Tennessee Titans, we would have already witnessed it. However, “Whiz” left in 2014 and Frank Reich was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.
While a portion of the argument would have to include the dreaded injury bug to the offense, the majority of blame lies in the uninspired playcalling over the 2014 and 2015 seasons. There was a flash here and there of going outside the box with the occasional reverse or two tight-end sets, but that was too infrequent. Reich may have been one of the better back-up quarterbacks in the NFL, yet play design was not his forte. His tendency to use and shotgun and pistol formations, inability to develop schemes that were more familiar to then-rookie Melvin Gordon and abysmal offensive line play led to a parting of the ways between Reich and the organization this past January.
Let’s not dwell on that, though. A new season is on the horizon. A great many positives can come out of this year’s campaign. It has been said many times that as Rivers goes, so does the team he leads.
Now, I recognize that when Dan Fouts led the Chargers, the rules for protecting the quarterback were a bit different. Quarterbacks might have been hit in the head or had their legs grabbed by a defender, and little came of it. The NFL rulebook has changed considerably, and a quote made in 2013 by ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer pretty much says it all: “…we played a game where we had to stay in the pocket and get hit in the face…But part of the badge of honor of playing quarterback in the NFL was standing in there and taking shots in the face and throwing a 20-yard dig route. That’s what separated you from the other guys. Now that’s just not part of the game.”
Undeniably, the QB position is one of the most protected when it comes to the assessment of penalties. Blatant or not, it’s going to be costly for the defense (possibly for the defender in the form of a fine) in today’s environment.
Keep a couple of things in mind as you read this: First, when Fouts entered the league in 1973, the season was 14 games long. Five years later it was changed to the current 16-game format. Second, two strike-shortened seasons skew his statistics. In 1982, only nine games were played. In 1987, weeks four through six saw predominantly replacement players take the field. One last thing, Fouts only had three seasons (1979 through 1981) in which he played the entire game schedule, whereas Rivers has played every game since becoming the lead signal caller for the Bolts’ in 2006.
There are a few of Fouts’ records that Rivers will meet and exceed in 2016, and at least a couple that might go into next year. For now let’s just concentrate on what is waiting.
Obviously, the first item is the career passing yards record. At the end of 2015, Rivers had amassed 41,447 yards to the 43,040 that Fouts had at the end of his career. That 1,594 mark could be gone by the end of the Chargers versus Saints game on October 2. Brees and Rivers may put on a passing extravaganza that day!
Another record that should easily be surpassed will be the number of 300-yard games. To date, No. 17 has collected 46 (including one playoff contest) to the 56 — including five playoff appearances — that Fouts has. That’s a difference which is well within PR’s reach. He is also one game-winning drive away from tying Fouts (25 vs 26), plus three away (21) towards matching the 24 fourth-quarter comebacks of his contemporary.
Last up, the number of games these two have played. Fouts played in 181 contests while Rivers is at 164. The disparity is due to the fact that Rivers sat behind Drew Brees until the last two games of 2005, when Brees suffered that shoulder injury while diving to recover a fumble in a meaningless game against the Denver Broncos. The only way that 17-game differential gets broken during this year’s campaign is if the Chargers fight their way into the postseason.
The discussion about who is the better quarterback will never stop. Don’t forget, however, that despite never making it to the Super Bowl, Fouts was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Is that honor in Rivers’ future, as well? Only time will tell, but he is so far up the record books, how could it not?!
All in all, the 2016 football season is shaping up to be one to remember!
Thanks for reading!