To say that Leonard Babb is a huge Charger fan is an understatement. Not only is he large in stature, his love and hope for your San Diego Chargers exceeds his size.
I’m so hyped to do this interview and give other Bolt fans a unique perspective from a former high school and collegiate player that dominated on both sides of the ball. Albeit Mesa College, this man has playing experience. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have. He has a view on football and your Chargers that I feel is worth reading about. Let’s go!
P.S. For the first time in #FanPerspective history, both myself and Thomas Powell will be firing off questions. Oops. Len didn’t know until right now. Let’s do this!
Booga: When did you first become a Charger fan?
Len: I became a Charger fan in the mid-80’s. My dad was a Charger fan and it was clear that I had no choice but to love the Chargers. He had been a fan since the Bolts playing in Balboa Stadium.
Thomas: Did you play football at a young age? And if so, what position did you play? And who did you want to model your game after as a youngster?
Len: Yes, I played high school ball. I modeled my game after Reuben Davis. His ability to clog the middle and take up blockers showed me exactly what I needed to as defensive linemen.
Booga: Had you ever met him?
Len: Yes. My first thought was, “Oh my God. That’s the biggest man I’ve ever seen.” And I’m not a small dude. And I wasn’t then.
Thomas: Where were you during 1994? And what were you doing during the Charger run to their only Super bowl?
Len: I was a freshman in high school, my parents were invited to a party regarding the AFC Championship game. It was nerve-racking considering that no one gave us a chance. But, I always had faith in my Chargers.
Booga: Sticking to that game, how impressive was that play by Dennis Gibson?
Len: Having that play in mind, I believed then that it was the greatest play ever.
Thomas: Let’s move on to this year’s draft. Which selection did you like the most? And which choice did you not like?
Len: I loved the Verrett pick. The Chargers needed a playmaker that can come in and contribute in the defensive secondary. The pick I didn’t like was the Tevin Reese choice. His inability to catch the ball and small size made me shudder. I wanted Marquise Lee to be a Charger. I love the fit and I feel as though he’d have been the optimal fit with our offense.
Booga: Who is your favorite Charger of all-time? And who is your favorite player now?
Len: My favorite Charger of all-time was Junior Seau. So sorry to hear about his family and fans having to deal with his loss. My favorite current Charger would have to be Donald Butler. Having been a defensive-predominant player as a player, I tend to go toward the defensive side of the ball.
Thomas: From year one to year two, there’s a huge step going from being a rookie to a sophomore in the NFL. Which player do you think steps up to have an even better year in 2014?
Len: Keenan Allen, without a doubt. Despite a strong rookie year, I believe his sophomore campaign will explode and provide the Charger offense with even more firepower.
Booga: Knowing that you’re a giant WWE fan, does Shawne Merriman make sense in the WWE?
Len: NO. Because the physicality of the NFL differs incredibly from that of the WWE.
Thomas: What difference do you think the Frank Reich offense will bring in 2014 compared to the Ken Whisenhunt offense from 2103?
Len: Rivers seemed to move more, and check down often. When, he who must not be named, ran an offense in San Diego, it was stale and predictable. But I’m not overly concerned about having Reich as an offensive coordinator.
Thomas: Who is the best Charger draft pick in the history of the Bolts?
Len: I’d have to say Junior Seau. And here’s why, taking nothing away from LT, but Seau’s knowledge of the game and his ability to play through injury make him an easy decision when answering this question. Remember the visor and the parka look? I was extremely disappointed. But that moment made it easy to answer this question. Even had he gone into the game as a decoy, I would have had trouble answering this. But, moments like that, made this a clear response.
Booga: So, here’s my next question…. are you not a LaDainian Tomlinson fan?
Len: Best running back in the history of the Chargers. Bar none. His 2006 season was epic.
Thomas: Since you played defense in high school ball, what are your impressions of the John Pagano defense and is there anything you’d do differently?
Len: I’m so glad you asked me that. I think Pagano has done an excellent job considering the talent he has had to work with. Granted, we do give up the occasional big play, we’ve done a solid job as a defensive unit.
Booga: So, the most important question of the interview, how often do you visit BoltBlitz.com?
Len: All the time. Twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.
Thanks go out to Len for sitting down and doing this interview. He’s a huge Charger fan and I would suggest that all of you follow him on twitter @619Len.
Thanks to all of you for reading and supporting BoltBlitz.com
Philip Rivers amassed nearly 4,500 yards through the air in 2013. This couldn’t have been accomplished without good pass blocking and, of course, solid pass catchers. The Bolts had an unexpected dose of both last season. We’ll take a closer look at the offensive line in a future article. Today, we’ll be looking at the Chargers’ stable of receivers and examining how each fits (or doesn’t fit) into the team plans heading into next season. Injuries early in the season forced General Manager Tom Telesco to add some new faces and some old friends, and challenged one highly-touted rookie to elevate his play much sooner than expected. In the end, there were lots of ups and a few downs along the way. The aforementioned injuries will impact Telesco’s off-season plan when addressing team needs. This position was considered a strength heading into the 2013 season, but now big question marks remain about the health of the receiving corps.
Coming into the 2013 season, the Chargers third round pick in last year’s draft was expected to see occasional time at the slot position. Playing behind Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander was supposed to afford Allen a chance to get used to playing football at NFL speed. Even so, there was a prevailing feeling that he may be able to chip in some big plays within his limited role. He had a fantastic career at Cal and many draft “experts” felt Telesco had the steal of the draft after Keenan slid to the third round due to concerns over a knee injury suffered in college. Potentially career-ending injuries to Alexander in preseason and Floyd in week two thrust Allen into the spotlight early. It took a few games for Keenan to really take off, but when it clicked, it was something special to behold. Allen’s style is not that of a speed demon threatening to get behind the defense quickly, but rather a quick, agile route-runner that can turn a 7 yard crossing pass into a 40 yard gain with his running ability. This rookie shouldered the burden as the Bolts #1 wide receiver and flourished. He displayed a confidence rarely seen in rookie receivers and a flair for the big play. He finished the season with 1,046 yards on 71 receptions, scoring 8 touchdowns. His efforts landed him the Pepsi Next Rookie of the Year award and the respect of players and coaches throughout the league. We’ll all continue to expect big things in the future and I am confident that he will deliver.
2013 was cruel to Danario. Coming off a solid 2012 campaign, expectations were through the roof. Many felt like this would finally be the season that Alexander would become the elite wide receiver the Chargers hoped he could be. The issue dogging Danario was repeated knee problems that have plagued him since the Senior Bowl in college. He has all the physical tools to be a superstar, but his knee kept failing him. Then on August 6th of last year, Alexander suffered a torn right ACL to the same knee during practice. His entire season was lost. It was made public earlier this week, that Danario has undergone a 2nd surgery on the knee. Despite the high hopes heading into last season, it looks like it may have been his last with the Chargers. The odds of him returning are incredibly low and I for one do not expect him to be on our roster next fall. Heartbreaking.
The man known as “M80” in San Diego had really come into his own. Having signed a four year, $13 million contract in September of 2012, Malcom had finally made it to the top of the ladder. Watching this young man go from distant back-up to starting wide receiver over the years has been especially gratifying for me. It harkened back to the old adage “work hard and great things will come of it”- a belief my parents instilled in me as a child. Malcom isn’t particularly fast, but he is very tall (6’5″) and has truly magical hands. He’s made some of the greatest circus-style catches I’ve seen in San Diego since the great John Jefferson and Wes Chandler donned lightning bolts. The team was counting on him to provide the security blanket that Philip Rivers needs on critical 3rd downs. Unfortunately, a blow to the top of his head on a crossing route against the Eagles ended Malcom’s season in just the second week of action. The scene was very scary as the trainers carefully removed Floyd’s face mask from his helmet and strapped his entire body to a board. Everyone watching knew that this was a bad situation. The resulting neck injury, thankfully, didn’t result in a life-long injury- but it did sideline M80 for the remainder of the season. Now Tom Telesco and company will need to take a very close look at Floyd’s future with the team. If doctors clear Floyd to return (which is still in question), the cost versus reward equation may come into play. Malcom is 32 years of age and scheduled to earn $2.75 million for the upcoming season. There is little doubt that a healthy Malcom Floyd is a solid player and can help the team for at least one more season. The real question revolves around his ability to stay healthy. Do we roll the dice or look at getting younger? Being the M80 fan I am, I’m hoping they give him another chance.
Eddie Royal had a very solid season. He caught 47 balls for 631 yards and scored 8 touchdowns. He started opposite Keenan Allen after the injuries to Alexander and Floyd. Eddie was on fire early in the season, scoring twice in the season opener against the Texans and then three more times the following week against the Eagles. What started out looking like a monster year for Royal soon faded away as his impact was felt less and less as the season moved on. The harsh reality of Eddie’s contract situation is that he is due $4.5 million dollars this year. Will Telesco and McCoy feel that Royal is simply too expensive for what he provides the team? Royal is only 27 years old and did show the potential to be a game changer. It’s a tough call for Telesco. My gut tells me that Eddie will likely be a cap casualty.
Vincent returned this season from an ankle injury suffered during the preseason in 2012 and had a moderately successful season- all things considered. Hauling in 41 balls for 472 yards and 1 touchdown may seem like a poor season to some, but for a youngster trying to return to form after a severely broken ankle, it provides hope. Like Alexander, Brown has shown flashes of greatness at times. These glimpses of what he could be have elevated expectations to levels that are going to be difficult to attain. He doesn’t show the same explosiveness out of breaks that he once had. His jumping ability appears to have taken a hit as well. The good news for Vincent is that he is under contract, he’s young and he’s relatively inexpensive- earning $645 thousand for the upcoming season. I believe his roster spot is safe. Here’s hoping that he can find a role within Frank Reich’s offense that he can grow into.
Seyi Ajirotutu, Lavelle Hawkins, Dontrelle Inman, Tobais Palmer
General Manager Tom Telesco was forced to bring in a number of receivers to fill out the depth chart as the season progressed. He brought back Seyi Ajirotutu midway through the season, a move that paid huge dividends when Seyi hauled in a last minute game winner against the Chiefs in Kansas City. Tutu finished the year with only 64 yards, but had a gaudy 21.3 yards per catch average. Hawkins was brought in to provide some depth in the kick return game. He averaged 22 yards per return, but wasn’t much of a factor in the grand scheme of things. Telesco really likes his potential however. Both of these players were “band-aid” type signings and both are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this spring. Dontrelle Inman and Tobais Palmer spent the season on the practice squad and both will be given a shot to prove themselves next preseason. Inman is a big receiver at 6’3″ and 203 pounds, while Palmer is more of an Eddie Royal type of receiver at 5’11” and 178 pounds. Keep an eye out for these two next August!
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