Green Bay Packers
With wide receiver Stevie Johnson going under the knife today, the San Diego Chargers moved quickly in signing a wide receiver to fill his spot. Moments ago, San Diego signed former-Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones. Terms of the deal are yet to be disclosed.
According to reports, the Chargers’ had also worked out Brian Hartline and Lance Moore.
Jones, 32, surprisingly was not brought back to Green Bay after he stepped in last season following the injury to star wideout Jordy Nelson. All Jones did was lead the Packers with 50 receptions for 890 yards and eight touchdowns. This year, Jones finds himself in the same position; called out of the free agent void to replace a starting wide receiver that went down to injury.
Hopefully, 2016 will yield similar results. The 6’1″-inch, 200-pound Jones joins Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin as the top-three wideouts on the Chargers’ depth chart.
Take a look at the highlight reel above from his 2015-16 Packers’ season and you see while he’s not the fastest man on the field Jones shows great hands, crisp route running, veteran awareness of his feet in relation to the sidelines and ability to get yards after the catch. This is a great signing by San Diego in my opinion.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
My girlfriend, Megan, and I had the opportunity to travel to Canton, Ohio and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame and attend the Class of 2015 Enshrinement Ceremony last year. Personally, I was excited to attend as a diehard Charger fan and show support of Junior Seau, who was to be enshrined that day.
Another player to be inducted that day was Steelers halfback, Jerome Bettis, evidenced by the foam school buses on many people’s heads. Canton, Ohio is only about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Needless to say there were Steelers fans everywhere. Some of them complimented us on coming so far to support Junior, saying he was a great player, or said it was sad he had left us so soon. The respect Steelers Nation showed to him and to us will be with me for a long time.
We eventually met a group of Seau fans from Oceanside, Junior’s hometown. We talked about our favorite memories of Junior and took pictures together. A great moment was shared when the group was asked to cheer in front of the Hall of Fame for the NFL Network broadcast, all in our Charger gear.
The day of the Enshrinement Ceremony is the busiest day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, something to keep in mind if you are ever planning to visit. The line to enter the Hall of Fame Gallery, where the bronze busts of each inductee are on display, was very long. We were told by an employee that they couldn’t guarantee we would get in to see the busts because they were closing the museum early so the Packers and Vikings players could have a private tour before the Hall of Fame Game the next day.
We risked it, and about two hours later, made it in to see the great Charger players already enshrined: Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts, Sid Gillman, Charlie Joiner, Ron Mix, Kellen Winslow and Fred Dean. Junior’s bust would be revealed to the whole world in a few short hours. It was worth the wait.
Soon it was time to leave the Hall of Fame and enter Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium next door. It’s a 22,000 seat, outdoor football venue, perfect for the Enshrinement Ceremony. The Hall of Fame stadium plays host to many high school and college football games during their seasons as well as the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, and Hall of Fame Games, played the the day after the ceremony to kick off the NFL preseason each year.
We made it to our seats and I started to reflect. I thought about Junior as his transcendent smile would flash on the jumbotron every few minutes. The jumbotron started to show career highlights of the other members of the Class of 2015. When Bettis’ highlights came on about 20,000 Terrible Towels would go up in the air accompanied by loud cheers and chants. Ironically, many of Junior’s highlights were of him tackling The Bus in the backfield for a loss, effectively quieting the crowd, if only for a moment.
It was finally time for Junior’s bust to be revealed. Master of Ceremonies, Chris Berman, introduced a short tribute video to Junior. Next, Junior’s children were allowed on stage to reveal his bust to the world. Due to a controversial NFL policy on posthumous inductions, none were allowed to speak. Junior’s daughter, Sydney, was then taken off stage and interviewed by an NFL Network reporter. Despite the NFL-induced oddity of the whole situation, Sydney spoke with the poise, bravery and the heart of a true champion. The emotion permeated all in attendance.
During her interview, I thought about Junior’s career with the Chargers, his legend, what he meant to the fans and to the City of San Diego. I thought about what he still means to us all. Men who give their hearts and souls to their community, never truly leave us. They live on in all of us, in our memories, in what we say and do every day.
San Diego had lost it’s two favorite sons, Junior and then Tony Gwynn. At the time of this ceremony it was all but certain, we would lose the Chargers as well. For me, that’s when the tears came. At some point I looked up to the sky and imagined Junior and Tony, shoulder to shoulder, smiling down on us.
This experience has given me the determination to follow the exceptional example set by these two great San Diego men; to do what I can to make my community a better place. I won’t be able to be the best player on the field, or donate millions to local charities, but I can treat everyone I meet with respect and love, as these two did. I can take the time to educate people on the downtown stadium proposal, or at the very least, talk with them about it. I think that’s what Junior would have wanted. If we all do a mere fraction of what these two men did over their lives, we can make this town a better place, maybe even keep our beloved Bolts!
Thanks for reading!
After Week 6 at Green Bay during the 2015 season, it seemed that Keenan Allen had finally put it all together. Allen was nearing the halfway point of his third NFL season and had just posted 14 catches for 157 yards. This was one catch shy of tying the Chargers’ record for most receptions in a single game…. The same record he did tie in the first week of the season against Detroit.
In fact, that was his third game with 10+ catches in the first six weeks of the season. Allen was on pace for 134 catches, 1,450 yards and eight touchdowns. Forget the Pro Bowl, those are numbers that get Offense Player of the Year consideration.
That stat line, though, is only what could have been, after he was injured in Baltimore on a leaping catch for a touchdown that ended in a landing where he lacerated a kidney.
After beginning the year with a torrid pace of 67 catches, 725 yards and four touchdowns, Allen would be forced to watch his team struggle to a putrid 4-12 record to finish out the 2015 campaign.
Now, the self-proclaimed defensive back “Slayer” is ready to make the same noise he started to make last year. He returns to old friend Ken Whisenhunt making a return as offensive coordinator, who held the same position during Allen’s stellar rookie campaign which saw him break a numerous amount of franchise rookie records and earn multiple awards from different media outlets.
The San Diego aerial attack will undoubtedly rely on Keenan Allen once more this season. While it seems like All-World tight end Antonio Gates is not aging, he most certainly can no longer bare the weight of being a No. 1 passing option week-in and week-out. His newly acquired replacement, Hunter Henry, is promising, yet unproven. Danny Woodhead along with the remainder of the wide receiving corps can only serve as a complement to Allen.
There is no question as to whether or not Keenan can continue to produce what he gave us a sneak peek of last year. As long as he remains healthy, Keenan Allen will be able to produce at a high level for the Chargers this coming season.
Combine Allen’s talent with the over-the-top speed of free agent signee Travis Benjamin, the versatility of Woodhead, and the craftiness from slot receiver Stevie Johnson, No. 13 should flourish once again with quarterback Philip Rivers knowing he has an incredible arsenal of weapons, namely Allen.
Do you believe that Keenan Allen be a top-tier receiver this year?
Let me know below or on twitter — @DefineRoyallty.
That’s how you #ReadTheBlitz
Junior! Just hearing his name evokes all sorts of images and reminders of one of San Diego’s hometown heroes. He was a beloved and favorite son.
I never met Junior, but I’m sure that the term “hero” is probably one that would have made him uncomfortable. From what I have read about him, I think it would be safe to say that his response would be something along the lines of he was just showing his gratitude in his own simple way to a community and fanbase that idolized him when he was just doing his job. A job he loved so very much. A job that, ultimately, once he hung up his cleats, he could not reconcile being away from. It was a fundamental part of him that eventually caused him to take his own life.
May 2, 2012.
A day many Chargers fans would probably prefer not to remember.
As I write this, it is the four-year anniversary of Junior’s death. I vividly recall feeling the utmost shock when my husband told me, “Seau’s dead.” My brain could not fathom that one of THE most vibrant Chargers’ players was gone. He was so young. The circumstances were more mind-boggling when it was reported that he had shot himself in the chest. Later it was announced that he had deliberately done that to make certain his brain could be donated and posthumously examined for CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau, Jr. was born in San Diego and played his early football years in Oceanside. He lettered in three sports for the Oceanside Pirates. He accepted a football scholarship to the University of Southern California after graduating from Oceanside High School. Seau was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 after totaling 19 sacks and 27 tackles-for-loss as well as receiving All-American honors that year.
It is no wonder that the Bolts took the ferocious, hard-hitting linebacker with the fifth pick in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft. His play was like lightning. One couldn’t help but become engaged while watching Seau blitz the offensive line followed by his signature celebration. Junior would leap up, pump a fist and kick out a leg after dropping a ball carrier or quarterback. How could you not get caught up seeing the ferocity and excitement of Seau over the course of three hours?!
No. 55 brought so much vitality to not only the sport he lived and breathed, but to the people who watched his team because he was one of its stars. He was a very compassionate man who loved giving back to his community and fans. He WAS the San Diego Chargers. HE was the face of the franchise.
He wore lightning bolts on his shoulders from 1990 until 2003. That year, Seau signed with the Miami Dolphins and played there for three years. After Miami let him go, he came home to California.
I remember watching the sports news on August 15, 2006. He had signed a one-day contract with the Chargers. A press conference was held at Chargers Park for all of us to witness Junior’s announcement. The heart and soul of the defense for 13 seasons acknowledged his fellow players, coaches and team management. He stood at the podium, explaining his decision saying, “It’s pretty easy. When a team doesn’t want you or need you, retire, buddy.”, eventually to be followed by the words, “I’m not retiring. I am graduating.” Then he shocked us all four days later by signing a one-year contract with the New England Patriots, stating, “I’m going for my master’s now.”.
There were many honors bestowed upon Seau throughout his stellar 20-year career: 12 times voted to the Pro Bowl; NFL Defensive Player of the year (1992); Walter Payton Man of the Year and AFC Player of the Year (1994); two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year (1992 and 1998), just to name a few. In 1994, he helped lead San Diego to its lone Super Bowl berth, facing the the San Francisco 49ers. It was a blowout loss. In 2010, he was inducted into Oceanside High School’s Hall of Fame. On September 16, 2012, a mere four months after his death, he was honored by having his jersey No. 55 retired. The white, blue and gold banner with his name and number hangs and flies high above Qualcomm Stadium.
The best was yet to come, however.
August 8, 2015, the final accolade. It was bittersweet to watch as he was posthumously voted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The Bolts’ beloved linebacker finished his career with 1,524 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions.
Perhaps one of the most poignant descriptions of Seau was this one made by former NFL cornerback for the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers Willie Buchanon. He claimed, “Mr. San Diego, Mr. Oceanside, everything that deals with football in this community deals with Junior Seau.” This on the field of Seau’s high school alma mater, when his No. 11 jersey was retired there.
We all miss you, Junior Seau. In our minds, we can see you strumming your ukelele and singing your songs, or being in one of your favorite places, the ocean, riding those sweet waves as you surf to your heart’s content. In our hearts we recall your infectious smile, your enduring friendship, your deep compassion, your profound love of family.
Most of all, we will remember the inspiration that was you.
Rest in peace, buddy!!
Thanks for reading.
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 emerge from their bye week with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The 2-7 Bolts look to finish strong after a dismal 2-7 first half of the season. In the first two seasons of the Telesco/McCoy regime, San Diego finished with identical 9-7 records. In this third season they would have to run the table in the last seven games to finish with that mark.
The Chargers have five division games remaining, (they have lost one game to Oakland already), and two out of division games against Miami and Jacksonville. The odds of running the table are miniscule. Finishing with a .500 record is just as improbable. A top-10 selection in the NFL draft is more than likely barring a catastrophic turn of events.
A message will need to be sent if for no other reason than to show the fan base that such an outcome is not acceptable. Whether they stay in San Diego or move to Los Angeles, hope must be rekindled for this team and they way to do so will be with fresh faces calling the shots. Seats are getting hot in America’s Finest City. They will get hotter with each loss and hottest if the Chargers miss the playoffs. At this point, the playoffs are nothing more than a pipe dream.
Heads will roll. Here’s a look at the prime suspects and the temperature of their seat right now:
Dean Spanos. Rarely does the owner abandon ship on his team. He will point the finger of blame at his staff and remove the pieces he sees fit. Eyes do deserve to be on him for his frugality. If his miserly ways start to impact the NFL’s bottom line (dollars), he could be ‘nudged’ out the door. Spanos is well-liked among the other owners so the probability of that happening right now is less than zero.
Something radical would have to occur such as local fans boycotting the games to the point where it becomes painstakingly obvious when games are shown live. This approach was successful as recently as 2012 in Major League Baseball in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers ex-owner Frank McCourt. Do Chargers fans care enough to band together on this course of action if they thought underspending is the chief cause of the Bolts failures? That is the million dollar question.
John Pagano. The defensive coordinator has not shown improvement since taking over the position in 2012. In his first year the Bolts finished 24th in the league in total defense. In 2013 they moved up to 10th. Last season the Chargers plummeted back to 24th. Nine games into this season San Diego is 9th in total defense but giving up 28 points per game. The next seven games could have a huge impact on whether Pags stays or goes.
Tom Telesco. The Chargers General Manager is on the hook for the Chargers failings as much as any member of the team. At the end of the day, Telesco is the decision-maker. The team is a reflection of his vision. It was Telesco’s choice to resurrect the philosophy he used in Indianapolis of jettisoning the veteran players and bringing in young, untested and hungry players who were capable of playing multiple positions. The GM is quickly finding out that what works in one place doesn’t automatically work elsewhere.
Telesco has done admirable work building the team through the draft. Cornerstones of the future have been unearthed with the drafting of WR Keenan Allen, RT D.J. Fluker, CB Jason Verrett and RB Melvin Gordon. A disturbing fact is of the 17 players Telesco has drafted, only one has played a complete season (Fluker). Gordon and Kyle Emanuel are on pace to do so this season.
Helping Telesco is his savvy with contracts and getting players to come in free agency and add impact. RB Danny Woodhead, RT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers and G Orlando Franklin have been key additions. His front office could have done better to keep revered veterans such as S Eric Weddle in the loop when it comes to contract issues as that could affect future free agent signings and keeping his own players down the road. If the Chargers finish with a losing record the pressure will be turned up on the GM to produce or he too will be looking for work elsewhere sooner than later.
Kevin Turner. The special teams coordinator of the Chargers is having a dreadful year. Through eight games the Bolts had one punt return yard with Jacoby Jones as the primary return man. Meanwhile, opponents have accumulated 276 punt return yards. For the ninth game Jones was cut and Javontee Herndon was promoted from the practice squad to assume the kick and punt return duties. Herndon had one kick return for 24 yards in the game, surpassing Jones’ kickoff return average of 21.4 through eight games. The special teams have been a weakness all season, giving a big field position advantage to the opposition and not gaining yards in the return game. Should this pattern continue, Turner will be cleaning out his office at Chargers Park.
Ninth Circle of Hell
Frank Reich. The Bolts offensive coordinator has definitely been offensive. The offense has been difficult to watch at times as the play calls get more and more predictable. We can all see the inside handoff coming from the pistol formation before it happens. The OC seems unwilling to vary from his game plan to accommodate his talent. The pistol formation and no-huddle offense has been advantageous for Philip Rivers at times. However, with a power running back who thrived running out of the I-formation with a fullback opening the first hole why not adapt that into the game plan?
Melvin Gordon set NCAA records and ran for over 2,500 yards at Wisconsin last season. Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates would be a matchup nightmare for defenses if they were to be deployed on the field at the same time. Injuries, suspension and Reich’s unwillingness to add new wrinkles have prevented this from happening on more than just random occasions. With Reich coordinating the offense, the Chargers are averaging 23 points per game, five fewer than they’re giving up. The window on Philip Rivers career is quickly closing and it’s the wrong time to be going the wrong way in the production department. If San Diego fails this season, Reich will be the first man shown the door.
Mike McCoy. The head coach was the marquee hire when the Chargers landed him as the successor to Norv Turner. The man lauded for his yeoman’s work adapting his coaching style to fit his quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow, Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning. His teachings resulted in wins and playoff berths and the same was expected when he took over the reins in San Diego.
Instead, the team has underachieved. Many games have been lost in the final quarter or on the final drive. McCoy has been very conservative in his play-calling. Favoring a ball-control, short-passing, long scoring drive preference the Chargers have very little vertical offense. Rivers, an excellent deep ball passer, goes deep a couple of times per game if that. This team lacks a killer instinct. They lack an ability to finish games and that reflects coaching.
To boot, McCoy is in the third year of a four-year deal. He’s been paid most of what he signed for and it wouldn’t be a big financial hit to let him go a year early. San Diego hadn’t made the playoffs for three seasons before McCoy arrived. They made it to the playoffs the year McCoy arrived and won a wild card game that season. This season, barring a miracle, will be the second year in a row the playoffs have eluded the Chargers. This team is as talented as any in the league but they do not have the results to show for it. Unless they can rebound and finish at .500 someone has to take the fall for this season. Usually the head coach us that man.
In closing, injuries can’t be blamed for everything. Yes, injuries have derailed a very promising season. Keenan Allen was on a record-setting pace. Coaches are paid big bucks to get the most out of their talent regardless of who is on the field. Management is paid big bucks to find the best players to suit the team needs.
San Diego was sitting at 2-2 before they lost to Green Bay and Pittsburgh on the last play of the game. Same thing would happen in Baltimore two weeks later. Aside from the games against Minnesota and Oakland the Chargers have played as well or better than their opponent despite the end result. There are no moral victories in the NFL and when you don’t win, people lose. Don’t expect to see half the names on this list wearing lightning bolts next season.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Who’s to blame for the Bolts performance this season? Leave your thoughts below.
The Greg One
The now 2-6 San Diego Chargers are living out the meaning of the old cliché “backs against the wall”. This week alone, star receiver Keenan Allen, Branden Oliver and Tourek Williams were all placed on season-ending injured reserve. Corey Liuget and Ladarius Green left Baltimore in walking boots after Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. Thirteen players were injured during the Ravens game alone. Only 46 are allowed to play on Sundays. The Chargers literally lost over 25% of their active team on Sunday.
The offensive line is in shambles. Quarterback Philip Rivers has been sacked 19 times. Now the league’s top passer is down his best receiver, an emerging tight end (Green) and a running back that gained eight yards per reception in Oliver.
The defense is not faring much better. Team Captain Eric Weddle and Manti Te’o have missed multiple weeks. Both were entrusted with the ‘green dot’ helmet that receives the play transmission for the defense. Now that helmet resides in the locker of linebacker Donald Butler. Recent losses include rookie Denzel Perryman (biceps) and now Liuget. Unable to get pressure on the quarterback, the Bolts have only managed 15 sacks and four interceptions. To make matters worse, they’re allowing 28.4 points per game.
Coming into San Diego for a Monday Night Football showdown will be Jay Cutler and the 2-5 Chicago Bears. Like San Diego, the Bears lost their greatest weapon last week when Matt Forte was lost for the game and will miss time with a knee injury. On paper, the Chargers are more talented and should beat the lowly Bears rather easily.
The same thing was said when they went to the east coast to face the then 1-6 Ravens.
If the Bolts win, that will put them at 3-6 with a slim but still possible chance of challenging for a wild card spot in the playoffs. A loss makes a third straight 9-7 season nearly out of reach and a .500 season a daunting task. That being said…
Is it time to start tanking for a high draft pick?
We all want to see the Chargers go on a long winning streak that finishes in the playoffs. Realistically, they are five games behind the still undefeated Denver Broncos. The Broncos have been woeful offensively but their defense has been unstoppable and the main reason they have been able to stay undefeated. The fact that they have played weak opponents all the way up to last week’s impressive win over the then undefeated Green Bay Packers didn’t hurt either. The AFC West title is effectively out of reach barring Peyton Manning going down with injury.
By the way, the Chargers play the Broncos twice in the last five weeks.
That leaves the possible wild card. As of today, San Diego finds themselves two games behind the 4-3 Oakland Raiders, the 4-4 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 4-3 New York Jets. They have already lost to both Pittsburgh and Oakland and it would take massive collapses by those teams to give San Diego a chance of getting one of those two wild card spots.
At this point, it’s time to empty the playbook. It’s time to use every untested player, dust off every odd formation, gadget play and blitz strategy in hopes of getting a spark that will carry into next season. Unfortunately, the Chargers are playing for pride. They have dug a hole too deep to extract themselves from. I want them to go on a 8-0 run to finish the season in the playoffs like the rest of you. In the part of our brain that is responsible for rational thought, we know it isn’t going to happen.
Should the Chargers tank the season? No.
Should the Chargers play fast, loose and with a nothing-to-lose mentality for the rest of the season? Yes.
Go for it on every fourth-and-one. Mix up the play calling. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment with Gordon (Get the man a fullback). Experiment with the passing game (Green at WR? Yes, please). Experiment with movement. Boots, waggles, and bubble screens to get Gordon in space would be a nice start. Replace all those inside handoffs with toss sweeps to get the backs to the edge quicker. Go deep more. A LOT more. If you’re gonna go down, go down swinging.
At this point, the game with the Bears is the season. If the Bolts win, they maintain course as long as they continue to win. If they lose, time to blow up the formula, wing it and play for draft position. Get a top blue-chip prospect who can help the team immediately before Rivers’ window is closed forever. The top-ten picks are where game-changing, franchise-changing players can be found.
Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston, Oakland’s Amari Cooper, St. Louis’ Todd Gurley all have their respective teams on a trajectory to finish with a higher win total than last season. All were top-ten picks. The Chargers hope to have found the same fortune with Gordon but they had to trade up to 15th to get him, sacrificing a needed draft pick along the way. The jury is still out on Gordon, seeing as he only surpassed 100 carries for the season in the Ravens game.
San Diego needs a change of fortune and philosophy to get this uber-talented team over the top. As sad as it sounds, it’s going to take a step back, a change in coaching philosophy and a wise top-ten pick to finally move forward.
What do you think? Should the Chargers tank for a high-draft seeding? Leave your comments below.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers (2-4) head into this Week 7 matchup coming off yet another close loss, this time to the Green Bay Packers. Here are my keys to winning this week’s matchup against the hated ones, the Oakland Raiders (2-3).
1.) Air it out
Throw the ball. Whether it be another 65 times or less, sling the rock. The Raiders currently sit as the worst passing defense in football and Chargers currently have the best passing offense in football. Much like last week, the Chargers need to use their strength on offense, and continue to use it until the Raiders can (if they can) stop it. If Reich and Rivers both stick to this, the Chargers should come away with their third victory of the season.
2.) Defense, time to eat
What I mean by this, is time to make plays and force turnovers. The Chargers’ defense has only forced seven turnovers in 2015, tying them for fifth worst in football. They need to force turnovers, give the offense a short field and maybe even score points defensively. Either way, they need to get Derek Carr moving his feet, forcing him to chuck up passes and the Chargers’ defense needs to convert those into INTs.
3.) Play smart
You’re at home, play mistake-free. The less mistakes you have, the more of an opportunity you have to win. It’s that simple. Win the penalty column (by committing less than the opposition) and you should be going into Week 8 one game closer to .500.
Do you guys agree or disagree with my keys? Lets me know below and go Bolts!
Danny Woodhead is wide open.
If someone were to have told me, that Philip Rivers would throw for 503 yards, two touchdowns with no interceptions – that Keenan Allen would pile on the 14 receptions for 157 yards AND the Chargers would dominate time of possession but still would lose the game??
I would have asked you to check yourself into rehab.
Leading up to Sunday’s game, there was hardly anybody that picked the Chargers to hang with the Packers. After all, Green Bay was 9-1 against San Diego, a 10-point favorite and had not lost at home since December 22, 2013. There were some sports pundits that made viewers feel that the Bolts were going to star in the 1974 movie “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” However, what was happening before our very eyes seemed to sway more towards the Biblical tale of “David vs. Goliath.”
With career days for Rivers and Allen, visions of a celebration that would be of epic proportion appeared to be a very strong possibility. The game plan implemented going into Lambeau, was planned perfectly. The “dink-and-dunk” theory had shown in the past that it would work against the Packers. And who is better to execute that philosophy than Rivers, Allen and Antonio Gates (9 receptions for 95 yards). The question during the game was not “Can the Chargers offense continue to move the ball?” It was rather, “Can they stop the Packers’ offense?”
Has anyone ever coined the phrase “Offense wins championships?”
It has been said that Paul “Bear” Bryant coined the phrase “Defense wins championships.” I am in total agreement with this statement. With an average offense at best, look at what Seattle has done over the last few seasons with their “Legion of Boom.” Like it or not, people remember great defenses more so than great offenses.
Let me check your football history. Raise your hand if you have heard of:
“The Steel Curtain.”
“Purple People Eaters”
“Monsters of the Midway”
Those teams dominated the defensive side of the ball and won Championships. Of course there are creative offenses that are a household names as well:
“Greatest Show on Turf”
However, outside the St. Louis Rams, no other offensive team listed won a Super Bowl. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that offenses sell tickets and win games, but defenses win Championships. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens and 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were two other Super Bowl winners who had league-leading defenses. The quarterbacks that lead those offenses? Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, respectively – neither of whom could hold a candle to Philip Rivers
Now back to my earlier question, “Can they stop the Packers’ offense?” The indisputable answer would be “No.”
The defense has improved with personnel, however they continue to struggle; injuries or not. In fact, this passage from ProFootballFocus.com sums it up perfectly:
“The Chargers front seven continues to be completely ineffective against both the run and pass. On the defensive line, not a single player had a pass rushing grade of +1.0 or above. One has to wonder how much more they have to see from Donald Butler (-3.8) until they decide to go with someone else at inside linebacker. On Sunday he was a complete non-factor, collecting one stop in 56 snaps. He has graded negatively overall in every single game this year.”
For a while, the defense showed life in the second half, as Aaron Rodgers could not move the ball; resulting in back to back three-and-outs. Unfortunately until San Diego can consistently stop good offenses from moving the ball, the Chargers will continue to lose in heartbreak fashion. It does not matter how amazing Rivers plays, or how many fumbles Melvin Gordon has coughed up, if they cannot disrupt the opposing team’s offense by mixing up their looks, theirr record will continue to be paltry at best.
There is no doubt in my mind, that this 2015 San Diego team can compete at a high level and go far into the playoffs. Even with a 2-4 record, even with the players being infected by the injury bug, San Diego was still one play away from beating Pittsburgh at home and one play away from going into overtime against the undefeated Packers in Green Bay.
By the way, for those still wondering…Woodhead is still wide open in the end zone.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
In a game where the Chargers came in as big-time underdogs, the team fought their tails off for 60 minutes.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as the Bolts fell to the Packers 27-20 at Lambeau Field.
Minus a few big plays given up on defense (runs of 25 and 65 by James Starks and receptions of 43 and 36 by Jeff Janis), the Chargers played a great game.
To say that Philip Rivers did all that he could in an effort to leave Lambeau with a victory is an understatement.
Rivers set franchise records for completions (43), attempts (65) and passing yards (503) in the loss. He added two touchdown passes, one each to tight end Ladarius Green and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman.
Though Rivers put up some spectacular numbers, he missed a few throws, overthrowing Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates on a couple of passes. Late in the game with about 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, he also threw a ball straight to defensive back Sam Shields. It would be the second instance of the game where Shields had an opportunity to pick off Rivers, but was unsuccessful at doing so.
Despite the Herculean effort from the 33-year-old quarterback, the offense was not able to put up enough points to beat the undefeated Packers.
San Diego had four plays from the three-yard line in the waning moments of the contest. The offense was unable to punch it in, ending their efforts with an incomplete pass from Rivers to Danny Woodhead to the short side of the field.
The Chargers’ running attack struggled again, mustering up only 60 yards on 21 carries.
Rookie Melvin Gordon was unable to find the end zone for the sixth consecutive game of his rookie campaign, carrying the ball seven times for 29 yards. The running back had a rush of 25 yards toward the end of the first quarter, making his rushing total seem that much more inadequate. What stood out on the Sunday, obviously, was the fact that Gordon fumbled twice, losing one to the Packers’ defense.
He was benched for most of the second half due to his mistakes, per what he told reporters after the game.
Needless to say, his “homecoming game” did not goes as he had hoped.
Running backs Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver also had little impact on the ground, combining for 31 yards on 14 carries. Woodhead averaged just over one yard a carry.
In addition to Rivers, Keenan Allen had a phenomenal game against the Pack, recording 14 receptions for 157 yards. Allen missed most of the fourth quarter after suffering what is being reported as a hip flexor injury. The Rivers-to-Allen combination was hot early and often. The third-year wideout had 11 receptions for 128 yards at the half.
Both Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates contributed heavily in the passing game, as well. They each finished the contest with 95 yards receiving. Gates hauled in nine receptions for the second game in a row since coming back from his suspension. On the flip side, he also had two uncharacteristic drops; one on a fourth-and-three in scoring position. Floyd’s 95 receiving yards were a season-high for the veteran.
Defensively, the Chargers were solid minus giving up the four big plays listed above. They held quarterback Aaron Rodgers to 255 passing yards. Outside linebacker Jerry Attaochu had his second game with multiple sacks in 2015, finishing with two sacks of Rodgers. Defensive lineman Corey Liuget also was able to bring down the quarterback, giving the Chargers’ defense three sacks on the day.
As they have in multiple weeks throughout 2015, the Chargers’ defense had two dropped interceptions, both by Patrick Robinson; this coming one week afterRobinson, Jason Verrett and Jimmy Wilson all dropped possible pick-six opportunities.
One can only hope that the defensive coaching staff will put an impetus on working on ball-skill drills with the defensive backs this week.
All in all, the Chargers worked extremely hard and did an outstanding job in most areas, as head coach Mike McCoy would say. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to prove all of the doubters wrong, as the team fell to 2-4 on the season, four games behind the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
Although the Chargers have a favorable schedule from here on out, it is imperative that they find a way to limit mistakes and make the most out of each and every opportunity.
If they don’t do something to rectify their ways, the Bolts are doomed to finish below .500 at season’s end.
Thanks a lot for reading.