When wide receiver Travis Benjamin was acquired during the 2016 free-agency period, Chargers fans everywhere were immediately excited.
Formerly with the Cleveland Browns, Benjamin displayed scorching speed and an ability to take the top off of opposing defenses, despite having a plethora of quarterbacks slinging him the rock.
His addition to the Chargers’ receiving corps was a coup, as the team already featured No. 1 wideout Keenan Allen, veteran Stevie Johnson, an up-and-comer in Tyrell Williams, a serviceable option in Dontrelle Inman and tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. The team also had Danny Woodhead coming out of the backfield, along with Melvin Gordon, as well. (Woodhead has since moved on to the Baltimore Ravens while Johnson remains unsigned)
It goes without saying, the team made sure that the weapons surrounding veteran signal-caller Philip Rivers were plentiful, but then, well, you know what happened: the injury bug decided that it would make the Bolts’ last season in San Diego much like the last several, injury-riddled.
Allen went down in the first game of the regular season after making Marcus Peters look like a 38-year-old Booga Peters (I can’t cover the bread with jelly, much less an NFL receiver the caliber of No. 13). This put more pressure on the rest of the pass-catchers, including Benjamin.
The Chargers and general manager Tom Telesco were aggressive in securing the addition of the former Miami Hurricane during the 2016 offseason, signing him to a lucrative four-year, $24 million contract, with a $5 million signing bonus while $13 million was received in guaranteed money.
Well, 47 receptions with 677 receiving yards and four touchdowns later, and, why not, some injury issues, the speedy receiver finished the 2016 campaign with underwhelming numbers.
I have no doubt that Benjamin would agree with me on that.
Moving on to this offseason and preparations for 2017.
With the team’s 2017 first-round selection (former Clemson WR Mike WIlliams) possibly being placed on reserve-injured for the season, and the uncertainty of whether or not KA13 can stay healthy for an entire season, the Chargers’ offense needs Benjamin to be in tip-top shape.
According to his words on the team’s official website, he’s feeling good, and ready to get out there and display his full playmaking ability.
“It feels good to be myself,” Benjamin told Chargers.com. “This whole offseason I was being myself in the weight room. Being myself while rehabbing. Now I’m being myself on the field. I wanted to come back stronger and showcase my talent. Just make sure I’m the best I can be during training camp.”
If Benjamin is in fact healthy and himself, as he mentions above, he adds a dynamic element that the Bolts haven’t had for quite some time.
Do not forget, Benjamin tied for the league-lead in plays over 40 yards… with Tyrell Williams.
He is an electric runner with the ball in his hands, able to outrun most players in the NFL, and his route-running is criminally underrated.
Stat Prediction for Travis Benjamin in 2017:
64 receptions for 981 yards and six touchdowns
Should Benjamin live up to the contract he signed and the expectations of the organization and fans, we could all be witness to some of the most explosive, game-changing plays of the 2017 season.
Needless to say, there are quite a few folks who are hoping for just that; while others, not so much.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Photo Credit: Jake Roth USA Today
One of the biggest questions Chargers fans may have as the team heads into the 2017 season is who will be the team’s No. 1 tight end.
Will it be future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates or second-year phenom Hunter Henry?
The reality is that this isn’t truly a question.
The team which formerly called San Diego home (and trust me, I know how much that still upsets the fanbase) has two stellar men at that position.
Do they switch roles this year? Many anticipate that Henry will become quarterback Philip Rivers’ primary tight end entering the 2017 season.
Antonio Gates has been the stalwart, quintessential and reliable man at tight end who Rivers has been tossing the pigskin to for the last 13 years. Gates signed a two-year contract extension in the 2015 offseason and this year, 2017, may just be the final one in which we will be able to enjoy watching those No. 17-to-No. 85 lobs downfield.
After all, Gates turned 37 years old in June. At age 22, Henry is 15 years his junior and considerably more limber than Gatesy. Both give Rivers big targets in the open field, as Gates is 6’4″ and 255 pounds while Henry is a bit taller at 6’6″ though not as heavy at 248 pounds.
Gates was two years older than Henry when he began his rookie campaign in 2003. Henry started at age 21 and didn’t turn 22 until this past December.
Gates’ rookie stats per NFL.com: 15 games with 24 receptions for 389 yards — 19 of those catches went for first downs while two were touchdowns. He averaged 25.9 yards per game.
Here are Henry’s rookie stats, also per NFL.com: throughout the same number of games, there were 36 grabs totaling 478 yards with the majority of those (30) going for first downs. He tallied eight touchdowns and his average yards per game was 31.9.
Despite a solid rookie campaign filled with the flashes of greatness Henry displayed while at Arkansas, the youngster did have one negative play that we’re all sure he will use to help avoid it happening again: the fumble.
That fumble came late in the Bolts’ final 1:02 against the Indianapolis Colts last September, as Rivers and the offense were battling back from a four-point deficit. At 2nd-and-11 from the Chargers’ own 24-yard line, No.17 throws to No.86. As Henry approaches the 40-yard line the ball is popped out of his grasp by Colts safety Clayton Geathers and fellow safety Mike Adams recovers, ultimately sealing the loss for the Chargers.
As mentor to Henry, the wily veteran Gates shared these words with the then-rookie as spoken to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com:
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he told Henry. “You were making a play and trying to make a bigger play. You were trying. If you weren’t trying, I’d have a problem with that. You played a hell of a game. Don’t let that take anything away from the game that you had. You played a hell of a game.”
Personally, I don’t see that the continued presence of Antonio Gates hampers Hunter Henry in any way. So long as Gates is wearing lightning bolts on his shoulders, the wisdom he can impart to Henry (and the other tight ends on the roster) can only be seen as a positive for all involved.
After all, who wouldn’t want to learn from a future first-ballot Hall-of-Fame player, a teammate on the cusp of breaking the all-time record for touchdowns by a tight end? Absorb all that knowledge, put those tricks to practice. Because before you know it, the season will be over and that source could possibly be hanging up his cleats.
Looking forward to your thoughts!
EDITOR’S NOTE: The answer to the question in the title is no.
Business is certainly booming around Chargers Park these days. In the final weeks before the team moves up the I-5 to their new digs in Carson, GM Tom Telesco is bunkered in and hammering out contracts. On Wednesday, the Chargers announced the signing of a four-year deal for fourth-round draft pick Rayshawn Jenkins. Jenkins played safety at the University of Miami. Heading into training camp the popular opinion is he will be groomed for that position.
Jenkins is listed at six-foot-one, 214-pounds. At the NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and vertical jumped 37 inches. Add in 19 reps on the bench press and you have a combination of size, speed and power that makes coaches drool. Coming into Chargers camp, Jenkins will have a willing mentor in former teammate and Chargers starting linebacker Denzel Perryman.
Below is a highlight reel from Jenkins’ senior season with the Hurricanes. What jumps out right away are his instincts, speed to the ball, ability to tackle in the open field and his ferocity when tackling as he’s not one to shy away from contact. Jenkins seems to seek out contact.
The Chargers weren’t finished there. Undrafted free agent punter Toby Baker was also signed on Wednesday. Baker was a tryout participant during rookie mini camp and impressed enough to be signed. He will battle incumbent Drew Kaser as part of the 90-man roster.
The 6″3′-inch, 215-pound Baker played his college ball at Arkansas and averaged 43-yards per punt over his 27 games with the Razorbacks. His 44.4 average in his senior season was good for fourth in the SEC and 13th in the country. Per the Razorbacks’ team website, Baker had 27 punts of 50 yards with a career-best of 60 yards. In his junior and senior seasons he dropped 45 punts inside the 20-yard line with only five total touchbacks.
Not a stranger to making a team as a walk-on, he made the team in Arkansas the same way. Baker won his spot and a scholarship after the 2015 season through a tryout. Baker will also be meeting a familiar face in camp as he follows in the footsteps of former teammate Hunter Henry.
The Greg One
The Los Angeles Chargers have all but ensured that they are done adding players to their tight-end room. The team announced on Wednesday that they re-signed veteran tight end Jeff Cumberland to a one-year deal.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed at the time this article was published.
This transaction gives the Chargers six tight ends as the roster sits now, as Cumberland will rejoin familiar faces like Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, while also reuniting with Sean McGrath, Asante Cleveland and Jake McGee — McGee is the only tight end of the group to not be activated at some point during the 2016 season.
Cumberland, 29, spent six years with the New York Jets before signing with the Bolts during the 2016 offseason. The eight-year veteran tore his Achilles during the preseason shortly after signing with the club, missing all of the regular season.
Though both Gates and Henry remain an impressive two-headed monster as the team’s starters, Cumberland provides a steady option as a reserve at the position. The next regular-season reception Cumberland snags with the Chargers will be his first, but the vet has hauled in 86 passes for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns over his career.
Here is my take on the three things that must happen in order to beat the Dolphins at home at get back to .500
1.) More Gordon, less Rivers
This sounds bad, but hear me out. Melvin Gordon had his best game of his career last week and its not time to abandon it. He ran with his eyes, rather than his head, for the first time that I can remember. He is on a hot streak and Rivers, according to Pro Football Focus, is playing his 2nd worst football of his career. It’s still at an above average rate, but it isn’t what we are used to seeing.
2.) Get the youngsters involved offensively
This sounds very hypocritical from my first point, but it doesn’t have to. A good balance is nice, and the times the bolts do pass, Hunter Henry and Tyrell Williams are your best offensive weapons through the air. They are playmakers and ones you should lean to when you need a first down or need to move the ball in a hurry.
3.) Let the shrug out
Joey Bosa is going to have to be disruptive up front, and a wall in the run game. It’s no secret what Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi has done in the last three weeks. The defensive line needs to contain him, and they need to put pressure and let Bosa eat in the passing game.
What are your guys’ keys? Agree with mine? Let me know in the comments and go bolts!
Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
The staff here at Boltblitz.com gives their takes on what they think will happen today versus the Titans.
Zak Darman: The Titans record is better than their talent says. What that means is they aren’t a team that should be 4-3. They have Murray on offense, and that’s really it. Delanie Walker didn’t practice Friday so it’s safe to assume he won’t play this week. They have been the team who has given up the most 20+ yard plays this season, and I think one of Travis Benjamin or Tyrell Williams will go for 100+ yards. Chargers 31, Titans 10
Charles LaFurno: Late Mariota drive with a TD pass to Murray seals it as the Bolts lose in powder blues and we all officially hop on the tank wagon. Titans 24, Chargers 20
Michael Brazeel: This is a game Chargers have to win at home. Rivers has big day against this secondary, and defense gives Mariota fits. Bolts win 34-21
Martin JC Jr: I see Rivers having a bounce back game against a sketchy secondary. He gets 3 touchdowns. Gordon will get to the endzone because Whiz will realize that Gordon can score the rock in the redzone. Chargers win 31-10
Travis Blake: The Chargers’ defense is going to be really sore on Monday, that is, if they can slow the Titans running attack. The Titans bring in one of the scariest ground games in the league. Scary because DeMarco Murray and Derick Henry are beasts, and the Chargers starting middle linebackers will consist of a backup and an outside linebacker moved inside. This is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. We’re really going to see what the Bolts defensive line is made of in this game. If they can curb the Titans running game, the Chargers will have to worry about Mariota who can hurt them with his arm or legs. On offense the Bolts will sputter with no Henry, and both primary receivers banged up. I’d love to see someone else start at right tackle, not sure what’s going on with Joe Barksdale but his play is hurting this team. Chargers lose another close one, 28 – 19.
Brian Scott: With Hunter out the Rivers-Gates combo notch 2 more on their belts. Gordon runs ragged and get his most all-purpose yards of his career. Bosa continues his dominance as he spends all day in Marcus’s kitchen. Titans maintain their run game through most of game but abandons it in the 4th Quarter as Chargers have a big lead…only to dwindle and give fans another heart attack. Chargers win 36-26
Chris Hoke: Let’s see I had us losing in close one last week which Rivers did throw a pick 6 so your boy was right! No Perryman and Brown. Our run defense is screwed just in Preseason the Titans ran us over. Murray being hurt will limit his carries but he still gets 90 yards and a TD while Henry does the heavy lifting going over 100 yards himself. Mariota throws 2 TD’s and 1 pick. On offense we don’t know whether to run or pass so we just settle for 4 Lambo field goals. Rivers throws a TD late to Gordon it’s not enough as the bolts lose another close one and hope fully the McNorv shit finally ends! 21-20 Titans
Cheryl White: Whiz says that two yard line series has kept him awake. I think this is a game where Gordon is continually given the ball. Gates will be in for a good day as well while Williams & Benjamin play as well as expected with knee injuries. Barksdale plays smart this week (no Miller/Ware/Wolfe to face). Defense does ok with the plug-in players, Bosa & Ingram get to Mariota. TD’s by Gordon (2), Gates (1) & Inman (1) with a couple of FGs by Lambo give Bolts a close win. 34-27 bolts
Mike Pisciotta: Individual accomplishments by Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry, Dontrelle Inman, Joey Bosa, Jatavis Brown and Brandon Flowers will be erased by last-minute Tennessee heroics. McCoy, Pagano and Whisenhunt will again out coach themselves to deliver a heartbreaking loss in the closing minutes yet again. I don’t trust the coaching staff. I lost faith in Whisenhunt after Sunday’s embarrassing series of plays from the Denver two yard line. Mike McCoy gets in the way again this week, failing to manage the clock. Titans 27-24
Will McCafferty: I am quite worried about how far down the depth chart the Chargers have to go to fill spots like linebacker and receiver. On the bright side, I think the Bolts can do a decent job of stopping the run and that is the Titan’s strength. I’m not impressed with the Titans overall, but I think it will be a game. Chargers 31, Titans 27
Dave Peters: Whiz gets the better of LeBeau in this one, controlling both the tempo and the clock. Due to injuries adding up on defense, Rivers and the offense must score early and often. Gordon scores and notches another 100-yard game on the ground. Inman steps up with six catches and a TD. Ingram and Bosa each add sacks to their season totals. Bolts win, barely 29-27
The Chargers go up to Mile High looking for their third win a row and second in three weeks versus the Broncos. Here are three things they must do in order to make that happen.
1.) Pressure the quarterback, make him panic
The Chargers defense have played well. Very well. So well it’s arguably been the reason why the Chargers have won, or have at least had a shot at winning. But if there was one thing that they don’t do well, it would be rushing the passer. While they have improved, it still is about below average in terms of actual rushing the passer despite having the beast that is Joey Bosa. Is it too early for draft talk? I would like to see us go pass rush in round 1….anyways. Rush the passer and make Siemian panic and force throws like the 7th rounder he is.
2.) Short passes and crossing routes
If you remember from week six, this was a HUGE part of the passing game. This and rookie Hunter Henry. Henry had a concussion last game, but he practiced this week and is projected to play. Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and Melvin Gordon must all be used short and against their linebackers where the Chargers show a huge mismatch. Utilize Williams and Benjy’s speed and you will be able to move the ball. Now, will Gordon be able to see holes between the 20s?
3.) Ball control and possession
Chargers win games by keeping possession and scoring touchdowns. Chargers win games by keeping possession and then forcing turnovers on defense. This is the recipe for success with the San Diego Chargers. They dont find success being in shotgun all game, although they are. They have won two games in a row by running the ball and playing time possession/causing turnovers. They must do this again this week, in order to sweep the Broncos.
The staff here at BoltBlitz.com gives their takes and predictions as to what they think will happen come kickoff on the road versus the Broncos.
Zak Darman: The Chargers beat the Broncos only two weeks ago, showing off their beautiful looking color rush jerseys, 21-13 in a game in which the Chargers fully outplayed the Broncos, whether the team stats show it or not. Joey Bosa was a monster in that game defensively and Gordon finally had a long run in the regular season. Siemian was coming off a left shoulder injury and couldn’t find rhythm all game. BUT, it’s two games in three weeks for each team versus each other and beating a team twice in three weeks is tough no matter the opponent. I think this game is close and a turnover by either side determines the game. The offensive line looked baaaaad last week vs a front seven that is weaker than the one they are about to face off against and Kubiak being back is also a plus for Denver. Broncos 24-Chargers 20
Chris LaFurno: Chargers win on a late 4th quarter drive ending in a touchdown by MG28. Jatavis and Bosa combined for 3 sacks. Flowers comes back and gets an interception. Chargers 24 Broncos 21.
Michael Brazeel: Chargers travel to Mile high, trying to win their 3rd in a row. This will definitely be a defensive struggle, with the score being tied 17-17 in the 4th. Broncos will get the ball with a minute left and will kick a field goal with no time left. This will send the Bolts to 3-5, setting up a must win game against the Titans at home next week. Broncos 20-17
Travis Blake: I’ll really be looking at 94 in this game, he was losing snaps to Caraun Reid before Reid was placed on IR. With Joey Bosa drawing double teams, Liuget needs to start winning more often, so far he hasn’t performed to the big contract extension he signed recently (normal). I’m really nervous about both Flowers and Addae possibly playing in this game. Flowers is old and Addae has never been very good. Hopefully the fact that Trevor Siemian sucks will help these two boat anchors out. Pressure all day is they main key for the Bolts defense. Chargers win definitively, 34-17
Laura Leech: A second away game for the Chargers, this one in Mile High. The defense continues to play with an arrogance not seen in a few years. They stop the Broncos from going down the field a lot. They get 3 sacks and one interception. Chargers offense still struggles against a powerful pass defense and end up running the ball a lot. They score more than one touchdown but still settle with a few field goals. A battle of defenses, the Chargers pull off the biggest upset of the year, sweeping the Broncos. 31-17 Chargers
Brian Scott: San Diego faces another uphill battle as they travel to Denver to face the 5-2 Broncos. Two weeks ago, the Chargers dominated the game against the Donkeys, only to still have to worry about an onside kick and a Hail Mary. After beating Atlanta last week, and winning the first back-to-back games since Nov of 2014, confidence is rising in the Bolts locker room, even with players dropping like flies onto the IR. CJ Anderson is out, however Booker is a talented back who thrives between the tackles. Trevor Siemian is beginning to look like the 7th round draft pick that he was as of late, and faces another hungry Charger defense. Rumors also have it that Siemian has been given the green light to change plays at the line of scrimmage as he sees fit. San Diego has lost the last 3 in Denver and has not swept the Broncos since the 2010 season. However, with the balanced attack offensively and Bosa, Liuget and Ingram playing lights out defense, the Chargers will win their third in a row, and finally sweep the team that has given them fits for years. 24-17 bolts
Brian Krich: I believe the Chargers will get the inside run game going this week as Denver has shown they are vulnerable there. I’d feel better if Denzel Perryman hadn’t had to pull off a Kellen Winslow impression circa 1982 in Miami as he’s the key to corralling the suddenly resurgent Denver run game. I think he’s pretty dinged up at this point and probably needs a week or two off. Given its in Denver and I think the Broncos are deeper and a little more healthy. I have Denver winning in a 23-17 type game.
Chris Hoke: Flowers makes his return to the defense and has a big day with a pick. Bosa continues his tear and gets another Strip Sack. Gordon gets going on the ground and in the air 150 total scrimmage yards. Rivers has a solid day passing 18/28 250 yards 2 TDs. It’s the one pick he will want back as his costly turnover will turn this one. Chargers drop a close one 24-21.
Cheryl White: Chargers get scores from Gordon, Henry & Williams. Bosa gets a sack. Ingram & Perryman continue to wreak havoc. Side note: The Broncos Center, Matt Paradis, is questionable. Maybe Siemian has a few errant snaps? 27-20 Chargers.
Mike Pisciotta: Does the other shoe drop or does McNorv do enough to stay out of the way? Lately, Trevor Siemian has looked like a seventh round pick. Joey Bosa continues his tear and channels his inner Von Miller, strip sacking Siemian in the closing minutes to preserve the win. Bolts 28 – Broncos 24
Will McCafferty: I’m worried because I actually feel really good about the Bolts chances on Sunday. The last two weeks, I picked the Bolts to win (I always do), but I didn’t feel good about it. In both cases, they won! Now, I feel like they should win, so I have to worry about being let down AGAIN! The final score of this game could greatly depend on the injury report. If Marshall, Talib, Anderson and Ware are actually “out”, I think we run the score up on them. The problem is that they could just be resting Marshall and Talib due to a short week. Well, I am betting that these guys will at least be slowed down by injuries. Chargers 31 Broncos 13
Greg Williams: The Chargers continue to build momentum and confidence this week in Denver. Mile High Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Chargers but this year it’s San Diego that will hand out the Halloween Eve frights. The defensive line tees of on Trevor Siemian to the tune of eight sacks. The multitude of sacks will result in fumbles, interceptions and short fields for Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Gordon will add two more touchdowns to his ledger. Tyrell Williams and Hunter Henry will have red zone touchdowns and Rivers will post 350 and 4 touchdowns on the vaunted Denver defense. Chargers win 41-13.
Dave Peters: The Bolts travel to Mile High to take on the Broncos in a game that could provide the Chargers with their first sweep of the Broncos since 2010. After beating Denver at home and then Atlanta on the road, San Diego is primed to win their third game in a row. Sophomore Melvin Gordon does his usual: over 100 yards from scrimmage and reaches pay dirt twice. Rivers is efficient but doesn’t pass for a ton of yards, finding both Tyrell Williams and Hunter Henry for scoring tosses. Rookie Joey Bosa wreaks havoc throughout the game, but it barely shows in the box score. He still manages to add a sack to his season total. The special teams units go unnoticed, which is good thing as there won’t be any glaring mistakes in this one. Chargers win, sweeping the Broncos for the first time since my son, Kayden, was born. 34-24 bolts
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their takes and predictions to Sunday’s upcoming match-up versus the Falcons.
Zak Darman: This should be a high-scoring game. Both teams have good offenses. The Chargers have a better defense but they don’t really have anyone who can stop Julio Jones. Benjamin isn’t a lock to play, and without him their receivers are Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and Griff Whalen (yes, I had to go to the team’s depth chart to even put him down). Hunter Henry gets another touchdown and Rivers goes for 300+ yards but comes up just short. Although teams lose about 70% of the time the week after playing the Seahawks…. Falcons 35-31.
Chris LaFurno: Late Julio game-winning touchdown and Chargers offense can’t answer back as Atlanta wins a nail biter. Falcons 37 Chargers 34.
Michael Brazeel: Rivers will have to go length of field in :40 with no timeouts, as usual, and come up short. Falcons 35-31.
Corey Decker: The Falcons are coming in with a chip on their shoulder so expect them to come out firing. Falcons 34-28.
Travis Blake: I’ve been feeling all week that the Bolts will start slow and sluggish in this one. That’s probably coming from the fact it’s a mini-bye week for the team, and a later than usual start for an east coast game (game time is 1:05 PM PST). The question is can they overcome a slow start and finish out a game strong, instead of leaving us all with that familiar feeling of they screwed something up, or almost did? I believe this defense will continue to build off its improvement in the Bronco game and stop the run. The Bolts will get the running game going and pull off several long drives that quiet the crowd. Bolts win their first road game of the year. Chargers 31-24.
Laura Leech: High scoring game with two explosive offenses. Chargers defense is not facing a sub-par OL like they did against Denver. That extra rest from a Thursday game should help a little, but flying to the East Coast is never easy for any team. It will come down to which defense can cause the most turnovers. Unfortunately, though, Falcons get this one. 38-34 Falcons.
Brian Scott: The defense for the Bolts is playing at a high level and with confidence. Ryan gets sacked multiple times. Air show begins and ends with Rivers throwing his 4th touchdown pass. Gordon scores and gets 80 yards. Chargers finally win back to back games since 2014. 41-31 Bolts.
Chris Hoke: The Falcons start the game driving down the field on their first possession and scoring on a TD to Julio Jones. The bolts respond with a long drive in which we are forced to settle for a Lambo field goal. This is repeated till the second half in Which its 14-6. Chargers come out in the second half and MG breaks away for a huge TD run. It’s wire to wire from this point where the bolts go for it on 4th down. MG gets stuffed and the rest is history. The Falcons hang on 35-29.
Cheryl White: Been thinking all week that this is going to be a tough one, too. Aforementioned trip to East Coast and later start time may be detrimental. I would point out that this team did go to Baltimore and was the first west coast team to win there, although that was 2014. Downside, no Slayer/Woodhead/Verrett this time. We do have Gordon who is running better plus Henry; and lets not forget Bosa. If he can’t get to Ryan maybe he pressures him enough that someone else can. Hayward and Phillips in the secondary though versus those WRs are challenging. Atlanta’s OL is tough and their HC knows a thing or 2 about defense. There better be a damn good game plan in place. Don’t for the love of God go prevent defense or stop running Gordon. Have some guts and get after it because Atlanta WILL capitalize if you allow them to. 38-35 Bolts.
Mike Pisciotta: Chargers will again open an early lead and go conservative. McCoy, Whiz and Pagano love to sit on leads, and they will piss away another one. 37-31 Atlanta in overtime.
Will McCafferty: Honestly, I’m far from confident this week. I felt better about he Denver game. This reminds me of the New Orleans game with a higher power offense. It should be a shootout as both teams can move the ball. Hopefully, the Chargers can get the ball in the end zone and not settle for field goals. Atlanta should be able to score as well. Chargers 38 Falcons 34
Dave Peters: The Chargers actually play a game well from start to finish in this one. This is one of those games where no one, for the most part, expects them to win. The Chargers’ offense outpaces Atlanta, as Hunter Henry scores for the fourth consecutive game and Philip Rivers throws for over 300 yards and three scores. Bosa gets his third and fourth sacks, respectively, while Denzel Perryman recovers a fumble and takes it to the house. Bolts 41 Falcons 27.
“The only stat that matters is the final score.” – Chargers fans after the team’s 21-13 win over the Broncos, probably
The Chargers invited the Denver Broncos to San Diego for a Thursday Night Football game in San Diego this past Thursday.
The Bolts entered the game on the heels of a 10-game divisional losing streak which dates back to November of 2014. The game would mark their third divisional contest of the ’16 season, as the Chargers fell to the Chiefs in Week 1, allowing what would be one of the biggest comebacks in Chiefs’ history, and the Raiders in Week 5, falling flat on their faces in another game that they were in until the closing minute.
It was incredibly difficult to find anyone outside of the occasional die-hard Chargers fan that was picking the Chargers to upset the defending Super Champion Broncos. The scarce few I did find were using the game to gain leverage in Pick ‘Em via an upset pick, knowing that they could take the Chargers and hopefully get lucky with a San Diego win, while being fully aware that they would be one of the only selectors to do so.
As you all know by now, despite the usual late-game debacles, the Chargers held on to beat the Donkeys by a score of 21-13.
As expected, blunders late in the fourth quarter almost cost the Chargers a victory; for example, no one EVER wants to see Kenny Wiggins attempt to catch a punt, kickoff or anything else involving the game of football; unless there is an interception or fumble and he is “catching” the recovering defender, preventing them from making a bad play for the offense even worse.
The Chargers’ 2016 rookie draft class highlighted the victory for the team, as first-round pick Joey Bosa, second-round pick Hunter Henry, fifth-round pick Jatavis Brown and sixth-round pick Drew Kaser all had solid performances.
Though Bosa’s boxscore — one tackle — may lead the casual fan to think he was a non-factor, those of us who watched the game saw him wreak havoc all over the field, setting up a campsite on the Broncos’ side of the line of scrimmage.
Henry, albeit in only his sixth career game, set career-highs in receptions (six) and yards (83). He also scored a receiving touchdown for the third consecutive game.
Even the most clueless of football fans walked away from the Week 6 win knowing that Brown had a huge impact on Thursday. Notching 14 total tackles, one sack and a forced fumble, Brown showed that he certainly belongs in the NFL. The organization should be very pleased with the production of their fifth-round ‘backer. He is only going to get better with more playing time.
Punter Drew Kaser had a miserable Week 5, but we’re going to move past that for the sake of everyone’s sanity. In Week 6, Kaser was back to being the strong-legged punter he was during his Texas A&M days, booming multiple punts with solid hang-time, while placing multiple kicks inside the opposing team’s 20-yard line.
All in all, if we’re being completely honest, the Bolts most likely don’t win this game if it weren’t for the output of these four youngsters, and the future is bright for each of them.
Before moving on to PFF grading the Chargers, it is worth noting that cornerback Casey Hayward did a phenomenal job while covering Broncos’ wideout Demaryius Thomas.
Broncos’ quarterback Trevor Siemian targeted Thomas four times while he was covered by Hayward on Thursday, completing just one pass for only six yards.
In short, Hayward added to what has already been an impressive season for the Chargers, locking down one of the league’s premier receivers in Thomas.
The former Packer has already managed to snag three picks in 2016, leading the team in interceptions.
Below is how ProFootballFocus.com graded the Chargers’ offense and defense.
Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers 67.9
Rivers calm under pressure
Philip Rivers wasn’t extremely productive, but he did have a mistake-free game in terms of turnover-worthy plays. He had some inaccurate throws and on passes outside the numbers and 10-plus yards downfield, he was just 1-for-5 for 18 yards. Rivers was actually at his best when he was under pressure. On his nine targeted throws, he completed eight of them including the Chargers’ lone touchdown of the game.
Top offensive grades:
T King Dunlap, 78.4
TE Hunter Henry, 73.1
T Joe Barksdale, 71.7
HB Melvin Gordon, 68.1
QB Philip Rivers, 67.9
Offense scores just enough in win
On several occasions the Chargers sustained long drives only to stall and have to settle for short field goals. Left guard Orlando Franklin threw Broncos’ DL Jared Crick to the ground on one play that helped spring HB Melvin Gordon for a 48-yard run, but otherwise the Chargers’ running game was largely ineffective. Gordon’s long run went for more yards than his 26 other carries combined (46) and he averaged less than 1.8 yards per carry on those 26 runs. Not a single Chargers player finished with an above-average run-blocking grade. While Hunter Henry struggled as a run-blocker, he had a solid game receiving, with six catches for 83 yards, both career-highs, and a touchdown for the third consecutive week.
Top defensive grades:
ILB Jatavis Brown, 85.5
ILB Korey Toomer, 84.6
OLB Melvin Ingram, 82.2
DE Joey Bosa, 82.0
NT Brandon Mebane, 80.7
San Diego rookies make big impact
This isn’t your 2015 Chargers run defense or anything close to resembling it. San Diego finally has the horses up front to not only limit a run game, but stop it in its tracks. Outside of a few runs late in the game, the Broncos running backs had nowhere to go for most of the game. A big reason for their defensive success was the rookie duo of Joey Bosa and Jatavis Brown. Brown had a huge sack and forced fumble down the stretch while Bosa was consistently applying pressure throughout the game with five hurries and a hit.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown
Dave Booga Peters