The staff here at boltblitz give their predictions and takes on what they think will happen Sunday versus the Buccaneers
Zak Darman: Coming off a big road win in Houston, Philip Rivers and the Chargers go home to take on the Buccaneers in what many think will be a close game. I happen to agree with them. Most are picking the Bucs, I don’t agree with them there. I think the Chargers control the clock fairly easily and force a few turnovers on Winston, who is known to give up the ball at times. Chargers 24 Bucs 20
Charles LaFurno: Defense does a great job shutting Mike Evans down and the Chargers cool off a dangerously hot Bucs team to seal their sixth win and get back to .500 with four games left to play. Philip goes over 300 yard mark with four touchdowns. Bosa and Ingram combined for 3 sacks and the defense snags two picks from Famous Jameis. Chargers 34 Bucs 20
Michael Brazeel: Mike Evans against Casey Hayward is going to be the matchup of the day. Evans gets the better of CH going for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs will be in position to tie the game late in the 4th, but the rookie kicker will miss. Giving the Bolts a win and getting them back to .500. 27-24 bolts
Brian Scott: The young and up-and-coming Bucs suffer a hangover after defeating the Seahawks. Bucs give up sacks and with the improved pass rush, the Bolts get in the backfield often. Rivers has a 300 yard game and Gordon gets 80 with two touchdowns. Chargers win 36-17
Laura Leech: Back at home and trying to get to .500 for the third time this season, the Chargers finally do it. It comes down to the wire but they are victorious in this must-win game. 31-28 bolts
Corey Decker: Both teams going into this game with something to prove. The veteran presence and the record of Philip Rivers in December are the two reasons chargers walk away victorious. 24-21 Chargers by 3.
Brian Krich: I like the Chargers here. I believe Bucs will struggle to protect Winston and won’t be able to effectively sustain run game. Mike Evans will get his, but it won’t be enough. Chargers balanced offense carries the day. I say 27-17 Bolts.
Chris Hoke: Chargers have a very sleepy first half falling behind 14-0 giving up a TD to Mike Evans and another on a Rushing TD. Melvin Gordon carries the team in the Second half scoring a TD and racking up 200 scrimmage yards. Rivers finds Hunter Henry late to tie the game up 14-14 the Chargers get the ball back with one minute left and drive into Lambo range he makes the game winner. 17-14 bolts
Cheryl White: Bucs fly West hoping for another “W” but Chargers defense plays hard & Bosa disrupts Winston often. Rivers is epic again this week with 300 yards & TDs to Gates, Williams & Inman while Gordon runs for 85 yards & a scores twice. Chargers win 35-17
Mike Pisciotta: Lambo misses two FGs, but hits in the closing seconds for the win. Rivers throws 2 INTs, but balances those with 2 TD passes and Gordon runs for another. Rivers and Gates connect early and often with the old man collecting 125 receiving yards. Bolts over the Bucs 27-24
Will McCafferty: I think the Chargers get out to a first quarter lead, let the Bucs back in the game in the second quarter and then open up a can of ass-whoopin’ in the second half. Chargers win going away, 34-17.
Dave Peters: Gates gets one step closer to Tony Gonzalez and the TE-TD record. Rivers throws for three scores as the Chargers dominate until late in the game. Joey Bosa logs a 2.5-sack day. Denzel Perryman recovers a fumble forced by Corey Liuget. Pagano goes ultra conservative in his play calling, as always, surrendering a couple scores late. Chargers 27 Bucs 26
Listen to all the draft coverage on any network and you will hear the same thing coming from a different mouth. The two best quarterbacks in the draft are Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariota of Oregon. All signs indicate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select the man they see as the best quarterback, Winston, with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
As they have been throughout their team’s history, Tampa Bay will be wrong.
A fact that has recently emerged regarding Tampa Bay sheds a little light on that statement. In the history of the Tampa Bay franchise, they have never signed a quarterback they drafted to a second contract. Every quarterback the Bucs have ever drafted has washed away or drifted off to another team. As a result, the team has to reset the position with the frequency of a Presidential election, every four years at best.
Of the 32 men who have been quarterbacks for Tampa bay since their inception in 1976, only 5 have played four or more seasons in Buccaneer Orange. Their frugality in contract talks have cost them players who went on to greater success and Super Bowl rings with other teams. (Steve Young, Doug Williams, Joe Flacco). Now they’re primed in the top spot of the draft to choose the new face of their franchise at the quarterback position.
The best quarterback is not Jameis Winston. Not by a long shot.
The measurables for Winston look great. He has a NFL build. He played in a pro-style offense at Florida State that everyone sees as the dividing line between him and the man who really is the best quarterback available, Marcus Mariota. Winston is a proven winner who won the Heisman Trophy his freshman year. Despite putting up better numbers than Winston, Mariota didn’t win the Heisman until last season, his junior season.
There are few positive metrics that Mariota does not beat Winston. Last season, Mariota was better than Winston in completion percentage, passing yards, rushing yards, passing and rushing touchdowns, yards per completion and quarterback rating while leading the fourth highest scoring offense at Oregon to the tune of 45 points per game. Winston led Mariota in one category, interceptions, with 18 to Mariota’s 4. He completed one pass more than Mariota (305 to 304) but it took 22 more attempts to do so.
To the eye, Winston looks much bigger than Mariota. In reality they’re practically the same. Both players stand 6’4. Winston (225-230) outweighs Mariota (215-220) by 10-15 pounds depending on how much indulging on crab legs he’s been doing lately. Winston does carry a spare tire around his midsection where Mariota has a more slender, athletic frame. Both men have rifle arms and show great pocket presence and escapabilty. Mariota gets the nod in the speed department after posting a 4.5 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
The single knock on Mariota is the system he played in. In Oregon, he was the maestro of the spread offense. He operated out of the shotgun and Oregon ran a play an average of every 20 seconds. Pro pundits debate whether that system of play will translate to the NFL. That stands as the only reason Winston is considered a can’t-miss NFL prospect while Mariota is seen as a project. The Oregon QB hasn’t ran a play from the under center since high school.
Any quarterbacks coach should be salivating over the possibility of having a prodigy such as Mariota to mentor. A three, five or seven step drop is not rocket science to teach. As Mariota gets comfortable operating under center he’s going to get better with each season as the drops become second nature. Look at his tape and Mariota goes through his progressions quickly, not just deferring to his first read as many have said. He has an above average release time and is adept at reading defenses.
Winston comes with a lot of red flags. All of his misadventures at FSU are well documented and it should force a GM to reconsider using the highest draft pick on one with such a questionable moral code. The quarterback is the leader of the football team, the face of his university. It could be argued that Winston has damaged the reputation of Florida State as much as he has enhanced it. Mariota has no such character issues.
Immaturity does (or should) play a role in the decision making process. If Winston makes such bad decisions when he’s a poor college student, what is he going to do with his free time with millions of dollars in the bank? How will he behave when the gold-digging groupies of the NFL come after him? What are the odds Winston will be able to keep his nose clean his entire pro career, help his team win games and be the first person the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have ever signed to a second contract? Things can always change but I wouldn’t bet he will.
Both quarterbacks are the top of their class. Mariota has unlimited upside while Winston enters the league at the height of his powers. This is shaping up to be the millenium edition of the Manning/Leaf debate. In my view, Mariota is trending to be the next Steve Young or Cam Newton (another spread quarterback) while Winston looks like the next Byron Leftwich or Jamarcus Russell. (All the raw, physical tools in the world but lacking the self-discipline to put it all together). A quarterbacks’ most important weapon is his brain and I trust Mariota to be the film room junkie, first one in, last one out of the facility type of athlete that becomes a Hall-Of-Famer. Four years from now we’ll all look back and wonder how it was even a question.
Sorry Tampa, you got it wrong. As usual.
There are less than three days remaining until the offseason day we’ve all been waiting for aside from the start of free agency. The NFL Draft will commence with the Tampa Bay on the clock and a whirlwind of speculation surrounding our beloved San Diego Chargers. I will be there in person to see the events unfold and write of it in the days thereafter. After ingesting all the rumors and speculation of the last couple months, I have a feel for the way things go and I am brave (or stupid) enough to put them in print. Without further adieu. here are my top ten fearless predictions.
1. Philip Rivers will NOT be traded. Chargers GM Tom Telesco knows how valuable a commodity he has in Rivers and he’s simply not for sale. Not for Mariota. Not for Winston. Not for a handful of magic beans. No trade. No way. No how.
2. Adrian Peterson WILL be traded. To my chagrin, I have come to the realization that he will not be traded to the Chargers as dearly as I want that to happen. The Vikings know there is no chance in hell Peterson will ever suit up in the Purple and Gold ever again so on draft day he will be gone to the highest bidder. I will stand by my projection that the best they will get is a third round pick and maybe a late round throw in but their first round asking price will not happen.
3. Marcus Mariota will be the second pick in the draft but he will not play for Tennessee, who own the second pick. Not coincidentally, it leads to my next prediction…
4. Marcus Mariota and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly will be reunited in Philadelphia. All the talk of a Mariota-for-Rivers deal has to make the Eagles happy because they have been largely forgotten in the equation. This will turn out exactly the way we expected it to at the end of the National Championship game. Chip Kelly wants Mariota to run his offense the same way he did at Oregon. Kelly knows there is no one better to run his offense than Mariota. Kelly will get Mariota.
5. To get Mariota, Kelly will trade off his offseason acquisitions. We all thought Kelly traded off his best pieces if he wanted to trade up to get Mariota. The Eagles sent former rushing champion LeSean McCoy packing. They traded away a strong quarterback in Nick Foles. What they did was overload their skill positions in order to make a deal the Titans would want. Let’s examine the facts. They now have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles as running backs. They now have Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Tim freaking Tebow in their five quarterback stable. Kelly is going to give the Titans the quarterback and running back of their choice AND their first rounder to get the Titans spot and claim Mariota. Book it.
6. Eight household name players will change addresses during the draft. Expect at least five veterans to get traded on day one and more on day two as Peterson comes into play. Chip Kelly will be responsible for three of those names alone. More will come.
7. The Chargers first round pick will be a running back. Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon will be the man depending on who’s available. Florida State center Cameron Erving will be the selection (as I indicated in my recent mock draft) if both are gone. Offense will be the order of the day in the first round. Telesco has not addressed the running back issue at all in the offseason and contrary to what has been said, don’t expect him to stand pat with Donald Brown, Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead. A top two running back will be drafted.
8. Only two quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round but three will be traded. Among those names, expect Robert Griffin III to be one of them.
9. The bidding war for Adrian Peterson between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will be won by….New England. The Patriots will give the Vikings their first, second and fifth round picks to secure Peterson as Belichick shows why he is still the smartest person in the room. Hear that sound? It’s Bill Belichick dropping the mic.
10. Telesco will go against formula and trade down on day two to recover the seventh round pick he dealt last year. He’s saving one other bombshell for day two that lands the Chargers the services of.. disgruntled Bears feature running back Matt Forte. You heard it here first. A big name veteran will end up with the Chargers by the end of the draft. Telesco has a plan and its going to jolt Bolt Nation.
There you have it. My expectations for the draft. There’s always a few surprises, a few head scratchers but it will always be entertaining. Look for me on Thursday wearing my powder blue lightning bolted jersey of the quarterback who won’t be traded.
The Greg One
On March 13, 2015, a ripple of concern and suspicion began when the Chargers announced that they would be bringing in quarterback (QB) Marcus Mariota for a private workout. Why bring in a QB who is expected to be drafted far before the Chargers first round pick at 17? Are the Chargers really looking to sign Mariota just to have him sit behind Philip Rivers for the next three years? Is Tom Telesco just playing pre-draft games with the other general managers? Or, are the Bolts actually considering a change?
As time went by, the ripple gained momentum and grew to the size of La Jolla Shores breakers. Social media outlets began throwing out conspiracy theories that were mostly shot down as, “crazy talk”. But as the days wore on, more and more twists were added to the plot. A trade with Tennessee for the number two pick in the draft was being discussed. At number two, the Chargers would have whomever the Buccaneers did not choose between Florida St. quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. To old school Chargers fans, this scenario makes them squirm as they recall the weeks before the 1998 draft when the Bolts picked second and assured themselves whoever was left between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Not to say that Mariota will suffer the same fate as Leaf, but that is the thing about the draft: you just never know.
Well, those breakers became the size of Hawaii’s Bonzai Pipeline, when more and more dots were connected by the local and national media, along with sports talk radio, as they started digging around. Now the complete hypothetical plan was laid out and it actually seemed plausible! Rumblings from Chargers fans ranged from, “If they trade Rivers, I’m done”, to “Now it’s obvious that the Chargers want to move to Los Angeles”, to “It’s all talk! The Chargers will never trade Rivers!”
Just when you think it is safe to go back in the water, a tidal wave hits the shores of San Diego. Kevin Acee, of the UT San Diego, interviewed Rivers and received some discouraging answers from the Pro Bowl quarterback. When asked if he was working with the Chargers on extending his contract past 2015, Rivers said that he was not. He vowed to honor his contract and play out the next season in San Diego, but would not commit to re-signing with the Bolts for the future. Rivers went on to say, “I guess things could change, but with all the uncertainty in many aspects, I don’t see it changing before camp gets here, and when camp gets here I’m even more certain to play it (his contract) out.” He went on to say, “The good thing is that I’m not under contract in a year where we’d potentially be in Los Angeles.” That does not sound like a player who is locked into playing out his career with the Chargers.
So what are those, “many aspects” that Rivers is referring to? To figure that out, all one has to do is take a look at the current situation with the team, the stadium, his family, and yes, the future of the quarterback position for the San Diego Chargers. Not to get ahead of ourselves, let us take a look at the scenario that has been painted by the media, and fans, that might explain why there is so much speculation about the Mariota workout and the upcoming draft.
The current version of the Rivers trade theory is that he will be traded to Tennessee for the second pick in the draft. With most around the NFL believing that Tampa Bay will pick Winston number one, Mariota would then go to the Chargers at number two. This trade would work for a few different reasons. One, Rivers said that there are “many aspects” to consider before signing a contract to keep him in San Diego past 2015. One of those aspects would certainly be if the Bolts were staying in San Diego, or bolting to Los Angeles (LA). Perhaps Rivers does not want to leave his home in San Diego just to move his wife and seven kids to LA. If he is going to move anywhere, it would make more sense to move to the South, near where he grew up in Alabama. Tennessee is far closer to Alabama and the lifestyle is far more similar to Alabama than LA.
Furthermore, a trade to Tennessee would reunite Rivers with his former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the current head coach for the Titans. Rivers has one of his best years as a pro with Whisenhunt leading the way. Rivers would already know the offense and should be able to step right in and feel comfortable running the show.
Finally, there is the aspect of money. Rivers did not have a great year, by his standards, in 2014. Now would not a beneficial time for him to talk extension. If he plays one more season, with a vastly improved line, he may put up career numbers and be able to demand more money. Yes, Rivers is a nice guy, but even nice guys want to get paid. He does have seven mouths to feed after all.
Okay, all of that actually makes sense for why Rivers would look to leave. How about the Chargers? Why would they entertain the thought of trading away someone who is arguably a future Hall of Fame QB when he certainly has productive years ahead? Well, there are some reasonable answers to those questions as well.
First of all, Rivers is 33 years old and has never taken the Bolts to the Super Bowl. Two other quarter backs in the same draft class, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, have won rings. Now football is a team sport, so you cannot put all of the blame on Rivers for that, so that cannot be the problem. Next, the Chargers have had trouble protecting Rivers and all the hits he has sustained have definitely taken a toll on the aging QB. Perhaps bringing in a mobile QB, like Mariota, will enable the Chargers to sustain drives when the offensive line breaks down. Then again, with the signing of Orlando Franklin and the opportunity to draft a lineman in the first round ahead, the line should be greatly improved. Finally, perhaps the Chargers feel that Mariota has a skill set that will give them a true franchise quarterback for the next 10 to 15 years, while saving cap space by getting out from underneath Rivers’ contract.
That brings us to the stadium issue, which could possibly be the main reason the Chargers would entertain the thought of trading away the face of their franchise. Although team president, Dean Spanos, continues to say that he would like to keep the team in San Diego, there have been few signs that he is interested in working with the recently created Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG). In fact, twice the Chargers have had Carson related stories come out on the same days when CSAG members have held events in San Diego. Perhaps the thinking is that if the Chargers move to LA, they want to be the, “new look” Chargers, and Rivers is too closely associated with San Diego for that to happen.
So is it a good idea to get rid of Rivers? Not a chance! With Rivers, you are not only talking about the face of the team, but also the emotional leader. You are talking about a guy who gives players hope. How many times have you heard, “As long as we have number 17, we have a chance?” You will not get that kind of leadership from a rookie QB. Mariota may have a successful career in the NFL, or he may not. There are no guarantees (see Ryan Leaf). Many experts feel that he will be a work in progress at the next level. He needs to learn how to lead a huddle and take snaps from under center; two things that he did not have to do in college. Yes, these are teachable skills, but do you want your starting QB to be learning the basics while in live action? Seems like an awfully big risk for a team that has a viable answer for the position for the next few years.
Finally, trading Rivers would be a poor PR move. That would be “public relations”, not Philip Rivers. The Bolts have long been known for treating their veterans poorly. Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Vincent Jackson are all examples of players that were shown the door without so much as a, “thank you”. If the new leadership of the Chargers wants to break that cycle and be embraced by the community, they need to handle situations with class and show star players that they appreciate them. It seems a team that may need a large percentage of citizens to vote for a stadium would not want to anger their fans. That is unless they do not really want to stay in San Diego. Even if they do let Rivers go, trading him now is not the answer. Let him play out his last year and see what happens.
What do you think? Is it time to look toward the future? Or, is 2015 a must-win season so that the city will embrace the team and vote for a stadium? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is not certain where he’ll be playing in 2016 and not just because of the team’s shaky stadium situation in San Diego.
In case you missed it, Rivers talked with the U-T San Diego about his future with the team.
Basically said he’s committed to playing out his contract with the Bolts, which expires after the 2015 season, but is unsure whether he’ll sign a new contract or try to work out an extension before training camp starts in July.
One of the reasons is, of course, family. Philip and his wife Tiffany have built a family in San Diego and if a move is necessary they will likely try to make it back South (both are from Alabama) instead of Los Angeles.
Add that revelation to the fact the Chargers are bringing in Oregon QB Marcus Mariota for a workout in April, and all of a sudden you have grounds for some serious speculation on a major overhaul of the Chargers offense.
So, let’s remove the emotion from the situation and sort some of it out logically.
First and foremost, the Chargers want to keep Rivers in place. General Manager Tom Telesco came from Indianapolis. His first year there was 1998, when the Colts drafted Peyton Manning. His last year there was 2012, when they took Andrew Luck. If anybody understands the importance of having a franchise quarterback in place, it’s Telesco (You can hear for yourself how Tom feels about Rivers in the video attached to this story, which was recorded December 31, 2014).
Telesco says he thinks Rivers has a number of good years left in him. The recent signings of Stevie Johnson and Orlando Franklin would suggest the Bolts still consider Rivers the key to their offense. For now, at least. Telesco also said he’s committed to Rivers retiring as a Charger.
But, what if Rivers is not? Then what do the Chargers do?
Bolts fans don’t have to think too far back to see what happened the last time the team let a QB walk out of town while getting nothing in return. In about 10 years they’ll see it on the bust of Drew Brees in Canton, OH. Rivers blossoming into a star eased the pain of Brees’ success, but the odds of having three Pro Bowl (and possibly Hall of Fame) caliber passers in a row are astronomical.
Here’s where Mariota enters the mix.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is going to have a private workout for the Bolts’ brass. Mariota’s athletic skill set could not be more different than Rivers, but having him learn for a year under #17 (who has already spent time coaching the youngster before the NFL Combine) would not be a bad thing.
If Telesco gets the vibe he’s not going to be able to retain Rivers long-term, he needs to be looking out for his franchise, and he could certainly do worse than adding someone as talented as Mariota.
Of course, that opens the question of … how would the Chargers get their hands on Mariota? He’s projected to be long gone before the Bolts make their selection in this year’s Draft (and no, the irony of that pick being #17 has not been lost). So, the Chargers would have to make a trade up.
Assuming Tampa Bay selects Jameis Winston first overall (which they’ve said publicly they’re leaning towards), the next team up also has serious QB issues: Tennessee. The Titans are quite the interesting possibility.
Ken Whisenhunt is their head coach. In 2013, he had a tremendous relationship with Rivers while serving as San Diego’s offensive coordinator. He would love to get his hands on Philip. However, sources close to the Titans tell me they’d be “shocked” if Tennessee traded the second overall pick for Rivers.
The Titans have a bunch of holes to fill. They are not one QB away from being true contenders. So, if they do deal the number two pick, it will be to stockpile other picks, and the Chargers are not likely to make that kind of gamble when they have as many issues to address as they do (o-line, d-line, running back, linebacker, etc.).
Looking at the rest of the NFL Draft order, there aren’t many teams who will use a pick on a quarterback:
3) Jacksonville – took Blake Bortles last year
4) Oakland – took Derek Carr last year
5) Washington – still don’t know what to do with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy
6) NY Jets – ABSOLUTELY NEED A QB
7) Chicago – Possibility here. Jay Cutler could be released in another year
8) Atlanta – Matt Ryan
9) NY Giants – Eli Manning
10) St. Louis – just traded for Nick Foles but still a possibility
11) Minnesota – took Teddy Bridgewater last year
12) Cleveland – took Johnny Manziel last year
13) New Orleans – Drew Brees
14) Miami – Ryan Tannehill, although it’s possible they’re not 100% sold on him
15) San Francisco – Colin Kaepernick, basically the same style as Mariota
16) Houston – definitely in the market for a QB
So, the Chargers might not have to deal Rivers to get their hands on Mariota. If he falls far enough in the first round, they could conceivably move up just a couple of spots and not sacrifice too much (of course, the Eagles are lurking at #20 and, despite what Chip Kelly says about Sam Bradford, he’d make a more for his former recruit).
So you see there are a lot of moving pieces in play that would have to line up for Marcus Mariota to land in San Diego.
The other part of this whole scenario is this: The Chargers offense is built around Philip Rivers. If he is shockingly dealt before this year, or allowed to leave after the 2015 season, a whole lot of guys will go with him.
Antonio Gates, also a free agent, will leave. Eric Weddle, also a free agent, will leave. Those guys are not going to wait around for a rebuild; they’ve been through enough already. The entire identity of the Chargers, the franchise as we know it, will cease to exist. It will signal a complete personality change for the franchise.
Now, you can crack your jokes about that being perfect for a team playing in a new city, but the fact is this is a defining moment in Chargers history, not just off the field, but on it, as well.