To quote the late Dennis Green:”…..and we let them off the hook!”
That’s the feeling of every Chargers fan after the team blew a 21-3 halftime lead to lose to the Chiefs in overtime. It was a gut-wrenching, morale-killing defeat.
The Bolts got out to a fast and promising start as they scored three touchdowns on three straight possessions. Melvin Gordon and the running game got going as he was responsible for the first two scores (both rushing TDs were Gordon’s only scores of his pro career).
Everything looked amazing early, as the bolts swarmed the Chiefs’ offense causing multiple three-and-outs, giving the ball back to the offense who kept scoring, as Philip Rivers would find Danny Woodhead in the endzone for a 21-3 lead.
The only negative in the first half, and it was a huge one, was Keenan Allen went down with a knee injury. Early tests have shown signs of an ACL tear for Allen, who looks to be all but lost for the season once again. Before he went down, he was shredding the reigning rookie of the year Marcus Peters for big catches. Losing Allen creates a huge hole for this offense moving forward.
The second half is where everything just came unglued. One of the huge knocks on last year’s squad was the inability to finish games. I hate to say it, Bolts fans, but it’s obviously carried over into this season. That stout running game seemed to be non-existent, as Gordon barely saw any carries in the second half. That stout pass rush on defense seemed to disappear into the KC sunshine as Alex Smith and company completely worked the Chargers’ defense in the second half and into OT.
The most disappointing thing about this loss is this coaching staff. McNorv, as I will call him from now on, ran this team scared. The play calls were, dare I say, absolutely pathetic and uninventive. Not once in this game did McNorv show any aggression in his second-half playcalling to show this team, “Yes we are all in! This isn’t last year’s team!”; instead on 4th-and-2 in a turning point in this game, McNorv chose a low percentage field goal. Then Lambo proceeds to push it wide right, giving the ball back to a hot KC offense and getting nothing off a fantastic Jason Verrett interception. Had Lambo have made the 54-yard field goal it would have tied his career-long.
Positive players of this game:
Melvin Gordon – It’s not his fault this coaching staff went away from him in the second half. It was great to see the explosiveness and downhill running that Gordon showed today. Keep that up and you may not be the wasted pick I thought you would be.
Brandon Mebane – What a difference this line looks like upfront when Mebane is in the ball game. He had a huge sack on Smith in the first half. Also, he was one of the reasons Corey Liuget looks like he’s gonna be a wrecking machine upfront. I can only imagine what this line looks like when Joey Bosa is healthy and ready to play. Expect bigger things from Mebane this season!
Jason Verrett – Verrett is gonna be a lockdown corner if he isn’t already. Chiefs wideout Jeremy Maclin only caught two balls in the first half and four the rest of the game. Verrett also stole the ball from him, making you think he was in Maclin’s head the rest of the way.
Bums of the game:
Mike McNorv – This is pretty obvious, I mean, I went into it earlier. Here’s the thing, though: with the Chargers Stadium vote on the November ballot, how many losses can the team suffer before it affects the ballot? This is a time where this organization can’t afford any more embarrassment. This loss wasn’t just bad, it’s unacceptable and embarrassing. How long can this go on? It can’t be much longer in a division that’s tough enough as is. Not to mention, with Sunday’s loss the Chargers haven’t won against a division opponent since 2014. If there was a time to make a change it’s now. Do it early in the season so this thing doesn’t go so far south that the ’16 season is lost.
Drew Kaser – So, we knew following in the footsteps of former punter Mike Scifres would be incredibly difficult. In the preseason, Kaser looked sharp, nailing punts and pinning opponents back. That’s only the preseason, though. Kaser had a horrendous day, averaging a measly 28.6 yards per punt. Most notably what sticks out is his 17-yard punt, which rolled into Charger territory, setting up the Chiefs with amazing field position for the game-tying drive. He’s a rookie; I get that; we all get that. He probably had some jitters understandably. The way he punted on Sunday was a vital reason why the Chargers ended up losing this one.
Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman – Going into this season, I thought both players were a huge strength for this defense. Let’s start with Te’o. Early on, he showed amazing instincts and tackling, busting up some huge plays in the backfield. As the second half began, Te’o began to struggle, missing tackles, taking poor angles and he was exposed in coverage. Can they continue to keep Te’o in on passing situations? It’s highly doubtful. I would’ve loved to see Jatavis Brown or Josh Perry get some more work on passing downs. On to Perryman. This isn’t a game he would want write home about. He was down right sloppy, missing tackles and being completely out of position in pass coverage. It was all bad, overall, for these two inside linebackers. Live and learn, man up and come back strong next week!
Was this a make-or-break game for the Bolts? I hate to say it, but it was. If this team has any aspirations of winning the division and a deep playoff run, winning these games is the everything. The fact that you had a rival on the ropes and you couldn’t finish them off speaks volumes about this team. They aren’t as good as I thought they were. It starts with coaching and this staff did not show the killer instinct needed to win this game; they never have and, guess what, #BoltFam, McNorv never will!
After suffering an embarrassing loss last week at home to Denver, the San Diego Chargers will have the daunting task of defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are red-hot, riding a six-game winning streak and pushing for a playoff spot. San Diego is playing for pride in their last four games as their season has been derailed by a litany of injuries to key players on offense and defense.
Kansas City was also expected to fall into the AFC West cellar after losing their perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season eight weeks ago. Instead, they rallied around each other and have recovered from a 1-5 record to put themselves in playoff contention. Keying their turnaround has been an improved defense led by bookend defensive ends Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Add in an emotional boost from safety Eric Berry (after missing a year and successfully beating Cancer) and you have a defense that has forced multiple turnovers a team record seven weeks in a row.
San Diego has a tall mountain to climb but we all know the old adage about any given Sunday. Last week, the lowly Philadelphia Eagles beat the almighty New England Patriots. Anything can and will happen on an NFL Sunday. The Bolts stand the same punchers chance of winning that the Eagles did. How could if happen?
When the Chiefs have the ball
Kansas City handed the Chargers their worst home loss of the season, 33-3 in week 11. Unknown running back Spencer Ware lit up the Chargers defense for 96 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 52-yard run. Running backs Ware and Charcandrick West will look to ground out a victory as they have been doing during their current winning streak.
The passing game has also found life in Kansas City, led by offseason acquisition Jeremy Maclin. Maclin leads the receiving corps with 66 catches for 817 yards and five touchdowns. A close second is tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 56 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith is known as a game manager but a better adjective would be consistent. Smith doesn’t have gaudy numbers but he also does not turn the ball over. To date, Smith is 246-376 for 2843 yards, 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Smith is also dangerous with his legs. While is isn’t a speed demon, he is third on the team in rushing with 60 carries for 326 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he has run for 19 first downs on the season.
San Diego will have to find a way to generate a pass rush which has been easier said than done this season. For as great as their defensive line has been, the same can’t be said for their offensive line. KC’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks. The Chargers are not averaging two sacks a game as they have 22 sacks on the season. Liuget was third on the team with three sacks. Melvin Ingram (5 sacks) and Jeremiah Attaochu (4.5 sacks) lead the team rushing the passer and will be leaned on to continue to do so. The defense will also have to do a better job bottling the KC ground attack. In the last game the Chiefs had three ground touchdowns and one pick-6 by Justin Houston.
When the Chargers have the ball
Quarterback Philip Rivers is losing targets seemingly every week. Three wide receivers are gone with Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman and Stevie Johnson out. Malcolm Floyd is playing through a shoulder injury. During the week, the Chargers enlisted the services of former Charger wideout Vincent Brown. Brown will start in a thin receiving lineup currently consisting of Floyd, Javontee Herndon and Tyrell Williams. The load of a team and a city has rested heavily on the shoulders of Rivers. Somehow, Rivers is third in the league in passing with 3713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rivers is also playing through a foot injury and illness he contracted during the past week.
Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are the most consistent options Rivers has at this point. The two have combined for 70 receptions for 784 yards and eight touchdowns. Using the underutilized option of playing the two together would open running lanes for Gordon and Danny Woodhead and allow the Chargers to move the ball down the field. In their first encounter, Rivers only managed to 178 yards on 30 attempts without a touchdown.
Rivers has had no help in the running game. Melvin Gordon has not been able to get going and carries the ignominious label of running back with the most carries without a touchdown. Gordon has 565 yards on 155 carries. The Chargers offensive line has had more combinations than an Rubik’s Cube and Rivers has paid for it. The line has given up 30 sacks.
Chargers O-line vs. Kansas City pass rush. Rivers was harassed throughout the first encounter by the stout Kansas City defensive front. Rivers was sacked three times, and gave up the pick six to Houston. Chiefs NT Dontari Poe generates significant pass rush up the middle. If the Bolts offensive line can keep those three in check, Rivers will have time do dissect the Chiefs’ formidable secondary led by Berry and rookie of the year candidate CB Marcus Peters. Peters has 50 tackles, 18 passes defensed, five interceptions, one forced fumble and one touchdown on the season.
This game does not look like winnable on the surface. San Diego has lost seven of their last eight games. Three of their last four games are against the AFC West where they are 0-3 to date. Will the Chiefs be looking past the Chargers? Having Rivers under center always gives the Bolts a chance to win. The Chargers know what to expect now that they have game tape on West and Ware. Rivers had his worst game of the season against the Chiefs. Look for the QB to bounce back and put yardage and touchdowns against the Chiefs. While I won’t go so far as to say the Bolts will win, they will give Kansas City a better battle than the 33-3 beatdown the Chargers suffered at home three weeks ago.
The Greg One
What do you mean, Keenan Allen playing slot receiver? Just bear with me while I attempt to persuade you.
A slot receiver, by definition, is a player in the offensive formation between the offensive line and the player closest to the sideline and at least a yard off of the line of scrimmage. That space can be occupied by a wide receiver, tight end or running back. It is often used when the offense wants to confuse the defense by having more than one receiver on the same side of the field. Utilizing this tactic generally forces the opposing team to adjust their coverage scheme by making alignment changes or adding extra defensive backs to ensure that the player in that “slot” has someone on him.
While at University of California – Berkeley (UCB), Allen was used in several different formations: split wide at receiver, in the slot and in the backfield. He primarily played the slot position while at UCB, so the role would be nothing new to him. Being quick off the line of scrimmage whether the ball is coming his way or if he is being a decoy can only help Philip Rivers in the long run. Although Allen may not have top speed, he does have the ability to change speed quickly. Prior to the draft, NFL analyst Charles Davis stated “…he didn’t run very fast at his pro day, but the comparisons for him: he plays the game a lot like Anquan Boldin and has hands like Larry Fitzgerald”. Current players also known as slot receivers are: Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City Chiefs), Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers) and free agent Wes Welker.
Allen has played 29 games in his two years with the Bolts and has 148 receptions of which 95 went for first down. Other than his receiving yardage, there are only punt return statistics for him: 26 attempts for 224 yards with 24 fair catch calls and zero touchdowns. In comparison, here is what newly-signed Jacoby Jones amassed during his first two years (2007-2008 and 30 games) in the league. As a receiver, Jones recorded 18 receptions and 11 of those were for first down. His punt return numbers: 672 yards on 62 attempts, 24 fair catches made, two TDs. On kick offs, 17 attempts for 358 yards (zero touchdowns, zero fair catches made).
Perhaps the argument can be made to move Keenan Allen to the slot since he is considerably younger than Jacoby Jones and Jones has more NFL experience overall in that position. So you are aware, though he is also on the team now, Stevie Johnson was not included in this comparison because he was only used in the return game his initial season (2008).
I know what I would do if the decision was left up to me…however, where do you think Allen lines up this season?
Thanks and Bolt Up!
As reported earlier by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, the Chargers could possibly make a run at wide receiver Randall Cobb. The veteran would be an immediate upgrade over Malcolm Floyd, who at this point in his career is only really a jump ball receiver, and would be a nice complimentary piece to Keenan Allen.
Cobb has been one of the key contributors for the Packers over the last couple seasons and had a stat line of: 91 catches, 1,287 yards and 12 Touchdowns. Nobody on the Chargers eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, and no other wide receiver topped the 10 TD mark.
So what does this mean? How much cap space will it eat up? Well, they have reportedly $26 million in cap space. Cobb is currently one of the top two receivers on the open market (Jeremy Maclin being the other). It’s likely he will request top dollar. Chargers have more than enough to pull it off if they want to. Is it the best fit? Possibly. He’s a deep threat, which is something the Bolts have been lacking dearly. Notably, he has worked really well on his route running, granting him a go-to target label. Adding Cobb would take the attention off Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates, leaving them on many possible one-on-one matchups.
Where does he fit with a crowded receiving corps? With the signing of Jacoby Jones yesterday, that leaves us with Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd, Seyi Ajirotutu, Dontrelle Inman, Austin Pettis and Jacoby Jones on the current roster. Ultimately, Tom Telesco will make room for a player like Cobb. He currently has the cap room to do it.
What do you think? Do the Chargers land Cobb or is he too much money? Let us know in the comments!
Among the throngs of Chargers fans, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has anything negative to say about Tom Telesco. The General Manager, now heading into his second year as the team’s front office leader, has done an amazing job with very little cap space.
Telesco hit a grand slam in his first draft last season, netting offensive tackle DJ Fluker, linebacker Mantei Te’o and wide receiver Keenan Allen got the Chargers an A grade. More importantly, on the field Fluker and Allen proved themselves as starters and Te’o played well despite playing the entire season with a broken foot. I will still say Allen was robbed of the NFL Rookie Of The Year award.
Telesco’s approach of overhauling the roster, dumping overpriced and underperforming veterans in favor of younger, hungrier albeit less experienced players worked. His approach worked with the his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts. In conjunction with the drafting of quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went from worst to first in the AFC South. Telesco did the same thing in San Diego and last season the Chargers saw their four-year playoff drought end.
By forcing draft picks and unproven talent to step up and prove themselves on the field, Telesco has created something they haven’t had since they were the team that ruled the AFC West from 2000 to 2007, depth. The Chargers will be a force to be reckoned with on defense with the full strength returns of defensive end Dwight Freeney, last year’s fifth round draft pick in cornerback Steve Williams, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, a finally healthy and full speed Manti Te’o and wide receiver Malcom Floyd. Add newly signed corner Brandon Flowers to what had been a weak secondary and the team is set to make another splash in the NFL postseason.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Chargers 2014 draft class in that equation…
The first two seasons have been about fixing the holes on the offensive line and improving the quality of the defense which has ranked in the bottom of the league the past few years. Now the defense is as stacked as its ever been. Barring injuries, the Chargers should have a defense in the top ten of the league. The offensive line has depth and as we saw last season, with time to throw Philip Rivers is a top five quarterback in the league. That’s not hyperbole, Rivers finished fifth in the NFL last season with 4478 yards passing and 32 touchdowns.
With the matters of depth and stability on both lines in hand, time to look forward to what aspect Telesco will tackle next. The bad contracts from the previous administration finally come off the books this season and in the next offseason the team will find themselves with more cap space than they have had since the turn of the century. The Chargers will have over 30 million to spend in free agency. The reins will be off and Telesco will finally be released from shopping in the bargain basement and now he’ll have the ability to shop in Beverly Hills.
One position which will be in desperate need of new blood will be wide receiver. Floyd, 32, is on the last year of his deal and even if he stays he will be a depth play, not a starter. This will be Floyd’s 11th season. I expect Floyd to retire after this season. Vincent Brown is at the end of his injury-marred rookie contract. Brown had a disappointing 2013 given his opportunity to step up and fill Floyd’s shoes after Floyd went down with a severe neck injury. Another lackluster season will have Brown looking for work elsewhere. Eddie Royal and Seyi Ajirotutu will also be a free agents after this season. That’s four expiring contracts at the same position. That would leave Keenan Allen and a couple of roster fillers at a critical position. Telesco has proven himself adept at filling positions of need. Here’s a look at the top free agent wide receivers in 2015:
None of these players have signed extensions. Aside from Welker, these are legitimate deep threats that will allow the Chargers to stretch the field vertically. Add in some older talents who would not require top dollar like Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, Jeremy Maclin, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt, Josh Morgan and you have a great field of talent to choose from. Adding two players from these names would give the Chargers one of the top receiving corps in the league. It’s not unfathomable to see Thomas and Bryant both in lightning bolts. Telesco covets speed and those two have it in spades. However, that’s also two big contracts. More likely one of the two (Bryant or Thomas) coupled with Smith, Shorts, Welker or another vet on the list would be more like it. San Diego will have the resources to make that happen.
Adding two of those names along side Keenan Allen would give defensive coordinators nightmares, would extend Philip Rivers’ shelf life with an improved offensive line AND legitimate deep threats on both sides of the field (less rushing the passer) and amount to deep playoff runs. The Chargers are an up and coming franchise and with a great front office in place, money to spend and they’re already a playoff team.
Free agents will go to San Diego, as we have already seen. We all know wide receivers are divas. The key things are who’s throwing them the ball, is it a contending team and money. There’s not a receiver in the league who wouldn’t love to catch balls from Philip Rivers. The Bolts can afford to pay and they’re already pushing Denver for the top of the AFC West and making the playoffs. The team already averages 24 points per game without marquee wideouts (aside from Allen). Imagine what they will be able to do with them!
Who would you like to see the Chargers sign next season?
The Greg One