Joe Barksdale

riversfrustrated

 

 

The Chargers looked to move back to .500 in Week 10 as they faced the Dolphins at home before heading into the Bye Week. Unfortunately, huge mistakes in key situations lead to the Miami Dolphins stealing this game away from the Chargers.

Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of another heartbreaking Chargers’ loss.

 

The Good

Tyrell Williams– 5 REC, 126 YDS, TD 

With Travis Benjamin out with a knee injury, Tyrell Williams stepped up in a big way, as he has done pretty much all season. You have to love Tyrell’s ability to find ways to get open and his desire to learn from his mistakes. After running the wrong route and getting chewed out by Philip Rivers and Mike McCoy, Williams made up for his error the very next play with a game/momentum changing 51 yard touchdown reception. You almost wonder if Tyrell would have come this far if this team still had Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. None the less, look for Tyrell to get even better after the bye week, sans any injury setback.

 

Chargers Defense– No Denzel Perryman or Jatavis Brown?  No problem.  With those key injuries, this rag-tag defensive unit did their job in key moments in the game, especially Korey Toomer who lead the way with ten tackles and one assist.  In addition, this band of misfits was able to hold the NFL’s leading rusher, Jay Ajayi, to 79 yards on 19 carries. Even if I didn’t agree with John Pagano’s play calling at key moments, you can’t blame the defense for this loss. The defense kept the Chargers in it until the end and with the upcoming bye week, this defense should get even better; getting Brown and Perryman back from injury,

Worth a mentionTrevor Williams, Melvin Ingram and Melvin Gordon.

 

The Bad

Joe Barksdale

In four games with nine penalties on one player, there comes a time where you have to rethink who is out there. It would be okay if Joe was good at his job. The truth is he’s not. In those four games he has been consistently beat at the point of attack, allowing Rivers to be sacked on multiple occasions. With the present bye week, the coaching staff needs to see that just because he is healthy, Barksdale is just not getting it done.  Can they please try Chris Hairston or DJ Fluker at the right tackle position?

 

Offensive Line Pass Protection

In addition to Barksdale, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how bad this line was as whole. For the second week in a row, Rivers continued to find himself looking up at a blue San Diego sky. Three times last Sunday, Rivers was probably wondering if his line would ever protect him. This has been a consistent problem that can only be fixed by a short, quick passing game and running the ball far more consistently.

 

The Ugly

Philip Rivers– 23/44 326 YDs, 3 TDs, 4 INTs 

After the game Rivers took all the blame for the team losing on Sunday as he should have. This team lives and dies by his success and struggles. Rivers struggled a lot on Sunday throwing four interceptions; three of which were in key points of the game. The first one of those three came off of a rare Dolphins turnover, giving the Bolts a 1st and goal at the five yard line. Rivers looked like he just wasn’t paying attention to zone defense as he threw into double coverage for an easy interception.  Tough to come out of that situation with no touchdown – let alone no points at all.

 

The second came as the Chargers were driving down the field late in the game – trying to get in field goal range for a game winning score. Philip was baited into thinking Kiko Alonso was blitzing, As the ball was snapped, Kiko instead backs out into zone stepping in front of the first read. Tyrell Williams. and took it back for the Dolphins go ahead score. Finally, on the game sealing interception, #17 is again looking for Tyrell who wasn’t even open on the play. He forced it, instead of looking elsewhere or taking the sack and live to fight another down.With the upcoming bye week, its time for Rivers to rest up. Get Travis Benjamin back and hoping Williams gets 100% healthy he will try to get this team back into the thick of things if it’s not too late.

 

 

Situational Play Calling- Too many times this season have we seen this team get bogged down in the redzone. Why? Because we run the same predictable plays every time we get to the opponents twenty yard line or closer. Where was the screen passes? Where was the quick slants? We ran a screen to Melvin Gordon on a crucial third down and he was able to gain a ton of yards. Yet we only ran the screen again with a failed screen to Antonio Gates. Lets be realistic for a moment: Screens are for speedy and shifty players in the open field. Gates is none of those at the back-end of his career. Quick slants were one of the factors in the Chargers victory against the Tennessee Titans the previous week. Yet against Miami, the offense went away from the bread and butter.

 

Most of the season, the question most asked is “Why didn’t the charger run the ball (in key situations)?  I’m aware Gordon was getting stuffed for most of the game, however Ayaji was also getting stopped but the Dolphins had no problem running it in twice in the red-zone. So if San Diego fired Frank Reich last year for these same issues, why  does this continue to happen? The answer is Mike McCoy who seems to have some sort of say in these situations. If this is the case, Mike has to go this week. He is holding this team back from being good or great. I for one have seen enough of this McNorv experiment and its time to move on. I hope that during this time off, the “powers that be” make the right decision and let McCoy go. A change is desperately needed, although I highly doubt this organization has any guts to do it.

 

Worth a mentionDwight Lowery

 

 

Chris Hoke

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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

bosa12

 

“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.

 

San Diego Chargers

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

 

 

Perryman4

 

The San Diego Chargers will have their first primetime game of 2016 Thursday against the Denver Broncos.

Off to a 1-4 start, the Bolts look to win their first divisional game since November of 2014.

Suffering multiple season-ending injuries to starters such as Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead and Jason Verrett, among others, the Chargers are banged up — as usual — entering their Week 6 contest against the Broncos.

The team released its injury report on Wednesday for the Thursday Night game at home against Denver.

 

OUT:

  • SS – Jahleel Addae    Collarbone
  • CB – Brandon Flowers    Concussion

 

QUESTIONABLE:

  • OT – Joe Barksdale    Foot
  • OG – Orlando Franklin    Ankle
  • OT – Chris Hairston    Groin
  • CB – Craig Mager    Shoulder
  • WR – Dexter McCluster    Hamstring
  • ILB – Denzel Perryman    Shoulder

 

All of the players listed as questionable were limited in practice on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Some of that could be a precaution, while it may also mean that they just weren’t able to practice fully.

Knowing the history of the Chargers’ injuries along the offensive line, it is discouraging to see two starters (Barksdale and Franklin) on the list, along with their swing-tackle (Hairston).

Perryman may miss another game with that shoulder ailment, leaving the inside linebacker spots to rookie Jatavis Brown, Joshua Perry and the recently signed Korey Toomer.

Yikes!

The secondary will once again be without cornerback Brandon Flowers, who is still working through the concussion protocol. His absence leaves Craig Mager, Casey Hayward, Steve Williams, Pierre Desir and the recently promoted Trevor Williams as the team’s cornerbacks.

Yikes!

Chargers’ fans are not strangers to watching a severely banged-up squad, but, nonetheless, the Bolts must come out and find a way to win their second game of the 2016 season regardless of their injuries.

For whatever reason, I do believe they’ll achieve just that, beating Denver at home by a score of 27-26.

 

Dave Booga Peters

 

 

 

Dunlap1

 

Offensive lineman King Dunlap joined the Chargers via free agency during the 2013 offseason.

After missing five games during his debut season with San Diego, Dunlap went on to play in and start all 16 games of the 2014 season, earning him a new four-year, $28 million deal with the organization during the 2015 offseason. The now 31-year-old was also awarded the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year Award for his work during the 2014 campaign.

Then comes the 2015 season.

Due to various injuries and ailments, including concussion problems, Dunlap only suited up for seven games in ’15, leaving the starting left tackle spot to be manned by players such as Tyreek Burwell and Chris Hairston, to name a couple.

The hope around Chargers Park was that the nine-year veteran would rebound health-wise and come into the 2016 season will a clean bill of health.

Everything seemed fine for Dunlap, that is until the day of their Week 3 contest against the Indianapolis Colts.

Reports from the team came out that Dunlap was suffering from an “illness” of some sort, relating, to at least some degree, to migraines.

Dunlap missed the Week 3 loss against the Colts and he would go on to miss the Week 4 loss to the Saints, too.

The Chargers have gone on the record stating that Dunlap’s illness issues do not have anything to do with a concussion, something that he has dealt with throughout portions of his football career.

When the Bolts released their Wednesday practice participation report, Dunlap was listed as a limited participant, meaning he probably did some stretching and individual work but did not participate in many, if any, team drills.

Last week against the Saints, the Chargers moved Joe Barksdale over to left tackle and shuffled around other portions of the offensive line, as well.

The team has also used Chris Hairston at left tackle in the absence of Dunlap.

It is very difficult to say when one should expect Dunlap to return to field. The Bolts, as usual, have been very tight-lipped on the issue, so it is safe to say that no one truly has any idea when King will be back on the gridiron.

Needless to say, we all hope he returns sooner rather than later.

 

Dave Booga Peters

 

helmet3

 

After suffering their third loss of the season, another game in which the Chargers should have come out victorious, the Bolts enter their Week 5 contest against the Oakland Raiders very banged up.

But what’s new?

The team announced its practice participation report for Wednesday’s practice.

 

Did not participate:

  • SS – Jahleel Addae    Clavicle
  • LB – Nick Dzubnar    Knee
  • CB – Brandon Flowers    Concussion
  • CB – Jason Verrett    Knee (It was announced on Wednesday that he has a partially torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2016 season)

 

Limited participation:

  • OT – Joe Barksdale    Foot
  • OT – King Dunlap    Illness
  • OG – Orlando Franklin    Knee
  • TE – Antonio Gates    Hamstring
  • OT – Chris Hairston    Groin
  • ILB – Joshua Perry    Knee
  • ILB – Denzel Perryman    Shoulder

 

Full participation:

  • DL – Joey Bosa    Hamstring

 

The Good:

Well, I’ll be damned! Joey Bosa may play in his first NFL game since being drafted by the Chargers with the third overall pick in this year’s draft. Though the team will remain cautious regarding the hamstring ailment that the rookie has been dealing with since signing his rookie contract, Bosa may be added to the mix as a situational pass rusher come Sunday.

Again, the team has not decided whether or not he will indeed make his NFL debut, but it is nice to see that he is getting closer to suiting up in a regular season game for the Bolts.

 

The Bad:

Both starting offensive tackles (Joe Barksdale and King Dunlap) and the team’s starting left guard (Orlando Franklin) were all limited participants on Wednesday. Joining the injury-laden linemen is swing-tackle Chris Hairston.

After using 26 different offensive line combinations during the 2015 season, the Chargers are already having to mix and match their options along the offensive front.

In addition to the offensive line, the team’s inside linebacking corps is banged up (Dzubnar, Perry and Perryman all were limited), too. When you add in the loss of Manti Te’o for the season, a once promising group has been reduced to shambles. Hopefully the shoulder injury to Perryman is not too serious, and he’ll play on Sunday at close to 100 percent.

The only positive that comes from the maladies suffered by the inside linebackers is it forces the team to get rookie backer Jatavis Brown more involved on the defensive side of the ball.

 

The Ugly:

Despite the fact that the defense was without cornerback Brandon Flowers this past Sunday, and he did not practice on Wednesday, that is not the worst news regarding the secondary this week. Stud cornerback Jason Verrett has been lost for the year due to a partially torn ACL.

Recovering from the loss of your best defensive player is never a small task.

The secondary has already been without starting strong safety Jahleel Addae, as he suffered a clavicle injury and is expected to miss more time.

As it stands right now, the cornerback group is down to Casey Hayward, Craig Mager, Pierre Desir and the recently re-signed Stevie Williams; that is, of course, if Flowers struggles to pass the concussion protocol tests as we approach Sunday.

 

Just like any other year in recent memory for Chargers fans, the team has been bombarded with injuries, forcing the club to play individuals that even some Chargers fans are not familiar with the names on the backs of their jerseys.

I mean, this was supposed to be “our year,” right, guys? (Every year is supposed to be our year, as long as the team stays healthy and the coaches find a way to remove their heads from their asses…..)

The injury report leading up to this week’s game is certainly something worth keeping your eyes on, folks.

 

Dave Booga Peters

Only three weeks of quiet remain before training camp begins for the San Diego Chargers. There are still newsworthy pieces afloat on the web and after scouring the internet, here are five worthy submissions for your reading enjoyment.

bosa4

Joey Bosa will continue to be news until he signs his contract. More analysis courtesy of ESPN below:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:16923285

afcwest

 

ESPN Chargers writer Eric Williams asks in an AFC West round table if the Bolts can go from worst to first. Check out the responses from the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos writers here:

http://espn.go.com/blog/san-diego-chargers/post/_/id/16497/afc-west-qa-can-the-chargers-go-from-worst-to-first-in-the-afc-west

Tuerk

Center Max Tuerk became the last 2016 draft pick not named Bosa to sign on the dotted line on Thursday. Around The NFL writer Marc Sessler wrote about it here:

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000673493/article/max-tuerk-signs-contract-with-san-diego-chargers

 

Barksdale2

Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote a training camp preview of the offensive line. Read it here:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jul/08/slauson-dunlap-fluker-franklin/

 

Barksdale1

Courtesy of Hayley Elwood of Chargers.com, right tackle Joe Barksdale gets the profile treatment. Read the insightful piece here:

http://www.chargers.com/news/2016/07/07/chargers-2015-lineman-year-taking-nothing-granted

 

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In case you missed it, read my two-part series breaking down the Chargers’ offense, including position-by-position points projections here. Give it a read and tell me if you agree or diasgree.

http://boltblitz.com/?p=21128 Part. 1

http://boltblitz.com/?p=21222 Part. 2

 

Stay tuned to Boltblitz.com for the latest in Chargers news. Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TelescoMagic

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In part one of my analysis of the San Diego Chargers offense I covered the quarterback, running back, fullback and tight end positions. Simply by using their stats and past history I gave a number of points per game I expect that group to get every week. Today I break down the rest of the offense, looking at the wide receivers, offensive line and coaching staff.

Wide Receiver

The most hard to read of all the skill position groups, the wide receiver position has been long on potential but short on production and consistency. Injuries have decimated the wide receiver corps year after year.

Keenan Allen is leader of the wide receiver group who have dubbed themselves the ‘Aliens’. Allen was off to an amazing start in 2015, hauling in 67 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns in his first eight games. In a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Allen lacerated his kidney when he landed on the ball while catching a touchdown, ending his season. He was on pace to shatter the Chargers’ single season record for receptions (100) held by Ladainian Tomlinson and the break the NFL record for receptions in a single season (143) held by former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison.

Now armed with a brand new four-year extension in hand Allen is locked in through the 2020 season. Allen has established himself as a star on the rise and will be taking the field with a chip on his shoulder after the way his 2015 campaign ended. In 37 games he has caught 215 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 touchdowns.

However, the success of the receiving corps will be dependent on Allens’ supporting cast.

Getting Allen help was a priority heading into the offseason and the first splash the Chargers made into the free agency pool was acquiring former Cleveland Brown Travis Benjamin. The 5’10” speedster caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Aside from a knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of the 2013 season, Benjamin has only missed the first two games of his NFL career with a tweaked hamstring.

In his four years in the NFL, he has established himself as a dangerous return specialist. At the 2012 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and it has carried over into the pros. As a punt returner, Benjamin gained 324 yards on 28 attempts. Of those 28 attempts, four returns were over twenty yards and one was a 78-yard touchdown return. By comparison, the Chargers had 20 punt returns for 84 yards as a team last season. Their longest return was 18 yards.

Benjamin automatically legitimizes the punt return game and now gives the Chargers what they haven’t had in years, a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense. At 26, Benjamin is just beginning to enter his prime. This signing could trumpet a revival of the vertical passing game that we haven’t seen since the height of the Tomlinson era.

In his first season with the team, Stevie Johnson showed excellent chemistry with Rivers. Johnson was second among wideouts catching 45 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Hamstring and groin injuries caused him to miss seven games, including the last five games of the 2015 season. The nine-year pro is a dynamic receiver who has shown he can make an immediate impact if  he can stay healthy.

Dontrelle Inman started in seven of the 14 games he appeared in last season. The CFL import continues to improve as he caught 35 balls for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Heading into his third season he will become a bigger part of the offense, likely assuming the role formerly held by the now-retired Malcom Floyd. Moving off the bench into a full-time starting role should greatly increase his numbers across the board.

Tyrell Williams can be penciled in as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart at the moment. Williams made his presence felt in the final game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos with a two reception for 90-yard performance, highlighted by burning Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib on a scintillating 80-yard touchdown catch. Those were his only stats of the 2015 regular season. Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft he spent time on the active roster and practice squad. He has the size (6’3″, 205), speed (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds) and agility (39.5-inch vertical jump) to be a dominant pro wide receiver. Will he live up to his potential going into his second season?

The rest of the receiver field is comprised of undrafted free agents and second-year pros. Unless a veteran is brought in, this is the group that will likely start the 2016 season.

Points-per-game expectation: 6

Offensive Line

All the new additions to the skill positions mean nothing if the offensive line can’t provide continuity, open holes for the running backs and allow Rivers enough time in the pocket to throw the ball. That has been a large task that has fallen woefully short in those categories in the last number of seasons. In the last four seasons Rivers has been sacked 155 times, 40 times in 2015. The running game was dead last in touchdowns (4) and 31st in yards (1,358) last season.

Last season the offensive line had 25 different combinations due to injury. This season San Diego boasts the biggest projected starting offensive line in the league, but can they stay healthy? Veteran free agent Matt Slauson was brought over from the Chicago Bears to finally stop the turnstile at the center position. Lining up next to him will be guards Orlando Franklin, D.J. Fluker and tackles King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. Concussions, knee and lower leg injuries were the downfall of this group last season. What will they do differently to stay on the field this season? The success of the season rides on it.

Points-per-game expectation: -4.

Coaching Staff

As frustrating to watch as the play on the field at times were the decisions of the coaches in key game situations. Last season the Chargers lost four games by three points. Eight of their twelve losses were by a touchdown or less. More often than not the staff played not to lose instead of playing to win. Head Coach Mike McCoy and then offensive coordinator Frank Reich called conservative games, focusing on short to intermediate routes in the passing game and running almost exclusively out of the Pistol formation.

The playcalling was predictable and did not attack downfield enough to make opposing defenses concerned about getting beat deep. Injuries played a big part but so did not having the personnel to execute that type of game plan. Blame can be laid at the feet of those in the front office for lack of quality depth once the injuries started mounting.

Thankfully, Reich is out and Ken Whisenhunt returns to take his place. Whisenhunt parlayed a successful 2013 season as the Chargers’ OC into a head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Not coincidentally, 2013 was the last season the Chargers made the playoffs.

Whisenhunt is intent on revamping the run game first and foremost. The Pistol formation will be scratched in favor of having Rivers back under center and using short drops. Expect to see a return of the power run game highlighted by Watt and Gordon in their familiar college roles. In 2013, Whisenhunts’ running attack averaged 122 yards per game and Rivers was fourth in the league in passing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns.

If McCoy trusts Whisenhunt with the playcalling duties the Chargers should be able to take advantage of a last-place schedule and return to the playoffs as long as the team can stay healthy at key positions. It is a positive sign that the front office reached out to Whisenhunt and bring back a system that worked with this group of players. His track record speaks for itself going back to his days in Pittsburgh, then leading the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII to coordinating the Chargers offense to its only payoff appearance in the last six years. Until McCoy steps away from the playbook, I remain skeptical.

Points-per-game expectation: -2

In Summary

In all, my points per game expectation went like this: QB (14), WR (6), TE (4), RB (6), OL (-4) and coaching staff (-2) for a total of 24 points per game. Until the offensive line proves they can stay on the field and the offense is shown to be run through Whisenhunts’ headset instead of McCoys’ will I believe they won’t be a detriment to the team. Right now I believe those factors will cost the team one touchdown per game.

The 24-points per game are an improvement over the 20 points per game the Chargers averaged last season (26th in the NFL in 2015) and is on par with Philip Rivers’ lifetime average. Over his career, the Bolts average 25.6-points per Rivers start. That number has been as high as 27-points per game during the Tomlinson years.

This team has all the tools for a worst-to-first turnaround. The question is can they do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#Bolttothefuture

Barksdale2

 

In what turned out to be a slow beginning to the NFL’s “legal tampering” period, the San Diego Chargers made their first move of free agency.

The Bolts re-signed offensive lineman Joe Barksdale to a four-year, $22.2 million deal with $10.5 million in guaranteed money on Monday, according to multiple reports.

 

 

Barksdale earned accolades from his teammates in 2015 as he was voted the team’s Offensive lineman of the Year award.

Playing all 16 games for the third consecutive season (one with San Diego, two with St. Louis), Barksdale was the only Chargers’ O-lineman to start and play in each and every game.

Barksdale, 28, was signed last offseason to a one-year, $2 million contract. It goes without saying that he received a significant pay raise with Monday’s re-signing. It will be very interesting to see exactly how well he was rewarded.

I expect the team to use today to make moves in order to re-sign tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. Patrick Robinson is also a name who will be discussed. Then, when free agency officially opens up on Wednesday, the team will become serious contenders for going after free agents from opposing teams.

 

Dave Peters

 

 

Mike McCoy, Philip Rivers, Eric Weddle

 

After Tuesday turned out to be an extremely eventful day as far as transactions are concerned for the Chargers, the team is back at practice Wednesday as they prepare to take on the Chicago Bears at home on Monday night.

The Bolts have completed the first half of the 2015 regular season by going 2-6, losing four games on the final drive, minute or play.

Losers of four in a row and five of their last six, it is hard to justify this team winning too many more games going forward. That being said, do you believe in miracles? Because that is what it will take for the Chargers to find a way to finish this season strong, perhaps even squeaking into the playoffs.

Stranger things have happened.

Despite the fact that the team is entering the “softer” side of their schedule, San Diego has not shown that they can win even when they are expected to do so. The struggles of this team have been widely documented on this site.

I would like to skip right past the fluff and get right to the question in the title.

You know the drill. Place your vote on the poll and leave a comment below justifying why you voted the way you did.

 

How many wins will the Chargers finish with in 2015?

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Thanks in advance for voting and commenting.

 

Dave Peters

 

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