It is Week 2 and the Bolts are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Chiefs. Here are three things they must do in order to avoid being 0-2.
1.) If something is working, don’t stop doing it
Even writing that makes me feel weird because this should be an easy one to follow. Not to this coaching staff. The reason why they lost last week was because they did the exact opposite of what worked in the first half. They quit blitzing and running and started slinging it and playing “bend-but-don’t-break defense,” or as I like to call it, no-win defense. Stick to what works, whether it be onside kicks all game, throwing on every down or doing the wildcat. These are all extreme examples but I think you get the point.
2.) Don’t let up at any point
Again, another one that should be obvious but the Chargers are known to give up big-time leads late in the 4th quarter. I am one who hates to see teams let off the pedal. That does nothing for your team. In case the other team comes back, well the momentum is on their side and it’s not exactly easy to just automatically flip it back into high gear. If you are up 21 points, make it 28; especially against the Jaguars. They have a numerous amount of weapons on their offense that includes Julius Thomas, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, TJ Yeldon and, of course, Blake Bortles. They are vastly underrated and they aren’t a team to mess around with at all.
Who is going to step up for Keenan Allen?
Probably a key for the rest of the season after losing Slayer to a season-ending knee injury. Who will step up and take over his role? I want to think it will be Tyrell Williams. He brings the size and speed that teams dream of and can be a huge mismatch for any opposing defense. He had a decent game last week versus the Chiefs, hauling in two passes but getting 71 yards receiving. Both plays exceeded 20 yards total and he was targeted five times. If Tyrell can step up and be the man, the Chargers’ offense will be okay.
What do you guys think is a key to victory? Let me know down below and go Bolts!
Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their picks and analysis of Sunday’s home opener
Zak Darman: Chargers start out hot and get out to a two-score lead going into halftime, giving the fans thoughts of last game. They come out sluggish once again, as Jacksonville, behind Bortles and Julius Thomas, tie it up but Rivers executes a beautiful two-minute drill to get into field-goal range where Lambo nails a 48-yarder to give the Bolts their first win of the season. 27-24 Bolts
Charles LaFurno: McCoy lets Gordon run wild and it pays off. 100+ yards on 20 touches for two touchdowns. Defense comes up huge with a turnover late in the fourth to secure the win. Henry gets his first touchdown. Philip throws for 300 yards but will be under pressure for at least 70% of the game. Luckily, he’s great when doing that. Chargers 24 Jaguars 20
Travis Blake: The pregame strategy meeting between McCoy/Pagano/Wiz goes like this: McCoy starts off by saying “we’re really going to shake things up this game, boys. Since we have to limit Melvin Gordon to 20 carries, I want him to get 19 of them in the second half this week instead of the 1st half like last week. The Jags won’t know what hit em!” Pags chimes in with, “that’s great, Mike! I want my guys to blitz/get pressure only in the second half this game instead of the first half like last week, they won’t be able to handle it!” Wiz looks at both of them and thinks, “at least the weather is nice here, and this job pays good.” So after the best game plan meeting in 4 seasons, and an excellent week of “salty” practice the team comes out to shit the bed in the first half of the game. Every other play is a delay draw to Danny up the middle for little or no gain leaving 3rd and a mile to go, perfect time to throw a bubble screen to Travis Benjamin behind the line of scrimmage. Rivers throws a frustration pick to end the first half and the defense bends to the tune of 250 total yards but only gives up 13 points to a Jax offense that looks sluggish. The second half sees the Bolts come roaring back with Melvin Gordon leading the charge for two more touchdowns. The Bolts win only due to the fact Jax is not quite there yet and the two teams don’t play each other very often. Charger fans complain for another week because we didn’t blow out the hapless Jags and the #FireMcCoy hashtag goes in popularity. 24 to 19 Bolts
Corey Decker: The bolts are looking to make a statement in front of their home crowd. Not just for the team, but for the city as well. The chargers must bounce back and not take their foot off the gas like what happened last week. Chargers 24-10
Cheryl White: Whiz continues to feed Gordon all game and Tyrell Williams uses that big body to his advantage. Isiah Burse sees some playing time. Scores by Gordon, Williams, Woodhead. And of course #85! 27-21 Chargers
Chris Hoke: In a high scoring affair the bolts break out to a 14-0 lead only for the jags to come charging back. Trading points for points. The Chargers lose another heartbreaker. 31-28 Jaguars
Mike Pisciotta: Jacksonville is Jacksonville. Chargers will get out to a resounding 28-10 lead on 2 TDs each from Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon. Jacksonville will make a valiant effort to make McNorv pay for sitting on another lead, but the Bolts hold on to win on a late field goal by Josh Lambo and a comeback drive thwarted by a Jason Verrett pick six. 37-31 Chargers
Will McCafferty: I’m going to assume that the Chargers are going to play a complete game and not pump the breaks in the second half. Chargers 28 Jags 20
Greg Williams: Chargers learn their lesson from last week and show up for BOTH halves. Gordon runs for 80 and a touchdown and Rivers throws three touchdowns (two to Gates). Chargers beat the Jags 30-20.
Dave “Booga” Peters: Gordon scores twice, again. Manti Te’o provides an encore performance of last year’s Jags-Bolts contest, picking off Bortles (and missing several tackles). Chargers rack up almost 200 yards on the ground and Rivers passes the 300-yard mark in an offensive explosion. Jalen Ramsey picks off Rivers and does “the Bosa shrug,” reminding fans who the team should have taken (I’m kidding, folks…. kinda). Chargers 31 Jaguars 30
The Chargers are in Denver tonight to battle the division leading Broncos. This is a statement game for the Bolts and one that the entire nation will be tuned into waiting to see who will reign supreme in the AFC West.
Tonight’s game is a battle for the lead of the division. San Diego comes in after a tough loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos are on top of the standings and they embarrassed the 49ers last Sunday night. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning secured the all-time touchdown pass record passing Brett Favre and he now has 510 scoring passes for his career.
The Chargers have been decimated by injuries and come into the game with a patchwork secondary and running back corps. No one, including the Bolts, is going to feel sorry for San Diego; especially the Broncos. Injuries happen to all 32 teams in the NFL, and the “Next man up” mantra is in full effect. The team must come out and find ways to utilize all of the players that will be on the field. There cannot be any thoughts toward those players that are not available to play.
There are many ways for the San Diego Chargers to beat the Denver Broncos. Below I’ll highlight my five keys to obtaining a victory on the road at Sports Authority field this evening.
1) John Pagano must call an aggressive, attacking defensive gameplan.
This is not a game where the corners can play ten yards off the ball. Getting hands on receivers and disrupting routes is paramount to defensive success for the Bolts. Exotic-like blitzes and disguising coverages should be the focal point of the Charger defense. When watching the game against the Chiefs, the Chargers went vanilla far too often. In the defense’s defense, they were exhausted toward the end of the game due to being on the field for 39 minutes when all was said and done. Pagano cannot call that soft-shell cover two or cover three defense where there cornerbacks are playing far off of the Denver wide receivers. Peyton will slice and dice the San Diego defense if that is the case. The outcome of this game will be determined by many factors. But much of the emphasis toward winning lies on the shoulders of defensive coordinator John Pagano and his gameplan.
2) Philip Rivers must utilize and trust Branden Oliver in the passing game.
One of the major things that stuck out to me during the KC game was Rivers had the opportunity to check down to Oliver in the flat and he still forced the ball into tight windows and covered receivers. At least two of the plays where Philip was sacked he had Branden open in the flat. Give your playmakers a chance to make plays. And, by the way, if you haven’t noticed it yet, Oliver makes plays. Rivers must trust him to make the first guy miss – which he does more often than not – and see what happens from there. Although I refuse to compare Oliver to former Charger Darren Sproles, Philip must find a way to trust Oliver the same way he did Sproles as an outlet/safety valve.
3) Hit Peyton Manning in the mouth early and often.
Manning is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer. But like all quarterbacks in the league, putting pressure and disrupting his throws will force him to make mistakes or throw errant passes. His arm is not what it once was earlier in his career. Quite honestly, it is obvious when watching tape on Peyton. That being said, give him time and he’ll tear you apart. The weapons that Manning has at his disposal provide him with an arsenal that could make most signal callers look like a HOFer.
4) The Chargers, despite a depleted and banged up backfield, must run the ball and control time of possession.
Here I go talking about the importance of an undrafted free-agent out of Buffalo. Branden Oliver is quite possibly the x-factor in this game. Oliver must carry the ball at least twenty times for the Bolts to secure a victory. Draw plays that force players like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller into the backfield will allow the Chargers to take advantage of the Bronco’s speed rushers. Although he needs no added pressure, Branden must have a career game – though he is in the infantile stages of his time in the NFL – in order for San Diego to come out victorious. We all saw it in last year’s win over Denver on Thursday night. Ryan Mathews’ ability to chew up clock and wear out the Bronco defense proved to be the main reason San Diego was able to pull off a 27-20 victory. Oliver must have a similar performance to what Mathews put up last year.
5) Find a way to slow down the Thomas brothers.
When examining the Bronco offense, tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas are tearing up the league. Their dominance of the NFL is well documented. Add in Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker, and there is no reason to not give the Broncos the title of the team with the best offensive weapons in the league. Neutralizing and slowing down Julius and Demaryius is crucial to achieving the W in Denver. This is a tall task for any defense, much less a Charger D that has been devastated by injuries. Whether it’s a robber over the top or a bracket to ensure neither player has much running room, Pagano has to draw up his best coverage schemes of his short career as a defensive coordinator.
There are many other keys to defeating the Broncos tonight. But those are the five that stand out to me when looking at a way for the Bolts to fly home from Denver with the lead in the AFC West.
We’re a little over three hours from the beginning of the game. Can you feel it? Are you hyped? Are you ready to get loud, regardless of where you are, when the Chargers get that much-needed win? I know I am.
The San Diego Super Chargers win this contest on a late-game field goal by kicker extraordinaire, Nick Novak, 33-31. This game will be the best Thursday night football game of the entire season. Book it.
Thanks a lot for reading.
If there’s one silver lining considering it is a short week and the Chargers-Broncos tilt is the main event Thursday, it’s this: I can slam the last nail in the coffin.
However, after taking a few days to decompress and avoid social media, I have a few observations (and questions) before tying a bow on the Oct. 19th game:
1. Philip Rivers cannot help the team win when he isn’t on the field.
2. Coach John Pagano did not attempt to knock Jamaal Charles into next week, nor did he hit Alex Smith in the back with the crown of his helmet. The result: a roughing the passer penalty that extended the series that resulted in a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a lead. Also, Brandon Flowers suffered a concussion and will miss Thursday’s game.
3. Coach Pagano also doesn’t play defensive line which somehow didn’t pressure Alex Smith enough. Yes, Smith was sacked three times for a total loss of 10 yards. However, he wasn’t sacked once in the second half. Check the box score if you don’t believe me. Pagano also didn’t miss tackles on key plays.
It’s a little premature for me to think it’s time to send Coach Pagano to the unemployment office. As was often the cry during my time in the U.S. Navy, the team needed to improvise, adapt, and overcome. Yes, I think the injuries are starting to leave the Chargers exposed. Yet, is it really necessary to start the impending doom scenario with half the season yet to be played?
Fan forums on the San Diego Union-Tribune are already talking mediocrity going forward with predictions of 8-8 or 9-7 at best. Chances are these are same people who are against using tax money to build a new stadium or expand the convention center.
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As the Chargers get ready for Thursday’s game in Denver, the team will have center stage meaning all football eyes will be on them. What team will show up? Based on Wednesday’s injury report (click here), key defensive members will still be out or doubtful. Will the higher altitude have any effect on the team or will Peyton Manning, after breaking Brett Favre’s all-time touchdown passing mark, still be on Cloud Nine?
What will the Chargers need to do to win on Thursday in a hostile environment at the current leaders of the AFC West?
My five keys to victory:
1. Play keep away: It was the Chargers strength through the first five games. Control the ball and keep Manning off the field.
2. Defense must get into Manning’s face: Manning is not known for his mobility (like Rivers). The defensive line must be disruptive enough to force Manning into forcing passes and/or make bad decisions which could lead to more three-and-outs or turnovers.
3. Play smart: Nothing drove more fans to drink than the bad penalties members of the defense took during key moments against the Chiefs. The secondary has to know that contact beyond five years will be called and the quarterback is almost untouchable once the ball leaves his hands. Manning is a record-holding QB, officials will be watching.
4. Capitalize on red zone chances: The Chargers converted one out of two opportunities against the Chiefs. Rivers must drive the offense into more “goal” situations. Nick Novak’s foot will guarantee points, but I think the team needs more than field goals to defeat the Broncos.
5. Double team Thomas: Believe me, I think Julius Thomas has become the modern day Kellen Winslow, but does he merit double teaming? Perhaps or should the Chargers worry about the other Thomas, Demaryius? It’s hard to say. Somehow, if Pagano doesn’t blitz and plays conservative, double teaming may be a necessary risk if the Chargers want to win.
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I read with great interest Steve Fryer’s column in the Orange County Register that concludes that 63% oppose public funds for a new stadium. Two problems: the poll was conducted two months ago (before the regular season started) and two, San Diego County’s population is 3.2 million people (as of 2013). Does a poll of 375 really speak for the majority? Do I need to retake statistics if I missed something?
As always, your questions and comments are welcomed. The staff and I will respond as quickly as possible.
The Chargers face a run of three straight divisional opponents in weeks 6 through 8. They begin in Oakland, return home to face Kansas City and then fly out to Denver to take on the Broncos. This might be the most important stretch of games during the 2014 season.
Having three games against division foes can make or break a season regardless of a current record of 4-1. When it comes down to tie-breakers late in the season toward a push for a playoff spot, the record against the division is incredibly important. The AFC West is one of the better divisions in all of the NFL. When you face teams like Denver and Kansas City, a split with both teams is welcomed in the scheme of things. The Broncos are a formidable opponent and Arrowhead is a very tough place to go to and leave with a win.
And then there’s the week 6 rival in the form of the Oakland Raiders.
I have no problem admitting that the Raider game causes some concern for me. A recently fired head coach replaced by an interim one and they are coming off of their bye. The fact that they are winless provides an even bigger threat, in my opinion. They are looking at each game as though it is their Super bowl. They will, without a doubt, be fighting tooth and nail to obtain their first win of the 2014 campaign.
The Raiders look to have rookie quarterback, Derek Carr, returning from injury and he’ll eventually be a solid signal caller in the NFL. The running game in Oakland has been abysmal. Their offense is ranked 32nd overall and the San Diego defense must find a way to keep them at that ranking. James Jones is a threat at wideout and Denarius Moore can fly. The defensive backfield for the Bolts will have to shut them down to avoid giving up explosive plays.
Although the Raider offense has been inept to this point, their defensive backs have been impressive. Oakland boasts the 4th rated pass defense in the league. The same can’t be said about their run defense. Their defensive unit is currently ranked 31st at stopping the run. Branden Oliver might be set up to top his career day that he had versus the New York Jets.
Every division game is a battle. The Bolts will need to take this game very seriously and they should fly home from Oakland with the very much-needed divisional win.
In week 7 the Bolts come home to face the Chiefs. Alex Smith is known around the league for being a game manager, but he has a few weapons at his disposal that would suggest otherwise. The running game in KC is stout; featuring running back stud Jamaal Charles and newcomer Knile Davis. Defending the run against Kansas City will be paramount in achieving a home win. The defense is highlighted by players like Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe. Houston and Hali form one of the best pass rushing duos in the league. Poe is a serious force to be reckoned with in the middle of the Chief defensive line. Having a safety that is as athletic as Eric Berry doesn’t hurt their chances. That being said, Antonio Gate has owned Berry and made him look silly in coverage on multiple occasions.
And then there is the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning. Regardless of how tough the game against the Seahawks was in week 2, this is the true test for the team. With San Diego having faced two straight divisional opponents in a row, Denver is ready to do what they can to build on the fact that they beat San Diego two out of three times last season. Manning has weapons all over the offense including Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas. Yikes. Those are a “host” of players that the San Diego defense will be held accountable for limiting in their production. ( That “host” portion was for you, Dad. )
The Bronco defense added pieces such as DeMarcus Ware, Aquib Talib and T.J. Ward in the offseason during free agency. Minus Ware, the other two players have not contributed as expected. But it is safe to say that Denver upgraded those positions due to those acquisitions.
Peyton is stacked when it comes to options in the receiving game. Lord knows he still has some lead left in that cannon. But his ability to throw deep down the field is no longer like it used to be. John Pagano’s gameplan must be aggressive and he must find a way to rattle Manning and make him nervous.
Now that I’ve run my mouth about the next three games, I’ll leave it to you to provide you thoughts via voting and the comment section. The poll below gives you and opportunity to put in your two cents regarding the 3-game divisional foe stretch the Chargers are about to embark on.
Thanks again for reading and supporting BoltBlitz.com. The readers are why my staff works so hard to give you the best Charger content available. We are always open to your thoughts and suggestions.