Kansas City Chiefs
Currently, many NFL fans have been faced with a very difficult decision. Now that my team has moved away, or will soon be moving away, who should I root for? It seems that the answer should be obvious: Root for anyone you want!
But, alas, it is not that simple.
Unfortunately, right now in “Chargers Country” there is a bit of a civil war. Long-time Chargers fans who feel deeply hurt by their team moving to Los Angeles are not only rooting against the Bolts, they have elevated owner Dean Spanos to the level of Osama Bin Laden on their list of most evil men who have ever walked the earth.
All I have to say to those people is that I understand and feel their pain. I was born and raised in San Diego and I certainly get why you feel abandoned, bullied, and misled. I especially feel for those who knocked on doors, gathered signatures, joined fan groups, et cetera. I also feel for those who live in the county and did not get a chance to vote.
On the other side are the fans who believe that they can move on despite their dislike for Mr. Spanos. They just want to watch and enjoy NFL football and not have the same passion for any other team than their Chargers. Yes, Spanos benefits from their support, but they don’t really care because they put the players above the ownership. To those people I would say that I am in your boat. I have come to grips with the fact that my team has a very flawed owner, but I will continue to root for my Bolts.
Now the interesting group….the undecided. These are Chargers fans who just can’t make up their mind. Should they remain Chargers fans? Or, should they shop for a new team? If they decide to move on to greener pastures, what team should they choose? For those people, I offer some facts to ponder. I hope they help. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular teams in the NFL and why they may or may not deserve your loyalty, love, and hard-earned dollars.
New England Patriots
If you are looking to celebrate championships, this may be the team for you. At least while they still have head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, I would never bet against them. But hold on just one minute before you choose the Pats. Consider the fact that they have been caught cheating multiple times. Everything from filming other teams signals to deflating footballs. I won’t even go into the Aaron Hernandez story. They like to say that they push the envelope. In reality, they rip the envelope open and rely on their popularity and extremely wealthy owner, Bob Kraft, to save them in the end. So far, their plan has been successful. So, you need to ask yourself if you can root for a team that has possible morality issues and one that has most likely been one of your most hated teams for years? If you can get past all this, enjoy the next few years as a winner.
I can’t even believe that I am listing the Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders as a viable option, but here they are. Yes, I have heard many ex-Chargers fans saying that they are switching their loyalties to the Raiders. As always, I believe that is their choice and they are welcome to it. I just don’t understand it.
Let’s be fair. The Raiders are an up and coming team that honestly has a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy within the next two or three years. That can be enticing to any waffling fan. They have a great, young quarterback, outstanding pass rushers, and exciting play makers. All that being said, they are still the Raiders! If you have been loyal to the Chargers for any length of time, you most likely have a deep-seated hatred for the Silver and Black. But let’s put rivalry behind us for a moment. In my opinion, it makes absolutely no sense for a Chargers fan to jump ship and join Raiders Nation. You are mad at Dean Spanos for not being loyal to his fans, yet you are willing to give Mark Davis a pass? The Raiders have a long history of screwing their fans. They went from Oak-town to Los Angeles (sound familiar), back to Oakland and now they are moving to Vegas. All along they have used cities like Irwindale and Los Angeles as leverage to use against the city of Oakland to force them to build them a new stadium (sound familiar?). It is quite confusing to me why anyone who quotes loyalty as the reason that they are leaving their team would go to a team that is quite possibly the least loyal franchise in sports. But that is just me.
Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos
Good teams. Quality ownership. Chance to win in the future. The only real negative would be that you would be going from hating them to loving them just because you are mad at Dean Spanos. If you can sleep at night, go for it.
New Orleans Saints
I have heard other Chargers fans say that they are going to follow the Saints because of Drew Brees. Yes, Brees is great and he was a fan favorite (more-so after leaving) in San Diego. The problem is that he will only be around for a short time and then you are stuck with this decision all over again. Do you stick with a team you don’t have any passion for? Or, do you become a free agent again.
Los Angeles Rams
Again, I don’t get it. Yes, I have heard the argument that supporting the Rams would be a throat-punch to Dean Spanos. I suppose there is some validity to that. But once again, we are talking about supporting an owner who abandoned his fans. Yet another owner who sees the bottom line as dollar signs, rather than loyalty to those who love their team. Also, an organization that has gone from Los Angeles, to Anaheim, to St. Louis, and back to Los Angeles. Once again, it is your right to make this choice, but to me, your logic is flawed.
If you are old like me, you may think of the first time that they fans in St. Louis lost a team. It was the Cardinals, not the Rams. I’ll admit that the Cardinals have been in Arizona for quite a while now and do not seem to be heading out anytime soon. I think you are safe to root for them, if location is your biggest concern. Arizona isn’t even that far to drive if you want to make an annual trip or two to see a home game. They will also play in Los Angeles at least once a year. I don’t have any reason to like the Cards, but if you do, knock yourself out.
“Sixburgh” knows how to win championships. They must be a fun franchise to watch. They play at a high level year in and year out. They have cool looking uniforms and a unique helmet with a logo on just one side. They do have a history of paying guys who have some pretty serious “character flaws”, but most teams in the NFL can say the same. My favorite memory of the Steelers is watching them go down to defeat to my Chargers in the AFC Championship game, just a week after producing their own Super Bowl video. Makes me smile every time I think of it.
“America’s Team”! You are most likely an American, so it makes sense to like the Cowboys. Right? Seems to me that the Cowboys are one of the most polarizing teams in the NFL. People either love them or hate them. Either way, they have a very solid team and have a real chance to be playing on the next several Super Bowl Sundays. I’m sure there is room on the Cowboys bandwagon (or wagon train in their case). Perhaps before long, you will find yourself as passionate about that star as you were the lightning bolt. Do remember though, owner Jerry Jones came up with the framework for the Chargers and Rams to share a stadium in LA.
This choice was interesting to me. It came up the other day on social media that an ex-Chargers fan was going to root for the Eagles going forward because of Darren Sproles and the recent drafting of Donnell Pumphrey (RB out of San Diego State University). I have no real argument against this choice. Perhaps by the time Pumphrey concludes what is hopefully an illustrious career with the Eagles, the new fans will have found a way to attach themselves to Philly and will continue on. Perhaps not.
This could be the flavor of the month, or it could be a legit choice for free agent fans. Everyone seems to love their owner and there aren’t many negative stories plaguing the roster. They were Super Bowl runner-ups last year (they should have won) as well. So again, good team with a chance to win. Perhaps you can find a way to jump on board. If so, enjoy the ride. It should be fun for a while.
“The Field” would consist of all the other team except the Los Angeles Chargers. These are teams that have no obvious reason to pick them. Sure there are great players like JJ Watt or Aaron Rodgers out there who you may like enough to start following. But beware, players careers are short. Do you really want to be right back in the same spot again in five or 10 years? Perhaps there is a city that is important to your family. Your Dad grew up in Chicago and is an avid Bears fan. Okay, root for “da Bears”. Maybe you are moving elsewhere and your new city or state has a team. Great! Your choice is easy. Maybe you want to pick your team the way you pick your horse at Del Mar. “I really like the colors on this one.” Whatever your method, the choice is yours and no one else’s opinion matters. Peace and love, Baby. Peace and love.
the Los Angeles Chargers (that is so strange to type)
Let’s assume for a moment you are straddling the fence and you just can’t decide what side to come down on. The side that shows Dean Spanos how much you despise him, or the side that shows how much you love the team despite how much you despise Dean Spanos. Notice, I am working on the assumption that the vast majority of Chargers fans, current and ex, share a hatred for Spanos. Anyway, you have a decision to make. Let me see if I can help. First of all, consider the aforementioned teams and whether or not you have any passion for any of them. If you do, problem solved.
If you are one of those “two favorite teams” people, your task is easy. But, if you are like me and do not believe in having two favorite teams, you still have work to do.
Here is what worked for me.
I simply paid attention. I paid attention to what was going on in the NFL. I listened and read about the various news on players, owners and teams. Then I paid attention to how that news made me feel. It didn’t take long before I realized that I was still far more interested in Chargers news than any other team. The more I heard about the players, the more I realized that Dean Spanos means nothing to me. Yes, I realize that every shirt, hat, jersey, or ticket I buy puts money into Dean’s pocket. I just don’t care. Dean Spanos is rich and he will continue to be rich, with or without me. Why should I let him ruin my enjoyment?
It finally hit me last week. There was a build up for the draft and I found myself paying more attention than in recent weeks and checking mock drafts for who people thought the Chargers would pick. Then draft day came and I got more and more excited as the Chargers pick drew near. I can’t say that I had the same level of interest or excitement as I have had in the past. But I can say that I had far more interest and excitement when the Chargers picked than any other team. I even got frustrated as I noticed the NFL network kept going to commercial break before the Bolt’s picks and therefore didn’t have much time to discuss the team or their needs.
Yes, I have decided to stay with my team because I do not care in the least about any other team, and I do not feel the desire to waste all that I have gone through for the past 39 years. That being said, I am not saying that you have to feel the same way. Although, if you are reading this on Boltblitz.com, you still have some interest in the team. That much is obvious.
If you choose to move on to another team, or no team at all, or whoever is playing the Chargers on any given Sunday…good for you. I respect your choice. It is a personal decision for every individual to work out. I hope you don’t waste your time and energy trying to spread your hate to others. Who I like doesn’t affect you in the least. Nor does who you like affect me. Football season will be here before you know it. I hope you find your team and manage to enjoy the season. Remember, it’s a game.
Thanks for reading.
Per ESPN, Ex-Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl running Jamaal Charles has signed with the Denver Broncos. The deal is for one-year/$3.75 million. The Chiefs released the mercurial running back on Feb. 28.
Going into his tenth NFL season, Charles has had five seasons over 1,000 yards rushing and made a name as one of the top triple-threat running backs in the league. To date, Charles has logged 7,260 yards rushing with 43 touchdowns, 411 yards receiving with 20 touchdowns and 1,246 yards on kickoff returns with one touchdown.
With this pending signing, Denver looks to solidify the running game. Charles has been a nightmare for the Los Angeles Chargers since his arrival in Kansas City in 2008. Broncos GM John Elway is looking to create a thunder-and-lightning type of backfield with Charles and starter C.J. Anderson although Charles will presumably be more of a situational back.
The problem with that approach is the damaged knees in that backfield. Going into his fifth NFL season, Anderson is returning from a major knee injury (meniscus) and Charles only managed 12 carries coming off his return from his second ACL injury. Charles has torn the ACL’s in each knee. The first occurred in 2011 and again in 2015. Now 30-years old and lacking the speed he once tore through defenses with at will, how much he has left in the tank for the Broncos remains to be seen. Charles has missed 24 games in the last two seasons with knee issues.
Four years ago, this type of move would strike fear in the hearts of NFL teams and fans. Today, Elways’ love of signing aging, damaged former superstars and desire to create a Peyton Manning-type career resurrection is bordering on comical.
Chad Reuter of NFL.com has taken on the task of grading each and every one of the NFL’s 32 draft classes in this year’s draft.
Clearly, the conjecture involved here is what it is, but I really like Reuter and his work for NFL.com.
For the sake of this article, we’ll begin with his thoughts on the AFC West.
Garett Bolles (No. 20 overall), DeMarcus Walker (No. 51 overall), Carlos Henderson (No. 82 overall), Brendan Langley (No. 101 overall), Jake Butt (No. 145 overall), Isaiah McKenzie (No. 172 overall), De’Angelo Henderson (No. 203 overall), Chad Kelly (No. 253 overall)
Day 1 grade: C
Day 2 grade: A-
Day 3 grade: B+
Overall grade: B
The skinny: Garett Bolles is an athletic, tough-minded player. He’s also an older prospect who has lived through a lot. Some teams have concerns about his ability to handle complex line adjustments. The team certainly needed a left tackle, but Ryan Ramczyk was also available here. It will be interesting to compare the careers of those two players. Though DeMarcus Walker didn’t get a lot of love after his big first week in 2016, his power and hustle make him a great pass rusher. They got a good receiver in Carlos Henderson in the third round, one of the toughest pass-catchers to tackle in the draft. Bolstering the team’s cornerback depth was a major need, so picking up intriguing former FBS cornerback Brendan Langley was worthwhile.
Denver ended the draft with a bang — taking Chad Kelly at Mr. Irrelevant. Kelly’s potential makes him a non-irrelevant selection. There’s no reason not to make that pick given his arm strength and football acumen — if he can calm himself and focus on the task at hand. The Broncos‘ first pick of Day 3 was the top selection in the fifth round, tight end Jake Butt. He should be a solid starter when he recovers from his bowl game injury. They picked up an extra fifth from Cleveland in an earlier deal. Late-round running backs De’Angelo Henderson and Matt Dayes will make an impression in training camp.
My take on Bolles, Butt and Kelly:
I am not a fan of the fact that I like the Broncos’ draft class this year. Addressing the offensive line — adding Bolles — in the first was a must, and the team added one of my favorite prospects in the entire class in Michigan tight end Jake Butt.
The thing that sticks out to me the most is John Elway pulling the trigger on troubled quarterback Chad Kelly of Ole Miss.
Kelly, nephew of former NFL gunslinger Jim Kelly, was selected by Elway with the last pick of the draft (No. 253). The youngster has all of the makings on the field of a solid early-round prospect — injuries aside — but his inability to stay out of trouble off of the field resulted in his fall to the Mr. Irrelevant selection.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:
Day 1 grade: B+
Day 2 grade: A
Day 3 grade: C
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: Chiefs GM John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid saw Brett Favre in Green Bay, and they have to see some of that gunslinger attitude in Mahomes. There is a risk factor here given his penchant for throwing the ball anywhere and from any arm angle (which will turn into interceptions in the NFL), and they have up a future first-round pick to get him. But if anyone can get Mahomes to adjust and succeed, it’s Reid. Villanova doesn’t put out a lot of top football players, but the Philadelphia crowd love seeing Tanoh Kpassagnon get picked. He’s a very good five-technique with a lot of upside. The Chiefs got a starter in Kareem Hunt, an all-around player who can do it all. Patrick Mahomes has all of the tools to be a great quarterback.
The Chiefs continued to move up and down the board on Day 3. Jehu Chesson was inconsistent in his senior year, so I might have waited a bit to pick him given the other receivers available. They also gave up a fifth-round pick to pick him, which isn’t a premium selection, but would have helped with depth. Kansas City didn’t select a cornerback with some size, which would have helped this season.
My take on Mahomes:
Though I like this class as a whole, it begins and ends with the drafting of Mahomes.
The Texas Tech star seems primed to replace current quarterback Alex Smith sooner rather than later, as the latter is hardly an average signal caller at this point in his career.
Mahomes has as good of a chance to succeed in the NFL as any of his peers at the position from this class, possessing an awkward, yet highly accurate deep ball. Though he often throws off of his back foot and from odd trajectories, he still manages to give his receiving weapons great opportunities to come down with the rock. The only team in the AFC West that I was hoping to land the former Red Raider will be playing its home games at the StubHub Center in ’17.
Gareon Conley (No. 24 overall), Obi Melifonwu (No. 56 overall), Eddie Vanderdoes (No. 88 overall), David Sharpe (No. 129 overall), Marquel Lee (No. 167 overall), Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall), Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall), Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall), Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall)
Day 1 grade: B+
Day 2 grade: B+
Day 3 grade: B+
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: As long as Conley’s off-field issues are cleared up, the Raiders got the long, agile, ballhawk they needed. If he gets in trouble, then GM Reggie McKenzie will have to answer for the pick. The Raiders are in love with long, athletic secondary members. Obi Melifonwu is a hard-hitting guy with nice speed that Al Davis would have loved. If Oakland gets the junior-year Eddie Vanderdoes, they’ll like his interior push; if he’s the 2016 Vanderdoes, they might not like what they see.
Oakland needed to get better on the offensive line, but David Sharpe must prove he can move with NFL-caliber players on a down-by-down basis. If he can, his length and size make him tough to get around. They met their inside linebacker need with Marquel Lee from Wake Forest in Round 5. Oakland didn’t ignore the running back position despite signing Beast Mode — Elijah Hood is a banger, as well.
My take on general manager Reggie McKenzie:
You sexy mutha.
This dude seems to have turned around what was a horrid franchise when he took over the organization’s general-manager spot.
After effective drafts and free-agency periods the last few seasons, the Raiders are primed to push toward the top of the AFC for the next several years, as they finished last season as the fifth seed and a 12-4 record.
Look out for the Silver and Black, folks.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS:
Mike Williams (No. 7 overall), Forrest Lamp (No. 38 overall), Dan Feeney (No. 71 overall), Rayshawn Jenkins (No. 113 overall), Desmond King (No. 151 overall), Sam Tevi (No. 190 overall), Isaac Rochell (No. 225 overall)
Day 1 grade: A-
Day 2 grade: B
Day 3 grade: B+
Overall grade: B+
The skinny: Mike Williams is a physically dominating receiver who will make life easier for Philip Rivers. He has enough speed to make plays, as well. Keenan Allen‘s injury forced the team’s hand, as well. It will be interesting to see where second-round pick Forrest Lamp plays for the Chargers; he would be an excellent center. It was an excellent value pick. The Chargers again bolstered the interior of the line with Dan Feeney, who will play guard to protect Philip Rivers and block for Melvin Gordon. Hitting two interior linemen that early is a bit of a knock, as they need safety and linebacker help.
The Chargers‘ safety group needed an upgrade. Desmond King (fifth round) and Rayshawn Jenkins (sixth) should help in that effort. Finding an aggressive swing tackle in Sam Tevi in the sixth was a nice find, and adding versatile 3-4 lineman Isaac Rochell in the seventh was a solid pick.
My take on Tom Telesco:
Sir, you complete me.
The fact that Telesco used three of his team’s seven selections on offensive linemen shows that the team is serious about opening up holes for their up-and-coming running back (Melvin Gordon) while also protecting their highest-paid asset (Philip Rivers).
Still, the question remains the same among the fans and media pundits alike: Has it become too late in the aging quarterback’s career for him to be a true difference maker?
I am a firm believer that the savvy veteran is more than capable of getting the job done for the Bolts for at least the next two years.
This team, knock on wood, will also be able to contend for the postseason should it muster up some ancient wizardry and stay relatively healthy for the first time in what seems like forever.
The Chargers have been one of the most injured teams in recent years, losing hundreds of starters all over the squad and playing 3,482 different offensive-line combinations in the last two years. (It feels as though I am only slightly exaggerating.)
The AFC West will once again enter the 2017 campaign as one of the top divisions in the league, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if it turns out to be the best of them all. This division was already tough as nails prior to all four clubs having solid drafts this past weekend.
Thanks a lot for reading.
News out of Chargers Park is that ANOTHER player is lost for the year due to injury.
Monday we learned it is defensive end Caraun Reid. And as has been the sickening norm for this team, it was an ACL tear to the big end’s left knee.
Reid sustained his injury in the first quarter of the Atlanta game after being hit in his lower leg as he planted his foot. Linebacker Denzel Perryman was heading for the pile and just caught Reid’s knee.
Claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions roster, the 6’2, 302-pounder (Princeton, round five of 2014 draft) has been with the Chargers for about six weeks. Filling in while Joey Bosa (2016 draft first round #3) nursed his sore hamstring, Reid has been a contributor on the defense. In 103 snaps he collected five combined tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
That notable highlight occurred in the week three game at Indianapolis. Rookie linebacker Jatavis Brown strip-sacked Andrew Luck and Reid scooped up the ball, taking it to the house 61 yards and tying the game at 13 all.
While announcing Reid’s situation, McCoy said “Caraun came in on the very first day and did an outstanding job. He’s a smart player that picked our system up in a hurry and made some big plays for us.”
If anyone is counting, including Reid, that makes TEN – yes, I said TEN – players lost to season-ending injuries. Five of those ten are to the knee and have occurred in the last seven weeks. Here’s the long and incomprehensible list:
Keenan Allen – torn right ACL, week one vs the Chiefs
Danny Woodhead – torn right ACL, week two vs the Jaguars
Jason Verrett – torn left ACL possibly sustained in the Jaguars game
Nick Dzubnar – torn right ACL, week four vs the Saints
And of course, Caraun Reid from yesterday.
Though it was not his ACL, the Bolts lost Manti Te’o to a torn left Achilles’ tendon early in the Colts game.
On top of those, what about the non-contact injuries that besieged the team before the 2016 campaign even began:
wide-out Stevie Johnson tore his meniscus in training camp
tight end Jeff Cumberland was lost to a torn Achilles’ during the pre-season game against Arizona
rookie guard Donavon Clark tore his right ACL in the Arizona contest
change of pace back Branden Oliver had his right Achilles’ snap during the Minnesota game
It is ONLY Week 7 and that list is scary!! I don’t know if there is any other NFL team playing right now that has had the upheaval to their roster that San Diego has endured. There are still nine weeks to go to the end of the season.
I shudder to think what the “football gods” have in store for this group of men and the accursed injury phenomena as time rolls by. Every time a man goes down, I cringe and pray it is just a minor hiccup and they’ll be back quickly.
Time for the CBA to be re-evaluated. Some teams don’t lose any players, some one or two. But to have TEN is like looking at an emergency room full of wheelchairs!
Sorry to see your name added to that list, Caraun Reid. Your presence on defense will be sorely missed.
Everyone knew that the time to choose a “replacement” for the Chargers’ stellar tight end Antonio Gates was fast approaching. The 36-year-old Gates has been the go-to guy for the Bolts’ signal caller Philip Rivers for the last 10 years. The pair have set many franchise records and “Gatesy” has numerous individual statistics which have come via the arm of Rivers. The veteran TE has slowed just a bit, however, so finding a viable replacement — not in terms of production but in terms of playing time — was a focal point during the 2016 offseason.
Enter dynamic tight end Hunter Henry. As in the best tight end of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Yes, the BEST tight end of his class. The only one ranked by CBSSports.com above 70.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out any of his draft profiles. Many football analysts and draftniks dubbed Henry as such, the consensus stating that he had good hands, ran routes well and was a good blocker. He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 235 pounds. His 40-yard dash time was 4.66 seconds. Sounds like just what the Chargers need at that position, right?
Henry declared his eligibility on January 4, 2016, after his junior season at Arkansas. And, why not? Just look at the former Razorback’s career stats: 1,661 receiving yards on 116 catches with nine touchdowns. Did you know that 93 of those 116 receptions went for first downs or touchdowns? Or that he had four 100-yard receiving games? His 2015 numbers of 51 grabs for 739 yards and three touchdowns plus NO DROPS culminated in Henry receiving the John Mackey Award, an honor annually bestowed upon the most outstanding collegiate tight end in the nation.
Though he has been active in all six games thus far, Henry’s debut versus the Kansas City Chiefs was quiet, as he had a lone catch for 20 yards. He came up empty in the boxscore for the Jacksonville game. The rookie finally busted out in Indianapolis to the tune of 72 receiving yards, as he caught each of the five passes tossed to him by Rivers. The only slight was that in the final minute of that game, he was stripped of the ball in what would most likely have led San Diego to a come-from-behind win.
Henry caught his first touchdown in the home game against New Orleans. It was a sweet pass caught in the middle of the field that he took to the house after 20 yards, just one of his four-catch, 61-yard day. No. 86 has scored a TD in each of the last three games. Six games into the season and he has already amassed 310 yards on 19 receptions (16.3 avg) with three scores and 16 first-down grabs.
Thursday’s game at Qualcomm had division rival Denver in town. How did Henry respond? He responded by scoring a 5-yard TD in front of Broncos’ corner Chris Harris, Jr. while the Bolts were at 2nd-and-goal in the first quarter. He finished the night with 83 yards on six catches in addition to his touchdown reception.
Having future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates as your mentor has to be right up there with being able to play in the NFL.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Gates told Ricky Henne of chargers.com: “From the time I met him, I could see he had all the intangibles.
I see him still growing. I jokingly told him, ‘If I met you before the Combine, you would have went first round! I would have showed you how to have some personality in your routes!’ Now you are seeing that personality in his routes. He already had it all, and now he is just building on it. He is a phenomenal blocker, which is rare to see coming into the league. He’s special. He really is.”
Those are TWO special tight ends that San Diego has on its roster; the master and the apprentice. Keep absorbing all the knowledge you can from No. 85, Henry. He will mold you in to a Hall of Famer, too.
“The sky’s the limit” might be a trite phrase. But in Henry’s case, there are no truer words. Whenever Gates hangs up his cleats, we all know that the team will be in good — make that great — hands!
See what two of our writers, Zak Darman and Chris Hoke, have to say about whether or not the 2016 San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs this season.
Zak Darman: NO DEAL! The San Diego Chargers will NOT make the playoffs at years end.
The Chargers made some nice moves in the offseason to boost up their offense by signing wide receiver Travis Benjamin and center Matt Slauson. It is no secret that the offense is much improved, starting with the addition of offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt. The offense was looking very good in Week 1, right before Keenan Allen left that game with a torn ACL, ending his season. The running game looked much improved with a better and more decisive Melvin Gordon. The loss of Danny Woodhead from Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will hurt immensely, though, and they hope the recent signing of Dexter McCluster will help. We will see.
On defense, however, is where the weaknesses still stand out. The Bolts used the No. 3 overall selection on defensive end Joey Bosa, who has not played in a single game this season due to contract negotiations/injury, and brought in nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Casey Heyward and safety Dwight Lowery. I still don’t like this group because in my opinion they don’t have enough playmakers to take this team to the next level. Manti Te’o is below average and prior to being lost for the season due to injury, there was a question whether he should be starting or not. The safeties are a joke and the pass rush is still bad. Outside of Pro Bowler Jason Verrett, who else is there? It also does not help to have one of the worst defensive coordinators in all of football in John Pagano. Yes, the defense looked great in the first half vs KC but lets not forget that the Chiefs were without Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith was missing some wide open short route throws that he usually doesn’t miss. This unit has been overrated from the get-go and it needs to be addressed. The defense looked better in week 2, but that was against a young and inexperienced Jaguars team. On Sunday, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton did what they wanted. Verrett wasn’t on his game and the defense had no shot.
First let me start by saying for the sake of this piece I will make a case for Mike McCoy even if my previous articles and opinions have stated otherwise. Mike McCoy has shown flashes of being a Coach who can lead this team. All of the losses, huge injuries, off the field drama with Eric Weddle and now Joey Bosa, has caused major distractions which is never a good recipe in the locker room. In this case for Mike McCoy winning fixes everything. Even through three major season-ending injuries to key players, this team is built to win and get deep into the playoffs. Here’s how:
As Zak had pointed out above, the improvement of this offense is the running game. Yes it is odd to say this, due to the horrible run game the Chargers have had in a long time, a running game is very much back in San Diego; maligned since the departure of Ken Whisenhunt and Ryan Mathews. It’s no coincidence that since his return to America’s finest city, the run game has been rejuvenated. Gordon, who had zero touchdowns last year, has already compiled four scores along with his first career 100 yard rushing game against the Jags. Follow that up with a passing attack, without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead whom are both lost for the season, still has the weapons to be very dangerous. With the old reliable Antonio Gates on the sidelines, there is not much room for panic with the emergence of second round pick Hunter Henry. Even with the fumbled tragedy that ended any last ditched efforts for a win last week against the Colts, Hunter had a pretty solid game; breaking open for huge yards. Continuity between him and Rivers will only begin to grow more with each big play Hunter makes. The future is still bright for these Bolts offensively.
After being released from the Chargers after the 2012 season, former Head Coach Norv Turner was asked for a quote regarding the new incoming coaching staff. “They need to have a lot of patience with them.”
“Them” referencing all Charger fans.
Maybe we need to really forget about 2013 as maybe the Chargers caught lightning in a bottle with a group of talent that really wasn’t that good, at least defensively. Moving on to this year, it’s been four years and four drafts since Tom Telesco and company took over. Some naysayers have claimed that he has missed on players, but at the same time he has found some gems, such as Jason Verrett. There are others like Craig Mager and DJ Fluker where the verdict is still to be determined however in my opinion they are good additions to this team.
I will say that the defensive talent on this team, is what Pagano has been waiting for. We all have seen what Hayward has done thus far and of course what the Pro Bowler Verrett can do, but the key addition, in my opinion, is the addition to Brandon Mebane – whose presence alone has shifted protection schemes. That ability, to force opposition to change schemes, is not listed in the box score yet it creates room for the linebackers, such as new defensive captain Melvin Ingram, to reap the rewards.
The first round pick Joey Bosa has yet to take the field – signs pointing to week 5 or 6. The Chargers seem fine to just ease him in slowly rather to not risk further injury. Even with the loss of Manti Teo, Jatavis Brown stepped in and showed that he can be an instant playmaker. When Bosa does finally step in and is at game level, this defense will be headed to the next level. We already see what happens when Mebane is on the field and when you add in the beast Corey Liuget and Bosa – the three-headed monster will lead this team to playoffs and hopefully back to the Super Bowl.
In closing, if McCoy can remain aggressive, this team can and will make the playoffs. If his attitude is as assertive as I saw it to be in 2013, it will resonate throughout the whole locker room. As long as we do not continue to lose key players every week, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given Sunday. The defense could easily be ranked in the top five, sans injuries of course, and as we have seen in the past, defense wins championships. Toss in a future Hall of Fame quarterback, a running back who is so raw and talented, and a receiving core who has already manifested themselves as reliable, the San Diego Chargers will make it deep into the playoffs. Perhaps we will hear this again.
Let us know your opinion on whether or not the Chargers, as it stands, will make the playoffs this season.
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In what appears to be an unfortunate yet ongoing theme, the Chargers lost yet another player for the season.
The team announced on its official website on Monday that Manti Te’o suffered a torn Achilles and that he will miss the remainder of the 2016 campaign
The few snaps that Te’o saw Sunday before being hurt may very well have been his last in lightning bolts. The inside linebacker is in the final year of his rookie contract which has yet to be extended.
Te’o exited Sunday’s nail-biter against the Colts with an obvious injury to his lower leg. No contact was made as he was clearly in the middle of the field and suddenly went down, grabbing at his calf. Initial reports shortly after were that it was his Achilles and he would not be returning to the game.
This is the third non-contact injury to a Bolts’ player in as many weeks. First to be lost in the regular season was Keenan Allen, who tore his ACL in the Week 1 game against Kansas City. Last week the team saw all-around back Danny Woodhead go out with an ACL injury, as well. Sunday it was Te’o. This trend brings up many questions but I’m not going to discuss them right now.
What is disconcerting is that this is the third player on the team to be lost for the year due to an Achilles’ tear. First up was tight end Jeff Cumberland, an offseason pickup. He had gone up to catch a deep ball from Kellen Clemens in the Week 2 preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. The following week it was Branden Oliver. Everyone can recall with utmost clarity when BO’s Achilles’ snapped and rippled up his calf. Now Manti Te’o, the defensive captain and signal caller, has had the same thing happen to him.
Three players lost to an Achilles’ tendon tear in what, six weeks?! Each one coming in a situation where the individual is not being contacted by another player.
The Chargers may not be the only team to have the “injury curse” hit them this early in the 2016 campaign, but it’s damn freaky to have the SAME type of trauma effect three different players in the course of a season.
Let us all hope that this does not continue to be the theme over the course of the remaining games.
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On Monday another crushing blow to the Chargers 2016 campaign occurred when it was announced that Danny Woodhead would be lost for the season. Compounded with the loss of Keenan Allen last week, a huge void has been created in this offense.
Enter Dexter McCluster who the Chargers wasted no time finding as a solid replacement for Danny. Formerly with the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, he is a capable and dangerous weapon who could be the best in-season pickup the Chargers have had in a long time.
Dare I say this – McCluster may be a better weapon for Rivers then Woodhead was. That’s only if McCluster has the same speed and shiftiness he had in KC/Tenn. The best part of this signing is Dexter knows Whisenhunt’s offense since he played for him in Tennessee. McCluster should easily be a situational player who has the versatility to make an impact in the running game, passing game and a return specialist. The Bolts haven’t had this kinda flexibility since the days of Darren Sproles.
To some, there might be some concern as to why he was on the free agent market. In Tennessee, he was third on the depth chart behind DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and thus he was released on September 2nd. A tryout with the New York Jets and 18 days later, the Chargers timing seems fortuitous as they inked him right away.
With his adaptability to fit into any role, it is anyone’s guess as to how McCoy will utilize the 28-year-old. Clearly he has huge shoes to fill in replacing a player like Woodhead, but perhaps with the right coaching staff and supporting cast, his career and usefulness could get a major jump. So far in his career, since being drafted by Kansas City out of Mississippi, he has not been “the guy” to build a team around. However, he appears to be a self-aware player who believes he can make an impact in any role he is given. All he needs is open space and the rock in order to showcase his speed and elusiveness.
If you’re not familiar with Dexter, here’s some highlights of his years with KC and his last year with the Titans. Enjoy!
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The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their picks and analysis of Sunday’s game.
Zak Darman: KC is without Justin Houston and Jamaal Charles, arguably the two best players on the KC roster. Tamba Hali is banged up and Alex Smith is still Alex Smith. BUT, Mike McCoy and John Pagano are still here. The Bolts are without their 3rd overall pick and we still don’t know if they can stop the run yet. The defense should be better and the offense should be immensely better with the additions of Travis Benjamin and Offensive Coordinator Ken Wisenhunt. My fear is the Chargers start out sloppy and slow, as we normally see, and dig themselves too big of a hole to climb out of. It will be closer than many think, but the Chiefs are still deeper than the Chargers and have better talent at most of the skill positions. 24-20 Chiefs
Travis Blake: Contrary to popular opinion, this game is not a low scoring defensive battle many pundits were predicting. Chargers get down early 7-0 but rally back midway through the second quarter and never trail again. Melvin Gordon runs for 99 yards and his first regular season rushing touchdown on a draw play from just outside the red zone. A comeback hopeful drive late in the 4th quarter stalls for the Chiefs as Melvin Ingram gets the strip sack to end the game! Boom! #boltpredictions. Bolts 31, Chiefs 27.
Corey Decker: The Chargers are going into one of the loudest stadiums in the entire national football league. Which means they will be primed and ready to upset the home team. Almost every touchdown in the first three preseason games was scored by the first string, which is a very good sign that the Chargers will score at least one touchdown in the first quarter. The bolts will trail 14-7 going into half time, but will score one touchdown in each of the 3rd and 4th quarters. The Chiefs will kick a field goal with less than a minute remaining and then fail on an onside kick attempt. This game will be close like most division games are. There are a lot of guys that didn’t see much action last season playing which means they are hungry. Chargers 21-17
Cheryl White: Melvin Gordon scores his and the teams first touchdown; the team will be itching to get some work in. KC’s defense will be off kilter a bit w/o Houston and Matt Slauson will show the O-line how to play with NFC North nastiness. Add in touchdowns by Gates and Slayer with good field position for a change courtesy of Benjamin or whomever runs it back. 24-21 Bolts
Chris Hoke: Chargers overcome slouchy first half and squeeze past the Chiefs led by a stingy second half defense and the arm of Rivers. Josh Lambo hits a field goal in OT as the Chargers leave KC victorious. 24-21 bolts
Mike Pisciotta Kansas City’s front 7, even with the absence of Justin Houston will stuff Melvin Gordon and force the offense to become one dimensional. With Joey Bosa out, the Chief’s offense will take advantage with Jamaal Charles and Charcandric West and run all over the Chargers defense. KC 24-17 winners
Will McCafferty: If a healthy Bolt squad can’t beat a banged up KC team, they are in real trouble. 27-24 Bolts
Greg Williams: D will stuff what is left of Chiefs running game. No Justin Houston means they can double Hali without consequence. Chargers will lead wire to wire and game manager Smith will throw two picks trying to play catch-up. Rivers lights up Chiefs secondary for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns. (Two to Gates, who roasts Eric Berry on the regular). 31-13 bolts win
Dave “Booga” Peters: Gordon does just enough, totaling 111 total yards and two touchdowns. Defense forces three turnovers. Joey Bosa was missed in generating pressure, but the front-seven pressures KC enough to allow the secondary to snag two Alex Smith interceptions. Bolts allow QB Smith to rush for 50 yards while Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West chew up 160 yards on the ground, but that isn’t enough for KC. Chargers win 23-20
Alright, saying this game is a “must-win” is a bit of an exaggeration. After all, it is Week 1 of a 16-week NFL season. A season is normally broken into quarters before teams are critiqued. Even if the Chargers lose in Kansas City (KC), there are three more games to be played in the first quarter of the season. I think we would all agree that a 3-1 record would be a very good start, no matter which of the first four games are lost.
Then again, this game may not be a must-win, but it is very important. The Chargers have been through many changes this offseason, and have a lot to prove to the skeptics, — the “experts” — the rest of the league, their own fans, and themselves. All of that, on top of having to find a way to prove to the city of San Diego that they are worth keeping, is NOT an easy task.
So, why is this game so important? There are a litany of reasons. Here are 10 fairly obvious reasons unveiled in a completely random order.
- A Fast Start: The Chargers have long been thought of as a team that doesn’t start a season ready to play. That has changed a little in the last couple of years, but the importance of getting that first win under your belt is real, and could go a long way toward building a real sense of belief across the fan base, as well as the team itself.
- Building a Winning Culture: A large percentage of this team has never played together before. They have never gone into battle knowing what to expect from the guy next to them. They do not know how the team will react in a pressure situation. In fact, even the players who have been on the team for a couple of years do not know these things, as the team has been decimated by injuries and there has been a revolving door at many positions. To go into KC in Week 1 and beat a very talented Chiefs team would go a long way toward building the team’s confidence and creating a winning culture.
- No Excuses: Most of Mike McCoy’s time in San Diego has come with a built-in excuse for losing. Not that it was ever really used as an excuse in a press conference, but there has always been an understanding that it is difficult to win when you have multiple key injuries on both sides of the ball. Coach McCoy and the Chargers have been given a pass by many who understand the importance of team play and continuity in the ultimate team sport. Going into Week 1, the Chargers have not listed anyone as “out” on the injury report. That means for the first time in recent memory, the Chargers are taking the field with a healthy team of starters who are supposed to be of high quality. No one wants to hear that it takes time to learn to work together. That is what preseason and training camp are for. These players need to go out there and prove that the excuses of the past were warranted rather than lame.
- Divisional Game: Okay, this one is pretty obvious. The Bolts are playing the Chiefs. The Chiefs are also in the AFC West. This is one of the greatest rivalries in all of football. Going into this season, the two teams have met 111 times, with the Chiefs holding a slight advantage in wins with a 56-54-1 record against the Bolts. If they can’t get up for this game, there is a real problem. As you all know, the Chargers finished 0-6 in the division last season.
- Melvin Gordon: We need to be honest. No one is happy with the stats that the Chargers’ No. 1 draft pick put up in 2015. Not a single touchdown to his name was the largest red flag. One would think with an offense that gained just shy of 5,000 yards in the air, Gordon would have at least found the endzone one time! But, no. So far, in the preseason, Gordon has looked like a different back. He scored on a long running play as well as a long pass. He is running with the confidence that he had back in college. Perhaps it is due to having a healthy offensive line. Perhaps it is because he is more comfortable with the offense. Perhaps he is just a slow starter. Finally, perhaps his injured knee that was repaired in the offseason was bothering him during the season and that was kept from the fans. I don’t know what the truth is and, honestly, I do not care. The only concern I have is that he is confident right now and a bad game Week 1 could allow doubt to creep back in his mind and further delay his progress.
- Coach Ken Whisenhunt: Much of the blame for the lack of run production and scoring on last year’s team was piled on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Well, Reich has been let go and replaced by fan- favorite Ken Whisenhunt. Coach Whisenhunt promises to bring power football back to San Diego. Yes, this year’s Chargers will announce their presence with authority, if Whisenhunt has his way. A welcome change from the one-dimensional team that graced the field in 2015. A solid running game should open up many options for quarterback Philip Rivers, as well as keep the defense guessing, rather than pinning their ears back and targeting Rivers.
- Mike McCoy: It is said that McCoy’s backside is sitting in a very hot seat. We are supposed to believe that if the Chargers do not make a significant improvement this season that McCoy will be run out of town faster than Mayor Faulconer at a Save Our Bolts rally. Personally, I have my doubts. Let’s face it, Norv Turner was on the hot seat longer than anyone believed possible. It was almost as if ownership didn’t want to eat his contract. Surely, that is not reality, though. Winning comes first! (wink)
- Healthy Players: As of the Friday before the game, there is not a single player “out”, or even “doubtful” on the Chargers injury report. That is an unbelievable stat when considering last year’s injury report looked more like the guest list for a popular Gaslamp club on any Saturday night. If the Bolts can’t win with these guys, they are in trouble.
- Kansas City Hurting: With Justin Houston out and Jamaal Charles and Tamba Hali hurting, now is the time for the Chargers to take advantage of another team’s injuries for a change. If the Bolts struggle to move the ball against a defense that is missing their top pass rusher and has their next best on a bum wheel, then playoff hopes are perhaps nothing more than the dreams of the eternally optimistic.
- #VoteYesOnC: Let’s face it, if the Chargers don’t have a good start to their season, the casual fans will abandon them. They need all the votes they can get in November if they are going to get a new stadium downtown. It won’t take too many losses to turn off those who really don’t follow the Bolts too closely. This team needs to light up the scoreboard, earn some dominating wins while showing this town that they can be a winner.
So, is this a must-win game for our Bolts? No. That being said, in the eyes of the players, fans and voters, the team must find a way to get off to a hot start, enabling the community to rally behind a team who could be on the move.
Please leave your comments down below in the comment section and I’ll be sure to get back to you. Thanks for reading and Go Bolts!!!