It is looking like the desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures scenario has arrived in San Diego this past Sunday.
The most-hated division rival, the Oakland Raiders and their fans, first took over Qualcomm Stadium, and then proceeded to deliver a knock-out punch to the Chargers that had not been seen in, well, maybe forever.
What ever game plan Mike McCoy and Frank Reich had in place, it went sideways very quickly.
How could that happen?!
The team was wearing its powder blue jerseys and, as superstition goes, that beat-down should not have happened!
What I and many other Bolts fans, witnessed, whether at the stadium or watching on television, was a thorough implosion.
I am not going to rehash this too much, it still makes me sick to think about the situation as a whole.
Mike McCoy became the Chargers head coach on January 25, 2013. He was 40 years old then, and the youngest head coach in the NFL.
At one of his initial interviews, after being named Norv Turner’s replacement, McCoy stated that he planned to hire an offensive coordinator.
Perhaps that seemed unusual since it was one of the reasons why he was being pursued. After all, this is the guy who everyone knew had worked with Tim Tebow, helping him to change his mechanics, ultimately leading the Broncos to a playoff win with the now-unemployed quarterback at the helm.
Let us not forget that under McCoy and former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt managed to help Philip Rivers get his mojo back after he appeared to be losing his touch.
What transpired that year for Rivers was him being named “NFL Comeback Player of the Year” in 2013; a distinction that the signal caller did not quite understand as he had not missed a game since becoming the starter in 2006.
Former offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos from 2008 until 2012, McCoy began his tenure there with journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton. Under McCoy’s direction, Denver’s offense ranked seventh in passing and Orton was fourth in the NFL in passing yards per game in 2010.
McCoy revamped the offense for Tebow in 2011 by inserting more running plays into the game plan. The former Heisman Trophy winner (2007, the first to win as a sophomore) responded by rushing for 660 yards and scoring six touchdowns. At the end of the season, he had a passer rating of 72.5, based on an attempt/completion record of 126/271 (46.5%), seven TDs and was picked off once. Tebow led Denver to six straight wins and the team went into the postseason having won seven of their last eight games.
And then along came Peyton Manning in 2012.
McCoy and the playbook evolved once more to accommodate Manning’s potent hurry-up offense. With “The Sheriff” as their leader, the Broncos had a 13-3 record in spite of a 2-3 start. They won their second consecutive AFC West title, a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs. McCoy and Manning were defeated in double-overtime by the Baltimore Ravens, who went on to win the Super Bowl. Offensively, the team ranked fourth in total offense, fifth in passing offense and 16th in rushing. Manning was ranked sixth with a completion percentage of 68.6, a TD/INT ratio of 37/11 and threw for 4,659 yards on 583 attempts.
That same year, Rivers ranked No. 17 among QBs. He was 338 out of 527 for 3,606 yards (64.1%), had 26 passing scores with 15 picks. The Bolts were in the bottom offensively: 31st in total offense, No. 24 in passing and 27th in rushing.
Ironically, the 2015 season to date reflects a curiously unusual status between the two competitors and their teams: both have flip-flopped in most categories other than the penultimate: wins and losses.
Manning’s Broncos are 6-0 while Rivers and the Chargers are sitting at 2-5. Through the first seven games (Denver was on bye last week) the statistics look like this: San Diego is first in total offense with 430.7 yards per game versus 325.8 and the 29th slot for Denver. The Bolts also have first place honors in passing offense (343.6), while the Broncos are 18th (240.8). Both AFC West rivals rank in the bottom in rushing, back-to-back in fact. San Diego is 29th (87.1) with Denver at 30th (85).
As for the signal callers themselves?
Rivers is first in the NFL with 2,452 yards, adding TD/INT ratio of 15/7. Where is Manning? Well, his 1,524 yards, seven TDs and 10 INTs put him in 17th place.
There are many people who are trying to figure out why the future Hall of Famer is in such a predicament. Is it the new head coach, Elway’s old friend and teammate Gary Kubiak, who is also calling the plays this year who should be to blame?
I don’t think I heard “Omaha” when I watched the Broncos-Chiefs game.
Adam Gase, the offensive guru in Denver for the last little stretch, followed previous Broncos coach John Fox to Chicago. Or is the health and age of good ol’ boy no. 18 in the navy and orange truly declining? I mean, after all, Peyton is 39 years old. He’s been playing football for a long time!
Perhaps the bottom line is that McCoy is a better offensive coordinator than head coach. Maybe for now the short-term fix is for him to start carrying around a sheet, a couple of markers and starts calling the plays himself.
This might relegate Reich to QB coach again, essentially, but if that is what it takes to win, so be it. This team is better than its record reflects; there are many men on the roster who are fighters and can help lead this group on its course. We the fans need more than the same-old, same-old that McCoy reiterates each week because not only is that old news, it just truly sets my teeth on edge.
Whatever “it” may be, this pretty much says it all: “We got outplayed and outcoached in the first half,” McCoy said. “It’s very difficult to have success when you start the game like we did, whether it’s turnovers or giving up seven straight scores. That starts with me as the head coach. We’re not going to sit around and dwell on this.”
Yeah, we know, Coach. What we want to know is: what are you going to do about it?
Thanks for reading!
Today, the San Diego Chargers made news by signing free agent wide receiver Stevie Johnson. Last week Johnson visited Chargers Park and finished his recruitment tour in Foxboro with the Patriots. After taking the weekend to decide, the wideout signed a three-year deal, becoming the newest Charger.
Johnson played in San Francisco last season, the previous six seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He played in 13 games and had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson’s career was trending upward during a three-year span from the 2010 to 2012 seasons. In each of those three seasons he had over 1000 yards receiving and averaged 79 catches.
The decline in his numbers could be attributed to poor quarterback play. Last season, Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a down season statistically and San Francisco was 20th in the league in total offense. In Buffalo he was catching balls from journeyman Kyle Orton and subpar rookie E.J. Manuel. In San Diego, he will easily have the best quarterback of his career throwing him the ball in Philip Rivers.
Johnson’s signing is the Chargers answer to losing receiver Eddie Royal to the Chicago Bears. Royal had a big year playing from the slot, catching 62 passes for 778 yards and seven touchdowns. Johnson will be expected to take Royals’ spot in the offense and replace his production. In Buffalo, he played primarily from the slot and put up great numbers.
At 6’2, 207 he has shown the ability to use his frame to shake tackles and get yards after the catch. His presence will stretch the field as he and Antonio Gates patrol the middle of the field and Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd man the edges.
From the looks of things, the 28-year old Johnson has managed to stay healthy most of his career. The 49ers cut him as a salary cap move. The Bills traded him for a draft conditional fourth round draft pick that ultimately became a third round pick. He played every game of the aforementioned three-year stretch from 2010-2012. Aside from a rib injury in 2009, he’s been able to stay on the field and avoid the knee, ankle, hamstring and quad injuries that result in missed games and seemingly plague all receivers.
Will he return to his 2010-12 form with Rivers at the helm? Does he still have the ability to carve defenses and be a legitimate deep threat the way he was in Buffalo? The front office is hoping that is the case. During that time, he was a charismatic, fun-loving, free-spirited, celebration dancing, undershirt writing showboat in the mold of Terrell Owens and Chad Ocho Cinco. In San Diego, he will be a starter as long as he can produce. If he’s celebrating, that means he’s scoring and we’ll all be happy with that. Let’s hope that is the case.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Do you like this signing?
The Greg One