LA Rams

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It all came about because of a neighbor, who happened to be a diehard Chargers fan.

Initially, I was never a gal who liked to watch football. I went to a couple of games in high school but that was it. I grew up in this little place in Rhode Island, which is about a 90-minute drive outside of Boston. The closest NFL team was the Patriots. (I know, boo-hiss!) The only thing I could tell you then about the New England Patriots was that their quarterback was Jim Plunkett and they played at Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, MA.

My dad was a baseball guy, a fan of the good ol’ Boston Red Sox. The BoSox were his team, and Luis Tiant was his favorite player; probably more so than either Carl Yazstremski (“Yaz” was my favorite) or Tony Conigliaro.

We never watched football!

No, not even Super Bowls!

Fast forward to moving from the East Coast to the West Coast in 1980. I was still pretty uneducated about football at that time, but not for much longer!

I believe it was that fall when we began going to our neighbor’s home to watch San Diego Chargers football on Sunday afternoons. The Chargers’ Air Coryell offense was flying high with Fouts at QB. He had Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson at wideout, along with Chuck Muncie and John Cappelletti as his running backs. Additionally, No. 14 had Kellen Winslow at the tight-end spot. Remember that defense? Willie Buchanon, Louie Kelcher, Woody Lowe, Don Macek, Jim Laslavic and Ed White. Beasts!

That was a great year to start being a fan. The Chargers ended the season with an 11-5 record, finishing in 1st place in the AFC West. They went on to face the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round and won. Unfortunately, they ran into the Oakland Raiders at the AFC Championship level and lost. Disappointed, but my interest was piqued.

The following year the Chargers won their division again, in no small part due to the guys who returned from the previous year, but also additions like Wes Chandler, James Brooks, Eric Sievers and Pete Holohan.
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Then came the “Epic in Miami.” What a game! Once you hear it, all football fans immediately associate it with the image of an exhausted and drained Kellen Winslow being helped off the field by a couple of teammates. Chargers won the hard-fought, see-saw contest, 41-38 in overtime. It was quite a battle.

These are the types of games that get fans fired up! I was no different. By that point, I was becoming a fan, although my understanding of the sport was still miniscule.

After the heat and humidity of Miami a week later, Fouts and Company found themselves in Cincinnati. This game gets a nickname, too: the “Freezer Bowl.” From the heat and humidity of Miami to the sub-zero temperatures in Cincy, where the wind chill at game time was minus-59 degrees! The Chargers would have the fight of their football lives on the line. Sadly, they lost to the Bengals 27-7.

Of course, there were other games and players that helped solidify my enjoyment – and frustration – of Chargers’ football, just like many other people who root for them. As a “transplant” to California in 1980, there were four football teams here: the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders, the LA Rams and the San Diego Chargers.

I chose to represent San Diego then as I do now. My understanding of the game is better because of family and friends, plus a little bit of reading. I still have a long way to go and every year is a learning experience.

Thanks for some awesome memories over the years, San Diego Chargers! Now let’s bring on 2016!

Thank you for reading!

Cheryl White

#Boltn’Up!

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Several former Chargers made headlines on Wednesday in a flurry of NFL news that hit the interwebs as teams start making moves for the start of their respective training camps.

 

It looks as if former Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler has finally found a new home. Via multiple reports, he signed today with the Arizona Cardinals. This is interesting for several reasons. First, the Cardinals and Chargers are scheduled to hold a joint practice before both teams meet August 19 for a preseason skirmish. It will be interesting to see if the Arizona coaching staff can get any productivity out of a player who had woefully underwhelmed in his last few seasons with the Bolts.

 

Former Charger running back Ryan Mathews is hurt again, and he didn’t even get hurt playing football. The Eagles announced today that they are placing him on the Non-Football-Injury list for an ankle injury he suffered last week when the team was on their CBA- mandated break before training camp. There are literally so many potential jokes here that I can’t even pick one. It looks as if parting ways with Mathews after the 2014 season was the right move for the Chargers. Mathews’ NFL career could possibly be in jeopardy.

 

In other NFL news, Nick Foles asked the Rams to be released and they obliged him. Via ESPN, the Rams released Foles after he agreed to take less guaranteed money if they let him walk. Foles was benched last season after going 4-5 with six touchdowns and throwing seven interceptions. The Rams drafted Foles’ replacement a few months ago with the 1st overall pick in Jared Goff from Cal.

 

The New York Jets’ first-round pick, linebacker Darron Lee, signed his contract Wednesday. Lee was one of three remaining first-round draft picks that had not been signed. The others are 49ers’ Joshua Garnett and, of course, Chargers’ Joey Bosa. All three players are represented by the same agent, working for Creative Artists Agency. All three players are fighting for no offset language in their contracts (essentially allowing them to be paid double if they are cut from the team that drafted them before their rookie contracts are up). Many first-round draft picks fight for no offset language, but few get it. It’s unclear whether Darron Lee’s contract has any offset language, but his signing is good news for Chargers fans that the Bosa signing could be next.

 

Personally, I think these contract disputes are less about the players and more about the “business” of the NFL. I don’t think college players start off as freshman saying, “I want to play in the NFL and have a contract with no offset language.” I think the players and players’ families are talked into these situations by profit-driven, money-hungry agents who take advantage of a vulnerable and critical time in a young man’s life for their own benefit. Hopefully Bosa signs soon and we can all forget about offset language until next year!

 

Who is excited for training camp to start?!

 

@TravisBlake101

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If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am not the biggest fan of Chargers’ head coach, Mike McCoy. I want so badly to be excited about this upcoming training camp and ensuing season. I want to be excited about Travis Benjamin and Keenan Allen on offense, and Jason Verrett and Denzel Perryman on defense. But there is one person standing in the way of my excitement — freaking Mike McCoy.

Many of McCoy’s coaching deficiencies are well documented. Blunders like terrible clock management in big games, recycling the same game plan from week to week, overly conservative play-calling (punting on 4th down when he should go for it), or questionable player development and usage are some of the big problems. Seeing these mistakes being made for three straight seasons, I was confident that the axe was finally coming down for a coach who had just steered his ship to twelve lost games, including no wins in his own division.

Enter the stadium saga. Perhaps the most important era in San Diego sports history began in early 2015 with Dean Spanos’ bid to move the team to LA. The bid ultimately stalled because a bunch of billionaires, who all have bigger piles of money than Dean, decided it was going to be the Rams who would move to LA with an option for the Chargers to follow if they couldn’t get a stadium built in San Diego. One of the underrated effects of this decision was that Mike McCoy got to keep his job.

The team’s future was uncertain. The only way to appear like a stable football organization was to give the illusion of some sort of stability. So, in an all too predictable and equally conservative move, the Chargers gave McCoy a two-year contract extension. The 4-12 record for the 2015 season was essentially erased and McCoy is back at the helm for 2016. However, there is one major problem for McCoy this year that he did not encounter last year: The Chargers HAVE to win this year.

I am calling it. This is the most important season ever for the Chargers as an organization. They have to have a winning record going into the November 8th vote of the downtown stadium initiative. Even if they have a winning record, it’s still going to be an uphill battle to get the two-thirds majority approval many are saying they will need for the initiative to pass. Having McCoy calling the shots at this critical juncture is a mistake. I would have taken the chance and tried to lure Hue Jackson to San Diego before he got a chance to go to Cleveland. But what is done is done, so let’s look into the future as we so often do as NFL fans.

This team has so many question marks. Will the offensive line be better? Will Melvin Gordon be better? Will special teams be better? Will the return of Ken Whisenhunt improve the offense? Will the defensive line be better? Will they be able to run the ball? Will this team have better injury luck? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, I think the Bolts will have a winning record and maybe make it to the playoffs. If the answer is no to even some of these questions, I do not believe that Mike McCoy will be able completely change his coaching style.

So what if the Chargers are 2-3 going into week six against the Broncos and lose? Many fans would be calling for McCoy’s head, including myself. Should he be removed midseason? Well yes, but also no. He should have been fired midseason last year. So if the team tanks in the first half of 2016, what do you do? The Chargers have put themselves in a very difficult situation. The conservative “old” Chargers philosophy would probably be to keep him until the end of the season. But this is not a normal season, and if a new football operations strategy is being formed within the organization, we could see its first really bold move of firing McCoy as early as Week 7.

It just so happens that Ken Whisenhunt used to be a head football coach and even took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl. So you have McCoy’s potential interim replacement already on the team. Many fans might call for John Pagano to step in as McCoy’s potential proxy. I disagree. Pags has been behind the wheel of a defense that is full of first- and second-round draft picks, but has consistently given up big plays and underwhelmed in big games. If McCoy goes, I believe Pagano is not far behind.

I actually hope McCoy can break out of his shell this year and coach the Bolts back into the playoffs. As many of you know, I am critical of the Chargers, and will continue to be until they win a Super Bowl. But, I never root for players or coaches to fail. I simply point out where I think they can improve if a player or coach is not performing well.

We as fans need to show up in support of these players this year, and hopefully these players will feed off of our energy and dominate like we know they can. For once, let’s take it out of the coach’s hands. These players could be playing for the team to stay in San Diego forever. Isn’t that something worth showing up for and cheering for? I sure think so. Winning will solve many of our problems. Winning this year will take all of us together, and maybe one day, we will look back on 2016 as this being one of the greatest years in the history of San Diego sports.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

#RockTheQ

#WinAsOne

@TravisBlake101  

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