By now, I’m sure you have heard the news, but if you haven’t….
Former Browns WR Travis Benjamin is signing with San Diego Chargers, as @Rand_Getlin reported.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2016
The details of the contract are as follows: four-year, $24 million deal with $13 million guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter.
What he brings to the team:
TBenj brings speed and a deep threat, FINALLY, providing a nice complementary piece to Keenan Allen. TBenj is more than just speed, though, as he is also a decent route runner and is coming off his best season as a pro. Remember, his career numbers include eight different quarterbacks throwing to him and none of which are even close to Philip Rivers’ talent level.
Additionally, the former Brown is a very good punt returner, and that is something that Chargers have lacked since Darren Sproles left. He averaged 11.6 yards per return; for compariso’s sake, Javontee Herndon averaged 7.4 yards a return with 17 less chances. He has the ability to flip the field for the Chargers on occasion and also be that guy the defenses focus on that leaves the middle of the field open for KA13, opening up shorter routes for Stevie Johnson and the newly extended Antonio Gates.
Overall, this is a very nice pickup by general manager Tom Telesco. Benjamin is a solid replacement for the recently retired Malcom Floyd and also gives the Chargers a return game. TBenj could prove to be a sneaky good pickup and the move has already been praised by Fantasy Football Guru, Adam Rank.
I’m going to officially start the hype train for Travis Benjamin right now. He’s poised for a huge breakout with the @Chargers. Nice move.
— Adam Rank (@adamrank) March 9, 2016
Zak “Z-Sizzle” Darman
Former Bills and 49ers wide receiver Stevie Johnson chose to sign with the Chargers on Tuesday for three years and about $10.5 million. That fills a much-needed veteran receiver spot after Eddie Royal signed with the Bears. So, are they done? Do the Bolts need to draft a receiver? Yes, they still need to draft a receiver.
Receivers currently on the active roster: Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Stevie Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Dontrelle Inman.
Allen is the youngest at 22, and the one with the most upside. The second youngest is Inman. He played a total of two games last season and did fine, but seems to have little upside. Johnson, 28, has seen his production fall off since his last season in Buffalo (2013). Floyd and Jones are 33 and 30, respectively. M-80 is two seasons removed from what could have been a career-ending neck injury. In 2014, he played a 16-game season for the second time in his career. Jacoby seems to be more of a deep threat receiver than an every down receiver. So, with that being said, the depth on this team in the receiving corps is still thin.
Some receivers to watch for in this upcoming draft:
This year’s NFL draft is loaded with wide receivers. This is a perfect opportunity for the Bolts to draft one. Here’s a few that could be there for San Diego at pick #17:
DeVante Parker: Senior from Louisville 6’3″, 209 pounds.
He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 36 1/2 inches. His last season at Louisville he had 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns. He leaves Louisville with 2,775 career receiving yards and 33 career touchdown catches, ranking him in the top-five in Louisville football history in those categories. Every time I watched him, he looked a lot like Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. He could come in right away and help out.
Jaelen Strong: Junior from Arizona State 6’2″, 217 pounds.
He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 42 inches. His last season at Arizona State he had 82 catches for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a very good jump-ball receiver who is a crisp route runner. His hands are the best part about him. He has hands similar to those of Odell Beckham Jr, as in the ball sticks to him. He could have an impact day one.
Dorial Green-Beckham: 6’5″, 237 pounds.
He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 33 1/2. He transferred from Missouri to Oklahoma and was suspended for the 2014 season. But in the final season he played, he had 59 catches for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has a big catching radius and quarterbacks can just throw the ball up to him, something Philip Rivers loves to do. He has been compared to Julio Jones, in terms of talent. His off-the-field trouble has him ranked as the fifth best receiver by many in this draft class. If it wasn’t for the off-the-field troubles, he could very well be battling Amari Cooper and Kevin White for the number one ranked receiver in the class.
The Chargers should take a look at all three of these options at #17 for receiver help. If this is the way general manager Tom Telesco wants to go, he will add an immediate starter and a future number one receiver to go along with Keenan Allen. What do you guys think? Who do you like in the draft? Let me know below!
As reported earlier by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, the Chargers could possibly make a run at wide receiver Randall Cobb. The veteran would be an immediate upgrade over Malcolm Floyd, who at this point in his career is only really a jump ball receiver, and would be a nice complimentary piece to Keenan Allen.
Cobb has been one of the key contributors for the Packers over the last couple seasons and had a stat line of: 91 catches, 1,287 yards and 12 Touchdowns. Nobody on the Chargers eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, and no other wide receiver topped the 10 TD mark.
So what does this mean? How much cap space will it eat up? Well, they have reportedly $26 million in cap space. Cobb is currently one of the top two receivers on the open market (Jeremy Maclin being the other). It’s likely he will request top dollar. Chargers have more than enough to pull it off if they want to. Is it the best fit? Possibly. He’s a deep threat, which is something the Bolts have been lacking dearly. Notably, he has worked really well on his route running, granting him a go-to target label. Adding Cobb would take the attention off Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates, leaving them on many possible one-on-one matchups.
Where does he fit with a crowded receiving corps? With the signing of Jacoby Jones yesterday, that leaves us with Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd, Seyi Ajirotutu, Dontrelle Inman, Austin Pettis and Jacoby Jones on the current roster. Ultimately, Tom Telesco will make room for a player like Cobb. He currently has the cap room to do it.
What do you think? Do the Chargers land Cobb or is he too much money? Let us know in the comments!
Una noche triste para la escuadra relámpago, ya que la “época más feliz del año” no inicia bien para ellos, con un mal resultado contra los Patriotas de New England. Después de un juego extraordinario contra Baltimore, este juego se caracterizó, entre muchas cosas, por una línea ofensiva deficiente, una línea defensiva que trató de quitar puntos, y una unidad de equipos especiales que sufrió una pérdida muy fuerte. A pesar de que había de esperanzas de una victoria en la primera mitad, los Chargers no pudieron resistir a la escuadra de Tom Brady, y sufrieron un juego perdido, 23-14.
Retomando un poco de datos (como en cada partido):
No Se Puede Culpar, Completamente, a Philip Rivers
Un quarterback no puede hacer su trabajo bien si la línea ofensiva no lo protege. Se debe aclarar eso. La línea ofensiva se veía descontrolada, dando la oportunidad a la defensa de los Patriotas para poder saquear al capitán, lo cual ocurrió en 4 ocasiones. Sin embargo, Rivers no tuvo un buen día, en general, con 189 yardas, 20 intentos completados de 33, 1 touchdown y 1 intercepción. Hubo un par de momentos célebres para los Chargers, como la espectacular atrapada de Malcolm Floyd, resultando en el primer touchdown de la noche (Y cabe mencionar que fue la atrapada #1 en el ranking de las mejores atrapadas de la semana, según NFL.com) .
La Defensiva Hizo Un Buen Papel
Le tengo que dar un aplauso a la defensiva, porque hicieron bien su trabajo. Se vio una unión estable y consistencia durante la mayoría del encuentro, y vimos unas participaciones espectaculares de Jahleel Addae, quien forzó un fumble, recuperado por Darrell Stuckey quien lo llevó hasta la zona de touchdown para sumarle 6 puntos más a la escuadra relámpago. Podemos mencionar además a Melvin Ingram quien tuvo una buena noche, saqueando a Tom Brady en el primer cuarto para evitar un touchdown, y Manti Te’o que interceptó el balón al final del 2do cuarto, un gran acontecimiento para el #50. Si, todavía hay un poco de detalles, como el caso de los castigos; sin embargo, el esfuerzo y la mejoría de una semana a otra se ve.
Houston! Tenemos Problemas En Las Patadas!
Si bien creían que la peor pesadilla para los Chargers era perder el partido en “Sunday Night”, están equivocados. La unidad de equipos especiales sufrió una pérdida muy fuerte y esencial para el equipo, cuando Mike Scifres se lesionó después de despejar el balón, que fue bloqueado. Scifres, como he mencionado, es un jugador superestrella que se ha lucido durante varias temporadas como Chargers. Sin embargo, su lesión es una pérdida muy importante, probablemente la más importante para la escuadra. Scifres tendrá que ser operado y por consecuencia no terminará la temporada. Vimos a Nick Novak tomar cargo de las patadas por el resto de la noche, y a pesar de estar un poco nervioso al principio, tuvo un buen desempeño. Digo, no podemos comparar un pateador con el otro, pero la ausencia de Scifres se notó.
Para los Chargers, como cualquier temporada, este ha sido una intensa montaña rusa; sin embargo, esta se ha caracterizado por el alto número de lesiones, y un alto número de castigos durante el juego. Quedan 3 juegos en la temporada regular, y la escuadra se encuentra peleando en una carrera competitiva en la AFC. Su último juego en casa será el próximo domingo contra los Broncos de Denver, y si los Chargers quieren cerrar con broche de oro su récord local, deben tomar cartas en el asunto y empezar a jugar como si fueran los Playoffs o más allá.
– José “Joe” Martínez
Vaya que nos gusta sufrir, pero vale la pena después de ser testigos de un partido entretenido, cardiaco e intenso. Una combinación de gran estrategia, buen control del reloj, concentración y un buen espíritu de “Nunca Rendirse”, hizo que los Chargers lograran obtener una espectacular victoria de 34-33 contra Baltimore.
La escuadra relámpago se veía totalmente determinada a ganar. Claro, hubo varios detalles durante el juego (detalles que vamos a comentar a continuación) que afectaron al equipo. Sin embargo, lograron seguir adelante, y tomaron ventaja de situaciones cuando era necesario para llevarse la victoria.
Estos son los puntos importantes del encuentro:
“El Capitán” Toma Cargo Otra Vez
Philip Rivers tuvo un desempeño estelar el domingo pasado. A pesar de una intercepción en su primera jugada, el resto del partido tomó control e hizo un buen trabajo. Puedo decir que es una de las mejores participaciones de nuestro quarterback en la temporada 2014. Con un total de 383 yardas, 34 intentos completados de 45, 3 touchdowns y 1 intercepción y un rating de 113.5, su mejor rating desde la semana 6 contra Oakland. Sin duda alguna, Rivers se lució, y vimos ese espíritu luchador que caracteriza a nuestro quarterback.
Ofensiva Lucida = Grandes Resultados
La ofensiva se merece un aplauso. Tuvieron un buen enfoque y concentración durante todo el encuentro, y cuando querían hacer jugadas, lograban hacerlas. Un gran reconocimiento es que lograron convertir 3er downs un total de nueve veces, de un total de once intentos. Además vimos 4 touchdowns: 2 de Keenan Allen, 1 de Ryan Mathews, y el último que selló la victoria de Eddie Royal. El juego aéreo se lució nuevamente, con Keenan Allen llegando a 121 yardas en 11 atrapadas. Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates y Eddie Royal llegaron a 85, 83 y 81 yardas respectivamente, el primer jugador logrando atrapar un pase de 59 yardas. Hubo un pequeño detalle, el cual fue la lesión del centro Chris Watt en medio partido; sin embargo, entró Trevor Robinson y se vio con una mentalidad de trabajo estupenda y estaba listo para ayudar al equipo.
Equipos Especiales Con Pequeños Detalles
La unidad de equipos especiales normalmente hace un trabajo espectacular, y ha sido un área que ha permanecido constante durante la mayoría de la temporada. Sin embargo, todavía hay un poco de detalles. Baltimore tomó ventaja de los errores de esta unidad para poder correr el balón a un buen punto de inicio. Un ejemplo es durante el último cuarto, cuando Jacoby Jones, jugador de Baltimore, corrió el balón 72 yardas, jugada que culminó por un gol de campo. Se deben de hacer ajustes para el juego del domingo contra los Patriots. Nick Novak se lució nuevamente con un gol de campo de 52 yardas, que simplemente perfecto. Mientras que Mike Scifres solo despejó el balón en una ocasión durante el partido con un total de 52 yardas.
Castigos Afectan El Juego!!
Parece que los Chargers han tenido un serio problema durante toda la temporada, hablando de castigos y banderas, particularmente en la defensa. El alto número de interferencias afectó a la escuadra relámpago contra Baltimore, dando jugadas de primera y diez y touchdowns en una vajilla de porcelana. Se debe de dar un “Reality Check” a los jugadores para que se eviten estos castigos, mas que nada porque faltan 4 encuentros pesados en el itinerario de los Chargers.
Después de una buena racha de 3 partidos ganados, los siguientes cuatro juegos serán una buena muestra para saber que tan determinado está este equipo de llegar a los Playoffs. El próximo Domingo es un juego muy importante, ya que será transmitido en la mayoría de las televisiones americanas y del mundo como “Sunday Night Football de NBC”. Es una gran oportunidad para la escuadra relámpago para demostrarles a los demás que no son solo “un equipo más de la NFL”.
– José “Joe” Martinez
The Chargers traveled to Miami for an early Sunday game against Eastern Division foes the Dolphins. Unfortunately, they must have left their talents in South Beach. That game was over before halftime. I mean, insert your clichés here.
If the San Diego Union-Tribune thought that the Chargers weren’t ready for prime-time after losing in Denver, Oct. 23rd, what are they saying after the team was dominated in every way Sunday? Tom Krasovic wrote on his blog immediately after the game that “it feels like (the Chargers) season is over.” To be honest, they made the Dolphins looked like their 1972 ancestors who went on to win Super Bowl VII and finish 17-0, the NFL’s only perfect season.
I could easily go into my usual narrative on how the game went for the four quarters and how bad the team looked. So bad, in fact, that outside of Southern California CBS put the rest of the country out of its misery by switching to a more competitive contest.
Here’s a few observations and yes, I watched until the very end which I think is cool no matter what Darren Smith thinks.
- The Play of the Game: On the Chargers opening drive, Coach Mike McCoy decided to gamble on a fourth and one on the Dolphin 22 and Oliver ran left for a loss of one. The Chargers turned the ball over on downs and the Dolphins promptly marched 77 yards for a score and a lead the team would never relinquish.
- Player of the Game: Special teamer Seyi Ajirotutu had seen enough and was tossed at the end of third quarter for making contact with an official. He was involved in a few after the whistle scuffles throughout the contest but in my eyes he gets a game ball for his efforts. Yeah, I’m being a little sarcastic but even the play-by-play team of Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts commented that Ajirotutu had enough and wanted to go to the locker room early.
The game was an embarrassment. The team had 10 days to prepare. Dan Patrick, on “Football Night in America,” remarked that the Chargers looked like they needed “a year.” No one with half a brain could throw the officials under the bus for this massacre. I think the Chargers have no one to blame but themselves. The team is now in a downward spiral that now numbers three losses in a row.
They’re limping to the bye week. Listening to sports radio on Monday, many in San Diego area are questioning whether the imminent returns of Chargers starters will provide immediate relief after the team returns.
Minus the Nov. 16th game at home against Oakland (and we know how well their fans travel to San Diego), the remaining schedule consists of teams all at or above the .500 mark. As of this writing, two of them are division leaders (New England & Denver). With the Rams winning Sunday, even they can no longer be a team to take lightly.
At the end of game, I found it disheartening to hear Coach McCoy sound so nonchalant about the loss. “We need to play better,” he said. After a loss like I’d expect the visitor’s locker room to need repairs after the coach destroyed the furniture. In his afternoon show with Billy Ray Smith, Scott Kaplan placed the blame squarely on the coach’s shoulders.
If the season ended today, the Chargers would not be a contender. I’m sorry, that’s the play I’ve seen on the field.
The game was such a blow-out that Dan Fouts started telling stories about the Chargers last victory in Miami in 1981. He also added the snark that there’s no one left to tell the stories to. The 33-year streak continues and I’m willing to bet that if the Miami Dolphins do not appear in next season’s schedule, there will be 53 men who’ll be very happy.
With seven games left, I’m certain I can’t be alone in wondering which way the Chargers go after the bye week. Are fans left hoping that the team goes on its usual late season run? Is this same old story we’ve witnessed season after season except with a different coach and front office?
As always, your comments and questions are welcomed in the section below. Don’t stop believing fans, but is it time to start worrying?
We all have to deal with the Fantasy football nerd at work. He doesn’t really have a favorite team, but knows you are a Chargers fan. So ever since they drafted Keenan Allen on to his team, you have been getting grief about his sophomore slump. I hate to break it to Fantasy football nerds, but Keenan Allen plays reality football and while he is not helping you best your co-workers in their leagues, he is doing the little things to make himself valuable to the Charger bottom line. Wins!
If you were just looking at his fantasy numbers or stats, you might be thinking that Keenan Allen being accused of having a sophomore slump has some merit. Some pundits have gone as far as to question what is wrong with Allen? Put aside for the moment that Malcom Floyd has returned from injury to a career best season. The reality is Keenan is a huge part of the success the Bolts have had on this five-game winning streak despite only having one 10 catch game against Jacksonville. Had M-80 not come close to giving us all heart attacks in week two last season with that insane neck injury, then Allen’s rookie year might have looked more like this year has thus far.
While spectacular plays make Sports Center highlight reels, it is often the details and plays off the ball that propel a team through a winning streak like nine out of the ten last regular season games. A great deal of attention has been paid to how Philip Rivers has bought into the Mike McCoy system, but far too little attention has been paid to how much the other offensive players on the field are buying into unselfish, team-oriented plays. It has made a huge difference over the former era.
This was visible as early as the first drive of preseason when Keenan Allen provided a huge block down field to help Danny Woodhead get a first down on a check down pass. Now that we have seen Branden Oliver go for 100+ yards two weeks in a row, it is easy to forget his first big run as a Charger happened because of excellent blocking at the second level by CFL import Dontrelle Inman.
I decided to go back at watch a few drives and big plays from three games to look for examples of big plays that were made by players away from the ball. Week 2 against Seattle, week 3 against Buffalo and week 5 against the Jets.
Beating the Super bowl champs in week two was a huge accomplishment. This game is the example of what the Chargers are capable of. In the mainstream media, most of the credit went to Antonio Gates whom was named AFC offensive player of the week with three touchdowns and of course his QB. They didn’t do it alone and I think educated Chargers fans should pay close attention to the role of other players during the two drives in the second quarter which extended the lead over the Hawks from 10-7 to 20-7. The game was pretty much under control after those two drives.
On the first of these two drives after crossing the 50 yard line, Ryan Mathews had a fumble that the Chargers recovered. This set up a 2nd and 18. Out of the shotgun Rivers hits Royal for a 13 yard pick up. As the players left the line of scrimmage, John Philips (#83) and Malcom Floyd go left and Keenan Allen pulls Sherman to the right sideline leaving Royal open in the gap. This sets up a manageable 3rd and 5.
On 3rd and 5 The Chargers spread out. Danny Woodhead shifted from the backfield to wide on the left. Royal, Gates and Floyd were all packed tight in the slot in a bunch formation. The lone receiver on the right was Keenan Allen. Seattle appeared to read Rivers’ mind and both Richard Sherman and a safety came up to double team. When the ball is snapped, Royal jets to the center on a crossing route. The safety bites on Royal who blocks him enough for Keenan to get open for the first down.
A penalty set the Chargers back to a 2nd and 20. Rivers throws a screen pass to Royal. King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart lead him down the field, Rinehart blocks linebacker Bobby Wagner eight yards down from the line of scrimmage. Who knew the big boys could be that athletic? The drive ends on a Nick Novak field goal.
On the next kickoff, special teams forces Percy Harvin to fumble. (Great play by CFL import Cordarro Law). The first offensive play Danny Woodhead ran for 12 yards and at least six of those yards were helped by the wideouts Allen and Floyd picking up blocks in the secondary. The drive ends with a Gates eight-yard TD catch, but it would be easy to forget that two plays earlier where the Chargers were backed up to the 23rd on a 1st and Goal. The Bolts got down to the eight on a simple screen pass to Royal. DJ Fluker blocks linebacker Bruce Irvin five yards from the line of scrimmage and Allen had a huge block on Sherman. How about those little Chargers?
Gates and Novak had the scores, but it was the hardly-noticed effort from all 11 on the field who set it up. Royal turning screen plays into short yardage 3rd downs, Floyd and Allen blocking down field, and the linemen getting big push into the secondary. All parts of how the Bolts built that 20-7 lead were noted by this fan.
1st Drive of the Buffalo Game:
I am not going to spend as much time on this, but remember going into this game the Bills had only given up one play of 20+ yards. The week leading up to the game the secondary was promoted as a strength of this Bills defense. So how did Frank Reich and Philip Rivers decide to attack that defense? They went after their strength on the second offensive play hitting Malcolm Floyd for a 49-yard bomb. The first drive ended in a three-yard Eddie Royal touchdown which set the offensive tone and the Bolts controlled the ball most of the game. For his part, Keenan Allen didn’t have a catch on the drive, but the 49-yard pass would not have happened if he had not placed a perfect block on two corners busting M-80 wide open. Allen was also blocking, along side King Dunlap in the endzone with crucial blocks that made the Royal TD look easy.
With this game I just want to look at a huge 3rd down conversion. This game saw less of the unselfish plays mostly because the offense was pretty much picking up yards with ease. Rex Ryan’s Defense? What Rex Ryan defense? Late in the first quarter the Bolts had the ball on their own 14 with a 3rd and five. The offensive formation was tight. Tutu, Floyd and Allen on Rivers’ left; Donald Brown on his right and Gates lined up at the end on the right. Rivers saw Calvin Pace #97 was not going to cover Gates as he was showing blitz. The only thing in the way of a Gates crossing route was Floyd’s corner. As soon as Gates caught the ball, the corner would be there. By bringing Floyd in motion to the right past Gates, that left Antonio’s route across the middle wide open. The play went for 30 yards.
I know some fans don’t watch that closely, but this kind of unselfish play is crucial and we need to be letting the players know it is not going unnoticed. Chargers radio analyst and former player Hank Bauer has made this a repeated message during the broadcast and in radio interviews. So whenthat fantasy football guy complains about Keenan Allen, you make sure to remind him he is playing reality football just fine.
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David Agranoff is the wonderland award nominated author of three novels Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich, Hunting the Moon Tribe and The Vegan Revolution…with Zombies. He is a total nerd for both Doctor Who and the Chargers. You can follow him on Twitter @DAgranoffauthor or look him up on Facebook where he is a member of way to many Chargers fan groups.
There was a lot of nervous chatter was on my computer the other week when it was disclosed that the San Diego Chargers were wearing their navy blue home uniforms last Sunday against the New York Jets. The weather forecast called for temperatures being well into 90’s which meant the temperature on the field would reach the triple digits.
The result: the Chargers won 31-0.
I totally understand. Dark colors have a tendency to absorb the heat. When your body heats up, you tend to lose energy and you’re not going to do as well.
Or are we as fans just superstitious?
Me? I confess, I’m totally superstitious. Almost to the point where people who know me well would think I’m suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When going to games, I park in the same lot, I wear specific shoes, and I don’t bother with social media (cellular reception is non-existent at the Q which kills my battery). I haven’t predicted a game since the loss to Denver in the playoffs.
The Chargers hadn’t worn their navy uniforms since the last preseason game against Arizona in late August. Their first five games (to include road games in Arizona and Buffalo) had them wearing their white uniforms with the Seattle game marketed as a “White Hot” game. “White Hot” games has the team wearing their white jerseys with their white pants. In those games, the Chargers went 3-1 including a win against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.
If there was anything I learned Sunday it was this nugget: either the Jets were that bad or it doesn’t matter what uniform what the Chargers wear. They’re that good.
Think about it. The long injury list got continued to increase when Donald Brown, D.J. Fluker, Malcom Floyd, and Doug Legursky had to leave the game. It was disclosed Monday that Legursky is out for the year with a knee injury. Nothing is certain on the returns of the other players and it may not be known until Wednesday what their status is going forward. How many teams are we aware of that has lost the services of so many players and are still motoring along as if nothing is wrong?
The million dollar question going into an important road game against the Oakland Raiders is how long can the Chargers keep this up?
The lesson for any Charger fan up to this point is simply to keep calm, it doesn’t matter what uniform the team wears. The clothes do not make the team.
Anytime you can win on the road in the NFL, it is a great victory. Place that on top of a very confident team with a noisy fan base in Buffalo, and the win is even sweeter. Looking back at my “Keys To Victory at Buffalo” piece, here is how we defeated the Bills.
My first look was at the offense. I mentioned that we need to have Joe “D” and the o-line stepping it up against a very talented and aggressive front line. For a defense that lead the AFC last year with 57 sacks, we allowed only one sack – more of a coverage sack than anything. I also mentioned that Reich needs to call more draw and trap plays, which he did. The line did “ok” with the run, and I will kick it down a few notches in the second half. Donald Brown ran often, and saw some success in the first half. However, in the second half it was downright pitiful. The holes were not there and we were missing way too many blocks.
I then talked about the Bills leading the NFL with only giving up one big play (a play of 20 yards are more) in two games leading up to the matchup with the Chargers. I stated that I felt their secondary was not tested thus far and that we needed to pick the right times to throw it downfield. The Bolts ended up having a total of 5 plays of 20 yards or more – Floyd and Green contributing to four of those plays.
Lastly, I mentioned that Gates will find success if Rivers is given time in the pocket – due to Buffalo not having much success in covering the TE position. Reich ran more two tight end sets than the other two games and it was successful. Even though Gates was not the benefactor of this mismatch, his “student” Ladarius Green showed why he needs to be more active in this offense. Green hauled in four catches for 64 total yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, I mentioned that Liuget needs to be the star and Reyes needs to step his game up. Corey was in fact the beast I know he can be every game with 5 tackles, a sack and a force fumble. Reyes and Liuget feed off of each other very well and the pocket collapsed enough to disrupt the potent running game and frustrate EJ Manuel making him ineffective.
With Manuel, Spiller, Jackson and Watkins, the Bills entered Sunday’s game tied for first in big plays. Manuel tested the deep pass often, however the Bills only had three total plays of 20 yards or more. Two of those passes went to the RB position with the third going to their TE Chandler. Although we had three different guys who easily should have sacked Manuel before that toss. Flowers, Verrett and Wright had outstanding games with an exclamation point from a nasty Weddle hit.
Overall, I would say teams are going to start looking at us as a playoff caliber team. There is always room for improvement, and this game was no different. John Pagano did another masterful job in preparing the defense this week. The defense executed the entire game. On the other hand, the offense went from an unstoppable force to non-existent as the game progressed. In the first half, and including our first drive in the second, we averaged 9 plays and 62.2 yards per possession. After the Bills scored their lone touchdown, which made the score 20-10 in favor of our Bolts, the offense averaged 3 plays and 4.4 yards per play. The Chargers cannot continue to put those types of drives together if a Super Bowl run is the ultimate goal. A killer instinct, “going for the throat” mentality has been stated; almost shouted, from Charger fans everywhere. Knowing that our beloved Bolts have the 4th toughest schedule in the NFL, if they don’t keep an opponent down by attacking when the Chargers have a lead, games like this one will not have the same end result.
Game Ball for Defense – Corey Liuget
Game Ball for Offense – Philip Rivers
“PEACE!…and Boltness forever!” – BWK
I sat in the rafters at University of Phoenix stadium, better known as the home of the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. The Chargers closed week one of the NFL regular season against the Cardinals. From my seat, parallel to the ten yard line three rows from the top of the stadium, I couldn’t be happier to see my guys in lightning bolts take the field.
The electricity filled the stadium long before kickoff and didn’t dissipate until after the stands had cleared over three hours later. Kurt Warner was on hand to initiate the coin flip. He would be inducted into the Cardinals Ring of Honor at halftime. The Chargers won the toss and chose to kick off. The regular season had finally begun for our beloved bolts. This wasn’t my first Chargers game, I started going to games two seasons ago. This was my first Chargers road game and first time at a Monday Night Football game. I could barely sit still as other members of Chargers Nation provided a great turnout for the road team.
The game started. When the Chargers finally took the field on offense I sat ready for fireworks. The whole half passed and I wasn’t getting what I came for. There were some excellent plays made by both teams. The Chargers forced an Andre Ellington turnover and the defensive line got penetration, harassing Carson Palmer most of the half. Rookie Jeremiah Attaochu blocked a punt. A Cardinals cornerback made a great diving interception of Rivers that led to a field goal as halftime descended with a score of 6-3, Cardinals.
I couldn’t help but shake my head. The whole team was out of sync. The running game was going nowhere. Rivers didn’t look as crisp with his passes as he usually does. Receivers dropped ball. Antonio Gates dropped a ball! Rivers overthrew Malcom Floyd who had gotten a good two steps behind the Cardinals defense and there was nothing but green between him and the end zone had that pass hit its target.
Where was this no-huddle offense that was supposed to be unveiled? I understand not showing it during preseason but now it’s game on! Wins and losses count. I watched each play and after each play was a normal huddle. No muddle huddle. No nothing. No one was more excited than yours truly to see Philip Rivers dissect a defense in the no-huddle offense OC Frank Reich spoke of implementing. It never happened. Ironically this would have been the perfect team to unveil it against. The Cardinals had lost the meat of their defense during the offseason. Daryl Washington is lost for the year after his second incident involving banned substances. Karlos Dansby left for Cleveland. Darrell Dockett was injured in camp and will be gone all year. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was not activated for the game. With the instability on the defensive line, it would have been a great idea to blitz all the unproven players with nonstop offense and light up the scoreboard like Times Square on New year’s Eve.
After halftime, it seemed like Warner’s speech fired up the Chargers instead of the Cardinals as the Chargers bolted out of the locker rooms and delivered two touchdowns in the second half as they shut down the Cardinals offense and went ahead to take the lead 17-6 going into the fourth quarter. The reverse happened in the fourth quarter as the Cardinals capitalized on Chargers errors and responded with two field goals and a touchdown to eek out a one point win.
Like the rest of us, I had a lot to cheer about in that game, especially in the third quarter. Similarly, there was a lot that left me scratching my head.
On the positive side, Malcom Floyd looked great on the field. He showed his speed, got behind the defense on a couple occasions and showed he is all the way back. Antonio Gates showed he is still the go-to guy in the clutch. Despite the drops, the Cardinals were forced to rotate coverage to him throughout the game. Jeremiah Attaochu showed he is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Attaochu blocked a punt, forced a fumble sacking Carson Palmer and was in on a host of tackles. I heard Mantei Te’o name quite a bit it seemed. Te’o even caught Ellington on an open field tackle which is an achievement in itself. Hopefully this is a sign Te’o is okay and will be a key contributor on defense as well. The defense played great for three quarters, holding the Cardinals to two field goals despite giving up big plays. For a change, they managed to force turnovers and come through on third downs keeping the game close at hand.
Conversely, the defense fell apart when the Chargers needed it most. With a 11-point lead going into the final quarter, a playoff level team should be able to close the show, even on the road. All the key stops ceased in the fourth quarter. Carson Palmer, who would probably tie Rivers in a 40-yard dash, was allowed to leave the pocket and pick up first downs with his legs. The Chargers couldn’t produce anything in the run game against a patchwork Cardinals defensive line. Aside from Mathews’ touchdown run, the Chargers running backs barely advanced past the line of scrimmage on most attempts. On a related note, guess who was the second leading rusher for the Chargers: that’s right, Philip Rivers! Rivers 10-yard first down run put him second behind Mathews 40 yards rushing. Atrocious. The run defense also needs work. They allowed an injured Ellington to rush for 53 yards on 13 carries and the Cardinals as a team ran for over 100 yards including 29 from Palmer. Lastly, there were too many missed sacks. Not tackles, sacks. By my count, at least four times the pocket collapsed on Palmer and it looked like the sack was imminent. Lo and behold, out pops Palmer getting away and picking up positive yardage or at least getting back to the line of scrimmage.
By the way, Mike McCoy, please stop running Eddie Royal on end arounds. Thank you.
The Chargers and Monday Night openers don’t seem to mesh well as of late. Correction, the Chargers and the fourth quarter of Monday Night Football season openers don’t seem to mesh well. For the second straight year, the Chargers gave up a fourth quarter lead in the last three minutes of the game, and took the loss. The good news is last season, after taking that loss on the chin from the Texans, the Chargers faced the Eagles who had unveiled the Chip Kelly offense against the Washington Redskins and their blowout win was the talk of the league. The talking heads got on the bandwagon and some had the nerve to say they would post 50 on the Chargers in week 2.
The Chargers took the challenge, marched into Philadelphia and beat the Eagles at home to the shock of the league. This season the Chargers face a bigger task. The Chargers face the defending champion Seattle Seahawks sunday. David to the Seahawks Goliath, the Chargers will again shock the NFL world with a win. Seattle will be the opening home game for the Chargers. No one is expecting the home team to win, but I for one will not be shocked if they do. The Chargers have no weaknesses that can’t be fixed and there were plenty of missteps to be coached up on before the Seahawks arrive which is a good thing. Expect a better, more focus squad on gameday.
The Greg One