Usually when journalists such as myself look forward to a brand new season of football, we look at things like QBR, preseason numbers and even the previous season’s statistics. This analysis will different than usual. Why? That is because football is so much more than just a number’s game; it is a game that is not played by players who have their data set and can be predictable.
Football is a game played by humans, and that in and of itself can directly affect play on the field. Using the skills I have learned while studying human communication while minoring in Sports Management at Grand Canyon University, (Go Lopes!) I will look team-by-team and present my analysis here.
San Diego Chargers: The big controversy around this team is whether Joey Bosa will sign or not. Several current and former Chargers players have already voiced their disgust for this situation. If Bosa does end up signing with San Diego and not “pulling an Eli Manning,” that will cause rifts that will directly affect team chemistry on the defensive side of the ball.
As we all saw from the Denver Broncos last season, defensive chemistry is a must for a championship season. Also coming off of a season with as many injuries that the Chargers had last season, it will take a little bit of time for Philip Rivers to get acquainted or reacquainted with his wide receiving corps. If a quarterback does not trust his receivers, he is unable to make the split-second decisions that are needed to win football games.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense is facing the issue of a lack of leadership due to the uncertainty of the situation of their longtime defensive captain, Eric Berry. Captain is more than just a fancy title and a stitching on their jersey; it is a position that is handed to those that rise above and are chosen by their teammates to lead them not only on the field, but off the field as well. On the offensive side of the ball, Alex Smith must get comfortable throwing more than ten yards on any given play. As soon as teams start jumping routes, the Chiefs will not be able to return to being over .500.
Oakland Raiders: The issue with the Oakland Raiders is the fact that they may not have a home next season. It is a situation similar to the Chargers, however, at least last season Chargers’ fans knew that it would be at most a 2-hour drive north. With the Raiders, it will either be a 6-hour drive to Los Angeles or a 10-hour drive to Las Vegas. There are not many fans that can put their faith in a team that may leave them.
Fan presence is a huge factor when the game is on the line, when the opposing offense is on the field, driving towards a score. The only thing that can disrupt that momentum is a lot of crowd noise to get inside the opposing QB’s head, such as when another team plays in either Seattle, Arizona or Kansas City.
Denver Broncos: The issue with the Broncos this season will be at the QB position. Something a lot of fans may not realize is that the QB is the leader. When you have no idea who the outstanding leader is, the offense will have nothing but miscues, accompanied by little to no sense of direction. Also, they are dealing with choosing from a few youngsters and a QB who has garnered little respect in the NFL, Mr. Butt-fumble himself, Mark Sanchez.
There are less than three days remaining until the offseason day we’ve all been waiting for aside from the start of free agency. The NFL Draft will commence with the Tampa Bay on the clock and a whirlwind of speculation surrounding our beloved San Diego Chargers. I will be there in person to see the events unfold and write of it in the days thereafter. After ingesting all the rumors and speculation of the last couple months, I have a feel for the way things go and I am brave (or stupid) enough to put them in print. Without further adieu. here are my top ten fearless predictions.
1. Philip Rivers will NOT be traded. Chargers GM Tom Telesco knows how valuable a commodity he has in Rivers and he’s simply not for sale. Not for Mariota. Not for Winston. Not for a handful of magic beans. No trade. No way. No how.
2. Adrian Peterson WILL be traded. To my chagrin, I have come to the realization that he will not be traded to the Chargers as dearly as I want that to happen. The Vikings know there is no chance in hell Peterson will ever suit up in the Purple and Gold ever again so on draft day he will be gone to the highest bidder. I will stand by my projection that the best they will get is a third round pick and maybe a late round throw in but their first round asking price will not happen.
3. Marcus Mariota will be the second pick in the draft but he will not play for Tennessee, who own the second pick. Not coincidentally, it leads to my next prediction…
4. Marcus Mariota and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly will be reunited in Philadelphia. All the talk of a Mariota-for-Rivers deal has to make the Eagles happy because they have been largely forgotten in the equation. This will turn out exactly the way we expected it to at the end of the National Championship game. Chip Kelly wants Mariota to run his offense the same way he did at Oregon. Kelly knows there is no one better to run his offense than Mariota. Kelly will get Mariota.
5. To get Mariota, Kelly will trade off his offseason acquisitions. We all thought Kelly traded off his best pieces if he wanted to trade up to get Mariota. The Eagles sent former rushing champion LeSean McCoy packing. They traded away a strong quarterback in Nick Foles. What they did was overload their skill positions in order to make a deal the Titans would want. Let’s examine the facts. They now have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles as running backs. They now have Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Tim freaking Tebow in their five quarterback stable. Kelly is going to give the Titans the quarterback and running back of their choice AND their first rounder to get the Titans spot and claim Mariota. Book it.
6. Eight household name players will change addresses during the draft. Expect at least five veterans to get traded on day one and more on day two as Peterson comes into play. Chip Kelly will be responsible for three of those names alone. More will come.
7. The Chargers first round pick will be a running back. Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon will be the man depending on who’s available. Florida State center Cameron Erving will be the selection (as I indicated in my recent mock draft) if both are gone. Offense will be the order of the day in the first round. Telesco has not addressed the running back issue at all in the offseason and contrary to what has been said, don’t expect him to stand pat with Donald Brown, Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead. A top two running back will be drafted.
8. Only two quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round but three will be traded. Among those names, expect Robert Griffin III to be one of them.
9. The bidding war for Adrian Peterson between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will be won by….New England. The Patriots will give the Vikings their first, second and fifth round picks to secure Peterson as Belichick shows why he is still the smartest person in the room. Hear that sound? It’s Bill Belichick dropping the mic.
10. Telesco will go against formula and trade down on day two to recover the seventh round pick he dealt last year. He’s saving one other bombshell for day two that lands the Chargers the services of.. disgruntled Bears feature running back Matt Forte. You heard it here first. A big name veteran will end up with the Chargers by the end of the draft. Telesco has a plan and its going to jolt Bolt Nation.
There you have it. My expectations for the draft. There’s always a few surprises, a few head scratchers but it will always be entertaining. Look for me on Thursday wearing my powder blue lightning bolted jersey of the quarterback who won’t be traded.
The Greg One
EDITOR’S NOTE: Everyone has a story to tell about their best or even worst memory being a San Diego Charger fan. What’s better than being able to share your story with others who can relate to the raw emotion you felt that day? This will be a reoccurring series that revisits various memories from Charger fandom. It will also grant other fans the opportunity to experience those vivid memories that may not have been able to at the time.
Let’s think back at least a few years ago when the San Diego Chargers were dang near impeccable. Blazing through each game leaving their opponents in the smoke was almost like taking candy from a baby. It was apparent that during the 2009 season the Bolts were destined to make the playoffs and accomplish things they haven’t arguably done since 1994. Yet, it all came crashing down by a lousy three points.
The Chargers finished the 2009 campaign with a 13-3 record and took 1st place in the AFC West. I had such an immense feeling of pride and gratification for what San Diego was able to do that year. There were even some bragging rights when Philip Rivers marched into New York and took it to Eli Manning’s house in a 21-20 victory over the Giants. There’s no doubt that he thinks about that game every now and again.
The Bolts were set up to face off against the 9-7 New York Jets in the AFC Divisional playoff game at the Q. Full of confidence, the team looked to propel themselves past this easy win to face off against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. Yet, the game was poorly overlooked.
A low scoring match turned into an anxious nail biter as the clock ticked down to its final minutes. In clutch fashion, Rivers ran into the end zone and scored a 1-yard touchdown. Desperate, the Jets were left with nothing but to attempt an onside kick. Whether it was an act of God or not, the Jets recovered on San Diego’s 29-yard line. Even with a stout defense, the Bolts couldn’t stop the Gang Green from converting on a 4th and 1; granting them the first down in the final seconds of the game.
Shortly after watching Mark Sanchez and the Jets kneel down to end regulation, I felt this emotion I hadn’t experienced before. Sick to my stomach, I sat there in my living room, glaring at the television screen in shock, and thought “how could this be?” I found myself staring aimlessly and faintly hearing my so-called friends boastfully saying “the Chokers are at it again” as they laughed in arrogance. How was it even possible that the Chargers, a team that excelled in the regular season, could have taken the Jets so lightly? My fandom took a huge hit that night as I lay speechless on the carpet floor.
No, I wasn’t around for the Holy Roller, and nor was I around for other various heartbreaking games that occurred before I was even born. Yet to me, this one was the most heartbreaking of all in most recent years. I would never admit it, but it was possible that I cried that night as I watched another AFC team that wasn’t the Bolts continue onto the AFC Conference Championship game.
As I look back, the Chargers have had some rough seasons. I honestly can’t blame non San Diego fans for criticizing the Bolts for their struggles. When the word “choke” is uttered by anyone, I can’t help but get red in the face and feel the urge to backlash. I never want to feel like I did that night, but I know that’s unlikely. Football is known for upsets, shockers, and heartbreak. Have you ever heard the term “any given Sunday”? It’s a phrase often used in professional football which implies that any team has the capability to enter a match-up and take away the win.
The 2009 AFC Divisional game has forever granted me the disgust for the New York Jets. Call it as you will, but I will always remember that game as the one that got away. I can vividly remember, probably etched in my mind by now, the incredible LaDainian Tomlinson sitting on the sideline and looking at the scoreboard in disbelief and disappointment all at the same time. I felt, as did most of you, the pure letdown of the decade in that moment. I wish the Chargers will never have a game like that again, but that’s unrealistic. It is honestly one of the worst games that will forever be imprinted in my memory.
Being a subscriber to DirecTv, the channel 212, NFL Network is constantly on whenever I am allowed viewing privileges. The other day, while watching NFL AM, a stat was put up on the screen that immediately made me sick to my stomach.
The information on the screen looked a little something like this:
Most Turnovers by a Quarterback
Mark Sanchez 52
Ryan Fitzpatrick 47
Philip Rivers 47
Talk about being in bad company. To be in the top three of any list with Senor Butt Fumble and Ditzpatrick is not where we’d like to see our beloved leader.
But let me clear clear. Rivers has had a joke of an offensive line since 2011. He has been forced to sit back and watch as AJ Smith allowed most of his weapons to leave the team with no viable replacement in place.
Although it is impossible to justify some of the poor decisions that Philip has made at times, it is painfully obvious that he has had a sketchy, at best, supporting cast on offense.
Smith is now the Redskins’ problem. Unfortunately, the mess he left behind is still in San Diego. Now we must hope that the new regime, Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy, has a solid plan in place to fix this offense. Not just for this season, but for the forseeable future.
Free agency starts in three days and the draft begins April 25th.
That is where the true journey begins to help push Rivers further and further down that list.
I just want to say ths again. Butt fumble.
Thanks a lot for reading.