On Thursday the news broke that the Oakland Raiders had made their quarterback, Derek Carr, the highest-paid player in NFL history. The new deal is for five years and $125 million, a cool $25 million dollars per season. Carr will receive $40 million guaranteed at signing and $69 million guaranteed over the first three years of the deal.
The deal is a huge leap of faith for the Raiders but they feel they finally have their franchise quarterback in the fold. Quarterback has been the most glaring weakness of this team for almost two decades. The last time they had anyone that could be considered franchise quarterback quality would have been the Rich Gannon years from 1999-2004.
Carr is coming off of a breakout season in 2016 in which Oakland went 12-4. In his three seasons as Raiders quarterback, Carr has a 22-26 win-loss record and is barely over a 2.5-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio with 81 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.
Now the league will be watching to see if Clast season was a fluke or if he truly is ascending to the elite level of NFL quarterbacks. He is certainly paid as if he is elite. To their credit, the Raiders have built a championship-caliber defense. The offense is taking shape with Carr, standout wide receiver Amari Cooper, veteran wideout Michael Crabtree and blossoming tight end Clive Walford as an impressive assortment of weapons for Carr. Add the newest addition in legendary running back Marshawn Lynch to bolster the running attack and you have a scary unit, at least on paper.
While Carr is the richest player in the league at the moment, it won’t last long. Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers are all in line for raises next offseason. Skill position players such as Le’Veon Bell and Odell Beckham Jr. will also be looking for mega-millions sooner than later.
What do you think? Was the the right move for the Raiders? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Finally, a rule change has come out of the NFL Owners meetings that we can all get behind. As of Tuesday, the league has removed the ‘no celebrations’ rule. With a few exceptions, players are allowed to once again celebrate their epic moments on the field with their best dance moves.
Not only can players do a choreographed bit, they can use the football as a prop and celebrate on the ground. Bring on breakdancing, moonwalking and the ‘Fun Bunch’ (for all the old school readers, google it millennials…) type of celebrations.
Gimme ALL of that…
It’s about damn time!
Perhaps it’s a mea culpa for the idiocy of shortening overtime but it will be fun to watch and see what players come up with because you know they’re probably already rehearsing new moves as you read this. There were 29 celebration penalties last season. In the end, their attempt speed up the game by filtering emotion from the game only slowed the game down to a crawl, drawing the ire of teams and fans in the process.
It isn’t going to be a complete free-for-all, however. There are still a few restrictions. These celebrations must be done in a timely fashion such as not to interfere with the flow of the game. No overtly suggestive or sexual celebrations will be allowed. Looking at you Antonio Brown (twerking) and Marshawn Lynch (midair crotch-grabbing). No celebrations can be directed at an opponent or a taunting penalty will ensue.
Oddly enough, this change in stance on celebrations may make the game better. What’s better to fire up a defense that has been sleepwalking through a game than seeing the other team dancing in their end zone? Any self-respecting defense will take that moneymaker-shaking as a personal affront and next series they would be more likely to play with their hair on fire, thus giving the fans a better game.
I love it! What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
It is no news to anyone that the San Diego Chargers are in dire need of a running back.
In fact, they need a running back that can do more than just take hand-offs from Philip Rivers. They need a back that can also catch passes and convert first downs, as well as bang it into the end zone when the game is on the line. Enter the quick and sure-footed running back out of Boise State, Jay Ajayi?
Weight: 221 lbs.
40-Yards Dash: 4.57 Seconds
Jay Ajayi is an extremely versatile running back, something that would benefit the Chargers tremendously. His size assists him in breaking and spinning off tackles to gain extra yards. The former Boise State Bronco made catches out of the backfield, was a power-back between the tackles, ran outside and even lined up as a wide receiver.
He displays good hands/vision/zone-blocking skills coupled with great footwork due to his years playing soccer. A powerful downhill runner, he plays with patience and is dangerous coming out of the backfield. This is where the Chargers can expect him to be most effective for them as proven by his college rushing statistics: 3,796 yards on 678 attempts and 50 touchdowns (TDs); he made 73 catches for 771 yards with five TDs.
At the professional level, NFL.com has compared Ajayi to Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks because they share a similar body type and running style. Like Lynch, the draft prospect uses the stiff arm to keep defenders away, is a physical runner, and has the potential to be a three-down back.
My projection is that Jay Ajayi will be selected in perhaps the middle of the second round. He has what it takes to be a difference maker in the NFL, and the Bolts should attempt to pick him up if the running backs expected to go before him (Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), Todd Gurley (Georgia), and Tevin Coleman (Indiana) are not available.
What do you think, Chargers faithful? I’m good with my choice. Do you feel the Bolts general manager Tom Telesco has Ajayi’s name penciled in on his draft board for San Diego?
Thanks for reading! Please comment below.
During the two weeks leading to the Super Bowl here in Phoenix the focus of all things statewide was the Super Bowl. Media, celebrities and athletes overran the capital city and a visitor had no shortage of NFL-related spectacles to enjoy no matter wherever in the valley they were.
One of the biggest events of the week happened Tuesday as media day took place at the US Airways Center, home of the Phoenix Suns. The floor of the arena was reminiscent of an NCAA National Championship where the student sections storm the court and swallows the team amidst the celebration. The floor was a mass of credential wearing humanity pushing and shoving to get close enough to get their recorders in a player’s face.
At media day, the throngs gather around the podiums of the biggest named stars hoping to get good sound bytes. Similar to Mardi Gras, some dress in ridiculous costume in order to catch the attention of a star and make themselves known, however ignominiously.
Why then, is anyone gathered around the podium of Marshawn Lynch?
We get the fact that he is the arguably, the biggest name on the Seahawks marquee. Lynch and Russell Wilson are 1 and 1A, in either order. Marshawn was fourth in the league in rushing, only 57 yards shy of making it to #2. There’s no question he is the most punishing runner in the league. A great quote from Lynch could move a lot of newspapers or at least get a lot of clicks on your website. There’s just one problem.
Marshawn Lynch is not interested in talking to the media. At all. Not even a little bit.
We remember last season when Deion Sanders found Lynch lurking behind a backdrop in the corner of the venue. Even the charismatic, widely respected Primetime wasn’t able to get much response from the enigmatic Lynch. He did get the catchphrase of the season though.
…I’m just ’bout that action, Boss.
It’s been no secret for many season now that sticking a microphone in Lynch’s face is pointless. He rarely talks to the beat writers for his own team, what makes the league think he’s going to talk to the rest of the media circus?
Lynch has accumulated over 100,000 in fines this season for refusing to speak to the press. He has added more to the fine toteboard for taunting as a result of crotch grabbing as he scored touchdowns. It’s clear to the rest of us, Lynch says all he wants ON the field, not off of it.
NFL players are mandated to speak to the media in their contracts. They signed it knowing that fact. Marshawn seems completely comfortable taking the fines and being left alone. The fines are likely tax-deductible anyway.
At Media Day Tuesday, Lynch sat at his podium and repeated the same phrase 29 times.
I’m just here so I don’t get fined…
Five minutes later he was gone. Even though they knew he wouldn’t say anything different, his podium was surrounded by media. On the second day of their mandated three days of media sessions, Lynch carried the theme over today too with a new line…
You know why I’m here….
This doesn’t translate to a t-shirt very well, does it? No merchandising opportunities here. Still, he was the object of everyone’s attention when all he wanted was to be left alone. Five minutes later he was gone.
On day three he did speak more than one sentence. He used his five minutes to rant on why the assembled throng continues to come to him when they know he has nothing to say to them. Great point.
These Lynch/media confrontations are painful to watch. It’s akin to the school nerd trying to get a date with the homecoming queen. He walks up to try to utter something resembling a greeting and in the midst of his stammering she stares at him like he is growing three heads. It’s as uncomfortable as a separated couple that still lives together. It’s like trying to hold an intelligent conversation with a Raiders fan. Time to face it media…
He’s just not that into you.
Why go someplace where you’re not wanted? In the interest of solving the problem I’ve posed, I offer the media and the league these solutions.
1. Leave Marshawn alone. Give him time to miss you. Perhaps if you play hard to get he’ll actually come to you.
2. Restructure his contract. Marshawn is a free agent now and while the Seahawks are (allegedly) looking to extend him for another couple of years, now is the time to solve this problem. Just as easily as the ‘must speak to media’ obligation is included in his contract, it can also be omitted in negotiations. Lynch will be happy to stay and the media knows he is a virtual ‘no fly zone’ in the locker room.
3. Fine him at the beginning of the year. If the rule can’t be taken out of the contract, fine Lynch the equivalent of whatever it will cost in fines to absolve him of speaking to the media for the entirety of the season. The NFL will donate half to a charity of their choice, Lynch chooses the charity of his choice for the other half. This will result in good PR in the form of helping the disadvantaged and will show the league is sympathetic to its players to the casual fan even though we diehard fans knows its the farthest thing from the truth.
This way, everyone can move on and do more productive things with their time. The media can move on to interviewing people who will actually talk. Lynch can hide out in the locker room scarfing Skittles. The league can focus on the much bigger matters at hand than an athlete who doesn’t want a close up for a change instead of bullying him into saying nothing for five minutes.
Here in sunny Phoenix, you can’t have consecutive conversations on any subject without the Super Bowl being mentioned. For good reason, Phoenix is the center of the universe this week and the game pitting the New England Patriots versus the Seattle Seahawks has all the makings of an epic encounter.
Then again, we thought the same thing about last season’s Super Bowl…
On the first snap of last season’s big game, the ball was sailed over Peyton Manning’s head and it was all downhill from there as the almighty Denver Broncos were boat raced by the Seahawks 43-8.
Are we doomed for a repeat of last season?
Let’s check the similarities. The Seahawks are the power of the NFC, featuring (arguably) the best secondary in the game and a stout defense that keeps opponents off the scoreboard while the offense gets ahead early and forces the opposition to play out of their comfort zone. The Patriots were the top team in the AFC or, perhaps, considered 1 and 1A most of the season when you include Denver in the mix. Both teams finished with identical 12-4 records and first round byes in the playoffs. In the end, the Patriots had the edge due to a 43-21 win over the Broncos. The fact that the Patriots are the AFC representative in the Super Bowl erases all remaining doubt.
The Patriots also feature a deep and talented secondary and the best game planning staff in the league in Bill Belichick and crew. The Patriots offense, like Seattle, is not explosive by definition but they have bursts of scoring that is usually enough to put teams away.
Both teams come armed with a play making quarterback and one star complimentary player. Seattle has Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch. New England has Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Aside from those tag teams, neither offense has a player that strikes fear into the opposition. The question is which tandem will be held in check the best. Both teams have slow, plodding offenses with short rhythmic passing attacks. Neither team has a propensity to fire the ball deep down the field.
The differences are Seattle has a more creative offensive attack with Wilson running the read-option. His ability to extend plays with his legs will create problems for the Patriots. New England has faced one running quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) and no read option teams all season. The Patriots, boring style and all, do average 30 points per game to Seattle’s 24. All their offensive shortcomings are overshadowed by the ability of Brady to make the plays needed to win. Brady is in the argument of best quarterbacks of all time. New England is playing to cement their legacy while Seattle is hoping to create a legacy reminiscent of what the Patriots are doing now. Back to back Super Bowl wins over two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game will go a long way to doing so.
In the end, it boils down to can Seattle disrupt Tom Brady enough to make him average. He’s great when he has time to throw and has established a rhythm. When the pass rush forces him to slip and slide in the pocket he becomes average and prone to making mistakes. Seattle’s defense found its stride at the right time coming down the back stretch of the season as they reeled off six straight wins, allowing six points per game to the opposition. Only one team in that stretch scored more than 7 points.
For New England, the big question is can they stop Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is the most punishing runner in the league and over the course of a game defenders are less and less willing to tackle him head on. The Patriots have given up big rushing games to lesser backs this season. Moreno (132), Knile Davis (107), Chris Ivory (107), Matt Forte (114), Eddie Lacy (98) and Justin Forsett (129) in the Divisional Playoff against Baltimore. Stopping Lynch makes the read-option and play action ineffective which is the Seahawks bread and butter.
Thankfully, this game looks dead even which means we won’t be looking for something more interesting to do before halftime as was the case last year. The Seahawks will shackle Gronkowski for most of the game. He’ll find an opening for one short touchdown catch. Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor will be the unsung hero of the game. The heartbeat of Seattle’s defense, force multiple incompletions on balls headed to Gronk and without his safety net Brady will falter.
The stingy Seahawks D will force field goals instead of allowing touchdowns in the red zone. Brady will throw for a pedestrian 250 yards and two touchdowns but the pass most talked about will be of the second half pick six he threw to Earl Thomas that broke the game open. One half of the Wilson/Lynch tag team will win the MVP and the ‘Hawks will succeed in going back-to-back by a score of 30-23.
Who you got, Bolt Nation?
The Greg One
As the 2014 season came to a closure a few weeks ago, the Chargers organization and personnel are already moving forward and working on the 2015 season. With free agency and the draft approaching, the off-season really isn’t an off-season.
Mike McCoy is busy tweaking playbooks while assisting Tom Telesco with recruiting, finding talent, and preparing for the draft. It is Telesco’s priority to fill positions and replace those that may no longer be in a San Diego uniform next year. The running back position is now under a microscope since one player is already expected to hang up his no. 24 blue and gold jersey as he hits the free agency market. Unfortunately, that player is Ryan Mathews.
You might be asking, “Why does Telesco need to focus more attention to a position that is easy to fill?” Well, it really isn’t that simple to replace an established running back like Mathews. Injury history, age, ability, and how to find a running back are all taken into consideration when searching for a replacement.
Let’s start with free agency. Many NFL running backs are seen as expendable or the term “a dime a dozen”. There is no need to snatch a 30 year-old back who may have only a few years left in the league. Yet, there also isn’t a necessity to sign a 27 year-old with an extensive injury record. Most backs are a two-down player while another player will come on the field for a third-down passing situation. As a general manager, you almost are taking a gamble with cap money to sign a free agent running back. There’s a sense of caveat emptor, which is Latin for “let the buyer beware” when it comes to these situations.
The next is the 2015 NFL draft. Recruiting new talent is one of the most difficult tasks for a general manager. Let’s face it, San Diego needs to address the offensive line first and foremost. You won’t see a running back in the first round this year. Yet again, the draft is a gamble. Whether it be injury or underperformance, drafting a running back doesn’t always work out. For example, Marion Grice was drafted in the sixth round (201 overall) in the 2014 draft, but ended up not making the 53-man roster and was signed to the practice squad. It was Branden Oliver, undrafted rookie out of Buffalo, which earned a spot. Over 100 players give up college eligibility to enter the draft, yet almost 40% go undrafted.
Yes, famous backs such as Priest Holmes, Arian Foster, and Joe Perry went undrafted, but finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack; unlikely. Now, imagine drafting a running back in the third or fourth round, only to end up as a disappointment. Finding and selecting the right player isn’t as easy as you may have thought.
Moving forward, the Bolts are looking for a specific set of skills. First contact effectiveness, open-field quickness, and an eye for open holes are all needed in San Diego. Have ever watched Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell? He has a special talent that allows him to break tackles and gain extra yardage even after contact. Seattle Seahawk’s Marshawn Lynch’s open-field speed landed him most recently a 67-yard touchdown run against the Arizona Cardinals stout defense. A player with all these abilities is needed in America’s finest city next season.
Ryan Mathews was a first round pick in the 2010 NFL draft but has suffered unfortunate injuries which has kept him sidelined through-out his career. He knows the system and knows how to play, but the team may be ready to part ways with the Pro Bowler. Replacing him won’t be easy and Telesco is already preparing for a brute running back that can be utilized effectively in third-down situations. With three backs on the roster already, there is absolutely no room for error when finding the right guy. I am no genie or fortune teller, but I do know the Chargers are ready for a powerhouse running back to make some noise.
When you turn your attention to the football events ON the field this past weekend, there was no bigger story than San Diego beating the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The Chargers beat, dare I say, dominated the Seahawks in San Diego. Although the final score was 30-21, the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates. When you consider the referees gifted the Seahawks a touchdown by not calling Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin for stepping out-of-bounds during his 51-yard TD run the margin of victory probably would have been greater. The NFL since admitted their mistake but that won’t take the points off the board.
Seattle is at the top of every media pundits power rankings and carry a reputation as the hands down best team in the NFL. That reputation carried over into this season especially after seeing them dismantle the Green Bay Packers, stewarded by a now healthy Aaron Rodgers in the season opening game.
The Packers didn’t do anything to dispel the perception that the Seahawks were the most dominant team in the NFL. Rodgers didn’t throw to the side of the field occupied by Seahawks standout cornerback Richard Sherman one time. Seattle’s pass rush got to Rodgers or kept him on the run all game. For a team expected to go deep into the playoffs, the Packers definitely looked afraid of their opposition.
Seattle cut a path of destruction through the league last season, going 13-3 with the #1 ranked defense leading the way. In the Super Bowl they beat the Denver Broncos who boasted the #1 offense in the league last season by a 43-8 margin. That destruction continued against the Packers in week one. Did they overlook the Chargers? The Chargers did squeeze into the playoffs last season, the last team to gain entry to the postseason. However, in week three the Seahawks host the Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch. The Chargers were just going to be another victim of Seattle’s dominance, right?
In three hours on a 115-degree day in San Diego, the Chargers proved the Seahawks were mortal. In turn, the Chargers just made the Seahawks road back to a championship repeat much more difficult. What did we (and more importantly, coaching staffs of teams who will face Seattle) learn?
1. Seattle is not invincible. Perhaps the Seahawks bought into their own hype a bit too much. It was easy to count San Diego as a win and focus on their home game against Denver. The old cliche’ goes that the Super Bowl champion will get every team’s best shot. That will be true this season as well. The Seahawks learned they can not just roll their helmets onto the field and get a win. Only two teams had scored 30 against this Seahawks secondary in the ‘Legion Of Boom’ era, Atlanta in the 2012 playoffs and Indianapolis in week five of last season. The Chargers become the third to do it in only week two of the 2014 season.
Taking such a defeat so early in the season is a gift and a curse. Seattle knows they can’t steamroll every opponent and will be more prepared going forward. Alternatively, their aura of invincibility is also gone early in the season and they will not have the fear factor to their advantage against the NFL’s stronger teams. If Philip Rivers can light them up for three touchdowns and 284 yards in the air, what will Peyton Manning do?
2. Richard Sherman is not a shutdown corner. We heard the Chargers wideouts say it after the game and they are right. Richard Sherman is an excellent ball hawking cornerback but we all know he plays zone in the Seattle secondary. Sherman does not play man-to-man. He patrols a quadrant of the right side of the field, free to attack any ball or wide receiver that enters it. Unlike Aaron Rodgers the week before, the Chargers and Philip Rivers went right at Sherman and continually completed passes to his side of the field. When he lined up over Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, Sherman was left facing the wrong direction on simple cuts on numerous occasions. Disgusted with himself after the game, Sherman left without talking to reporters after the game. His uninformed reputation as a shutdown corner is now in shambles. Opposing quarterbacks will follow the Chargers lead and go at him instead of away from him.
3. If San Diego can do it, why can’t we? That will be the mantra of the rest of the league after seeing the game tape which has no doubt been sent in triplicate to every offensive and defensive coordinator in the league. Did the Chargers provide the blueprint for beating Seattle? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that the Chargers provided a great example of how to beat Seattle. Ball control offense. Strong running game. Quarterback protection. No in the sense that most teams don’t feature the personnel to be able to pull off that type of game plan.
The Chargers feature an elite quarterback in Philip Rivers. There are few elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Behind a blossoming offensive line, the four man rush Seattle relies on for pressure was neutralized and Rivers had time to pick apart the weaknesses in the secondary. Hall-Of-Fame bound tight end Antonio Gates expertly found the openings in the Seahawks secondary and Rivers got him the ball repeatedly, with Gates logging three touchdowns on the day. Most teams don’t offer as skilled a tight end as Gates to compliment their receiver corps.
Lastly, the Chargers defense was able to keep Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the pocket by blitzing through the middle. As a result, Wilson was not able to step up into the pocket and choose which way to run to elude danger. The defense also stifled the Seahawks rushing attack. Seattle feature back Marshawn Lynch only gained 36 yards in the game. There aren’t many defenses with the ability to contain the man known as ‘Beast Mode’. The Seahawks collectively gained 100 yards rushing with the benefit of the Harvin run which should have been called out halfway through.
4. The Chargers are a dangerous team. The Chargers would probably prefer to stay under the radar but a landmark win such as this against a juggernaut team will change the perception of every team that will face them. Every team from here forward will know the Chargers are capable of beating anybody. San Diego beat Seattle with their own brand of physical, power running, pressure football. They are widely regarded as a finesse, soft team league-wide. Perhaps not anymore.
More importantly, the Chargers now know they are capable of beating anybody. If you can manhandle the Super Bowl champions, who can’t you beat? It’s a great morale win and it’s also great that it comes so early in the season. The Chargers still face a long uphill climb as games against New England, San Francisco, Baltimore and two games each against Kansas City and Denver loom on the schedule.
Too much stock can’t be put into one win but confidence is a reservoir a team can drink from all season long. This is a win that can turn the fortunes of a franchise. The momentum started with the bounce back season in year one of the Telesco/McCoy regime, it continues to snowball with this win. These type of wins lead to deep playoff runs and eventually, Super Bowls.
You’re welcome, NFL.
The Greg One
The Chargers and the Seahawks had one thing in common starting the game on white hot Sunday. They both had their last meaningful loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals. For the Seahawks, they had only lost once (in preseason) since they played the Cards last December. After steamrolling the record-setting Denver Broncos and opening the season with a thrashing of Aaron Rogers and the Packers, most considered the chances of the Bolts winning pretty slim. Yet OUR San Diego Chargers handed them their first loss by more than a touchdown since 2011.
It didn’t help the fan confidence that in week two of the preseason the Chargers looked like a MAC team playing the SEC in a week one college tune-up game. While the final score reads 30-21, it doesn’t paint the picture for those of us who watched the entire game. While many have pointed out that the Chargers players dominated the defending Champs on the field, I think it was the coaching staff of the Chargers who dominated Pete Carroll and his crew.
I know a testy Earl Thomas after the game blamed the heat and sheer luck for their loss. “It was hot and there was a lot of cramping up when [the defense] was out there a long time,” Thomas said. “I exert a lot of energy out there, and in this heat it was kind of hard for me at times. But it wasn’t anything we didn’t prepare for. We just didn’t execute when it really mattered. When somebody beats us it’s just luck to me. It’s not about them.”
Wow, someone forgot to learn humility. Sorry, Mister Thomas. It was everything you didn’t prepare for. You lost, dude. Not only that, you got handled. You came blame the high pressure system that was hanging over southern California (I mean, I am not a fan of it either), but if you want to blame anyone I think it should be your coaching staff. Mike McCoy, Frank Reich and John Pagano are not getting used to new rings on their fingers like the Hawks coaches but they out-coached them by a mile. That was the difference in the game.
Pete Carroll admitted as much by saying, “we weren’t able to execute the plan we had gone in with.’’ I wonder what gameplan he is talking about? Because I only saw evidence on the field of one team with a plan. It really would worry me as a Seahawk fan that it didn’t seem like Carroll and crew learned anything from Arizona’s victory over the Bolts. I know it is not Seattle’s style to mix coverages or disguise blitz packages, but last Monday the Arizona defense was confusing and flustering our offense. Not once did I see anything like what the Cards did.
This coaching chess match goes back to week two of the preseason. It was clear from the moment the two teams stepped on the field the two staffs had wildly different agendas that day. Pete Carroll seemed intent on winning the meaningless game, playing his starters for longer, running actual non-vanilla plays and seemingly hitting and tackling with much more authority than the Chargers. Once the Champs started scoring it seemed the idea was that the Seahawks wanted to put a beatdown on the Chargers, one they would remember.
Coaches set the culture of their team perhaps Earl’s lack of humility comes from the top. It didn’t seem like Carroll was at all worried that he was giving our coaches a lot of tape, or our players a lot of motivation. It doesn’t seem like they took our coaches or team seriously at all.
Mike McCoy saw things differently in that preseason game. He couldn’t have cared less about who won or lost. He wanted out of the Clink with his team healthy and nothing the Seahawks could learn from. McCoy, who should come out of the tunnel at the Q to the theme song from Mission impossible, excels at the impossible games because he has an old school formula and the right team to execute it.
The plan was only slightly different from the one that beat Denver in the huge Thursday night domination in 2013. BOLO! As with that game, it was not a rout score-wise, but in both games the Chargers imposed their will leaving the opposing team feeling crushed. The league admitted the mistake that the score and the running stats are misleading. The Hawks were spotted 35 yards and a rushing TD when Percy Harvin stepped out-of-bounds with a Line judge pointing at his feet. So do some math in your head when you look at the numbers.
The plan was just as it was last year. Hog the ball. The Chargers ran 75 offensive plays in comparison to the Hawks 40. The Bolts had a 26-14 advantage in first downs and controlled the ball for 42 minutes. Philip Rivers brought the team to the line, and called most plays in audibles, thus not giving the defense time to substitute. In 37 pass plays, the O-line only gave up one sack for 8 yards. It is no surprise in 120 degree weather that the defense started to wear down and had trouble tackling. Seattle allowed 377 yards, more than any regular season game last year ( Not counting the overtime victory at Houston when the Texans had 476). Philip Rivers is the first Quarterback to throw 3 Touchdown passes against the Seahawks since Week 8 in 2012.
The only major difference between how we executed this game plan this year as opposed to last year (in Denver) was with our revamped defense. John Pagano’s defense, while not lights out, looked a hell of a lot more “badass” than the so-called Legion of Boom. In week two it seemed like Pagano was clueless about stopping the mobile QB. All four quarterbacks on their roster had rushing touchdowns.
In Sunday’s game, Russell Wilson had only 1 yard rushing more than Philip Rivers who normally looks like he is pulling the team bus when he takes off. Not only that after watching QB’s slip out of our hands on 3rd down over and over in the last two years – yesterday the D dropped Wilson twice for 22 yards. According to Pro Football Focus, Seattle gave up eight quarterback hurries in 27 pass attempts to rank third-worst in the league in pass-blocking efficiency. How about that Chargers Pass rush!
Most importantly, they held Percy Harvin to three touches, including a huge stop by Wright on a jet sweep that seemed unstoppable in week one. How about beast mode and the running game? Marshawn Lynch had just six carries. Pete Carroll admitted, “that’s the last thing we want to have happen.’’ In fact, the team only rushed for 108 yards (remember you have to subtract 35 from Harvin). In this case, the numbers do lie.
Pagano’s gameplan was great for most of the game, helped by the fact that we are finally seeing his defense tooled with the weapons he needs. It is amazing when you consider Jarret Johnson and Brandon Flowers didn’t even play. He attacked for most of the game. The soft zone prevent defense let the team back into the game in the third quarter, but Pagano attacked on the last drive and the team made four amazing plays in a row. The key was Reggie Walker playing spy on Russell Wilson; who prevented him from running on the last crucial 3rd down. If only we had this year’s D on the 3rd and 17 last January!
Only one Seahawk player that I know of admitted it, and that was Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright. He said, “They kicked our ass and beat us at our own game.” This is the same crew that embarrassed Manning in the big game, and that went 13 and 3 last year. The difference was our coaching staff.
Russell Wilson was a perfect 6-0 in games against Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Too bad for him his coaches let him down when he faced Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers. In the Battle of NC state QBs, Rivers is 1-0. The best part is we made this staff and team angry before they go home next week and play Denver. This might end up being worth more than one win. Coach McCoy and the staff deserve the game ball. Be patient, Charger fans. These coaches and this quarterback showed you they can outplay and, more importantly, out-coach the world champions. They have what it takes to get this town the Championship it deserves.
David Agranoff is the author of three novels published by Deadite press one of the world’s leading publisher of cult horror novels. His latest Boot Boys of the Wolf-Reich is coming of age horror novel about anti-racist skinheads in gang war with Nazi werewolves. All three of his novels are available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @DAgranoffauthor or look him up on Facebook.
The tedious summer is gone. Fall is here and with it we have made it through the offseason hullabaloo. The NFL Draft, free agency, training camp, OTA’s and most importantly, preseason games and final cuts are OVER! It is time for some live action, these games count FOOTBALL!!
I did get to watch all four of the Chargers preseason games and was mostly impressed with what I saw. GM Tom Telesco has shown a deft touch at finding talent that can make an impact. Donald Brown is going to be a great insurance policy for Ryan Mathews. The few games he had in Indianapolis as the feature back showed he has the ability to carry the load of a number one running back. Brown is a great depth add. He will make his mark before the season is over.
Speaking of Mathews, he had a great 2013 season. For the first time in his pro career he played in all sixteen games. Considering it was his third season before he accomplished the feat doesn’t sway me. Those who have read my columns for any length of time know I am not a fan of 24, but I do applaud his effort last season. Mathews’ hard running spearheaded the Chargers second half surge into the playoffs. This is his contract year and a subpar showing will have him looking for employment elsewhere. For the Chargers sake, I hope he can repeat his success from last season. My dream scenario is Mathews mirrors last season’s production, the Chargers win the Super Bowl in the process and Mathews leaves willingly as he overvalues himself and goes to the highest bidder in the offseason.
I am encouraged by the wide receiver group for the first time in a long time. It’s great to see Malcom Floyd back on the field and looking good in the preseason games. Keenan Allen spent the offseason working on his speed. He looked plenty fast last season but he was working his way back from a knee injury that dropped his draft stock into the third round where the Chargers scooped him up as the steal of the draft. If he’s actually increased his speed running on a now fully healed knee, the Chargers will feature two legitimate vertical threats and a quarterback that is one of the top deep ball passers in the league.
Speaking of deep threats, Dontrelle Inman has been very impressive in the preseason and has gotten raves in camp. Inman has been sure handed, looks good running routes and has also shown the ability to get down the field in a hurry. I’m excited to see Inman on the field with Rivers putting the ball on him in stride. Add Eddie Royal and a stable of fast, uber-athletic tight ends and the field will be littered with great targets for Rivers. There is enough speed on the offense to make Chip Kelly jealous. No one is talking about the Chargers.
I also like the defensive back depth. They are unproven commodities but last year’s fifth round draft pick Steve Williams will be making plays on the field. Williams may have missed his entire rookie year but he now knows the defense and all there is left to do is apply what he knows to the field in real game action. First rounder Jason Verrett will see plenty of playing time. Brandon Flowers was in the Pro Bowl last season, and that was coming off what was statistically his worst season of his NFL career! There are a lot of plays and game impact that can’t be quantified by numbers.
Add to the mix the incumbents Wright, Gilchrist and Marshall (although he’s being converted to safety) and the Chargers now have something they’ve lacked for a long time, a playmaking secondary. My biggest gripe about the defense is they don’t get interceptions. There are quite a few dropped interceptions but the Chargers defensive backs have seemed allergic to interceptions. Usually there’s a defensive lineman who has as many interceptions as anyone in the secondary. Last season the Chargers had a paltry 11 interceptions. Defensive backs had five led by Gilchrist with 2, while defensive linemen had 4. Two picks came from Weddle at the safety position.
My other concern is run defense. Not to put too much stock in the preseason but the Seahawks ran all over the Chargers first team. Conversely, the 49ers couldn’t run against the Chargers defense at all. The best backdrop to use is recent history. Last season San Diego allowed 107 yards per game on the ground. Blame injuries and instability at nose tackle but it needs to be fixed if the Chargers are going to make the playoffs. This season they face great running backs like Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, Zac Stacy, CJ Spiller and Ray Rice (lest we forget 4th and 29). Stopping these running backs are key to making the playoffs.
As I wrote in a recent column, no one is more excited to see Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich hand Philip Rivers a shiny new toy called the no-huddle offense. This is the same system Peyton Manning used in Indianapolis during the height of his powers. This offense also has aspects of the K-Gun offense run by the Buffalo Bills during their run of four straight Super Bowls in the early 90’s. Reich was Manning’s quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis during his run and Reich was Jim Kelly’s backup quarterback in Buffalo. Now Rivers gets to run an updated version of the same offense.
There are few quarterbacks in the league as cerebral as Rivers. There’s not a page of the playbook he doesn’t know upside down and inside out. There’s not a defense he hasn’t seen, no situation he hasn’t been in. With the defense unable to substitute regularly inbetween plays Rivers will have time to find the weak link in the defense and exploit it. To boot, he has the offensive personnel needed to make it successful. This could be the last wrinkle to the Chargers becoming a Super Bowl winning team in the near future. This team is going to take the league by surprise and by the time they show up on everyone’s radar, it will already be too late.
The Greg One
When the roster was announced for the players that made the Pro Bowl, I immediately recognized the lack of surprise behind the selections of both Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle. But, another quick-twitch reaction was the fact that neither Darrell Stuckey, nor Ryan Mathews, made the squad. Upon further review, Stuckey was snubbed and Mathews was not.
Do not get me wrong, Ryan Mathews has had a breakout 2013 campaign. The tenacity and hard-running that has been on display is certainly something for the organization and its fans to be proud of without a doubt. But when you look at the names in front of the fourth year back, it comes as no surprise that he was not included.
Lets take a look at the running backs that did make the Pro Bowl. They are listed below.
- Jamaal Charles Not only did Charles earn a Pro Bowl nod, he should be in the running for the NFL’s MVP honor.
- Matt Forte He just so happens to be one of the most under-rated players in the NFL; even among Bear fans.
- Marshawn Lynch This guy gets his #BeastMode running style from hard work and Skittles. Awesome ball carrier.
- Adrian Peterson What more can be said about Peterson? I don’t feel the need to elaborate.
- LeSean McCoy This runner was already a duel threat but the Chip Kelly offense has enhanced his talent for sure.
- Frank Gore I am a big fan of Gore. He earned this spot, in my opinion. Despite Colin’s struggles, he’s been solid.
Looking at this list, it is obvious that the NFC running backs dominated in comparison to those that play in the AFC. Had the vote been similar to past years, Mathews would have been a lock to make another Pro Bowl.
In an effort to point out my appreciation for Mathews, I’d take him over a couple of the running backs that were selected for the NFL’s most meaningless game. Additionally, if he runs the way he has for the latter part of the 2013 season, he may just pass them all up in 2014.
Thanks a lot for reading.