The staff at BoltBlitz.com gives their predictions to Sunday’s game versus the Raiders.
Zak Darman: No Verrett? No Keenan? No Woodhead? Welp, RIP Chargers. I had predicted this on Twitter originally to be 31-10 Raiders….then Verrett got put on the IR with a torn ACL. Now it will be 42-10 Raiders with an absolute beat down and the quest to the top pick will officially begin. But hey, Bosa is back, right? Raiders 42 Chargers 10
Chris LaFurno: The Raiders are going to miss Latavius Murray but the Chargers are going to miss Verrett more. High scoring duel that ends in the Chargers’ defense facing a 3rd-and-long to give the offense the ball to get a chance to win it but they fail. Raiders 35 Chargers 31
Corey Decker: Yes, I’m still holding out hope we get a large enough lead. It’s big enough they can’t blow in one quarter. But it’s also big enough so Mike McCoy can remain on his knees and blow the game. 37-35 Chargers
Travis Blake: On the way into O.co Stadium the Chargers bus gets egged by angry Raiders fans, again. The rotten egg smells follows them into the locker room and onto the field. Joey Bosa gets a sack in the end zone for the Bolts only points of the game. Mike McCoy is fired…up after the loss (I bet you thought I was going to just say “fired”, jokes on all of us). 33-2 Raiders
Brian Scott: Tyrell shreds the D for 150 yards and two touchdowns. However, Cooper and Crabtree exploit weak secondary and Bolts lose again with the lead in the 4th. 44-37 Raiders
Chris Hoke: I hate to say this but Bosa will have like 15-20 snaps. Our secondary that’s held together by glue will finally give way to an aerial assault from Carr to Cooper, who torches the SD secondary for 275 yards and two TDs. While the offense continues its business of shitting the bed. Rivers will give fans more reason to grip as he will get no help being sacked 5 times and throwing 2 picks one being for a pick 6 as the Raiders romp the Chargers. Hopefully ending the misery that is McNorv’s tenure. 34-3 Raiders
Cheryl White: The Bolts pull the “come from behind win” this week, 2-yd score by Gordon. 31-28 Chargers
Mike Pisciotta: 21-point lead at the half. Lead reduced to 13 at the end of the 3rd quarter. 10-point lead with 3:00 to go. You know the rest. 42-37 Raiders
Will McCafferty: As the eternal optimist, I’m going with the Chargers. San Diego blows a 28-14 fourth quarter lead, but managed to kick a game winning, 56-yard field goal with less than a minute on the clock. After regaining the lead, the Bolts opt to squib kick and that gives the Raiders good field position. They drive the ball into Chargers territory but miss a 64-yard field goal attempt wide left to secure the win for the good guys. 31-28 bolts
Greg Williams: This game couldn’t come at a better time for San Diego. After the litany of backbreaking losses on and off the field, what better rallying point than the Raider game. The Chargers circle the wagons, Gordon adds to his league-leading touchdown total and the Bolts DON’T let a two-touchdown lead get away this week as they win convincingly. 30-17 Chargers
Dave Peters: Gordon gashes the Raiders in the first half with two scores and 85 yards rushing, only to be forgotten about, again, in the second half. Henry scores another TD, this time against the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL. Derek Carr takes advantage of a reeling Chargers’ secondary, throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. The Bolts win a close one, earning their first divisional win since 2014. 27-24 Chargers
Let us know your predictions and go Bolts! #BoltUp
Last year, the Oakland Raiders ended the season last place in the AFC West with a 3-13 record. This was their twelfth year having a losing season and finishing last. The Raiders have long been considered a team of veterans and older players. In the last few years, they have become a younger, improved team. Young teams tend to start slow but mesh together after a few years. It appears that the Raiders are starting to mesh and should not be taken lightly going into the 2015 season.
The Raiders have not had stellar performances at the quarterback position since they appeared in Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2003. In fact, they have had nine quarterbacks since 2002. The team drafted Derek Carr out of Fresno State in the second round of the 2014 draft. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Carr showed promise in his rookie year. He played every game in 2014 and ended the season with 3,270 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 10 fumbles. The Raiders are hoping that Carr will be a long-term quarterback and boost the offense.
In an effort to provide Carr with more weapons at the wide receiver position, the Raiders drafted Amari Cooper out of Alabama and signed Michael Crabtree in free agency.
Former head coach Dennis Allen was fired last year after going 0-4. He was 8-28 as Oakland’s head coach. In the offseason, the Raiders hired Denver’s defensive coordinator of three years, Jack Del Rio, to be the new head coach. They hired Ken Norton Jr. as the defensive coordinator and Bill Musgrave as the offensive coordinator. Norton was the linebackers coach with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Musgrave served as the quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. The changes in the coaching staff will make looking at film from last year almost impossible as a means to assess the 2015 Raiders.
After three preseason games, it appears that the defense is the more dominant aspect of the Raiders. Khalil Mack — playing predominantly at defensive end and some outside linebacker — is making quite the impression in the preseason. Mack was drafted in the first round in 2014 from the University at Buffalo. At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, he had 75 tackles for loss and 16 forced fumbles in 4 years with UB. Last year, the 24-year-old recorded 76 tackles, three passes defensed, one forced fumble and four sacks.
Here in the middle of the free agency signing period, the San Diego Chargers brass find themselves having already made significant headway to improving the team. Offensive line has been an area of woe with all the injuries and quarterback Philip Rivers has paid the price for that instability with his body. The offensive line allowed 37 sacks and 75 quarterback hits last season, up from 30 sacks and 60 hits in 2013.
The Chargers started with signing left tackle King Dunlap to a four-year deal. A couple days ago the team signed hulking guard Orlando Franklin from the Denver Broncos to a five-year deal. Center Trevor Robinson was signed to a two-year deal. The offensive line is already in a lot better shape than it was at the end of last season.
GM Tom Telesco is in the midst of addressing the wide receiver corps as of late. A few days ago, free agent Stevie Johnson agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the team. Johnsons’ former 49ers teammate Michael Crabtree is next up on the Chargers’ radar. A lot of attention is being focused on bringing in veteran wideouts. Johnson will be entering his eighth NFL season and Crabtree is entering his seventh season. Even if Crabtree does sign, it’s not going to keep the Chargers brain trust from choosing a prospect from the very deep wide receiver talent pool.
What the position does need is an upgrade and depth. Malcom Floyd is on the last year of his contract and in the twilight of his career. Eddie Royal bolted for Chicago. Keenan Allen was the focal point of opposing defense so his production decreased last season from the added attention. Veterans are going to help bridge the gap that is Allen’s ascension to a legitimate number one receiver and the draft picks that will benefit from their presence.
Crabtree was the tenth pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. At 6’1, 214 he is a great possession receiver. The 27-year old was a recipient of the Biletnikoff award given to the nation’s best college football receiver in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008. He also was the number one receiver during San Francisco’s march to the Super Bowl in 2012. Crabtree was the leader in touchdowns and yardage in the 2012 posteseason.
The biggest issue with Crabtree are injuries. An ACL injury took him out after only five games of the 2013 season. He returned last season and played all 16 games. The 49ers never got on track offensively and Crabtree suffered his worst season statistically, only averaging 10 yards per catch. A foot injury upon entering the league robbed him of five games during his rookie year. Otherwise, he’s only missed one other game.
Although he’s only finished with over 1000 yards receiving once, he’s the big body receiver Rivers prefers. Never a speed burner, he still exhibits sharp route running and possesses the ability to stretch the field vertically. He brings a toughness and a swagger to the team. As of this writing, Crabtree has garnered interest from the Chargers and Washington Redskins but has only visited the Dolphins. He still hasn’t signed a contract with the ‘Fins even though its been reported he’s spent the last two days in Miami. Perhaps new signee Johnson will help the Chargers recruit his former teammate to America’s Finest City.
At this point in the free agency marathon, the Chargers have turned their focus to bringing in a veteran wide receiver. On Friday, San Francisco free agent Stevie Johnson came to Chargers Park but left without a contract. Johnson is a 6’2, 205 lb. wideout who is back to looking for work after one season with the Niners.
With the departure of Eddie Royal to the Bears the Chargers have a need for a slot receiver. Chargers GM Tom Telesco is searching for veterans and has already been spurned by Royal and Andre Johnson, formerly of the Texans. In both cases, Telesco offered more money but they decided to go elsewhere. Johnson has stated he is to make a decision on where to sign by Monday.
With the quality of available wide recievers dwindling, who else is there to choose from? The Kansas City Chiefs have cut Dwayne Bowe. Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree is also on the market and the Chargers are expected to make runs at both of them. There is one more name out there that can bring the Chargers some impact at the wide receiver position.
Wayne was there for Telesco’s tenure in Indianapolis and the Colts have made it clear they will not be bringing the veteran back. Wayne has had a long 14-year career with the Colts, entering the league in 2001. Now 36, he has had recent injury issues but in his 14 seasons he has only missed ten games. A model of durability and consistency, Wayne has repeatedly showed his ability to take the top off a defense with his speed and elusiveness. With the emergence of T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis, Wayne was no longer the number one receiver and the Colts viewed him as expendable.
There are concerns about his health due to his age. Others wonder whether he has anything left in the tank. In 2013, Wayne tore his ACL, causing him to miss the second half of that season. He returned and played 15 games last season, catching 64 balls for 779 yards and two touchdowns. Many want Wayne to retire a Colt but he has stated he wants to play another year with a contending team.
There is no doubt Telesco can make the deal happen and bring in Wayne. He will have the upper hand over any other GM who comes calling because of their history together. Telesco has not denied his Indianapolis roots as we’ve seen Colts don lightning bolts such as Donald Brown and Dwight Freeney.
Like Freeney, Wayne will have multiple uses on the team. As a veteran receiver who has a Super Bowl ring and has managed to stay in the game for so long and play at a high level, he will have a lot of knowledge to share with the Chargers young receiver corps. His presence will help take the pressure off Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates.
A bigger role on a unit that needs a jolt like the Chargers will make Wayne a threat again. Only missing ten games in 14 seasons is a testament to his year-round conditioning and preparedness. As sure handed as they come, Philip Rivers will be excited to see Wayne on his side of the field instead of watching him from the visitors’ sideline.
Finally, it won’t cost the Chargers a lot to secure Wayne’s services. An incentive-laden, one-year deal with an option for a second year will suffice. Even at the end of his career, Wayne can still bring an impact to the team the same way Steve Smith Sr. did last season at the ripe old age of 35. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of if this signing will happen but when.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Would you like Wayne in powder blue this season?
The Greg One
Among the throngs of Chargers fans, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has anything negative to say about Tom Telesco. The General Manager, now heading into his second year as the team’s front office leader, has done an amazing job with very little cap space.
Telesco hit a grand slam in his first draft last season, netting offensive tackle DJ Fluker, linebacker Mantei Te’o and wide receiver Keenan Allen got the Chargers an A grade. More importantly, on the field Fluker and Allen proved themselves as starters and Te’o played well despite playing the entire season with a broken foot. I will still say Allen was robbed of the NFL Rookie Of The Year award.
Telesco’s approach of overhauling the roster, dumping overpriced and underperforming veterans in favor of younger, hungrier albeit less experienced players worked. His approach worked with the his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts. In conjunction with the drafting of quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts went from worst to first in the AFC South. Telesco did the same thing in San Diego and last season the Chargers saw their four-year playoff drought end.
By forcing draft picks and unproven talent to step up and prove themselves on the field, Telesco has created something they haven’t had since they were the team that ruled the AFC West from 2000 to 2007, depth. The Chargers will be a force to be reckoned with on defense with the full strength returns of defensive end Dwight Freeney, last year’s fifth round draft pick in cornerback Steve Williams, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, a finally healthy and full speed Manti Te’o and wide receiver Malcom Floyd. Add newly signed corner Brandon Flowers to what had been a weak secondary and the team is set to make another splash in the NFL postseason.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Chargers 2014 draft class in that equation…
The first two seasons have been about fixing the holes on the offensive line and improving the quality of the defense which has ranked in the bottom of the league the past few years. Now the defense is as stacked as its ever been. Barring injuries, the Chargers should have a defense in the top ten of the league. The offensive line has depth and as we saw last season, with time to throw Philip Rivers is a top five quarterback in the league. That’s not hyperbole, Rivers finished fifth in the NFL last season with 4478 yards passing and 32 touchdowns.
With the matters of depth and stability on both lines in hand, time to look forward to what aspect Telesco will tackle next. The bad contracts from the previous administration finally come off the books this season and in the next offseason the team will find themselves with more cap space than they have had since the turn of the century. The Chargers will have over 30 million to spend in free agency. The reins will be off and Telesco will finally be released from shopping in the bargain basement and now he’ll have the ability to shop in Beverly Hills.
One position which will be in desperate need of new blood will be wide receiver. Floyd, 32, is on the last year of his deal and even if he stays he will be a depth play, not a starter. This will be Floyd’s 11th season. I expect Floyd to retire after this season. Vincent Brown is at the end of his injury-marred rookie contract. Brown had a disappointing 2013 given his opportunity to step up and fill Floyd’s shoes after Floyd went down with a severe neck injury. Another lackluster season will have Brown looking for work elsewhere. Eddie Royal and Seyi Ajirotutu will also be a free agents after this season. That’s four expiring contracts at the same position. That would leave Keenan Allen and a couple of roster fillers at a critical position. Telesco has proven himself adept at filling positions of need. Here’s a look at the top free agent wide receivers in 2015:
None of these players have signed extensions. Aside from Welker, these are legitimate deep threats that will allow the Chargers to stretch the field vertically. Add in some older talents who would not require top dollar like Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, Jeremy Maclin, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt, Josh Morgan and you have a great field of talent to choose from. Adding two players from these names would give the Chargers one of the top receiving corps in the league. It’s not unfathomable to see Thomas and Bryant both in lightning bolts. Telesco covets speed and those two have it in spades. However, that’s also two big contracts. More likely one of the two (Bryant or Thomas) coupled with Smith, Shorts, Welker or another vet on the list would be more like it. San Diego will have the resources to make that happen.
Adding two of those names along side Keenan Allen would give defensive coordinators nightmares, would extend Philip Rivers’ shelf life with an improved offensive line AND legitimate deep threats on both sides of the field (less rushing the passer) and amount to deep playoff runs. The Chargers are an up and coming franchise and with a great front office in place, money to spend and they’re already a playoff team.
Free agents will go to San Diego, as we have already seen. We all know wide receivers are divas. The key things are who’s throwing them the ball, is it a contending team and money. There’s not a receiver in the league who wouldn’t love to catch balls from Philip Rivers. The Bolts can afford to pay and they’re already pushing Denver for the top of the AFC West and making the playoffs. The team already averages 24 points per game without marquee wideouts (aside from Allen). Imagine what they will be able to do with them!
Who would you like to see the Chargers sign next season?
The Greg One