News out of Chargers Park is that ANOTHER player is lost for the year due to injury.
Monday we learned it is defensive end Caraun Reid. And as has been the sickening norm for this team, it was an ACL tear to the big end’s left knee.
Reid sustained his injury in the first quarter of the Atlanta game after being hit in his lower leg as he planted his foot. Linebacker Denzel Perryman was heading for the pile and just caught Reid’s knee.
Claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions roster, the 6’2, 302-pounder (Princeton, round five of 2014 draft) has been with the Chargers for about six weeks. Filling in while Joey Bosa (2016 draft first round #3) nursed his sore hamstring, Reid has been a contributor on the defense. In 103 snaps he collected five combined tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
That notable highlight occurred in the week three game at Indianapolis. Rookie linebacker Jatavis Brown strip-sacked Andrew Luck and Reid scooped up the ball, taking it to the house 61 yards and tying the game at 13 all.
While announcing Reid’s situation, McCoy said “Caraun came in on the very first day and did an outstanding job. He’s a smart player that picked our system up in a hurry and made some big plays for us.”
If anyone is counting, including Reid, that makes TEN – yes, I said TEN – players lost to season-ending injuries. Five of those ten are to the knee and have occurred in the last seven weeks. Here’s the long and incomprehensible list:
Keenan Allen – torn right ACL, week one vs the Chiefs
Danny Woodhead – torn right ACL, week two vs the Jaguars
Jason Verrett – torn left ACL possibly sustained in the Jaguars game
Nick Dzubnar – torn right ACL, week four vs the Saints
And of course, Caraun Reid from yesterday.
Though it was not his ACL, the Bolts lost Manti Te’o to a torn left Achilles’ tendon early in the Colts game.
On top of those, what about the non-contact injuries that besieged the team before the 2016 campaign even began:
wide-out Stevie Johnson tore his meniscus in training camp
tight end Jeff Cumberland was lost to a torn Achilles’ during the pre-season game against Arizona
rookie guard Donavon Clark tore his right ACL in the Arizona contest
change of pace back Branden Oliver had his right Achilles’ snap during the Minnesota game
It is ONLY Week 7 and that list is scary!! I don’t know if there is any other NFL team playing right now that has had the upheaval to their roster that San Diego has endured. There are still nine weeks to go to the end of the season.
I shudder to think what the “football gods” have in store for this group of men and the accursed injury phenomena as time rolls by. Every time a man goes down, I cringe and pray it is just a minor hiccup and they’ll be back quickly.
Time for the CBA to be re-evaluated. Some teams don’t lose any players, some one or two. But to have TEN is like looking at an emergency room full of wheelchairs!
Sorry to see your name added to that list, Caraun Reid. Your presence on defense will be sorely missed.
Andre Williams wasn’t left out in the cold too long, thankfully. Even better, no one tried to pick him up!
Williams re-joined the Bolts Tuesday. He was waived this past Saturday when the team had to promote tight end Asante Cleveland from the practice squad. The roster moves were necessary because Antonio Gates was not going to see the field against the Colts and there had to be another body out there in addition to Hunter Henry and Sean McGrath.
The third-year back was initially claimed off waivers by the Chargers earlier this month after being released by the New York Giants. That signing occurred after change-of-pace back Branden Oliver was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in the preseason game in Minnesota.
Williams (6-foot, 220 lbs) was a fourth-round pick of the Giants in the 2014 draft. With the Giants having the likes of Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Bobby Rainey and a couple other guys on hand, Williams just didn’t make the final roster cut. This preseason he managed to gain only 91 yards on 25 carries in three games. He was one of 11 running backs on the depth chart in 2015, managing only 257 yards on 88 carries with a lone TD.
Since entering the league, Williams has played in 32 games. He has rushed for 978 yards on 305 carries and scored eight touchdowns — 41 of those carries went for first downs while five were over 20 yards and two were over 40. He also hauled in 19 passes for 137 yards.
Williams is a former Boston College standout. He set a BC school record in 2010 when he made 42 rushing attempts in a single game when the Eagles played Syracuse in that season’s final game. Williams was one of six finalists for the Heisman Trophy in 2013, finishing fourth. That same year he was named the recipient of the Doak Walker Award, an honor given to the nation’s best running back.
Since being in San Diego, Williams hasn’t been in the mix. Things may change this week.
We’ll all just have to play the wait-and-see game.
Thanks for reading!
In what appears to be an unfortunate yet ongoing theme, the Chargers lost yet another player for the season.
The team announced on its official website on Monday that Manti Te’o suffered a torn Achilles and that he will miss the remainder of the 2016 campaign
The few snaps that Te’o saw Sunday before being hurt may very well have been his last in lightning bolts. The inside linebacker is in the final year of his rookie contract which has yet to be extended.
Te’o exited Sunday’s nail-biter against the Colts with an obvious injury to his lower leg. No contact was made as he was clearly in the middle of the field and suddenly went down, grabbing at his calf. Initial reports shortly after were that it was his Achilles and he would not be returning to the game.
This is the third non-contact injury to a Bolts’ player in as many weeks. First to be lost in the regular season was Keenan Allen, who tore his ACL in the Week 1 game against Kansas City. Last week the team saw all-around back Danny Woodhead go out with an ACL injury, as well. Sunday it was Te’o. This trend brings up many questions but I’m not going to discuss them right now.
What is disconcerting is that this is the third player on the team to be lost for the year due to an Achilles’ tear. First up was tight end Jeff Cumberland, an offseason pickup. He had gone up to catch a deep ball from Kellen Clemens in the Week 2 preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. The following week it was Branden Oliver. Everyone can recall with utmost clarity when BO’s Achilles’ snapped and rippled up his calf. Now Manti Te’o, the defensive captain and signal caller, has had the same thing happen to him.
Three players lost to an Achilles’ tendon tear in what, six weeks?! Each one coming in a situation where the individual is not being contacted by another player.
The Chargers may not be the only team to have the “injury curse” hit them this early in the 2016 campaign, but it’s damn freaky to have the SAME type of trauma effect three different players in the course of a season.
Let us all hope that this does not continue to be the theme over the course of the remaining games.
Thanks for reading!
When Branden Oliver left Sunday’s game with an obvious Achilles injury, Bolts fans, as well as the team, were faced with the question of who would fill in for the third-year back.
Monday, that query was answered when it was announced by chargers.com that the team had claimed running back Gus Johnson off of the waiver wire from the Atlanta Falcons.
Johnson is a 5-foot-10, 215-pound running back (Stephen F. Austin) who went undrafted in 2015. He was initially signed by the Dallas Cowboys and spent time on their practice squad until he was released and subsequently picked up by the Falcons. In two preseason games with Atlanta, Johnson collected 60 yards on 14 rushing attempts (five for first downs) with zero touchdowns.
The Chargers currently have Kenneth Farrow (5-foot-9, 219 lbs) as the only depth behind ball carriers Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead as the team just stated via chargers.com that Dreamius Smith was waived on Tuesday.
Farrow’s preseason numbers are 16 rushes for 60 yards with five of his runs ending as first downs. Though the former University of Houston (2016) back did not see any on-field participation against the Vikings on Sunday, it could be that his stature, being so similar to Oliver’s (5-foot-7, 208 lbs), may have swayed the coaches into Farrow still being on the roster.
It looks like Thursday’s preseason game against the 49ers will determine who ends up taking the No. 3 spot in the starting running back rotation.
In the meantime, welcome Gus Johnson to the San Diego Chargers.
Thanks for reading!
At long last, the San Diego Chargers have signed their first-round draft pick Joey Bosa today. The selection shocked everyone from all the media pundits to the Bolts fanbase themselves. The four-year deal is worth $25.8 million with a $17 million signing bonus according to Chargers.com and various major media outlets.
While waiting for his contract to get done, Bosa was a full participant in all training activities and impressed teammates with his work ethic. Newly-acquired defensive tackle Brandon Mebane had this to say about Bosa on Chargers.com:
“He’s a good guy. He asks questions. He always soaking up knowledge. He’s a little quiet right now. I can see he’s got a little nasty side in him so that’s a good thing. I think he’s a great player. I think he’s going to be a real help on our defensive line.” said Mebane.
“He don’t get tired out there. I’m thinking I’ve got to get my cardio up man. “Mebane joked. “He has great technique from what I’ve seen on the field. For a rookie he has great technique already. Seeing how good he is now compared to how good he’s going to be…once we get more and more reps every day, I think he’ll probably be a Pro Bowler.” Mebane added.
Linebacker Jerry Attaochu also had glowing words for Bosa. “He’s a great kid. Looks like he is going to give us a lot of help up front.” Attaochu said.
Offset language became the biggest point of contention holding up the deal. Offset language is simply if Bosa is cut or released during his rookie contract the Chargers are off the hook for any remaining salary he was scheduled to make.
Bosas’ management didn’t want any offset language in the contract. It means if Bosa did get cut or released before his rookie deal is up he would still get paid his full rookie contract. Players call it double-dipping, meaning a player is making full salary from his old team and his new team simultaneously.
The contract standoff deprived Bosa of needed training camp time and has also cost him the first three games of the preseason. The longest contract holdout since the inception of the next salary-slotted rookie wage scale, the Chargers’ and Bosas’ management team dug their heels in. Neither side was willing to budge over the offset language.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune and ESPN, a change in agents was the key element in breaking the contract impasse. The two sides returned to their seats at the bargaining table after the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings and two days later, Bosa is finally a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Growing frustration over Bosas’ high-profile absence raised the ire of the fanbase and his teammates were beginning to voice their disapproval as valuable training and bonding time dissipates with each day passing.
Only 13 days remain until the start of the regular season.
The Chargers’ private jet went to Bosas’ hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida last week only to return empty. Cooler heads have finally prevailed and the two sides have come to a compromise. Bosa got what he wanted, his $17 million signing bonus is fully guaranteed. He will get 85% up front and the other 15% in 2017. The Chargers got what they wanted, the offset language clause is in effect.
The deal is done. It’s time to ball. Here’s a quick look at the man who is all the buzz (both good and bad) of the Chargers’ offseason. Looking forward to seeing lots of shrugs on the field in 2016!
Welcome to San Diego, Joey Bosa!
The Greg One
My girlfriend, Megan, and I had the opportunity to travel to Canton, Ohio and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame and attend the Class of 2015 Enshrinement Ceremony last year. Personally, I was excited to attend as a diehard Charger fan and show support of Junior Seau, who was to be enshrined that day.
Another player to be inducted that day was Steelers halfback, Jerome Bettis, evidenced by the foam school buses on many people’s heads. Canton, Ohio is only about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Needless to say there were Steelers fans everywhere. Some of them complimented us on coming so far to support Junior, saying he was a great player, or said it was sad he had left us so soon. The respect Steelers Nation showed to him and to us will be with me for a long time.
We eventually met a group of Seau fans from Oceanside, Junior’s hometown. We talked about our favorite memories of Junior and took pictures together. A great moment was shared when the group was asked to cheer in front of the Hall of Fame for the NFL Network broadcast, all in our Charger gear.
The day of the Enshrinement Ceremony is the busiest day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, something to keep in mind if you are ever planning to visit. The line to enter the Hall of Fame Gallery, where the bronze busts of each inductee are on display, was very long. We were told by an employee that they couldn’t guarantee we would get in to see the busts because they were closing the museum early so the Packers and Vikings players could have a private tour before the Hall of Fame Game the next day.
We risked it, and about two hours later, made it in to see the great Charger players already enshrined: Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts, Sid Gillman, Charlie Joiner, Ron Mix, Kellen Winslow and Fred Dean. Junior’s bust would be revealed to the whole world in a few short hours. It was worth the wait.
Soon it was time to leave the Hall of Fame and enter Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium next door. It’s a 22,000 seat, outdoor football venue, perfect for the Enshrinement Ceremony. The Hall of Fame stadium plays host to many high school and college football games during their seasons as well as the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, and Hall of Fame Games, played the the day after the ceremony to kick off the NFL preseason each year.
We made it to our seats and I started to reflect. I thought about Junior as his transcendent smile would flash on the jumbotron every few minutes. The jumbotron started to show career highlights of the other members of the Class of 2015. When Bettis’ highlights came on about 20,000 Terrible Towels would go up in the air accompanied by loud cheers and chants. Ironically, many of Junior’s highlights were of him tackling The Bus in the backfield for a loss, effectively quieting the crowd, if only for a moment.
It was finally time for Junior’s bust to be revealed. Master of Ceremonies, Chris Berman, introduced a short tribute video to Junior. Next, Junior’s children were allowed on stage to reveal his bust to the world. Due to a controversial NFL policy on posthumous inductions, none were allowed to speak. Junior’s daughter, Sydney, was then taken off stage and interviewed by an NFL Network reporter. Despite the NFL-induced oddity of the whole situation, Sydney spoke with the poise, bravery and the heart of a true champion. The emotion permeated all in attendance.
During her interview, I thought about Junior’s career with the Chargers, his legend, what he meant to the fans and to the City of San Diego. I thought about what he still means to us all. Men who give their hearts and souls to their community, never truly leave us. They live on in all of us, in our memories, in what we say and do every day.
San Diego had lost it’s two favorite sons, Junior and then Tony Gwynn. At the time of this ceremony it was all but certain, we would lose the Chargers as well. For me, that’s when the tears came. At some point I looked up to the sky and imagined Junior and Tony, shoulder to shoulder, smiling down on us.
This experience has given me the determination to follow the exceptional example set by these two great San Diego men; to do what I can to make my community a better place. I won’t be able to be the best player on the field, or donate millions to local charities, but I can treat everyone I meet with respect and love, as these two did. I can take the time to educate people on the downtown stadium proposal, or at the very least, talk with them about it. I think that’s what Junior would have wanted. If we all do a mere fraction of what these two men did over their lives, we can make this town a better place, maybe even keep our beloved Bolts!
Thanks for reading!
The San Diego Chargers emerge from their bye week with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The 2-7 Bolts look to finish strong after a dismal 2-7 first half of the season. In the first two seasons of the Telesco/McCoy regime, San Diego finished with identical 9-7 records. In this third season they would have to run the table in the last seven games to finish with that mark.
The Chargers have five division games remaining, (they have lost one game to Oakland already), and two out of division games against Miami and Jacksonville. The odds of running the table are miniscule. Finishing with a .500 record is just as improbable. A top-10 selection in the NFL draft is more than likely barring a catastrophic turn of events.
A message will need to be sent if for no other reason than to show the fan base that such an outcome is not acceptable. Whether they stay in San Diego or move to Los Angeles, hope must be rekindled for this team and they way to do so will be with fresh faces calling the shots. Seats are getting hot in America’s Finest City. They will get hotter with each loss and hottest if the Chargers miss the playoffs. At this point, the playoffs are nothing more than a pipe dream.
Heads will roll. Here’s a look at the prime suspects and the temperature of their seat right now:
Dean Spanos. Rarely does the owner abandon ship on his team. He will point the finger of blame at his staff and remove the pieces he sees fit. Eyes do deserve to be on him for his frugality. If his miserly ways start to impact the NFL’s bottom line (dollars), he could be ‘nudged’ out the door. Spanos is well-liked among the other owners so the probability of that happening right now is less than zero.
Something radical would have to occur such as local fans boycotting the games to the point where it becomes painstakingly obvious when games are shown live. This approach was successful as recently as 2012 in Major League Baseball in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers ex-owner Frank McCourt. Do Chargers fans care enough to band together on this course of action if they thought underspending is the chief cause of the Bolts failures? That is the million dollar question.
John Pagano. The defensive coordinator has not shown improvement since taking over the position in 2012. In his first year the Bolts finished 24th in the league in total defense. In 2013 they moved up to 10th. Last season the Chargers plummeted back to 24th. Nine games into this season San Diego is 9th in total defense but giving up 28 points per game. The next seven games could have a huge impact on whether Pags stays or goes.
Tom Telesco. The Chargers General Manager is on the hook for the Chargers failings as much as any member of the team. At the end of the day, Telesco is the decision-maker. The team is a reflection of his vision. It was Telesco’s choice to resurrect the philosophy he used in Indianapolis of jettisoning the veteran players and bringing in young, untested and hungry players who were capable of playing multiple positions. The GM is quickly finding out that what works in one place doesn’t automatically work elsewhere.
Telesco has done admirable work building the team through the draft. Cornerstones of the future have been unearthed with the drafting of WR Keenan Allen, RT D.J. Fluker, CB Jason Verrett and RB Melvin Gordon. A disturbing fact is of the 17 players Telesco has drafted, only one has played a complete season (Fluker). Gordon and Kyle Emanuel are on pace to do so this season.
Helping Telesco is his savvy with contracts and getting players to come in free agency and add impact. RB Danny Woodhead, RT King Dunlap, CB Brandon Flowers and G Orlando Franklin have been key additions. His front office could have done better to keep revered veterans such as S Eric Weddle in the loop when it comes to contract issues as that could affect future free agent signings and keeping his own players down the road. If the Chargers finish with a losing record the pressure will be turned up on the GM to produce or he too will be looking for work elsewhere sooner than later.
Kevin Turner. The special teams coordinator of the Chargers is having a dreadful year. Through eight games the Bolts had one punt return yard with Jacoby Jones as the primary return man. Meanwhile, opponents have accumulated 276 punt return yards. For the ninth game Jones was cut and Javontee Herndon was promoted from the practice squad to assume the kick and punt return duties. Herndon had one kick return for 24 yards in the game, surpassing Jones’ kickoff return average of 21.4 through eight games. The special teams have been a weakness all season, giving a big field position advantage to the opposition and not gaining yards in the return game. Should this pattern continue, Turner will be cleaning out his office at Chargers Park.
Ninth Circle of Hell
Frank Reich. The Bolts offensive coordinator has definitely been offensive. The offense has been difficult to watch at times as the play calls get more and more predictable. We can all see the inside handoff coming from the pistol formation before it happens. The OC seems unwilling to vary from his game plan to accommodate his talent. The pistol formation and no-huddle offense has been advantageous for Philip Rivers at times. However, with a power running back who thrived running out of the I-formation with a fullback opening the first hole why not adapt that into the game plan?
Melvin Gordon set NCAA records and ran for over 2,500 yards at Wisconsin last season. Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates would be a matchup nightmare for defenses if they were to be deployed on the field at the same time. Injuries, suspension and Reich’s unwillingness to add new wrinkles have prevented this from happening on more than just random occasions. With Reich coordinating the offense, the Chargers are averaging 23 points per game, five fewer than they’re giving up. The window on Philip Rivers career is quickly closing and it’s the wrong time to be going the wrong way in the production department. If San Diego fails this season, Reich will be the first man shown the door.
Mike McCoy. The head coach was the marquee hire when the Chargers landed him as the successor to Norv Turner. The man lauded for his yeoman’s work adapting his coaching style to fit his quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow, Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning. His teachings resulted in wins and playoff berths and the same was expected when he took over the reins in San Diego.
Instead, the team has underachieved. Many games have been lost in the final quarter or on the final drive. McCoy has been very conservative in his play-calling. Favoring a ball-control, short-passing, long scoring drive preference the Chargers have very little vertical offense. Rivers, an excellent deep ball passer, goes deep a couple of times per game if that. This team lacks a killer instinct. They lack an ability to finish games and that reflects coaching.
To boot, McCoy is in the third year of a four-year deal. He’s been paid most of what he signed for and it wouldn’t be a big financial hit to let him go a year early. San Diego hadn’t made the playoffs for three seasons before McCoy arrived. They made it to the playoffs the year McCoy arrived and won a wild card game that season. This season, barring a miracle, will be the second year in a row the playoffs have eluded the Chargers. This team is as talented as any in the league but they do not have the results to show for it. Unless they can rebound and finish at .500 someone has to take the fall for this season. Usually the head coach us that man.
In closing, injuries can’t be blamed for everything. Yes, injuries have derailed a very promising season. Keenan Allen was on a record-setting pace. Coaches are paid big bucks to get the most out of their talent regardless of who is on the field. Management is paid big bucks to find the best players to suit the team needs.
San Diego was sitting at 2-2 before they lost to Green Bay and Pittsburgh on the last play of the game. Same thing would happen in Baltimore two weeks later. Aside from the games against Minnesota and Oakland the Chargers have played as well or better than their opponent despite the end result. There are no moral victories in the NFL and when you don’t win, people lose. Don’t expect to see half the names on this list wearing lightning bolts next season.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Who’s to blame for the Bolts performance this season? Leave your thoughts below.
The Greg One
This Sunday marks the official halfway mark for our beloved San Diego Chargers. The season that began with so much promise has given way to despair and a 2-5 season record heading into a road game against the also woebegone 1-6 Baltimore Ravens. For those who have missed it, here’s a quick look back at how the season has transpired.
The Good: Franchise quarterback Philip Rivers is once again proving to all the doubters that he is an elite NFL quarterback. Through seven weeks he leads the NFL in passing yards (2,452), completed passes (215), attempts (311), yards per game (350), first downs (116) and trails only Tom Brady and Carson Palmer in touchdowns (16 to 15).
As a result, Keenan Allen has thrived and is set to destroy his stat line from last season. Allen accumulated 77 receptions for 783 yards and four touchdowns with a 10.2 yards per catch average. This season, Allen leads the NFL in receptions with 62. He is third in the league in yards (690), yards per game (98.6) and has three touchdowns. With eight catches against the Ravens, Allen will set the record for most receptions through eight games. Keenan is also in reach of the NFL single season receptions record of 143 set by Marvin Harrison in 2002.
Despite only getting 85 carries to date, Melvin Gordon is fifth in rushing yards for a rookie with 386. We’ve already seen flashes of brilliance as Gordon already has five runs over twenty yards.
Danny Woodhead continues to be Mr. Reliable for the Chargers. Looking even better than the 2013 version, Woodhead is second on the team in rushing with 49 rushes for 188 yards and in receiving with 39 catches for 407 yards. Surprisingly, Woodhead is the only Chargers running back that has a touchdown. Gordon still hasn’t found pay dirt and trails Woodhead by two.
The Bad: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. The promise of a banner year headlined by the Gordon drafting, Rivers extension and excellent free agency signings is slowly slipping away. Before the season started the argument was what to do with the abundance of offensive line talent. Move Fluker to guard? Who starts at right tackle? Who is the second unit? Unfortunately, no sooner than the first game started did linemen start dropping like flies. As of this week, every offensive lineman has missed game action with the exception of Joe Barksdale. As a result, Philip Rivers has paid the price as he’s been sacked 18 times. That’s an average of almost three sacks a game. At that rate, not only the Chargers season but Rivers’ season is at risk.
The injuries are not limited to the offensive side of the ball. (By the way, the recently returned Antonio Gates is anticipated to miss games with a knee injury). The defensive side of the ball has been ravaged as well. Defensive captain Eric Weddle is out with a groin injury. NT Sean Lissemore, ILB’s Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman are all out. Cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers have missed game action throughout the season but are back on the field. OLB Tourek Williams will see his first regular season action after suffering a foot injury in the preseason.
As a result of the ongoing injuries, San Diego has not been able to stop the opposition. The Chargers rank 18th in total defense (31st vs. rush, 9th vs. pass), giving up an average of 28 points per game. The bolts have the top ranked offense in the league in terms of yards per game(430.7), but only average 23.6 points per game. That type of differential is not and will not win many games.
The Ugly: Special teams play has not been special at all. Special teams continually gives the opposition favorable field position and gains little for the San Diego offense. There’s only one fact you need to know to illustrate this point. The Chargers have played more games (7) than they have return yards (3).
Play calling has been a disappointment to put it kindly. Is there anyone that doesn’t see the first down inside handoff from their couch? The patchwork offensive line isn’t holding back defenders or opening running lanes for Gordon. We all expected a little more genius when the front office scooped the forward-thinking quarterback guru Mike McCoy from Denver. What we’ve seen is anything but progressive and forward-thinking.
Tackling has been atrocious. The bad tackling can’t be attributed to injuries but it can be attributed to bad coaching and a lack of fundamentals. Have the players tuned out the coaches? Are the players going into business for themselves and playing to add to their highlight reel when other teams begin calling their agents?
The Outlook: Over the last three weeks, the Chargers have lost two games on the last play of the game and were destroyed by the Raiders, of all teams. With the exception of the Raiders and Vikings games, they have played well enough to win despite all the inconsistency, injuries and lack of production from special teams and the running game. The reality of it all is they did lose. They are 2-5. You have to wonder how the morale in the locker room is right now. Something has to change if San Diego is to make the postseason and it has to happen NOW. My suggestions would go as follows:
Abandon the running-back-by-committee. Melvin Gordon has been ‘worked in slowly’ for long enough. It’s time to take the reins off the racehorse and give him twenty carries a game and let him show what he can do. I have already detailed my thoughts on this subject in my last column here. Get Melvin a fullback and watch him go!
Bring Javontee Herndon up from the practice squad. The special teams needs a boost and Jacoby Jones is not providing it. Fresh legs like Herndon could be just what the unit needs. The unit can’t get any worse.
Open up the playbook. There has to be more creative plays in the arsenal than an inside draw from the pistol formation. There are ways to get Melvin in space where he is dangerous. Run some reverses with the speed receivers. Mix in a flea flicker. Rivers is one of if not the best deep ball passer in the league and he doesn’t air it out nearly enough. Part of the reason for that is the Chargers don’t have a receiver with the straight line speed to take the top off a defense but the extra time generated from a gadget play can make up for that deficiency and open up the middle of the field for big gains with Green or Gates.
San Diego has a favorable schedule for the rest of the season. There’s five division games remaining and winning those alone puts them in the hunt to win the AFC West. Their non-division schedule includes Jacksonville, Miami, Chicago and Sunday’s Ravens game. The Chargers have a better team than any of their out-of-conference opposition talent-wise and are just as good or better than their in-division rivals. The bolts can go on a 8-1 or 7-2 run to finish the season in the playoffs.
The question is are the willing to make the changes needed to do so. There’s nothing left to do but go all-in and show the team and the fans that the team hasn’t thrown in the white flag on the season. What do you think Bolt Nation? Do you still believe? Post your comments below.
The Greg One
On April 21st NFL fans around the world rejoiced as the 2015 season schedule was released. Experts and fans alike went to work forecasting the record of their favorite team. The San Diego Chargers had an unusually tumultuous offseason headlined by contract disputes, trade rumors and one glaring suspension. However, the Philip Rivers contract extension, free agent signings and drafting of blue chip running back Melvin Gordon gave way to great expectations among the fan base.
Amidst the litany of injuries along the offensive line and lack of an advantage via special teams (only five return yards after four games), some Chargers fans are already beginning to write off this season’s edition of our favorite Southern California team.
To paraphrase infamous former Arizona Cardinals coach Denny Green, Are the 2015 San Diego Chargers who we thought they were?
Let’s put the season into a logical perspective.
After four games the bolts are one of ten teams sitting at 2-2. They are only one of four AFC teams with that record. No one expects the Chargers to go through the season undefeated. Only one team has completed the NFL season undefeated. This season will be no different. Losses are going to come. If the Bengals don’t intercept Rivers during the final two minutes of the game the Chargers may well be 3-1 at this point. All things considered, 2-2 is a good place to be.
Through four weeks:
Philip Rivers has thrown for the most yards in the NFL.
Keenan Allen is the NFL’s seventh-leading receiver in yards and tied for fourth in catches.
Melvin Gordon leads all rookie running backs with 228 yards on 56 carries, good for a 4.1-yard per carry average.
San Diego is averaging 31.5 points in their two games at home, both wins. They are tied for 13th in the league at 24 points per game.
Keep in mind this is with the all-too-familiar cornucopia of injuries along the offensive line. During their midwest road trip, the bolts lost four starters to injury during the Cincinnati game and were down two starters during the game against Minnesota. Last week against Cleveland, not only did the Chargers have the same reoccurring injuries to three offensive line starters but receivers Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson both were lost for the game. Despite finishing the game with only two able-bodied wideouts, the bolts persevered and churned out a come from behind win.
The record may be average, the play has been way above average. It’s no coincidence the games the Chargers lost were the games where offensive linemen were dropping like flies. Even then, the third game against Minnesota was the only game where San Diego had no chance to win in the fourth quarter.
The secondary is still banged up with Flowers, Verrett and Addae on the injury report as questionable for the Monday Night home game against Pittsburgh. On the wide receiver front, Stevie Johnson will not play. Malcom Floyd and Jacoby Jones are questionable for the game although they did practice during the week at varying capacities. Keenan Allen and Dontrelle Inman will be ready to go. Don’t be surprised to see Javontee Herndon brought up from the practice squad to complete three-receiver sets and return kicks if Floyd and Jones aren’t ready.
Despite their woes at receiver, the offense will get a huge boost in the form of All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. Expect a big game from Gates as Rivers gets his favorite weapon back. With 99 touchdown catches over his career, Gates will be targeted a lot in the red zone so he can receive his landmark touchdown catch on prime time national TV. The presence of Gates will also serve to open the field for whomever is playing wideout for the Chargers on Monday night.
After four weeks, one-half of last years’ Super Bowl is 2-2. Indianapolis, picked by many to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season is 2-2. Do we wish the San Diego were better than 2-2? Of course. Are they holding serve and staying in the hunt for the AFC West title? Absolutely. That’s all we can ask of them right now. The injuries will eventually subside and this team will get even more potent.
A quarter of the way through the season, the Chargers are right where we need them to be. What do you think Bolt Nation? Encouraged or discouraged? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The excitement surrounding the secondary of the 2015 San Diego Chargers was palpable heading into the regular season. What they lack in size – as not one is taller than 5-feet-11 – they make up for in experience. Consider that the on-field leader for these men is eight-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle, a guy who is matched in intensity only by the Bolts’ offensive signal caller, Philip Rivers. There are only two other Pro Bowlers in this unit, Brandon Flowers and Darrell Stuckey. For a bunch of men who were primarily drafted in rounds one through four, they should be performing at a high level. At least that is how it shakes out on paper.
Chargers fans are quite obviously frustrated with the product appearing on the field these past four weeks. So, what seems to be the problem? Injuries have a role, but so do ridiculous penalties when the team has the opponent stopped and a chance to get the ball back into the hands of No. 17. What lengths do secondary coach Ron Milus and his assistant Greg Williams have to go to so that this bunch does what it is paid to do? With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town for a Monday Night game, and even if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t under center, this unit needs to be prepared.
Let’s review some of the issues through the first month of the season.
First and Foremost: Get healthy, stay healthy!
Of the four designated starters: free safety Eric Weddle, strong safety Jahleel Addae, left cornerback Brandon Flowers, and right cornerback Jason Verrett – only Weddle has started each game. Opposite him, Addae has been nursing a sore ankle since the Cincinnati game. Additionally, Flowers (knee/concussion) and Verrett (foot) have been in and out of the lineup. Milus has had his own merry-go-round to manage due to injury, shuffling corner/safety Jimmie Wilson as well as safety Adrian Phillips, plus corners Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams into the lineup. Rookie cornerback Craig Mager was finally on the field against the Minnesota Vikings only to be inactive last week with a bum hamstring. As of this writing (Friday) Addae, Verrett and Mager are still on the injury report though with limited participation in practice. Who suits up this week will be of utmost importance against the Steelers.
Although there have only been five penalties, the fact remains that they have come at inopportune times. Two by Verrett gave the Cincinnati Bengals a new set of downs TWICE; both were 15-yard personal foul infractions. In the game against the Minnesota Vikings, Williams was flagged for a costly pass interference (PI) which set up the Vikings at midfield rather than punting. Against the Cleveland Browns last week, Williams was called for illegal use of hands. And in the same matchup, Flowers was nailed for a PI which fortunately only cost six yards. Five penalties in four games by just the secondary is not conducive to winning. This area needs to be addressed.
Tackling by the numbers
As per usual, Weddle leads the posse with 38 combined tackles (29 solos), plus half a sack. Addae has managed four solo tackles in two games. Flowers has collected eight solo tackles (10 total), while Verrett has been credited with six overall (4 solo). The back-ups (Wilson, Robinson, Phillips and Williams) collectively have 42 tackles, a forced fumble (Robinson) and two picks (Robinson versus Detroit and Williams at Minnesota). In 2014, the secondary was responsible for six interceptions on the year. Is having two thus far a good measuring stick for Milus’ men? Time will tell.
Despite the secondary undergoing a bit of upheaval early in the season courtesy of the injury bugaboo, Milus and Williams seem to have their group on the right path. However, they will need to step it up and play smart. Meaning, no getting beat, no dumb penalties, no blown coverages. Monday’s AFC divisional face-off with Pittsburgh will be a turning point as the Bolts’ secondary will need to play it tight – keep Antonio Brown and company in check.
Here’s to execution being stellar this week!
Thanks for reading!