Nate Kaeding

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It has taken a few days to get over this last loss. As I sat there and cleaned my house after the Monday night game, I had categorized my emotions into one word: numb.

As Chargers fans, we’ve seen this before. We’ve seen it entirely too often.

Blown leads, missed field goals, late touchdowns and more. Chargers fans have experienced some excruciating losses outside of the most recent loss to Pittsburgh.

Let me caveat this by saying this, it’s not one play that loses the game for the team. There are usually several things that build up to losses like the one on Monday. For instance, the crossing route to Keenan Allen that would’ve been a walk-in touchdown that saw the pass from Philip Rivers batted down at the line.

That being said, I wanted to look back at a painful history of losses that happened either on the last play or that led to a direct sequence that caused the Chargers to lose.

They say misery loves company, so join me on this miserable look back at some painful losses.

September 7th, 2008 – Chargers vs. Panthers

This one, to me, was the most similar to the game against the Steelers.  The Chargers went up by five with just over two minutes left in the game. The Panthers drive down the field and with two seconds left, the ball at the 14-yard line, Jake Delhomme finds Dante Rosario in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.

Here’s a link to the game winning play.

September 15th, 2008 – Chargers vs. Broncos

Just eight days after the first loss listed in this piece, another painful loss the Chargers fans still haven’t gotten over. Quite frankly, I’m sure Ed Hochuli hasn’t forgotten this game. I guarantee that Chargers fans still remember it. Here’s the sequence of events:

  1. Cutler drops back and fumbles as he tries to throw the ball
  2. Ball is recovered by Tim Dobbins as Hochuli blows the whistle and signals incomplete pass
  3. Hochuli admits it should’ve been a fumble but by rule is incomplete
  4. Broncos score on the next play a touchdown to Eddie Royal and go for two to win the game (also complete to Royal)
  5. Chargers lose 39-38

An interesting note here, both Rosario and Royal went on to play for the Chargers after these game winners. Let’s also not forget Brandon Marshall had 18 catches in this game and was unstoppable.

January 17th, 2010 – Chargers vs. Jets – Playoffs

This one hurts. It’s where Nate Kaeding truly started to earn his nickname of wide right. THREE.  MISSED.  FIELD GOALS. If he makes one of those the game would’ve been tied. Two of them, and the Chargers have a lead. Brutal loss 17-14. This wasn’t a last second loss, but it was brutal. I remember covering my eyes after the first miss and it didn’t get any better on the next two tries.

There’s a reason we hate Mondays – Should we be surprised?

Monday night hasn’t been kind to the Chargers of late. There was the Texans game in 2013 (up 28-7 at one point) and the Broncos in 2012 (up 24-0 at halftime).  These both hurt, as it looked like the Chargers were in cruise control only to be beaten late.

James Jett – October 11th, 1998

I still remember listening to this call on the radio. The Chargers had the lead 6-0 in the 4th quarter. Sure, this was a losing team and they weren’t going anywhere, but this one hurt. James Jett goes 68 yards for a touchdown with just under a minute and a half left in the game for the win. That was just one of two long touchdowns Jett scored on us that year. The other a 45-yard grab in a December rematch.

Chargers vs. Patriots 2007 – Playoffs

Let’s just call this what it is…the Marlon McCree game. This was probably the best shot the Chargers had to win a championship and bring it to San Diego. This team finished the year winning 6th straight to go 11-5 and had the talent to go all the way. Then it happened. McCree makes a great read and picks the ball off and instead of falling begins to run with it, is stripped by Troy Brown and the Patriots throw a touchdown to Reche Caldwell and end up winning the game. Sure, a lot happened after the McCree fumble, but it feels like that would’ve sealed it for the Bolts.

Now, there are other games that come to mind, like the Redskins game in 2013 after the Chargers couldn’t punch it in from the one-yard line. I’m sure I’ve missed some games that are equally if not more painful, as well. But these are the ones that stuck out for me.

Comment below on any other games you remember that were excruciatingly painful.

Thanks for commiserating.

Justin Holmerud

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The end of the 2015 NFL Draft saw general manager Tom Telesco pick up an undrafted kicker in Josh Lambo. Current placekicker Nick Novak re-signed with the team in 2013 on a four-year, $6.6 million deal. Yet, I wondered, why a kicker?

We all know that Novak is one of the top players at his position. The only place it appears his game is lacking is on kickoffs. So then I decided to do some quick research on kickers and/or touchback specialists who are close to Novak in age and entered the league around the same time.

Here is what I found:

Novak, 34, has four place-kicking rivals, and they are all great at what they do. Robbie Gould (Chicago Bears, age 33), Shaun Suisham (Pittsburgh Steelers, age 34) and Mike Nugent (Cincinnati Bengals, age 33) are from the 2005 draft class. Rounding out the list is Josh Scobee (Jacksonville, age 32). Only two were drafted – Scobee in the fifth round of 2004 and Nugent was chosen in the second round of the ’05 class. As of right now, Gould and Suisham are among the most accurate top-20 kickers on a list that also has six other active individuals in a minimum of five years. Mike Vanderjagt is the number one all-time, and former-Charger Nate Kaeding appears as the third. Kaeding and Gould could generally be found in the top-three during the regular season in terms of accuracy.

Looking at field goals, Novak is 120/147 and 81.6%. Gould: 243/284/85.5%; Suisham: 231/275/84%; Nugent: 190/235/80.8. Scobee (80.7%) has made the most attempts with 291, but has missed 56 of them.

When it comes to touchbacks, though, the competition is clearly different. For 2014, Nugent and Scobee both had 37; Suisham 32; Gould 21 (through 12 games) and Novak only had 10. In 2013, they were well ahead of him by 18, almost 2 to 1. While in 2012, they were all about the same and only Gould was over 30.

One other comparison I looked at was there were eight placekickers added after the 2015 draft. Four of those actually went on to sign with an NFL team: Justin Manton (rated number one) to the Baltimore Ravens, Kyle Brindzia (108 career touchbacks and who broke John Carney’s single-season scoring record at Notre Dame) with the Detroit Lions, Ty Long chosen by the Washington Redskins, and Lambo.

So let’s get back to that guy that Telesco signed as an undrafted free agent..

Lambo is 24 years old, 6’0″ and 220 pounds. He was a walk-on at Texas A & M, playing just two years for the Aggies. During his tenure there, he was their most accurate kicker going 111/112 extra points and 21/25 field goals, giving him a career field goal percentage of 84% (a new record for Texas A & M). In 2014, he nailed all 59 of his field goal attempts. However, Lambo’s kicking duties were strictly extra point/field goal attempts, as he only kicked off twice.

While at the Combine, Lambo was 11 of 15 on field goals and showed great distance and hang time. He can be become a dangerous kicker from 40+ yards at the NFL level. The fact that he is a former MLS goalkeeper (FC Dallas from 2008-2011), as well as former US Under 17 and Under 20 soccer player with what sounds like a big leg, might be why he caught Telesco’s eye. Or, he could just be a camp body.

Time will tell.

Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles had one kicker for kickoffs and another for field goals. It’s not likely that the Chargers go that route. I believe, overall, they are happy with Novak’s performance. Lambo has looked impressive on kickoffs during training camp and in the team’s first preseason contest. But can Lambo’s strong leg force the Chargers to carry two kickers on the 53-man roster?

We’ll see.

What are your thoughts on this choice of Telesco’s? Please share your them below.

Thanks for reading and Bolt Up!!

Cheryl White

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When scanning the debates on Chargers related social media outlets, one topic that always brings heated discussion is: Who is the best Chargers quarterback (QB) of all time? As you can imagine, this argument goes back and forth and at times borders on the ridiculous! Let us take a look at this question and see if there is one definitive answer, or if it is truly open to interpretation.

First or all, in order to answer the question, one must understand the guidelines set forth by the question. We are deciding the best “Chargers” quarterback of all time. Not the best quarterback who ever played for the Chargers. If we were looking to find the best quarterback who ever played for the Chargers, the answer would arguably be Johnny Unitas. Unitas played one season with the Chargers before hanging up his high-top cleats. He only started four games and had a record of 1-3 with San Diego. But his lifetime record of 118-64-4 puts him far past his nearest competitor, not to mention his Super Bowl championship in 1970 against Dallas. Although Unitas was undeniably brilliant as a quarterback in the league, he did almost all of his damage for the Baltimore Colts, not the San Diego Chargers. Therefore, he is not a viable candidate for best Chargers QB in history.

In this reporter’s humble opinion, there are only four quarterbacks in Chargers history who would even garner a vote; Dan Fouts, Stan Humphries, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers. Honestly, I only put Brees on this list because he is still loved in San Diego and many have still not gotten over the Chargers letting him go. In fact, Brees would give Unitas a run for his money when it comes to the best QB to every don the lightning bolts. Let’s take a look at these four QBs and see who has the most legitimate argument for being named the best Chargers quarterback of all time.

Dan Fouts: Fouts played his entire career for the Chargers. He came up as a rookie in 1973 and retired as a soon to be Hall of Fame inductee in 1987. He started 171 games for the Bolts, with a career record of 86-84-1. His career record may surprise you. Most would not honor the work of a QB who barely had better than a .500 record. Well, the fact is that the defense in those days carries a lot of the blame for the Chargers losses. Fouts put the points up, but the defense gave them right back. Fouts also led the Chargers to the post-season on four occasions with a career post-season record of 3-4.

He had a three year span (1979-1981) where his offense, masterminded by legendary coach Don Coryell, was unstoppable. He amassed 13,599 yards in those three seasons with a record of 33-15. Yardage numbers like Fouts was running up were unheard of at that time. In his career, Fouts totaled 43,040 passing yards. Many would argue that Coryell and Fouts laid a blueprint for the future of the NFL and what offenses have become today. Although his touchdown to interception ratio is not that impressive (254:242), one could argue that the wide open style of offense that “Air Coryell” offered was so risky that interceptions were destined to happen and not that big of a deal. The payoff would simply have to come on the next drive.

Stan Humphries: Humphries played six of his eight NFL seasons with San Diego. He played his first two seasons with the Redskins and then was brought to the Chargers in 1992. Good things were starting to happen in San Diego with a stout defense and solid running game needing one key ingredient; a quality starting quarterback. Since Fouts stepped down, the Bolts went through nine quarterbacks in just four seasons, before finding Humphries. Despite the team’s recent struggles, Humphries came in and was effective right away. He led the Bolts to an 11-4 record in his first season at the helm of the offense. In fact, his record was over .500 for his first five seasons with the Chargers. His only blemish was a 3-5 record in his injury shortened and final season in 1997. Statistically, many may argue that Humphries does not belong on this list. He only threw for 16,085 yards with a touchdown to interception ratio of 85:73. But stats do not include everything when it comes to judging a leader. The fact that Stan Humphries is the only quarterback in Chargers history to go to a Super Bowl makes him number one in some fans eyes.

Drew Brees:  Brees is the lightning rod in this debate. Some would argue that it was preposterous that Brees was let go after receiving a career threatening shoulder injury on the last game of his expiring contract in 2005. Others would argue it was too big of a risk to keep a QB with an injured shoulder when you had Philip Rivers under contract and ready to start. Still others would argue that the injury had nothing to do with the dismissal of Brees. In fact, it was simply a power-play by then General Manager A.J. Smith to get Rivers on the field after he paid him $40 million to hold a clipboard for two seasons. Honestly, in regards to this question, why Brees left in irrelevant. The fact is that his numbers as a Charger were rather pedestrian compared to some others. Not to say that he would not have led the Bolts to glory as he did the Saints! We will never know what would have transpired if he had stayed. All we know for sure is that he didn’t stay and when considering whether he was the best Chargers quarterback in history, none of his Saints stats should be considered.

Taking a look at Brees’ stats with the Chargers you see that he had a record of 30-28 along with a touchdown to interception ratio of 80:53. Brees also accumulated 12,348 passing yards in his time with San Diego. Respectable numbers, but still not stellar. Brees did lead the Chargers to the post-season one time when he and the Chargers were upset by the underdog Jets. By most, Brees was given a pass on that loss due to a missed field goal by rookie kicker, Nate Kaeding.

Philip Rivers: Rivers, like Fouts is another lifetime Charger. He joined the team in 2004 and is still leading the offense today. In fact, he has not missed a start since he took over the reins from Brees in 2006. His numbers are undeniable. In his tenure with the Bolts, Rivers has amassed 36,655 yards passing with a 252:152 touchdown to interception ratio. His won/loss record with the Charges is a respectable 88-56. He has led the Chargers into the post-season on five different occasions with a record of 4-5.

In his younger days, Rivers was believed to be the chosen one who would finally lead the Bolts to the Promised Land. So far, that has not been the case and Chargers fans are growing impatient. Adding heat to the fire is the recent talk that Rivers will let his contract run out after the 2015 season and test free agency. Some call it leverage, other a smoke screen, still others say it is his way of saying, ‘If the Chargers are going to Los Angeles, I’m not going with them.’ Time will tell on that issue, but the fact is that current controversy aside, his numbers speak for themselves.

Well there you have it! Now who do you think the best Chargers QB in history is? Make your voice heard by answering the poll below.

Thanks for reading and participating! Go Chargers!

Who is the best Chargers QB of all time?

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darman

How is everyone? My name is Zak Darman (@RealZakDarman on Twitter) and I live in the great city of San Diego, CA. I am a lifelong Charger fan and I am also a lifelong and a very excited Padres fan! I attend games regularly and went to 5 of the 8 home games this season and really don’t want to see them move to Carson! My first real memory of the Chargers happened in 2004 when the Chargers went 12-4 and really snuck up on everyone and won the division. That really made me become the die hard I am now. Brees and LT that season were unbelievable and it was also the Antonio Gates coming out year. My first ever Charger game was in the 2006 season vs the Raiders. You know, the Vincent Jackson ball spin game. I was also in attendance to see LT break the single season touchdown record to surpass Shawn Alexander.

Favorite Moment as a Chargers Fan: 2007 AFC divisional game vs the 13-3 Indianapolis Colts. Last game in the RCA Dome the 11-5 Chargers came in roaring and pulled an upset in what was, in my opinion, the best Chargers game I have ever watched. Philip Rivers and LT were both out of the game with injuries and the Chargers relied on Billy Volek, Michael Turner and Darren Sproles to pull out the victory. Billy Volek drove down the field on what would be the game winning TD drive and the defense held late as the Chargers went on to win 28-24.

Worst Moment as a Chargers Fan: Well, let’s be honest here, there have been more heartbreaking than heart warming moments. I have a lot from the ’06 Divisional Round disaster, to an end of an era in the releasing of LT. But the one game that really kills me whenever I think about heartbreak is the 2009 game vs the Jets at home. Yes, the Nate Kaeding game.  Three missed field goals and a Cromartie pull-up-before-the-tackle later in the game and the Chargers were sent home in what started to be a rebuilding mode after that.

My Favorite Charger Player: Thats a tough one. There are a ton of players I like. To pick just one is hard. But I will go with Philip Rivers. His passion and fiery attitude is what a leader should have, regardless of position. His will to win is the one thing that I think really gets under peoples’ skins because they aren’t used to that from the QB position.

I’m glad to be part of the BoltBlitz staff and I am looking forward to writing articles and hopefully you guys are excited to read them as well!

Zak Darman

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The Chargers were in need of finding a kicker to replace an injured Nate Kaeding back in 2011.  They wound up signing Nick Novak to take on those duties. The move has paid dividends as Novak is having a phenomenal career in San Diego.

A former Maryland Terrapin,  Novak has found a home here in America’s finest city.  In 2013, he was incredibly accurate making 34 of his 37 field goals attempts.  Those numbers set a Charger accuracy record for field goal percentage at 91.9%.

Nick is currently 10 for 10 on field goal attempts in 2014.  He has made an astounding 27 in a row.  The team record is held by John Carney at 29.  How cool would it be for him to tie, or break, that record this Sunday against the New York Jets; one of his former teams.  He was in Jets’ camp in 2011 and lost the kicking job to Nick Folk.  That same season, Kaeding was injured and Novak signed with the Bolts.  After battling with Nate in training camp and the preseason the following year, he lost a hard-fought battle but eventually was called upon to replace Kaeding due to another injury.

It is safe to say that Nick Novak is making his mark in San Diego.  He has set lofty goals for this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if he achieved them.  The 2013 campaign was a special one for him for many reasons.  Not only did he help carry the team to the playoffs, he signed a four-year contract with the Chargers.

After being responsible for 15 points against the Jaguars in week 4, he was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.  This would mark the third time that he would earn that distinction in his career.  He was also named to the All-AFC West team by ESPN at the completion of last year.  He is currently in 21st place in the history of the NFL with his 34 successful field goals made in 2013.  I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing him earn those type of awards for years to come.

Novak highlights a special teams unit that is playing out of its mind.  Mike Scifres is a beast and the coverage units are doing a solid job of limiting return yards on both kickoffs and punts.  Guys like Darrell Stuckey, Seyi Ajirotutu and Mike Windt are studs and some of the best at what they do.  Nick still stands out among that strong group of names.

He is currently on pace to make 40 field goals this year.  According to profootballreference.com the NFL record for field goals made in a season is 44 and was set by David Akers in 2011 when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.  I would guess that Novak would like to one day break that record.  After watching him these last few years, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that one day we’ll see Nick Novak at the top of that list.

 

Thanks a lot for reading.

 

Booga Peters

 

 

 

 

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