When wide receiver Travis Benjamin was acquired during the 2016 free-agency period, Chargers fans everywhere were immediately excited.
Formerly with the Cleveland Browns, Benjamin displayed scorching speed and an ability to take the top off of opposing defenses, despite having a plethora of quarterbacks slinging him the rock.
His addition to the Chargers’ receiving corps was a coup, as the team already featured No. 1 wideout Keenan Allen, veteran Stevie Johnson, an up-and-comer in Tyrell Williams, a serviceable option in Dontrelle Inman and tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. The team also had Danny Woodhead coming out of the backfield, along with Melvin Gordon, as well. (Woodhead has since moved on to the Baltimore Ravens while Johnson remains unsigned)
It goes without saying, the team made sure that the weapons surrounding veteran signal-caller Philip Rivers were plentiful, but then, well, you know what happened: the injury bug decided that it would make the Bolts’ last season in San Diego much like the last several, injury-riddled.
Allen went down in the first game of the regular season after making Marcus Peters look like a 38-year-old Booga Peters (I can’t cover the bread with jelly, much less an NFL receiver the caliber of No. 13). This put more pressure on the rest of the pass-catchers, including Benjamin.
The Chargers and general manager Tom Telesco were aggressive in securing the addition of the former Miami Hurricane during the 2016 offseason, signing him to a lucrative four-year, $24 million contract, with a $5 million signing bonus while $13 million was received in guaranteed money.
Well, 47 receptions with 677 receiving yards and four touchdowns later, and, why not, some injury issues, the speedy receiver finished the 2016 campaign with underwhelming numbers.
I have no doubt that Benjamin would agree with me on that.
Moving on to this offseason and preparations for 2017.
With the team’s 2017 first-round selection (former Clemson WR Mike WIlliams) possibly being placed on reserve-injured for the season, and the uncertainty of whether or not KA13 can stay healthy for an entire season, the Chargers’ offense needs Benjamin to be in tip-top shape.
According to his words on the team’s official website, he’s feeling good, and ready to get out there and display his full playmaking ability.
“It feels good to be myself,” Benjamin told Chargers.com. “This whole offseason I was being myself in the weight room. Being myself while rehabbing. Now I’m being myself on the field. I wanted to come back stronger and showcase my talent. Just make sure I’m the best I can be during training camp.”
If Benjamin is in fact healthy and himself, as he mentions above, he adds a dynamic element that the Bolts haven’t had for quite some time.
Do not forget, Benjamin tied for the league-lead in plays over 40 yards… with Tyrell Williams.
He is an electric runner with the ball in his hands, able to outrun most players in the NFL, and his route-running is criminally underrated.
Stat Prediction for Travis Benjamin in 2017:
64 receptions for 981 yards and six touchdowns
Should Benjamin live up to the contract he signed and the expectations of the organization and fans, we could all be witness to some of the most explosive, game-changing plays of the 2017 season.
Needless to say, there are quite a few folks who are hoping for just that; while others, not so much.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Photo Credit: Jake Roth USA Today
One of the biggest questions Chargers fans may have as the team heads into the 2017 season is who will be the team’s No. 1 tight end.
Will it be future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates or second-year phenom Hunter Henry?
The reality is that this isn’t truly a question.
The team which formerly called San Diego home (and trust me, I know how much that still upsets the fanbase) has two stellar men at that position.
Do they switch roles this year? Many anticipate that Henry will become quarterback Philip Rivers’ primary tight end entering the 2017 season.
Antonio Gates has been the stalwart, quintessential and reliable man at tight end who Rivers has been tossing the pigskin to for the last 13 years. Gates signed a two-year contract extension in the 2015 offseason and this year, 2017, may just be the final one in which we will be able to enjoy watching those No. 17-to-No. 85 lobs downfield.
After all, Gates turned 37 years old in June. At age 22, Henry is 15 years his junior and considerably more limber than Gatesy. Both give Rivers big targets in the open field, as Gates is 6’4″ and 255 pounds while Henry is a bit taller at 6’6″ though not as heavy at 248 pounds.
Gates was two years older than Henry when he began his rookie campaign in 2003. Henry started at age 21 and didn’t turn 22 until this past December.
Gates’ rookie stats per NFL.com: 15 games with 24 receptions for 389 yards — 19 of those catches went for first downs while two were touchdowns. He averaged 25.9 yards per game.
Here are Henry’s rookie stats, also per NFL.com: throughout the same number of games, there were 36 grabs totaling 478 yards with the majority of those (30) going for first downs. He tallied eight touchdowns and his average yards per game was 31.9.
Despite a solid rookie campaign filled with the flashes of greatness Henry displayed while at Arkansas, the youngster did have one negative play that we’re all sure he will use to help avoid it happening again: the fumble.
That fumble came late in the Bolts’ final 1:02 against the Indianapolis Colts last September, as Rivers and the offense were battling back from a four-point deficit. At 2nd-and-11 from the Chargers’ own 24-yard line, No.17 throws to No.86. As Henry approaches the 40-yard line the ball is popped out of his grasp by Colts safety Clayton Geathers and fellow safety Mike Adams recovers, ultimately sealing the loss for the Chargers.
As mentor to Henry, the wily veteran Gates shared these words with the then-rookie as spoken to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com:
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he told Henry. “You were making a play and trying to make a bigger play. You were trying. If you weren’t trying, I’d have a problem with that. You played a hell of a game. Don’t let that take anything away from the game that you had. You played a hell of a game.”
Personally, I don’t see that the continued presence of Antonio Gates hampers Hunter Henry in any way. So long as Gates is wearing lightning bolts on his shoulders, the wisdom he can impart to Henry (and the other tight ends on the roster) can only be seen as a positive for all involved.
After all, who wouldn’t want to learn from a future first-ballot Hall-of-Fame player, a teammate on the cusp of breaking the all-time record for touchdowns by a tight end? Absorb all that knowledge, put those tricks to practice. Because before you know it, the season will be over and that source could possibly be hanging up his cleats.
Looking forward to your thoughts!
EDITOR’S NOTE: The answer to the question in the title is no.
The Chargers broke countless hearts when they finally announced they would be relocating to Los Angeles, leaving the residents of San Diego in shock, confused and heartbroken.
Some fans decided to decided to follow them to their new locale, while others decided not to support such horrible ownership and what many believe to be an incredibly poor decision.
I have with me a good friend and fellow staff writer who’s made the decision of choosing a new team, Chris Hoke.
Chris: First off, thank you for conducting this interview. It’s been a long six months since greed and selfishness took my hometown team away from me, leaving me to wonder where the fuck do I go from here.
Charlie: No problem at all! I would like to briefly go over your time as a Chargers fan and ask you a couple of questions about the process of being a free agent fan, so to speak. How long were you a fan of the Bolts? Was it a born-to-now thing? This move must’ve really crushed you.
Chris: I was Chargers fan for 25 brutal seasons. Basically since I was a little kid I grew up watching them with my grandpa and my brother. It become a Sunday tradition in our household. No matter how bad the bolts were my brother and I stuck our team.
Hearing about the bolts was definitively soul crushing. I’ve seen the Chargers get killed in their only Super Bowl appearance. I was there for LT’s last game as a Charger. I was there when the Jets beat us in the playoffs in 2010. I thought those were soul crushing experiences. They pale in comparison to losing your hometown team. It’s like your brother died. I would never wish this kind of pain on any fan. It’s truly been one of hardest times in my life.
Charlie: I’m sure if we take the Spanos family out of the picture, were looking at a much different outcome in this whole process. So that being said, what was a couple of moments being a fan that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life? There’s got to be a part of you that wants to see the players still succeed and do great, right?
Chris: As much as I despise Dean, If you took the Spanos’ out of the picture maybe things would’ve worked out. It wasn’t just his fault though the city of San Diego needs to take some of the blame. For the last 15 years both sides did this dance. Dean would come up with plans to renovate Jack Murphy Stadium or build a multi-purpose center downtown, which would host a number of sporting events. Each time Dean would do this the city turned him down; finally capping it off last November when Proposition C failed miserably. The city and Mayor Faulconer basically left Dean no choice but move the Chargers. So no, I don’t believe the end would be better without Dean. San Diego losing the Chargers was inevitable.
I don’t know if you ever went to any Chargers home games in the Q Charlie, but when the Chargers were winning there was blue and gold everywhere. This city was buzzing. One of the things I will miss about home games was the calm before the storm. The music would start and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” would hit. Then smoke would filter out of the Chargers helmet then the cannon would fire and then the starting units would be introduced. You just got that electric nervous feeling almost like you were in the game. Those nerves would be turned up even more if it was a rivalry or a playoff game.
As far as moments I’ll cherish, every game I went to was with my brother. Win or lose we were always there next to each other for support. The shared experience of moments and memories like that were enough to last a lifetime.
If I had to go back and pick one game. It would be the Colts wildcard game in 2010 when Darren Sproles scored in overtime in one of the craziest overtime endings ever. Shocking the then Super Bowl Champion Colts.
Football and the Chargers were more to me than money or the games I went to. It was family. Not Dean, not Roger Goodell or anybody will ever take that from me. Family is forever and I will forever be a San DIego Chargers fan!
As far as the players, some have handled this in a way where they can put the true San Diego Chargers fan into their perspective. Take Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for example. They have both expressed how much San Diego meant to not only their careers but to their families as well. For those players I will cheer for them and hope they finish their careers on top.
Now for those players such as Keenan Allen, who by the way was caught wearing a Raiders hat after he was drafted; we know which team he gets soft against. Allen wasted no time burning his bridge with SD fans by tweeting how excited he was to play in LA only moments after news broke about the Bolts departing from San Diego. I would say that in my eyes those players don’t exist to me and that true Chargers fans should question those players loyalty to not only the team but to us the fans.
Charlie: Safe to say that Darren Sproles game winner has to be a top-3 moment in every Chargers’ fan memory. It was amazing. Still gives me goosebumps to this day watching it and seeing Peytons’ helpless face. *Devilish Laugh*. Now that you’re a free agent fan, have you narrowed it down to any teams in specific that you are gonna cheer for from here on out? if so, how did it come down to them? Whats the process on picking a new team? What plays a big role in attracting you to become a fan? I’m sure given this experience, a huge part has to be ownership.
Chris: I have narrowed it down to three teams. Those teams being the:
Green Bay Packers
For me it came down to several reasons,
First of all with the Packers, I’ve always loved the Packers and the history that comes with this franchise. Not to mention they are publicly owned. The team cares about its fan base. It would also be nice to be a fan of a franchise that knows what it takes to get to a Super Bowl and win.
Secondly, the Philadelphia Eagles. One of the oldest franchises in the league. Like my former team the Eagles have struggled to win a championship. They have had two Super Bowl appearances. One was in 1981 where they lost to the underdog Oakland Raiders. The second loss came in 2004 at the hands of the New England Patriots. Why the Eagles though? My best friend comes from Philly. So I’ve already become a secondary Eagles fan. Since I am now a free agent the idea of being a part of a fan base that is loyal to its team no matter what would be a breath of fresh air compared to the fair weather fan base of the San Diego/LA Chargers.
Lastly, the Chargers. I still can’t call them that disgusting cities name because really it makes me sick to my stomach. It’s like the New York Yankees moving to New Jersey and becoming the New Jersey Yankees. It would make a New Yorker sick. I digress though many may call me a hypocrite since I said “I would never cheer for a team in that city.” However, the Chargers have been all I have known for 25 years. I’ve grown up with this team. They are my blood. They are the bond that my brother and I have always shared. The Chargers are like family to me. If I were to pick them it would be not because of that shithead of an owner. Not because the Mayor of San Diego had a stick so far up his ass he refused to see the grander picture. It would be my heart. My heart has belonged to this team. Whether I like it or not it will always belong to this team.
Charlie: It truly sounds like you have limitless love for the Chargers even after this whole disaster. That’s why you and I connect in good ways. The Packers and Eagles are pretty fair choices as well. Both places can get very cold though, so if you plan on taking trips to see the teams, at Lambeau especially, make sure to bundle up. So before we get into the actual team that you’re rocking with, how has this decision affected relationships with fellow Chargers fans? Do they understand why you’re doing this? I’m sure people feel your pain to some degree. Have you lost any followers on social media?
Chris: I live in Missouri and just moved from Nebraska. I’ve adjusted to cold weather I actually prefer it as well. As far as the transition to being apart of the bolt family on social media to a free agent fan. Man, its been rough. In fact its been one hell of a past seven months. Some have accepted it and understand why I have done it. Some have chosen the same path. Such as former BoltBlitz writer Zak Darman. Others who I have considered close followers have shown anger towards myself and others saying “we were never true fans” which is preposterous. I believe as humans we all grieve in certain ways. Of course I haven’t helped my own cause when I have drunkenly mocked the bolts and L.A. For that I apologize. It was a part of the seven steps of grief anger. In fact after this interview I will no longer be talking about the move or how much I hate Dean Spanos. The subject on this matter is now officially closed!
Charlie: Hypothetical question here, lets say you pick a team that isn’t the Bolts and they end up over exceeding expectations and making playoffs, how would that make you feel? Would you consider coming back? I myself would welcome you back with open arms. Everybody makes mistakes right? All 3 teams are good this year so there should be no letdown where ever you choose to land.
Chris: If the Bolts finally exceed expectations that would be a shock. I mean every time this team is predicted to “take over” the AFC West this team falls flat on its face. So I would be shocked and happy for the players like Rivers, Gates and other veteran guys who deserve to go out on top. However I would not change my mind to be Chargers fan again. Though I’ve thought about trying to be a fan for just one year. Like a player does when he signs a one-year contract. That’s not for me though. When I pick my team this is gonna be the team I stand by till I die!
Charlie: Is everybody in the Hoke family going to be following you on this decision or will this be a solo mission? Somebody in your family had to have either helped with your decision or entice you to go a certain route? Joining a fan base alone can be like switching schools as a kid.
Chris: As I’ve stated in an earlier question. My brother will be remaining a Chargers fan. The rest of my family is either fans of different teams or they are not into football in general. So no, this is something I’ve done on my own unfortunately.
Charlie: Alright so by now, I’m pretty sure the people are on their toes. Everybody can feel your pain and love for the Chargers throughout the article. A lot of people understand you and share those same emotions. Hopefully, this article and your decision can help others and their futures as football fans. With all that being said Mr. Man-of-the-hour, what team are you going with? Who are you going to support going forward? This is a huge decision and it has me so ecstatic to find out! I just hope you’re choosing to stay with us!
Chris: Oh man, This is a question I’ve asked myself over and over for the past seven months. Its taken a lot of soul-searching to get to this point. Being that I’m the man of the hour and I’m a man of my word.
I’ve decided to take my fandom with the Chargers to LA. At the end of the day this is my team. No owner can strip that away from me. I’ve seen these players such as Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates come up from nowhere to be the NFL’s elite. More so than this the Chargers are family. As the line in “Fast and the Furious” series always says “You don’t turn your back on family.” As hard as it is to cheer for a team in a city I hate, things change and I will learn to love this team again. I would once again like to apologize to all the bolt family I’ve spurned for the past seven months. It was a part of the grieving process. I hope you all can forgive me and let me back into the bolt family once again.
Again, Charlie I would like to thank you for these wonderful questions and helping me to close a huge chapter in my life. I look forward to cheering with you on Sundays. Go Bolts!!
Charlie: Yesssssss!!! Words can’t describe how hyped I am to hear you say that. I sure as hell speak for the entire bolt family when I say “welcome back”. Something told me all along you were going to stay with the team. Your passion for this team stretches further than most. This would definitely would not be the best time to leave anyways. The talent on this squad has everybody hyped for the future and I’m truly happy that you are able to look past all the destruction and let downs over the years to stay with them. It’s only going to make winning that much better. I truly am grateful to have found out your great decision first! Next round is on me!
Charlie LaFurno and Chris Hoke
The NFL Network released its annual Top 100 players for 2017. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words so here is a noteworthy picture courtesy of NFL Networks’ Twitter page:
“There’s a reason why he’s been doing this for so many years. Absolute beast, monster.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 9, 2017
last of the true gunslingers, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers made the list at number 73. The Chargers organization retweeted the photo with this reply:
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) May 9, 2017
Looks like the organization is pleased with Rivers simply making the list. Personally, to land at number 73 is a travesty. Is this an individual or a team accomplishment? Considering the list is the Top 100 PLAYERS, Rivers should have been much higher on this list.
Here are my points to back up my claim:
*Rivers finished fifth in the NFL in passing (4,386 yards).
*Rivers tied for fifth in the NFL passes of twenty yards or more (57) and second in passes of forty yards or more (16).
*Rivers was fourth in the NFL in touchdown passes (33) behind Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers.
*Rivers played behind a turnstile of an offensive line (36 sacks allowed) and played the season without a true number one receiver. Keenan Allen was injured in the second quarter of the first game.
*Despite losing a player for the season each week for the first half of the season and the Chargers leading the league in players on IR, no one had to do more with less than Rivers. Even then, eight of the Chargers’ eleven losses were by a touchdown or less.
While Rivers undoubtedly received demerits for leading the league in interceptions with 21, it’s simply because he was the one constant, the one member of the team with the most weight on his shoulders. He gladly took on that weight, suffered the weekly pounding by opposing defenses and sprang back up for more trying to will his team to a win.
That’s leadership. That’s courage. That’s a warrior’s soul. That’s what every professional athlete should strive to be.
Apparently, what that doesn’t get you is much respect from NFL Network…
The Greg One
Any long-standing San Diego-now-Los Angeles Chargers fan can think of many failed attempts at clever marketing tactics. The latest, entitled #FightForLA is just as bad as the rest.
We get it. Now that there are two teams vying for the same fan dollars in Los Angeles it is seen as a ‘fight’ for Los Angeles. That sentiment couldn’t be farther from the truth for two major reasons. First and most importantly, no one in Los Angeles wants either team to be there. Aside from the subsection of devout loyalists (such as myself) who grew up with the teams in their former homes and would watch them if they relocated to Mars; neither move has raised an eyebrow among the general NFL populous.
Secondly, if the #FightForLA is intended to pit the Chargers versus the Rams in a L.A. rivalry the same way the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers are pretended to be, that too is a fallacy. The Clippers have always been the red-headed stepchild in the NBA version of this L.A. story and even though they are currently better than the current version of the Lakers, the Lakers will always be the alpha dogs because of the championship banners hanging from the rafters.
Head-to-head, the Chargers are hands-down better than the Los Angeles Rams. Don’t believe me? These rosters prove my point:
Quarterback: Chargers QB Philip Rivers vs. (Quick, does anyone even know who the Rams starting quarterback is??) The answer is Case Keenum, Jared Goff and Sean Mannion all took snaps for the Rams last season to disastrous results and a 4-12 season. Altogether the Rams passed for 3,313 yards and that includes a 4-yard completion by their punter! By comparison, Rivers threw for over 1,000-yards more than the Rams quarterbacks combined (4,386).
Running Back: Rams Todd Gurley vs. Chargers Melvin Gordon. Part of a dying breed of bell-cow running backs, this is the most even matchup on the ledger. Gurley fell off from his breakout rookie season once teams figured the Rams couldn’t pass the ball and loaded the box to stop the run. Gurley managed 885 yards and 6 touchdowns on 287 attempts (3.2 yards per carry). Gordon did the opposite, rebounding from a disappointing rookie campaign to fall three yards short of a thousand yards on 254 attempts (3.9 yards per carry). Gordon went from zero touchdowns as a rookie to twelve (ten rushing, two receiving) in his sophomore year.
Wide Receiver: The Rams tried to run their offense through the speedy but diminutive (5″8′) Tavon Austin. Secondaries figured out the game plan early and rolled coverage to him. As a result he had only 509 yards and three touchdowns receiving. Running reverses and other gadget plays added another 159 yards and one touchdown to his 2016 resume. Kenny Britt, Brian Quick and Lance Kendricks provided the bulk of the punch from the receiving corps, accounting for 1,063 yards and ten touchdowns combined.
In San Diego, Tyrell Williams had a breakout season amassing 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns by himself. Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin combined for another 1,487 yards and eight touchdowns. Not bad considering they lost their number one receiver, Keenan Allen, in the first week of the season.
Total offense: The Rams finished dead last in points per game (14) and yards per game (262.7). The Chargers finished ninth in points per game (25.6) and 14th in yards per game (356.8).
There’s no point into going over to the defensive side of the ball. Fans come out to see an exciting, dynamic offense and a good football game. While the argument can be made that neither team achieved that goal, the Chargers were able to put points on the board. The Rams were blown out (16 points or more) six times. They scored ten points or less nine times. The Chargers only had two games where they scored under 20 points (16 and 19) and of their 11 losses, eight were decided by a touchdown or less.
If this were a fight, the ref would’ve stopped it by now….
There is no question as to who is the best team in Los Angeles. Provided they can stay healthy, the Chargers will make the playoffs this season. Health is always the biggest problem with this team as they have not been able to keep their starters healthy for many seasons. The Rams will be living in the NFC West cellar for yet another year, healthy or not. They simply don’t have the talent.
Los Angeles is a notorious fair weather, bandwagon-jumping city. If you win, they will come and tell you they have been a fan for years. The only question is can the Chargers keep their weapons on the field and out of the trainers’ room and if so, how many games will it take before the Los Angeles public officially adopts them?
But retire the hashtag already…
Please and thank you.
The Greg One
The 2017 NFL Draft started with a bang on Thursday evening, as the team that called San Diego home for 56 years chose a wide receiver, Mike Williams of Clemson, straight out the gate with the seventh selection of the first round.
But what really made fans stand and take notice was the same team taking not one, but two guards on Day 2: Forrest Lamp from Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney from Indiana. The two form a pair of hulking individuals whose presence should go a long way towards giving Bolts’ signal-caller Philip Rivers something that has been increasingly absent the last couple of seasons: a “little” thing known as time.
It took the Chargers two years to fill the glaring gap facing them when former center Nick Hardwick announced his retirement in February of 2015. The lack of the presence of Hardwick’s recognition of which protections to call at the line of scrimmage became exacerbated as Rivers took that responsibility upon himself the last two seasons due to countless injuries along the offensive line.
Last spring, in an effort to take some of that weight off his quarterback’s shoulders, general manager Tom Telesco added free-agent Matt Slauson (Chicago Bears) to the offensive line. Slauson is a guy who is well-known for his toughness. His skillset and experience were badly needed and highly rated.
Below we’ll take a quick look at the newest pieces to be tasked with keeping Rivers on his feet and off of his back.
Forrest Lamp was Telesco’s second-round choice (No. 38 overall). The former Hilltopper stands 6-foot-4, weighing 309 pounds. He started 51 games at left tackle while at Western Kentucky.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock on Lamp: “I thought his Alabama tape was the single most dominant offensive line performance I’ve seen against that front in 5 years…He’s gonna be a center or a guard at the next level.”
Third-round selection (No. 71) Dan Feeney tips that scale at 305 pounds, while matching Lamp’s height at 6-foot-4. He was a large reason why former Hoosier running backs Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons, 2015 draft) and Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears, 2016 draft) performed as well as they did at Indiana.
Feeney is a tenacious blocker who is tough, smart and carries one quality the Chargers desperately need on offense: nastiness.
Mayock on Feeney: “A really solid interior offensive lineman. I think he’s a natural right guard…this is a good pick for the Chargers. You can tell there’s a concentrated effort to get Philip Rivers hit less.”
The rookie is from the same school as Kris Dielman, the former left guard and four-time Pro Bowler for the Bolts who retired in 2012 after nine years in the trenches.
Speaking with Hayley Elwood of the team’s official website, Feeney reminisced that as a sophomore, Dielman returned to the Indiana campus to talk to the players. “He was an amazing player…Going to the Chargers just like Dielman is a huge honor for Indiana and especially myself,” added the rook.
Will Lamp and Feeney be starters heading in to the regular season? Only time will tell. Adding these two guys into the mix alongside Slauson and free-agent signing Russell Okung certainly should give Rivers time in the pocket, while also creating holes for third-year back Melvin Gordon.
Anticipation is building for a season of the unexpected; from playing in the mini-stadium that is the StubHub Center, to the hope that first-year head coach Anthony Lynn may lead this team back to the playoffs.
The 2017 NFL season for the Chargers is setting up to be one helluva year.
Thanks for reading!
On April 18th, the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders announced they have cut nose tackle Dan Williams. The release comes two seasons after picking him up as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals. The L.A. Chargers should be interested in this development as they sorely need depth along the defensive line, particularly at nose tackle. Williams would be a solid backup to starter to Brandon Mebane and give the Chargers two legitimate veteran run stoppers in the middle of the line.
Williams is currently listed at 6’2″, 330-pounds. In Arizona, he was a cornerstone of their defense, consistently occupying two blockers and plugging running lanes. As a result, pass rushers such as Karlos Dansby, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Bertrand Berry and Daryl Washington feasted on quarterbacks. With the uprising of young, hungry pass rushers and linebackers on defense, having wily veterans like Mebane and Williams is just the type of anchor needed to make the defensive line unstoppable.
Bringing in Williams also finally rectifies an egregious mistake that is seven years old.
I take you back to the 2010 NFL Draft.
The San Diego Chargers had closed a 13-3 season with a humiliating loss in the divisional round to the New York Jets. All-Everything running back Ladainian Tomlinson asked for and was granted a release. Seated at the 28th spot in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chargers sacrificed their first- and second-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to move up 16 spots and select…
Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews…(insert rim shot here)….
The heir apparent to Tomlinson, like a bottle rocket, had a few flashes…and fizzled out. In five seasons, he had 24 touchdowns and 15 fumbles lost. Mathews missed 25% of the teams’ regular season games with injuries (20 out of 80). Mathews has logged a full 16-game season only once in his career (2013). That includes his current stint in Philadelphia.
And the injuries….soooo many injuries. Hamstring. Quadriceps. Groin. Thumb. Both collarbones. Concussion. Both ankles. And on and on and on….
Back to the 2010 NFL Draft. With the 26th pick in the draft the Arizona Cardinals selected Dan Williams and he became their keystone nose tackle. Aside from a broken arm in 2011 in which he missed the last six games he has only missed four games his entire career. Williams hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons. The only reason he’s a free agent now is because of his salary cap number. Cutting Williams took $4.5-million off the Raiders’ ledger.
Perhaps the Chargers thought Mathews was the only worthy replacement in the draft. Jahvid Best, Dexter McCluster and Ben Tate were all selected after the Chargers’ original draft slot. Brain Westbrook, Thomas Jones, Willie Parker, Jamal Lewis and Pierre Thomas were all available in free agency.
What other names were missed in the first round? There was Safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15), G Mike Iupati (17), C Maurkice Pouncey (18), WR’s Demaryius Thomas (22), Dez Bryant (24) and CB Devin McCourty (28).
As far as that second round pick goes, that was the year Rob Gronkowski was drafted. What’s Gronkowski up to these days? Dude has so much game he’s bodychecking pro wrestlers at Wrestlemania and cutting in on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during an official press conference!
And that’s only this month…
Take a moment and envision a two-tight end set of Antonio Gates and Gronk! The Chargers wouldn’t have needed wide receivers and Philip Rivers would’ve been smashing passing records. DT Linval Joseph (46), LB Daryl Washington (47), DE Carlos Dunlap (54), LB Sean Lee (55) and WR Golden Tate (60) all heard their names called that round.
As much as that day in 2010 will live in infamy for me and many other Chargers fans, bringing Williams into the fold will add some salve to the wound. It makes sense and there’s history there. While Williams was in Arizona his head coach was current Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Don’t be surprised if a visit isn’t already in the works.
Moral of the story is do your homework. Stick to your board. Don’t let one great year of college football eclipse a checkered injury history coming into the draft. In short…
Don’t Mathews it up!
The Greg One
It is no secret that the San Diego Chargers are on the hunt for a new head coach. Yes, Mike McCoy has worn out his welcome and has been shown the door. As Chargers coaches go, he wasn’t anywhere near the worst. Nor was he near the best. Some give him the excuse that injuries handcuffed McCoy and made it impossible to win. There is an element of truth to that statement, but the fact that he still showed poor game management and lacked any kind of personality didn’t help his argument for staying on and at least finishing his contract. No, McCoy had to go and a new coach must be ushered in. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that this hire may be the most important decision that the Bolts have moving forward. More important then who they re-sign, who they draft, and as far as wins and losses go, where they play.
Judging by the list of candidates that the Chargers have lined up, it appears that the upper management may want a defensive minded coach. In fact, the first three candidates interviewed were all current defensive coordinators. History shows that building a team with the attitude of a defensive mind has worked well for the Chargers. I know what you are thinking, if you are old enough to remember, “The Chargers earned their stripes as an offensive juggernaut!” Well that is true, but that style has not worked in decades. The last two coaches who truly built a formidable contender were both defensive minded; Bobby Ross and Marty Schottenheimer.
Taking a look at all 15 former head coaches of the San Diego Chargers, you will see that only six have a winning record. Here is the list of former coaches, when they coached, their record and winning percentages:
Sid Gilman ’60-’69 & ’71 87-57-6 .600
Charlie Waller ’69-’70 9-7-3 .553
Harland Svare ’71-73 7-17-2 .307
Ron Waller ’73 1-5 .166
Tommy Prothro ’74-78 21-39 .350
Don Coryell ’78-’86 72-60 .545
Al Saunders ’86-’88 17-22 .436
Dan Henning ’89-’91 16-32 .333
Bobby Ross ’92-’96 50-36 .581
Kevin Gilbride ’97-’98 6-16 .272
June Jones ’98 3-7 .300
Mike Riley ’99-01 14-34 .292
Marty Schottenheimer ’02-’06 47-33 .588
Norv Turner ’07-’12 59-43 .578
Mike McCoy ’13-’17 28-38 .424
As you can clearly see, it has been a long time since an offensive mindset has been successful for the Chargers. Sid Gilman was the only coach to ever lead the Chargers to a championship and he was most definitely an offensive coach. But Gilman was doing things offensively with the passing game that had never been done before. Defenses had not had time to adjust to his aerial circus.
Sure, Norv Turner had the fourth best winning percentage of any Chargers coach in history, but it is widely understood that he inherited a great roster from Schottenheimer and systematically burned it to the ground in just a few years.
Yes, Don Coryell is a legend and had one of the best offenses in NFL history! But, the lack of importance placed on the defense in those years doomed his teams to falling short of their ultimate goal. Now, the same thing could be said about Schottenheimer and the post-season. He did indeed fail in the post-season as well, even with his defensive mindset. That is true, but let’s not forget that Marty was fired with a 14-2 record and a roster that could still be dominant for years to come. He was not given the chance to run the full course. We will never know what could have been.
As previously stated, it does appear to be time for a new sheriff in town. Not just a new face saying the same old garbage. The Chargers need a new face, with a new attitude. An attitude of accountability and determination. An attitude of winning is what matters, not excuses. If they fail to find the right man for the job, look for beloved players like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates to end their potential Hall of Fame careers without any jewelry to show for it. It’s now or never for those great Chargers.
Whether the Chargers go with an offensive or defense coach, or even a special teams guy, there is one thing that they need to do above all else……GET IT RIGHT!
The staff here at boltblitz give their predictions and takes on what they think will happen Sunday versus the Buccaneers
Zak Darman: Coming off a big road win in Houston, Philip Rivers and the Chargers go home to take on the Buccaneers in what many think will be a close game. I happen to agree with them. Most are picking the Bucs, I don’t agree with them there. I think the Chargers control the clock fairly easily and force a few turnovers on Winston, who is known to give up the ball at times. Chargers 24 Bucs 20
Charles LaFurno: Defense does a great job shutting Mike Evans down and the Chargers cool off a dangerously hot Bucs team to seal their sixth win and get back to .500 with four games left to play. Philip goes over 300 yard mark with four touchdowns. Bosa and Ingram combined for 3 sacks and the defense snags two picks from Famous Jameis. Chargers 34 Bucs 20
Michael Brazeel: Mike Evans against Casey Hayward is going to be the matchup of the day. Evans gets the better of CH going for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs will be in position to tie the game late in the 4th, but the rookie kicker will miss. Giving the Bolts a win and getting them back to .500. 27-24 bolts
Brian Scott: The young and up-and-coming Bucs suffer a hangover after defeating the Seahawks. Bucs give up sacks and with the improved pass rush, the Bolts get in the backfield often. Rivers has a 300 yard game and Gordon gets 80 with two touchdowns. Chargers win 36-17
Laura Leech: Back at home and trying to get to .500 for the third time this season, the Chargers finally do it. It comes down to the wire but they are victorious in this must-win game. 31-28 bolts
Corey Decker: Both teams going into this game with something to prove. The veteran presence and the record of Philip Rivers in December are the two reasons chargers walk away victorious. 24-21 Chargers by 3.
Brian Krich: I like the Chargers here. I believe Bucs will struggle to protect Winston and won’t be able to effectively sustain run game. Mike Evans will get his, but it won’t be enough. Chargers balanced offense carries the day. I say 27-17 Bolts.
Chris Hoke: Chargers have a very sleepy first half falling behind 14-0 giving up a TD to Mike Evans and another on a Rushing TD. Melvin Gordon carries the team in the Second half scoring a TD and racking up 200 scrimmage yards. Rivers finds Hunter Henry late to tie the game up 14-14 the Chargers get the ball back with one minute left and drive into Lambo range he makes the game winner. 17-14 bolts
Cheryl White: Bucs fly West hoping for another “W” but Chargers defense plays hard & Bosa disrupts Winston often. Rivers is epic again this week with 300 yards & TDs to Gates, Williams & Inman while Gordon runs for 85 yards & a scores twice. Chargers win 35-17
Mike Pisciotta: Lambo misses two FGs, but hits in the closing seconds for the win. Rivers throws 2 INTs, but balances those with 2 TD passes and Gordon runs for another. Rivers and Gates connect early and often with the old man collecting 125 receiving yards. Bolts over the Bucs 27-24
Will McCafferty: I think the Chargers get out to a first quarter lead, let the Bucs back in the game in the second quarter and then open up a can of ass-whoopin’ in the second half. Chargers win going away, 34-17.
Dave Peters: Gates gets one step closer to Tony Gonzalez and the TE-TD record. Rivers throws for three scores as the Chargers dominate until late in the game. Joey Bosa logs a 2.5-sack day. Denzel Perryman recovers a fumble forced by Corey Liuget. Pagano goes ultra conservative in his play calling, as always, surrendering a couple scores late. Chargers 27 Bucs 26
Here is my take on the Chargers vs Buccaneers game and what the bolts must do in order to win and get to .500
1.) Contain Evans
Mike Evans is a stud and is one of the most vastly underrated receivers in the game. He absolutely torched Richard Sherman and the Seahawks last week going for 8-104-2. He is going to be a big task for whoever guards him this week (my assumption is, it will be up to Casey Hayward) and is really the only player on Tampa that scares me. Winston is young and raw but he is improving and Muscle Hamster, Doug Martin, is average at best.
2.) Balanced Attack on Offense
You aren’t winning in this league without a balanced offense regardless of how much the game has changed. Philly Riv is borderline elite, as we’ve seen throughout the years, but no team is winning with a borderline elite QB and no running game. Tampa Bay currently ranks bottoms in defense, so this should be a game in which the bolts and control the rock and throw 25 times while running it another 20 eating up clock and keeping their defense fresh.
This seems to be a key each and every week. Well, until it improves, it wont be going away. The Chargers are blown countless amount of leads in the 4th quarter and have a minus in points for the quarter. The Chargers SHOULD have the lead Sunday, but whether or not they keep it is ultimately the final question and answer.