One of the toughest things to learn in life is how to avoid committing mistakes; a futile desire to say the least. Unless you are born with the unique power of advanced hindsight, the best way to learn is actually from the mistakes we make. An action is done, we see the negative result, and we work very hard to never repeat it.
One would think that an NFL head coach would be privy to this bit of knowledge.
In Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it tells the story regarding the inner battle of good versus evil, where the “good” Dr. Jekyll wants to abolish the “evil” Mr. Hyde. However, having that balance and knowing when to showcase them is as important as the recognition that both exist.
For two-and-a-half quarters in Sunday’s 33-27 loss in Kansas City, the San Diego Chargers looked unstoppable. Mr. Hyde’s dominating character was full of violent vigor at the onset of the game, showing no mercy upon it’s prey.
Second-year running back Melvin Gordon was able to get the monkey off his back, twice, and visions of a well-balanced offense of yesteryear flashed into the eager minds of Bolts fans everywhere. The defense provided a mixing of schemes so well versed and executed that Alex Smith seemed like he was leading the South Central Louisiana University Mud Dogs, begging for a water break. The Chiefs’ players and coaching staff seemed dazed and confused by the dominating phenomenon happening on their field. They, perhaps, were not aware or prepared to witness Mr. Hyde coming to fruition.
Certainly, Mike McCoy and staff knew what to do with a good-sized lead right? In the case that they wanted to ignore what has occurred in the past, all John Pagano had to do was remind McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt about one game against Denver in 2012 — when they had a 24-0 lead at halftime, only to lose 35-24.
“Disregard for the past will never do us any good. Without it we cannot know truly who we are.” – Syd Moore
The beginning of the fourth quarter, the passive Dr. Jekyll put on the headphones and looked frightened calling the plays from the sideline. His influence captivated the players as well, leading to execution on the field that seemed timid and shy.
The defensive coordinator of the infamous Denver game of 2012, the same coordinator that was on the field Sunday, appeared to learn nothing from his mistakes, as he continued to settle with calling a three-man pass rush. Then there was the running game of the offense, or the lack thereof, where fans were forced to play the childhood game of “Where’s Gordon?” The intuitive and creative calls for the offense seemed to be non-existent. The Chiefs’ defense swarmed the ball so quickly it was as if they were inside the huddle with Philip Rivers.
Speaking of our great quarterback, can or should Rivers trump the calls coming in from the sideline? He knows what has failed the Chargers over the years and he could have seen and felt the end result coming. Couldn’t he have ignored the passivity and used his fire and passion to bring back Mr. Hyde to the offense?
Instead of going for the jugular and keeping the commanding momentum, McCoy and company returned to the same shtick; stagnant, conservative and predictable play-calling. They appeared to be so afraid to lose; especially with that big of a lead. The facial expressions from the head coach showed a sign of weakness, a sign of defeat even with a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. Yet, in the post game interview, McCoy stated that, “I don’t think our mindset changed. We came in and had a great halftime talk about what we were doing…”
You don’t think the mindset was changed? Where is the confidence?
Perhaps the fear of failing is too much for the coaching staff to deal with. I mean, after all, there has not been many positives when looking at a 13-19 record over the past two seasons. So, naturally, with a 21-point lead on the road against a division rival, his mindset was more of a “Please don’t blow this lead…please don’t blow this lead.” Not much success can happen if you are thinking and wishing about how not to fail, rather than how to finish off a win.
I have defended McCoy to the naysayers in the past. I felt he did not have the supporting coaching staff to make the team successful. Furthermore, with the coaching carousel, I felt having stability with the head coach was vital. After watching the lackluster second half, however, I believe that if the San Diego Chargers miss the postseason for a third straight season, a new head coach will don the blue and gold in 2017.
As frustrating and disappointing as the final score was, there is no need to panic so early in the season, nor is it time to fire a head coach at the very beginning of the season.
For those superstitious fans, just look back at McCoy’s first season in San Diego; you know, the last year the Bolts went to the playoffs. If you recall, the first game of that season was against Houston. The Chargers dominated the game and held at 21-7 lead at halftime, only to lose 31-28.
Perhaps history can repeat itself for the good.
Thanks for reading!
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
EDITOR’S NOTE: BoltBlitz.com staff writer Charlie LaFurno is expecting some big things for your San Diego Chargers in 2016. In an effort to explain how the team will be able to achieve the expectations that LaFurno has for them this year, he highlights three keys which will enable the Bolts to be very successful during the ’16 campaign.
First, let’s start things off with giving both the Chargers and Joey Bosa several rounds of applause until our hands hurt. They FINALLY reached a contract agreement of $25.8 Million over four years this Monday. The contract comes with a $17 million signing bonus and makes him the highest paid upfront rookie in Chargers history.
As it stands after the Bosa signing, I certainly believe the Chargers can be a 10-plus win team and, depending on how they play their division games, they could very well end up at 11-5 or 12-4. Now, in order for this to actually happen, and for Chargers fans to stop dreaming and this finally become a reality, a couple of things need to play out in the Bolts’ favor.
Melvin Gordon having a breakout season is a KEY part to the Chargers’ success this season. He showed flashes of the Wisconsin version of Melvin Gordon this preseason, albeit a small sample size. He had three carries for 12 yards against the Titans in Week 1, adding a 44-yard touchdown catch — something he failed to do all last season was getting into the endzone. Hopefully that shook the jitters off for the youngster. But, he continued to stay hungry even though the starting position is his. He didn’t have a huge second game, rushing six times for 18 yards, but he came back the next week against the Vikings and had a BIG performance even though the Bolts fell short. Gordon rushed four times for 51 yards, including a 39-yard TD. Granted the play was audibled by Rivers and Gordon got a little lucky with the Vikings linebacker completely misplaying it, but No. 28 finished the play, showing elite speed and burst. THAT play got me extremely optimistic and enthusiastic. Gordon did not play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the 49ers. Keep him fresh for Week 1 in Arrowhead. The team is really going to NEED him.
The offensive line staying healthy and getting continuous reps and playing time together will come a long way in developing the chemistry that they have failed to sustain for a while now. Barksdale is the only lineman that played in every game last year. Last season, the Chargers used 26 different O-Line combinations.. TWENTY SIX. To say that is putrid would even be an extreme understatement. The Bolts averaged a measly 3.46 yards on the ground last season — 32nd in the league — and it needs to improve going forward if they want to have a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
This offseason, San Diego signed Matt Slauson and drafted former Trojan Max Tuerk in the 3rd round. I loved the pick because I watched some film and saw that he has good athleticism and outstanding movement. He doesn’t overcommit on plays which is huge and could be a clutch player for years to come. The starting offensive linemen should consist of Dunlap, Franklin, Slauson, Fluker and Barksdale. That is a very capable group of talented individuals to create space for MG28 to eat, eat, eat and eat some more. We already know what Philly Riv can do when given the proper amount of time to throw the football to his bevy of weapons.
Last, but not least, the defensive line. I feel like the last time I saw a good Chargers’ rush unit was when I was on the couch at nights before bed playing Pokémon. And no, I’m not talking about Pokémon Go, I’m talking about the actual Gameboy games. In the midst of the contract stalemate Bosa and the Chargers had, he was still working out at different facilities in Florida up to three times a day. His work ethic and leadership are lights out. He reminds me of somebody. As it stands now, the starting defensive line will feature Liuget, Mebane, Philon with Bosa coming in on 3rd downs or in sub-packages until he gets fully ready to man that right spot. The Chargers also have Ingram, Emanuel and Attaochu as the outside linebackers. Both Ingram and Attaochu are speedy, freakish athletes but they have to remain healthy and produce consistently. Emanuel is solid on early downs, setting the edge and helping to slow down opposing ball carriers.
This is a year where the Bolts might know what it feels like to get to QBs that still have the ball in their hand and what does that lead to?? Turnovers. Everybody loves turnovers. It’s just us Chargers fans who aren’t really used to them. To make the Joey Bosa addition even better, the Chargers went and got Jatavis Brown. where they ranked 1st and 5th, respectively, in TFL in FBS over the last two seasons.
There’s going to be some plays where the defensive line doesn’t look good, but John Pagano’s defensive unit features Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o to clean it up, along with the Electric Avenue secondary!
All in all, if all three of those things can happen at a consistent rate, the Chargers will be in very good shape to make a run this year. I predict Melvin to produce 1,200 yards, 8-9 TDs and 30-40 catches with 2 TDs. His improvement in the running game will open up play-action passes and defenses are not going to be ready for Keenan, Gates and Benjamin on the field; there are just too many weapons to account for, especially when you have one of the greatest QBs in Philip Rivers.
I predict the Chargers will have a top-5 offense and a top-10 defense. My honest prediction is 11-5 — if healthy — with a 4-2 division record.
Get hype Chargers fans!!! This franchise is ALIIIIIIVEEEEE!
Chargers (1-0) travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals (1-0). Here are three things the Chargers must do to come back to San Diego with a win.
1.) Force Andy Dalton to try to beat you by containing the running game
Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard anchor the backfield for the Bengals and they are two very good backs. Jeremy Hill is a big back who is physical, yet elusive. As a rookie, Hill had 1,124 rushing yards (good enough for 5.1 yards a carry) and nine TDs. Last Sunday versus the Raiders, Hill went for 63 yards on 19 attempts (3.3 yards per carry) and two scores. Gio Bernard is the quick, multi-use back. Last season, he ran for 680 yards on 168 attempts (4.0 yards a run) with five TDs and caught 43 passes for 349 yards (8.1 yards a catch) with two touchdowns. Combined, he had a total of 211 touches for 1,029 yards (4.8 yards a touch) and seven touchdowns. Last week, the Chargers gave up 69 rushing yards on 16 attempts (4.3 yards a run) and one TD. That is going to have to tighten up. The Bengals are very balanced on offense and will not be afraid to run the ball down the Chargers’ throat. Contain Hill and Bernard, forcing Dalton to try to beat you.
2.) Get the ball to Danny Woodhead
Danny Woodhead is the key to this Chargers’ offense. He is a matchup nightmare, and a guy who is Rivers’ security blanket that can turn a one-yard gain into a new set of downs. The last time these two teams faced off against one another, Woodhead had 17 touches for 68 yards (4.0 yards per touch) and the offense went for 324 total yards. That day was the Chargers’ first playoff victory under Mike McCoy and the team’s first playoff win since 2008. Woodhead makes the linebackers think more and forces them to play up closer than they normally would, leaving the middle of the field open for a Stevie Johnson or Ladarius Green.
3.) Win the turnover battle
This should be obvious, for many reasons. But for the Chargers, it’s an important one. Limit the turnovers you make, play ball-control offense with the running game and short passes, keep your defense healthy and let Rivers do what he does best, and that’s control the game. Andy Dalton is very “friendly”, and by that I mean he turns the ball over a lot. In Dalton’s four years as a pro, he has 66 interceptions on 2,145 attempts. That averages out to 16.5 a season and just a tad over one a game and one every 32.5 pass attempts. For the Chargers to get the highest chance of a turnover, they must get the lead early and pressure the former second-round signal caller in the passing game. If they do this, I feel very strongly about their chances at victory in Cincinnati.
What do you think are the keys to victory? Let me know in the comments below. Go Bolts!
El último juego de la temporada regular se acerca rápidamente, donde culmina una montaña rusa que ha tenido momentos de gloria para la escuadra relámpago, y otros momentos de cierta caracterización abismal. Simplemente para resumirlo, como cualquier temporada de los Chargers, ha sido una temporada intensa, no solo para el staff y los jugadores, sino también para la afición.
La escuadra de San Diego va a Kansas City con solo una meta: Ganar. Ha llegado al punto donde no importa qué suceda con los demás equipos, la única preocupación ahora es que se lleven la victoria y pasen al repechaje en la postemporada.
Para el Domingo, veremos un encuentro un poco similar al de la temporada previa; Alex Smith, el QB estelar se encuentra lesionado; por lo cual, el suplente Chase Daniel tomará control de la escuadra de los Chiefs para terminar su temporada. Otro aspecto similar es que los Chargers, nuevamente buscan pasar a la postemporada. Las diferencias en esta ocasión son:
- Kansas City también busca pasar a la postemporada
- San Diego sufre de jugadores lesionados como Mathews, Allen, Scifres, etc.
- El juego esta vez será en Kansas City, no en San Diego
Claro, podemos decir que ya estas cosas no tendrán nada que ver con el resultado del partido, ya que ha sido una temporada muy diferente para ambas escuadras.
Les comparto unos puntos que creo que servirán para que San Diego se lleve la victoria en el territorio enemigo:
Empezar a jugar desde la primera serie
Si, sabemos que la 2da mitad contra San Francisco estuvo espectacular y un capítulo que se irá en la historia de los Chargers (y me atrevo a decir, de la NFL), sin embargo, estando tan cerca de tener la postemporada asegurada, no se pueden arriesgar a dejar pasar cualquier oportunidad. Deben tomar ventaja, desde la Ofensiva hasta la Defensiva, de poder hacer el mayor número de jugadas positivas para anotar puntos y salir con el juego ganado
Confianza y Seguridad entre todos los jugadores
Si es la primera participación estelar de un jugador o la décima-sexta de la temporada, todo jugador es clave, y todo el equipo debe sentirse seguro de que hay apoyo entre sus compañeros para asegurar una victoria.
No desanimarse si hay obstáculos durante el partido
Ya vimos que ocurrió en Baltimore y San Francisco, si los Chargers quieren ganar el encuentro, lo pueden lograr, y lo pueden hacer con estilo. Entonces si van en algún momento con una pequeña desventaja, no desanimarse y jugar su mejor juego.
Sabemos que es un buen equipo, que ha pasado por muchas cosas esta temporada: Lesiones, grandes victorias, pésimos encuentros, jugadas espectaculares y momentos que nos han dejado con la esperanza de que los Chargers siguen ahí, o como bien lo diría nuestro QB Philip Rivers: ¡Los Chargers están vivos!
– José “Joe” Martínez
@JoeLovesMusic24 – TWITTER
“You define the moment…or the moment defines you.” – Kevin Costner in Tin Cup
As a Charger fan out here in Florida, I am not surrounded by Bolt fans and family. Being constantly surrounded by Patriot and Steeler fans, I have heard enough about our beloved QB. Most of what I hear on a weekly basis I cannot state here. However, recently I received a genuine remark from a Steeler fan, who is not only from Pittsburgh and a die-hard, but a huge fan of the game itself. This is what he told me:
“I do like Rivers and think he’s talented. But the thing that I have against Philip, is that he does not show up for big games.” This remark came after our loss to the Denver Broncos; a divisional foe, nationally broadcast Thursday night game and hated rivalry.
So I began to ponder about this and decided to do some research. I even asked my friend Craig Watts Jr. from the Chargers practice squad, what he thought defined a “big game.” He responded by acknowledging that every game is a big game and, of course, divisional and playoff games too. Craig added that, “It’s a game that you look at and realize you don’t want to look back at it and think ‘We really needed that one and we let it slip away.’” As true as that statement is, it was difficult for me to research those type of games. What I did my fieldwork on was Philip’s performance in divisional and playoff games. Being able to beat your divisional adversaries is a huge step in getting into the playoffs. Once a team is there, it doesn’t matter who you face or what seed you are as long as you are given the opportunity.
I looked back the past 5 seasons, including the current one, and looked at the numbers. Since 2010, Rivers and the Chargers are 15-12 in their division contests; 1-2 to start out this year. It goes without saying that it takes more than one player to win/lose a game. Each team is different and the surrounding cast can be significantly better or worse each year. With this information, I decided that I needed to compare Philip’s numbers against others. With the 2004 draft, three highly-touted signal callers were picked: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. As we all know, Ben and Eli have each earned two SB championships in that time. Why not compare these two with Philip? I did compile research on another leader of the offense, but you will have to read on to see who that is later in the article.
As far as divisional records since 2010, Big Ben leads Pittsburgh with an 18-10 clip. What that resulted in was 8 playoff games and one Super Bowl victory. Eli was last (go ahead and laugh now if you would like) with a divisional track record of 13-14. Eli, however painful this is, played in 11 playoff games with one Super Bowl victory during that span. Does this prove or disprove Rivers ability to perform in big games? I will let you decide that. Moving on!
In the 27 divisional games Rivers has played in since 2010, his completion percentage is a whopping 64.4% I’m impressed. In looking at Eli and Ben, Philip beats them all. Eli put together a 61% completion rate in his 27 games against division opponents and Big Ben, who only played in 24 games during that period, completed 62.1% of his passes. Are you now debating whether Rivers is clutch or not when it comes to big games? Next please!
Captain Rivers has whirled 7,135 total yards with 49 touchdowns and 27 interceptions against division teams since 2010. That averages out to 264.2 yds, 1.81 Tds and 1 interception per game. The yardage is above average although the TD/INT ratio is a little unnerving. Does Philip put too much pressure on himself during these key games? Is he over-thinking and not allowing his natural football skills to do what they know how to do or using the label “paralysis by analysis?” Let’s see what those other two did and compare.
Eli Manning threw for 7,137 yards with 50 touchdowns and 30 interceptions; equating to 264.3 yds, 1.85 TDs and 1.1 INTs per game. Not any better. One would imagine that with 11 playoff games and a Super Bowl ring, these numbers would be much higher. In Pittsburgh since 2010, Ben has accumulated 5,780 yds, 35 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 24 games. This averages out to 240.8 yds, 1.46 TDs and .79 INTs per division game. Outside of the low interception rate, Big Ben is falling way short of the others. What are your thoughts? Is Philip overconfident in these games? Is he underperforming? I’ll continue and let you know what I think. But first, remember that “other” quarterback I mentioned earlier? The one I was going to compare his numbers? Well, I am glad you were patient so here he is: Mr. Drew Brees.
Brees is always in conversation as being an elite QB, and rightfully so. Fans have stated over the years that if Rivers wants to be inducted into Canton, he needs to BE an elite player; to the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Since I don’t have the stomach to talk about Eli, Peyton or Tom in one article, I easily selected Brees. It also didn’t hurt that he started his career in San Diego and has never shown ill-will towards his former team. So without further ado, let’s see what an “elite” QB in this league posts against their important division rivals:
In 27 games, Drew has completed 67.5% of his throws, launched 8,649 yds with 61 touchdowns and 35 picks. In other words, Brees hurls for 320.3 yds with just under 2.3 TDs per game and 1.3 INTs – his average game vs division. That is pretty spectacular, albeit the TD/INT ratio could improve, it is still better than all three. It also helps that his record against the NFC South is 19-8. Now onward with the utmost important comparison: Playoff Games.
Philip is the only one out of these now four captains, to have a losing record in the playoffs. Eli tops them all with an 8-3 career playoff record, with Ben at 5-3 and Drew at 6-4. Rivers is only one man and as they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” Now let’s look deeper inside the numbers.
During his 9 playoff games since entering the NFL, Rivers has a completion percentage of 58.8%. That is a significant drop from his regular season “big games.” Brees, of course, leads this group with a clip of 65.2% completion rate; followed by Eli at 61.4% and Ben at 60.7%. Philips yards per game diminishes to the tune of 235.3, which is about 30 yards less than in the regular season. His touchdown average comes in at .89 with his interceptions remaining at 1 per playoff game.
What does all this tell us? All these stats and percentages that are thrown in here have to mean something right? I want you all to decide: does Philip Rivers choke when it matters most? Or are these numbers obtuse and the real let down is the team itself? Does he suffer from “paralysis by analysis” or is he trying to put the game and team on his shoulders with a less than stellar supporting cast?
Respond below and let the debate begin!
Thanks for reading,
With a tough, ugly loss on Sunday, the San Diego Chargers fell to 1-1 in the division. The contest against the Chiefs, to me, was the worst performance of the season. First off, the Kansas City Chiefs absolutely dominated time of possession; they had the ball twice as long as we did. The Chiefs took it to us on the ground, running the ball for 154 yards on 39 carries, led by Jamaal Charles (22 att/95 yds/1 TD) which was a huge factor in helping them play keep-away from the hand of Philip Rivers and his offense.
While most of the Kansas City drives produced little to nothing on the scoreboard as they kicked three field goals to two touchdowns, it made our offensive possessions that much more precious and important; especially when the Chief defense forced the Chargers to kick two field goals of their own. The Chargers posted a 30% 3rd down conversion rate which showed our inability to keep drives going in order to put points on the board.
Other than Week 3 against Buffalo, the Chargers have not won a game scoring less than 30 points. This is not necessarily a defensive issue, rather it illustrates how potent San Diego’s offense is and allows the defense the luxury of not having the spotlight on them. The defense was front and center on Sunday and showed their inability to get the necessary stop. John Pagano’s unit was exhausted after being on the field for so long.
A 1-1 AFC West record is not bad, but it makes Thursday night against the Denver Broncos that much more important. The Broncos hold a 1-0 record in the division, the Chiefs tie the Chargers at 1-1, and every win the Raiders have this season is as many as they have in the division. The AFC West will be all knotted up in a 1-1 tie if San Diego can prevail on Thursday as the Chiefs cannot improve their division record against the Rams on Sunday. Beating Denver will be no small task.
Peyton Manning and crew will come into this game with a great offensive rhythm as their offense has averaged 38 points since their Week 3 loss in Seattle. During this streak, Manning got the “monkey off his back” by throwing his NFL all-time leading 509th and 510th career touchdowns.
While Denver owns the 14th ranked total offense, they boast a top-10 passing game (7th) with Manning putting up a league leading 118.2 passer rating and 19 touchdowns, second to Tony Romo in completion percentage, and 9th in yards. The run game is what has been weighing this offense down. They rank 29th overall with only 571 yards on the season. Much can be accredited to the Montee Ball project not being as successful as expected this season with only 172 yards and a fumble through four games before being hit with a groin injury that has kept him out since. Ronnie Hillman has been serviceable over the past two weeks posting 174 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries.
The Chargers will have a tough time getting back on track offensively as Denver has allowed the second least amount of yards this season. Specifically, the Broncos will put out the 7th rated passing defense and the 2nd stingiest run defense in football on Thursday night. This will surely test MVP candidate Rivers and rookie sensation Branden Oliver. Our own defense will have to play in prime form. With many injuries to choose from, when you talk about Manning it is significant to point out we will be without our #1 corner in Brandon Flowers and possibly rookie Jason Verrett.
Simply put, this is a huge game if the Chargers have any hopes of capturing the AFC West crown this season. Going 1-2 in the division, and 0-1 against Denver, could give San Diego a tough hill to climb going forward.
Like most, if not all, of Charger Nation, I am thoroughly impressed with the first 5 weeks of football the San Diego Chargers have produced. I won’t even mention how we are only a 2nd half performance against Arizona away from being undefeated. …Oops. But, nonetheless, San Diego is playing great football and they will have to continue that trend for the next four weeks in order to actually enjoy their Week 10 bye.
Of the next four games, 3 of them will be on the road, 3 of them will be against our AFC West counterparts in the next three consecutive weeks. Throw in a Dolphins matchup and that makes all four games versus AFC opponents. In my opinion, I think we will look at this four game stretch as a reason for making or missing the postseason.
As I mentioned before, the Chargers will play their first, second, and third AFC West games over the next three weeks, and will only draw one home meeting against the Chiefs in Week 7.
There are no guaranteed wins in the NFL, but there are favorites and heavy favorites. After that there is the Chargers against the Raiders to start our first AFC West action of the season in Oakland. The Raiders will host their first opponent under interim head coach Tony Sparano. With a “fresh” start, no wins, and a division rival coming to town, there could be no sweeter feeling than beating a rival for the first win, which would also give them a better record than us in the division. These are the things 0-4 teams look forward to during the season.
I can bet my job here at BoltBlitz that the Raiders will give us their best shot, which means we must come with the mindset that they are 4-o as opposed to the reverse. The question is, how good is their best shot? Enough to beat us at our worst I say. When the Chargers play bad, it is really bad. But if you asked me do I doubt my team this week, I’d preface my statement with the cliché “Anything could happen” and proceed to tell you that with the way we have played so far, I like our chances.
As the week 6 game approaches, I will go into further detail about the remaining matchups. As for now, I hope the Chargers go into this game with the mindset that are not guaranteed anything. Right now it is Raider week, and unlike the opponent, getting this win is of the utmost importance.
With the NFL offseason fully upon us, it is now time to start analyzing players that will do our favorite team a service with their abilities. The Chargers head into the offseason needing help in the same areas they needed help in last season. The Chargers can still use improvement in the secondary, receiver, defensive line and most importantly, offensive line.
Last season with the additions of King Dunlap, Chad Rinehart, Johnnie Troutman, Rich Ornhberger and first round draft pick D.J. Fluker the Chargers line looked more solid than they have since the Tomlinson era. The line allowed 19 fewer sacks (30) than they did in 2012 (49). As a result, Philip Rivers was ranked fifth overall in the league quarterback standings. Surprisingly to most, the Chargers made the playoffs as a wild card and won their way into the divisional round largely on the backs of rookies and starters who filled out the second string on their previous teams.
The season was a success for the Chargers but there is still much work to do and the offensive line is an area that needs more solidification. To that end, disgraced Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito will be looking for new teams. Neither of the two have been cut but Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has said neither man will be on next year’s Dolphins roster.
We all know of the bullying scandal that rocked the Dolphins franchise and made them national news for the better part of a month during the season. Regardless of whose side you’re on in this scandal, both will have damage control to do if and when they join another locker room. The question is what team will give them an opportunity? Should the Chargers consider either player?
The Case For And Against Jonathan Martin:
Jonathan Martin committed the ultimate locker room sin when he took his conflict with Incognito out of the locker room and into national media headlines. Martin made public instances of Incognito threatening him and members of his family as well as releasing voice mail of Incognito using derogatory and racist language to him. Incognito was the bully and he was the victim.
Anyone who has competed in a team sport knows the golden rule of the locker room. Just like Vegas, what happens in the locker room, STAYS in the locker room. Beefs between teammates don’t go outside to the public. The situation may escalate to coaches and management but it’s still handled IN HOUSE. Martin’s issues with Incognito should have gone to the coaching staff and if a satisfactory resolution wasn’t achieved, escalated to the suits in upper management.
On top of making his beef public, Martin did the one thing worse than that when he walked out on his teammates after seven games. Martin allowed his issue with one teammate to come before the team and his ability to make a living. In doing so, Martin will never fully regain the respect of the locker room, even if Ross were to allow him to return. In any locker room he enters to resume his career, players will wonder if he’s mentally strong enough to play the game. Players will wonder if he will walk out on them as he did with the Dolphins. It will take him seasons of solid play just to regain the respect reserved for a practice squad player.
On the plus side, Martin is a player who has upside. Martin is a 24 year old, 6 foot 5, 300 lb. offensive left tackle out of Stanford. Martin was a high draft pick, drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, 42nd overall. He anchored the Dolphins line for all 16 games of the 2012 season and did the same for the seven games he played in the 2013 season. There is time for Martin to get coached up by the right staff, potentially developing into the long term starter the Dolphins drafted him to be. A team with a veteran offensive line will be useful in teaching Martin how to conduct himself as a pro.
The fact that he is a pariah on his own team and frowned upon by other teams for his actions will keep his asking price low. Ross will be looking to unload Martin at all costs. This is close to uncharted territory: A high draft pick at a need position such as left tackle, virtually free to the best offer. A low draft pick could do the trick. Chargers GM Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy would do well to meet with the Chargers offensive line and couple their opinions with their observation after a face to face interview with Martin.
The Case For And Against Richie Incognito:
The antagonist in this piece, Incognito is busy telling his side of the story and doing his best to debunk the ‘bully’ image he has been tagged with since this debacle began. Very shortly, NFL appointed investigator Ted Wells will deliver his findings on the situation. Text messages between Martin and Incognito have been released and in the end, only the two of them know if this was standard locker room banter or if Incognito was harassing Martin.
It seems unlikely Martin would give up his dream of playing in the NFL if the level of mental and verbal abuse hadn’t escalated to a level he figured he couldn’t handle. Incognito is culpable for his actions. Some say he was charged with toughening up Martin but no one will admit to it. Whether he was or not, his tactics crossed the line. In Miami, the leader of that offense was not the quarterback. In 2012, the Dolphins started first round draft pick Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill took the reins again this season. The leaders of the offense was the offensive line and on that line, Incognito was one of the captains. Only the ones in that locker room know if Incognito took his power too far but there’s no doubt he was one of those at the top of the pecking order.
Like Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Terrell Owens, Cortland Finnegan or Ndamukong Suh, the 30-year old Incognito is one of those players who you hate unless he’s playing on your team. A nine-year veteran, Incognito has a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. He has earned the respect and fear of his peers. Any defensive lineman lining up against him knows they are in for a long day at the office. The nastiness he plays with keeps your quarterback clean and helps your team win. On a team with a clear leader and other tenured veterans on the offensive line, Incognito could be a valuable piece even now.
In San Diego, Philip Rivers is clearly the leader of the team. On the line, Center Nick Hardwick is an 11-year veteran and guard Jeromey Clary is a 7-year veteran. The leadership on the line is already set and all Incognito has to do is fall in line and play as he always has, nasty and physical. Keeping Philip Rivers clean is the main thing and Incognito could help do that.
The Martin/Incognito story revives the age old question. Would you rather have a proven, experienced player or a young player with all the potential in the world to use as a building block for the future? Incognito was ranked in the top 20 in pass blocking efficiency and made the Pro Bowl in 2012. Martin can be a great bookend tackle if he can stay healthy, accept coaching and somehow prove himself worthy of being in another locker room.
The Chargers aren’t new to scandalized players. Bringing in the media firestorm surrounding last year’s second round pick, Mantei Te’o, was a calculated risk. The media vultures hovered around Chargers Park for a while but disappeared when nothing of interest occurred during training camp, especially after Te’o was injured midway through camp. In San Diego, both players can avoid the circus they would attract should they end up in a place like New York, Chicago or New England. The leadership from the strong front office and coaching staff would be a welcome change of environment from the soon to be former Dolphins.
Both players have their positives and negatives but given the uniqueness of the situation and the fact that either of the two would prove to be an upgrade to the Chargers offensive line, it would behoove the front office to evaluate both and see if they would be a good fit. This writer favors Incognito but can also see Martin as the ideal young stallion left tackle to compliment Fluker at right tackle.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Should the Chargers take a look at Martin or Incognito?
The Greg One
As the Chargers prepare for a chilly playoff matchup with the Bengals this Sunday, it behooves us all to take a gander back at what transpired between these teams a month ago in San Diego. Though the weather will be immensely different than the first meeting, the players and coaches remain the same. To what extent the offensive game plans for each team change due to the sloppy weather forecast remains to be seen, but these are the PLAYOFFS…both teams will look to their “money” players regardless.
The biggest stat that jumps out at me from the first meeting is the way each team achieved their first downs. The Bolts made a total of 19 first downs: 13 through the air, 5 on the ground and 1 due to a penalty. Conversely, the Bengals achieved their 19 first downs primarily on the ground. Cincinnati racked up 13 first downs by rushing the ball while attaining 6 by way of the pass. The Chargers cannot allow the Bengals to dictate tempo by allowing BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard to consistently move the chains this Sunday. To win defensively, we must stuff the run and put Andy Dalton into known passing situations. By doing so, the Bolts can send additional pass rushers. Our cornerbacks will have a tough time keeping up with Bengal wideouts A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins, so not allowing Dalton time to sit comfortably in the pocket is paramount to achieving more 3-and-outs.
Nearly all of the other pertinent stats from the first meeting were identical. If our offense can maintain balance, keep feeding Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead the ball and control the clock with quick high-percentage passes, the Chargers have an excellent chance of moving on to the next round of the playoffs. These two teams match up very evenly and should provide for a very exciting, down to the wire finish. What a way to start off 2014!
In the words of Philip Rivers himself…”Keep believing!”
We all know the playoff scenario. On Sunday the Chargers need the Ravens and Dolphins to lose even to have a chance at getting into the playoffs. The Ravens plays at Cincinnati and the Dolphins host the Jets. It’s a possibility the cards can fall into place and both games go the Chargers way. That really isn’t the important thing.
The Chargers must beat Kansas City at home on Sunday.
We all want to see the Chargers in the playoffs but the Chargers don’t need to worry about things that aren’t in their control. Even if one of the above mentioned teams wins, it is no excuse for the Chargers to play with anything less than their absolute best. By the time the Chargers come out of the tunnel at Quaalcomm stadium, they will know if they are playing for a spot in the playoffs or not. If so great. If not, doesn’t matter. The win is what matters.
There are rumors that it is common for Andy Reid to rest starters when he knows his team is set to make the playoffs. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe won’t be playing due to a concussion. Stud pass rusher Tamba Hali will not play due to injuries. Jamaal Charles playing time may be restricted. This game has no bearing on the Chiefs playoff seeding. They are in and they are playing on wild card weekend.
Whether they’re playing the Chiefs reserves or the starters, the Chargers winning will signal a successful beginning of the Telesco/McCoy era. The Chargers are guaranteed at least a .500 record. They were 7-9 last season and they are 8-7 now. A win gives them a winning season and means they closed the season on a 4-game winning streak. The Chargers need that momentum going into the offseason.
We have witnessed a return of Pro Bowl Philip Rivers. Rivers is the fourth highest ranked quarterback in the league and is in the top five in almost every passing category there is. The new offense implemented by McCoy and conducted by OC Ken Whisenhunt has kept Rivers standing upright and completing passes all over the field, putting up sensational numbers.
Ryan Mathews has played in every game this season, a first for him in his career. As a result, he has posted a career high in yards with 1,111 yards and 6 touchdowns. Mathews has played very well the last half of the season. Next season is Mathews’ last season before his rookie contract expires. A repeat of this season’s effort could earn him a veteran contract. The one-two combination of Mathews and Woodhead has been a success and will be lethal if Mathews can show he is durable enough to be counted on week in and week out.
The offensive line has turned into a cohesive unit and with one week left Rivers has been sacked almost 20 fewer times than he was last season. DJ Fluker has been every bit worth his draft position to the point where his exclusion from the Pro Bowl should be considered a snub. King Dunlap has played admirably. Clary at guard has been a great decision. The entire line is playing their best when it counts, at the end of the season. This line will only get better.
All the new names on defense from rookies Mantei Teo, Jahleel Addae and Tourek Williams to guys getting starters minutes like Thomas Keiser and Andrew Gachkar have thrived. They will make great second unit once the injured stars like Dwight Freeney, Larry English, Melvin Ingram and rookie draft pick Steve Williams return at full strength next season.
A 9-7 record highlighted by a four game end of season win streak is the objective. That’s a wave of momentum that can sway free agents to San Diego, highlights areas to enhance in the draft and sends the team into the offseason on a high. That momentum then flows into offseason workouts, minicamps, training camp and preseason. Playoffs or not, getting the win is the most important thing the Chargers can do for themselves.
The Greg One