The San Diego Chargers have begun making roster moves and training camp isn’t set to begin until Saturday. On Friday, the Chargers waived center Trevor Robinson. Part of the carousel at the center position, Robinson had 14 starts at center over the last two seasons.
Also included in the recent mix of Chargers centers since 2013 are Chris Watt, Nick Hardwick, Doug Legursky and Rich Ohrnberger.
The free agent signing of former-Chicago Bears offensive lineman Matt Slauson is expected to stop the revolving door at center while 2016 NFL Draft third-round pick Max Tuerk is groomed to be the center of the future. Slauson is an eight-year veteran who will be looked to provide leadership and serve as a mentor to Tuerk and the young offensive linemen.
The release of Robinson frees $2.3-million in cap space.
The free roster spot was filled with the signing of offensive lineman Marcel Jones. Listed at 6’7″-inches tall and 320 pounds, Jones was a seventh-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is listed as a guard/tackle. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, Jones has been limited to playing on the practice squad for the Saints and Baltimore Ravens.
Training camp is heating up and the first pass hasn’t been thrown yet. What will the Chargers do next? Are you excited for the 2016 edition of the San Diego Chargers so far? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Heading into the 2014 season, the San Diego Chargers looked incredibly promising; even with one of the most difficult schedules in the league. General Manager, Tom Telesco, worked extremely hard in the offseason in order to add depth to the roster; even with an extremely small salary cap. To be specific, Telesco only had roughly $625,000 left in cap space after paying the offensive, defensive, and special teams’ salaries; the dead money hit alone was $16,335,000. Even under those circumstances, Telesco was able to beef up the backfield with multiple running backs, regain some game changing defensive players, and added a very talented draft class to the roster. Yet, the season didn’t play out as most expected when the pandemic of injuries hit the Chargers team. At that point, the motto “next man up” was adopted.
The next man up is a phrase that most professional teams technically want to reframe from using; it essentially indicates the starter is unable to play and another player has to fill in. Yet, the Chargers have embraced it since week one. Pro Bowler center, Nick Hardwick, was placed on injured reserve after the Arizona match-up, granting center Rich Ohrnberger the starting role. However, Ohrnberger struggled with injuries, forcing the Chargers to sign guard, Doug Legursky. Not even a month later, Legursky was placed on injured reserve, leaving an ailing Ohrnberger and rookie guard Chris Watt as the next men up. It doesn’t stop there, Ohrnberger was added to the growing injured reserve roster and Watt held the starting role at center. Who would have thought that Watt would then leave the Baltimore Ravens game with a calf injury; leaving the Chargers with their fifth center to play, Trevor Robinson.
The center position wasn’t the only one to face heartache. During the second week against the Seattle Seahawks, star running back Ryan Mathews sprained his MCL and was expected to miss a significant amount of time. If you ever think that lighting doesn’t strike twice, think again. The follow week, running back Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve due to a season ending leg injury. The originally stacked backfield wasn’t looking so stacked anymore and the Chargers soon expected undrafted rookie running back, Branden Oliver “Bo”, to fill in. Not only did he fill in, he impressed the entire league with over 215 rushing yards and three touchdowns in week’s five and six; awarding him with Pepsi’s Rookie of the Week in week 5. To add depth, Telesco brought back veteran running back Ronnie Brown who spent last year on the Chargers active roster.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Third year linebacker, Melvin Ingram, was placed on the Reserve-Injured list with the designation to return after suffering a hip injury in week two. The next week, second year linebacker Manti Te’o suffered a fractured foot which sidelined him until week eleven. Already missing two starting linebackers, rookie linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu was ailing a hamstring injury which limited his productivity and playing time. Again, next man up, fourth year linebacker Andrew Gachkar filled in for his injured teammates. Not only did he bring passion and fire to the field, he was able to accumulate 7 stuffs, 21 total tackles, and a fumble recovery.
Gachkar wasn’t the only one to step in, outside linebacker Cordarro Law has stepped up when given the green light. An undrafted free agent in 2012, Law signed with the Chargers in February of 2014. Spending much of his time on the practice squad, Law continues to get the job done. With veteran outside linebacker Dwight Freeney becoming a free agent after this season, there’s a no question that Law can earn a 53-man active roster spot if he continues the hard work he puts in.
Starting at cornerback was the Chargers first round draft pick, Jason Verrett. Impressively, he was making a contending run for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year by week 9. However, just after the bye week, Verrett was placed on injured reserve due to a torn labrum. At this point, you might be asking, “How does an NFL survive all these injures?” and the answer again is simply, next man up.
Not only has the offense and defense suffered from the injury bug, but the special teams took a big blow a few weeks ago. One of the league’s top punters, Mike Scifres, broke his clavicle during the New England Patriot Game; forcing Nick Novak, who had not punted a ball since high school, to take on the punting duties for the remainder of the game. Much can be said about a player filling in for a position they have no training on, but Novak impressed with what little he was given. Shortly after, Pro Bowl punter, Mat McBriar, was signed to replace Scifres. McBriar was a mentor to Darren Bennett, the Chargers longtime punter who preceded Scifres. He brings to the punting unit an average of 45.1 yards per attempt with 201 landing inside the 20.
The next man up saying isn’t exclusive to sidelining injuries, rather those playing through the bumps and bruises; quarterback Philip Rivers is a prime example. It’s no secret that El Capitan has been playing through some bruised ribs and a sore back. Along with Rivers, brute defensive end Corey Liuget is also playing through injuries. Just the other day, Liuget was seen sporting a walking boot; most commonly used to keep the player mobile as much as possible, yet still protecting the injured structure. Although these top Charger players give us a heart attack when we don’t see them at practice, they still show up on game day ready to get the win.
Heading into week 16, the Chargers are faced with more anguish. Veteran linebacker Donald Butler was placed on injured reserve after suffering a dislocated elbow against the Denver Broncos last week. A day later, it was announced that second year wide receiver, Keenan Allen, suffered a broken collarbone and ankle injury. With San Diego fighting for their lives to earn a spot into the post-season, the next man up motto is being used more than ever. In the much-needed win against the San Francisco 49ers, expected to be active is tight end Ladarius Green, wide receiver Seyi Ajurotutu, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Let’s not forget the impact Branden Oliver and Donald Brown need to make against the stealthy 49ers defense as Mathews recovers from an ankle injury suffered in week 14.
Many would think that it’s impossible that a team could possibly have an 8-6 record with all the injures the Chargers have accrued this year. With nine players on injured reserve and a few other active roster injuries, any team would have faulted and given up hopes by now. Yet, these are the San Diego Super Chargers; the underdog, the dark horse, and let’s not forget the team that no one ever expects much from. It’s alright, the Chargers still have a chance at the post-season and the opportunity to prove that anything can be done. The next man up motto has been the staple of the organization all year, but why stop now? The season isn’t even close to being over…
Here we go again. As I have mentioned before, I hate writing these because the team has been beaten up and battered for most of the season. This time we have some good and bad news.
I will get right to the game status of each player listed, and then I’ll add my two cents.
CB – Jason Verrett ( His has now been placed on injured-reserve with a torn labrum )
NT – Sean Lissemore ( Quad )
S – Jahleel Addae ( Concussion )
WR – Seyi Ajirotutu
OLB – Jerry Attaochu ( Hamstring )
OLB – Dwight Freeney
RB – Ryan Mathews ( Knee )
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger ( Back )
ILB – Manti Te’o ( Foot )
OLB – Melvin Ingram ( He is ready to play on Sunday after being activated )
Today the Chargers were dealt a crushing blow as rookie cornerback Jason Verrett will have season-ending surgery. He has now been placed on injured-reserve. Losing Verrett stinks. But on another note, a more positive one, Melvin Ingram is back and so is Jerry Attaochu. This certainly enhances the defense’s ability to get after the quarterback and help a secondary that just lost Verrett for the season.
On offense, the much-awaited return of running back Ryan Mathews is here. He is ready to go and the fans should expect him to have a major impact in getting the Charger offense back on track. The team has relied on Branden Oliver to shoulder most of the load in the running game and he has faltered as of late. That being said, as you all know, the offensive line has not been opening up too many running lanes for the undrafted free agent and the other backs.
The injury report for San Diego has been awfully depressing in 2014. But, it should be said that it is getting better. Key cogs on offense and defense are coming back and they will, without a doubt, help this team overcome what is a three-game losing streak.
It stinks to lose Jason Verrett for the year. He was ranked as the seventh best cornerback in the entire league according to ProFootballTalk.com. But, as I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, “Next man up.”
San Diego is locked and loaded after resting through their bye week. League-mandated days off allowed them to travel or just stay home and rest. Because it was the bye week, I began to think about the current team and who would remain in 2015. I figured I would check out who was in the last year of their contract and who was extended beyond the 2015 season.
The list of players in the final year of their contracts, otherwise known as their contract year, was a bit longer than I had anticipated. Below is a list of those players.
WR – Seyi Ajirotutu
RB – Ronnie Brown
OT – King Dunlap
CB – Brandon Flowers
OLB – Dwight Freeney
ILB – Andrew Gachkar
CB – Marcus Gilchrist
C – Nick Hardwick
OLB – Cordarro Law
C/G – Doug Legursky
DL – Ricardo Mathews
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger
WR – Eddie Royal
CB – Shareece Wright
RB – Ryan Mathews
There are some major players on this list that would leave major holes in the team if they were not re-signed.
Brandon Flowers was one of the best free agent signings in the entire NFL after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs. He has made a huge impact in the secondary for John Pagano’s defense. I would imagine that Tom Telesco would make a serious effort to sign him to a contract once the time comes in 2015.
King Dunlap has been playing pretty darn well at left tackle. The only problem with keeping him is that he may be looking to be rewarded with a big contract due to his performance since coming to San Diego. Telesco will have the most money he’s had since accepting the role of General Manager when the 2015 offseason begins. If Dunlap keeps playing at a high level, there’s a good chance that he will remain a Charger.
Can you imagine the special teams units without Seyi Ajirotutu and Andrew Gachkar? Darrell Stuckey may be the captain of the third phase of the game, but both Tutu and Gachkar are key cogs in the coverage phases of special teams. Andrew has seen a big increase in playing time at inside linebacker due to the fractured foot of Manti Te’o. He has been playing his heart out.
The sorting out of the center position next year is very interesting. With Nick Hardwick on injured-reserve, Rich Ohrnberger fighting back problems, Chris Watt has seen some time at center. Both Nick and Rich will be free agents at the beginning of the 2015 league year. Hardwick has already contemplated retirement in years past. It is hard to say if we have seen the last of him in lightning bolts. Or maybe it isn’t. Many people do not expect him to come back. Watt may be the future at either center or right guard. The center spot will be something to keep an eye on following 2014.
Eddie Royal has proven to be a playmaker and solid weapon for Philip Rivers. He also sees a lot of time as the team’s punt returner. He has a solid relationship with Rivers and he helped in the recruiting of Flowers to the Bolts. He is good in the slot and he provides a contrasting style to that of starting wideouts Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd. I have a feeling that he may be re-signed.
Marcus Gilchrist is currently San Diego’s starting strong safety. After moving from cornerback to his current position, Gilchrist has made some plays but he isn’t necessarily irreplaceable. Some media members expected him to be a possible cut during the 2014 offseason. If the play of Jahleel Addae continues on the upswing, and he gets fully healthy, the chances of Marcus being re-signed may decrease exponentially.
While examining the corner situation, Shareece Wright is another starter that is in his contract year. He has improved quite a bit since coming into the league. If the Chargers are unable to keep Brandon Flowers, Wright is almost guaranteed to remain a Charger in 2015 and beyond. But if both Flowers and Jason Verrett are other available options, I’m not so sure that Shareece stays in America’s finest city. I hope that he does as I enjoy watching his physicality in the running game and his coverage skills continue to get better as he becomes more experienced in the NFL.
This next one is the toughest one for me. I don’t even like writing about this subject when it comes to this player.
Let me begin by saying that I hope Ryan Mathews remains a Charger for life. He is, without a doubt, the best back on the current roster and his hard-charging, physical running style makes the San Diego offense better. He had a fantastic 2013 year in which he finished seventh in the league in rushing yardage. His MCL sprain in week 2 against Seattle has really affected the Charger offense. He is about to return and do everything in his power to help earn a future contract with the Bolts. He is a threat as a receiving option out of the backfield and he has improved as a pass blocker when called upon to do so in effort to keep Rivers clean and safe while in the pocket.
There are a lot of questions surrounding which players will be re-signed for 2015 and beyond. It goes without saying that the extra cap space Telesco will have should help in retaining the guys that he believes deserve to stay. The question is, who does he want to keep? He has quite some time to think this over. But there are going to be a lot of difficult decisions.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The start of the 2014 season looked extremely promising for the offensive line. Veteran center Nick Hardwick was returning after questioning retirement, right tackle D.J Fluker was entering his sophomore season, and a healthy left tackle King Dunlap was set to make another impact. Adding to the mix was guard Chris Watt; a third round draft pick in this year’s draft. However, being past the halfway mark and into the bye week, the offensive line has crumbled into little football pieces; almost unrepairable.
Shortly after the one point loss to the Arizona Cardinals on a Monday Night Football showdown, Hardwick was placed on injured reserve; not returning for the rest of the year. Rich Ohrnberger was to fill the position, however injuries have inhibited him to be able to play effectively. He too has missed some games. The injury bug struck so hard that at one point it left Watt, not a true center, filling the void as the fourth backup to Hardwick. At that point, the offensive line started to disintegrate and show their true colors. The next man up motto almost seemed like a joke.
It should be no surprise that the Chargers are ranked almost last (30th) in the NFL for rushing yards. Yes, the void of Ryan Mathews has greatly impacted the run game, but the guards and center haven’t done a sufficient job at creating holes for the run. In week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, Donald Brown had 31 attempts, ran for 62 yards and only averaged 2.0 yards for the game. If you remember, the Bills have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. The run game had no chance. As many know, Johnnie Troutman is the right guard on the line, but does it shock anyone that he isn’t performing well? I’m not at all. Scary enough, Watt hasn’t even been able to outperform him to snag the starting role — as predicted in the offseason. It wasn’t until the Miami where the entire offensive line hit rock bottom.
The Chargers were shut out a few Sundays ago by the Miami Dolphins. That hasn’t happened since 1999 (I was eleven years old). Philip Rivers had a total of three interceptions and one strip-sack fumble. Does it sound oddly familiar to the 2012 season? Before the three game losing streak, Rivers was said to be the league’s MVP contender, but he doesn’t look like that anymore. If you look below, Rivers’ poor play has been due to an extremely underperforming offensive line:
-Rivers sets up for a pass play on 2nd and 18. Eddie Royal to the lower right looks to be making a route in open coverage and the offensive line looks to be blocking correctly to allow Rivers sufficient time in the pocket.
-Notice Troutman, turned around, looking completely lost and confused while exposing Rivers to Miami player #79. Fluker is basically playing the right tackle and right guard position. But it’s becoming more evident that he might excel at the right guard position. As a result, the play ended in one of the three interceptions of the game.
Just as I mentioned, Fluker is being forced to play two positions at once. Do you miss Jeromey Clary yet? This type of play is a disgrace at the NFL level and absolutely needs to be address by the coaching staff sooner than later; if not, the next draft. Could it get any worse? Yes, and it does in the next example:
-A view of the offensive line setting up for a well needed 8 yards on 3rd down. Antonio Gates looks to be the receiver while lined up on the right side.
-In this view, Rivers appears to have pocket time to convert. However, the play never ended that way.
-Dunlap was horribly beaten on the edge. Keep in mind, this play only lasted roughly three seconds. That’s how little time it takes to disrupt an opposing offensive line and quarterback. The play ended in the games only strip-sack fumble.
Lastly, Watt was given an opportunity when Ohrnberger was removed from the game. The rookie’s inexperience was exposed horrendously:
-Rivers has a pretty decently protected pocket, however Watt starts to crumble under the pressure from Miami’s Dion Sims at the far right.
-Well, this doesn’t look great. Watt is easily manhandled and left looking behind him while #80 attacks up the middle for Rivers.
-A very painful looking sack occurred on the play while Watt looks like he is in complete disarray. Rookies will be rookies. However, with the mindset of “next man up”, Watt doesn’t look NFL ready.
An efficient guard and offensive lineman will protect the passer and open up the pocket for the quarterback to see an open receiver. At this point, the Chargers current linemen have allowed the pocket to collapse sooner than desired leaving Rivers to increase his release rate to 2.52 seconds in order to get the pass out quicker. If the line is collapsing in three seconds or less, that ultimately leaves Rivers forcing to throw and converting in .52 seconds or less. Even if you’re Peyton Manning, that is horrible protection for any quarterback.
Basically, the offensive line has looked like the former 2012 line; nonexistent pass protection, no open lanes/holes for the running back and players looking like a lost child in a grocery store. Not to mention, they have been hit by injuries. The sad part, this was just the Miami matchup and more horrendous play occurred well before this game. Tom Telesco and company have many issues to address, and the offensive line is the biggest one. Everyone is pretty excited to see Ryan Mathews return to the practice field, but can the line hold up? It’s going to take more than a bye week to clean up this train wreck.
It is getting pretty depressing writing about the Charger’s injury report. The team has been banged up from the start of the 2014 season and its backups have been forced into starting roles at an alarming frequency.
Next man up.
Tom Telesco has done a solid job adding depth in his first two years as general manager of the San Diego Chargers. That depth has been tested early and often. Reserves like Branden Oliver have been thrust into key roles and he has been a strong contributor to the Charger running game. No one expected to see Andrew Gachkar play so many snaps on defense as he has been splitting time with another reserve, Kavell Conner.
The defensive secondary has been reshuffled as well. Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett and Shareece Wright have all missed time due to injuries. Eric Weddle is a constant on the back-end, but it is difficult for him to quarterback the defense with so many different combinations of players on his side of the ball.
The San Diego offensive line has been marred by injuries. The center position has seen 4 different starters in the early portion of this year. That is not exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to building cohesion among the hogs upfront. The right guard spot has seen turnover too. Both Johnnie Troutman and rookie Chris Watt have played the position.
It is no secret that the running backs have been hit incredibly hard by the injury bug. Danny Woodhead is out for the year with a broken fibula while Ryan Mathews is still nursing an MCL sprain. The severity of Donald Brown’s concussion is unknown, but due to missing the last three weeks, the concern is mounting that he might not even make it back onto the field in 2014. Heck, Ronnie Brown has even returned to the Chargers to help supplement the mash unit that is the San Diego ball carrier group.
Below is the week 7 injury report for the Bolts.
RB – Donald Brown ( Concussion )
CB – Brandon Flowers ( Concussion )
RB – Ryan Mathews ( Knee )
ILB – Manti Te’o ( Foot )
OLB – Jerry Attaochu ( Hamstring )
CB – Jason Verrett ( Shoulder )
CB – Steve Williams ( Groin )
ILB – Kavell Conner ( Ankle )
RT – DJ Fluker ( Ankle )
OLB – Dwight Freeney ( Knee )
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger ( Back )
Mike McCoy and the coaching staff are going to have to find ways to put the players that are healthy into positions that accentuate their strengths. Having so many backups in can change the gameplan to a degree, but I would expect there to not be too much deviation from what the team does on offense and defense.
The Chargers are heading into Denver tomorrow to take on the Broncos. No one in the Denver organization feels sorry for the Bolts about their long injury list. It is up to San Diego to rise up and overcome this adversity and escape Mile High with a win. It will not be an easy task, but it can be done. The lead in the AFC West is up for grabs and this could be a huge statement game for the Chargers.
Regardless of all of the injuries, I cannot wait for tomorrow’s game.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The Chargers have suffered a plethora of injuries in the early stages of 2014. Some impact players such as Nick Hardwick and Danny Woodhead are out for the entire season. Others like Ryan Mathews and Melvin Ingram have already missed time and will for a bit longer; Melvin is currently on the reserve-injured with a designation to return. The hope is that Mathews will be back before, or right around, the bye week.
When looking at the names listed above, each and every one of them are impact players.
This week’s injury report is not short of big names either. Here’s a look at the list of injured Bolts heading into this Sunday’s game at Oakland.
RB Donald Brown – Concussion
RB Ryan Mathews – Knee
ILB Manti Te’o – Foot
CB Shareece Wright – Knee
WR Malcom Floyd – Calf
RT DJ Fluker – Ankle
OLB Jarret Johnson – Back/Ankle
OLB Cordarro Law – Ankle
C Rich Ohrnberger – Back
S Darrell Stuckey – Quad
LB Reggie Walker – Ankle
WR Keenan Allen – Quad
OLB Jerry Attaochu – Hamstring
ILB Donald Butler – Shoulder
OLB Dwight Freeney – Ankle
TE David Johnson – Knee/Shoulder
From what the San Diego media is reporting, most of the players listed as questionable – with the exception of Fluker – are likely to play this week; although Fluker has a shot at playing via Michael Gehlken on UT San Diego. Attaochu is set to play for the first time in the last two games. He was only in on one play three weeks ago after tweaking his hamstring.
The return of Ohrnberger is huge for the offensive line and Philip Rivers. Additionally on offense, Floyd has been a sure-handed target for Rivers and it would be a shame for him to miss the Raider game. Seyi Ajirotutu saw time in his place last week against the Jets.
The Chargers are heading into their fifth week with great poise and a record of 3-1 being led by the league’s leading MVP contender – Philip Rivers. They’ve been praised and dubbed Super Bowl contenders for their early season success, yet it’s no secret that the running game seems to continuously be struggling in each match up. Averaging only 2.4 yards a carry this year, and with only one rushing touchdown, gives them the distinction of almost last place for total rushing offense. The circling question of who is to blame can be debatable, yet the facts are pointing more toward the offensive line.
When it was announced that Ryan Mathews was going to be out 4-6 weeks due to injury, there was no question that Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead would step in nicely. However, that hasn’t gone as planned, forcing Tom Telesco to make a flood of active roster changes. Brown is now averaging 2.0 yards a game and 6.0 receiving yards. In hindsight, he is playing the role of both Mathews and Woodhead. Yet, how is a running back supposed to complete his job when he isn’t given the proper tools? Let me explain.
The offensive line has made an overflow of changes in just four games played. Nick Hardwick was placed on IR after the Arizona game which required the next center, Rich Ohrnberger, to step up. His performance hasn’t been stellar, yet he has been able to get the job done. However, after playing an incredibly physical game against Seattle, the Chargers found themselves digging for their third-string center to step in. With that said, every opponent that has played Seattle has lost their next matchup – until San Diego.
Already limited at the guard position, and no guaranteed timeline of when Jeromey Clary will be back, we’re left with two great pass blockers to hold the line – RT D.J Fluker and LT King Dunlap. In the last four games, the Chargers have played three of the league’s top 10 defenses: Arizona, Seattle and Buffalo. Keep in mind, Arizona ended last year with the number one ranked rush defense and Seattle’s defense crushed Denver in the Super Bowl with a 43-8 win.
Currently, the Chargers do not have the talent on the O-line to dominate the run game, which leaves the game dependent on Rivers’ throwing arm. With Brown having 50 rushing attempts and sharing the load with Oliver, it’s slowly wearing down each team that the Chargers play. This eventually tires the defensive line and opens up the passing game. It may not look too pretty in the boxscore, but the running game is serving its purpose.
Moving into week five versus the New York Jets, the Chargers will need a finely tuned game plan. Currently, the Jets rank #3 in total rushing defense, and #7 in total defense. These numbers are just as scary as going back into week one and two – in addition to an injury-ridden secondary. In order for the San Diego Chargers to defeat the Jets, the offensive line needs to step up big, open the gaps for the run, and hold firm for the entire game. Adding the way Rivers is connecting with his receivers and the defense’s continued success, there are no reasons as to why the Chargers can’t add another one to the win column.
“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.” – Ulysses S. Grant
For the first half of yesterday’s 33-14 victory against the Jaguars, it seemed as if we were not as prepared as we should have been. The second half, however, was an altogether different entity. Keyword: Adjustments
San Diego was facing a rookie QB at home. This was not just any rookie. This was the #3 overall pick of the 2014 draft. This kid will be good, if not great. Pagano and the defense appeared not to give Bortles much respect, almost as if they felt entitled to roam around the backfield as they please. The pocket was hardly collapsed giving Blake time to read through his progressions. Denard Robinson looked like a pro bowl back. On top of this, the Jags defense did not seem intimidated. After watching the Bolts first offensive series, I was actually a statue of inconceivable shock. After trailing to the winless Jaguars, the Bolts seemed to take a hit of smelling salt and drove down the field with a purpose; perhaps even a prideful one. At halftime, San Diego led by 3 points and headed into the locker room with modest confidence.
Now this, in my opinion, is where the “W’s” and “L’s” become detached. Can the team make the necessary adjustments in order to overcome the inadequacies that were presented in the first half? Could Pagano master a scheme that would make Jacksonville’s offense look more than pedestrian rather than a playoff contending team? Can Joe “D” and Reich prepare their guys to improve a less than stellar run game?
The adjustments that were made by Pagano and the defense were first-rate. Freeney and Liuget were barbarians pushing their way into the young rookie’s grill. This opened the door to other playmakers to show off their special set of skills. Flowers ran amok and seemed to have a homing device planted in his head as he was blanketing, intercepting and tackling like a Pro Bowler. The defense came away with 3 sacks and 2 interceptions all the while not giving up a single point in the second half. It seems that all the haters of Pagano have been mummified over the last 3 weeks. Pagano reflected on the first half and shut the Jags offense down.
How bad are we missing Nick Hardwick right now? Or Rich Ohrnberger for that matter? The run game has not improved and holes are as hard to find as a white cat in a snowstorm. Donald Brown is a good back, and many fans out there are wishing on stars for Ryan Mathews to return.
The Chargers have played top defenses in the first three weeks of 2014. Mathews 3.09 yards per carry is not as bad as it seems. Would Ryan have had a better game yesterday than Brown? Let the speculations begin. I love seeing #24 out there and I have a ton of confidence in him. The offensive line, who has done an amazing job protecting our QB, has been struggling opening holes in the running game.
The Chargers run game is what it is: a clock-eating, defense-tiring ploy that so far has been successful. Does it matter that we don’t have a few 100-yard rushing games, or for that matter a rushing touchdown? Not yet, but it could prove fatal if it is not brought up to par – especially going against a very good run defense next week against the Jets.
On a side note, I was happy to see Branden Oliver out there. I have been through many debates during training camp about him and while I perhaps have broken my arm patting myself on the back about him making the 53, he is a work in progress. He has the speed and the quickness to compete at this level. That being said, his field vision needs to improve. He will improve and I am very excited for the future of Oliver.
Overall, I am ecstatic about Captain Rivers as well as Pagano and his men. With all the injuries that have been suffered by the Chargers, especially on the defensive side of the ball, I am nothing less than a very proud fan of our Bolts. Rivers is on an MVP track and with the lack of running room, he might need to continue his greatness throughout; a task I am positive he is comfortable with.
Offense – Rivers and Allen
Defense – Pagano and Flowers
Back in May, I said the keys to beating Buffalo were to “…stop Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, stop the Bills. Sammy Watkins drafted to replace Stevie Johnson is really the only weapon I see in the pass game for EJ Manuel. Their front 4 looks tough with Mario and Kyle Williams, but not tough enough. 37-17 Bolts. (2-1)” I am now 1-2 against my predictions.
Our Chargers did a good job of keeping CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson and EJ Manuel contained. Jackson and Spiller were taken out of the game early with the Bolts building a lead. They only ran for a collective 59 yards. Manuel threw for only 238 yards, much of them coming as garbage yards when the game was already in hand. Sammy Watkins only caught two balls for 19 yards.
Chargers scored 20 of their points in the first 37 1/2 minutes before going into cruise control. With Ryan Mathews out, the running game was not as effective as we’d like it to be. Philip Rivers was efficient, going 18 for 25 for 256 yards with two touchdowns and no picks.
Malcom Floyd showed his value in the vertical game, catching two 49 yard bombs from Rivers. Ladarius Green had a bigger role catching four passes, tying him with Eddie Royal for most catches last Sunday.
The Chargers played into my pet peeve after going ahead 20-10 by taking their foot off the gas, this time offensively. One of these days, we’ll see a full 60 minute game on both sides of the ball.
All in all, there’s more to be excited about at this point. Green and Floyd showed their worth in a huge way. The defense played their butts off, led by Eric Weddle and Corey Liuget.
The injury bug took its toll again this week. Danny Woodhead, we know is done for the year with a broken leg and ankle injury. Mantei T’eo is out this week against Jacksonville with a fracture in his foot. Reggie Walker is out with an ankle injury. C Rich Ohrnberger is doubtful with a back issue, Doug Legursky is probably going to start at center, making the third to play that position already this year. Keenan Allen, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett were limited.
Chargers are already looking like a M*A*S*H unit and it’s only Week 4. Hopefully, this trend will stop before it gets to the point where the bye can’t come soon enough.