During the offseason linebacker Dwight Freeney was released from the San Diego Chargers after two seasons with the team. Today, Freeney officially signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Freeney’s deal is for the veterans minimum (approx 970k) and has performance-based bonuses. Injuries suffered on the Cardinals defensive line, particularly to their best pass rusher Alex Okafor, necessitated the move. Freeney’s role is described as ‘pass rush specialist’. His single purpose will be rushing the passer and to that end, the Cardinals have added incentives for sacks.
Freeney will make 200k for his first four sacks. For each sack thereafter, Freeney will collect 100k each up to a cap of 12 sacks. If he gets twelve sacks this season, Freeney will gain an extra one million dollars on top of his base salary. Not too shabby.
Even though Freeney did not get a lot of sacks (4) in San Diego, he did rank in the top five in quarterback hurries and pressures last season. At 35 years of age, Chargers GM Tom Telesco chose to go younger instead of keeping the veteran around for his experience and leadership ability.
Thankfully, we can still root for the sure fire Hall-of-Fame selection from afar with his signing to an NFC team. We can even root to see him on the defensive line opposing Philip Rivers. San Diego does not play the Cardinals this season which means the only time that meeting has a chance of happening is in the Super Bowl. Even though there are no Chargers doing spin moves, here’s hoping the young defensive line absorbed what Freeney had to teach and it shines through over time.
Godspeed Mr. Freeney.
The Greg One
On April 21st NFL fans around the world rejoiced as the 2015 season schedule was released. Experts and fans alike went to work forecasting the record of their favorite team. The San Diego Chargers had an unusually tumultuous offseason headlined by contract disputes, trade rumors and one glaring suspension. However, the Philip Rivers contract extension, free agent signings and drafting of blue chip running back Melvin Gordon gave way to great expectations among the fan base.
Amidst the litany of injuries along the offensive line and lack of an advantage via special teams (only five return yards after four games), some Chargers fans are already beginning to write off this season’s edition of our favorite Southern California team.
To paraphrase infamous former Arizona Cardinals coach Denny Green, Are the 2015 San Diego Chargers who we thought they were?
Let’s put the season into a logical perspective.
After four games the bolts are one of ten teams sitting at 2-2. They are only one of four AFC teams with that record. No one expects the Chargers to go through the season undefeated. Only one team has completed the NFL season undefeated. This season will be no different. Losses are going to come. If the Bengals don’t intercept Rivers during the final two minutes of the game the Chargers may well be 3-1 at this point. All things considered, 2-2 is a good place to be.
Through four weeks:
Philip Rivers has thrown for the most yards in the NFL.
Keenan Allen is the NFL’s seventh-leading receiver in yards and tied for fourth in catches.
Melvin Gordon leads all rookie running backs with 228 yards on 56 carries, good for a 4.1-yard per carry average.
San Diego is averaging 31.5 points in their two games at home, both wins. They are tied for 13th in the league at 24 points per game.
Keep in mind this is with the all-too-familiar cornucopia of injuries along the offensive line. During their midwest road trip, the bolts lost four starters to injury during the Cincinnati game and were down two starters during the game against Minnesota. Last week against Cleveland, not only did the Chargers have the same reoccurring injuries to three offensive line starters but receivers Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson both were lost for the game. Despite finishing the game with only two able-bodied wideouts, the bolts persevered and churned out a come from behind win.
The record may be average, the play has been way above average. It’s no coincidence the games the Chargers lost were the games where offensive linemen were dropping like flies. Even then, the third game against Minnesota was the only game where San Diego had no chance to win in the fourth quarter.
The secondary is still banged up with Flowers, Verrett and Addae on the injury report as questionable for the Monday Night home game against Pittsburgh. On the wide receiver front, Stevie Johnson will not play. Malcom Floyd and Jacoby Jones are questionable for the game although they did practice during the week at varying capacities. Keenan Allen and Dontrelle Inman will be ready to go. Don’t be surprised to see Javontee Herndon brought up from the practice squad to complete three-receiver sets and return kicks if Floyd and Jones aren’t ready.
Despite their woes at receiver, the offense will get a huge boost in the form of All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. Expect a big game from Gates as Rivers gets his favorite weapon back. With 99 touchdown catches over his career, Gates will be targeted a lot in the red zone so he can receive his landmark touchdown catch on prime time national TV. The presence of Gates will also serve to open the field for whomever is playing wideout for the Chargers on Monday night.
After four weeks, one-half of last years’ Super Bowl is 2-2. Indianapolis, picked by many to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season is 2-2. Do we wish the San Diego were better than 2-2? Of course. Are they holding serve and staying in the hunt for the AFC West title? Absolutely. That’s all we can ask of them right now. The injuries will eventually subside and this team will get even more potent.
A quarter of the way through the season, the Chargers are right where we need them to be. What do you think Bolt Nation? Encouraged or discouraged? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Every year, fans of all 32 teams view their club’s chances of success through rose-colored glasses.
Hope is free. Fantasy is free. Reality is a brutal heart punch from Bruce Lee.
Only one will live to tell the tale of winning the Holy Grail, the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy.
In Bolt Nation, we all know the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. No logical fan is projecting the Chargers to win the Super Bowl. Win the AFC West? That’s a different story altogether.
The Denver Broncos dominance over the AFC West has coincided with the 2012 arrival of then free agent quarterback Peyton Manning. During their current four-year reign as kings of the AFC West, Manning has been at the helm for the last three AFC West pennants. Now entering his 18th NFL season, Manning and the Broncos are looking to keep their division stranglehold intact.
Easier said than done.
Last season, cracks began to show in the Broncos’ armor. Losses on both side of the ball took a toll and the 12-4 Broncos weren’t able to take advantage of their second seeding in the conference. Denver lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to Indianapolis. Despite the proficiency of the Manning-led passing attack, the Broncos were only able to muster 13 points at home in the loss.
Now more than ever, the pendulum looks to be swinging in the Chargers’ favor in their quest to take back the AFC West.
Consider these key factors:
Peyton Manning vs. Philip Rivers: What’s not to like about two old school gunslingers standing toe-to-toe and letting their arms do the talking? This has been one of the best (and most underrated) quarterback duels in the NFL. Manning entered the league five seasons before Rivers, who didn’t take over the reins of the Chargers until year three of his pro career.
Rivers was the understudy to Drew Brees for two seasons before Brees left for New Orleans. In reality, the two have been facing each other as starting quarterbacks for ten seasons when this season begins.
The difference is starting to show.
Last season, the whispers of Manning’s deteriorating arm strength became roars as the Broncos finished the season. In the last eight games including their playoff loss, Manning threw 11 touchdowns including three games where he only threw one touchdown and two games where he did not throw a touchdown at all. Eight interceptions during that stretch of games also fed into speculation of his decline in accuracy, long a Manning trademark. Last season’s fifteen interceptions were the most Peyton has thrown as a Bronco.
In an odd bit of symmetry between the two rivals, both quarterbacks had potential MVP caliber seasons curtailed by injuries they played through. Manning suffered a quadriceps injury and Rivers had undisclosed back and rib injuries. Rivers is now healthy and armed with a new contract extension that will allow him to retire as a Charger. Manning decided to return after long offseason deliberation as his retirement from the game looks imminent. Rumors of the Broncos and Houston Texans discussing a trade of Manning leaked during the offseason. Eventually, this was dismissed as a simple ‘inquiry’ on the part of the Texans.
Rivers is in the prime of his career and the Chargers are all-in on surrounding him with enough talent to earn the veteran signal caller a Super Bowl ring. Now in the third year of the McCoy-Telesco regime, the Chargers have had back-to-back 9-7 seasons. Choosing to rebuild with youth, only one-third of the current roster (including practice squad) is over the age of 27 years old. The Broncos are also all-in on Manning, but chose to make their push by bringing in big name free agents. DE Demarcus Ware, CBs Aqib Talib and Quentin Jammer, S T.J. Ward, and WRs Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker were all Manning-era signings.
Denver backfield vs. San Diego backfield: The Broncos will rely heavily on the legs of C.J. Anderson. Anderson emerged as the go-to back during the season, making the final seven starts. Leading the Broncos with 849 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in 2014, Anderson is also a threat receiving the ball. Last season he had 34 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns. There isn’t much behind Anderson, now entering his third season out of California. Last season’s starting running back, Montee Ball, was cut by the Broncos. SDSU alum Ronnie Hillman is the only veteran rusher on the roster right now. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Hillman is not capable of being the every down back the Broncos expect Anderson to be.
Expectations for San Diego’s number one draft pick Melvin Gordon are high. The rookie didn’t even have two dozen carries in the preseason. Still, Gordon has earned the confidence of the coaches and veteran players throughout training camp and preseason. While Gordon is expected to assume an every-down role at some point, it has been made clear by the coaches the Chargers will have a running-back-by-committee approach. Danny Woodhead will contribute as a pass-catching, third-down specialist out of the backfield and Branden Oliver will be a change-of-pace back. Donald Brown is a depth player who has been an every-down back in the past.
Denver receivers vs. San Diego receivers: Denver features one of the top-five receivers in the league in speedster Demaryius Thomas. On the opposite side, Emmanuel Sanders will start and Andre Caldwell would be first off the bench in a three-receiver set. Behind them, second-year pro Cody Latimer will be looking to breakout this season.
San Diego will feature third-year pro Keenan Allen, who will be looking to bounce back from what was a down year by his standards. Allen had 77 receptions for 783 yards and four touchdowns, down from his rookie season where he topped 1000 yards with eight touchdowns on 71 catches. Ten-year veteran Malcom Floyd will look to go out with a bang after announcing he will retire after this season. The Chargers brought in Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones to fill in the void left by Eddie Royal in the slot and in the return game, respectively.
Denver pass rush vs. San Diego pass rush: Denver has one of the league’s most intimidating tandems of edge rushers in defensive ends Von Miller and Demarcus Ware. The bookends combined for 24 of Denver’s 41 sacks last season. Containing them is will be the focus of every offensive coordinator.
Whereas the Broncos depends on a pair of elite veteran pass rushers, the Chargers will look to young pass rushers to hurry Manning and other opposing signal callers. Melvin Ingram, Jerry Attaochu, Corey Liuget and rookie Kyle Emanuel will lead the charge to get the future Hall-Of-Famer sacked or throwing incompletions. San Diego finished near the bottom of the NFL with 26 sacks last season and the top Charger sacker was Liuget with 4.5.
Denver secondary vs. San Diego secondary: The Denver Broncos have what could be considered a top-five starting cornerback duo in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Both have the ability to shut down opposing receivers due to their solid coverage. Talib is one of the more physical corners in the NFL, while Harris can run with the best, showcasing strong ball skills and fluid hips.
After re-signing Brandon Flowers this offseason, the Chargers also have a top-five cornerback duo with him and Jason Verrett. The second-year Verrett is among one of the more exciting defenders at his position in the game. Many around the NFL believe that, if healthy, this will be a breakout season for the former Horned Frog. It doesn’t hurt the Bolts that they also have the best free safety in the league, Eric Weddle.
Now, more so than any season since the AFC West arrival of Peyton Manning, the Chargers are ready and more than capable of reclaiming the top spot. The Broncos have the advantage on defense, but the Chargers have a significant edge on offense. A home split is the most probable outcome.
What do you think? Will the Chargers catch the Broncos this season?
The Greg One
The 2014 season finished in what can be accurately described as “disappointing” for the Chargers. The team started 6-1, were No. 1 and on top of multiple power rankings to start the season. Philip Rivers was getting consideration for the league’s Most Valuable Player and they were being thrown around as a possible Superbowl team.
Then, injuries happened.
Danny Woodhead broke his leg. DJ Fluker played through half the year on a hurt ankle. Ryan Mathews played in six games. Keenan Allen missed the last two games with a broken collarbone. Rivers played with a back injury that limited his ability to throw and move. It goes without saying the playing five different centers makes it difficult to build cohesion on the offensive line.
As you can tell, the Chargers played beat up and with a lot of back ups and third stringers. But they finished the season 9-7, and one game shy of the playoffs.
Just how good are the Chargers when healthy?
As everyone knows, the Bolts added some playmakers this season. They upgraded many areas of their team and they are also coming off a very disappointing, yet not terrible season. The offseason has been a disaster, however, from the talks of relocating to Los Angeles, to Eric Weddle not being extended which then lead to a brief holdout and then the biggest bomb of them all, future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates being suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs.
So why the optimism?
Well, the Chargers are good. REALLY good. Tom Telesco has altered the o-line as one of the best in the AFC, gave Rivers another weapon in Stevie Johnson, got more physical defensively with the signing of Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson and made the return game something teams fear with the signing of Jacoby Jones.
Is it enough?
The schedule this season is very favorable. Early on in the year is the toughest stretch, with games in Cincinnati, Minnesota and Green Bay and games at home vs Pittsburgh and Detroit. I mention these five games because they seem to bring the toughest competition to the Bolts.
Early in the season, it is not that big of a deal to drop a game or two to a team of that caliber. Win two of those five and you’re set up perfectly for the stretch run. The notable games after the bye week (week 10): Home/away versus the Chiefs, home/away versus the Broncos and home against the Dolphins. These are very winnable games and with the depth and offensive line that Telesco has provided, the Chargers should be able to compete and win at least three of these five games mentioned.
That leaves you at 5-5 through the toughest stretches of the schedule. The remaining games are at home versus the Browns, Raiders, Bears and on the road against Raiders, Ravens and Jaguars. Five of the six just named are extremely winnable with the Baltimore game being winnable, but a difficult game, nonetheless (and Chargers have experience winning there as they did it this past season). That leaves the Chargers final record at 10-6 or 11-5 and should be enough for a wild card berth and a potential AFC West division title.
The key to the playoffs is health (also, having an elite QB in Philip Rivers doesn’t hurt either) and the Chargers have depth, but will they stay healthy? Head coach Mike McCoy has been doing a great job trying to keep everyone healthy during training camp. That won’t change during the regular season.
On paper, this is the most talented team the Chargers have had since 2009 where the Bolts went 13-3 and snatched up the second seed in their conference. The AFC doesn’t seem to have that one Superbowl favorite team that you know will dominate the conference. It is wide-open, and the way Telesco has built this roster, the Chargers very well could end the year in Santa Clara playing in Superbowl 50.
Do you think the Chargers have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl? Let me know in the comments!
Given the fact that the Chargers are facing the 2015 season without pass rusher Dwight Freeney (un-signed after expired contract) and Jarret Johnson (retired), the Bolts have an opening on defense. Alvin “Bud” Dupree, the big defensive end out of Kentucky, is the guy to fill the void.
Weight: 269 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds
Bud Dupree is one of those long and powerful defensive ends who can also be an outside linebacker in John Pagano’s 3-4 defense. He is agile and quick off the snap; relentless, whether he is going after the quarterback or dropping into space and playing zone. Standing 6-foot-4, he has a huge body to use in coverage. He is also capable of rushing from multiple stances. Those qualities will bring a bit more nastiness to the Charger defense.
Dupree has experience playing the linebacker position from the strong-side, the weak-side and on the inside. This is beneficial to San Diego as he fits right in with the “next man up” mentality that Mike McCoy speaks about. Bud recorded 23.5 career sacks and 247 tackles (36 for loss).
NFL comparison: Michael Bennett (Seattle Seahawks) and Jamie Collins (New England Patriots).
Several NFL draft previews are suggesting that Bud Dupree is moving up the boards because of an impressive Combine and Pro Day performance. The term “freakish athlete” could easily be used to describe him. That being said, it appears that he will certainly be a first round selection. With Dupree’s incredible abilities, Tom Telesco could make an easy choice by selecting the pass rushers at the 17th selection. What do you think about Bud Dupree wearing a blue and gold jersey?
Thanks for reading. Looking forward to your comments below!
At this point in the free agency marathon, the Chargers have turned their focus to bringing in a veteran wide receiver. On Friday, San Francisco free agent Stevie Johnson came to Chargers Park but left without a contract. Johnson is a 6’2, 205 lb. wideout who is back to looking for work after one season with the Niners.
With the departure of Eddie Royal to the Bears the Chargers have a need for a slot receiver. Chargers GM Tom Telesco is searching for veterans and has already been spurned by Royal and Andre Johnson, formerly of the Texans. In both cases, Telesco offered more money but they decided to go elsewhere. Johnson has stated he is to make a decision on where to sign by Monday.
With the quality of available wide recievers dwindling, who else is there to choose from? The Kansas City Chiefs have cut Dwayne Bowe. Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree is also on the market and the Chargers are expected to make runs at both of them. There is one more name out there that can bring the Chargers some impact at the wide receiver position.
Wayne was there for Telesco’s tenure in Indianapolis and the Colts have made it clear they will not be bringing the veteran back. Wayne has had a long 14-year career with the Colts, entering the league in 2001. Now 36, he has had recent injury issues but in his 14 seasons he has only missed ten games. A model of durability and consistency, Wayne has repeatedly showed his ability to take the top off a defense with his speed and elusiveness. With the emergence of T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis, Wayne was no longer the number one receiver and the Colts viewed him as expendable.
There are concerns about his health due to his age. Others wonder whether he has anything left in the tank. In 2013, Wayne tore his ACL, causing him to miss the second half of that season. He returned and played 15 games last season, catching 64 balls for 779 yards and two touchdowns. Many want Wayne to retire a Colt but he has stated he wants to play another year with a contending team.
There is no doubt Telesco can make the deal happen and bring in Wayne. He will have the upper hand over any other GM who comes calling because of their history together. Telesco has not denied his Indianapolis roots as we’ve seen Colts don lightning bolts such as Donald Brown and Dwight Freeney.
Like Freeney, Wayne will have multiple uses on the team. As a veteran receiver who has a Super Bowl ring and has managed to stay in the game for so long and play at a high level, he will have a lot of knowledge to share with the Chargers young receiver corps. His presence will help take the pressure off Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates.
A bigger role on a unit that needs a jolt like the Chargers will make Wayne a threat again. Only missing ten games in 14 seasons is a testament to his year-round conditioning and preparedness. As sure handed as they come, Philip Rivers will be excited to see Wayne on his side of the field instead of watching him from the visitors’ sideline.
Finally, it won’t cost the Chargers a lot to secure Wayne’s services. An incentive-laden, one-year deal with an option for a second year will suffice. Even at the end of his career, Wayne can still bring an impact to the team the same way Steve Smith Sr. did last season at the ripe old age of 35. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of if this signing will happen but when.
What do you think Bolt Nation? Would you like Wayne in powder blue this season?
The Greg One
With free agency officially set to open tomorrow, Tuesday March 10th at 4 p.m. ET. exactly, NFL teams are preparing to sign some heavy hitters. Since last week, rumors and predictions have circulated as fans eagerly wait for what is set to unfold. As of right now, everything is all speculation which leaves Tom Telesco and the Chargers still in the hunt for big name players. Let’s stop there because the Bolts don’t sign big names.
It was nice to ponder the thought of free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh coming to a team with a tremendous need for a nose tackle, but it was all a fictional. An array of fans flooded social media when it was announced by NFL Media insider’s Ian Rapoport that Suh is being considered by the Chargers. What a tease. Bolt fans had to have known that names like his don’t ever come to San Diego. It is already looking like this year’s free agency signees won’t be anything like what A.J. Preller did in the Padres’ offseason. I would love to eat my words on that.
Well, wait a second. The previous back office has been gone for a few seasons now and this is the first year Telesco has had cap breathing room. Fans have been unable to determine what the young general manager is capable of, but most importantly, willing to do in order to build a Super Bowl contending team.
We all know what happened in recent years with some semi big name signings. Jared Gaither and Derek Cox are just a couple that did not live up to their contracts, to say the least. Is it the money or just the uncertainly that the back office feels the need to justify not snagging a big hitter via free agency? Either way, I believe starting tomorrow things may start to change.
There has to be some reasoning as to why big name players should not be chased. For example, it’s reported that Suh will sign with the Miami Dolphins for a 5-year, $114 million dollar contract, but should the Chargers spend a quarterback’s salary on a defensive tackle? It’s debatable, but not wise when the roster has many gaps yet to fill. Yes, Telesco finally has money to spend, but it shouldn’t be spent on a single big name guy.
In the most positive news yet to transpire, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, free agent guard/tackle Orlando Franklin is set to join the Chargers. Seems as if strides are being made for big names. According to NFL Trade Rumors, Franklin is ranked 19th of 100 free agents in 2015 which gives him a presumable headliner label.
Last week, the Bolts added an explosive kick returner, Jacoby Jones, to the roster. In addition to him, Telesco then solidified the secondary by re-signing cornerback Brandon Flowers. These players may not be big names per say, but they add much-needed value to the organization.
It’s always been a stigma that the Chargers don’t sign heavy hitters via free agency. This offseason seems to be different, and things are progressing forward with player talent, rather regressing. Bolt fans should be hopeful with the leadership of Tom Telesco and company. In the next few weeks, his true colors will be exposed. I’m hopeful for bright and exuberant colors, opposed to the gloomy grays.
In what will be the news of the day in San Diego, it has become known that the Chargers will be bidding for the services of prized free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Take a look at this tweet from leading NFL insider Ian Rappaport:
How can you not love that? Sure, it’s nowhere near a done deal but the Chargers are making it known they are going to be in the mix for Suh. We’ve watched GM Tom Telesco work wonders with the Chargers salary cap for two seasons where he’s had nothing but pocket change to spend on players. Finally unburdened of the bad contracts left over from the previous regime, the Chargers have over 30 million in cap space and we’re all curious to see how Telesco spends with a pocket full of Benjamins.
Suh is the biggest and most expensive free agent on the market and for good reason. He is literally a franchise changing player. At 6’4, 305 Suh is the most dominant nose tackle in the game and easily one of the top five defensive players in the league.
Known for his brute power, Suh commands double teams every play and is a disruptive force in the middle of the line. Suh is a run-stopping, quarterback sacking mountain of a man who plays with a primal rage that has seen him get fined by the league multiple times.
What does this say about the Chargers?
One, the Chargers know there is a big hole at the nose tackle position and there is no one better to plug that hole than Suh. Two, the Chargers are not afraid to break the bank for a franchise player. Suh turned 28 in January and is entering his sixth season. Just entering his prime, Suh has only missed two games in his career (in 2011) and has already logged 239 tackles and 36 sacks. He is the anchor that Chargers haven’t had since Jamaal Williams and he’s the biggest free agent to hit the open market since Reggie White for those reasons. Three, it says the Chargers are ready to win NOW. You don’t bring in a player of this caliber with a five-year plan in mind.
The Chargers are on the precipice of making waves in the playoffs. What’s stopped them? Defense has been a big issue. The Chargers have ranked 32nd, 17th, 24th, 10th, 24th in total defense in the last five seasons. Suh holding down the middle of the field means favorable one-one-one matchups for pass rushers like Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Dwight Freeney, Donald Butler and Jerry Attaochu. With Suh collapsing the pocket on the quarterback and/or ball carrier, it creates opportunity for sacks and turnovers. So much attention will be applied to him that rushers will be able to get to the ball.
Suh doesn’t fix everything that’s wrong with the defense but his presence allows defensive coordinator John Pagano a wealth of flexibility and creativity in his play calling knowing that there is a brick wall in the middle of his defense. The pass rush gets better, which means the secondary can also play more instinctively knowing the opposing quarterback has less time to throw.
This move, should it come to pass, says the Chargers are all in for getting the mainstays like Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd their Super Bowl opportunity. It says the Chargers are serious about providing star power that fans will want to come out and see, in San Diego. Even if it doesn’t come to pass, if they do make a serious offer it should show the fan base they’re committed to getting a championship sooner than later.
What about Suh’s baggage?
Suh is the classic example of the player everyone hates until he’s wearing your team’s colors. He’s a beast and his overly aggressive style of play has made him the most reviled player in the league. That reputation now becomes the Chargers’ reputation; a defense no one wants to play against. As long as Suh produces, the extra curricular activities however Raider-esque they are, can be overlooked.
What about the money?
If you got it, spend it. I applaud this move. The Chargers aren’t going to throw chump change at B plus players, they’re shooting at the top stars with a ‘Why not us’ mentality and that is encouraging to me as a Chargers fan. With Telesco handling the proceedings, when Suh comes to town, I don’t expect him to leave.
Now about that championship….
The Greg One
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a reoccurring series of the best and worst memories from Charger fans. This week, longtime Bolt fan Bill Carli provided us his greatest and most fond memory. Please read and leave a comment about your reaction to The 1995 AFC Championship win over the Steelers.
Part of being a fan is having some ruthless memories of your favorite team. On the other hand, there are also some incredibly great ones. The 1995 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is arguably the greatest recollection in Bolts history.
Now, I don’t recall this game as many of my readers do because of my age, however I do remember snippets of my household during the game. In typical party fashion, my parents had the true football game time goods which included food, TV cranked, and of course beer. It’s very likely all of you had the same theme going.
The Chargers 1994 season was not perfect by all means. Head coach Bobby Ross and the team had their losses, but they still were crowned AFC West Champions and earned a ticket into the playoffs. You may have heard this before, but the playoffs are a whole different league. The NFL’s very best teams are setup and sent to battle in order to get to the ultimate game; the Super Bowl. For San Diego, it was their destiny to be there.
Do you believe in miracles? Many don’t, but I guarantee that the entire NFL football nation did that day on January 15th, 1995. Just ask Bill Carli, he was with family and friends watching every play of that game to its final seconds.
Bill distinctly remembers “On fourth down when it appeared imminent that the Steelers were going to score. Dennis Gibson knocked down Neil O’Donnell’s pass in the end zone to send the Chargers to their first Super Bowl.”
The Chargers finished the game with 14 unanswered points scored in the second half to upset the Steelers. Junior Seau certainly played one of his greatest games of his career. It was an incredible effort by San Diego who struggled to finish in the end zone majority of the game.
Immediately following the tipped pass, Bill fell to the floor. Rolling around, in full Chargers gear and Charger cape, crying tears of joy. After that play, I’m sure the City of San Diego could be heard across the nation. The blissful tears from diehard fans could have probably flooded the Nile. There was complete football ecstasy in America’s finest city that day.
After the win against the Steelers, it was official that the Chargers owned the entire AFC and would represent the conference in the biggest game of the year. It was a great season which included some of the team’s best players to wear the blue and gold jersey. Memories like these are forever kept in the hearts of Bolt fans and will never fade away. The 1995 AFC Championship game is just that.
After spending a weekend in San Diego highlighted by a Boltblitz meetup I waited to board an airplane back home to Phoenix. Still in my powder blue Rivers jersey, a man nearby asked if the Chargers were going to L.A., to which I replied with an emphatic no. behind me I could hear a woman mutter under her breath, ‘Good riddance’.
The scariest part of the whole stadium/relocation issue is not the politics involved, we’ve heard the stadium issue arise every year for over a decade. Every year someone looks into it and it yields no result. Over time, the issue just dies until another season comes to a close. It’s not the doublespeak coming from the elected officials in San Diego every year on the subject. It’s not even the threat of the Chargers going into business with the Raiders, of all teams, on timesharing a brand new stadium in Los Angeles.
The scariest part of the relocation/stadium debate is the people of San Diego themselves. There’s no need to worry about us, the loyal fans who read Boltblitz or go to the games. There’s no need to worry about those who earmark every Sunday from preseason through the Super Bowl solely for watching football. The Chargers know they have your vote. The problem is will enough come to cast their ballots and win a majority vote?
California sports fans as a whole have a reputation as being fair weather fans. They show up when a team is winning and are quick to desert when a team is losing. There’s a lot of reasons for that. California has near perfect weather and breathtaking views no matter where in the state you are. There will always be an abundance of beaches, attractions, hot bodies and social events from concerts to political rallies going on at any given moment. California is hands down the most trendsetting, progressive state in the nation.
This is, after all, the state that voted in Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. Not city councilman, not mayor, GOVERNOR.
California is not known for having rabid fan bases. Sadly, the delusional collection of Vader-mask wearing misfits that call themselves Raider Nation is probably the closest thing California offers in the rabid fan base department. The Lakers fans have disappeared as Kobe’s body deteriorates more and more every year. There’s simply too many options to put sporting events at the top of the list at any given time in California.
Look at other NFL teams like the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills or Cleveland Browns. These are teams with rabid fan bases. They show up rain, snow or shine. Their teams are the only game in town and those teams galvanize the city. There are no celebrity-studded premieres to attend, no tourist trap mega-attractions like Disney, Sea World or Times Square to visit. The fewer the options, the stronger and more rabid the fan base.
What this blood pact between the Chargers and the Raiders does is push the stadium issue back to the head of the line. It’s a threat, but a successful threat because it has everyone talking including the team and city officials necessary to get the ball rolling on the matter. In my view, the Chargers and the city will finally agree on a location and on cost to build a new state-of-the-art facility. The problem comes when the initiative comes before the residents of San Diego County requiring a majority vote to pass.
Will the fan base come?
People like the lady in the airport worry me. The non-sports fans in San Diego County are my concern. They could care less if the team leaves and will ignore the issue until the vote comes. There will be a cost to the county and they will turn out to vote against it. Those are the people that need to be educated. Those are the people who will need to understand the economic blow that will be dealt to San Diego if the Chargers leave. If dollars are all they see, make sure they see the whole picture, not just a ballot asking for an extra tax on a bill.
It is encouraging that former players and Chargers legends like Ladanian Tomlinson and Nick Hardwick are willing to be a part of the cause. However, how effective will they be explaining the issue to the non-sports fans in San Diego County? Will they be able to convert the disenfranchised Chargers fans who were turned off in the final years of the old regime?
A new stadium will be an economic boon to San Diego. There is no better city in the state to stage events. A new stadium means a permanent spot in the Super Bowl rotation, Final Fours, World Cups and Olympics among a myriad other non-sports related events. We as Chargers fans can’t just leave it to team officials and players to spread that message, every single one of us has to help the apathetic resident understand what a new stadium means to the city and to the people if we truly want the Chargers to stay in San Diego.
I, for one, will be starting at the airport.
The Greg One