UT San Diego
Before I begin, I want to say there are two groups of fans this does not apply to: the first is season ticket holders who did not sell their seats to opposing fans and went to all games; the second group is “Save Our Bolts.” It was very admirable what you guys did and you all should be very proud. It is also worth noting that the whole “Chargers to LA” thing is still mostly speculation at this point.
Obviously, there are more fans that this applies to, but I wanted to make sure to take the time to mention the folks who stand out in my mind. Again, thank you all for everything that you have done and that you’ll continue to do as we near a resolution regarding the stadium situation in San Diego.
Now, let’s get to the reason that the Chargers fan base is not without fault should the move occur.
First, the San Diego Chargers in 2016 are ranked 31st out of 32 in attendance. Behind them is the Oakland Raiders, so at least we are beating them in something this season. The sad fact is we are a lot better team than a lot of the teams above us, such as; Cleveland and Jacksonville. How is it that the fans of San Diego expect the team not to look at other options when they do not even show up to the game. Not to mention if anyone saw the games vs the Denver Broncos or Miami Dolphins this season, it looks like an away game for our squad. Here is an article USA Today created about this very phenomenon this season (http://broncoswire.usatoday.com/2016/10/13/san-diego-home-game-denver-broncos-chargers-tnf).
Second, fans of San Diego are letting the players down. Even more than they let us down on Sundays. Some may remember when the choice was announced that some Chargers players took to twitter and said, “every home game better be sold out.” Well, as previously stated, the Chargers are ranked 31st in attendance out of 32. So even though the players and organization are dying to get more fans to the stadium. To which the Chargers fan base plainly stated by their actions, no, we will not show up until you start winning games. In other words, a bandwagon mentality. (http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2016/1/29/10873822/san-diego-chargers-players-reactions-los-angeles-show-up).
Third, the failure of Prop C, although the team did all they could, and so did the citizens initiative. The citizens of San Diego, do not want the Chargers, even though the plan actually included creating a permanent situation with comic con and zero taxpayer dollars. That was not enough to keep the team around.
It does not make sense for a team to stay someplace that they are not making money, that is what the bottom line is in the case of the Chargers. They are not making enough money off of tickets. Also with the low attendance numbers that does not help the other way that a lot of teams make money. They are called sponsors, how can you sell sponsorship or advertising space when you rank second to last in attendance and have not been higher than 19 in the past six years.
At least if they end up playing in the Stubhub Center in Carson, California as a temporary venue it is much smaller attendance wise and maybe just maybe, there is a chance for a 100 percent Chargers sellout game.
On the flip side, there is some things that the Chargers could have done marketing wise in order to get more and more CHARGER fans out to the game that have not been done. For example, maybe putting a winning football team on the field, or creating more advertisements and deals to specific groups that create a better image to the community of San Diego. Instead of just visiting places and doing community service, maybe invite those who do not have a lot to the game and grant them experiences that will last a lifetime. Usually if the public has a high opinion of a team, they are more likely to support that team. That is one reason why the Chicago Bears and every team in Chicago has some of the most loyal fans on earth.
The bottom line is, the San Diego Chargers have not ranked higher than 19th ever since 2009 when the Chargers went 13-3.
After proposition C got struck down with a vengeance by the voters from the city of San Diego, even though the stadium was going to be built using no taxpayer dollars what so ever. That leaves one logical spot, and that is to revamp the current mission valley location. It is a prime location because even though it is not close to downtown, it is surrounded by several major freeways and in a highly populated area. What is Dean Spanos thoughts on revamping the mission valley spot? In an interview with U-T San Diego, Dean said,” I am not a believer in Mission Valley — I don’t think I would ever go back there.” So, if he was being 100 percent truthful, that knocks out the Mission Valley option, leaving only Los Angeles on the table.
Will the 2016 campaign be the last year that we see both Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates on the field together? What will happen to the Chargers’ dynamic duo? Will they continue to be great after this season? Or will we have to say goodbye to our future hall of fame tight end, Antonio Gates, at year’s end?
There are two different ways to answer this question: the first is contractually and the second is by observation.
First, we will cover contractually. According to Antonio Gates’ contract, he is still going to be with the Chargers through 2017 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. So, he technically has two years to make the decision whether to retire early, or to play out the reminder of his contract and mentor the Chargers tight end of the future, Hunter Henry.
Personally, I watched Henry when he played for the University of Arkansas just this past year, and I was astonished at what I saw. He had a role that was similar to the one that Antonio Gates has for the Chargers; meaning that he was his quarterback’s first choice to throw the ball to, rather than a check-down, which seems to be what most tight ends are that are not named Gates, Gronkowski or Graham.
Now, let’s look at the observation. Looking at Gates’ statistics from the 2015 season, also known as the season the Chargers donated more than half their roster to the DL and IR (but that is another story), he only appeared in 11 of 16 games last season. Last season he only had 56 receptions and 630 receiving yards, as compared to the season before when he had 69 receptions and 821 yards.
It would not be a bad thing for Antonio Gates to retire after this season, and according to UT San Diego, he is contemplating it very seriously. Personally, I see this as what SHOULD be a driving force to the Chargers this season, similar to the Ravens several years ago when it seemed to be all about #WinItForRay. Ray, of course, is in reference to their long-time defensive captain and emotional center of the team, Ray Lewis.
Of course, only time will tell when Antonio Gates retires, but one thing is for certain: whenever he does retire, he should get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Chargers.com has video from the arrivals of rookies Melvin Gordon and Craig Mager.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego writes about Philip Rivers sitting courtside at a Los Angeles Clippers’ game.
Michael Gehlken talks about right tackle DJ Fluker losing weight and working to play better than he did his second season.
ESPN.com formed a round table made up of the AFC West beat writers, talking about the division’s 2015 draft classes.
Eric Williams talks about the Football Outsiders choosing the Chargers to finish third in the AFC West this year.
Kevin Acee of UT San Diego did a live chat with fans on Wednesday.
Chargers.com updates the list of all of the transactions in 2015.
Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego about he Carson Mayor stating the Chargers’ stadium would be on contaminated land.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego notes that Las Vegas pegs Melvin Gordon as the front-runner for rookie of the year.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com grades the draft classes of the AFC West.
Jim Trotter of ESPN.com writes about the way that Philip Rivers has handled the talks about an extension.
Annie Heilbrunn of mighty1090.com prematurely grades the Chargers 2015 draft class.
Hayley Elwood of Chargers.com talks about third-round draft choice Craig Mager overcoming tragedy.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego notes that the team is excited about the work that Melvin Ingram has done this offseason.
Michael Fabiano of NFL.com ranks the top-20 fantasy rookies for this upcoming season.
On March 13, 2015, a ripple of concern and suspicion began when the Chargers announced that they would be bringing in quarterback (QB) Marcus Mariota for a private workout. Why bring in a QB who is expected to be drafted far before the Chargers first round pick at 17? Are the Chargers really looking to sign Mariota just to have him sit behind Philip Rivers for the next three years? Is Tom Telesco just playing pre-draft games with the other general managers? Or, are the Bolts actually considering a change?
As time went by, the ripple gained momentum and grew to the size of La Jolla Shores breakers. Social media outlets began throwing out conspiracy theories that were mostly shot down as, “crazy talk”. But as the days wore on, more and more twists were added to the plot. A trade with Tennessee for the number two pick in the draft was being discussed. At number two, the Chargers would have whomever the Buccaneers did not choose between Florida St. quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. To old school Chargers fans, this scenario makes them squirm as they recall the weeks before the 1998 draft when the Bolts picked second and assured themselves whoever was left between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Not to say that Mariota will suffer the same fate as Leaf, but that is the thing about the draft: you just never know.
Well, those breakers became the size of Hawaii’s Bonzai Pipeline, when more and more dots were connected by the local and national media, along with sports talk radio, as they started digging around. Now the complete hypothetical plan was laid out and it actually seemed plausible! Rumblings from Chargers fans ranged from, “If they trade Rivers, I’m done”, to “Now it’s obvious that the Chargers want to move to Los Angeles”, to “It’s all talk! The Chargers will never trade Rivers!”
Just when you think it is safe to go back in the water, a tidal wave hits the shores of San Diego. Kevin Acee, of the UT San Diego, interviewed Rivers and received some discouraging answers from the Pro Bowl quarterback. When asked if he was working with the Chargers on extending his contract past 2015, Rivers said that he was not. He vowed to honor his contract and play out the next season in San Diego, but would not commit to re-signing with the Bolts for the future. Rivers went on to say, “I guess things could change, but with all the uncertainty in many aspects, I don’t see it changing before camp gets here, and when camp gets here I’m even more certain to play it (his contract) out.” He went on to say, “The good thing is that I’m not under contract in a year where we’d potentially be in Los Angeles.” That does not sound like a player who is locked into playing out his career with the Chargers.
So what are those, “many aspects” that Rivers is referring to? To figure that out, all one has to do is take a look at the current situation with the team, the stadium, his family, and yes, the future of the quarterback position for the San Diego Chargers. Not to get ahead of ourselves, let us take a look at the scenario that has been painted by the media, and fans, that might explain why there is so much speculation about the Mariota workout and the upcoming draft.
The current version of the Rivers trade theory is that he will be traded to Tennessee for the second pick in the draft. With most around the NFL believing that Tampa Bay will pick Winston number one, Mariota would then go to the Chargers at number two. This trade would work for a few different reasons. One, Rivers said that there are “many aspects” to consider before signing a contract to keep him in San Diego past 2015. One of those aspects would certainly be if the Bolts were staying in San Diego, or bolting to Los Angeles (LA). Perhaps Rivers does not want to leave his home in San Diego just to move his wife and seven kids to LA. If he is going to move anywhere, it would make more sense to move to the South, near where he grew up in Alabama. Tennessee is far closer to Alabama and the lifestyle is far more similar to Alabama than LA.
Furthermore, a trade to Tennessee would reunite Rivers with his former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the current head coach for the Titans. Rivers has one of his best years as a pro with Whisenhunt leading the way. Rivers would already know the offense and should be able to step right in and feel comfortable running the show.
Finally, there is the aspect of money. Rivers did not have a great year, by his standards, in 2014. Now would not a beneficial time for him to talk extension. If he plays one more season, with a vastly improved line, he may put up career numbers and be able to demand more money. Yes, Rivers is a nice guy, but even nice guys want to get paid. He does have seven mouths to feed after all.
Okay, all of that actually makes sense for why Rivers would look to leave. How about the Chargers? Why would they entertain the thought of trading away someone who is arguably a future Hall of Fame QB when he certainly has productive years ahead? Well, there are some reasonable answers to those questions as well.
First of all, Rivers is 33 years old and has never taken the Bolts to the Super Bowl. Two other quarter backs in the same draft class, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, have won rings. Now football is a team sport, so you cannot put all of the blame on Rivers for that, so that cannot be the problem. Next, the Chargers have had trouble protecting Rivers and all the hits he has sustained have definitely taken a toll on the aging QB. Perhaps bringing in a mobile QB, like Mariota, will enable the Chargers to sustain drives when the offensive line breaks down. Then again, with the signing of Orlando Franklin and the opportunity to draft a lineman in the first round ahead, the line should be greatly improved. Finally, perhaps the Chargers feel that Mariota has a skill set that will give them a true franchise quarterback for the next 10 to 15 years, while saving cap space by getting out from underneath Rivers’ contract.
That brings us to the stadium issue, which could possibly be the main reason the Chargers would entertain the thought of trading away the face of their franchise. Although team president, Dean Spanos, continues to say that he would like to keep the team in San Diego, there have been few signs that he is interested in working with the recently created Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG). In fact, twice the Chargers have had Carson related stories come out on the same days when CSAG members have held events in San Diego. Perhaps the thinking is that if the Chargers move to LA, they want to be the, “new look” Chargers, and Rivers is too closely associated with San Diego for that to happen.
So is it a good idea to get rid of Rivers? Not a chance! With Rivers, you are not only talking about the face of the team, but also the emotional leader. You are talking about a guy who gives players hope. How many times have you heard, “As long as we have number 17, we have a chance?” You will not get that kind of leadership from a rookie QB. Mariota may have a successful career in the NFL, or he may not. There are no guarantees (see Ryan Leaf). Many experts feel that he will be a work in progress at the next level. He needs to learn how to lead a huddle and take snaps from under center; two things that he did not have to do in college. Yes, these are teachable skills, but do you want your starting QB to be learning the basics while in live action? Seems like an awfully big risk for a team that has a viable answer for the position for the next few years.
Finally, trading Rivers would be a poor PR move. That would be “public relations”, not Philip Rivers. The Bolts have long been known for treating their veterans poorly. Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Vincent Jackson are all examples of players that were shown the door without so much as a, “thank you”. If the new leadership of the Chargers wants to break that cycle and be embraced by the community, they need to handle situations with class and show star players that they appreciate them. It seems a team that may need a large percentage of citizens to vote for a stadium would not want to anger their fans. That is unless they do not really want to stay in San Diego. Even if they do let Rivers go, trading him now is not the answer. Let him play out his last year and see what happens.
What do you think? Is it time to look toward the future? Or, is 2015 a must-win season so that the city will embrace the team and vote for a stadium? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.
Chargers.com features Tom Telesco answering fan questions.
Eric D. Williams of espn.com writes about the Chargers scheduling a meeting with draft prospect La’El Collins.
Tania Milberg of BarkingBeast.com has the Barking Beast Runway show Friday at 6:00 pm at the Westin San Diego. ( BoltBlitz.com is a sponsor for the event. )
Michael Gehlken of UT San Diego talks about Telesco’s thoughts on contract extensions for Rivers and Weddle.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times digs into the tension surrounding the Chargers and the city.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com takes questions from Charger fans in his mailbag.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego writes about offensive lineman Chris Watt.
Draft expert of NFL.com, Mike Mayock, ranks the top-5 draft-eligible players in this year’s draft.
Chargers.com talks to Jason Verrett and Chris Watt about the importance of the combine.
Eric Williams of espn.com takes a look at Mel Kiper’s mock draft for the Bolts and the running back situation.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego looks at the Chargers’ special teams units from last year.
Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego writes about San Diego head coach Mike McCoy.
Eddie Brown of UT San Diego writes about where Charger players ranked as high school recruits going into college.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com talks about the fact that Philip Rivers has avoided back surgery for now.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego looks back at the players the Chargers did not re-sign going into the 2014 season.
Eric Williams of ESPN.com examines the Charger secondary going into the 2015 offseason.