Monday, December 30, 2013

We Did Not Back Into the Playoffs!

It's more like we were pushed over a lawn chair into the playoffs. This team, that even under previous head loser Norv Turner has typically been a strong finisher, reached the playoffs yesterday by way of several other more failier teams doing their thing, a missed field goal and some serious help from the officials on said missed field goal as well as one of the most ill advised yet successful punt fakes in league history.

All of this against the Chiefs practice squad.

Look, I'm as happy as anyone that we got in and I'm certainly not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it's difficult to look at the last two wins and like our chances to do much in the post. Against the Raiders, we settled for field goals against a team that gives up TDs like it's going out of style. And yesterday, this defense that had recently started to kind of acquit itself, made some guy named Knile Davis look like the second coming of Priest Holmes and probably pushed Chase Daniel into the starting quarterback market for next season. And again, they settled for a field goal to get into overtime instead of winning the game on a TD and it nearly cost us the season.

But we're in, and you can't win if you don't get in, so how can I complain? Well, I'm a natural complainer, that's how. It's too late in the season to keep making the same mistakes. You can no longer stumble along blindly, hoping the other team makes more mistakes than you or that the refs won't notice your illegal formation on a field goal coverage that very likely should have cost us the playoffs.  It's one and done now. We're off to Cincinatti, a team we couldn't beat in our house a month and a half ago and a team that hasn't lost in their own house all season. It's time to start putting the ball into the endzone. It's time to start tackling. It's time to stop making rookie mistakes.

Don't take all of my doom and gloom here the wrong way. At the beginning of the season I had us going 12-4 and handily making the playoffs. And 6 weeks ago I had all but written us off like most people, so I am absolutely thrilled to be here. If only for the fact that AJ Smith and Norv Turner both so smugly shrugged off our chances and tied themselves to truly horrific franchises during the offseason. Those two must be in dour moods this morning. Or for the fact that Nick Canepa put all of our silly playoff talk to rest weeks ago. What a glorious day for us angry villagers. No matter what foibles and warts this team shows, it is a team that is going in the right direction and I love it. It feels good to actually care enough to be disappointed again. This is a team on the rise and that feels good after so many years of decline. But, as I am a modern day American, I expect more and I expect it now, so we need to win the Superbowl.

Are you ready for some extra football?! Go Bolts!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Fashioning A Shiv Right Now

Okay, we've really been slacking here, but in our defense this season went off the rails pretty badly. I had to rethink everything I ever thought I knew about football. I mean, is it possible that my early prediction of a 12-4 season was biased in some way by some strange factor? My love of the team? My hatred of Norv and AJ? My desperate need to see a San Diego Chargers Superbowl Championship before they get the Hell* out of dodge? I don't know. I apparently know nothing.

What is there to say at this point? We're still technically in it? I'm still technically in it in one of my fantasy leagues where I started 0-7, but I'm not going to start popping champaign over it. I could mention how injuries on this squad have been ridiculous this year, but what's the point? I could read off a laundry list of key players who are out for the season. Denario Alexander, Malcolm Floyd, Jared Gaither**, Melvin Ingram***, Dwight Freeney, Your Mom and a ton of other guys who've missed time like it's alien abduction week on Desination America, but what's the point? No, I'm still hopeful that this team is heading in the right direction, or at least the "righter" direction, but to think this season is going to be the kind of pleasant surprise I was hoping for is silly. I mean, believe me, I'm still rooting and crying and breaking stuff and whatnot, but I've accepted our fate. I'm just going to go ahead and be thankful we're not the Falcons or their fans. Those people actually thought they were going to the superbowl this year. Ouch.

Anyway, that's all well and good and I'm glad we're all in agreement, but Chargers football is not what I'm here to talk about. What I want to discuss is Charlie Manson. Yes, that Chuck Manson. Charleston Manson's not being shanked to death in jail by now is really testing my faith in the system. Can we get somebody on that? A recent article states that some 25 year old woman wants to marry Chuck. Her name is Star. Obviously. Chuck gave her that name. Of course. But Chuck is like, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Fuck that shit. Not interested." Delightful! Charles Manson is almost as magical as Hitler. At some point, as a society, don't we have to look at 25 year old, perfectly healthy, not entirely unattractive women who want to marry a ridiculous homicidal weirdo like Chuck and say, "Nope, we're going to have to go ahead and put you down?" If she were a pitbull or a bear, she'd have been buried out back by now. I mean, what are the odds she's going to "snap out of it" and start contributing? This world. If there's any justice she will be knocked out by a group of any old teenagers anywhere playing a game that all teenagers play regardless of any apparent significant relative factors.

Thanks for allowing me to rant. Way too big a post for Facebook. Enjoy your football weekend. I think we clobber the Chiefs. Go Bolts!!!

*Why won't my phone capitalize Hell? It's a fucking place. And we're all probably going there.
**He will always be a Charger. That's the jersey they'll hang in the Hall someday.
***I know he might be coming back, but I don't know why.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Expletives Abound...

It's taken me a couple days to shake off Sunday's throat punch loss. What could have been a season defining win, turned ugly and awful in one fell swoop. While the sky still isn't falling, there was a real opportunity there for the team to establish themselves as not favorites to win the crown, but contenders that no one would want to play. Unfortunately, the series of events at the end of regulation did not allow for that to materialize.

We can rehash what happened on the final series of downs inside the one yard line all we want and second guess the play calling and the offensive approach, but that doesn't change the result. Should we have gone power formation and slammed the ball in on first down? Yes. Did we? No. Why? No one knows and Mike McCoy isn't tipping his hand either. Criticism was heaped upon him and the staff from all pundits and angles and while I'm sure that McCoy isn't pleased about the end result, hopefully this is a teaching moment and that sort of conservative approach is ushered out of the play book with extreme haste.

Many are blaming the refereeing for some atrocious calls, namely the phantom pass interference call, the phantom unnecessary roughness call, and yes the atrocious spot on the Woodhead non touchdown call. However, let's not lose sight of the Woodhead fumble that clearly went in our favor. Now, as much as I want to pile on the refs and blame somebody for the nauseating loss, this one falls squarely on our staff. Again, this was an opportunity to really define this football team. A last minute comeback victory on the road would have really boosted this team's confidence and I firmly believe would have given the young players even more
motivation for the rest of the season. Alas, after inside handoff for no gain, poorly executed and thought out fade route, and finally designed roll out for the least mobile quarterback in the history of football, the guys got on the team charter for the long ride home with the stench of defeat oozing from their pores. Sad. Really really sad.

Max and I dwelled on this for far too long last night continuing to question why the apparent fear of failure from inside the one yard line prevented us from giving the ball to our power running back, and or completely selling out for the victory in that situation. It was almost as if the vote of no confidence resurfaced at the most inopportune time for Mathews. It also appeared as if the comfort of overtime allowed those decisions to be made. What Max and I were unable to reconcile despite our many attempts was why that suddenly seemed to make sense. Why would the minute possibility of a Mathews fumble make overtime more appealing? Why not pound the ball into the end zone on four straight attempts? If you fail so what? You lose. But by not trying, we wound up playing for overtime where a coin flip and a tired defense were completely in play, and that thought process made sense to some. I'm truly at a loss.

So, now we get Denver, twice. Kansas City, twice. Miami and Cincinnati. That doesn't seem as appealing at 4-4 coming off a kick in the balls of a loss as it would at 5-3 with a  solid dose of bravado after squeaking out a victory across the country. I'd like to test the mettle of this team in the latter scenario, but we're forced to do it with the former. I guess this will be another telling moment as to where this team is. The team should feel like they won that game. I truly hope the staff can build on that and not let their failures trickle down to the guys.

Lost in Sunday's result is the fact that this team will make something of themselves and we are on the right road. However, the result from Sunday probably sealed our fate for the season and we'll in short order be thinking about 2014 rather than a cinderella playoff run in 2013. Unfortunate, but probably true. And that, in and of itself is what made Sunday so, so shitty. Sometimes, most times, being a Charger fan is tough tough business. This is one of those times.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Deja Vu All Over Again

That was a tough one. Especially because we didn't have to lose. The game was ours for the taking and we made some terrible choices that we are going to have to live with going into the decidedly tougher second half of our schedule.

All four of our losses have been difficult, but yesterday was atrocious. The defense kind of got hung with each of those previous losses whether that's fair or not. A lot of people would love to hang it on them again yesterday and it's hard to argue that. But I'm going to.  I'm certainly not the first to say any of this stuff, but I'm going to say it all anyway. If you have 1st and goal inside the ONE, with 21 seconds and two time outs, you win the game there or you lose the game there. That's it.

Danny Woodhead has been incredible for this team. Quietly even the MVP, probably. But one thing he has not proven to do particularly well is run at the goal line. And on a counter?! Just fuck that shit! Follow that up with two pass attempts that were very clearly meant to be no where near where a defender could get to them and thereby very hard for a receiver to get to, and it became clear we were playing for OT. From inside the fucking one!

At this point it's clear that the fear of a Ryan Mathews fumble has become a quite literally crippling fear of a Ryan Mathews fumble. There is no one else on the team who should touch the ball in that situation. He can go high, He can go low. He can move the pile. And what does a fumble matter anyway if you're going to go with that pussy ass bullshit? I haven't heard anything about Mathews being injured, but I honestly haven't looked to hard. I have no desire to read what's being written out there right now.

As far as those who want to pile on the defense, let me remind you all that the Redskins flipped the script on us on Sunday and controlled the clock masterfully. And still our defense was out there batting passes and doing their best. 24 points in regulation is not fantastic, but it's enough to give you a very good shot at the win and that is what we had. And then we handed it right back.

Final thoughts:

1) You're QB is 6'5". If you absolutely, positively refuse to let Mathews touch the ball at the end, maybe you let Rivers fall over for two feet to win the game.

2) I have so far been in the bag for this new coaching staff, but that counter to Woodhead was eerily reminiscent of the infamous Sproles-Lewis collision debacle that largely defined the Norv Turner area. Not okay.

3) A big "Fuck You" to whoever put that Keenan Allen drop on the cover of the UT. I, too, felt like that drop was devastating at the time, but the team rallied back from that largely due to the efforts of Allen himself. That drop ended up having almost nothing to do with the loss yesterday. Allen may be the very brightest spot on this young team right now, and why the local paper would try to get in his head like that is completely unfathomable to me. This is how you will know him.

4) The second half is a juggernaut. It's time to start overachieving.

Go Bolts!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Wrap: Week 4. The God Awful Edition...

Ugh. Articulate I know. But really, ugh. What's really to say about the egg we laid in yet another albeit unexpected truly prime time slot. I hate to think that the late start had anything to do with that "performance" but that certainly wasn't the team of go getters we've sort of become accustomed to thus far this season. I'm not going to dwell on it for a couple of reasons, A) because I'd hate actually doing that, and B) it's Thursday night, I still haven't had the time to do a power ranking this season because my paying job trumps my volunteer job so this will be short and really fucking bitter. Ready, go.

Mistakes. Of them there were many. The secondary played well and truly awful in the first half. In the moment much wasn't made of Laserface's first pick due to it's wobbly flight and distance resembling a punt, though, the coverage unit was poor, and the first play from scrimmage went for a touchdown against the aforementioned poor secondary. So yeah, while it might have resembled a punt in the moment, it wasn't the good kind of punt. It was actually a turnover that was quickly converted to the maximum amount of points allowed.

The Royal fumble. I'm not going to get too down on Eddie because he has contributed much to this team in a very unexpected way in 2013. But, hot damned Eddie. That sucked. And also was quickly converted to the again, maximum allowable points in the form of another touchdown. Gah.

The Ryan Mathews Experiment. It's really time for this to end. They say it takes three years to evaluate a draft class. Well, considering this is year four, the longest run from scrimmage he's ever had is 39 yards, he's fumbled 13 times and lost 8 of them in 43 games played out of a possible 53, and he's likely to miss this week due to head injury, the grade on this one turned in. It's time to move on. The guy has proven to be exactly what he is. Not dynamic, not terrible, worried about fumbling constantly that his vision is shortsighted in that he must focus solely on not dropping the ball into the opponents bread basket. And yes, still injury prone. I know, a concussion is a concussion and I personally don't believe that this is a fragile moment that we've seen in the past, but the kid is hurt again. Unfortunately, he's not a very smart ballplayer and a brain contusion won't help his football IQ. The main issue I have here is that McCoy finally went with the guy in the way that Norv should have last year to see what we actually had in the draft pick that we traded fairly significant assets to move up and grab early. Norvy didn't do that so McCoy rightfully had to. Had Norv accomplished this last year, like both Max and I implored him to do, we could have already moved on. Better late than never I guess? Boo.

There is some rumor mongering at PFT that we're looking at making a move, or should be towards MJD in Jacksonville. Please let this come true. Please. Who do I need to beg for this to occur? Woodhead, while shifty and effective as a pass catcher out of the backfield, is not a feature back and that's where the Sproles comparisons should really parallel. He's a change of pace back that should not be handed delayed inside handoffs in critical fourth down situations inside the five yard line when a touchdown is needed. Good. We got that out of the way.

Laserface. Three interceptions. Bad day on the gridiron. What the hell is a gridiron anyway? I know he was pressing as we were down late, but the interception in the end zone was a pass that was thrown WAY too late, as Allen was open right off the line of scrimmage and PR held the ball about two seconds too long staring at an open receiver as if he couldn't believe how open he actually was, then delivered the ball far too late and the final nail was hammered home with intense malice. Gah. This was almost as egregious as the only other time I swore audibly at a volume my neighbors probably heard, when PR missed gates on the wide open bubble screen from inside the 10 yard line. The throw was so off line right from the start I swore before Gates awkwardly tried to adjust to a pass that should have hit him in the chest, but nearly killed someone else instead. I'm not going to harp on Laserface too much, but dammit, he left some plays out there that change the outcome of a must win game. GAH! It's so hard for me to suppress my desire to pepper  the hell out of this paragraph with expletives.

The positives. There are some. First, there is a lot of fight in this team. They didn't give up which is something that the old culture was devoid of. They simply ran out of time. Granted, they might have needed another week's worth of quarters to finally put it together but they never gave up.  Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen are pretty awesome guys to have on this team. Allen could be a star. No whammies. Finally, this may sound weird, but the second half defense deserves some credit. They gave up only three points, granted, they were three pretty big points but Pagano turned them loose and the finally started to get to Pryor. They were running fantastic blitzes and stunts and really righted the ship for the offense to get back in the game. However, once we were within the one score territory, Pagano called off the dogs and went back to the safe, conservative style and the winning field goal was born. Hey Pags, I feel like we're close enough to address you as Pags now, just turn the guys free. It's effective and certainly no worse to get burned being aggressive than sitting back and getting torched anyway. That was the most effective play you've coaxed out of these guys. They finally didn't look way in over their heads. Let her rip Pags. Nothing to lose.

Up next, the Colts. This is not a good opportunity for a win and mercifully we may be spared the violation of our eyesight by blackout. However, I'm confident that the game will be put on television though not sell out. You don't allow blackouts on nationally televised games. It's just not good for business. Seeing how we're supposed to get completely shredded by Andrew Luck anyway, we'll probably put up a 50 spot on them and win by 21. Don't hold me to that though, I'm not predicting that, I'm merely going against my gut that says we'll lose by the same margin. How's that for OPTIMISM suckers?! As always, things aren't as bad as they seem. We're on the right track. Go Bolts!

Monday, October 07, 2013

We All Stayed Up for That?

That game tested my optimism in the worst possible way. I mean, it's starting to look less and less like Houston or Tennessee should've beaten us, but this was the Raiders. That win was already written in with pen, and it's clear the players felt so too. The gameplan seemed to be a "let's wait and see what they do" situation and the Raiders pounced. Hit fast, eat clock, create chaos. The entire first half was a nightmare. And while the Bolts woke up and responded in the second half, another long third down conversion drove a stake through our hearts.

A lot of people this morning are probably feeling pretty justified in all their offseason bitching about Philip Rivers because he ended up with three INTs last night, but the reality is not that bad. The first one was ugly, and basically ended up being a punt. The last two, well let's just say that when the defense allowed the Raiders to make it a two score game with only a few minutes left, you're going to have to take some chances. All in all, I'm still pretty thrilled with what Rivers has been able to do this year.

This receiving corps is getting really good. Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown blew it up last night and Gates continues to defy the aging process. That being said, there is just no excuse for only scoring 17 in that game. We gave so many points away. This team needs a true RB. Ryan Mathews went out with a concussion and honestly, who cares? I had high hopes for Mathews this year, but it just doesn't look like he's ever going to pan out. Look for him to spend a couple years bouncing around in a back-up role somewhere before exiting the league for good. Ronnie Brown is too old to hit the hole, and while I'm really digging Woodhead, he can't do much against the bigger lines when they know he's coming. I don't know if there's a fix out there right now. My kneejerk reaction is to go and throw all of next year's draft at Jax and try to wrest MJD from them (Lord knows they aren't using him. I saw Jax run something like 10 plays inside the 5 yesterday and never once hand the ball to their best player.), but we need those picks if we're ever going to have a secondary again. Which leads us to...

The defense is bad. There's no getting around it. There are a couple of playmakers on the team, and I actually like what I saw of Te'o last night enough to give him his apostrophe back, but teams are getting awfully good at going away from Butler and Weddle at this point. You just don't even hear their numbers called anymore. Losing Freeney might well have been the straw that completely breaks this thing. I still feel like when you defense is this untalented, you have try something different. Change your looks. Pick a philosophy and go with it. Something. I don't know, I'm not a coach, but what they're doing is not working enough to be the right call.

Probably the most frustrating thing about last night was that even though the Broncos and Chiefs managed to win their games yesterday, they both looked a little less intimidating than normal in doing so, but now we're already 3 games back and even if we get this thing firing, we're going to need a lot of help catching up with those guys, and I don't know where it comes from when I look at their schedules. Next up we have the Colts and it's starting to look like we're going to need to score 50 if we're going to have a chance.

Look, I'm still pretty excited about the direction this team is going and I'm not about to fold up shop, but I am starting to wonder if my expectations for this year weren't tempered a bit with bias of Norv and AJ. Norv's stupid face is 3-2 now and we just lost to the Raiders. That is a tough pill to swallow on this Monday morning.

Still, at least it's nice to actually feel something again when we lose. Oh wait, no this sucks.

Time to lock it up, Chargers. Go Bolts!!!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Return of the Quick Hits! Open Letters Edition...

So, in an effort to revitalize this space and after some time perusing the archives partly out of nostalgia and partly out of an attempt to brighten this place up in what is quickly nearing our tenth year of documenting our collective successes and failures here, it's the return of an old bit. The Quick Hits. Bullet Points. Ludicrous speed. GO!

  • Dear Houston Texans fans burning Matt Schaub jerseys. Are you that far removed from remembering what things were like when David Carr was the quarterback? Perhaps you'd be happier with a Matt Leinart reunion? Listen to yourselves. If you really think Schaub is the one and only thing preventing you from the Super Bowl, start your car in a closed garage and think about that for an hour. Or pick up Josh Freeman. Something about the grass being greener seems apropos here but the weather in the hell of Texas prevents grass from growing.
  • Dear Cleveland, despite being in first place which is ridiculous in and of itself, your train will be derailed in spectacular fashion in very short order with Norv conducting. The wreck will be unlike anything you've ever seen and there likely will be extensive collateral damage. Wait. You're Cleveland. You're used to this. You're probably actually hunkered down in your bomb shelter already. I guess this was better addressed to the media who for whatever reason has begun the Norv propoganda machine to get him rehired as a head coach. Woes in advance for that team.
  • Dear Oakland, hire a groundskeeper that can make your dual use field playable in less than a lifetime. Your baseball team is not winning the World Series so just give up and turn the field over to the pathetic football team full time. Dirt infields for football is probably part of the reason Darren McFadden has missed more games than he's played in his career. Idiots.
  • Dear Jacksonville, either move to Los Angeles or trade MJD because you're going nowhere. You're not even in a rebuilding phase. You're in a holy black hole death spiral of suckitude. Time to reassess the roster and stack up draft picks. Why is a lowly blogger having to tell you this? Don't you employ an actual football general manager? You are currently redefining embarrassing.
  • Dear Media, to those still perpetuating the idea that Baltimore is the defending Super Bowl Champion and that it's so strange how many also rans and rookies are beating that team. If you truly believe that Baltimore is trotting out the same roster that won the Super Bowl last year, you are trying to fit a square premise into a round hole. Wow! The Broncos destroyed them in their playoff rematch! Yes. They did. A) Because that victory last year was a fluke and B) it's a completely different team! Who believes this stuff you try to sell? You should take the same advice I gave Houston fans about cars and garages. 
  • Dear Ken Whisenhunt, I forgot the one thing I wanted to say about your play calling last week against the Cowgirls. I couldn't put my finger on it but the word I left out in my recap was "brilliant". Don't let it go to your head, but what you did last week was nothing short of brilliance. Please keep your finger on the trigger. 
  • Dear Chargers, please, please take it to Oakland tonight. This is a team that thrives on broken plays and weak secondary play. It will not be pretty. Just run up the score and try to kill Terrelle Pryor or Matt Flynn on every play and we'll be just fine. Please don't make me stay up late having another cardiac condition. Thanks in advance. 

Happy footballing Sunday folks. May your bets be prosperous and your fantasy teams be, well whatever you want them to be. See you on the flip side of Monday for victory formation. Go Bolts!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Wrap: Week 4 Reverse Cowgirl Edition

First and foremost my apologies for The Wrap coming this late in the week when week 5 has already officially begun. I'm slacking and barely earning my fictional paycheck over here. I'm totally blaming congress for shutting down the government when I clearly deserve my non payment for this hard work. Damned you government employees!

Let's talk about the game shall we? Last weekend turned out a nice pleasant surprise for many, though not to brag, both Max and I knew what the result last weekend would be. No, it's not clairvoyance, nor cockiness, it's understanding that there is only a handful of franchises in this league that are run more despicably than ours, and the Cowboys are the number one on that list. For a team that apparently is America's and destined for the Super Bowl each year, boy do they suck. Hell, in light of the recent current events, perhaps they are America's team.

There was a common theme last week that permeated the entirety of the game. That theme? Coaching. Unquestionably the strength of our game. Getting off to a good start by matching up Woodhead on a linebacker and generating a quick score was certainly something we like to see. This team has consistently jumped out to early leads, something that has been lost for, let's see...approximatly, well, exactly 6 years. Otherwise known as the era that will no longer be beaten to death NorvTurnerNorvTurnerNorvTurner what?!

After the quick start and a few defensive stops and some defensive failures we had the one big disaster moment that we all fear anymore. Again. And quickly as many people were wont to point out to me via text, the rout was on. Only, this time it wasn't. Why? Coaching. Poise. Adjustments. And guess what? The players completely bought in. Laserface started running the quick passing schemes effectively and threw the ball once again with dart like accuracy. 83%? Seriously? There wasn't a target he couldn't hit and Whisenhunt started exploiting weaknesses in Dallas' defense and you could almost hear him laughing about it condescendingly. Granted, it was the Cowboys, who employ a ginger version of Norv Turner at the head coaching position completely incapable of adjusting to any adversity that befalls them. Needless to say, it was very clear that Ken and Mike were definitely one step ahead, and clearly prepared to make it two steps if the Cowgirls ever caught up. They didn't.

Many are quick to point out that the defense is still, what's the most common descriptor I heard? Sieve-like? I believe that was the one, yes. To some degree there is some truth to that but again, let's revisit what we know about this defense. THERE IS NO ONE YOU KNOW ON THIS DEFENSE. Sorry, I don't like to yell, but who aside of Weddle is a household name out there? Nobody that's who. Te'o made his debut but was largely invisible, which leads me to believe he had a very pedestrian game. Which currently is all I ask of the guy. Don't make mistakes that are egregious in their game changingness. Do that Mantei, and we'll be best friends all year. Yes, the pass rush still suffered, but when Freeney went down that was that, and really, we didn't get to the quarterback much with him. Not disparaging the guy, but one player rarely makes a pass rush dominant. More on that later.

This defense is clearly of the bend don't break variety. Which is almost all you can do with the personnel that we're employing right now. They are young and inexperienced. We replaced some very long term veteran Chargers with very young unproven players. We're not going to be the Steel Curtain. We'll be lucky to be the Beef Curtains. What mattered was that when the game was on the line, and I had literally thrown my phone into the other room to avoid the panicked text messages that had me manning a suicide hotline, we got that turnover. The big one. The one we were all really, REALLY hoping for, finally materialized. That ball popped free, was scooped up, and for a moment, almost returned out of the end zone, causing me to scream, nay, SCREAM for that someone to please take a knee, very politely and in total control, he listened, did so, and peace was restored. I'd like to think I had a hand in that decision to stay in the end zone. Needless to say, the other shoe finally didn't drop. It's been a long time since we could say that.

The Elephant: This week it's easy. Everyone is talking about injuries. Yes, they are mounting up. Yes, they are significant. Let's talk about it shall we? Malcolm Floyd (did I spell that right? I always forget whether he's of the L variety or they went anti-L.) Gone. Done for the year. Are we deep? No. Are we serviceable? Yes. With Royal finally stepping up and Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen holding their own and letting Laserface make them look pretty good, we're going to be okay. Oh, let's not forget that Gates is looking like a version of himself that long ago vanished that motivated one of us here to make a custom hat in his honor. I'll bet that one of us wishes he still had that hat. Dwight Freeney. I think I'm in the minority on this one, but we're not going to miss him as much as people think. Is his injury a good thing? No, clearly not, but the scheme we're currently running isn't dependent on the pass rush, because there has been no pass rush. They are built not to give up the big play. And as Max is quick to point out, capitalizing on the other team "fucking up" is the secret to our scheme. Don't tell anyone, SHHHH! Finally, the offensive line. Woof. Might as well set up a triage unit on the sideline these guys are dropping so quickly. There isn't a starter that isn't hurt save Hardwick and he's typically always banged up. These guys are shuffling around the line, filling each need when it arises and guys are stepping up. The fact that Rivers was only sacked once, completed 35 of 42 passes, with backups at the left tackle position and other guys playing out of position all over the line, is a testament to not only their preparation, but their toughness. Guess how they got all of that. You guessed it. Coaching. I'm going to say this again, and please, heed this, ready? NORV TURNER IS GONE. THE WITCH IS DEAD. This group has this team prepared, both physically and mentally and they are a wholly different squad than last year. I'd bet you that they would not so secretly come right out and tell you that the locker room and the whole god damned facility is a far different place without the Norvalvirus. It's been  four weeks of regular season football and no one has been arrested, punched or kicked out of Stingeree.  That's the most telling statistic of the season.

Forecast: Raider Week. Things are looking up. This team is good. They are not Denver good. We don't have the personnel or the depth. But we are dynamic and as we've both mentioned here, this team will improve as the year goes on and they see some victories, and build on those successes. It is already evidenced by this team made up of mostly nobodies, overcoming injuries that were just a convenient excuse to explain shitty coaching and schemes in years past. I haven't been this excited for Chargers football in how long? Oh yeah! Exactly six years! How do I keep forgetting that?

Good things are afoot Charger Faithful. Get on board.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Wrap: Week 3

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! And to some degree that may in fact be true, but I continue to maintain that these are not your Chargers that have rendered you completely helpless in the face of challenging football for the last six years. Have we all forgotten so quickly the lasting damage that a Norv Turner can do to a franchise? Don't believe me? Starting with the Dallas Cowboys, then to the Washington Redskins, then the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and now Cleveland Browns. Yes you can argue that only the 49ers have "recovered" by going to and losing a Super Bowl. The Norv Turner legacy of losing can take a generation to undue apparently. Hopefully we've got the proper cleansing material to get past this prior to my death. Hey, hope got a president elected in this country. Anything is possible...

The game Sunday was yes, disappointing to say the least. But aside the crushing blow of defeat we've become so used to, there were still some positives to take away from this game. First, one worry of this squad has been the depth as we've barely managed to scrap together enough pieces we'd consider starters after the dismantling of the damage that was done by the previous regime.  There were at least four starters who missed kickoff depending on how you view the whole Donald Butler active/inactive debacle, and during the game an additional handful of starters dropped out of action on the offensive line. Testing the depth of the offensive line is not something I'd recommend we do on the regular, but dammit if the backups didn't step up and even move all over the place to keep Laserface's uniform relatively clean. An admirable job to say the least. This week we'll get Fluker back which should help the running game, while we'll likely be without Clary and Dunlap. Sunday becomes test day for some unproven commodities wearing our unis.

Let's talk about the elephant. I'd like for this not to become a weekly feature, but now exists a trend as Max pointed out graphically below and those trends number two. First, the Pagano insistence on playing not to fail is not working out so well in his favor to date. To the point that today I read an article that he is on the hot seat. While I won't go that far, dare I say there needs to be a philosophical and physical improvement or that talk will gain some momentum. He is in fact the only holdover from the previous regime so I'd imagine in the Spani's infinite wisdom he's the next to fall. I'm willing to give him a bit more time to sort things out for one reason. There is no one on this defense you actually know. No really. There's no one left that you actually know, you know, people who have been impact players here for a while. None. Half the jerseys on Sunday had names of guys you've never heard of. Let's give them a moment to understand life in the NFL before we fire anyone. Let's not forget, most of the pre-season power rankings had us between 24-28th in the league. Last week we were as high as 14. Let's not get crazy, we are already beating expectations and we are just two plays from being 3-0. Kevin Acee was quick to point out none our guys thought there was offensive pass interference on the Titans scoring pass with 15 seconds left. Justin Patrick, the man in coverage certainly thought so on the field in the moment and it was. But again, not putting ourselves in that position in the first place is the important part. Don't forget, Norv is gone. Write it on your bathroom mirror. NORV IS GONE.

Our second elephant is Ken Whisenhunt. While pinning the Titans deep on their six yard line with no timeouts seems on the surface as a pretty excellent decision, our play calling prevented us gaining the one additional first down that would have had the game ending with Philip getting a grass stain on his knee in victory formation. I know, I understand, an incomplete pass in any of those situations stops the clock and blah blah blah, blah, blahblahblahblahblah. Philip Rivers is completing exactly 70% of his passes. I'm not saying we have to revert to the Norv Turner playbook of executing pre-pass play action on strategies that take four days to develop, but a swing pass to Woodhead or utilizing Gates who is looking more like the 2005 version of himself that was uncoverable isn't the worst idea around. But, we did pin them back on the six yard line with no timeouts and as Max mentioned, we're a Gilchrist dropped interception from awesometown.

Is there room for improvement? Yes. Are we dealing with a lot of variables that will make the routine more difficult? Yes. We are lean on personnel, injuries are not helping, but make no mistake we are on the right road to recovery. Will it be pretty? Likely not at times. But like I told Max, we could go 0-16, (thankfully we won't), and I'd be happy because I'm on board with our changes and that's a start. My expectations are low and we're already exceeding them. It's impossible to ignore that the improvements are already in place. There is still a very good chance we finish above .500 with this team gelling and improving every week. This will be a successful season. I'm even willing to wager on it. Calm down Charger faithful. We are fine. We need a little fine tuning, and we'll need a little tweaking each week to make it work. I wish I had more poignant and funny things to say, but this one makes me happy to stand behind.

Cowgirls next. Reauxmeaux and the Cowgirls. Blackout lifted. Te'o to make his debut. I'm not worried. Nor should you be.

Weekly Power Rankings start after week 4. Let's have some fun.

Go Bolts!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Disturbing Trends

Well, here we are a little over a week later, and you're probably not feeling all that good anymore. Another tough loss. In fact, this one is probably tougher than the Texans because this was a game we all scratched in a W next to when we first looked at the schedule. What worries me the most is that after three weeks you can see the team settling into some disturbing trends.

Firstly, there were at least a couple of situations in that game that demanded some aggressive offense. The early fourth and one inside the opponent's 40 stands out, as does the decision not to go to the air to pick up a crucial first down late in the game. Now, I'm not one of those people who was too upset when they ran into position against the Eagles to set up a pretty lengthy FG attempt late, but I get it if you were. The thing is that at least there if you miss you're headed into OT, with a 50/50 shot at winning the game regardless. In this, game, where our defense was giving up huge chunks of yardage all day long, it felt like the odds were worse and it became imperitave to keep the ball out of the home team's hands at the end. Especially considering the corner who gave up the winning TD only has about a handful of career NFL snaps on his resume.

That defense is a problem. It almost seems like the playbook actually accounts for opponent mistakes, because it feels like that is the only way we stop anyone at this point. Eric Weddle has completely disappeared, which I blame on his ridiculous mohawk's return. And that INT at the end has to be caught by Gilchrist. Has to be. No excuses. All in all, this defense needs to find a way to manufacture mayhem. I don't know how they do that, but they need to figure something out. Pagano needs to get up to that drawing board and come up with some ideas that will make the other team think rather than try to keep his resume healthy by doing the "right thing" in the right situation. I thought we were done with that Football for Dummies approach around these parts. Manti Teo is not gonna fix it. This unit needs direction and innovation. They don't have to be great, but they have to be something better than awful.

All of that being said, all hope is not lost after 3 weeks. There's some other 1-2 teams out there that have high aspirations for this year who've looked a lot worse than we have, and there's a ton of football left. We still have a pretty manageable schedule, so it's a little early to be jumping ship. Rivers continues to look like the Rivers of old (even though it seems like the refs chose Sunday to draw a line in the sand on Rivers antics when arguing calls) and the line held up awfully well, despite bleeding out players like crazy on Sunday. We travelled an awful lot in two weeks and split the road series, and that's no small feat. 1-2 is not where you want to be, especially when you're looking up at a couple of 3-0s in the division, but we still feel like a team on the rise to me. These guys play hard and they don't seem to be okay with losing like they have in the recent past, and that means a lot. The young guys are going to get better and the veterans look hungry again. There're 13 more games. Let's go win 'em all! Go Bolts!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Feeling Good on a Monday? Inconceivable!

Throughout the week the media will question whether they were just plain wrong about the Eagles. Be ready for that. We've been in two games against two respected teams to the wire and come away with a 1-1 record, and I think we'll all agree that right now we look better than the team that lost a 7-6 barn burner to the Browns last year, but the sports pros will wonder why the Eagles imploded, not whether we belong in the conversation. So it is, so shall it ever be. If we want accolades, we need to do big things this year and wait until next year for the media to acknowledge it. But we don't need accolades. We need wins. Let's hit some quick notes on yesterday's action.

Philip Rivers - Dear Phillip Rivers haters, go eat a bag of buffalo dicks. 7 TDs, 1 INT and over 600 yards passing so far. Throw in a couple of first down runs and we're looking at the makings of a pretty sweet bounceback year. That's what happens when the line-which looks a whole lot better so far, don't you think?-gives a good QB a second to think about it.

Eddie Royal - On pace for 40 TDs. You almost make me want to send AJ a thank you note. Almost. Not really. Hell of a game, Royal.

Ryan Mathews - Right now the whole town is ready to scrap this guy and I can't say I blame them. I am already scouring the college ranks to see who is likely to get the next crack at being the heir apparent to the LaDainian Tomlinson throne. But for this year, Mathews still has a part to play. He may never see the red zone again, but he has to touch the ball. And here's the thing. Football is such a mental game, full of self fulfilling prophecies. If you know you fumble, and more importantly, if the opposing defense knows you fumble, then you probably fumble. The last few years, however, a Mathews fumble has been enough to take the entire team out of the game. A single play had been enough to make Norv's Chargers take their ball and go home. This team yesterday overcame a Mathews fumble, a Gates fumble and some lightning quick Philly TDs to pull out a victory and that can only help Mathews' psyche. He wouldn't be the first RB to turn around a history of fumbling and I feel like yesterday will only bolster his resolve in that regard. He probably can't play well enough to earn a long term contract, but it sure would be nice to see him contribute in a meaningful way this year.

Antonio Gates - Gates gets a pass on that fumble and that TD drop, but only because for most of yesterday he looked like the Gates we need and remember. Also because we won. Gotta hold onto that ball, Cotton Candy hands.

Malcolm Floyd - Wow, you were having a monster day. I was a big proponent of yours for years before you finally just turned me off with the injuries. Yesterday was not your fault, but what an old Chargers thing to do then to go ahead and get your neck crushed. Hope you're okay man. No more of that, okay?

John Pagano - You lost some vets and Manti Teo is in a boot. I get that. But you were kept around in a situation where a lot of other people got the boot because you earned a lot of respect for what you did last year. Well, you better come up with something this year, because this defense is relying way too much on the other team to stop themselves at this point.

This team as a whole - Yesterday was a big win. The kind of win that guys get excited about. It's the kind of win that makes you go back to the previous loss and say that loss wasn't so bad. That the entire body of work so far is impressive and we might really have something here. And that's awesome. But we shouldn't forget that first loss. We should hold it up to this win and ask ourselves an important question. Why does it seem that we can only keep up our intensity when the game is in doubt? We should've put that Texans team away and we fell into that old familiar tendency to merely try to hold on. If we're going to accomplish anything this year, we're going to need some of those easy wins just as badly as we're going to need the gritty wins like yesterday's. We're going to need to wring some necks.

All in all, though, the fans and players should be ecstatic about that win, warts and all. That is not an easy environment to go into and overcome. Already, after two games, you can see the effect real leadership can have on men in the trenches. I feel like we're on the verge of something just a little bit special. Let's enjoy it. Go Bolts!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week 2: Time to Panic Yet?

When I first looked at this schedule I had the Bolts going all the way across the country into the unforgiving arms of the City of Brotherly Love and handing the Eagles a beating. Even before last week it was going to be a tough sell. We've had trouble in Philly before, even when we were largely considered the better team. Now, after our collapse in week one and the debut of Chip Kelly's NFL version of the Oregon offense, it'll be nearly impossible to convince anyone we have anything more than a chance to learn and grow in defeat tomorrow morning. If we're not universally picked to lose tomorrow, I have yet to find the prognosticator that bucked the trend. So, can a victory tomorrow be sold? Eh, I'll give it a shot.

I've already gone on record as saying Monday Night's game was more of a good sign than a bad sign. You have to admit-unless you're a local hater-that we came out with intensity and controlled that game for more than a half before it slipped away from us. At times this looked more like the team we expected to field for the last six years than the team we actually fielded for the last six years. Sadly, the intensity of Houston's Wade Phillips designed defense proved too much for us to overcome when they ratcheted up the pressure in the second half. Our offense absolutely has to be what defines our team. If they can live up to their potential-and believe me, the potential is there!-then all the defense has to do is show up on Sunday and try not to embarrass themselves too much. Alas, the offense couldn't keep their foot on the peddle and the Texans just got stronger when the blood hit the water.

The Eagles defense also looked impressive last week, punishing a Redskins QB in RG III who looked crippled to the point of downright Riversian proportions in the first half. And the offense was a monster as well. Both units played as strong and fast a half of football as your ever going to see. Then the second half happened and it was less impressive. The Skins got back into that game and the Eagles barely seemed to have enough in the tank to ultimately hold them back for the victory. The Eagles share a lot in terms of perception with our Chargers. If they had given up the win to Washington nobody this past week would have been talking about Chip Kelly's high flying circus, they'd be talking about the Eagles culture of losing, much like they are about us right now.

So, tomorrow you have two teams that came out and played a dominating first half and wilted in the second. If-and it's a big if this early in the season- we can match them or at least keep them in striking distance in the first half, then I think we stand a good chance of stealing this thing in the second. If both teams are gassed by midway through quarter three, as they seemed to be last week, then I think we have the advantage. Their game plan on both sides of the ball is extremely speed reliant. And once you start to slow down from fatigue, it's hard to get that back. Those shifty formations are a lot less shifty in slow motion. We just have to play smart, and I think we have more smart on our team. The Eagles are a team full of guys who can't get out of their own way, and I'm not ready to buy that a brand new NFL head coach and one week of impressive football against a crippled division rival has fixed that completely.

So there's my pitch. I hope you like it. I know it's a hard sell. We're probably the only team in NFL history to play our first game until 11:00PM on a Monday only to reconvene for week two on the other side of the country six days later at what is actually 10:00AM for us while being afternoon for the home team. But what the hell, I have faith in spades these days. Just writing this has made me feel better, I hope it did something for you.

Go Bolts!!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week One. The Wrap.

Oh, the footballing season finally has arrived saving me from the doldrums of division worst baseball and oppressive summer heat. Seriously, can't anyone even keep a fan in stock for me on these worst of days? Anyway, once again for what feels like forever, ESPN locked us up into the late slate on Monday night, the absolute worst game of the week. Their programming alone is enough for me to consider waterboarding as an alternative option, but dropping us into the late slot yet again is downright unforgivable. Since I can't watch their programming any less than I already do, I'm at a loss as to a suitable punishment. Perhaps our President can bomb them or something since he's not busy doing anything at the present.

I'm not going to add anything to the conversation that Max already had with you. We discussed our thoughts about this game and as per usual we mostly agreed. Six years of Norv Turner at the helm will destroy the strongest of resolutions and the idea that we were never going to be in the game against Houston was widely accepted some time ago. Hell, we were just happy to be here and able to watch on a very large high definition television legally. See what escaping the Norvalvirus and a dose of real football can do to a fan?

We got off to a great and unexpected start to the season and showed at least to me that we are better than we were last year. A point that I had almost convinced myself of during the hell period between seasons. Unfortunately, a call didn't go our way and some weird things started happening and it slipped away. We all watched. We know what happened. I just had a couple of observations that I feel need to be pointed out.

Jaret Johnson and Dwight Freeney. I'm on board. I'm getting a jersey that says "FREEJOHNSON" on the back.

Ryan Mathews. Okay. I get it. He's either fumbling or he's hurt. You don't have to tell me 4,829 more times. I know it. I watch. Since he spells his name wrong they ought to just change it on the back of his jersey. Berman would call him MathLOSE the football or something rad like that. It been clearly ingrained in his head for a while. In space he runs hard and picks up yards in big chunks. In traffic? A strong breeze will drop him in his tracks because it's tough to pick up yards fighting off tacklers when you are literally hugging the football. It's a problem. I thought Ronnie Brown was getting the reps in the third quarter because he was a better pass blocker. In our hurry up it's tough to change personnel but not impossible. Part of me believes the new regime wasn't quite ready for a fumble at that point in the game. I don't want to believe that but it might be impossible to ignore. Thankfully Brown looked better than his preseason form and was relatively effective. Yet, we're accomplishing another dubious honor which is unlike us. No backs run for 100 yards in a game ever anymore. That's disappointing. It's also a problem when your offensive line doesn't pass block all that well just yet.

Philip Rivers. Yeah, I know, another pick six. If you don't see the brilliance in that play by both Wade Phillips and Brian Cushing then you can bolt right the fuck off because that wasn't all on Laserface. The throw was hurried and a bit behind Woodhead, but it's not like Cushing didn't make an excellent play. Forget the four touchdowns before the pick and be dumb about it if you want to but it makes you look stupid.

Lastly, is Ken Whisenhunt. I like the guy. I like our future with him. But in the moment last night, in the fourth quarter, after we had two three and outs, the pick six, needing a first down desperately for the defense, he shrunk in the moment. The Texans made no disguises of their intentions and they were bringing the house and the armadillos on every one of our offensive plays. What he did that puzzled me considerably, and forced me to swear at the television, a habit I'm hoping to break now that our Norvaltumor has been removed, he ran bunch formation after bunch formation forgoing wide receiver splits. This tight formation I suppose was to help in protection, but all it did was bring all the defenders for the Texans who were already all out blitzing closer to the line of scrimmage. Bad idea jeans man. I'm not going to crucify the guy for that, but a little space for our fast guys on hot routes might have been a good idea there. My two cents. Worth zero cents.

The takeaway? There were many more positives than negatives last night. If we'd gotten a couple of first downs, avoided being Hochuli'd (hat tip: Max) and gotten a few stops on third down, we'd be undefeated and this town would be insufferable with our Super Bowl delusions. But, right now, we're right where we thought we would be after week one, except we should be feeling overwhelmingly better than if the Texans came in to Awesomeland and kicked our ass 89- 2 like the talking heads said they would. Shit, people would have been asking to have Norv back. And you know that's some fucked up shit right there.

Chin up buttercup. We're fine. Off to Philly to play that seemingly scary ass team in 5 more days. Football is back. Norv Turner is gone. A.J. Smith is gone. We could go 0-16 and I'd still throw a huge fucking party. Ding dong the Norv is dead.

Calm Down, Calm Down

We were prepared for this, weren't we? I mean, not exactly this per se. Not a game that brought back memories of the crushing defeat we suffered to the Broncos in similar fashion last year, but we were prepared for a loss, right? And at the end of it all, it was a real tight loss, against a real good team. Not buying it? Okay, think of it this way. We spent more than half the game manhandling a Superbowl contender that everyone thought would steamroll us without a problem. They didn't start steamrolling us until halfway through the third quarter. This is a young team that has not played together more than a half of full speed football and they played with a lot of heart. But it'll take more than heart to get this thing going.

The O-Line played a pretty valiant game, but by midway through the second half they were getting manhandled pretty well, and it led to a pivotal pick six later in the game. I would have loved to see more of that underneath passing game that everyone was talking about during camp. That's just the sort of thing that can neutralize an aggressive front, but it just wasn't there.

Another part of the problem the offense has is that clearly the coaching staff still does not trust Ryan Mathews to protect the ball. He was playing well out of the gate, yet barely touched the ball in the second half of a game where we held a 21 point lead late.

And the drops. Both Eddie Royal and Antonio Gates dropped critical passes they should have handled in the second half. At a point where it was of the utmost importance to get any kind of spark, those have got to be caught.

And the offensive playcalling in the second half was downright Norvian at times. Again, where was that underneath passing game? There absolutely has to be something you can do between running the ball inside the tackles and heaving the ball downfield when you need to kill clock.

As for the defense, well they tried. This young secondary is going to get beat up like that a lot this year, which is why it is essential to have a consistent pass rush. And honestly, I liked our pass rush. But every time we got into third down we dropped everybody into coverage and got torched for it. That is gutless. When nobody on your team is all that good at coverage and you can't get any pressure with only 3 or 4 guys, dropping everybody into coverage is pointless. Watching that old Wade Phillips defense from the wrong side was tough. Wade is fearless. He doesn't call Defense for Dummies plays like that and it fires his guys up. And that results in huge plays that suck the wind out of the stadium. Maybe the first step is finding out whatever the Texans are giving to JJ Watt that is apparently undetectable and giving it to our guys.

We have no answer for guys like Andre Johnson. To all of you who gave Jammer so much shit because he'd get beat a couple of times a game by big play receivers, I tell you this: Johnson would not have had 12 catches for 148 yards if Jammer were there. And if he had, he would have had to earn it, rather than just basically jog to the first down marker and turn around. With guys like DeSean Jackson, Dez Bryant, Denarius Moore, AJ Green and Victor Cruz on the schedule, we're going to have to figure something out.

So, that all sounds terrible, and it sort of is. But the important thing is that even with all that, we were in this game. At one point we had this game. And this is the first time these kids have hit the field together. They'll get better. This is not last year's Denver loss. That team and that coach had played together for years and were unable to handle themselves in the face of adversity. This team went out there and nearly shocked the world. It'll come.

Go Bolts!!!

P.S. Berman is the damn worst.

Friday, September 06, 2013

It's Only Going to Get Worse...

...before it gets better. Right now the sky is falling. Peyton Manning went out and decimated the Ravens to the tune of 7 passing TDs last night and most power rankings now have the Chargers all the way down in the high 20s, having dropped a number of spots during the preseason despite the fact that it's, well, the preseason. And come this time Tuesday morning, there's a very good chance the Bolts will will be 0-1 and smarting from a nationally televised home field drubbing by the Houston Texans.

But take heart.

Peyton Manning can beat up on the Ravens all he likes, it's never going to get him back that awful performance when it mattered back in January. And these are not those Ravens. Look, I hate Ray Lewis, but a locker room leader like that is hard to replace. And I'm never going to believe a defense can get better by letting Ed Reed go. And once Michael Oher went down, the Ravens offense couldn't keep Peyton off the field. Peyton Manning is a big stat guy. That's his thing. But that record of 7 TDs hadn't been matched in 44 years. I doubt it's going to happen a lot more this season.

Power Rankings are crap before the real games start, and even then they're suspect. The nature of sports prognostication these days is that no one has any balls. These Chargers predictions should have been made last year, when these same "experts" all claimed we'd be duking it out with Denver for the division. When we didn't it suddenly became okay to poo poo the franchise.

None of these people have actually looked at what the Chargers have done, only at what they weren't able to accomplish last season. This team is better than that team. I believe by quite a bit. They'll end up surprising a lot of people who should know better.

Houston's probably going to beat on us. This line needs some real playing time together before they are going to gel, and Wade Phillips' defense is not a good proving grounds for them. And their balanced offense will probably give our untested young defensive players fits as well. But Houston is a very good team, with Superbowl aspirations. Losing to them won't sink the ship. I have us losing to them and still putting up 11 wins. I know that sounds outrageous, but I really like this team in a way I haven't liked a Chargers team in a long time, and I'll go down with that prediction or love watching it come to fruition.

So, maybe the sky is falling a bit right now, but it won't last. Like the ozone layer. The ozone layer is fine now, right?

Go bolts!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Set a Course for Panic!

Did everybody see that super cool space map that NASA put out yesterday of all the giant meteors flying around the galaxy just looking for a piece of sweet Earth pie? Here it is and it is some pretty sweet Doomsday nightmare fuel. But judging from the fan reaction to last night's Chargers game it doesn't even rate as all that disturbing. Well, let's just take a deep breath and remember our NFL mantra for this time of year, which is..."It's only preseason." Doesn't that feel better? Way better than our late season mantra over the last few years of..."Is it over yet?" Now, in the warming light of day, let's break this down and see if we can salvage some good from the rubble, or whether it's time to just fold up shop and finally submit to the sweet release of soccer, wear there's nothing to think about and everything is always wonderful because who the fuck really cares?

First Team Offense: Well, first off, the really good thing is that Ryan Mathews looks great so far, even if one of our local writers who shall remain named Kevin Acee thinks that Mathews needs to break more long TD runs in a quarter of action before we can really consider him a solid NFL rushing threat. His 5 yards per carry seems impressive, but it's totally not somehow. I don't know if I'm going to link Acee's articles anymore, because I hate that I might be sending him traffic. Anyway, Mathews looks solid. Only problem is, when Mathews hasn't been busy fumbling the ball, being injured or languishing in AJ's doghouse, he's always looked solid. No matter how good he looks we're all going be biting our nails every time he touches the ball. I swear at one time I thought his arm actually fell off last night. Another positive is that we looked solid in that hurry up for about a full minute. Then the wheels fell off. Let's talk about Rivers. I'm still not as down on Rivers as the rest of the world and it seems like paid writers everywhere already had their Rivers is awful Madlibs at the ready. That INT he threw, by all media accounts was another atrocious example of Rivers forcing bad throws into heavy coverage. Keenan Allen was awash in a sea of Bears' defenders to hear them all say it. The reality is that, while it wasn't technically PI, Allen got run over and the ball sailed into the arms of Chris Conte (worst name in football), who was behind the play and would have had no shot at the ball were Allen upright. The real issue that Rivers encountered is the same one he faced last year and that is a line that had real problems protecting him. Three sacks on twelve drop backs is not good, even if you want to argue that on at least one of those Rivers held on to the ball a lot longer than is safe with any offensive line. My God, it got so bad that Hacksaw was calling for Telesco's head this morning because Louis Vasquez got away! Settle down everybody! This line is still learning to play together. There are a number of new pieces and they're going to need a few real games to set their place and gel into a cohesive unit. And let's not forget that the Bears are eager to see how their offense will function without Brian Urlacher, so they weren't playing the regular kind of bare bones defense you typically see in the preseason. They were bringing it in preseason week two, and our starters-who had a single series of action in week one-were clearly not prepared for that.

First Team Defense: I think the best news here was that Jay Cutler was only able to get the ball to Brandon Marshall. Problem there is, it's not like you don't know they're going to that guy. Meanwhile, Matt Forte and Michael Bush-who should be a Charger, dammit!-were busy doing what I like to call "Pretty Much Whatever the Hell They Wanted." This defense is thin and it's only getting worse right now. At one point last night, after a Jay Cutler sack, Corey Liuget was wrything on the ground in apparent discomfort before the cut to commercial and I didn't say a thing about it because let's face it, haven't I jynxed this team enough? The T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E. ESPN crew never mentioned it either and I was seriously hoping that I imagined the whole thing, only to find out that Liuget did indeed get hurt on the play. Not sure how bad it is yet, but we really can't stand to lose too many more first string defensive players. I think it's safe to say Larry english might never come around (Seriously, I know that's hard for you all to hear.), and while I have moderately tall hopes for Manti Teo (Seriously, fuck punctuation in names. No more apostrophe for you Teo.), I hardly think he's going to carry the load himself. Donald Butler, you're cool. We okay. Overall, the defense, though, wasn't quite as terrible as it seemed. Yes, the Bears starters put up 14 and Forte rifled off a big gainer, but being hampered by 4 offensive turnovers in the first half will lead to some of those sorts of unintended consequences. I'd say the jury's still out on this one. Well, maybe the jury's mostly in, but there's still one guy in the bathroom and everybody is waiting and guess what? He's the jury foreman!

Depth Chart: This is so hard for me to say, but well done Chuck. You threw the ball well and outside of that initial snap fumble, you acquitted yourself big time after last week. The problem with that is now I'm going to have to hear from the locals that it's time to give you a shot, Chuck, and I think we both know how that would ultimately turn out. As I said last night, the script was flipped. Our back-ups were great, where our starters looked completely removed from the action. Especially on offense, where we ran and passed at will for much of the second half. The defense was passable and gave us an opportunity to win the game. The preseason game. Ah, who cares? Good on you, though, back-ups. Good on you.

Special Teams:

Oh dear Lord. This is gonna be a problem, isn't it? We can't cover kicks to save our lives. The company line is that we've been giving a lot of back-ups and rookies a shot to make the team and so the coverage is replete with inexperienced boobs. I have a hard time swallowing that, since most teams populate their coverage squads with back-ups and rookies anyway. If that were a real game, Devin Hester would have run back 8 TDs last night. And holy shit is Goodman a terrible return man! Did he get past the 16 even once last night? Best play Robert Meachem has ever made as a Charger was telling Goodman to sit his ass down in the end zone last night.

There it is. There's some good in there if you look for it, and there is unquestionably some bad. But let's not pile on just yet. Were this a Norv team we'd be screwed because you know he'd be trotting out the whole playbook already like he's probably already doing in Cleveland right now, and that regardless of the lack of success he'd be unable to make adjustments. McCoy and Whisenhunt and Pagano are not Norv and by all accounts they are guys who know how to make adjustments. And some of our most interesting players have barely seen the field yet, if at all. Don't tell me you're not excited to see what that shifty little bastard Woodhead will add to the offense. Game 3 is around the corner, and that's where we're going to get a long look at the starters. If you still feel the same way after game 3, I'll understand. As for me, I will continue to chant my mantra and thank my lucky stars that no matter what happens, Norv Turner is in Cleveland and that is pretty far away. Go Bolts!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anybody Here Like Chargers Football?

This 2013 San Diego Padres season got pretty exciting for a couple of weeks. I even bought a new hat. Then it got all Padres on us and I remembered that baseball sucks because the league doesn't even try to hide the fact that it loves a handful of teams unconditionally in the name of tradition, so I turned my thoughts back to my one true love, football. More specifically, San Diego Chargers football. Oh, I admit, we've had our differences over the last 6 or 7 years, but things were great for like 3 years before that. And then they were pretty bad again for like 5 or 6 years, but then the Superbowl happened and we were never so into each other as we were that year. Then it was kind of touchy for about 12 years, but for 3 years before that, near total bliss. And then it was pretty terrible until I was born. Basically, peaks and valleys like any relationship.

Anyway, the team this year really went all out in trying to win me over again and I gotta say we're experiencing a bit of a honeymoon phase right now. I'm giddy. First they showed up on my doorstep with a heart-shaped box containing the heads of Norv Turner and AJ Smith, and let me tell you, that's a swoonin'. Really that's all it would've taken, but for months after that they showered me with gifts. Just look at this list of delectable treats the team thrust upon me.

Ted Telesco - Dreamy. Look, I'm well aware that most of the success of the Colts over the last decade is a direct result of having Peyton Manning as their QB for most of that time. I mean, look what he did for the awful Broncos. Turned them from an also ran into a postseason choke job waiting to regurgitate a win straight into the mouths of a baby Ravens team that had no business even being there and who then somehow went on to win the Superbowl. But when I look into the face of Ted Telesco, what I see is a man who is not AJ Smith. That's good enough for me. He can't possibly hold the kind of contempt toward the uneducated, untested masses that AJ did. I have yet to hear him call the fans idiots, and that tells me that the team philosophy at least, has turned a corner.

Mike McCoy - Alright, I'm not terribly thrilled with yet another attempt to turn an offensive coordinator into a head coach, but even I have to admit that this guy has been able to mold the gameplan around the pieces he has and not vice versa. McCoy seems capable of making adjustments, and that is something Norv was either incapable of, or refused to do. When your offensive line is shot, it's time to call some plays that don't take 8 seconds to develop. When I hear McCoy speak, he does so in an even, level-headed way. He's not the smug prick Kevin Gilbride-another offensive coordinator who imploded bigtime when the Chargers gave him a shot-was, and he is not the mumble mouthed loser Norv was. I'll take it!

Ken Whisenhunt - I like Whisenhunt. I have very little to back that up. I just do. Seems like a badass. He's coached some pretty good teams. I mean, how do you not like the Whisenhunt hire? It's a very agreeable move in my book. Maybe the most unheralded and underrated move we made this offseason.

Dwight Freeney -  A necessary last minute injury replacement, Freeney is a spectacular pick-up for this team. I'm amazed that people aren't more excited about this. For crying out loud, some of you people got excited for Takeo Spikes! Last year when AJ signed Jared Gaither to take the spot of two injury retired pro bowl linemen people got very excited because, as the local media was all to happy to remind us, he was as big as a house. Or a mountain. Or a planet. Something big. What they refused to report on was that it was widely known just how lazy and inclined to injury Gaither was. Later, when Gaither sat out most of last season, the local media tried to pin it all on us fans for not completely hating the move right when it was made ( I'll admit I did not hate the move, but I was baffled at the time that it was the only move we made on the o-line last year). The point is, the old guard around here made bad moves and refused to do their homework or really listen to anyone at all, while the new regime went out and got a guy who's universally adored for his tenacity and work ethic. Freeney will be a leader in the locker room who knows how to win and loves to play the game. Jared Gaither loves sandwiches.

Derek Cox - Admittedly, I know little about Cox's work, but by all accounts he's a solid corner and there's no doubt that with the departure of Jammer, Cox will immediately become the best corner on our roster. Honestly, our secondary still kind of worries me, but hey, they're trying.

Danny Woodhead - It's been quite some time since the Chargers had any kind crazy white guy factor on the team. Tim Dwight? With Denver putting together a roster comprised alomst exclusively of crazy white guys on offense, we're gonna need Woodhead to be a big contributor. He brings a Sprolesian skill set to the backfield that can only help to open up the running game. Word out of camp right now is that Rivers is throwing underneath like never before, so don't be surprised if the stands are full of Woodhead jerseys by midseason. And not just because it's basically another word for boner.

The Offensive Line - Never before have I been so excited to see an influx of players I've never heard of before. The offensive line was our number one issue last year by a mile. Sure, lots of people will say it was Rivers or Mathews, but honestly, those guys had little chance to live up to expectations behind a line the likes of which we saw last year. Even before Gaither quit, the line should have been a concern for anyone who was paying attention, and yet I heard very little about it from the Charger faithful. Everywhere I turn this year,though, fans are telling me how worried they are about the offensive line and it boggles my mind. Sometimes as fans we get excited by names we've heard before. Jared Gaither, Eddie Royal, Robert Meachem, Takeo Spikes, the Baltimore Ravens defense... The reality is that sometimes it more important to find the right fit. On the offensive line, having as many fresh, experienced bodies as you can find is often more important than having guys whose physical stats blow your mind. Telesco & Co. have spent this offense collecting players who've been there before. And plenty of them. If one guy breaks down this season, all is not lost. I have no doubt that this line will keep Rivers on his feet and open holes for the running game like we haven't seen around here in a couple of years. Once again, these guys are a great mix of fresh and experienced and those qualities are so often underrated in football.

Those aren't the only gifts I received in the off-season, but you get the picture. This team went out of its way to get me back and right now I'm all in. Sure, there were some losses. The most notable being:

Shaun Phillips - I've said it before and I'll say it again, being the leading pass rusher on this team since the downfall of Shawne Merriman is not much to hang your hat on. Phillips made up for whatever he contributed on the field by ever being the quotable cancer when the chips were down. Would I have held onto to him for the right price? Sure. Do I care that he's a Bronco now? Nope.

Louis Vasquez - A solid young player who was somehow elevated to a legendary status because he was rated as the top free agent at his position. Forget that there aren't usually too many pro bowl type free agent lineman roaming around free agency with their hands out. I, like everyone else, would have loved to hold onto this kid, but his departure is not going to set the tone for our season. If our fortunes turn sour, it's probably not because we lost a promising young guard in the offseason. Even if he did go to the Broncos.

Quentin Jammer - Also went to the Broncos. What gives, Broncos? Anyway, this is the guy I think we'll miss. It is my belief that Jammer was that quiet leader in the locker room who led by example. I think we'll miss that kind of presence with the infusion of young talent we have on the defensive side of the ball. It is also my opinion that Jammer is still a pretty good corner. The fans in this town started turning on him over things like getting blown away by Calvin Johnson and that's hardly fair. Has Jammer lost a step? Yep. But he's still solid more often than not and right now he'd still be the first or second best corner on the team. His situation here in San Diego reminds me so much of Trevor Hoffman's last couple of years with the Padres. He'd still put up strong numbers for a closer, but he'd always have a real ugly two or three game stretch and the fans would start calling for his head. Never mind the team couldn't hit or that the owners slashed payroll like-I don't know, insert Friday the 13th reference here-, it was all Trevor's fault that the Padres faded back into obsurity. We're going to miss Jammer and he's going to do something to remind us that we miss him.

There are some other things we still need to talk about before I can really trust this team again, though. Will Ryan Mathews show up in a contract year? Can Philip Rivers turn it around? It's impossible to say for sure right now, but I think the new guys have put a team together that gives those guys every opportunity to make it their year. I'm excited to see the return of Vincent Brown and the emergence of this kid we drafted with the Raider hat. I'm excited to see if Manti Te'o (sp?) can bounce back from the tragic death of his fake ex-girlfriend and his horrible showing against Alabama to become the kind of presence we need to anchor our defense for years to come. I'm just excited for football in a way I haven't been in a long time.

Last year's horrible, injury and laziness ridden team won 7 games, and that says a lot for the talent that remains on this roster. Especially Rivers. I have to believe the mere subtraction of Norv is worth 2 or 3 more wins and the upgrades to our roster have got to be worth 1 or 2 more than that. I'm calling it right now, on the record. I've looked at the schedule and I'm confident this team is not rebuilding. This team will win 11 games this year and compete for the division. And if the awful Ravens managed to win the Superbowl last year, well then the sky's the limit for us. Nothing is beyond our reach. Get ready, because this is gonna be a fun year, people.

Go Bolts!!! God, it's been so long since I really meant that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Brent Musburger: There Outta Be a Law

As I'm sure you all know by now, once renowned football booth talent Brent Musburger has become a drooling psychopath, bent on the humiliation and objectification of women everywhere. During a broadcast of the BCS Championship game, Musburger somehow must have wrested the camera from a nearby cameraman-presumably beating the cameraman bloody in the process during a testosterone fueled assault-and panned it lasciviously over Albama quarterback AJ McCarron's girlfriend, Katherine Webb. Mussberger went on to comment unabashedly on the attractiveness of the current Miss Alabama pageant title holder, quite possibly while rubbing his old man nipples in the most offensive way possible. Viewers at home probably thought that the local affiliate had accidentally switched footage to an episode of the Howard Stern program.

As of press time there appears to be no law to regulate the acknowledgment of beautiful women by old, creepy and most importantly, male sports broadcasters-surely a Congressionary oversight-, but one can only hope heavy fines and suspensions are pending. Someone has to think of the children!This is not the America we all dream of.

Breaking Update: Apparently sports news sources have tracked down footage of Musburger making a horribly degrading comment about Florida State Seminoles fan, Jenn Sterger some years ago, as she innocently watched her favorite team play while tastefully decked out in a bikini swim suit and "daisy duke" shorts. She never asked for this sort of attention. The following footage is not intended for children or those suffering from anxiety:

Shocking. Jenn Sterger, you may remember, achieved notoriety largely for being somehow spotted in the stands at Seminoles games and again later for receiving pictures of Brett Favre's penis.

Be sure to catch our upcoming feature, Old Men: Why So Gross?

Telesco: The Profile

Lucky you, I have finally received what is probably an advanced copy of the UT’s upcoming expose of Tom Telesco, by none other than beloved local sports columnist Kevin Acee, possibly.

Tom Telesco: Man, Myth or Legend? All of the Above
The first time I laid eyes on Tom Telesco was a few years ago while the Chargers were visiting Indianapolis during the regular season. This was at a time when Norv and AJ’s crew had Indy’s number so I was putting together a piece on how the Colts front office executives dealt with the realization that their team was sorely overmatched by the squad that AJ Smith had put together. Out talented, outcoached, Indianapolis was surely caught in the throes of a depression that likely had them on the edge of throwing in the towel against Norv’s Chargers and getting a head start on planning for the next week’s game. I was there to find out how they managed to go on.
I found Telesco, then Director of Player Personnel in Indianapolis at a local orphanage, speaking to the youngsters about what it takes to succeed in today’s fast paced world, where holding out a hand and asking for more isn’t always an option.

With a confidence born of experience I listened, enraptured as Telesco addressed the children. “Don’t think just because you’re horrible, filthy orphans with no parents that people are just going to hand you things in this life. They won’t. They’ll call you names like stupid orphans, filthy orphans, ugly orphans, orphans who can’t read and stinking, putrid orphans. And you will need to find a way to rise above being the horrible orphans that you are! Now I gotta get out of here, this place is digusting-don’t touch me!”
Needless to say, I left that orphanage wondering if I wasn’t witnessing the birth of a new player in this modern NFL, pioneered by visionaries like the Chargers’ own AJ Smith. I asked AJ if he’d had the opportunity to ever speak with Telesco, and like the aloof John Wayne figure he is, AJ merely replied, “That’s for me to know, and for you to find out.”

Fast forward  a few years,
I bummed a ride with Telesco after his initial interview with the Chargers and as we sped down the parkway blasting Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" in his rented Lexus convertible, I felt a electrifying sensation I had not known in the weeks since it became apparent that AJ would be leaving. As we pulled up to a stop sign in Mission Beach-I wanted to point out some choice breaks to my new friend- a vagrant approached the car with a squeegee and a hand out- naturally! Without skipping a beat, my man Tommy T produced a can of industrial strength bear mace and fired a salvo directly in the hobo's filthy face, screaming "Get out of here, you damn bum!" It was then that I knew the Chargers had a special guy on their hands.

I called Dean immediately on the hotline-Dean’s private cell phone number that he guards with the temerity of a pit bull lording over a particularly juicy steak-and told him not to overlook this opportunity. I don’t pretend to have any influence whatsoever on the decisions of a figure like Dean Spanos, but I’d like to believe that my call at least prompted the mogul to take another look at his notes on Telesco.
So here we are and Tom Telesco is the new General Manager for the San Diego Chargers. I feel confident that Telesco is capable of leading this team into the second greatest era in Chargers history. It’s unlikely the team will ever win a Superbowl. That ship sailed with AJ and Norv. But I expect Telesco's team to place very high in the AFC West many times in his reign at the helm. And in San Diego, knowledgeable football people know that competing for the division is the noblest of NFL causes.

I don’t expect the fans to understand the complexities involved in putting together a great football team. I’ll leave that to the football men. Men like AJ Smith. Men like Tom Telesco.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Girl Fight! Girl Fight! Girl Fight!

Change is finally in motion hurrah, hurrah. We, the "angry torch toting villagers", Canepa's nice way of calling us the village idiots, have finally gotten what we wanted. The change we've been wanting since the first day that the Norv Turner era began. It's finally here! And it pisses Nick off.

You see, Nick is still of the ilk that change for change sake is wrong. That making changes sets you up in a dangerous position of failure as the next regime may be worse than the previous regime.  Don't you remember when Norv Turner won 11 consecutive games? Nick does. That feat alone is good enough for Nick to grant Turner license to further ram this train into the Great Wall of China for infinite years to  come.  Ignore the fact that he stated this season that we were the worst team in the league. Nick said and wrote it October 3, 2012, "Ugly Loss Proves Chargers Worst Team in NFL". This is where I link to the article but the rag that employs these dolts (read: Acee/Canepa) is now charging for the archived articles. When did the Spani buy the paper? How did that slip past me..?

Then we were blessed with the October 17, 2012 Canepa effort, "After Monday's Mugging What Chargers Fans Crave is 'Frankencoach'". Ha! A link! , and you'll remember that spawned this response from our own Max Colossus, and really, who would turn down a coach like that? 

Curiously, Nick posted this. A direct contradiction to his affront to the fans passionate pleas to earhole the plant masquerading as a head coach on our sideline since Marty took the proverbial fall. Take it away Nick:

They need a man who will man-up and admit his failings and not get overwhelmed by his success, a rock star who can raise the public pulse. 

Really? But what about what you said earlier?

But if Turner should go, I know which qualities the Villagers will demand to see in the next Chargers Coach. For sure, he can't be a great guy. Maybe not even a decent guy.

Go on...

In other words, the next coach must not be Norv Turner, or anyone like Norv Turner. He cannot be a prince among men.


He must never say, "We're going to get better," because if he does he will know if he does is isn't going to happen.

But, but, but, now you're saying we need a guy that will man up and admit his failings and not get overwhelmed by his success, a rock star who can raise the public pulse? Isn't that what we were asking for when you got all pissy and called us the village idiot? Weird this world of internets where everything is permanently on display.

Picking on Nick is getting rather low brow lately, let's shift gears. Our other troll Acee today writes that Nick is full of shit and that what the Chargers need is a winner! A winner you hear! Not a face. Face bad. Winner good. Acee go!

Sure, John Gruden or Mike Holmgren would sell tickets right away.

That's bad why?

A coach will excite enough people enough that they'll buy tickets. But it won't result in a cash infusion that would single handedly eradicate blackouts, or, say, offset the cost of such a big-name coach. And, certainly, such a bump would be temporary without the right results.

So, a town that has passionately been begging for a group that cares about winning, who you believe would immediately, just on name alone, buy tickets to see such a new group, would not be best served by a person that would inspire this behavior? Because, the buying of tickets that are currently going unsold would not offset the cost of bringing in such a coach? And, an immediate bump in ticket sales all by just putting someone who is not Norv Turner on the sideline would only be temporary without the right results is bad how? We're we so rich in the right results that the wrong results now would be so devastating? This is more of that change for change's sake is bad because it might not work rhetoric these two dolts love to throw in your face.

Let's simplify. People aren't going to games. They clamor for a good reputable coach. Hiring a reputable name coach would immediately sell tickets and boost the confidence of the fans that buy tickets. But that would be bad. And temporary. And wouldn't even pay the salary of that coach. Does that sound strange to you?

Acee goes on to name Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians as other options. Clearly they are not highly sought after name coaches that are hot commodities around the league currently. They are under the radar. No one knows about them. Shhh!

And then there is this gem.

But, they should not go for the big name just for the sake of doing it.

What the fuck does that even mean? Bruce Arians is one of the top names in coaching right now! He single handedly piloted the anti-cancer bomber that eradicated disease and led the woefully young Indy team to the playoffs in his ill cohort's stead! Big name? BAH! DON'T NEED IT! WE NEED SOMEONE UNDERSTATED LIKE VINCE LOMBARDI! THERE'S A NAME NO ONE IS SAYING TODAY!

The point of this is that Acee is fighting to discredit Canepa at every turn. I didn't realize it until recently. With all his "unnamed sources" within the organization incorrectly guaranteeing him people will be terminated. He's positioning himself to be the go to media guy here when the new regime takes over.

This in and of itself makes this angry villager want them to hire Gruden or Holmgren even more. I love watching Acee backtrack and grovel. It's so cute.

Welcome to what's going to be an awfully awful offseason Charger fans. Just wait! We're not even contemplating the draft yet! This is going to be so fun.