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.