Tag Archives: San Diego Chargers

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 7)

With the “amateur” Buckeyes on a Bye and preparing for their huge matchup with #2 ranked Penn State, this week the focus for Buckeye Nation was on several former Silver Bullets that had monster days in the NFL.

New Orleans Saints wide receivers Ted Ginn Junior and Michael Thomas had huge days in back in Big Ten country up in Wisconsin against the Green Bay Packers. Ginn caught 7 passes for 141 yards and Thomas caught 7 passes as well for 82 yards to lead the Saints to a 26-17 win over the Packers. Defensively, Vonn Bell made 4 total tackles; while Marshon Lattimore collected 3 total tackles and had one pass defensed in the victory.

Thanks to another court injunction in his favor, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was able to play against the San Francisco 49ers. This comes after a U.S. circuit court in New Orleans ruled to uphold the NFL’s six game suspension of him last week.

As for the game it was never in doubt for Elliott and the ‘Boys. The 2nd-year back carried the ball 26 times for 147 yards and scored 2 touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 72 yards for a touchdown in Dallas’ 40-10 victory.  One of his backups, Rod Smith, rushed 4 times for 50 yards and caught one pass for 5 yards in the win. For the Niners, Carlos Hyde rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries and caught 4 passes for 20 yards in defeat.

The Indianapolis Colts Ohio State trio of Malik Hooker, John Simon and Jonathan Hankins had a day to forget against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The rookie had 2 tackles, but had to leave the game with a knee injury and didn’t return. Simon only had 1 tackle and 1 QB hit and Hankins made 3 total tackles in the 27-0 loss. The Colts are now 2-5 on the season.

It was also a rough day for Rookie Curtis Samuel and his Carolina Panthers teammates. Samuel had a huge drop on a pitch from Cam Newton that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown return for the Chicago Bears. Samuel caught one pass for twenty yards in the 17-3 loss in the Windy City. 8-year safety Kurt Coleman did not play and was inactive for the game due to a knee injury.

Darron Lee registered 11 total tackles (9 solo) and forced a fumble for the New York Jets in their 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins in south Florida.

Nate Ebner had one tackle on special teams for the New England Patriots in their 23-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons in a Super Bowl 51 rematch on Sunday Night Football.

Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward led the defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 29-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Shazier led all players with 8 tackles (5 solo) and a tackle for loss, while Heyward made 4 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 hits on the quarterback and a sack in the victory.

Joey Bosa had 2 sacks and 2 tackles and a pass defended for the Los Angeles Chargers in their 21-0 win over AFC West division rival Denver Broncos. He now has 7.5 sacks on the season. Bradley Roby had 3 total tackles and 2 passes defended in defeat. Tight end Jeff Heuerman didn’t record any stats in the loss.

Eli Apple made 5 tackles (4 solo) and 2 passes defensed and Curtis Grant collected 6 tackles (4 solo) for the New York Giants in a 24-7 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. Tight end Nick Vanett caught one pass for 12 yards to help Seattle get the victory.

Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles faced off against Terrelle Pryor Senior and Washington in a NFC East clash on Monday Night Football in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Pryor senior didn’t get into the game  until his team’s third series. Once in the game, he was targeted 4 times and only caught 2 passes for 14 yards. For the Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins led the team with 10 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and a QB hit to lead Philadelphia to the 34-24 win. The Eagles now have the best record in the NFL at 6-1.

Braxton Miller and the Houston Texans were on a Bye this week. So was Taylor Decker of the Detroit Lions. Gareon Conley of the Oakland Raiders missed his fourth consecutive game with a shin injury. The Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs in dramatic fashion 31-30 on Thursday Night Football.

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2016 NFL Rookies Superlatives

How will the rookies of 2016 fare? We take a guess?

How will the rookies of 2016 fare? We take a guess?

The 2016 NFL draft class had little star power coming into the annual spring meeting, compared to years past. Although, as a group, the story was the Ohio State Buckeye draftees (5 first round picks, 12 overall).

But, even without the star prospects (2017 Leonard Fournette), there should be a few players that help teams take the next step. 36 linebackers were chosen, that was the most of any position. By comparison, there were only 15 quarterbacks selected. It appears teams are making more of an effort to get after the passer. Who can blame them after the way the Denver Broncos proved in the playoffs that defense still wins championships in this offensive slanted league.

But back to the rookie class of 2016. When you have 253 players selected and close to a hundred more signed as free agents, it’s not an exact science to project who will be the standouts and flame outs years from now. But hey, that’s what makes this fun.

So here’s how I think this year’s class will fare at some point in their career.

Most likely to lead the league in passing yards: Cardale Jones, Buffalo Bills. Cardale Jones rose to the National spotlight when he led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the first ever College Football Playoff Championship in 2014, after starting quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with a season ending injury. Many thought he should’ve entered the draft after that 3-game run, but he went back to school to finish his degree and improve his game. It didn’t work out on the field as he struggled, and lost his starting job after eight games. But, I always said Jones’ skill set is built more for the pro game than the fast break, gimmicky, spread offenses in college. His cannon of an arm and 6’5″ 250 pound frame is the pro-type NFL scouts look for at the QB position. I compare him to two-time Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger when he entered the 2004 draft out of Miami of Ohio. Jones will start his career on the bench behind Tyrod Taylor, but the keys to the car in Buffalo will eventually be his. With offensive weapons like Sammy Watkins, tight end Charles Clay and running back LeSean McCoy, Jones will have the weapons to put up big numbers.

Most likely to lead the league in rushing: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys. The 4th pick in the draft could very likely accomplish this feat in his rookie season. “Zeke” will be running behind arguably the best offensive line in the League, and with Tony Romo out for the foreseeable future, he will be featured more now that they’ll be breaking in fellow rookie and 4th round pick Dak Prescott at quarterback.

Most likely to lead the league in catches/receiving yards: Sterling Shepard, New York Giants. The 2nd round pick, gets to play with Eli Manning who likes to throw it around the field, and across from Odell Beckham Junior who is going to draw more double teams and bracketed coverage, giving Shepard more opportunities. The Oklahoma Sooner product has been compared to Tyler Lockett, but the best comparison may be to his Giants teammate, the often injured Victor Cruz, who’s spot he’s likely to take.

Most likely to lead the league in total touchdowns (non-QB): Ezekiel Elliott is a dual threat as a runner and receiver, a three down back. It won’t be a surprise to see him flirt with having 15+ rushing touchdowns, and 5+ receiving touchdowns a season for the Cowboys.

Most likely to lead the league in interceptions: Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars. Gus Bradley is building a defense similar to the one he coached in Seattle. The pass rushers they have are going to put all kinds of pressure on opposing QBs. So what does that mean? More wounded ducks for a multi talented DB like Ramsey to get his hands on. The 6’1″ 209 pound cornerback reminds me of the late Sean Taylor with his ball hawking ability and speed to fly from sideline to sideline.

Most likely to lead the league in sacks: Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears. The 6’6″ outside linebacker out of the University of Georgia is a flat out athletic FREAK. His size and speed (4.6 40-yd dash) with a 35 inch vertical leap, has the athleticism that is reminiscent of Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. To begin his career, the Bears coaches will make it simple for him by just sending him flying off the edges to get the quarterback. Floyd could very well be the next great Bears defender following in the footsteps of Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary, And Dick Butkus.

Most likely to lead the league in turnovers: Christian Hackenberg, New York Jets. The Jets selected Hackenberg out of Penn State with the 51st pick in the second round, but re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick for one-year, so they won’t be counting on the rookie anytime soon. However Hackenberg is definitely in their future plans. I was never a fan of his, during his time in Happy Valley. In three seasons he threw 30 interceptions to 48 touchdowns, while completing only 56% of his pass attempts. Draft gurus like ESPN’s Mel Kiper at one point projected him to be the number QB selected when he entered the draft. That obviously wasn’t the case, because the book is out on him. And, it doesn’t read well. He was also accused of throwing his coaches and Nittany Lion teammates under the bus during the pre-draft process.

Most likely to be a bust, and fade into obscurity: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers. I hope I’m wrong on this one as a fellow Ohio State alum. But, being a holdout in the fashion he was, it doesn’t bold well for him. He missed all of training camp and the preseason. The only saving grace is that other Charger rookie holdouts–16 to be exact–like LaDanian Tomlinson, Junior Seau, Philip Rivers and Shawne Merriman worked out okay. Plus, Bosa isn’t playing QB or another complicated position like outside linebacker or in the defensive secondary, so you would think the Chargers coaching staff would just turn him lose and say “Go get the ball carrier” or “just get the quarterback”, making his transition simple.

Most likely to be a Hall of Famer: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. Look, I’ve bought into the preseason hype. I did in preseason game number one. Check the tweets below and the time stamp.

    

Actually, I was a fan of his when he was at Mississippi State. Prescott probably won’t lead the NFL in passing yards or touchdown passes in a season, but he has all the pieces around him to win games, and that is what matters most. He’s fallen into the perfect situation, a la Russell Wilson in Seattle. The Cowboys have lucked up and found their new millennium triplets in Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and now Dak. Plus, this offensive line has the potential to be as dominate as the “Great Wall of Dallas” that led Emmitt Smith to the most rushing yards in NFL history. If Dak can channel his inner Troy Aikman–and Jerry Jones can avoid messing it up by forcing the chronically injured Tony Romo back into the lineup–these Cowboys can have a measure of success they haven’t had since the early-mid 1990’s. That would help Prescott’s case to get a gold jacket and bust in Canton one day.

The San Diego Chargers Mt. Rushmore

The Chargers have been the lone consistent pro football team in Southern California for more than 5 and a half decades. Photo Credit: Chargers.com

The San Diego Chargers got their start in the AFL back in 1960, in Los Angeles, before heading  south to San Diego. Their first few seasons were the opposite of the last few seasons have been. They played for the League championship 5 times in their first 6 seasons, winning the AFL Championship in their 4th season (1963). The last four seasons in So Cal have been rough to say the least. The Chargers haven’t won double digit games since 2009 (13-3), since then they’ve had 3 9-7 finishes, with an 8-8, 7-9 and 4-12 records causing them to miss the playoffs the past two seasons.

Even with their recent struggles on the field, and the uncertainty over where they’ll play in the future, the Chargers and San Diego have enjoyed tremendous success in their 56 seasons. The “Super Chargers” have won 421 regular season games, 1 AFC Championship, 15 Division titles, and made the playoffs 18 times. Eight former Chargers have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but only four make this list.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon. 
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Junior Seau (1990-2002) is an icon in Southern California due to his days as a USC Trojan, through his days as a Charger. Seau is first in all-time career tackles (1,286) and recovered fumbles by the opposition (16) in team history. When he left the team in 2002 he was first in games played (200), he’s now 2nd. He’s 3rd in forced fumbles (11), and 4th in sacks (47). #55 is a 12-time Pro Bowl Selection, 10-time All-Pro, the 1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, Chargers 40th and 50th Anniversary and the NFL 1990s All-Decade Teams. In 2012 the Chargers retired his jersey number, and in 2015 he was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ladainian Tomlinson (2001-2009) is the Chargers all-time leader in games played by a running back (141), rushing yards (12,490), rushing touchdowns (138), and carries (2,880). He also scored the most touchdowns in team history when you combine his rushing and 15 receiving touchdowns (153). “LT” was the 2006 NFL MVP, the same season he set the NFL record for most combined touchdowns scored in one season (31). The 5-time Pro Bowler and 6-time All-Pro is tied for the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown in one season (18). Tomlinson is a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, 50th Anniversary Team and NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Tomlinson was ranked 61st on NFL.com’s “100 Greatest Players” list in 2010. The team retied his jersey number 21 in 2015.

Antonio Gates (2003-present) is San Diego’s all-time leader in catches (844), receiving yards (10,644) and receiving touchdowns (104). 77 of his touchdowns were from Phillip Rivers, which is an NFL Record for a QB and TE combination. Gates, an 8-time Pro Bowl selection and 5-time All-Pro, is only the second tight end in NFL history to catch 100+ touchdowns. He is a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

Lance Alworth (1962-1970) finished his career with the Chargers as its all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Four and a half decades later he’s still 2nd in receiving yards (9,584) and receiving touchdowns (81), and 5th in catches 493. Alworth played in an era when teams rushed majority of the time as opposed to passing, yet still holds 7 AFL-NFL receiving records. The 7-time AFL All-Star and 6-time All-AFL performer led the Chargers to their only league championship in 1963 when they played in the AFL. Alworth has the Pro Football record for most games (5) with 200+ receiving yards, a record he shares with Calvin Johnson. He is a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, AFL All-Time Team, Chargers Hall of Fame, and Chargers 40th and 50th Anniversary Teams. The Chargers have retired Alworth’s number 19 jersey, which was very popular during the Mitchell and Ness throwback craze of the early 2000s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978. In 2010, NFL.com ranked him 38th on their “100 Greatest Players” list. 

There you have it. Charger fans, agree or disagree? If you disagree, who would you have rather seen on the list (Philip Rivers, Kellen Winslow Sr.) and who would you replace?

 

Steelers 2013: Bad Start, Better Finish

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Steelers finished 2013 like Steelers. Photo Courtesy: Steelers.com

The Steelers 2013 season was definitely a roller coaster. There was a four game losing streak, two three game winning streaks, key injuries to Pro Bowl performers and several good and bad records broken. Pittsburgh ended the 2013 without a trip to the playoffs–if the Refs were paying attention in that KC-SD game, they would be–but finished in a fashion the faithful in Steeler Nation are used to.

In their last 4 games they went 3-1, a far cry from the 0-4 start to the season. The offense moved the ball gaining an average 337.5 total yards per game–251.1 via the pass for 12th in the NFL–and finished with an average of 23.7 Points a game. Nearly a two touchdown improvement on the 10.6 they begin the season with.

Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell proved he could carry the load as the teams featured runner. After missing the first three games of the season, he gained 1,259 yards from scrimmage–860 of them on the ground–breaking the rookie record once held by Hall Of Famer Franco Harris.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked more and more like the guy who has two Super Bowl rings and pretty much all of the franchises passing records. For the season, Big Ben passed for 4,261 yards, 28 touchdowns on a 64.2 percent completion rate. More importantly he played and started in all 16 games. The last time he did that was during the 2008 season when Pittsburgh went on to win Super Bowl XLIII.

The defense even stepped up down the stretch to finish with the 11th ranked overall defense, 8th in the pass. Not bad for an aging defense, but still not enough to contend for Super Bowls. They allowed an average of 23.1 points per game and 337.2 yards per game on the season. In three of their last four games, they gave up 34, 31 and 20 points.

Back to my point about they should be in the playoffs. Kansas City Chief kicker Ryan Succup missed a 41 yard field goal with 6 seconds left in the 4th quarter that could have beaten the San Diego Chargers and propelled the Steelers into the 6th seed.

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Chargers should’ve been flagged for illegal formation. Photo Courtesy: USA Today

On the play, the Chargers lined up 7 guys on the right side of the center, which is an illegal formation. Kansas City should’ve been given another chance to kick and possibly win the game. Then in Overtime, the Kansas City Defense stopped Eric Weddle on a fake punt and returned it for a touchdown, which should’ve given the Chiefs the victory. But, the Refs said Weddle’s forward progress was stopped, thus the play was dead.

In the end, had Pittsburgh taken care of their business during the regular season, they wouldn’t have been in position to fall victim to the Refs mistakes in the Chief-Charger game. Message now received. The way the Steelers ended the season, I expect them to come back strong in 2014. Management has some big decision to make, I’ll have more on that later this week.

One Spot, Four Teams. Steelers Have Great Shot

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Everything is falling into place for the Steelers to clinch the final AFC playoff spot.

I never thought I would have said that after the first four games when they went 0-4. Heck, I didn’t even think I’d be saying that after the loss to the Miami Dolphins 3 weeks ago. But of all the teams vying for that final spot, you would rather be Pittsburgh this weekend.

The Steelers have caught the breaks the last couple of weeks. They played the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers and play at home this Sunday against the lowly Cleveland Browns (4-11).

The three other teams in contention for the sixth seed have tougher roads. The San Diego Chargers (8-7) play against a Kansas City Chief (11-4) team locked into their position as the fifth seed, but wanting to go into the playoffs on a better note after losing 23-7 last Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts. The Dolphins (8-7) will play against a renewed and inspired New York Jet team fighting for their beloved coach’s job and the Baltimore Ravens (8-7) are reeling after an embarrassing 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots, and playing at a Cincinnati Bengal (11-4) team that is 7-0 on the season at Paul Brown Stadium and still playing for a first round bye.

So you see, there’s a strong possibility the Black and Gold will avoid missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year, and the third missed post season in the Mike Tomlin area.

Another caveat for the Steelers, they are 11-2 in week 17 games since 2000. Tied for the best record in the NFL in that time span with the Green Bay Packers. All that’s left now is to play the games and scoreboard watch. One the second season begins, throw the records out, anything can happen. Everyone is 0-0.

Rivers Running Dry in San Diego?

Is Philip Rivers done? (Courtesy: The Score.com)

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was part of a heralded 2004 QB draft class that was to rival one of the greatest in NFL history. While his contemporaries have held up their end of the bargain, Rivers struggles to keep up and appears to be on the wrong side of the peak. As he enters his 10th season, several national pundits and even some Chargers are questioning if he has anything left.

Rivers was drafted 4th by the New York Giants and traded to San Diego for Eli Manning.

“With the 4 Pick in the 2004 NFL Draft to New York Giants select, Philip Rivers, quarterback, North Carolina State.” With those words, commissioner Paul Tagliabue welcomed Philip Rivers to the National Football League on April 24th, 2004. Later that day Rivers was traded from the Giants to the San Diego Chargers for Eli Manning. Manning had no desire to play for the Chargers – since they already had a quarterback in Drew Brees – and orchestrated a trade to the “Big Apple.” Rivers was the second quarterback selected in the draft. Ahead of Miami of Ohio’s Ben Roethlisberger and Virginia’s Matt Scaub. Both have gone on to have successful pro bowl careers. Several “draft experts” predicted the 2004 class of quarterbacks would be on par with the class of 1983, that featured Hall Of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino to name a few.

Brees won the battle, but Rivers outlasted him in San Diego.

When Rivers arrived in San Diego, he was immediately involved in a QB battle with Brees that ended with him only seeing limited action in 2 games in each of his first two seasons. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger struck right away winning 14 straight games before losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Manning was brought along slower as he watched Super Bowl Champion and 2 Time league MVP Kurt Warner, but he still manage to start 7 of 9 games his rookie season before taking over the reins in year two. Rivers waited behind Drew Brees, who at the time wasn’t the same Brees we are witnessing in New Orleans.

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Over the past 9 seasons, Manning and Roethlisberger have reached Hall Of Fame status. Between them, they have 5 Super Bowl Appearances, 4 Super Bowl titles, 2 Superbowl MVPs – both Manning’s. Even Schaub—a late bloomer—is quarterbacking a Houston Texans team that is a favorite by many (author raises hand) to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl after the 2013 season.

Rivers’ skills far out weigh his results.


While Rivers has had his share of individual success with 27,891 Yards passing, 189 TDS, 4 Pro bowls and 4 Trips to the playoffs (3-4 record), he’s yet to sniff the Super Bowl and in the past two season has failed to get his San Diego Chargers off to hot starts, while piling up 59 turnovers (Interceptions & Fumbles combined) in the ’11 & ’12 seasons; and it doesn’t look like his luck is going to get better any time soon. If it weren’t for Tony Romo and he played in a bigger media market than San Diego, he’d probably be verbally attacked in the national media more than any other QB, but he’s been able to flounder under the radar.

But what happened? Has he hit his peak? Charger fans have to wonder, “did management make the right decision when forcing Drew Brees out for Rivers?” There was a time when Rivers was by far the best QB in the AFC West, and the Chargers were consistently the favorite to win the division and did so, even after starting several seasons of under achieving. Now the new sheriff in the AFC West is Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are not only the clear cut choice to win the division, but many suspect the Chargers will fall behind the Kansas City Chiefs and the tandem of Head Coach Andy Reid and his new QB Alex Smith. The window is closing quickly on Rivers, if it hasn’t already.

Schottenheimer first fell in love with Rivers at Senior Bowl.

His career reminds me of former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar. Kosar’s Browns in the late 80s were always a play here or there from going to the Super Bowl. Rivers’ Chargers were always an injury away from playing in the Super Bowl. Kosar and Rivers even have the same side arm throwing motion and were hand picked by Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer. Kosar’s career ended unceremoniously in Cleveland after Schottenheimer was moved on. Schottenheimer stood by Kosar like he did Rivers and then Norv Turner after him. As more time goes on, you have to wonder if the new management and coaching staff will eventually decide to move on from Rivers.

So, what happened to this once elite QB?

Kosar’s career was never the same – Although he did earn a Super Bowl Ring with the Cowboys as Troy Aikman’s backup – and you have to wonder if Rivers’ will follow a similar path. He’s only 31 years old, so you’d like to think there’s still a chance he can have some success similar to his ’04 QB classmates. This season will go along way in him getting things back on the right track. He needs a big season, even if the Chargers as a team don’t, he needs to prove he still deserves to be in discussions about Top QBs. He’s rarely mentioned anymore and it leaves one to wonder, what happened?

**Check out this faux Philip Rivers Amazon page from Grantland.com. Seems the agree with me**

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