Big, unexpected defensive changes

Last Wednesday, the Chargers released veteran SS Clinton Hart and signed DT Ian Scott. The Bolts have been hit hard on defense with injuries, with Jamal Williams’ season-ending tricep tear the most damaging. It is likely that rookie Kevin Ellison–who was alternating time with Hart and rumored to be a threat to his starting position–will get the starting job, with Steve Gregory assuming the position in obvious passing situations when the Chargers employ the nickel package.


…is still better than the 1-3 from last season (wherein, may I remind you, that the Chargers ended up winning the division…)

Steelers 38, Chargers 28

I have to admit that I didn’t really expect San Diego to win with all of the trouble they’ve had in Pittsburgh and I had written off the game at halftime; however, I do have to say that I, again, am proud of the team for continuing to play their hearts out and make a game of it.  I’d really like to know what Norv said in the locker room at halftime.

Philip Rivers (21/36, 354 yds, 3 TDs) was great in the 2nd half and it was nice to see Antonio Gates (9 receptions, 124 yds, 2 TDs) back to form.  The running game never really got off the ground, even with LaDainian Tomlinson’s return, primarily due to the continued lack of an offensive line.

Special teams proved valuable as usual, especially with Jacob Hester’s forced fumble/snatched-out-of-the-hands 41-yd TD. I was hoping that Darren Sproles would have broken that last KR after the Reed FG for a TD.

Defensively, the loss of Jamal Williams continues to hurt the virtually nonexistent defensive line.  The Chargers need to fix that mess during their bye next week as they host the unusually-good Denver Broncos on MNF week 6.  Antonio Cromartie needs to read the rule book during the bye as well as his 3 penalties were far too costly.

Chargers WIN, Steelers LOSE…Next week – BIG game

San Diego 23, Miami 13



I have to admit I was worried during the first half.  No offensive line, no defensive line, Ronnie Brown running all over the defense….but then Norv adjusted and the Chargers pulled off a big win to stay only one game behind the Donkeys (who have yet to beat a REAL team so I’m NOT impressed!)

Shawne Merriman left the game with an injury; hopefully that’s not serious as the Bolts have enough injuries.  Jamal Williams is out for the year; Nick Hardwick is out for 8 weeks.  Philip Rivers went down before the half and it looked as though he’d be sidelined with Chad Pennington (who survived a bloodied nose but then suffered a right shoulder injury) but he came back in the 2nd half with a vengeance!! Rivers went 18/33, 303 yds (we won’t mention that lost sack fumble); however, he had some clutch passes on 3rd down.  Vincent Jackson came up big, as usual, with 5 catches for 120 yards, including a key 55-yarder.  Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, and Legedu Naanee all contributed nicely.  The running game wasn’t up to snuff (again) and I hope they figure something out….like an offensive line.  LaDainian Tomlinson was out so Darren Sproles got the majority of the workload (and some vicious hits) with Michael Bennett helping out.

Defensively, Eric Weddle’s 4th quarter pick-6 sealed the Dolphins’ fate and was the team’s #2 tackler behind Kevin Burnett who also had a sack (and who I just picked up on a fantasy team!)

Nate Kaeding missed a 41-yd FG but did make 3 others and 2 XP.  Unfortunately, those FGs were short AGAIN and while I appreciate all of Kaeding’s fantasy assistance, the Chargers need to get it together in the red zone – only 16% efficiency today….NOT acceptable!!  They also need to get the penalties down as they went into today’s game leading the league in penalties.  Today was much better – 3 for 20 yds.

Next week Rivers will have to overcome his Pittsburgh-itis and play well…Troy Polamalu should still be out and the Squealers dropped to 1-2 after losing to Cincinnati today.  Hey Norv….watch the tape. 

Finally, congratulations to the Detroit Lions who upset the Washington Redskins and recorded their first win since 2007!!

Photo by Denis Poroy/AP

Photo by Denis Poroy/AP

A disappointing but valiant effort

Chargers 23, Ravens 28

First of all, that last handoff to Darren Sproles was a HORRIBLE call Norv…don’t you think that the Ravens D KNEW you were going to do that??!!

Anyway, I am proud of the Bolts for a hard-fought tough game against a great team (unlike Denver beating Cleveland, lol…the Donkeys are 2-0 against two non-teams!)

Philip Rivers set his own personal passing yardage record going 25/45 for 436 yds, 2 TDs and 2 (really unnecessary) INTs.  Actually, the deflecterception was not his fault but, come on Philip, TAKE THE SACK instead of throwing it away!!!  Sproles had another fabulous game (10 carries, 26 yds, 7 receptions, 124 yds, 1 TD, and a 53-ys KR) as did Vincent Jackson (6 catches, 141 yds, 1 TD…but let’s not forget Antonio Gates’ fumble recovery and some key 3rd down catches also.)  Gates had some key receptions as well (5 for 78 yards and an almost TD.)

The defense played pretty poorly in the first half with the injuries evident early; however, the secondary stepped it up and the team seemed more cohesive in the 2nd half.  A valiant effort but, sadly, not enough.  On the bright side, Antoine Cason had a key INT and Luis Castillo sacked Joe Flacco. 

Had the Chargers had all of their starters healthy, I believe they would have pulled off the win.  Also troublesome are the four short FGs by Nate Kaeding.  Great job Kaeding, but they should have been able to score TDs on at least two of those drives.

The Chargers also committed WAY too many penalties.  Would someone please tell me how a home team is repeatedly flagged for delay of game and false starts??!!

And let’s not forget the HORRID officiating that has been plaguing the league for the past few seasons.  That running into the kicker penalty against SD was ridiculous as were the non-calls on several occasion.  Both teams were hampered by bad calls, not just the Chargers.

Nevertheless, they are 1-1 but it’s early.  LT and Nick Hardwick will hopefully be back next week and maybe Ron Rivera can reconfigure a very thin D-line into one more productive.  That Jamal Williams will be out all season is NOT good, but as I have always said, the Chargers are a team and have a whole lotta heart!  I’ll take that anyday!!

Next week the Bolts host the Dolphins who meet the Colts on Monday night.

Injuries again plague Chargers

Jamal Williams has been placed on IR for the rest of the season after suffering a torn triceps muscle last Monday against Oakland.  His backup is Ogemdi Nwagbou who spent last season on the Chargers’ practice squad.  Nick Hardwick, Travis Johnson, and LaDainian Tomlinson will also be out for this week, at the least.  The Chargers are confident that LT will be fine after one down week; however, Hardwick’s status is still unsure.  Hopefully his injury won’t sideline him for nearly half the season as it did last year. 

It’s time for Darren Sproles to show the league what he can REALLY do!!!

As usual, the Chargers are considered to be underdogs; this time against an overrated Baltimore team.

LT Injury Revealed

Apparently LaDainian Tomlinson rolled his ankle on the play where he fumbled the ball Monday night versus the Raiders.  This quashes all speculation about why he wasn’t on the field for the Bolts’ game-winning drive.  LT is downplaying the injury, which was not revealed until after San Diego narrowly avoided a humiliating loss versus Oakland in one of the Chargers’ worst performances as of late. 

The injury, which is expected to keep LT out of practice on Wednesday, does not bode well for all of the offseason debate over his age and career.  Frankly, I’m sick to death of hearing how so-and-so is the best QB/RB/WR/TE/etc. in the league every week and how LT must relinquish his crown to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson.  Yes, Peterson is a great RB; however, bestowing the ultimate moniker on a player is not only moot but also applies pressure upon whom the title is placed.  Why can’t commentators just call a game without feeling forced to establish some subjective hierarchy to every player. 

Furthermore, all of this discounts the significance of LT’s career thus far.  Yes, he’s 30.  Big deal (I wish I was 30 again.)  His career is far from over; however, his recent predisposition for injury is alarming (I’m sure Philadelphia fans can relate with the eternally-injured Donovan McNabb.) 

But then there’s Darren Sproles.  ‘Nuff said.  For now.

Holy Moly!!!

Chargers 24, Raiders 20

OMG, what a game!!  I am truly surprised the cops didn’t show up with how loud I was and to top it off I have no fingernails left.  For the 12th consecutive game, the Chargers have beaten the formerly lowly Raiders who looked scary good last night.  If they had a decent QB who knows what they could accomplish.  Nevertheless, the Raiders have now lost 7 straight season openers as well.

It’s interesting that the game was virtually a mirror image of the Buffalo/New England game with the winning team being outplayed through the majority of the game.  But like Broncos fans say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  Let’s face it, the Chargers were NOT good last night.  They have no offensive line resulting in Philip Rivers being sacked 5 times.  The defensive line was equally ineffective allowing the Raiders to rush for 148 yards (vs. only 77 for San Diego.)  At least the secondary played better than last season with INTs by Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason and a forced fumble AND recovery by Stephen Cooper who led the team with tackles and whom I am so happy I drafted in my fantasy league!  Eric Weddle, who is seemingly in on EVERY play, came up big as well. 

Rivers wasn’t his usual impeccable self with 24/36, 252 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT (although the INT was a deflected ball reminiscent of the Troy Polamalu INT in the playoffs last season.)  LaDainian Tomlinson carried the ball 13 times for 55 yards and a TD (plus an uncharacteristic fumble), and that he wasn’t in the final drive drove the commentators into a speculative frenzy.  Calm down guys, he’s fine.  Darren Sproles amassed 246 total yards (180 of them on KR/PR) and a TD despite uncharacteristically bobbling 3 KR/PRs.  Vincent Jackson’s TD catch was incredible and both Legedu Naanee and Antonio Gates had some clutch receptions as well.

Unfortunately, San Diego lost 2 offensive linemen – C Nick Hardwick (foot) and RG Louis Vasquez (knee).  The Chargers can ill-afford to lose Hardwick who says that he is fine.

On the bright side, the obviously fabricated charges against Shawne Merriman have been dropped due to insufficient evidence. 

By the way, I was aware of the rule which negated the Raiders’ TD (tis a shame, only one of two JaMarcus Russell accurate passes over 5 yards) and had Steve Young and Mike Golic read my blog earlier this year, they would have known as well!!

Next week the Chargers host Baltimore.  Hopefully they can get their act together a little sooner and not have to rely on Rivers’ leadership at the end.

Photo courtesy of AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Photo courtesy of AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Sproles after his game-winning TD with 18 seconds left.

Merriman arrested for assault

Shawne Merriman (who is dating MTV’s Tila Tequila) was arrested for assault and false imprisonment for allegedly choking her and preventing her from leaving his home early this morning.  Deputies from the San Diego Sheriff’s Dept. in Poway took him into custody.  Hopefully this allegation has no merit.  It’s likely that he will easily post bail and be served a temporary restraining order after his arraignment so he can play a week from Monday night in Oakland for the regular season opener.

Uh oh, I’m having a flashback…

…to Week 1 last season when Carolina did the same exact thing…except that time it counted.  Not to say that the Chargers didn’t, overall, look pretty darn good.  The starting offense was spectacular.  Philip Rivers looked just as great as he did last season when he led the league in passer rating.  Vincent Jackson had a pair of extraordinary catches (which makes me very happy that I drafted him in one of my fantasy leagues) and Darren Sproles’ (another draft pick o’mine) TD was reminiscent of the Colts/Chargers playoff game last year.  Michael Bennett looked fabulous as well with his 48-yd screen pass TD.  And rookie Gartrell Johnson (wearing Michael Turner’s old number 33) had another fine second-half performance.  I really like this kid.  I was also glad to see them utilize Jacob Hester in both tailback and fullback duties as he is another exceptional talent on the team.  This also enables Mike Tolbert to get in some playing time.  Malcom Floyd deserves mention as well for his knee-down-yet-the-ball-broke-the-plane TD,

Defensively, there were several issues.  Quentin Jammer nearly intercepted two passes and Steve Gregory had a sure pick but dropped it.  I was also not pleased with the virtual lack of defense until Atlanta was in the red zone (except, of course, for the end of the game, but those weren’t the starters…and, as usual, I digress.)  As would be expected, Ron Rivera did NOT look pleased; however, he didn’t resort to Mike Ditka, Bill Cowher, or Jon Gruden-like behavior.

LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates did not play.  Gates has a foot injury which I hope is not serious, but better safe than sorry particularly with the needless injuries to several starters around the league (am I right Tom Brady?!?)

The Chargers finish the preseason at home against San Francisco on Sept. 4th (why do they ALWAYS play SF in the preseason??  Is this some sick and unending 1994-season Super Bowl joke?)

Rivers’ contract details

Wow…6 years, $92 million…with $38.5 million in guarantees…NICE!!

So, among the “2004 Trio” of Rivers, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger, the salaries are similar.  In 2008 Roethlisberger received an 8-year, $102 million extension while Manning’s recent “biggest contract in the league” was worth $97 million with $38 million guaranteed over 6 years.

Yes, I know Rivers doesn’t have a ring…yet…an the others do; however, let’s take a look at last year’s stats, shall we?

Rivers: passer rating 105.5 (1st), passing yards 4,009 (5th), TDs 34 (T-1st), INTs 11 (T-14th)

Manning: passer rating 86.4 (14th), passing yards 3,238 (17th), TDs 21 (T-10th), INTs 10 (T-11th)

Roethlisberger: passer rating 80.1 (24th), 3,301 (14th), TDs 17 (15th), INTs 15 (T-28th)

Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl because of their defense, certainly not due to Roethlisberger’s prowess (or apparent lack thereof.)  Oh, and also because of horrible officiating.  The Arizona Cardinals should have won (but I digress.)

At any rate, Rivers does say that with 4 kids, he’ll be keeping his minivan because it’s the most practical.