11/19/13 – by James Fedewa
The San Diego Chargers lose to the Miami Dolphins this week in a game that went to the last play of the game, again. This put San Diego in a three game losing streak (all close games); losing to the Redskins by 6 points, Broncos by 8 points and now the Dolphins by 4 points. Each game has gone to the wire, to the last minute and to the last play. San Diego failed again to score the points at the end of the game.
Chargers fans would expect a better record and better performance, but with the third year in a row, the Chargers offensive line has been annihilated with injuries. Shuffling healthy bodies around the O-line seems to be the blocking norm over the last few years. The Chargers offensive line is like a Texas Holdem card game; The flop (Jeromey Clary & DJ Fluker getting shuffled around); the TURN (New Guys filling in the holes); and the shuffling all these linemen around effects: The RIVERS (and the passing game).
Chargers starting O-line have been a revolving door for the last few years, and this year is no different. How quarterback Phillip Rivers remains in one-piece is a miracle. With these massive O-line injuries, Chargers fans should be grateful for already possessing 4 wins out of 10 games. This unit is relying solely on scheme and play calling, which is fundamentally a cornerstone, but the offensive line needs a shimmer of luck with some timely healing.
Left Tackle King Dunlap was out again with a neck injury this week, and was swapped by right tackle DJ Fluker, who played admirably with the emergency fill-in role, again. Right Guard Jeromey Clary slid over to take back his old right tackle position and did a decent job. In fact, keeping Clary on the roster this year has been a nice surprise, as he can play multiple positions (even if at average).
On the bright side, San Diego’s rookie offensive tackle DJ Fluker is improving greatly every week, but still has his rookie moments and blocking mistakes. Yet Fluker could be arguably the best O-linemen on the team. He is clearly not a left tackle, but he should be a Chargers force on the right side for the next decade. Looking back at the draft, San Diego made the correct decision by selecting the Missing-Link Tackle.
San Diego did play well at times, but only managed to score two field goals in the second half (and one touchdown for the game). San Diego has always been considered a “second half team” (within games and seasons), yet over the last three games, old Chargers fads and habits have failed.
San Diego has the tools and the weapons to be a high powered offense, but take away a quarterbacks protection and offensive line, no team will score points. The San Diego Chargers have not folded yet. 6 loses does not eliminate them from the playoffs and the fans are still All-In.
The Chargers travel to Washington DC this week with an early AM battle against the Redskins. San Diego is coming off a bye week, so the media attention has been a little quite this week. Whereas the Redskins primary media topic this week seems to be more about their politically incorrect teams name vs. their actual poor play (and their 2-5 record). Imagine the Redskins changing their name to the “Bravehearts” and visualize the cute logos that come with a name that has a HEART in it…
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is gradually improving every week since last season’s major knee surgery. RGIII’s season stats look good on paper and in the FF box score, but in reality he is not carrying his team like he did last year. Control RGIII, control the game, but the Redskins are a scheme oriented team, with Mike Shanahan’s football methodology. Shanahan relies heavy on a quality mobile quarterback and if RGIII’s mobility is limited (or if he gets knocked down and gets rattled), Griffin can get scared, guard his bad knee and psyche himself out. Shanahan’s other main offensive focus is the zone blocking scheme. Running backs Alfred Morris and Roy Helu will be the other offensive threats.
San Diego needs to stuff the run first with the defensive line and inside linebackers. Expect a big game from Chargers Linebackers Manti Te’o, Jarret Johnson & Reggie Walker in containing the Redskins run game, as Donald Butler will probably sit out this week. If Cam Thomas can contribute well this week, San Diego’s defense will continue to thrive for the 4th consecutive weeks. The Chargers D needs to apply pass rush on RGIII, so Corey Luiget, Kendell Reyes and Larry English need to bring the pressure. Look for OLB Thomas Keiser to surprise the Redskins QB a few times.
The Chargers offense has been the biggest surprise of the NFL this year. SD is back to their normal offensive standards: scoring a lot of points and controlling the clock. Ryan Matthews could have his 3rd consecutive 100 yard game, and Phillip Rivers will carry the offense as usual. TE Antonio Gates will be Rivers primary target, so expect a huge game from Gates. Gates will be on the lookout for headhunter safety Brandon Meriwether. With Gates in longer passing routes, Gates can take Meriwether out of the game and capitalize on Meriwether’s over-aggressiveness. A fun rookie matchup to watch this week will be SD’s wide receiver Keneen Allen vs. Redskins cornerback David Amerson (both from the same hometown in NC, similar sizes and childhood friends). If Amerson starts and mirrors Allen this week, then the Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall will be on Vincent Brown, which might be a quite matchup. Plus the OT Fluker + Dunlap vs. OLB Orakpo + Kerrigan could actually favor San Diego (but will be a tough task).
). The Chargers defense has not allowed a touchdown in the last 11 consecutive quarters, and it could continue. Prediction: San Diego, 27 – 19
10/22/13 – by James Fedewa
After watching the Chargers beat the Colt in week 6, followed by the Chargers beating the Jaguars in week 7, San Diego’s defense has shown life (in back to back weeks). Stopping oppositions third down conversions has been rare (in the last 21 games), but defensive coordinator John Pagano has finally adapted his defensive pay calling in the last two weeks.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers is currently a midseason MVP candidate, but finally, defensive coordinator John Pagano has been helping him stay on the field and use up clock.
10/14/13 – by James Fedewa
Every Charger game, I find myself sitting on my couch, relaxing and watching the Chargers offense. I feel fairly confident in the San Diego offense with Rivers at the helm, tossing the ball to Gates and the new wide receivers, with Whisenhunt calling the plays and McCoy running the team. These guys get it and they are fun to watch. Plus, I have a comfortable couch that lets me unwind and enjoy some Chargers football score some points while drinking local ale. But on defense, I’m standing on the coffee table screaming at the TV with rising blood pressure and grinding teeth. The Chargers defense has me angered, impatient and fierce…
Sure, if it’s 3rd or 4th and goal (on the 1) and Danny Woodhead is in the backfield; that makes me a little sour. Or if the only hand offs I witness are shotgun draw plays (and I wonder how much “different” some of these lame offensive play calls are, mimicking last year). Or if another Chargers offensive linemen gets hurt again, I might second guess a third straight year of injury despair. But, the offense still feels better (than last season), so my worries are gentle and mild.
But this Chargers defense has a different feeling for me. It’s the evil twin of this team. The bad Gemini of this team has been very disappointing so far, when I expecting this young crew be a lot better than they are. San Diego needs some sort of defensive identity or a face. At one point, I thought backup Jarius Wynn was the best defensive linemen on the team, only to watch him get release last week. Luiget and Reyes are silent and Cam Thomas is virtually non-existent since after week one.
The Chargers linebackers have been playing below average, with no significant player. This is Donald Butlers “contract year” who has been under preforming and Manti Te’o is an intimidated ghost. Freeny: now GONE for the year with an injury. I’ve recognized Jarret Johnson’s play and he’s been doing well, but not pro-bowl worthy, when SD needs one MEAN guy.
San Diego’s secondary is has the talent, but I haven’t witnessed it on Sundays. Weddle has done well, but nothing noteworthy. Weddle does make plays though and is the only bright spot in the secondary, but this squad doesn’t have a single interception amongst them. What is missing, a TRUE strong safety and Brandon Taylor needs to play now. If Taylor can get healthy now, he might be that spark the defense needs. Gilchrest has had a few moments, but I rarely see him involved or have a nose for the ball. He’s a corner back, or a nickel.
What I’d like to see San Diego’s defense do next: One person, one player from each level to step up. One Defensive lineman, one linebacker and one man from the secondary to step up, all at the same time for the balance of the season: a Pass Rusher, a Run Stuffer, a Coverage Guy
Who I’m looking for the rest of the season? Three Pro Bowlers at three defensive levels.
- Corey Luiget to turn into JJ Watt (or Richard Seymour)
- Donald Butler to turn into NaVorro Bowman
- Derek Cox to turn into Antonio Cromartie
Who I’m looking for to improve:
- Kendall Reyes as an inside pass rusher
- Larry English as an outside pass rusher
- Brandon Taylor to be an big-hitting strong safety
- Manti Te’o as the ball-hawk
These 7 guys noted, can do it, have the tools to do it, and need to pull it together to get it done, now…
9/12/13 – by James Fedewa
First and foremost, the majority of Chargers fans like and prefer Phillip Rivers. He’s a spiritual, passionate guy, great leader and current Mr. San Diego icon, but if he continues to struggle to win games, his days in San Diego will be limited.
It has been said that GM Tom Telesco and Head Coach Mike McCoy came to San Diego partially because of the presence of Phillip Rivers as the starting quarterback. Rivers is should be a quality player and could be behind the proper offensive line, but after last weeks up & down performance against Houston, questions are swirling. 4 Touchdowns is amazing, followed by an interception TD and loss nullifies stats.
Telesco and McCoy probably already have several QB scenarios prepared for 2014, as good management has an option for every situation. If Rivers is no longer the Chargers quarterback in 2014 (via trade, never release), who would Chargers fans expect to take his starting quarterback role in San Diego?
Mobile rookie quarterbacks are also options, and can guarantee and extended stay for a head coach. Mobile, pistol, read-option, dual-threat quarterbacks are very popular at the moment since Robert Griffin III, Kaepernick and Russell Wilson entered the NFL, following the footsteps of Michael Vick. Several options can be made, but would they still be an upgrade over Phillip Rivers?
If Phillip Rivers is not in San Diego next season, who will be the Chargers starting quarterback in 2014 (rookie vs. veteran)?
*2014 PROJECTED ROOKIE
Week one begins on Monday night in San Diego for the Chargers and Texans. Houston’s defense will not be operating at full strength. Starting Texans outside linebacker Antonio Smith will be suspended this week, and OLB’s Brooks Reed (knee) and Whitney Mercilus (hamstring) & Sam Montgomery (achillies) are not 100% either. Free agent safety Ed Reed has had very limited practiced since becoming a Texan and linebacker Brian Cushing has had some minor knee issues.
San Diego’s will have a new offense and will focus on rushing the ball with an up-tempo quick-strike passing game. Chargers Phillip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Ryan Matthews will be the focal points this week. Rivers will look to reload his career with his new offense and a new offensive line. Matthews is ready to become a premier NFL running back this season, if he can stay health and secure the football.
Matchup of the Night: Left Defensive End JJ Watt vs. Right Guard Jeromey Clary. Watt is the focal point of the Texans 3-4 defense, who will be directly matched up against Clary. Oddly enough, Clary should do well against Watt, as Clary has primarily been a right tackle in his career handling quicker & lighter pass rushers. Watt is an athletic and powerful enough to take on any premier offensive guard in the league and Clary will have a busy day, but we should see Clary fit in well at his new position and inside pass protection. San Diego will look to run the ball directly at Watt, and San Diego rookie Right Tackle DJ Fluker will assist Clary to pave the way for San Diego’s rushers.
Chargers Defensive linemen Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes and Cam Thomas are young, big, fast and athletic front three with immense talent. Look for this threesome to give Houston’s offensive line very busy night. Include linebackers Dwight Freeney’s pass rushing, Jarret Johnson run stuffing prowess, and Donald Butlers ball hawking ability this Chargers front can be something special. Rookie linebacker Manti Te’o has missed significant time with a foot injury and may not play. San Diego’s secondary is led by safety Eric Weddle, and with new cornerback Derek Cox will be an upgrade from last season.
Texans running back, Arian Foster, has not played a snap in the preseason, limited practice and is coming off a calf injury. First round rookie wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins is coming off a concussion. QB Matt Schaub, WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels will look to carry the Texans offense.
Houston is an NFL playoff team, but injuries in week one will only hurt their chances in winning San Diego. Can the Texans depth beat the Chargers starters…
Prediction: Chargers 34, Texans 10 (Ryan Matthews two rushing TD’s, Rivers two Passing TD’s)
With the end of the 2013 preseason, final cuts begin. At this moment, speculation stirs about WHO and WHO DIDN’T GET CUT… Generally, the idea of dropping players who did not prove themselves well is the first step, followed by salary cap cutbacks. Head Coach Mike McCoy claims he pretty much knows what the team will look like, but GM Tom Telesco might have a few surprises up his sleeve. Every NFL team is cutting a lot of talented players to trim their rosters, and this is where the diamonds show up (like the Wes Welker’s & the Norman Hand’s of Chargers past).
Guessing who is on the chopping-block is what fans like to do, plus fans like to play cap-ologist and like to figure out who is worthy of their salary and who’s not. Lets visit the cap-ologist part:
Eddie Royal: did he secure his job? He did not live up to his contract last season as he was plagued by injuries. McCoy does have history with Royal while in Denver, but with the promising play of undersized TE Ladarius Green, he might be the mismatch slot wide receiver San Diego is looking for. Can Green handle backup tight end duty and backup slot duty too? Perhaps, but either way, he needs to be on the field more (as Green’s preseason has looked very good, as a pass catcher). I’d suggest making Keneen Allen starting slot receiver, with Green 2nd inline.
Did WR Robert Meachem open eyes in his second preseason in San Diego with his large salary? No, but he did not play poorly either. Meachem 2013 salary is guaranteed, weather if he is on the team, or not. Telesco should keep Meachem over Royal (and Vincent Brown could be better than both of them). Call losing WR Denario Alexander for the season an assist for Meachem’s holiday stint in San Diego. It’s up to Rivers to grant him the trust he lost last season after the Cleveland game, and Meachem will need to rebuild his confidence quickly. He’s a profession and I expect him to be the “Eric Decker” of San Diego’s new offense.
Can Jeromy Clary justify his salary as a Charger? Probably not… He looks very standard as an interior o-lineman, but San Diego does need him (but only at a reduced price). McCoy and Telesco invested in Clary’s new position with reps at right guard this preseason. Now Clary must return the favor (as in pay cut, or get cut). If Clary is cut (or injured), there is not much quality depth behind him. Most likely, Clary’s salary stays…
At the end of the day (or preseason); Royal, Meachem & Clary may all stay in San Diego, but keeping all three may prevent the Chargers in signing other talented cap casualties.
8/27/13 – By James Fedewa
Arizona Cardinals Cornerback Patrick Peterson might be the next Deion Sanders: A gifted cornerback with special playmaking ability. Like Deion, Peterson is primarily a defensive cornerback and a dynamic punt returner. Now Peterson is trying to enter the offensive role for the Arizona Cardinals, like Deion. With two noticeable appearances by Peterson, the San Diego Chargers gave him plenty extra hits to reconsider becoming a two-way player.
Saturday 8/24/13 Preseason Matchup: Chargers vs. Cardinals:
Patrick Peterson on offensive (shotgun delay handoff sweep right): After Carson Palmer hands the ball off to a sweeping Peterson (lined up wide left); Larry English gives Peterson a violent hit, with an awkward twist landing on the sidelines. Peterson was looking for the cut and crease to get up field and never found it. He was jogged wide and tossed, making Peterson look very average and standard. Great hit, Larry English
Phillip Rivers Interception: Blitzing Tyron Mathieu gets a hand on Rivers pass; ball is tipped short, intercepted by Jasper Brinkley, who then pitches the ball back to the trailing Peterson. Following the pitch to Peterson, D.J. Fluker pummels Brinkley, hammering him back into Peterson and then out of bounds. Fluker kills two small birds with one punishing stone with one terrific tackle. Great Hit D.J. Fluker
Peterson lacks the high-end speed of Deon Sanders, but he make up for it in size and toughness (and toughness wear downs). Extra offensive snaps, means more hits on their young star. If Arizona plans on keeping Peterson healthy for the season, they may need to reconsider who is a distraction, a dynamic playmaker, or a decoy (for both teams). Distractions can cause “pitch-happy” minor league football gag plays vs. unfocused professional football. Patrick Peterson was not a secret weapon against the Chargers, and Bruce Arians executed Petersons extra plays poorly.
(I.e. Chargers Ryan Matthews halfback dive, fumble, “PITCH,” fumble, San Diego touchdown = Nose Tackle Dan Williams leg injury during the “pitch” = distractions, turnover & poor Arizona decisions)
The first Chargers preseason game of the year kicks off on this Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle is a Super Bowl favorite this preseason and their roster is extremely loaded and talented, specifically their projected starters (yet two of their stars are out with injuries (Clemens/Harvin). Preseason games are only exhibitions, so the main things to focus on are numerous matchups. What to look forward to:
Most Important, Chargers Tackles vs. Seahawks Defensive Ends:
- LT King Dunlap & Max Starks vs. Cliff Avril & Bruce Irving
- Rookie RT D.J. Fluker & Mike Harris vs. Red Bryant & Michael Bennett
San Diego will debut three new tackles and they will have their hands full with Seattle’s one-on-one matchups. You could not find a group of (wide-nine) defensive ends and pass rushers in the league better than the Seahawks (and Chris Clemens is not even activated). Newbies Dunlap, Starks and Fluker will be eager to show-off and perform well on their new teams. Will quarterback Phillip Rivers survive the first preseason game with three new O-Tackles protecting him? Challenge Accepted…
Next set of notable matchups, in order of importance:
- ROLB Dwight Freeney vs. LT Russell Okung (will Freeney play?)
- CB Shareece Wright vs. WR Golden Tate (two fast guys, should be fun to watch)
- NT Cam Thomas vs. C Max Unger
- RDE Kendal Reyes vs. LG James Carpenter (great match up, looks very even)
- SS Marcus Gilchrist vs. TE Zach Miller (smaller SS vs. a big TE)
- TE Antonio Gates vs. SS Kam Chancellor (Chancellor is a BIG hitter, but Gates will own him)
- CB Derek Cox vs. WR Sidney Rice (SD’s new #1CB takes on Seattle’s #1 WR, Percy Harvin OUT)
- Slot WR Eddie Royal vs. Nickel CB Antoine Winfield (Royal will have his catches, but no YAC w/ Winfield)
- WR Malcolm Floyd vs. CB Brandon Browner (two bigs, slight advantage M80)
- DE Corey Liuget vs. OG Paul McQuistan (Liuget should excel)
- WR Denario Alexander vs. CB Richard Sherman (Sherman is great, but DX is pretty good)
- RB Ryan Matthews & FB LeRon McClain vs. MLB Bobby Wagner & SOLB K.J. Wright (this should be the focus of the game, advantage San Diego)
- ILB’s Manti Te’o & Donald Butler vs. RB Marshawn Lynch and FB Michael Robinson (Lynch not expected to play, advantage SD, should be fun to watch a Te’o and Butler tandem)
Free Safeties Eric Weddle & Earl Thomas are both the freelancing ball-hawks on each team. Both will support each defense respectably, accordingly and matchups vary.
Quarterbacks Russell Wilson is a wildcard the Seahawks have in their back pocket. He can run, he can pass he can do everything. He’s the Seattle feature player, as is Phillip Rivers (minus the running). Rivers will showoff his new quick-strike offence, which will make his o-line love him even more. His quick release doubled up with a short pass offense will make his numbers look outstanding.
By James Fedewa
Every successful NFL organization builds though the draft. A good draft can equate to good team (usually and generally, and on paper). Grading talented prospects and building through an NFL Draft are the building blocks, but in reality, health builds the foundation of a successful NFL organization (health and a major chunk of luck). Just like with parenthood, being present is 90% of the game, and if big and ridiculous injuries remove players from the football field, then health is vital for all NFL teams.
Three of San Diego’s young defensive prospects have suffered ACL knee injuries that can effect this 2013 season:
- 2012 Third round draft pick, Strong Safety, Brandon Taylor (end 2012; ACL injury)
- 2012 First round draft pick, outside linebacker, Melvin Ingram (OTA 2013; ACL injury)
- 2011 second round draft pick, inside linebacker, Jonas Mouton (Training Camp 2013; injury)
ACL knee injuries can take 7 to 12 months of recovery and rehabilitation before an effective return. In the past, ACL injuries required one full year of mending, but with new and alternative medical advancements, healing times are becoming quicker for young professional athletes. In a sport that there are only 16 regular season games, one injury can potentially effect two seasons.
Safety, Brandon Taylor suffered his knee injury in week 16 last season (in his first NFL start), seven months ago. Backup cornerback Marcus Gilchrist has taken his spot for the moment, but he has no NFL experience at the position. Veteran Darrell Stuckey should be the leading candidate to start the season, but Taylor still might be the opening day starter, as he is progressing well.
Although pass-rusher Melvin Ingram’s injury happened two months ago during organized team activities, there are talks that he may return by the end of the season. Only if the Chargers find a way to the playoffs, Ingram should rest and reset till next season.
Jonas Mouton is the latest to be added to the Chargers ACL list and is very disappointing misfortune for the young athlete. Mouton season is over after the first day of training camp and is young with a chip on his shoulder. Chargers fans have yet to see much of Mouton yet, as this will be Mouton’s third season, all littered with injuries.
Grading draft picks versus draft busts are very subjective and slanted, but injuries are not. Injuries are a part of the game and depth is the basic fundamental of the whole NFL system. Everyone gets injured and injuries should not designate boom or bust players. All NFL players must play injured, but luck in keeping that player playing and on the field can help you win or lose championships.
The Chargers have been plagued by injures over the last three seasons; and since bad things happen in THREE’s, and ACL injuries are bad, hopefully the Chargers have seen the last of these misfortunate and cruel (knee) twists.