Chargers Seahawks: Game Planning

9/12/2014 – by James Fedewa

The Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks play the Chargers this week in the San Diego home opener. Seattle is coming off an impressive week one victory over the Packers, with 10 days rest (and preparation) coming into San Diego. While the Chargers are coming off a short 6 day week, from a 1-point road loss from the Arizona Cardinals.

Coming to San Diego, Seattle has several issues that San Diego needs to game-plan for:

  1. Seahawks Championship Defense (with a great secondary and pass rush): Phillip Rivers will need to get the ball out of his hands quickly, to avoid pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Quick screens and timing routes will be the primary emphasis of the passing game, with the occasional deep ball to Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd. But this game should be won in the trenches with an emphasis on the Chargers running backs. Expect a heavy dose of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead screens, which can set up three or four big play-action post routes with speedy tight end LaDarious Green.

    Expect Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich to call less Shotgun formations in this week’s matchup, as the shotgun draw running play will not work against this powerful Seattle defense.

    Power is one thing, but speed is another. The Seattle Defense has power, pressure and size, but they are not known for speed and quickness (other than ILB Bobby Wagner and FS Earl Thomas). San Diego’s speed playmakers (Mathews, Woodhead & Royal) can counter the Seahawks lack of top speed and finesse. The Seattle secondary (aka Legion of Boom) are all big beast and bullies, but are not consider the quickest bunch. Seahawks Strong Safety Kam Chancellor is more of a linebacker than a cover safety, which must be exploited by San Diego. This might be the first game we see more of Green and less of Antonio Gates on the field, to remove Chancellor near the line of scrimmage with deeper routes (which can open up the intermediate middle of the secondary).

  2. Seattle’s Solid Running Game (with good depth): Seattle has a sound three headed monster at running back with Marshawn Lynch (Beast-Mode), Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. Lynch is the cog of the Seattle offense and taking him out of the game should be the prime focus of the Chargers defensive front. This would put ILB’s Manti Te’o, Donald Butler and SS Marcus Gilchrist in the lime light to stop Seattle rushing attach. If the Chargers defensive line can standup the Seattle offensive line, then Te’o, Butler and Gilchrist can fill running lanes (which not exactly Gilchrist’s strength). Ideally, this game would be a great time to see strong safety Jahleel Addae (who has not practice this week and is probably out). Expect less nickel and dime defenses, and more base 3-4 (with a mix of 4-3) to focus on the running game.

    Note: Wide Receiver Percy Harvin is also a factor in the Seattle rushing attack, which might require a “shadow” on defense to follow Harvin around. Harvin is often used as a decoy in the running game. Chargers rookie CB Jason Varrett could excel at shadowing Harvin all game long, as he can play inside, cover outside with a nose for the ball.

  3. Special Team Playmaker in kick return: Percy Harvin can turn a standard kickoff into an amazing touchdown highlight in a split second. Harvin needs to be avoided at all costs, so Nick Novak will need to focus on directional kick offs (with more touchbacks & limited returns).

    This game could also see a lot of punts by Mike Scifres, who had a good game last week, but had some unfortunate bounces (which is still his responsibility). Familiar face Bryan Walters is back at primary punt returner for Seattle, who is more of a “hands guy” (as Earl Thomas had two punt return errors last week). San Diego can disrupt Walters and should still try to dig for a special team’s turnover here.

  4. Improvisational and Smart Running Quarterback with accurate deep ball: Russell Wilson is a lot more than a game manager for the Seahawks offense. He will not usually beat you with 300 passing yards every week, or throw for 3 touchdown passes per game, but he will beat you with his smarts, misdirection scrambling and his 3rd down conversion savviness. He is the cerebral leader of the Seahawks. When Wilson is in the pocket passing, the Chargers defensive linemen must have their hands up to knock down pass attempts, so expect some swats by Liuget, Reyes and Lissemore (& even Jerry Attaochu’s famous hand). Keeping Wilson in the pocket is also important, so setting the edge and filling gaps will be critical for Chargers linebackers to control Wilson.

Micro-Matchups
(the one-on-one battles):

  • OLB Melvin Ingram vs. rookie RT Justin Britt: Expect a big breakout game from Melvin Ingram. Britt looked very good last week against Julius Peppers, but Britt is a rookie and Melvin Ingram is ready to explode.
  • DE Corey Liuget vs. LG James Carpenter: Both men are huge and if you like trench warfare, this is your ideal matchup. Carpenter has improved a lot this offseason, but Liuget should win the leverage game and take care of him when rushing the passer.
  • RT D.J. Fluker vs. DE Michael Bennett: This should be fun to watch as Fluker is becoming a complete tackle in his young career. Fluker excels against power defensive ends, but can struggle against speed ends (so Cliff Avril and Bennett could rotate sides this Sunday). Fluker can naturalize Bennett, but could struggle vs. Avril.
  • CB Brandon Flowers vs. WR Doug Baldwin: Both players are very savvy and both are mean dogs that play with chips on their shoulders. “Angry” Doug Baldwin lacks size and speed, but makes big plays when called upon (especially on 3rd downs). Flowers is faster and quicker than Baldwin, so he should be favored in this matchup. Flowers can easily get under Baldwin’s skin and with the mental edge. If Flowers plays Baldwin aggressively and knocks Baldwin down a lot, expect Baldwin’s ego to retaliate quickly (& illegally). Look for Flowers to bait Baldwin all game long…

Last week, Seahawks fans were rooting for a Chargers victory, as the Chargers played against Seattle’s divisional rival Arizona Cardinals. This week will be a lot different with Seattle being favored by more than 8 points in San Diego. The Chargers struggled last week with mental mistakes and self-inflicted errors, but overall, they played well. Look for a Chargers to rebound quickly and fix the mental errors immediately.

Upset alert!
*(with Russell Wilson getting sacked over 5 times)

Chargers: 30

Seahawks: 19

Who’s #1 In Fantasy Football?

8/25/14 – by Lane Thompson

August is the month for fantasy football, and that means plenty of owners all over the world are trying to examine players before the season starts. Looking at past statistics and watching meaningless preseason games can only do so much, so sometimes it comes down to making a gut decision and going with it.  That seems to be what many people are doing if they have the number 1 overall pick. There are legitimately 3 options to consider, and all certainly make a pretty good case.

 Adrian Peterson is the veteran of the group, and he might be getting near the end of his prime. He is about to be 30 years of age, which is a terrible age for any running back in the NFL. People in fantasy football know what to expect out of Peterson, and that is why he is still a number 1 option to consider. Minnesota still has some issues with the passing game, even if they do decide to go with promising rookie Teddy Bridgewater.

 The most productive runner last year in the NFL was LeSean McCoy. Not only is he a very talented running back, but he plays in the perfect system for fantasy football production. Chip Kelly has made sure that Philadelphia runs an up-tempo offense, so that means plenty of touches. Some are worried about Darren Sproles stealing some touches from him this year, but McCoy should be just fine.

 Finally, the most productive running back in fantasy football last year could be due for another big season in 2014. Jamaal Charles carried the offense for Kansas City last year, and he is hoping to contribute pretty much the same way this season. Not only is he strong as a runner, but he is also a very capable receiver out of the backfield.

Only a psychic would be able to legitimately decide between the 3 players prior to the start of the year. The best bet is to make a decision and roll with it. Hopefully, all 3 are able to stay healthy and productive in 2014.

 

Chargers vs. Seahawks (Analysis: 2nd Preseason Game)

8/17/2014 – by James Fedewa

The San Diego Chargers lose Friday night’s preseason game to Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks. With a lopsided score of 41-14, it really looked like Seattle punished San Diego with an old fashion beat-down. Seattle ran the ball down the Chargers throats but what did the overall outcome really prove? Several things, other than the score and starters stats. This is preseason game, which is only practice.

Chargers’ defense needs to work on stopping the run and containing mobile quarterbacks, while the offense needs to spring some longer rushing plays, find the fourth running back, and the offensive line needs to get nastier… But then again, this is grading the Chargers backup players (as San Diego’s starters did not play much at all in this game).

Judging preseason games in years past, the Chargers tend to play better in the regular season when they do lose a few of these preseason games. San Diego has been the type of football team that learns by their own mistakes, which makes them stronger down the stretch (when it is supposed to matter). No one likes losing, and losing in preseason still provides that “bad-feeling” (yet preseason games mean exactly nothing in reality). Preseason is only an experiment, a practice to test your depth, provide those backups solid reps to develop and most important, learning what you have as a team, to find out what you really need. Please note, some of the worst Chargers teams, won all of their preseason games. Preseason is only for the coaching staff to grade their pre-team and for team owners to charge a premium ticket on a game that does not mean anything.

Thinking as the Chargers General Manager, Tom Telesco (and the scouting staff) are continuously building this team. They get no break, as it’s an evolving team. They continue to work on the depth chart with every played game, tinker with the lineups vs. matchups, etc. Dozens of quality players will become available once final cuts occur, so the scouting staff is examining every NFL preseason game (live, attending the games and/or watching all game tape). This Chargers team is very full right now, with decent depth, but pending any injury (i.e. defensive lineman), any position may be in need before the regular season. This team is still being developed and Telesco can find good players from other teams. Telesco has poached from his old team last season, who will he find before this season begins?

Thinking as the Chargers coaching staff, they are finding what they want, from who they have, with some possible modifications to their scheme, strategy and play-calling. The coaches are expected to smooth out this team (by week one) and Coach Mike McCoy will manage the team to its strengths. McCoy and Telesco will get what they want and they will use this Seahawks/Chargers game for what it was intended for (practice).

Learning from your own mistakes or learning from others mistakes is the true result of the Chargers / Seahawks game. Both teams made mistakes, and both had their highlights. Winning and not making mistakes is preferred and ideal for a game, but perfection is impossible and certainly lacks one key component; that losing feeling (which no one wants). Seattle made mistakes and won, San Diego made mistakes and lost. San Diego won that losing feeling and will learn from their mistakes, which is a great lesson to learn from the type of game this really was and what type of team the Seahawk are, with their home field. From what it was, advantage: San Diego

Making Homebrew – Life’s Simple Bliss…

6/25/2014 – by James Fedewa (@jamfed)Relax and Have a Homebrew 

*Updated 7/31/2014

I finally got around to brewing this year. Wow, it’s been over a year since my last solo brew day. My Father in Law has an amazing all grain system at his house, but we can have up to 4 or 5 people helping out with those brews, which is fun, but different. I think brewing solo is a little better, with an entirely different type of fun (but that’s a different story).

So, here’s my steps (with ingredients) I used to make this American Amber Ale (extract).

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Tony Gwynn, Mr. San Diego will be missed…

6/16/2014 – by James Fedewa

I moved to Pacific Beach in San Diego about 2 months before I turned 21 years old (April 1993). My initial San Diego experience was at a very impressionable time in my life.

I only “liked” professional baseball and football, but the San Diego community (and local teams) only enhanced that “like” and grew it into a love. I quickly grew into a diehard San Diego Padres (and Chargers) fan and I have been a fanatic of those two teams for the last 22 years. Tony Gwynn was the superstar for the Padres and he became my favorite baseball player the more and more I watched and listen to him.
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If Grice is Nice, then who’s Mathews?

6/5/2014 – by James Fedewa

The San Diego Chargers signed free agent running back Donald Brown this offseason, who had a very good finale with the Colts last year, outperforming the newly acquired Trent Richardson. Brown was highly effective last season and was clearly the best running back on the Colts team, beating out Richardson. The Chargers also drafted running back Marion Grice last month, out of Arizona State in the sixth round. Grice (6′ 207 lbs.) is a very talented, good young running back prospect who might be a very capable backup for the Chargers. Grice is considered a “silent steal” in the 6th round of the draft for the Chargers and was projected to go a lot earlier than the 6th round. Grice is expected to earn some solid playing time this season, but at the moment, he is buried on the depth chart, and last in line. If Grice has a great camp and preseason, current Chargers starter Ryan Mathews should be very worried about his job in San Diego. Although, Mathews had a great year last season for the Chargers, plus he is in a contract year this season, which can be very motivational for a new contract; but…  Read the rest of this entry

Youth and Change (Chargers Offensive Line)

June 2, 2014 – by James Fedewa

One of the San Diego Chargers primary goals this off season is to get faster, within all position. We saw it in the draft and the Chargers drafted some quick and fast rookies. What generates these results, other than speed itself, is to get younger – youth. The NFL is a game of the young man, and the young tend to flourish and survive longer.

Getting younger and faster is always part in the NFL roster. Younger players can also be cheaper and play longer. Cheaper roll players can help NFL teams save their immediate cash to help pay and re-sign their own superstar players, which is correct. So, high priced roll players can be cut even quicker, which brings up this off season topic: The San Diego Chargers Offensive Line (who’s the youth and who’s getting better?)  Read the rest of this entry

NFL Draft, Round 1 is Done! (Debatable Winners)

5/9/14 – by James Fedewa

Winners:

  1. Cleveland Browns: (…and it felt just like the movie Draft Day, but Cleveland did better than the movie). The Cleveland Browns made a couple moves and trades in the first round of the draft, still drafted the #1 rated cornerback (Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State) and the #1 rated quarterback (Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M). PLUS, Cleveland acquired the Buffalo Bill’s 2015 first and fifth round picks and lost a 3rd and a 5th round pick this year.
  2. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings drafted five 1st round players in the last two drafts (how does that happen?). Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA can be a defensive end or strong side OLB. Barr is the type of player that will have double digit sacks, plus a high total of tackles. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville might be able to start week one. Bridgewater looks a lot like a young Aaron Rogers.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals: Landing a top tier cornerback with the 24th pick is a steal. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St, is a great pick this late in the first round.

Questionable Picks:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles needed a 3-4 OLB pass rusher and they drafted Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville with their first round selection. Smith has good talent and good sack totals in college, but he could have been drafted later. The Eagles did trade down in this round, and the also acquired a 3rd round pick. Oddly enough, I had Smith mocked to the Eagles, but at #89 overall. So this trade-down is essentially worth two 3rd round draft picks.
  2. Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina is the top rated tight end in this draft class, but they should have drafted defense first. Adding Ebron to a loaded offense could open things up for Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Reggie Bush, but it can also mean subtracting catches from those stars. Top 10 pick for a tight end is a little of a reach
  3. Kansas City Chiefs: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn has a lot of talent, but also has back problems (and he is a little outspoken). Plus, KC already has two Pro Bowl players at the position Ford will play (Hali and Houston). Could Tamba Hali be traded or cut before the season begins?

Losers:

NONE. Every section in this first round was very good and impressive. This draft, from top to bottom, is loaded with talent and every prospect chosen will help their team. This is probably the best looking first round in a long time. The only prospect drafted that will get the short end of the media stick is Justin Gilbert of the Cleveland Browns, as Johnny Manziel will attract all the immediate media attention. Yet Gilbert is the #2 cornerback on the Browns and he will be learning from pro bowl CB Joe Haden, which is a major bonus.

 

Full 3 Round NFL Mock Draft (4.0)

5/7/2014 – by James Fedewa

The final mock draft of the season is finally upon us. My mock drafts usually jump around, exposing alternative team views and opinions to each team need. I do listen, recognize and reply to your comments and I incorporate what fans recommend (or insist) as everything is debatable, yet nothing is for certain in the NFL Draft.

**your comments and recommendations are truly valued (and expected) Read the rest of this entry

2014 Full Three Round Mock Draft (3.3)

5/2/14 – by James Fedewa (@jamfed)

The NFL Draft looms closer as we are less than a week away and  fans are getting anxious for their teams new additions.  Assuming there will be mad trades and crazy exchanges, the NFL Draft can generate so much rumor and gossip, no one knows what to believe as true. But one thing we know is that the excitement is starting to build and tons of trade buzz is brewing.

The 2014 draft is noted as one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, so initially the trade rumors were said to be soft this year. Most of the “deep” talent in this draft is in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and those picks will not be dealt easily. Most of the 2nd round wide receivers this year would have been first round picks last year, and most of the 3rd round rated cornerbacks this year could have been late 1st or early 2nd picks last year.  So these “tradable” 2nd and 3rd round draft choices are very hot this year and are valued even more than normal.

The latest buzz to surface in this years draft in the defensive secondary. Noted first round prospects like cornerbacks Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller, Bradley Roby, Jason Verrett & Safeties Calvin Pryor, Clinton-Dix and Deone Bucannon could all be gone before San Diego picks at #25. And most Chargers mock drafts have San Diego selection a cornerback in round one.  Draft runs at specific positions can trigger panic and over-drafting prospects can happen (similar to the draft run on offensive linemen in the first round of the 2013 draft).

**your comments and recommendations are truly valued (and expected)

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