Chargers: All or Nothing (Week 11 and what if…)

11/14/2015 – by James Fedewa

The San Diego Chargers have a sturdy 5 – 4 record coming into week 11 of the 2014 season, which is probably a better start than what most Chargers fans would expect after the first nine games. Philip Rivers started the season red hot, a possible MVP candidate, yet he has cooled off quickly (especially vs. Miami two weeks ago, where Rivers was doused from an ice bucket challenge).

In the past, the Chargers have always been better in the second half of the season and are notoriously slow starters in the first half, so a 5 – 4 record is an accomplishment within itself.  Yet three game losing streaks are no strangers to the Chargers either and San Diego will find themselves in several must win situations again this season.

Playoff aspirations are still very high in San Diego and looking forward, their odds do not look bad. The Chargers are coming off a bye week and have several key players returning from injuries (including playmaker Ryan Mathews, defender Manti Te’o and rookie pass rusher Jerry Attaochu). All three players are extremely talented and ready to explode for a team that desperately needs them.

The bye week could not have come at a better time, with rested and healthy players, but the added bonus this week is that the Chargers host the winless Raiders. Oakland played well in the team’s first meeting back in week 5 (which was the Chargers last victory) and San Diego should handle the Raiders again for the win. San Diego cannot look beyond each week’s opponent from now on, as every win is a necessity in the second half on the season (especially home wins) and Rivers has a very good second half track record in his tenured career.

(B & W:)

If all goes well, San Diego wins out, finishes the season 12 – 4 with and start the playoffs with a BYE. Worst case scenario, San Diego loses out, finishes the season 5 – 11 and the San Diego front office and coaching staff face the firing squad. With seven more games in 2014 and four more home games, it will be safe to say that San Diego probably finishes the season with an impressive 10 – 6 record, with a hopeful wildcard berth.

Looking beyond all-wins or all-loses scenarios, what if (two polls):

 

*ALL OR NOTHING!

Blueprint to Lose? Chargers @ Broncos

10/22/2014 by James Fedewa

Week 8, the San Diego Chargers fly to Denver to play their biggest game of the season. The odds of the Chargers winning are slim, but any given “Thursday” can change that. Winning of course is the objective every week, and if the Chargers can create a win, then fantastic. San Diego already has the blueprint to victory from their last (regular season) win in Denver to defeat the Broncos, but what if head coach Mike McCoy planned a loss, how would it look?

First, the Facts:

  • The Denver Broncos – the new arch rival of the Chargers
  • Prime Time Thursday Night Football – the big stage
  • Peyton Manning – Future Hall of Famer, Quarterback legend
  • Division Rival, Chargers are currently 1 – 1 in the AFC West
  • On the road (away game in Denver) – Advantage Denver, a very hostile environment
  • It is a Short Week, which tends to lean in the favor of the home team
  • Playing against their biggest AFC Threat (other than the Colts, Ravens & Patriots in most current power rankings)

No one plans losing, and a winning attitude is half the battle of a team’s success. If San Diego wins the game, then mental momentum still favors the Chargers. But if San Diego plans a loss, what would McCoy’s blueprint be? How can a loss help the San Diego Chargers the next time they play (long term)?

Let’s continue to bullet point this (the Chargers Blueprint for expecting a loss):

  • A fans “loss” mentality is always awkward (and could be loftier) than a coach’s perspective. Example, if a team loses the game, but knocks out the opposing quarterback (or any star player), then overall (by a fans perspective of course) the loss is still considered a psychological tie or abstract draw. So, a blueprint of this “abstract” could be the all-out blitz on the quarterback. Every play, every down, bring the heat and knock Payten Manning down. This will help the Chargers not only in this game, but future games. Game Plan: Bust the Manning! This method starts with pressure right up the middle (probably within the nickel defense). So all eyes on Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes applying pressure, right up the middle. Anything from the outside (Freeney, Attaochu, Johnson, T.Williams, Law) is just a blindside bonus.
  • Keep the team fresh: Instead of playing heavy doses of starters and having them be on the field most of the time, the Chargers need to rotate heavily. Usually coaches prefer their best players on the field (most of the time) which gives you the best chance of winning the game. And sure, it sounds great, but fatigue leads to injuries so fresh and renewed matters. In order for the Chargers to prevent injuries and use the blueprint for a loss, San Diego needs to keep their team fresh and fast, expect a heavy dose of substitutions.
  • Earning Quality Experience (a young man’s game): Professional Football is driven by strength and speed, which is prime for the team’s younger players. It is time to get the rookies, 2nd year and 3rd year players heavily involved into the rotation.
  • Practice what you do well even MORE. Exotic and creative schemes always throw opposing teams off and can be confusing, but a blueprint to lose is not scheme related. It is repetition at doing the job, with the best options, multiple times. And please avoid the “trick play” unless it is a decoy.

Of course The Chargers want the victory, as do the fans. San Diego will try everything within their power to win, but this game is not a must win game as much as we might think it is. No one ever won a Super Bowl in October and looking forward into the second half of the season, how could this loss (or win) still equivalent a team victory? San Diego can still lose this game, and come out victorious.

 

NOTES:

Denver is favored to win (again). Percentages are against the Chargers, and most predict the Chargers winning would be a 30% longshot. A 7.5 point underdog and the over/under is 51.5 points.

Rivers has a winning regular season record at Mile High Stadium in Denver (6 -2)

The home team on Thursday Night Football has won 4 of 7 games.

Dog Named Reach: Wide Receiver & Quarterback, Week 7

10/17/2014 by James Fedewa

Finding fantasy football starters from the waiver wire is an art and tremendously difficult. Well, it’s not really art, it’s more like speed, timeliness, and of course the waiver wire order. Grabbing those buds before they bloom is the real advantage (like San Diego’s new find running back Branden Oliver). And most of the buds are entirely created from key injuries, weekly matchups and bye weeks. And there will be some available in Week 7. So, let’s REACH for a DOG.

My Wide Receiver “Dog Named Reach” for Week 7 is Paul Richardson of the Seattle Seahawks. With star Percy Harvin out the door and traded to the New York Jets, Seattle loses their most dynamic playmaker. Or did they? Seattle did draft speedy wide receiver rookie Richardson out of Colorado. Both Richardson and Harvin have the same build, play the same position and are loaded with speed, but Harvin has some significant injuries throughout his short tenure in Seattle. In fact, Harvin has only played in 8 games in Seattle since joining the team last year, but when he does play, he has game changing ability. However, Seattle has lost their offensive identity with Harvin on the field, with his ball demands. Seattle’s offense has become “novelty” with Harvin in the lineup and it seem that every play is going to be a trick play, taking the command away from star quarterback Russell Wilson. Expect Richardson’s play time increase as he could be the Seahawks next superstar. Obviously Pete Carol always has a solid backup plan when it comes to his playmakers, and don’t forget about Seattle’s wide receiver Jermaine Kearse
as his snaps will increase.

My Quarterback “Dog Named Reach” for Week 7 is Charlie Whitehurst
of the Tennessee Titans. A career backup in San Diego and Seattle, he’s had only a limited playing time and only a few spot starts in his career. Nicknamed “Clip Board Jesus” (or CBJ) from his long hair / beard, managing the clipboard duties on the sidelines, Whitehurst is a nine year veteran and has been coached by some of the best quarterback coaches in the business.

Whitehurst has had most of his NFL playing time in the preseason, scrambling behind shotty second and third string offensive lines, and Tennessee first string O-line is quite a talented and impressive young bunch (with three first round draft pics and a premier guard). If the O-line and if they can keep CBJ upright to throw the ball down field, Whitehurst has a lot of dangerous weapons at his disposal. Tightend Delanie Walker has developed into a good TE1 with wide receiver speedster Kendall Wight and deep threat Justin Hunter, Whitehurst is due to breakout game and take over as the Titans starting quarterback for the remainder of the year. I like the o-line and the weapons CBJ has at his disposal and I will predict a 300 passing years with 2 very long TD (one to Hunter and one to Nate Washington).

Three weeks ago, Whitehurst started against the Cleveland Browns and I predicted (via Twitter @jamfed) he would shine in that game. Most people claimed I was crazy and Whitehurst would FLOP (but he finished with 13 completions, 21 attempts, 194 and 2TD’s / in a game they lead until the last second of the game). Not a bad performance, yet that was the game where Cleveland had the biggest road comeback win in NFL history. (Sorry Charlie…)

If you have Nick Foles as your starter, or you do not necessarily like your starting QB’s matchup this week, Charlie Whitehurst
your “Dog Named Reach” of the week.

*Two Week ago, I started fantasy football segment called a “Dog Named Reach,” driven by our own fantasy football teams (with our own drafting errors). Finding a new Dog (player), or Reaching on a fantasy Free Agent is the new evolution of improving our (weekly) fantasy football team. This is the Art of the Waiver Wire. Two weeks ago, I had Austin Seferian-Jenkins
set as the “Dog Named Reach” and yet I just released him due to his bye this week, the emergence of Dwayne Allen as my TE2 on my team (with my TE1 Vernon Davis wounded on the bench). Plus, I picked up WR Malcom Floyd to take ASJ’s spot. – The worst way to manage your fantasy football team’s bench is to have three tightends or quarterbacks on your team, so I had to let ASJ go but I still like him.

 

My Pools, Mules & Wagers of Week 7:

Jets +9.6

Tennessee +4.5

Jacksonville +4.5

Buffalo -4

New Orleans +3

San Diego -4

Giants +5.5

Atlanta +7

Seattle -6.5

Cincinnati +3

Miami +3.5

Green Bay -7

Arizona -3.5

San Francisco -3.5

Houston +3.5 *Total Score (tie breaker): 47

Dog Named Reach: Tight Ends Week 5 (#FantasyFootball)

10/3/2014 – by James Fedewa

I’m starting a new fantasy football weekly segment called a “Dog Named Reach,” driven by our own fantasy football teams (with our own drafting errors). Finding a new Dog (player), or Reaching on a fantasy free agent is the new evolution of improving our (weekly) fantasy football team. This week will focus on the Tight End and if you are like me, you wanted to secure a decent Tight End early in this season’s draft (so you would not be constantly searching throughout the season for a position so hard to fill).

Last year’s Tight End “Dog Named Reach” was the Broncos Julius Thomas. If you found this sleeper early in free agency last year, you probably snuck into the playoffs (unless of course you drafted Jimmy Graham in the first round, or traded either one of them for another fantasy #1 banger).

Learning from experience, I have always suggested drafting a tight-ends by the 4th round, as a quality weekly start is hard to find at the TE position. The Super Tight End (within fantasy football) started over 10 years ago with Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzales. Back then, if you drafted Gates or Gonzales (by round 4) your whole team probably had a solid overall season.  But in this evolved new-age of #fantasyfootball, teams like yours can use the waiver wire and free agency to your weekly advantage for spot starting. The new-age of fantasy football is won on the waiver wire and with free agents.

This 2014 season, I planned on drafting Jimmy Graham early (if available) as his numbers are within the top 5 wide receivers, but at a normally low scoring position.  Plus Graham usually finishes with over 100 points more than the second best tight end in the league.  Well, I did not get the opportunity to draft Graham and I try not draft players in the AFC West (unless they’re San Diego Chargers / so NO to J. Thomas). So I targeted Tight Ends #3, #4 & #5 and if #3 was taken, I’m drafting TE#4 ASAP. And I drafted Vernon Davis early (even though I was also trying to avoid NFC West players, since they were playing the AFC West in 2014). Vernon Davis started this season off very strong, but has been a ghost since. Ankle problems, Knee Problems and now Back Problems (and no one does well with back problems). Now what do I do?

Finding a new free agent Tight End that can start on your roster weekly is next to impossible. It’s a juggling act every week.  And if you have a bad TE#1, then your bench probably has two additional worse TE prospects.  You could end up having three bad TE’s on your roster, eating up your valuable roster space. So with DOGS NAMED REACH,
we are looking for flyers (aka BOOMS). We are looking for BIG PLAY potential at this point, not guys who can offer 4 catches and 30 yards (and settling for easy). We want the “who’s the next Julius Thomas” types so we are looking for basically “NO NAME” type of guys.  And if a DOG NAMED REACH
hopefully pans out, then we can clear up some extra waste from your bench, and find better depth with better positions.  

If you can’t pick up Colts Tight End Dwayne Allen (who is probably already gone in some 12 team leagues), we’re looking at the rookie Tight End from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Austin Seferian-Jenkins
(he is the reach of the week) and the first ever: DOG NAMED REACH!  Rookie receivers are a tough start on any league (based on player development which carries over to their stat line), and a rookie Tight End might be even worse. But Seferian-Jenkins has the tools and size to be a very good NFL pass catcher, and if you watched his college tape, he is very big, surprisingly fast, and quick for a 260 lbs. beast and is very hard to tackle. Tampa’s top first round rookie, WR Mike Evans, was injured last week and is currently listed as OUT. Seferian-Jenkins can acquire Evan’s previous targets. Seferian-Jenkins could be the next Julius Thomas of 2014.

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. Read the rest of this entry

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).

Read the rest of this entry

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.
Read the rest of this entry

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

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