“Chargers–What I Like–Dislike”
The AFC West…no place for the timid.
I projected the Chargers to go (9-8) but these teams are so balanced, they could knock each other off week by week, and everyone could be close to a .500-team. Have we ever had a 4-way tie for first place in an NFL division?
And yes, all the wildcard teams in the AFC could come from out here.
A look at topics and thoughts about the Chargers heading towards Sunday’s opener with the Raiders.
OWNER..When last checked, Dean Spanos was facing 3-different lawsuits from family members, allegations the team was drowning in debt, and prepared to possibly make a Super Bowl run. Nothing has really changed, though the suits are headed to NFL arbitration. Interested to see if these suits lead to a buyout of the stock Dea Spanos-Barberian holds in the club and at what price. Interested to see if they are a Super Bowl candidate.
THE FANS…Come Sunday, will the color of the day be Powder Blue-and-Gold or Silver-and-Black. Will this be a Chargers home game or a Raiders home game? Will opposing fans over-run the stadium?
THE GM..Tom Telesco has worked hard to put together maybe the best team since the Marty Schottenheimer (14-2) team featuring Rivers-Gates-Tomlinson and company. His career record is (71-78) and his teams have made the playoffs just twice in nine years. But this team is gifted, talented, fast, experienced on defense. It’s time to win. Little has been said about the 284M in contract extensions given to players this off season. Never seen that before. Haven’t seen a Super Bowl appearance since 1994’s Boss Ross bunch.
THE PRESIDENTS…Anyone heard from AG Spanos or John Spanos? Completely disappeared from view, press conferences and the like. Can’t handle the heat (not talking current temperatures). Nice credibility.
THE COACH..Brandon Staley ambushed everyone with that offense last year, explosive, dangerous, dynamic, challenging. But like everything else, NFL defensive coordinators caught up to the gimmicks-gadgets-bells-gongs and whistles of their playbook. They did tail off a bit in the second half of the season. Still will be fun to see what they spring on people this year, for these are bright light guys.
THE QUARTERBACK…A 5,000-yard season, 30-plus TDs, and leadership qualities that impress you no end. Justin Herbert has done so much in such a short time, he looks like the young coming of the peak years of Dan Fouts. He is a cross between John Elay’s scrambling ability…Peyton Manning’s intellect…and Brett Favre’s brass. What a gem
WIDE OUT…Got every angle covered. Only concern what happens if either Keenan Allen or Mike Williams gets hurt, not alot of experience behind them.
TIGHT END..Surprised a productive Jared Cook was not brought back, but Gerald Everett showed alot as a Ram, and there are still things to watch with Donald Parham among others.
OFFENSIVE LINE..Back to back stud draft picks, Rashawn Slater and Zion Johnson. Still time left on the clock for veterans in Corey Linsley and Mike Fieler. At issue, this must be the year Trey Pipkens holds up on the job since Storm Norton has not at RT.
RUNNING BACKS…They will excel in open space, will run and catch the ball too, this Austin Ekeler-Sony Michel combo. Can they trust Josh Kelly to hold onto the football, or pick up blitz blocks? He did not last year. Hope they can get Ike Spiller healthy, but he is a raw rookie and this takes time.
PASS RUSH…Khalil Mack-Joey Bosa-what a combo, expensive as it may be. Hope they can keep them healthy. Tackles are going to have a nightmare time.
Interested to see if Chris Rumph can have a second strong year growing on the job. Jerry Tillery’s career stalled, now a backup.
RUN DEFENSE..Those two blocks of granite inside, Sebastian Day and Austin Johnson take up space, crush blockers. Want to see if they can get penetration.
They do need some of their young backups to be able to hold up.
LINEBACKERS ARE US…This is my mystery group. You have an injury issue and a learning curve issue with Kenneth Murray. Dru Tranquill is active, but is that enough. Kyle Van Noy can bring veteran experience but he has been let go twice by other teams. Was surprised they let Uchenna Nwosu walk as a free agent after a strong fall. Keep an eye on CFL-import Jamal Davis on the practice squad. Troy Reeder, the ex Ram, and Nick Neiman are young-active guys who will get bunches of snaps.
CORNERBACKS…Maybe the deepest group in the league, but before we put any names on any Hall of Fame ballot, let’s remember this was a group of young players who made plays, and gave up bunches of chunk plays last year. JC Jackson had a spectacular season in New England, but Bill Belichick did not value him enough to offer him a state of the art contract. When last seen, Michael Davis, Asante Samuelt, and Alohi Gilman were the DBs chasing receivers who ran by them. It’s a learning experience, time to show what you learned. Bryce Callahan is the insurance policy. Keeping the kids healthy will be important.
SAFETIES…He is so good, so diverse,you forget Derwin James is a safety. But he is also always hurt. 3-significant injuries with the Bolts, on top of what happened at Florida State. Nassir Adderly does not get much recognition but seems more stable than any of the other guys in the secondary.
SPECIAL TEAMS…Kickers might be a dime a dozen, but the Bolts got a solid silver dollar addition in Dustin Hopkins, and they signed JK Scott of the Jaguars to replace punter Ty Law. Kick return guys, only time will tell. There should be a mighty mite burner on some street corner.
SEASON…Tough bunch of games the second half of the season. Think it was unfair the NFL had them open with the Raiders then play the Chiefs 4-days later. I say (9-8), but understand this, everyone else in the division could go (9-8) too. Have to find my NFL Handbook about tiebreakers.