Archive for the ‘San Diego Chargers’ Category
It’s that time of year again in the NFL.
Almost all of the 32 teams have now returned for training camp and with preseason games right around the corner, it won’t be long until the new season kicks off.
Let’s see how the things are shaping up in 2013.
Who will win the quarterback battle in Buffalo?
The Bills haven’t had the best of luck recently when it comes to quarterbacks. From the mediocre Trent Edwards to the just about average Ryan Fitzpatrick, there hasn’t been much to cheer for lately in upstate New York. After releasing Fitzpatrick in March, the team now are undergoing a fresh start at quarterback.
They signed Kevin Kolb this offseason to a two-year deal. Kolb was released after spending two years with the Arizona Cardinals and although he has the potential to be a starting quarterback, he has yet to stay healthy and complete a full season.
The other option is rookie E.J. Manuel. After impressing at Florida State, Manuel was picked with the sixteenth overall selection in this year’s draft and he is expected to compete with Kolb for the starting role.
Expect the Bills to give the starting job to Kevin Kolb over rookie Manuel.
How will Mike Wallace perform in Miami?
Who are the fastest players in the NFL? Chances are Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace would see his name close to the top of that list.
The former Pittsburgh Steeler signed a $60 million deal with the Dolphins this offseason and he is expected to make a big impact in South Beach. Wallace is a former Pro Bowler who has averaged over 17 yards per reception in his career.
The 26-year-old should form a solid combination with quarterback Ryan Tannehill who will be looking to improve after an inconsistent rookie season. will prove to be a huge success for head coach Joe Philbin and the Dolphins.
Tannehill will certainly have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball downfield this season with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline on the outside.
New England Patriots
Can Tom Brady and the Pats solve their tight end issues?
Now this isn’t going to come as a surprise to NFL fans or anybody who has been watching the ongoing murder case involving Aaron Hernandez, but the Patriots have serious problems at tight end. With Aaron Hernandez gone and Rob Gronkowski still recovering from back surgery, the team is struggling at the position.
Former New York Giant Jake Ballard currently appears to be best option with veteran Daniel Fells providing backup. Although they aren’t admitting it to the media, the team must surely be concerned about Rob Gronkowski and his long-term health following yet another surgery.
Could all this uncertainty pave the way for a position switch from quarterback to tight end for Tim Tebow?
If there’s a coach out there that can make this work, it’s got to be Bill Belichick.
New York Jets
What kind of impact will new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have in the big apple?
January 11th, 2012. That’s the date when the Jets hired Tony Sparano as their new offensive coordinator. Safe to say, that experiment didn’t work out too well.
Now with Sparano gone on former Eagles coach Marty Mornhinwg installed as the new offensive coordinator, the team is entering another make or break season.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez now faces competition for the starting job from rookie Geno Smith. Regardless of who is chosen as the starter, Mornhinweg will need to do a better job than Sparano did if he is going to keep his job and improve the Jets offense.
If the Jets fail to make the Playoffs this season, it could force owner Woody Johnson to make a change with both quarterback Mark Sanchez and head coach Rex Ryan running out of chances.
What will the Ravens defense look like without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed?
Just think about this for a second, Ray Lewis was the first draft choice in the history of the Ravens back in 1996. Ed Reed was a first round draft pick in 2002. Both these players are now gone and the team must move on without them.
The defending Super Bowl champions will need to adapt quickly to the loss of these two leaders. It came as no surprise when the team used their first two draft picks to find their replacements.
Florida safety Matt Elam was selected in the first round with Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown taken in the second round. Both rookies will be expected to contribute early on and replace the gap left by the departed duo of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome proved once again why he is one of the best in the business when it comes to picking talent and Ravens fans should be excited to see these rookies compete.
Is Andy Dalton ever going to step up for the Bengals in the playoffs?
After two seasons in the league, Andy Dalton has an impressive quarterback rating of 83.9 in the regular season. His performances in the playoffs have not been so impressive.
In the postseason, Dalton’s quarterback rating is 48.6 and he has an equally unimpressive touchdown to interception ratio of 0-4. The former TCU star seems to shy away from the spotlight and that must now the biggest question mark for the team.
The Bengals are never going to reach their potential if things don’t change and it’s about time their quarterback started showing more composure in the playoffs.
This could be the year that head coach Marvin Lewis leads his team to a playoff victory for the first time but it will all come down to the performance of Dalton.
Can rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski succeed in Cleveland?
Rob Chudzinski may not be as well-known to NFL fans as other rookie head coaches this year, but the 45-year-old has an impressive coaching background. Chudzinski played on a national championship winning Miami Hurricanes team in 1987 and he also won a national championship with the school as offensive coordinator in 2001.
As a coach in the NFL, he has worked with the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers and most recently with the Carolina Panthers where he played a major role in improving their offense and developing quarterback Cam Newton. During his time as offensive coordinator with the Browns back in 2007, he helped them to win ten games and also sent four offensive players to the Pro Bowl including Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II.
If there’s one thing he brings to the table, “Chud” will add some much needed explosiveness to the Browns offense which already has a future Pro Bowler at running back with Trent Richardson.
It doesn’t help Chudzinski that the Browns are playing in one of the toughest divisions in football but they have a roster capable of winning plenty of games this season.
How will first-round rookie Jarvis Jones perform in Pittsburgh?
The Steelers are coming off worst ever season under head coach Mike Tomlin. After going 8-8 last year and with their usually dominant defense struggling, it was time to rebuild.
They have made many changes to personnel this offeseason with James Harrison, Keenan Lewis, Ryan Mundy and Will Allen all gone. The team re-signed veterans Larry Foote and William Gay before the draft and then made an impressive first-round selection in April. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was selected with the seventeenth overall pick and the rookie is expected to fill the starting role left by James Harrison.
The Steelers are looking to bounce back this season and they will be counting on Jones to help them do so on defense.
Expect the 23-year-old to make a big impact in his rookie year playing alongside LaMarr Woodley at outside linebacker.
Can J.J. Watt set a new record for single-season sacks in Houston?
Michael Strahan set the record for sacks in a season back in 2001 when he registered 22.5 sacks. Twelve years later and that record is under threat.
J.J. Watt is a special football player. At 6 foot 5 inches tall and weighing almost 290 pounds, he posses a unique mix of size, speed and strength that causes nightmares for anybody attempting to block him. If there was ever going to be a football player who could double act as a transformer, Watt is it.
The former Wisconsin standout is coming off a season in which he had 20.5 sacks, was named to the All-Pro team and also won the Defensive Player of the Year award. Even more frightening for opposing teams and quarterbacks is that at 24-years-old and entering his third season, he is going to get even better.
Watt is without doubt the most dominant defensive player in the league right now and look for him to break the NFL’s single-season sack record this year.
Is it going to be a sophomore slump for Andrew Luck and the Colts?
Andrew Luck was just a rookie last season and every year the NFL takes a poll of the top 100 players in the league, Luck was ranked 23rd in that poll. As in the 23rd best player in the NFL, after only one season in the league. That’s how good he is.
The 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft didn’t disappoint in his first year in the league and he set seven NFL records along the way. Putting all those credentials aside for now and it’s time to do it all over again. Unfortunately for Luck and the Colts, the sophomore slump is bound to kick in.
It will be interesting to see how #12 handles the pressure this time around.
The departure of offensive coordinator Bruce Arenas will likely cause a drop in Luck’s production this year and it will be hard for him to repeat the magic of his rookie season.
What will Denard Robinson really do for the Jags?
The Jaguars used their fifth round pick in April’s draft to select former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson set many records during his time at Ann Arbor and he was a terrific offensive player for the wolverines. Notice how I referred to him as an offensive player and not a quarterback in the last sentence and that’s because of the elephant in the room.
Denard Robinson cannot play quarterback in the NFL. He just doesn’t posses the type of arm strength, accuracy or overall awareness when it comes to passing the football that are all critical to playing the position in this league. However, that doesn’t mean he cannot succeed as an impact player on offense and that’s exactly what the Jags will use him as.
Robinson is listed as an offensive weapon on the depth chart and he is expected to play running back, wide receiver and return specialist for the team. Their plan is to give him 10-15 snaps per game but that is unlikely.
Whether they want to admit or not, there is no way that “Shoelace” will see that many touches for one simple reason and that is because this is no longer College football.
Newsflash in Jacksonville: This is the NFL and not the Big Ten.
Will Jake Locker stay healthy and remain the starter in Tennessee?
Jake Locker hasn’t yet managed to silence the critics who doubted his ability to take a hit in the NFL. Since being drafted with the eighth overall pick by the Titans in the 2011 draft, he has played in exactly half of the team’s 32 regular season games.
After beating out veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and winning the starting job last year, Locker’s 2012 season was cut short by shoulder problems and he still faces those same concerns heading into this season. With Hasselbeck now gone, Tennessee is counting on their former first round pick to step up and put his injury issues in the past.
All the comments thus far from Locker and Titans camp is that the shoulder injury is fully healed and he is back to 100%. How long that will last however is still a question mark.
If Locker does get hurt again this year it could force team owner Bud Adams to move on from the 25-year-old.
Are they heading towards a decline in Denver?
The short answer to this question is yes. If you are a Broncos fan, look away now.
Last year’s second ranked defense has gone through an awful offseason. With defensive leader Elvis Dumervil being cut by the team back in March, things got even worse for the team this week.
Linebacker Von Miller faces a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Miller has claimed innocence in the case and he is appealing the suspension. It would usually be around this time that the team’s front office would step in but after two Broncos executives got arrested for separate drink driving offences, they appear to be dealing with problems of their own.
With all this ongoing uncertainty, the Broncos look as though they are heading backwards in 2013.
Kansas City Chiefs
How will Andy Reid perform in Kansas City?
Well it didn’t take long for Andy Reid to find another job. After being fired by the Philadelphia Eagles immediately after last season, the 55-year-old head coach is back at work.
The Chiefs hired Reid as their new head coach less than a week after his firing and signed him to a five-year deal. Putting aside a disastrous final year in Philadelphia, Andy Reid is a great football coach. You don’t take your team to the Playoffs nine times in 14 years by accident.
Now in his new chapter in Kansas City, the Chiefs look likely to make progress under Reid and challenge for the AFC West title.
Obviously much will depend on the play of new quarterback Alex Smith but if he can deliver and Reid makes the right coaching decisions, the Chiefs can be a Playoff team for years to come.
What has changed in Oakland?
Often considered to be the worst team in the division, that certainly won’t be the case this season. The Raiders look to be undergoing a turnaround under head coach Dennis Allen.
On offense, not much has changed with their annual quarterback turnover and the ongoing questions surrounding the health of running back Darren McFadden. But on the opposite side of the ball, the defense are making moves.
The Raiders have signed some impressive free agents at cornerback with Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins both joining the team. Add to that their first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden along with returning veteran Charles Woodson and the Raiders are looking strong in the secondary.
If they can find a decent quarterback from the four options that they currently have on the roster, the Raiders could content for a postseason spot this year.
San Diego Chargers
Is this the end for Philip Rivers in San Diego?
The Chargers have a new head coach with Mike McCoy taking over the hot seat. The first thing on his to do list should be to address the recent problems with quarterback Philip Rivers.
Statistics don’t lie and they do not read well for Rivers. In his last three seasons he has thrown 48 interceptions and has had 63 total turnovers.
However, many fans will argue that he isn’t to blame for this decline and it is instead down to poor play from the offensive line. The team hasn’t wasted time in fixing this issue. They drafted Alabama offesnive tackle D.J. Fluker with their first round pick and also added free agents Max Starks and King Dunlap. With no more excuses, it’s now up to Rivers to deliver.
If it turns out that Rivers struggles again, head coach Mike McCoy will have an important decision on his hands regarding the future of the franchise at quarterback.
That was my breakdown of the AFC and my NFC breakdown will be released next week.
For more NFL updates, follow me on twitter.
Draft Pick: Round 2 Pick 38
San Diego Chargers
Strengths- Football I.Q.
In terms of overall awareness and football intelligence, Te’o is one of the most NFL ready players of the entire Rookie class this year. A star player during his final year at Notre Dame, he ranks third all-time in the schools illustrious history with 437 total tackles.
Te’o is an instinctive player and a solid tackler. He also has all the tools necessary to become a leader on the Chargers defense given his experience of being a team captain in college.
If I had to pick a comparison for Te’o, his game reminds me very much of Luke Kuechly who was a top-ten pick in last year’s Draft and is now a standout player for the Carolina Panthers. He may not have the same amount of athleticism as Kueckly has though and that is a concern.
Te’o ran a 4.82 40 time at the NFL Combine which left many scouts and coaches disappointed. Although he did improve on that time slightly by running a 4.78 at his Notre Dame pro day, neither 40 time signifies a great amount of speed.
That lack of quickness shows on tape for Te’o and it appears to be the standout question mark surrounding his talents on the field. There’s no doubting his tackling ability, but he needs to improve his burst if he is going to get in a position to make plays in the NFL.
There is one other obvious weakness for Te’o and that is the elephant in the room.
Why should we watch out for him?
It should be clear to NFL fans and anyone who has ever visited http://deadspin.com/ why we should watch out for Te’o. This 22-year-old isn’t your typical second round draft pick and that’s because the former Notre Dame star received worldwide attention earlier this year. Unfortunately for Te’o, this wasn’t the attention he would have been looking for.
The story has been widely reported over the past few months and is something that most fans are probably tired of discussing. Whilst some analysts may consider this issue irrelevant to his professional career, I think it is something he will have to deal with during his Rookie season.
The San Diego Chargers have done a fantastic job in protecting Te’o from any further embarrassment since he was drafted by the team in the second round back in April. The media haven’t been given excessive access to Te’o during recent minicamps which has left him to concentrate on matters on the field rather than on answering questions off it.
All reports coming out of Chargers camp this summer are that Te’o has looked great in practice and he will start alongside Donald Butler at middle linebacker this year. The problem for Te’o begins once the summer ends and the regular season begins.
So far, there have been no incidents of rookie hazings or any animosity towards Te’o from inside the Chargers locker room but the same cannot be said for opposing players and especially rival fans. I’m sure opposing teams will use his off-field controversy to target Te’o during games.
He isn’t likely to get the warmest reception from fans either. I can’t imagine that Raiders fans in the “Black Hole” will be to kind to him when the Chargers travel to Oakland on December 22nd.
Only time will tell if Te’o is mentally strong enough to deal with the inevitable question marks that are to come.
There is my scouting report on Manti Te’o.
Thanks for reading and follow me on twitter for further updates.
The San Diego Chargers have announced the firing of head coach Norv Turner.
General Manager A.J. Smith has also been relieved of his duties as the Chargers react to yet another disappointing season.
Turner and his Legacy
Following three consecutive years of missing the Playoffs, team ownership decided it was time to make a change.
Turner leaves with a 59-43 total record as head coach of the Chargers. However, he was never able to translate his regular season wins into Postseason success. Despite all the talent that’s been at his disposal since Turner arrived as Head Coach in the 2007 season, the Chargers never made it past the AFC Championship Game.
Websites like http://firenorvturner.com/ will be satisfied with this news and for many fans, it is a coaching change that is long overdue.
I myself was pulling for Turner to be fired after last season and was shocked that he was given another year as head coach with the team.
My top candidate to replace Turner is Jon Gruden. Gruden is the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach who guided them to a Super Bowl victory in 2002. He was fired by the Bucs when the 08 season finished after back-to-back 9-7 seasons.
Since then, the 49-year-old has been an analyst for Monday Night Football on ESPN. He is an Offensive minded coach who would bring some much needed enthusiasm to the Chargers Offense.
Gruden gets my vote as the next head coach of the San Diego Chargers.
Decisions for 2013
After hiring a new head coach and a new general manager, the next big decision that owners need to make will be regarding quarterback Philip Rivers.
Rivers is facing an uncertain future for the Chargers after another poor season.
The 31-year-old is coming off his worst statistical year since 2007. To make matters worse for #17, he has 47 turnovers in his last 32 games.
With all the other changes going on for the Chargers, it could now be time for a change at the quarterback position too.
Much will depend on the quarterback class in the upcoming draft along with the available free agents.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley is one to keep an eye on in the 2013 draft and would be an intriguing prospect for the Chargers.
The coming months ahead will be crucial for the future of the franchise with a new head coach, a new general manager and possibly even a new quarterback all on the way for the Chargers.
For all your Chargers updates, follow me on twitter.
Week 11 kicked off last night the Buffalo Bills getting a much needed victory with a 19-14 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Looking ahead to some of the standout games in Week 11 now and there is some fantastic action to watch on Sunday.
There is a great NFC North clash in Detroit as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers take on the Lions. There is another exciting matchup in store in New England as the Indianapolis Colts take on Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Those are just two of the standout games to see this week with plenty more action on show.
Now without further ado, here are my picks for Week 11.
Preview: 5-4 Bucs at 2-7 Panthers
Prediction: Cam Newton gets the edge over Josh Freeman in this one
Pick: Panthers Win
Preview: 4-5 Bengals at 1-7 Chiefs
Prediction: The Bengals get back to .500 on the road against the disappointing Chiefs
Pick: Bengals Win
Preview: 3-6 Jets at 3-5-1 Rams
Prediction: Sam Bradford and the Rams will go one better this week and upgrade their tie to a win
Pick: Rams Win
Preview: 3-6 Eagles at 3-6 Redskins
Prediction: Something tells me the Eagles will finally pull off a bounce back victory
Pick: Eagles Win
Preview: 1-8 Jaguars at 8-1 Texans
Prediction: The Texans shouldn’t have any problems at home
Pick: Texans Win
Preview: 2-7 Browns at 4-5 Cowboys
Prediction: Tony Romo needs to keep the Cowboys winning streak going in their own backyard
Pick: Cowboys Win
Preview: 4-5 Cardinals at 8-1 Falcons
Prediction: Don’t get carried away with the Falcons losing streak just yet
Pick: Falcons Win
Preview: 4-5 Saints at 3-6 Raiders
Prediction: This will be a complete mismatch of styles that gives Oakland the advantage
Pick: Raiders Win
Preview: 6-3 Colts at 6-3 Patriots
Prediction: Tom Brady will show Rookie of the Year candidate Andrew Luck what an elite quarterback looks like
Pick: Patriots Win
Preview: 6-3 Packers at 4-5 Lions
Prediction: The Lions fall even further behind in the NFC North after this one
Pick: Packers Win
Preview: 4-5 Chargers at 6-3 Broncos
Prediction: This game shouldn’t even be close given how poor the Chargers have been playing lately
Pick: Broncos Win
Preview: 7-2 Ravens at 5-3 Steelers
Prediction: Look for Joe Flacco and the Ravens to pull off a statement win in Pittsburgh
Pick: Ravens Win
This week’s Monday night game sees the 7-2 Chicago Bears travel to San Francisco to take on the 6-2-1 49ers.
I’ll be posting a full preview of that game on Monday.
For all your NFL picks/previews/predictions and more, follow me on twitter.
Week 9 kicks off tonight with a divisional clash from the AFC West as the 1-6 Kansas City Chiefs tackle the 3-4 San Diego Chargers at Qualcomn Stadium.
The game is live on NFL Network for American viewers and will also be shown on Sky Sports 1 in Ireland.
So without further ado, here is my preview of the game.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
Stadium- Qualcomn Stadium
Kick Off- 5:20 p.m. in San Diego/1:20 a.m. in Ireland
What to Watch
Chiefs Running Game vs Chargers Defense
- Given their current quarterback situation, the Chiefs priority on offense should be running the football with track star Jamaal Charles in the backfield. He is one of the fastest backs in the NFL and a real weapon in the run game.
- However, the Chiefs are yet to fully utilize Charles and he’s had only seventeen carries in their last games. It will be interesting to see how many carries he sees against the Chargers second ranked run defense.
Chargers Pass Rush vs Chiefs Offensive Line
- The Chargers pass rush has been highly disappointing this year with just 12 sacks on defense. Veteran pass rusher Shaun Phillips is the leader of this unit and he leads the team with 5 sacks.
- On the opposite side of the ball, the Chiefs offensive line will set out to stop Phillips and the Chargers pass rush. This will be a key battle to watch as the Chiefs will need to protect their quarterback in the pocket regardless of who starts between Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel.
Chargers Passing Game
- Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing game aren’t living up to expectations this season and currently rank as the 21st best in the league. Whether its the receivers or the quarterback, the passing game is a problem that needs to be fixed for a team with plenty of players capable of contributing through the air.
- The stats don’t read well for #17 especially with 8 total turnovers in his last three games. Rivers and the passing game simply must step up if they are to pull off the win tonight.
Who to Watch
Justin Houston- Outside Linebacker- Chiefs
- Justin Houston has been one of the few bright spots on the Chiefs defense in 2012. Starting opposite Tambi Hali, Houston has been a consistent contributor and currently leads the team with 6 sacks.
- Now in his second season in the league, he is progressing into a true force coming off the edge with a great first step along with excellent strength. Chargers right tackle Jeromey Clary will need to keep a close eye on Houston at all times to tonight to protect quarterback Philip Rivers.
Ryan Mathews- Running Back- Chargers
- It’s been a difficult campaign thus far for running back Ryan Mathews. After missing the first two games through injury, he is now back in the starting lineup after being slowly worked back into the backfield.
- He recovered from a slow start and has rushed for 249 yards in his last three games and is arguably the only skill position player that the Chargers can count on right now. Look for Mathews to shine tonight against a below par run defense.
Philip Rivers- Quarterback- Chargers
- 2012 was supposed to be the year that Rivers rebounded from his worst season as a starter and got the Chargers back to the Playoffs. Seven games into the campaign and that has’nt been the case.
- Not only has he continued his recent struggles but he his play has been mediocre at times which has led to major question marks being asked about his future with the team. Rivers will be looking to improve and lead the Chargers to victory tonight.
This is a crucial AFC West battle with a loss for either team putting the final nail in the coffin for their respective Playoff hopes.
Coming off yet another disappointing loss, I think Norv Turner and the Chargers get the win back home in San Diego.
Chiefs 6 Chargers 22
So that’s your preview and prediction, hope everyone enjoys the big game.
After some fantastic games yesterday, Week 6 concludes tonight with an exciting AFC West clash between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos.
The game will be live on ESPN in America and on the BBC Red Button in Ireland.
So without further ado, here is a full preview of Week 6 Monday Night Football.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Stadium- Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Kick Off- 6:30 p.m. in San Diego/1:30 a.m. in Ireland
What to Watch
Broncos Offensive Line vs Chargers Linebackers
- The Broncos offensive line has done a great job of protecting quarterback Peyton Manning after allowing ten sacks through five games. This group is a big reason why the Broncos aerial attack has impressed in the early stages of the new season.
- Things haven’t been as impressive for the Chargers linebackers. Shaun Phillips is the only player with more than one sack and they will be hoping to put plenty of pressure on Peyton tonight.
Broncos Wide Receivers vs Chargers Cornerbacks
- Demaryius Thomas and the rest of the Broncos receivers are all seeing increases in their production thanks to the benefit of having Peyton Manning at quarterback. Currently fifth in the NFL in passing yards per game, these wideouts should be major contributors to their offense.
- On the other side of the ball are the Chargers cornerbacks featuring veteran starters Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason. Jammer and Cason have steadied their play this year and will look stay solid again tonight.
Chargers Running Game
- The good news for Chargers fans is that staring running back Ryan Mathews participated fully in practice this week. The bad news is that Mathews is still having difficulty carrying the ball this season and is yet to have a game with more than fifteen carries.
- Mathews is one of the best backs in the league when healthy but health has been the issue for him throughout his short career. He should share carries again with backup Jackie Battle in the backfield.
Who to Watch
Von Miller- Linebacker- Broncos
- Von Miller is quickly turning into one of the best defensive players in football. After a rookie season season in which he had 11.5 sacks, he currenty has five sacks though five games in this campaign and will definitely be looking to add to that total tonight.
- With Miller coming off the edge, the Chargers will look to left tackle Jared Gaither to protect quarterback Philip Rivers. In this battle, the edge definitely goes to Von Miller and the Broncos.
Ryan Mathews- Running Back- Chargers
- As I mentioned earlier, there is no doubting Ryan Mathews has exceptional ability as a running back and he is definitely one of the most promising players at the position right now. The problem with Mathews is his inability to stay healthy and also his ongoing consistency issues.
- He is no stranger to the sidelines or fumbles and that must change if he is to turn his potential into production. The Chargers offense will be counting on Mathews to perform tonight in the run game.
Matt Prater- Kicker- Broncos
- How can a kicker be a key player to watch out for? When your name is Matt Prater and you are one of the best field goal kickers in the game than you will always be a key player.
- He is currently seven for seven so far this season on field goal attempts. Add to that 100% record his ability to make a kick from anyway over 50 yards and Prater could end up having a major influence on the outcome of tonight’s game.
This game should be a high scoring battle as two of the best quarterbacks in the game go head-to-head.
In a crucial divisional game in front of a prime time audience on Monday Night Football, I have a feeling this will be a shootout.
Chargers 33 Broncos 30
So that’s your preview and prediction, hope everyone enjoys the game.
The San Diego Chargers kick off their 2012 season with a AFC West clash against division rivals Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football.
Last year was a disappointment for both the Chargers and Raiders as they both finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
However, both teams will be looking to bounce back this time around and get off to a winning start on Monday night.
With Raiders’ fans at the Coliseum likely to be even louder on opening night, this one should go down to the wire.
Now without further ado, here is the preview.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Unlike the Raiders, the Chargers are coming off a solid preseason and will hope to continue that momentum going into this one.
Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense will be depending on new receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal in the passing game and running back Ronnie Brown in the running game without the absent duo of Ryan Mathews and Vincent Brown.
The Chargers defense will likely be more aggressive under new defensive coordinator John Pagano and rookies like Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes and Brandon Taylor will be asked to step up and make an early impact for the team.
As for the Raiders, Carson Palmer simply must have a more consistent season if they are going to be successful this year and he’ll have to deal with a revamped Chargers defense that will be looking to blitz him every chance they can get.
On defense, their defensive front seven is among the best in the league with standout players Richard Seymour and Rolando McClain but it’s their secondary that lets them down as they are yet to replace Nnamdi Asomugha with any real talent at cornerback.
Darren McFadden- Running Back- Raiders
Raiders running back Darren McFadden is back to full health and will see plenty of carries in the game.
Richard Seymour- Defensive End- Raiders
Seymour will look to cause havoc in the Chargers rushing attack and will also be valuable vs the pass.
Philip Rivers- Quarterback- Chargers
As the Chargers leader on offense, Philip Rivers must play better this season and that starts on Monday night.
Eric Weddle- Safety- Chargers
Weddle will help out in coverage and will also spend more time playing in the box to stop McFadden.
Shane Lechler/Mike Scifres- Punters- Raiders/Chargers
These two are the top punters in the league right now and will certainly make an impact in the game.
Key battles to watch
Raiders wide receivers vs Chargers Secondary
- The first key battle to watch will be how the Chargers secondary matches up against the Raiders group of young wide receivers. The Raiders boast a speedy group of receivers (Darius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner and Rod Streater) who are all capable of making an impact. Chargers starting cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antonie Cason are in for a tough night and they will have to be on their game if they are going to stop these receivers.
Raiders running game vs Chargers defense
- If everyone can stay healthy, the Raiders will have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL this year and they are led by former Arkansas Razorback Darren McFadden. McFadden only played in seven games last season due to numerous injuries but he’s now back to 100% and will be a key factor in the Raiders offense. The Chargers defense will not only have to stop McFadden in the run game, but they will also have to watch out for backups Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson.
Chargers offensive line vs Raiders defensive line
- The Chargers offensive line will be without starting left tackle Jared Gaither in this game due to injury. Unfortunately or rather inevitably, Gaither suffered an injury setback which means undrafted rookie Mike Harris will start the game at left tackle. On the opposite side of the ball, the Raiders have arguably the best front four in football with Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston. The Raiders d-line will be solid vs the run and will also cause problems for Rivers in the passing game.
Chargers pass rush vs Carson Palmer
- Let’s face it, Carson Palmer isn’t anywhere near the quarterback that he once was and is now one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league. In fact, I ranked him as the seventh worst on my list of starting quarterbacks last week and I don’t expect him to have a good game going up against the Chargers pass rush. Just as the Raiders defense will lean heavily on their defensive line, the Chargers will be doing the same with their pass rushers and so expect them to be getting plenty of pressure on Palmer.
Special Teams battle
- I highlighted punters as impact players earlier and that’s because of the special teams battle that will likely unfold. The Raiders have the best punter in the NFL in Shane Lechler and the Chargers have the second best in Mike Scifres. The Raiders also have kicker Sebastian Janikowski who was voted onto the AFC team that went to the Pro Bowl last year. The Chargers have Nate Kaeding at kicker who is a two time pro bowler who missed last season due to injury. Safe to say, special teams will be a key factor in this game.
In what should be a close game, I see the Chargers just edging it. Raiders 27 Chargers 28
So that’s your preview and prediction.
Lets go bolts!!!
The Chargers aren’t having much luck with injuries this preseason and have lost yet another contributor on offense.
After Ryan Mathews got injured on the very first play during last week’s preseason opener vs the Packers, the injury bug struck again last night as wide receiver Vincent Brown suffered a broken ankle in the preseason win against the Dallas Cowboys. Just to add insult to injury, (literally) Brown was just after catching an 18-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
According to Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego, he will undergo surgery and is expected to be out for at least 8 weeks. (https://twitter.com/UTKevinAcee/status/237042363342663680)
So what does this mean for the offense?
This is another devastating blow for the offense with yet another playmaker heading to the sidelines alongside Ryan Mathews. Without Mathews or Brown, free agent acquisitions like Ronnie Brown and Robert Meachem will be asked to step up and contribute in their absence.
What makes this injury so devastating for both Brown and the Chargers is the timing of it. Brown was having a great training camp and was taking advantage of the opportunity that was left by Vincent Jackson.
After a solid rookie year, he looked as though he was set for a big improvement this season. As I already pointed out on this blog, I predicted Brown to have a big year (http://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/chargers-sign-parrish-a-breakdown-of-the-updated-wide-receiver-depth-chart/)
Now likely to miss half the year, the offense will be now be without the starting running back and one of the best receivers.
Other notes from last night’s game
- Quarterback play improved- Philip Rivers had a much better game in this one compared to last week vs the Packers. He was much more effective with his passing and in reading the defense. Although he did throw two interceptions, those were the only two passes he missed all game. Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst also looked good during his time in the game as he passed for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
- Running back is still an issue- With Ryan Mathews out injured, their is still no clear leader in the race to replace him. Although there are plenty of options at the position with veterans Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle competing with rookie Edwin Baker for carries, all of them are yet to show if they are capable to start in the regular season.
- Shareece Wright stepped up- Second year cornerback didn’t make much of an impact in rookie season last year and only played in seven games due of injury. However, Wright has managed to stay healthy so far this season and is finally showing what he can produce. He had a huge game last night with one interception, one sack, one forced fumble and three tackles. If can keep playing like this, he may manage to force his way into the starting lineup.
- Melvin Ingram is for real- The selection of first round-pick Melvin Ingram is just getting better and better for the defense. Ingram has already shown enough potential in two preseason games to draw comparisons to former Charger Shawne Merriman. After impressing in his first game last week, Ingram impressed again last night and also managed to get his first sack. Ingram looks set to have a big year and I stand by my prediction of 10 sacks for him in his rookie season.
What’s next for the Chargers?
Next up for San Diego is a trip to Minnesota play the Vikings on Friday.
This should be the last time that the starters play significant snaps before the regular season begins. The third preseason game is usually used as the final warm up for the starters and so expect them to play an entire half vs the Vikings.
The final point I wanted to bring up was the availability of Chad Johnson. I mentioned the Chargers as a possible destination for Chad last week. (http://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/chad-johnson-gets-cut-timeline-of-events-and-whats-next-for-85/) With Vincent Brown out, I think it could make sense to bring in another receiver.
But with A.J. Smith and Norv Turner running the team, the likelihood of the them bringing in a troubled 34-year-old receiver coming off a poor season seems a little far fetched.
But on the off chance that this does happen, I would be ecstatic as Chad is my favorite receiver in the league. If it doesn’t happen, there’s always Madden 13 to make sure that it does!!!
The Chargers got their preseason off to a winning start last night with a 21-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers.
Here’s a recap of the game with links:
Next up for San Diego is a home game vs the Dallas Cowboys on August 18th.