Chargers staff has 10 weeks to save jobs

A.J. Smith

A.J. SmithGive Chargers general manager A.J. Smith credit — he’s not in denial.

After watching the team he built specifically to avoid a fold-job fold the last two weeks, Smith admitted that the current administration has 10 weeks to save jobs.

“I take full responsibility for the present mess this team is in at this point in time,” Smith said, via Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego. “The construction and direction of this organization is on my watch. In the next 10 games we will either rally and see a slow, steady rise from the ashes to a division championship – or the beginning of a new era in Chargers’ football.”

If recent evidence is all you look at, you’d stack the odds on Smith looking for a new place to work. Gagging away a late lead to the winless Saints was one thing, allowingPeyton Manning to lead the Broncos to 35 unanswered points and overcome a 24-0 halftime deficit speaks to a problem greater than blocking and tackling or the lack thereof.

“We have some outstanding, talented players on this team and some outstanding coaches across the board,” Smith said. “But obviously we cannot play as a team. We appear to not be able to handle adversity or finish games. Individual and team confidence appears to be going south.”

At the same time, the Chargers enter their bye week with a 3-3 record, tied for first in their division with the Broncos.

But Smith is a realist as well. Read more…

 

Ryan Matthews ready to return to action

Ryan MatthewsRunning back Ryan Mathews carried a full workload at practice for the Chargers on Wednesday, one more step in his path back from a broken clavicle suffered in the first preseason game. Barring any setback in the next couple of days, it looks like Mathews, who has progressively done more work in practice each week, will be on the field when the Chargers face the Falcons in a matchup of 2-0 teams.

“I feel great, I feel healthy, and I feel strong,” Mathews said, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I think (the coaches) know what I can do. I know they know I’m ready. It’s a long season, and they’re going to be real smart with me. Really, it’s just taking it day by day and seeing whether I go Saturday when they make that final decision.” Read more…

Ryan Matthews expected to play Sunday

Ryan MatthewsSan Diego Chargers’ running back, Ryan Matthews, is expected to play this Sunday against the Titans.

We’re still not sure whether or not this Sunday’s Chargers-Titans game will be televised locally, but there’s an increased chance that running back Ryan Mathews will be in the lineup for San Diego either way.

The Chargers announced that Mathews is wearing full pads in practice on Thursday for the first time since breaking his clavicle on Aug. 9 in a preseason game. That makes five weeks, smack in the middle of the four-to-six week recovery time period quoted at the time of the injury.

The team will give a fuller update on Mathews’ status after practice, so it remains to be seen if this is the team starting the process of getting him ready for Week Three or not. Getting to the point that Mathews is wearing pads during practice is a significant step toward the goal of getting back on the playing field and it suggests that Mathews will have a chance to play this week. Read more…

Oakland Raiders: The autumn wind is a long snapper

Jacoby Ford

Source: Christian Petersen

The San Diego Chargers defeated the Oakland Raiders 22-14 on Monday night in front of a West Coast and sleepy East Coast television audience to what turned out to be a lackluster game. (I’m sorry to the east coast people who stayed up for such a sloppy performance.)

Man, finally the Black Hole was loud and full for once, but the Nation will forever remember this name, Trevor Goethel. The Raiders backup Long Snapper, who hadn’t snapped an actual game since his days at Vista High School, stepped in for the mid-game concussed All-Pro Jon Condo. What could’ve gone wrong DID go wrong for Oakland, I almost feel bad (almost) a la David Binn 2010 for you Bolt fans.

Now the Chargers benefited from this greatly, because the offense as far as the run game goes was a no-show (Ryan Mathews will be needed ASAP!) Special teams absolutely gets the game ball thanks to a healthy leg from Nate “Regular Season” Kaeding and a great punt block on Shane Lechler from Dante Rosario. Defense gets a “Most Improved” award for not getting totally pushed over by Darren McFadden (Just 32 yards rushing, but 86 receiving) and putting pressure on Carson Palmer. (Chargers also benefitted from no Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford) and all guts award to Quentin Jammer for playing the rest of the game with a broken hand. (As pops used to say “Just run it out” damn that must’ve hurt). Read more…

Special teams makes the difference for Chargers in win

San Diego Chargers v Oakland Raiders

The San Diego Chargers got a good game from quarterback Philip Rivers. The Oakland Raiders got a good lesson in the importance of a competent long snapper.

In the Chargers’ 22-14 victory over the Raiders on Monday night in Oakland, Rivers (who completed 24 of 33 passes for 231 yards) was accurate and efficient and everything San Diego needed him to be. But Rivers wasn’t the biggest story coming out of the game.

No, the biggest story was just how disastrous the Raiders’ special teams became after long snapper Jon Condo left the game with a concussion. Most fans only notice long snappers when they screw up, and sure enough, everyone noticed that Condo had left the game because Raiders linebacker Travis Goethel kept screwing up when he was pressed into service as the backup long snapper. Twice Goethel sent such bad snaps back to punter Shane Lechler that Lechler was unable to get the punt off at all, and on another occasion the Chargers blocked the punt when Goethel got off a shaky snap to Lechler.

You’d better believe that every head coach and special teams coordinator in the NFL is going to give practice reps this week to the backup long snapper, because the Raiders demonstrated just how important that position can be. This was a debacle.

Of course, the Raiders’ offense deserves some of the blame for the fact that Oakland had to punt so often. Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer threw short passes almost exclusively, was under constant pressure from Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips, and wasn’t able to engineer any sustained drives until finally leading the Raiders into the end zone with less than a minute left in the game. Raiders running back Darren McFadden was Oakland’s biggest receiving threat but couldn’t get much going on the ground. The Raiders have speed on offense, but that speed didn’t translate into many big plays. Read more…

AFC West: Players who can be game changers

Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Kansas City Chiefs – Knowing the challenge of knee injuries from first-hand experience, I am concerned for the Chiefs this fall.  A large part of their future rests on the surgically repaired knees of Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki.  Furthermore, we don’t know how they will handle the rigors of  the season.  Perhaps it is overly optimistic to believe Jamaal will retain his trademark explosiveness that has led to a career rushing average of 6.1 yards per carry, but I think that even in a rotational work-share type of role, that Jamaal Charles will once again terrorize opposing defense, starting in 2012.San Diego Chargers –  I think that for a long time A.J. Smith has been given too much credit, and perhaps kept his job for too long.  The talent erosion in San Diego over the last five years has been awful, and the personnel decisions in the draft and free agency have primarily backfired on a once loaded team.  The Chargers are a team with a mix of the oft-injured and aging players, that appear to be on the decline.  That is why I think it is amazing that Philip Rivers gets so little credit for what he continues to do with this team.  Yes we saw him struggle last year, but he helped this team make a strong push at the end of the season, it was just too little too late.  I expect this team to continue to struggle as the defense will still be their Achilles heal.  They will still struggle on offense too, but Rivers will  carry this team on his shoulders yet again as one of the lone bright spots in San Diego. Read more…

Will the San Diego Chargers be super in 2012?

“It’s like a lightning bolt, hit the tip of my penis” Hopefully you enjoyed that nice little Step Brothers quote. Because usually that’s how every season ends for you San Diegoans, San Diegoities and fans of the San Diego Chargers.

Our beautiful city of Saint Diago has been in a drought for the post-season just like our rain seasons here, and we can use a little thunder and lightning, heck anything!

2012 has been an interesting off-season for the Bolts, adding and subtracting. It’s been one of the most active off-seasons in the AJ Smith dictatorial regime. Now it’s time to put up or shut up with probably the most competitive AFC West in awhile. The Chargers got lucky pre-2010 I feel with teams on the rebuild/horrible front office moves and drafts. But now Denver has Peyton Manning, The Chiefs arguably are the most talented team in the AFC West on paper and the Raiders swept the AFC West in 2010 and have taken the last three of four from the Bolts. No matter how this season turns out for the Chargers (I’ll say it now before you guys kill me) but I just do not see A.J. or Norv Turner fired at the end of the year if the season goes in the toilet.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Chargers do have some talent left, young and old and will compete in every game this year you can guarantee that. But in order to stay successful the Bolts have to be healthy. Of course the cliché is everyone plays hurt but really, the Chargers HAVE to stay healthy and it’s already taken a toll this preseason with Mathews (Shoulder) Brown (Ankle) and the newest injury as of Monday, Nick Hardwick (Concussion).

Now, let’s look at players this year that I really like and you should watch for and the issues that worry me and could very well hurt this team unless they step up.

Like:

3. Shareece Wright, CB #29: Dude has been on fire this preseason making plays and seems to be a camp favorite after two great games against GB and Dallas. The former Colton High School and USC Trojan could make a run for either an aging Quentin Jammer or overrated Antoine Cason spot.

2. Kendall Reyes, DT #91: I really like Reyes to take over another aging players spot Jacques Cesaire and the previous two games he has taken first-team reps. He’s a big, physical player who can block some holes. (Oh, stop)

1. (Duh) Melvin Ingram, LB/what can he not do #54: Mr. T-Rex arms himself has shown his critics that he can dominate one on one and can get to the QB. Let’s face it, Larry English is done and he (Ingram) is the Chargers only hope besides Barnes and Phillips to get pressure.

Chargers regretting letting go of Vincent Jackson?

Vincent Brown,  Akwasi Owusu-Ansah,  Mana Silva

Chargers receiver Vincent Brown scored a touchdown in Saturday night’s preseason game, but it came at a significant price: Brown was hit in the end zone by Cowboys defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah just after scoring and suffered a broken ankle on the play.

Brown will have surgery and miss at least eight weeks, Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego reports.

The Chargers had high hopes this season for Brown, a 2011 third-round draft pick who caught 19 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.

But surgery for a broken ankle will be a tough injury for any receiver to recover from and still contribute during the season. Read more here…

Chargers raving about 1st round pick Melvin Ingram

San Diego Chargers Minicamp

This is the time of year every team loves its draft class. After all, the players haven’t proven them wrong yet.

But coaches in San Diego are positively raving about first-rounder Melvin Ingram.

Some thought the South Carolina product might have been the best pass-rusher in the draft, and the Chargers got him 18th overall. While he lined up at inside linebacker, defensive tackle, and defensive end for the Gamecocks, the Chargers think he has what it takes to be special as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

“Melvin is an aware football player,” Chargers linebackers coach Joe Barry told Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego. “When you have awareness and you have instincts and you have feel, he might do something completely wrong, but he’s aware enough to fall into things. Read more here…

San Diego Chargers: 2012 NFL preview

After a disappointing 2011 season where the San Diego Chargers finished 8-8 despite being loaded with talent and experience, the team is anxious for the 2012 season to begin. The AFC West will likely be a very competitive division as the Raiders continue to gel and the Broncos await the chance to experience life with Peyton Manning at the helm, so the Chargers are wise to get their affairs in order.

The Chargers were able to add a small fleet of big bodies in April’s NFL Draft, led by outside linebacker Melvin Ingram. Coach Norv Turner will return for his sixth season at the helm, and the vast legion of Bolts fans in Southern California and elsewhere are expecting at least 10 wins.

Veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers and perennial Pro-Bowler Antonio Gates will power an offense that has been able to put points on the board consistently since the former arrived in San Diego in 2004. It is true that Gates has been slowed by injury in the past few years, but he recently said that he is back to full form. His route running skills and incredible knack for finding the holes in any defensive formation have made him the favorite target of Rivers in past years, and the upcoming one should be no different.

Read more here…

NFL Draft 1st round recap: 3.0

In our third of six NFL Draft first round recaps, we take a quick analyses of picks made by the Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, and New York Jets. Similar to our two previous draft analyses, some of these picks were great and some picks were just plain puzzling. With that, here is our third 2012 1st round NFL Draft analysis, enjoy!

20. Tennessee Titans-WR Kendall Wright, Baylor

With the 20th selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Titans selected slick Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright. With this pick, the Titans may have changed the outcome of the rest of the first round.

A bit of a shocking selection, I projected the Titans would select Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro, the Browns would pick Wright with the 22nd pick, and there would have been a very slim possibility that the Denver Broncos would have stayed in the first round to draft Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden.

Read more here…

Fantasy Football value picks for the 2012 season

Jamaal CharlesToday we’re taking a look at eleven players who, I believe, are currently being undervalued in the marketplace. Should these following stock prices hold steady until August, I’m betting that you’ll find some excellent draft day value in a few of the names listed below.

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers: Since 2008, only Drew Brees has amassed more passing yards (19,553) than Philip Rivers (17,597). But a 20-interception campaign in 2011 that contributed to the San Diego signal-caller’s worst QB rating in five seasons will have many owners wondering if Rivers is capable of rolling up the stat lines necessary for a championship run. I’m willing to gamble that last season was more of a fluke than an emerging trend.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Remember this guy? Charles wrecked his knee in Week 2 last season and was lost for the year, which will have his 2012 draft stock lower than a Jamaican in a limbo contest. Peyton Hillis was added to the depth chart and dual-threat back Dexter McCluster is entering his third NFL campaign, but you can’t afford to sleep on the guy who came 65 total yards short of hitting the magical 2,000-yard mark in 2011.

Antonio Gates healthy for first time in years

Antonio GatesIt has been a rough couple of years for Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. He missed six games in 2010 and three games, along with parts of others, last year because of a foot injury. He’s still been productive — 17 touchdown catches — but his presence in the lineup has been missed for the last two seasons. Gates has been very positive recently about the progress the injury has been making and it seems to be showing at Chargers workouts. Coach Norv Turner is certainly a believer. Turner raved about Gates’ condition on Thursday and said that he is showing few signs of the injury that slowed him so much. Read more here…