Tag: Chargers

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the San Diego Chargers 2012 Season

Doug Pensinger-Getty Images

This has been a trying season for even the most dedicated San Diego Chargers fan. Last week’s home game against the 8-2 Baltimore Ravens didn’t sell out and the game was blacked out locally—thankfully. The words “4th-and-29” will forever live in the lore of San Diego Chargers and cut as deep as “Ryan Leaf.”

It hasn’t been all bad for the Bolts in 2012. They have won four games this year, and three of them have been against their hated division rivals Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.

This season began with such hope and promise; a healthy team, a seemingly easy schedule and the AFC West looked to be in its worst shape in recent memory. The Chargers could not capitalize on any of those and actually found new and interesting ways to embarrass and alienate fans.

Here is a closer look at what has been good so far for the Chargers this year, what has been bad and what has been downright ugly.

The Good: Mike Scifres

scifresWhen the Chargers drafted Mike Scifres in the fifth round of the 2003 draft, I was a little perplexed. They had one of the best punters in the league in Darren Bennett, and teams rarely carry two punters.

Bennett taught Scifres his famous drop punt that he learned from his days of Australian Rules Football and adapted it to the NFL. Scifres took over the punting duties full-time in 2004 and hasn’t looked back.

In his nine-year career with the Chargers, he has done it all. He has 544 punts, with only nine percent of them being touchbacks. More importantly, he has pinned 218 of those punts inside the 20-yard line for a 40-percent ratio—the best in the NFL.

He leads the league this year in average punt with 50.6 yards per punt and is second in net punt yards with 43.8. He has placed the ball within the 20-yard line 21 times this year on 52 punts, and his return average is a scant 8.3 yards.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the best player on your team is your punter, but he has been instrumental in saving the offense when it has had its share of struggles.

The Good: The Defense

Despite giving up the dreaded 4th-and-29 last weekend, the play of the Chargers defense has been solid.

They boast the sixth-best rush defense in the NFL, having only allowed 1,006 yards this year and surrendering a mere four touchdowns. They have forced 14 rushing fumbles, recovering eight of them and returning one for a touchdown.

They rank sixth in the league in total sacks with 32, with Shaun Phillips leading the way with seven while Corey Liuget and Antwan Barnes have three apiece. Their 215 yards lost due to sacks is the fourth-best in the league.

When it comes to tackles, the defense also hits high numbers with 779 on the year, good enough to bring in a No. 7 ranking with Donald Butler leading the way with 72 and Atari Bigby close behind with 68 and Eric Weddle with 64.

Coming in with 14 interceptions so far, the Bolts are third in the league and have returned four for the score from standouts Eric Weddle and Quentin Jammer.

The Good: Receiving Corps

gatesIt’s difficult to say that the receiving corps is good when the donor of their passes is having arguably his worst season in recent memory, but I am saying it anyways.

Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates both have four touchdowns each this year, but the biggest surprises are Dante Rosario and Danario Alexander with three apiece.

Their 211 receptions rank them as the 11th-best squad, and their 18 touchdowns bring them into a tie for ninth in the league.

Malcom Floyd has 13 passes for over 20 yards for 10th-best and is tied for 11th with former teammate Vincent Jackson for most receiving first downs with 41.

New addition Danario Alexander averages 18.3 yards per reception, while Robert Meachem averages 14.8.

The Bad: The Running Backs

This was supposed to be Ryan Mathews’ year to shine, to prove that he is the franchise running back that they had planned on him being. Instead of shining, he is looking to be a dud.

With only one touchdown on the year and 594 rushing yards, Mathews ranks as the 22nd-best rusher in the league in total yards and 19th in yards per game with 66.

The team as a whole has 1,094 yards, which clocks in at No. 25 in the country, and their four touchdowns rank them at 28th. They are 24th in the league in yards per attempt with 3.8 and 25th in yards per game with 99.5.

Jackie Battle started off great with a 52-yard scamper in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons and three touchdowns in his first four games, but has only had 20 attempts since gaining 59 yards.

Ronnie Brown was supposed to be a great addition out of the backfield, but has only averaged eight yards per reception and 4.5 yards per rushing attempt and has yet to find the end zone.

Fullback Le’Ron McClain has not lived up to the fullback legacy that Mike Tolbert left behind with 11 rushing attempts for a paltry 38 yards.

The Bad: The Offense as a Whole

I know I previously said the receiving corps was part of the good, yet it is the only saving grace. I have also discussed the atrocious running game, which is only a part of what makes this offense horrendous.

Gaining only 3,568 yards over the first 11 games is the eighth-worst in the league, and their 324.4 yards per games comes in at the same ranking.

The passing games ranks 18th in the country on two occasions with 2,474 total yards and 224.9 yards per game.

It isn’t all doom and gloom as they manage to be in the top 50 percent in total points with 245 and points per game at 22.3.

I long for the days of defenses not knowing how to defend, as the Chargers had so many different weapons with Rivers going deep to Gates, Jackson and Brown while having LT, Sproles and Tolbert out of the backfield.

Those days are long gone, and the offense has become anemic.

The Ugly: Philip Rivers

philipWhat has happened to Philip Rivers?

After showing so much promise by making an immediate impact by leading the Chargers to four straight division championships and three 10-plus win seasons, Rivers was the real deal with 105 touchdowns and 35 interceptions in that 2006-2009 stretch.

Then came the 2010 season, and the Bolts haven’t seen the playoffs since. Over the past three seasons, Rivers’ touchdown-to-interception ratio stands at 75 to 47.

When he threw 20 interceptions last year, I thought it was just a fluke, but he has already thrown 14 through 11 games, second to only Tony Romo. He has had 15 multiple-interception games over the past 26 games and has only had four games in that span where he didn’t throw an interception.

During his first five years, he only had 14 total multiple-interception games and had four-game streaks where he didn’t throw an interception several times.

If there is any silver lining to be found with Rivers, it’s that he has performed his best coming down the stretch the past two years, even with the playoffs outside the realm of possibility. In 2010, he won seven of the last nine games with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15-to-6, and in 2011, he won four of the last five games with a ratio of 11-to-3.

Even if he were to rally the team and finish 9-7, the Bolts will not be making the playoffs and it will be time to end the Philip Rivers experiment. There isn’t much hope in Charlie Whitehurst either, so I think it would be in the best interest of picking up a player from the vaunted quarterback draft of 2012 on another team, namely Brock Osweiler from Denver.

Two quarterbacks from that draft have recently ousted standout veterans from their starting jobs, so perhaps take a look at Alex Smith in San Francisco or Matt Flynn in Seattle.

The Ugly: Norv Turner

TurnerI’m still trying to figure out how Norv is still the head coach in San Diego. Losing five out of the last six games, including a zero-win New Orleans Saints team and a one-win Cleveland Browns team.

With Turner at the helm of the Chargers, they have failed magnificently this year, giving up 17 unanswered points to the New Orleans Saints in Week 5, only to give up an incredible 35 points in the second half a week later to the Denver Broncos.

Coming off their bye week facing the hapless 1-6 Cleveland Browns, the Chargers failed to cross the end zone during hurricane conditions in Cleveland and lost 7-6. Turner must have known at that time that his head was on the chopping block.

Four days later at home, the Chargers thumped the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-13, and saved Turner’s job, only to go forward and lose consecutive games to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.

Then there was the debacle last Sunday where they were leading the 8-2 Baltimore Ravens 13-3 with 7:09 remaining in the game. A touchdown and a 4th-and-29 conversion later, the Chargers are seeing overtime for the first time this season. As with everything else this season, that didn’t end well, and Turner blew another lead and hopefully his job.

I am so ready to get rid of Norv and bring in somebody new; anybody will be better than this disaster.

The Ugly: 4th-and-29

This play will go down in the annals of one of the greatest plays in Ravens history. Unfortunately for the Chargers, it is also one of their worst.

After watching the Chargers give up 35 straight points at home to the Denver Broncos in one half, I had thought I had witnessed the worst way to lose a game. I was wrong.

The unbelievable happened last Sunday afternoon when Joe Flacco had an eternity to find Ray Rice open, and Rice ran right by eight Charger defenders en route to completing a unheard of 4th-and-29 conversion.

My hopes and dreams for the San Diego Chargers season died a slow death while waiting over 10 minutes to see if they did indeed convert. It was eventually called a first down, and the Ravens went on to score a field goal and send the game in to overtime, where they bested the Bolts 16-13.

I walked away from the TV along with the season.

San Diego Chargers: Why Philip Rivers Will Lead the Chargers to the Playoffs

Philip Rivers is making the natives restless in San Diego and across Charger Nation.

As one of those natives living in Tucson, Ariz., I can understand their anxiety, but I am here to offer some solace.

After suffering through several mediocre quarterbacks in the late ’80s and ’90s and the worst quarterback of all time in Ryan Leaf from 1998-2000, the Chargers finally caught a break drafting Drew Brees out of Purdue in 2001. After struggling in his first two years, the Chargers were looking to get rid of Brees and drafted Rivers in 2004.

Brees felt the heat and led the Chargers to a 12-4 season, won Comeback Player of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Brees became a free agent and was then designated a franchise player heading into the 2005 season. No team wanted to give up two first-round draft picks for the quarterback, and Brees started for the Chargers as the rookie Rivers looked on.

The final game of the 2005 season saw Brees injured with a torn labrum that required offseason surgery. Although the Chargers offered him a five-year, $50 million contract, Brees knew that Rivers would be the team’s starter in the future, so he explored his options and signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Rivers’ career began in earnest, starting the first game in 2006 and he has been the only starting quarterback for the past seven years. Rivers led the Chargers to four straight division championships and three 10-plus win seasons with his accurate passing and 105 touchdowns to only 35 interceptions.

The Chargers have missed the playoffs the past two years, finishing second in the AFC West with nine and eight wins, respectively. His touchdown-to-interception ratio over that time dropped to 57-to-33, including 20 interceptions last year and eight multiple interception games.

Where Do You Think The Chargers Will Finish This Sesaon?

Miss the Playoffs
67.6%
Win the Wildcard
16.5%
Win the West Division
6.2%
Win the AFC Conference
1.3%
Win the Super Bowl
8.5%
Total votes: 389
Through nine games this year, Rivers has already thrown 12 interceptions to his 15 touchdowns, including four multiple interception games. He has been a case study in the necessity of playing all four quarters. He has thrown 12 touchdowns and only five picks in the first half versus three touchdowns and seven interceptions in the second half—six of them in the crucial final minutes of the game.

After reading all these atrocious numbers, here is the good news. Rivers will bounce back this weekend in the Mile High City and exact revenge on the division-leading Broncos and pull within a game of Denver in the AFC West.

If history proves to be true, Rivers always bounces back toward the end of the season after winning four of the last five games in 2011 with an 11-to-3 touchdown to interception ratio over that stretch. The year prior saw Rivers win seven of the final nine games with a 15-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio.

Fret not inhabitants of Bolt Nation, Rivers’ midseason slump is over, and the 2012-13 season isn’t over yet. For the final seven games of the season, the Chargers are home four times and travel three times to Denver, Pittsburgh and New York to take on the Jets.

If the Chargers can win at Mile High this weekend, this will surely give them the necessary momentum needed to host the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens’ defense is legendary, and Rivers will need to curtail his mistakes if they expect to pull out the victory at home.

The final five games of the season have the Chargers facing only one team over .500; the 5-3 Pittsburgh Steelers, who are currently 0-2 against the AFC West.

Rivers is a dangerous quarterback who can strike early and often. He just needs to remember not to force bad plays that lead to interceptions or worse yet, defensive touchdowns. I have faith in the “Mouth from the South” and look forward to many more years of him guiding the ship and leading the Chargers to victory in the future, regardless of who they have for a head coach. Maybe Marty Schottenheimer is willing to come back.

I see the Chargers finishing the season 10-6, tied with the Broncos and securing the wild-card spot with a tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Call me crazy, call me deluded, call me what you will, but don’t forget to call me after my prediction comes true.

The 5 NFL Worst Quarterbacks Drafted in the Top 5

LUck_RGIII

James Lang/US Presswire

NFL rookie quarterbacks are making a splash. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were drafted No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2012 draft, and along with Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill, this class is looking to surpass the 2004 class that included Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

But enough about the quarterbacks that are drafted highly and actually perform well. I am looking deep into the past 30 years to find the five worst quarterbacks that were drafted in the top five of the NFL draft.

Let this be a cautionary tale for all NFL scouts, GMs and owners to do the most research possible when it comes to drafting a quarterback highly. I invite you to sit back and enjoy the folly of multimillion-dollar mistakes.

Honorable Mention

I am sure that they didn’t want to be mentioned at all on this list, yet I would be remiss if I didn’t include them.

leinart

  • Matt Leinart

Drafted in 2006 by the Arizona Cardinals at No. 10, people in the desert were excited to have such a high-caliber quarterback drop all the way to the 10th spot. The former Heisman Trophy winner was horrid with a 56.8 percent completion percentage, 11 touchdowns to match his 12 interceptions and four fumbles in 12 games during his rookie season.

  •  David Carr

Drafted No. 1 overall by the brand-new Houston Texans, Carr had a terrible offensive line of rookies and washed up players looking for a new home in Houston. With such an abysmal offensive line, it was no surprise that he set the record for most sacks taken in a season.

  •  Tim Couch
    • Drafted No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns in 1999, Couch suffered the same fate as David Carr trying to start for a new team. The Browns were an expansion team that went away and then came back in 1999. Couch played five years for the Browns and finished with 64 touchdowns, 67 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 75.1.
  •  Joey Harrington
    • Drafted No. 3 in 2002 by the Detroit Lions out of the University of Oregon, Harrington had the biggest hype going into the Heisman Trophy voting with 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions, eventually finishing fourth. In Harrington’s six season with Detroit, the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons, he amassed 79 touchdowns, 85 interceptions and 18 fumbles.

Now for the really big blunders.

5. Rick Mirer

RickMirerSeattleDrafted No. 2 in 1993 by the Seattle Seahawks, many believed that Mirer was the next Joe Montana. After an illustrious college career at Notre Dame, the Seahawks were ready to put Mirer to work and started him every game his rookie season, during which he threw 12 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and had five fumbles.

Mirer played the most of any quarterback on the list, playing games in eight of his 12 seasons for seven different teams. He finished his career with an abysmal record of 24-44 with 50 touchdowns and 76 interceptions.

4. Akili Smith

Drafted No. 3 in 1999 by the Cincinnati Bengals, Akili Smith had only one year of Division I football experience under his belt at Oregon. The Bengals were offered a nine player deal by Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints to draft Smith but the Bengals declined and picked the untested quarterback.

Smith started seven games in his rookie season and threw two touchdowns, six interceptions and had two fumbles. In his four years in Cincinnati, he played 22 games with a total of five touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 13 fumbles.

Smith was signed and released by the Green Bay Packers and then played for the NFL Europe’s Frankfurt Galaxy. He then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was released before the season started and headed north to play for the Calgary Stampeders in a season he would not make it through with the team.

3. Art Schlichter

Drafted No. 4 by the Baltimore Colts in 1982, Schlichter was the last quarterback coached by legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. Schlichter had a huge gambling addiction that curbed his ability to reach his full potential, and was arrested in 1987 by the FBI and banned for life from the NFL.

After spending the equivalent of 10 years in 44 various prisons and jails across the Midwest, he even gambled while in prison and was placed in solitary confinement until his release in 2006.

Schlichter supposedly cleaned up his act and started a non-profit organization, Gambling Prevention Awareness, to educate others about compulsive gambling. He even appeared with his mother to oppose the opening of Ohio casinos statewide.

In February 2010, however, he was once again arrested and eventually sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison in September 2011 for his involvement in a million-dollar ticket scam.

2. JaMarcus Russell

NFL: Texans vs Raiders DEC 21Drafted No. 1 in 2007 by the Oakland Raiders, JaMarcus Russell was a big guy with a lot of arm strength. Fresh off a stellar college career at Louisiana State where he only lost one game, Russell had a head nearly as big as his belly. His holdout lasted into the season and he didn’t start until the final game.

Over his short career, Russell got increasingly larger and lazier as time passed. At the end of his three-year contract, he had a record of 7-18 with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and 22 fumbles. He was unceremoniously released and never found another job in the NFL again.

Legal troubles were also abound when Russell was arrested for possession of codeine syrup without a prescription. Russell was arrested for possession of a recreational drug in the hip hop community called “Purple Drank,” a concoction formed by adding the syrup with soda and Jolly Ranchers. Russell was never indicted but it’s safe to say that he will never play football again.

1. Ryan Leaf

leafDrafted No. 2 in 1998 by the San Diego Chargers, Ryan Leaf was the consolation prize behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.

A horrible quarterback with an even worse attitude, Leaf threw only two touchdowns in his rookie season to his 15 interceptions and two fumbles. At the end of three years in San Diego, he had amassed only four wins and 14 touchdowns to match his 36 interceptions and eight fumbles.

Leaf was also known for wrecking the locker room, tormenting reporters while being restrained by fellow players and coaches as well as blaming others for his lack of skill at the NFL level.

After being released from the Chargers, he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and released prior to the season. He was later signed by the Dallas Cowboys and played four games, all losses, and was released again. Leaf was then picked up by the Seattle Seahawks but “retired” prior to the beginning of the 2002 season.

Leaf went on to be a volunteer quarterbacks coach for West Texas A&M University but was put on indefinite leave after it was discovered he burglarized a player’s home looking for pain pills. He then went into a tailspin, being arrested several times over the next three years for burglaries and possession of controlled substances.

I am from San Diego and consider myself to be a Chargers fan. It was a dreadfully painful stretch dealing with Leaf and it didn’t get any better with stars such as Craig Whelihan and Marcus Moreno. I did my best to root for Leaf and support my team, but I could no longer handle his outbursts and horrible play.

It is truly sad to see what can happen to a player with a lot of money and a feeling of invincibility. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for as you just might get it.