Tag Archives: San Diego Chargers

NFL Awards 2017 predictions

Super Bowl LI is on the horizon and with all but the big one out of the way, it’s time to talk about the NFL awards. Who will come out on top? Who will miss out? Here’s a look at my predictions for the end of season festivities:

 

Most Valuable Player – Matt Ryan

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Ryan has been the picture of almost perfection this season. Source: fansided.com

Matty Ice finally got over the hump this year and in such a big way, he has to walk away with this award.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback finished with 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns against seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 117.1, all career numbers.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have a lot of help. The Falcons have a balanced offence with two quality running backs and the best receiver in the league in Julio Jones which when combined with an offensive line that has stayed healthy all season, Ryan has really been able to shine.

Kyle Shanahan’s offence has also made him hot property as a future head coach and his moulding of Ryan this year has been outstanding. No one ever thought that the Falcons QB would ever quite crash through the glass ceiling but he proved any doubters wrong in 2016/17.

There is an argument to having Tom Brady as the MVP as well, his TD-to-interception ratio is ridiculous and he’s had a great season too but this one goes to Ryan. From start to finish this season, he has not hidden away or chocked like in previous seasons and this team would look completely different without him.

 

Coach of the Year – Jason Garrett

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers

Garrett has done a sensational job in turning this team into a contender. Source: fansided.com

Hands up, who actually thought that the Dallas Cowboys would even make the playoffs this year?

Unless your name is Michael Irvin, you are lying. There’s no doubt that the team now have a solid roster but a lot of credit should go to Garrett and how much extra he got out of this team to finish with the second-best record in the NFL.

Yes, they got a lot of help from two special rookies and an incredible offensive line but Garret always got them in a position to win. It was his play-calling that got them the lead that they would rarely surrender and when they did, they managed to recover spectacularly which was highlighted in the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It almost got them all the way back against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs too but unfortunately, they had a magician playing for them that evening.

With a no-name defence and some strung together receivers outside of Dez Bryant, Garrett worked wonders with this squad. There were a few great coaches this year but none quite stood out like he did.

 

Offensive Player of the Year – Tom Brady

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Brady has a chance to write history and has played phenomenal football all year. Source: USA Today

This is easily the hardest award to predict, given some spectacular performances this year.

David Johnson was sensational, the first to amass over 1,000 yards rushing and 800 yards catching since Marshall Faulk and only the second in NFL history. Le’Veon Bell may have changed the game for running backs with his ever-so patient style that seemingly throws off every defence.

Julio Jones had a monster year that included an insane 300-yard game. Aaron Rodgers produced more miracles than ever before as he scraped by with half of his weapons taken away from him.

However, with Brady missing out on the top award, there is no chance they do not give the New England Patriots something. He has been terrific since his comeback, highlighted by the fact he’s thrown just two interceptions all year which is mind-numbingly good.

Some will argue that his backups did go 3-1 as well but Brady has been a cut above this year. He was mad and it showed on the field.

 

Defensive Player of the Year – Von Miller

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos

Miller has arguably deserved this award for a long time, so he will finally get his reward. Source: predimonentlyorange.com

While Khalil Mack will be in the conversation and could pip him to the post, it was clear this season that Von Miller is a difference maker on defence.

The offence stumbled spectacularly for the Denver Broncos which eventually lead to them missing the playoffs. Their defence did not take any days off and along with a great secondary, it was the play of Miller that kept them in the hunt until the end.

He put up great numbers in the run game, registering more tackles than ever and four stuffs. His 13.5 sacks has only been beaten by Atlanta Falcons’ Vic Beasly and he also forced four fumbles on the year.

Those are some great numbers and why they might not quite be as monstrous as his 2012 numbers, where he was beaten to the award by JJ Watt, they are still very impressive. Aaron Donald would also be a front runner had he not played on such a poor team but Miller finally gets his dues this time.

 

Rookie of the Year – Ezekiel Elliott

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Elliott has come better than advertised, he’s the real deal. Source: Sports Hub

A pretty easy choice, Ezekiel Elliott has been a revelation for the Dallas Cowboys all season long.

He registered 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns in a ridiculous year where he has torn teams apart. From that special late run against the Steelers to dominating almost everyone that stood in his path this season, he’s been superb.

Credit also has to go to his offensive line, something the Ohio State man has regularly stated himself, as they heled create some great creases that Elliott turned into huge gains. His foot speed, his toughness and his ability to make every kind of run really separated him from the pack.

While taking a running back so high in the draft can be a real risk, Elliott looks the real deal. Behind one of the best lines in the NFL, he could become one of the great running backs in Cowboys history and that is saying something.

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Dak Prescott

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Prescott surprised everyone, but can he keep it up? Source: IB Times

If the above award is going to one Cowboy, this one has to go to the other.

Dak Prescott has been the surprise of the year. With Tony Romo out before the season even began, many thought that any chance of Dallas doing anything of note this season sat on the injury table with him.

Prescott was excellent in pre-season, which is usually as useful an indicator as Michael Fish telling you a hurricane is coming, but we were wrong to doubt him. He carried that momentum over into the regular season and put in some really solid performances.

He was aided by a strong running game, an incredible offensive line and a great few weapons in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten but he was still pretty special. Whether he simply proves to be lightening in a bottle remains to be seen but for now, he an Elliott are the future of the Dallas Cowboys.

 

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Joey Bosa

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers

Did you expect anyone else than Bosa? *shrugs* Source: USA Today

It is scary to think that Joey Bosa only played in 12 games this season.

It’s been a little while since we have seen a young pass rusher make this much of an impact on a team this quickly. The San Diego Chargers barely had a semblance of pressure last year but with an astonishing 10.5 sacks in 2016, Bosa brought the thunder.

He has a great ability of bull-rushing offensive linemen, putting them under immense pressure and using his hand work to get them flustered. Bosa can be so quick to get into motion that his opponents simply aren’t prepared for it and that puts their quarterback in danger.

His 23 QB hurries is only six behind Von Miller in four less games, he set a record for at least two QB hits in his first three games since 2006 when they were first tracked and had a crazy 17 tackles for a loss.

This kid is going to be very, very good and a much-needed star as his team moves to Los Angeles.

 

Comeback Player of the Year – Landon Collins

New York Giants v Washington Redskins

Collins has been on a redemption story all season long. Source: USA Today

Cameron Wake may get this award that tends to go to older players but no one has made a bigger leap in quality this year than Landon Collins.

The New York Giants had a pretty poor rookie season, with questions over his coverage and his usefulness in the backfield. Those worries have been quickly quelled as he has risen to potentially one of the best safeties in the entire NFL.

Four sacks, five interceptions and a fumble recovery all showed how he had really began to affect games in a growing Giants defence. He even recorded his first touchdown as he marshalled a secondary that took a great leap from near the bottom of the league to being one of the best.

Is it really a comeback if he’s never been anything to begin with? Maybe not but it’s hard to deny that Collins has been a difference maker. If you can go from being a “bust” to a Pro Bowler in a season, you have to get recognition for it.

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The San Diego Chargers are dead, long live the Los Angeles Chargers?

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Ew.  Source: CBS

Philip Rivers summed it up perfectly earlier today in a speech to the Chargers’ faithful:

“I’m a little bit numb about it all. It hasn’t really settled in yet.”

Two days ago, the team’s owner Dean Spanos announced in a letter that after over 50 years in San Diego, the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles. They will play at the StubHub Arena, home of the LA Galaxy, for two years before joining the Los Angeles Rams at Inglewood in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the faithful that had gathered to Qualcomm Stadium for decades were none too pleased over the news. Shirts, banners and formerly treasured possessions were left in a heap outside of the team’s headquarters as many fans turned their back on a team that scorned them for one final time.

Spanos reportedly tried every avenue of finding a solution in San Diego, with him believed to not want to stump up much of his own declining wealth and hoping tax payers would give him the boost. That did not happen, which is more than reasonable from the citizens of a great city and when the NFL did not come running with the cash instead, Spanos instead hit the eject button.

It stung. Reportedly there were ways for the team to stay in San Diego for now and work at something but in the owner’s eyes, the city had plenty of time to do something but instead decided to sit on their hands.

I feel for the city, even though I’ve never been but I have always felt a bit of a connection to because of the team I support. The Chargers have always been my team but they’ve also been San Diego’s, in fact it’s at least one of the reasons I chose to support them.

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The StubHub Center, the Chargers’ temporary home in LA before moving in with the Rams in 2019. Source: LA Times

However, my disappointment will never match their grief. I am sad that I never managed to get out there to catch a game but the fact that they don’t get the chance to after supporting them with everything for so long, it must be heart-breaking.

Also, the badge is super fugly. It has no relevance to the team, it looks too much like the Dodgers logo and it just feels empty. They tried to change the colours but it doesn’t hide it at all.

That’s not to say the previous badge was a work of art but it was wonderful in its simplicity. It was another reason I chose them in the beginning, it was the blandest, simplest badge from such a varied crazy set that I simply fell in love with it.

Now, it does seem to put me in a slightly weird conundrum. Do I stick with the team I supported with the move? Or do I switch after they took away a lot of what I loved about the team in the first place?

Should I follow those players, who have had zero say in the matter, and rally behind them as they move to the same city as the basketball team I support? Or should I abandon them in solidarity for those that lost them?

That wound may take longer to heal than I thought it initially might but Thursday was a sad day for us all. To me, and to many others, they will always be the San Diego Super Chargers.

I have to stop playing that song, too?!? Goddammit, can they really stop stepping on everything I hold dear?!?

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The Bosa saga is a standoff that no-one wins

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What a difference a few months can make. Source: San Diego Union Tribune

Have you ever seen a Mexican standoff where the two opponents wait an age to make any kind of move and just as the sun begins to set, they both draw and simultaneously ping each other between the eyeballs?

Well that’s exactly what is happening between the San Diego Chargers and Joey Bosa right now. It’s quickly becoming a sour, bitter situation that will result in no one winning and everyone coming out a little less rosy on the other side.

The Chargers first round draft pick is yet to sign his first contract with a team over a dispute of how his signing bonus would be paid. The team wants to offset a certain amount, which started at a heafty chunk but their final offer was 15%, while the Bosa camp wants that paid upfront right away.

The reason behind the team’s offer is due to two things, the first they want to save cash if they have to cut Bosa before his rookie contract expires and he joins another team. The second is so that it doesn’t disgruntle the group as a whole as they may have not offered full bonuses to veterans on the team already signed.

That 85% of his bonus would be more than anyone in the last two drafts other than Carson Wentz. Some have been offered their full bonus in the past, including former third overall picks and that’s where the Bosa camp is coming from, they want to guarantee that cash up front.

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President of Football Operations John Spanos has not minced his words during this spat. Source: San Diego Union Tribune

There are plausible arguments on both sides but there are also stronger ones that curtail their pity dispute. The Chargers need all the talent they can get, Bosa fills a big need and the Ohio State defensive lineman has already missed camp and crucial game time.

It took a real turn for the worst on Wednesday when the Chargers went public with their offer and essentially tried to sway public opinion while also revealing future offers will take what he has missed into account. Bosa’s agency replied, stating that it hasn’t exactly helped their relationship and that they will fight for what they believe is right.

The argument against the Chargers is that they are wasting his rookie year, where he’s predicted to do almost nothing with the missed time, and they risk losing a vital pick. This team was awful at times last season and while there are shoots of green in areas, any team in the NFL should be getting all the help they can, especially when they draft that high.

Bosa and his entourage start looking a little silly once you realise that there’s not a case of him not earning his full bonus. Veterans on several teams have told him to get to work and while some will be gleefully pleased at his standoff, none of the owners will be and he can expect an incredibly rough road if he does not join up with the team sooner rather than later.

This wasn’t supposed to happen under the new CBA and while it makes both sides look bad, it will be a footnote when he does sign on the dotted line. Coach Mike McCoy is desperate to get him on board and once he starts to perform and click with the group, this absurd matter will be completely forgotten.

However, don’t be surprised if something like this crops up again. If it does and it gets messy again, then it could be another interesting time once the renewal of the CBA comes around again

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NFL teams who won and lost in the first week of free agency

This past week in the NFL has been the classic case of hype and hope. Players are signed on big deals, some rightfully so and some not so deservingly, but we gift big awards on the hope that teams have done something right. However, at least on paper, here are the real winners and losers of free agency.

 

WINNERS

New York Giants

Vernon could be a difference maker.  Source: Fox Sports

Vernon could be a difference maker. Source: Fox Sports

The Giants defence was the definition of a mess last season. Bad at rushing the passer consistently, poor against the run and embarrassing against the pass so with a new look coaching team comes a new look defence to go with it.

They spent big on Olivier Vernon, who has 25.5 sacks in his past three years and should offer pressure opposite the resigned Jason Pierre Paul, who could either be great or absent. Damon Harrison was a solid pick-up from the team across town and Snacks should help shore up their porous run defence.

They also did well to pick up Janoris Jenkins from the LA Rams but there will still be a need to add a lot more to the secondary, which is where they may go in the draft. They spent high but brought in young guys that could hit their prime soon, which they are absolutely banking on.

 

Oakland Raiders

Irvin opposite Mack is a scary prospect.  Source: Bleacher Report

Irvin opposite Mack is a scary prospect. Source: Bleacher Report

With a young core, Oakland would have wanted to fill some holes with experienced veterans before looking ahead to the draft again. What the Black Hole will love is that is exactly what they have tried to do.

Bruce Irvin hasn’t set the world alight with 11.5 sacks in his past two years but adds a solid threat opposite the freakish athlete in Khalil Mack. Grabbing Sean Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs not only gives them a solid corner with playmaking ability, it weakens a divisional opponent.

Getting a great guard in Kelechi Osemele will help both the run and the pass game, especially if he’s not kicked out to tackle and while possibly being overpaid, he could be a foundation for their offensive line. There’s a lot to like despite a few risks, they could be a contender in a very interesting AFC West.

 

San Diego Chargers

Some even said Hayward was the Packers' best corner last year, could be a real steal.  Source: jsonline.com

Some even said Hayward was the Packers’ best corner last year, could be a real steal. Source: jsonline.com

This may be a little biased and ideally I would like to keep it quiet but it’s difficult to ignore that the Chargers made some really solid moves without an enormous amount of outlay or risk than others have.

With Malcolm Floyd retiring, Travis Benjamin looks like a solid replacement as a genuine deep threat to add to the likes of Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson, especially off an almost 1,000 yard season with a 14.1 yard average. Casey Hayward has been good as a slot corner for the Green Bay Packers and will be valuable either there or opposite Jason Verrett for San Diego.

Signing former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane finally fixes a problem position for years and he could be a real force in the run game. If they can shore up their line a little or find another playmaker in the secondary, Mike McCoy’s men could be a real bounceback candidate.

 

LOSERS

Cleveland Browns

Getting rid of Manziel hid a lot of bad moves for Cleveland.  Source: CBS

Getting rid of Manziel hid a lot of bad moves for Cleveland. Source: CBS

It looks like a complete rebuild job in Cleveland for Hue Jackson as he has almost zero talent left on an already thin squad of players.

Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz and Travis Benjamin all left town on reasonable deals and with the Browns not shifting on their original offers, it seems like such a strange move. All might have been part of their 3-13 team last season but they were all solid pickups for those that did want them in their talent pool for the 2016 season.

There wasn’t much coming through the door either, other than the speculation that they are in the hunt for Colin Kaepernick. When your biggest news in the month of March is that you cut a player that couldn’t win games and couldn’t stop drinking, you know you’re in a big hole.

 

Denver Broncos

Osweiler must have felt shaded by the team, hence his departure.  Source: CBS

Osweiler must have felt shaded by the team, hence his departure. Source: CBS

The reigning Super Bowl champions were keen for a Hall of Fame quarterback to retire so they could usher in a new era, only for the incumbent player to jump ship for a team he feels give him a better chance to succeed.

Brock Osweiler was supposed to take the keys from Peyton Manning but after they didn’t want to risk too much on an iffy seven-game vet, they let someone else do it. It’s not that decision that’s bad, it’s the fact that they now have Mark Sanchez as their number one quarterback heading into the season.

Malik Jackson was paid heavily to leave, which isn’t too much of a blow but the market for decent-to-good pass rushers should worry them. It’s good DeMarcus Ware cut his base salary but Von Miller is going to be very expensive (yet worth it) and it’s hard to see the defence completely carrying the team next season.

 

Miami Dolphins

I just can't get excited about Miami signing Mario Williams.  Source: CBS

I just can’t get excited about Miami signing Mario Williams. Source: CBS

A team that always like to get involved in American Football’s version of March Madness, the Dolphins brought in plenty only to seem stagnant and older where it mattered.

They allowed Oliver Vernon to walk, signing 31-year-old Mario Williams who has never looked like the superstar he was briefly with the Houston Texans. Then they trade for the Philadelphia Eagles’ bust candidates in Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso in the hope they can rediscover their form, a risk move indeed.

Lamar Miller moved on, giving the team no run game and they didn’t sign any of the capable offensive lineman to shore up a pretty poor unit. They simply only filled holes they had created for themselves, fixing none of their real needs and some would even say downgrading for not much of a discount.

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Is NFL kicking going backwards?

The Jaguars, in particular, have been poor on extra point attempts.  Source: Yahoo Sports

The Jaguars, in particular, have been poor on extra point attempts. Source: Yahoo Sports

With the extra point moved back to the 15-yard line at the start of the season to add some excitement to something that was practically a certainty, it’s a good time to look at how kickers have stacked up this year.

Just eight extra points were missed in the entire 2014 season, with just six teams in the NFL failing to convert. However, this season, 69 attempts have been denied or missed and only five teams have remained perfect on the year.

That proves that moving it backwards has helped it from just being an afterthought, it’s caused some teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars to try more two-point attempts and has shown how crucial it can be to have an accurate kicker.

San Diego Chargers chose Josh Lambo because he had a stronger leg than Nick Novak.  Source: MLS Soccer

San Diego Chargers chose Josh Lambo because he had a stronger leg than Nick Novak. Source: MLS Soccer

In terms of field goals, despite it feeling like an odd year, there have been more teams with a 90% or better success rate than last season. There are three teams below 72%, which is abysmal, but the rest of the 22 teams are somewhere in the 80s, which doesn’t look that bad on paper.

2014 had more in the 70s (six to this year’s one, although there are two teams below that number) but overall there are pretty similar stats across the board.

There was an emphasis on kickers with big legs this off-season, with many teams choosing someone who could kick it out of the endzone on kickoffs rather than a solid place-kicker. However, that isn’t shown in the number of attempts beyond 50 yards (153 in 2014, 161 in 2015), which may be a sign that those who do have a strong leg may not have the accuracy needed.

Gostkowski has been sensational, as per usual.  Source: Press Herald

Gostkowski has been sensational, as per usual. Source: Press Herald

Stephen Gostkowski again shows that he is one of the best in the game and for good reason, he has missed just two kicks all year and is perfect in 51 extra point attempts. The two he has missed have come from over 40 yards (he’s 16-18, which is still pretty great) and is one of very few reliable kickers in the league.

While not a significant change, it is becoming more evident than ever who the real quality kickers are and how valuable they can be. Some teams have gone through so many different kickers to find a solution and there is likely to be a stronger focus than ever in the draft and during pre-season to make sure more get it right.

Overall, the standard only seems to have slipped because it’s the missed extra points that stick in the mind. They’ve cost some teams games and that stings a hell of a lot more than a missed field goal, what will be interesting is the comparison with next year and see how things go after a full year’s experience.

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