1) Dunlap's 3rd Concussion since 2013
You should know by now that I prize player safety and the long-term health of the guys that play even more than a perfectly executed down block by a pulling tackle that pancakes a pursuing linebacker (maybe I'll see that again someday). And given the team's recent history with offensive line stalwarts calling it a career after these types of injuries, very few things top concussions on a "things I hate" list.
Of particular concern here is Dunlap's concussion history. The first recorded one of his professional career put him on the shelf in Philadelphia for 4 weeks in 2011. He had two (admitted) concussions in 2013, the first in Week 3 and the next in Week 7 (two weeks after his return from the prior injury). And then there was the mysterious Week 10 injury that was originally reported as a concussion, later described as one involving "concussion-like symptoms" and then by Tuesday officially described as a "neck" injury.
Plus, the incident in the Seattle game in Week 2 last year, when he left the field under his own power but did not return to the game. Reports in the game mentioned that he had been "shaken up", but the exact nature of the injury was never disclosed and he did not miss any games after the early exit. Which brings us to last Sunday and seeing him get the 3rd DOCUMENTED (with 2 other highly probable) brain injury in the last 32 games the team has played. IMO, nothing worse than that happened on the field last Sunday.
Get well soon, Mr. Dunlap. And although you don't need me to tell you - you do what you need to do to ensure your current and long-term health, even if that means...
2) Rivers Coming Back Out in 31-7 Game
At the 2:17 mark in the 3rd quarter, all of us on the game thread were holding our breath as the Bolts 2015 season looked like it could be over. This was after seeing Anthony Barr trying out the martial art move of removing a still beating heart from a QB's chest on Philip Rivers or at the very least, the one forearm death blow. It nearly worked, but Rivers managed to catch his breath, and with the use of a timeout, not miss a snap.
Not only did PR not miss a snap, he led the team on one of its best drives of the day, only to have a ball clang off of Stevie Johnson's hands for the play of Chad Greenway's career. In the course of that play, Rivers took another hard shot, one of 12 he eventually took that day. The score was now 31-7 when the Chargers got the ball back. Even though the clock said 13:51 to go in the game, any of us that were watching knew that it was over when the refs spotted the ball on the Charger 19 yard line.
Behind an o-line that was a patch-worked concoction of banged up back-ups mostly playing out of position, the smart move was to insert Kellan Clemens. In true Charger form under the current coaching regime, the smart move did not happen. Rivers came out for another series. In a display of karma, McCoy elected to go for it on 4th and 6 with 10:30 left in the game and Rivers was sacked by Sharif Floyd and Everson Griffen. That last sack on Rivers should not have happened.
After one of the worst quarters of Charger football I have seen in the last 45 years, against a defense that no longer had to honor the run, and against the O-line that the Bolts could put on the field at that point, I as a GM would have been livid with McCoy for not making sure PR's helmet went into a locked equipment box on the sideline at the 13:51 mark. With 13 games left to go in the season, there was simply no reward in that situation that could come close to justifying the risk in sending the franchise QB out there again.
3) No Defensive Leader On The Field
For the last several years, Eric Weddle has been the best player on the Chargers defense and its unquestioned leader on the field. The first part of the previous sentence may still be true. The last part of it no longer is.
There is a good reason why companies try not to telegraph to an employee that they are about to be terminated (although an employee can usually figure it out). Lame duck situations are rarely beneficial for anyone. Once the decision is made to cut ties with somebody, it is kept quiet until the employee shows up at their cubicle, greeted by HR person and the biggest dude in the office or building security.
This is not how the Bolts handled their very public, soon to be official separation from Eric Weddle in the offseason. The team will pay a price for their ineptitude in handling Weddle for the next 13 games.
The warning signs were there after the Week 2 loss in Cincinnati. Local media reported a week ago that there were "communication issues" in the Bolts secondary which led to defensive issues. And after the debacle last Sunday, the "Around the NFL" Tuesday podcast and several Tweets claimed that Weddle has gone into "protection mode" and is playing at about 70%.
The uneven effort was noticed by the fans and media in Minnesota. It is not a stretch to figure out that the rest of the team noticed way before that. And really, why would anyone on the defense take any sort of cue to play harder from a person that has emotionally checked out. I believe Weddle is trying to care, but there is a large part of him that is thinking about his next contract and his next team, which is impacting his play.