Yes, let’s address the elephant in the room; the San Diego Chargers are riddled with injuries and their season is already over after five quick, but painful weeks. Fans can get on with their everyday lives and no longer have to worry about getting playoff tickets this year. I am not here to pile on the bad news and upset the loyal supporters of the Chargers. I think sometimes the Bolts From the Blue staff and I have been unfairly depicted as pessimists. Our followers label us as a bunch of people who follow the Chargers just to hate on them where in fact we are realists. We are not blinded by our love of the Chargers, we just are a little to real/blunt at times. However, I took it upon myself to change the narrative. This isn’t a piece where I will call for McCoy’s head on a stick like Ned Stark, nor will I go over ad nauseam all of San Diego’s miscues that have cost them a chance to win. No, today I try and rally the troops, and give a reason why Chargers fans should be excited about a 1-5 team and its future.
YOUNG AND IMPROVED DEFENSE
It has taken a long time, but it finally looks like San Diego’s defense is starting to turn a corner. Believe it or not, the Chargers have given up only 417 rushing yards this season (83.4 yards per game) which puts them in the top 10 in run defense. Another fun fact, San Diego is tied for 12th in the league with 11 sacks this year and also leads the NFL with 9 forced fumbles. They have been able to achieve all of this in spite of losing players like Jason Verrett and Manti Te’o to season-ending injuries, and Eric Weddle to free agency. San Diego has a nice young nucleus of defensive playmakers. Melvin Ingram has finally shown that he can stay healthy and consistently pressure the quarterback. The outside linebacker currently has 3 sacks and is on track to have his second consecutive year of double-digit sacks. Casey Hayward has been both versatile and stellar in coverage. Perhaps one of Telesco’s best offseason acquisition, Hayward, has 3 interceptions through 5 games. Jatavis Brown, Teo’s successor at inside linebacker seems to be a diamond in the rough. The 5th round rookie has done a phenomenal job filling in for Manti. He has shown the ability to get to the quarterback as well as provide adequate pass coverage (as seen when he covered the Colts’ wide receiver, Phillip Dorsett). Brown always seems to be around the ball, whether it is creating a turnover, recovering a fumble, or sacking the quarterback. He and Denzel Perryman will make a great 1-2 punch in the middle of the Chargers defense. Last and certainly not least, is Joey Bosa. What Bosa did in limited action on Sunday was nothing short of amazing. He was clearly the best player on the Chargers defense. He displayed the ability to set the edge, stuff the run, and rush the passer. He will be San Diego’s Swiss Army knife and help make the teammates around him better. The arrow is pointing up for the Chargers defense.
EXCITING NEW PLAYMAKERS ON OFFENSE
What has been evident during the first 5 games of the season for the Chargers is they have a dynamic offense. But how? Keenan Allen their stud wide receiver, played only 1 half of a game. Danny Woodhead, their valuable running back, was lost early on in the year. Future Hall of Famer, Antonio Gates, has been hampered by a hamstring injury and has been forced to miss a couple of games. So how can a team lose so many weapons on the offensive side of the ball and still be a top 10 offense? There are two answers for that, first, Philip Rivers. Rivers is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL and is like the MacGyver of quarterbacks. The other reason for the offense’s success, are their young weapons. Melvin Gordon is having a great year as he leads the league in touchdowns with 7. What is even more impressive about Gordon, is how well-rounded he has become. He has improved as a pass catcher and a pass blocker to help fill the void Woodhead has left. Hunter Henry, the second-round selection of San Diego has proved why he was the draft's best tight end. He has displayed soft hands and great route running ability. Henry is also a willing and able blocker in the running game. Watching him play every week reminds me of a young Jason Witten. Lastly, the Chargers have a pair of young wide outs that have been thrilling to watch. Tyrell Williams is a big, fast receiver that has been blossoming into perhaps the next Malcolm Floyd while Travis Benjamin has been an electric speedster that can stretch the field on opposing defenses. When you pair, Henry, Williams, and Benjamin up with Keenan Allen next year, opposing defenses are going to have nightmares trying to figure out who to stop.
SALARY CAP FLEXIBILITY
According to Overthecap.com the San Diego Chargers have $143 million in cap liabilities for the 2017 NFL season. This gives the Chargers roughly $22 million in cap space. That number does not reflect in the future cuts of players and restructuring of contracts. Rivers knows he is getting towards the end of the career and will move around money to benefit the team’s cap situation as long as he is getting all of the money that is due to him. So between future cuts and restructuring of deals, San Diego could have almost $30 million in cap space for next year. This would give them the flexibility to re-sign Melvin Ingram, and get a quality free agent or two to make that final push for Rivers.
ANOTHER TOP TEN DRAFT PICK
When looking at the rest of the schedule it is hard to see the Chargers winning any more than 5-6 games total this year. Don’t be sad fans, that is ok. What that means is they will have a chance to get another top prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. Forget Tump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Charger fans should be chanting “Meltdown for Myles!” As in Myles Garrett.
FIRE MIKE MCCOY
Ok, I had to slip this one in here. San Diego will have a new head coach. The possibility that fans would not have to endure kicking field goals and timeout mismanagement anymore has to be really thrilling. Even if the head coach goes .500 within the division and wins 50% of one-score games, the Chargers are going to the playoffs.
A wise man once said without pain there would be no pleasure. And even though Chargers fans are experiencing a lot of pain these past 2 years; I assure you brighter days are right ahead. Look on the bright side, it is not like the San Diego Chargers are the Cleveland Browns right? Well not yet anyways.