The Chargers are at home again this week as they host the Arizona Cardinals in what many hope is a tune-up game to get the bad heebie-jeebies off the team’s back following the recent demoralizing loss to the Denver Broncos.
The Cards are limping into this Sunday with a record of 2-8 following a disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders. The short-term depression should be palpable in this one as each team probably thought their last contest was going to be a walk in the park.
Yesterday was also Thanksgiving and I’d be wrong to think there wasn’t a handful of Bolts fans who took the time to express their thankfulness that the Chargers are still 7-3, still second in the AFC West, and right on track for a playoff appearance if they can avoid a meltdown through the final month of the season.
With that being said, let’s go right ahead and get to some of your questions from this week’s mailbag.
What are you thankful for this year? With the injuries to defense in past weeks which players do you expect to step up to fill in the gaps? On offense, how can we improve to prevent Phil from playing hero ball?— Timmy Tran (@TimmyTranWreck) November 23, 2018
If there is anything I’m thankful for at the moment, it’s that the team is still among the best in the league and that they’re getting one of their best defensive players back at a crucial time in the season.
I am also thankful that Telesco made the right call on Derwin James in this past NFL Draft and I’m also extremely thankful to see Melvin Gordon take another giant step forward in his development during his fourth year in the league.
After the loss of Denzel Perryman, I knew thee was going to be a drop-off in play across the board. Fans saw his absence affect the team quite a bit last year and it didn’t take long for the same thing to happen this year. Honestly, I do not expect any linebackers to step up because I don’t think any of them are capable. If anything, I am begging and pleading for the secondary to step up and resemble anything like their 2017 form. Casey Hayward allowed some crucial catches last game that allowed the Broncos to march down the field in order to tie, and inevitably win, that last game. Something needs to change ASAP.
On offense, Philip Rivers is going to have to come out of this recent slump. He needs to completely avoid Travis Benjamin at all costs and get back to taking what the defense gives him. He needs to be more aggressive while maintaining efficiency with his plays at the line of scrimmage. He needs to be aware of mismatches and exploit them a la Tyrell Williams when they took advantage of the Cleveland Browns secondary.
How has Justin Jones done so far?— Who (@gtboltz) November 23, 2018
Jones has been close to an afterthought this season after he was drafted to inject some youth and energy into an aging position group.
As a member of the vaunted North Caroline State defensive line during the 2017 college football season, Jones excelled at his role but didn’t offer much outside of making some plays he was expected to.
The third round was a bit of a reach for him and I think the pick became rushed once the giants drafted his former teammate, DT B.J. Hill, as we had a source saying the initial pick was Hill prior to him coming off the board.
Jones showed ample quickness and flashed a bit when I was down in Mobile for the last Senior Bowl but he has yet to transition any of those moments into his time at the professional level. Jones currently just has 12 tackles and half of a sack on the season and he was about to sit on the inactive list for the rest of the season until Corey Liuget’s injury.
Until given a reason otherwise, I’m not putting any hopes into Jones this year as a difference-maker.
Presuming the Chargers win to go 8-3, whom do you expect the Chargers to win/lose to en route to 9-7?— Lee Bedrouni (@A_Fro_Among_Few) November 23, 2018
Okay, so worst case scenario is obviously losing enough games to the point where the team wastes their 6-game win streak en route to the same 9-7 record that they finished with last season, essentially turning this year into purgatory for the development of this team.
Here’s my predicitions for the team’s final five games following a win against the Cardinals on Sunday:
12/2 @ PIT: L
12/9 vs. CIN: L
12/13 @ KC: L
12/22 vs. BAL: L
12/30 @ DEN: W
Some may disagree, but I have always liked the Chargers chances better, even when away, when they play in an actual NFL stadium. Their games against the Bengals and Ravens at StubHub Center worry me greatly. It took the Chargers piecing together their worst performance of the season to lose to the Broncos by a field goal. Going into Mile High and winning does not worry me that much in comparison.