Tag Archives: Philip Rivers

2016 AFC West Preview

  1. Kansas City Chiefs  – Yeah, something doesn’t look right in a division when a team led by Alex Smith at quarterback and the Kool-Aid-Man as head coach are the favorites to win it.  But the Kool-Aid-Man a.k.a Andy Reid has been a model of consistency in his coaching career and has made quarterbacks play above their potential.  Alex Smith is in a comfortable spot with the Chiefs and he’s a decent enough “dual-threat” quarterback that he keeps defenses honest – although they know the deep ball is a rare occurrence.  Outside of Jeremy Maclin, the only real receiving threat is tight end Travis Kelce, but the Chiefs’ offense will circle around their backfield depth.  When star running-back Jamaal Charles went down last year the Chiefs saw what they had in Charcadrick West and Spencer Ware.  Expect Andy Reid to find ways to get all of three of these backs involved in the offense often.  In the draft, the Chiefs didn’t really do much, but look out for their fourth round pick Eric Murray out of Minnesota to add some punch to a defense that allowed less than 18 points a game last season.  Chiefs have a middle of the road schedule in terms of difficulty, but this is a team that has most of the same pieces that reeled off an 11 game win streak last year and a division that is win-able with eight or nine wins this year.

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Prediction: 10-6

2. Oakland Raiders – Yeah, that’s right.  Eight or nine wins will win this division and Oakland won’t get the division crown.  Do the math.  Folks are high on the Raiders this year.  Maybe because of the young talent; or maybe because folks are tired of this once proud franchise being a laughing stock. Last season they showed promise and showed they have the centerpieces for their offense and defense: Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, respectively.   Mack will have free agent signees Bruce Irvin and (in November) Aldon Smith to help not just with the edge rush but also help to form a very athletic trio up front.  Rookie Karl Joseph has all the tools to be a starter for this franchise for the next ten years.  Joseph will be playing alongside safety Reggie Nelson who had an NFL leading eight interceptions last year.  Amari Cooper is the real deal at wide receiver; and Michael Crabtree looked the best he’s looked in years, but it may be reaching to think he’ll duplicate last year’s performance.  The pieces are there for this team to  make the next step, but because EVERYONE is saying that, it definitely won’t happen.  This is a team that looks better on paper then they will on the field.  They are still one year away, and if they can put it together, this division can be theirs for the next three to four years – easily.

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Prediction: 9-7

3. Denver Broncos – What did we expect?  A team wins a Super Bowl, and all the players who were up for new contracts – left for ridiculous pay days.  That’s the business of the sport.  The Broncos biggest attraction, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, was set to sit out for the season if he and Broncos didn’t agree on terms – but cooler heads prevailed.  Miller will be set to lead a defense that is still formidable even after the losses of Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson.  The defense will have to be key because that’s how they won games last year.  The Broncos re-instilled the notion that “defenses win championships” because in this “quarterback league” they basically played without one for most of last year.  Although Peyton Manning was trashy last year, his poise and leadership kept this offense motivated and focused all season long – even when times were tough.  Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are top notch receivers but expect their numbers to plummet this season.  The Broncos signed Mark Sanchez who once upon a time was the savior to the New York Jets.  Now he’s a journey man, who’s forever haunted by the epic “butt-fumble.” The Broncos also went and drafted Paxton Lynch who has a creepy mustache and a stupid hair cut.  Also the general manager John Elway is pretty smug.  Nobody with teeth like that should be that smug.

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Prediction: 7-9

4. San Diego Chargers – The Chargers are basically, sorta, kinda. . . irrelevant?  Ugh, you hate to hear the word “irrelevant” associated with a team that has the coolest alternate jersey and a team that is led by Philip Rivers, who has been quiet as kept – this generation’s Dan Marino to some degree.  Does he have the records like Marino and is he as good – no.  BUT, Rivers has put together quite the career and done so with little to no help for the most part.  The organization makes the wrong signings, drafts the wrong people and — oh wait – who’d they draft this year?  Ha. . .  as of now (August 17th, 2016) the Chargers first round pick Joey Bosa is holding out, and it seems that both sides are not budging.  Bosa comes in with a lot of hype, too much hype if you ask me – he’s a piece that would be nice in building a defense, but he is not a piece to build around.   Free agent Travis Benjamin signed on to the Chargers from the Browns and he joins a pretty talented receiving group that include Keenan Allen and tight-end Antonio Gates who is still a top five tight end at thirty-six years of age.  The Chargers lost eight games by seven or less points and just couldn’t close the deal when they needed to.  There is just nothing flashy or exciting about the Chargers anymore.  Sick jerseys though. . .

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Prediction: 6-10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

San Diego Chargers 2015 Preview

The Chargers are one of those NFL teams, that need a boost of adrenaline to get things  going.  There seems to be a lack of excitement within the fanbase and optimism appears to be somewhat contrived off of desperate theories.  The truth of the matter is that their quarterback Philip Rivers is thirty-three years old and this is a team that seems to be in flux for the last three seasons.

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The word “optimism” has been mentioned already, but Rivers is a big part of that “optimism.”  Rivers is on the road to becoming a quarterback who has put up great stats in his career but will never win a Super Bowl.  It’s a shame, because for a while it seemed as if this Chargers organization was on the right track. . .  Last year, Rivers had a total of twenty turnovers – not all were his fault though.  Rivers tossed for over four-thousand yards but did not have a single one-thousand yard receiver by season’s end.   Seems like he was doing his part in the passing game. . .

Keenan Allen was expected to put up big numbers in his sophomore season, but totaling 783 yards and four touchdowns, doesn’t exactly scream “big numbers.”  He often seemed to not be on the same page with Rivers and was a different player half-to-half (looking better in the second half of games, usually).   Malcolm Floyd has been on the Chargers for what seems like forever and he’s a big body guy with speed – but is it just time to move passed Floyd?  He’s never really become the guy we all expected him to be and their off-season acquisition of Stevie Johnson – who is obviously better suited for the slot receiver role – can challenge the other two in getting more looks from Rivers.  When motivated and when he has his head on straight, Johnson is actually a fearless well rounded wide out.  Antonio Gates has been suspended for four games which means that the much over-hyped Ladarius Green becomes the number one tight end, at least to start the season.  Green is next in line to Gates, but hasn’t been able to out-play the veteran so he’s been kept on the sidelines for the most part.

The offensive line suffered a huge loss with the retirement of center Nick Hardwick (guard Jeromey Clary retired as well) but the Chargers seemed to have done enough to make this unit a formidable one.  The Chargers signed Orlando Franklin to man one of the guard spots and they kept King Dunlap on at left tackle.  D.J. Fluker has been a focus of the coaching staff’s to  better develop his technique against the pass rush.   Knowing the kind of quarterback Philip Rivers is, he is developing chemistry with his sophomore center Chris Watt as we speak. . .

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The running game had a spark set off by undrafted rookie Brandon Oliver, but that spark was short lived and the 5’7″ running back found himself struggling to get his legs going.   The Chargers decided to go into this year’s draft and address their running back issue, so in the first round they selected Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.  Gordon broke Barry Sanders’ college record by rushing for 2587 yards last year, that’s enough for anyone to have huge expectations moving forward.  What’s amazing about Gordon is that Wisconsin is a run-first, run-second and run-third type of offense and opposing teams still couldn’t put a lid on him.  He did play behind a good offensive line, but his ability to cut without losing speed is remarkable.  He could be the player that the Chargers have needed for a long time and the Chargers are hoping for a quicker return on their investment then their other Melvin who they used a first round pick on three years ago. . .

Linebacker Melvin Ingram was the Chargers first round pick in the 2012 draft and things haven’t turned out as the Chargers would have liked.   His rookie season was the only time he played a full sixteen games and it was also the season in which he recorded his most tackles (41).   It is unlikely Ingram wakes up from this mediocrity, and mediocrity is what this linebacker core is dressed in.  Manti Te’o gets manhandled and Jerry Attaochu is expected to get with the program quickly this season or will find his playing time to become limited.

The lack of aggressiveness in this line-backing group will force hard hitting strong safety Jahleel Addae to play closer to the line of scrimmage instead of free safety Eric Weddle.  This is because Weddle is bit more versatile and a more natural player than Addae who really just wants to hit people.  Veteran Brandon Flowers and second year man Jason Verrett are the corner backs.  Verrett’s body gave out on him early in his rookie season which is alarming, but if his body can hold up, he can turn out to be a good man-to-man coverage guy.

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The secondary will have to work hard, because most opposing quarterbacks won’t be under much pressure when playing this defense.  Outside of defensive end Corey Liuget, there is not much heat coming from this defensive line.  Liuget will often have two sets of eyes on him because of this, limiting his impact on a game.  Somebody needs to step up on this defensive line and depending where he ultimately gets lined up it may be rookie Darius Philon.  Philon was a defensive tackle in Arkansas, but his lack of strength at that position might be a task for him at the pro level.  He does move extremely well for a man of his size though and can prove to be disruptive if used and protected correctly.

This offense will be fun to watch, especially if Keenan Allen grows into his own as a number one receiver.  For the most part their schedule isn’t packed with juggernaut offenses, but against this defense expect even an average offense to come away with some extra opportunities.

Predicted Record: 7-9

Predicted Pro Bowlers: King Dunlap, Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio