FROM THE OTHER SIDE : SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
By Leo Haggerty
LH : Is San Diego the most snake-bit team in the NFL when it comes to the way they lose games?
DA : This has been a recurring theme in Mike McCoy’s tenure as Charger’s coach. Often it’s getting behind early and fighting hard (and usually falling short) to come back. Other times it’s poor defensive stands at the wrong times. The Chargers have also suffered a higher than normal number of injuries the past few years, and this season is no different. The problem for the Chargers this season is they are playing in what I believe is the best division on the NFL — and with all that, they have an outside chance as a wild card team. Unfortunately, they put two more defensive players on IR this week, Brendan Mebane and Jerry Attaochu.
LH : RB Melvin Gordon had a sub-par rookie season. This year he’s looking like the player the Chargers thought he would be. Which Gordon do you think is the one we’ll see in the future?
DA : Gordon has played behind a banged up offensive line, but seems to have found a groove, especially in the last five or six games. He is less than 100 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards for the season, which is remarkable considering the Chargers’ problems on the offensive line. If he goes over 1,000 yards and scores one more touchdown (right now he has 9), he’ll be the first Charger to do that since LaDanian Tomlinson. Gordon is playing much like a second year running back, who has learned about the pace of the game and running with more confidence. If the Chargers ever get their offensive line straightened out, he will be one of the better running backs in the NFL.
LH – Philip Rivers is still performing at a high level. I think he has at least 4 good years left. What’s your opinion?
DA : Rivers is one of my favorite QBs. Much like Drew Brees, you never feel the Chargers are out of the game when Rivers is on the field. Here is another place where injuries (and age) have limited Rivers’ effectiveness. He has certainly been helped with Melvin Gordon’s production this year and seems to have found a new favorite target in Dontrell Inman. Inman has made up for some weaknesses in the receiving corps, especially with the decreased productivity of Antonio Gates this year, who has seen his playing time reduced in favor of Hunter Henry. To answer your question, I think Rivers can play at least 4 more years, especially if he gets adequate protection. He looks to be able to take care of himself and he’s got to feed all those kids he has at home!
LH : The Bucs defense has shown up big the last two games but so has the Bolts. How big of an impact has LB Joey Boza had on the San Diego defense?
DA : I will admit I am surprised by how well Bosa has played this year. He has brought that ability to attack the passer from anywhere on the line, much like he did at Ohio State. He missed all of training camp and the first four games of the season, but has been a force. A steady pass rush has enabled the San Diego DBs to play better. Casey Hayward leads the league in interceptions with six. The defense forced 4 turnovers from the Texans last week and are second in the league in takeaways. They will certainly be tested by Winston and Evans this weekend.
LH : The people of San Diego just turned down paying for a new stadium. Are we looking at the Oakland Chargers or the Los Angeles Chargers, where they were first located when the American Football League began, in the near future?
DA : The Spanos family spent a lot of money trying to convince San Diegans to help pay for a new facility. The vote to turn that down was a real slap in the face. Plus, the two new additions to the County Board of Supervisors ran against the new stadium. But there is always a Plan B. The lease between the team and city runs out in 2020. Expect the Chargers to move to Los Angeles and share the new facility in Inglewood with the Rams.
LH : I have the Bolts winning 27-24 only because they’re at home. In your opinion, who wins and why?
DA : This is one of the better games scheduled for this weekend. San Diego is favored by 3 1/2, but I really like they way the Bucs are playing right now. I was surprised by the way they dominated the Seahawks (another team with offensive line woes). Their wild card chances are better than San Diego’s and a win this weekend is crucial, especially travelling cross country. I’m going with the Bucs 24-21.