I very rarely even bring up another team on this site, but I wanted to see if anyone on MHR had the same feeling that I have about the Bolts this year.
Now there's no question about thier talent level.
Tomlinson, when healthy, isn't just the best player in the NFL, he's one of the best backs in its history (IMO). Anytime a back dominates as consistently as he has, more focus should be on the offensive line, because they are part of the reason for his dominance. Rivers, although utterly unlikeable (at least a mile above sea level), has proven to be capable, but not exceptional. The defense, however, has been exceptional and consistent.
Tomlinson's been beaten up. He couldn't participate in the Chargers' bigegst game since Super Bowl XXIX. He has carried the ballmore in the past 6 seasons than any other back, and has taken more punishment because of his workload than any other back in that time period. He tore his MCL last year. He did not undergo surgery. He has been nursing a nagging groin this preseason. But he doesn't seem to be affected, at this point, by his recent injuries, but with the workload that he's seen, how much longer can he go, and howmuch longer can he avoid a season with a handful of missed games.
Rivers tore his ACL last January. He had surgery to repair it. He hasn't missed many practices this training camp and preseason. Last year he was very up and very down. His yardage, TDs, and rating all nosedived and his INTs increased in 2007. Can he even replicate his 2007 numbers, which, by no means were "great" coming off of ACL surgery? He even alludes to the fact that if he took a bad hit on his knee that it would affect hismindset during a game since the surgery.
Antonio Gates has been so inconsistently healthy, that last season, some wondered if he'd ever be back to where he was just a few short seasons ago. His nagging toe injuries cost him a chance to contribute in the 2008 offseason until just 1 week ago today.
The defense is returning almost all of last year's names for this season, but its the biggest name on the defense that has the biggest question mark next to it in 2008. Shawne Merriman has been a one man wrecking crew for the past few seasons. But he has two torn knee ligaments and has decided, against four doctor's opinions, that he will play the 2008 season and undergo surgery after the season. He has also worn his relationship with the Chargers organization thin. AJ Smith has been quoted as saying that Merriman should spend less time with his personal commitments ans more time on his team commitment.
Asked yesterday how he felt about Merriman’s latest venture, wherein the linebacker will fly from San Diego to Los Angeles after practice each Thursday and tape a show about the NFL on Fox Sports Net, Smith said this:
“My feeling about any of his off-the-field activities will be between me and Shawne. Shawne has many, many activities off the field, and that’s his business, along with his agents, marketing people, publicist and business partners. My only hope is that he remembers his high-level football performance is what drives his off-the-field attraction.”
Now, maybe Smith is playing the part of the overbearing father, but it's no secret that Merriman is a volatile guy in the locker room.
The Chargers are bigger than a few players, but I use them as examples because they are likely the Chargers' four most recognizeable players and each of them has a swirl of injuries around them going into 2008 and I didn't even bring up Jamal Williams, the run stuffing DT that has been spelling diaster for Denver RBs for the last two seasons (he's another of the 12 Chargers that had surgery this offseason).
I'm not attacking the Chargers, I am simply stating that it is reasonable to assume that they will not perform as they have in past seasons considering their four marquee players all have recent injury concerns to deal with. I am aware that the Chargers offensive line, cornerbacks, and assorted linebackers and defensive linemen are not just standouts, but Pro-Bowlers, but let's call this what it is: concerning for a Chargers fan.
I am in no way saying that the Broncos are going to win the AFC West, I am simply stating that San Diego has more negative intrigue entering this season than they have an any of the past 3 or 4 seasons.
I would be very interested to see what guys like DaBolts are thinking about their boys going into the season. I want to know if they think the Chargers are as far ahead of the rest of the AFC West as they were last year. I also want to see if they think Denver has tightened the gap with San Diego this offseason. Lastly, I am curious if they think that the Chargers will dispatch the Broncos with the relative ease in which they did in 2007.
If a Denver's better than advertised and the Bolts get out of the gates slowly, could the AFC West be a dogfight in 2008? You judge for yourself, you surely won't let ESPN or CNNSI or anyone in the national or local media decide fore you.
Who would you rather have:
Cutler or Rivers (if I don't have anything nice to say, I shouldn't say it)
Marshall, Stokely, and Royal or Jackson, Chambers, and anyone else (closer than you think because Royal's a rookie. But with Stokely and Marshall, I take Denver every time. Marshall is the best AFC West WR by far)
Scheffler or Gates (closer than you think but leaning towards Gates)
Young and Hall or Tomlinson (not close)
Merriman or Dumervil (closer than you think and if you look at injury, I take Elvis)
Castillo or DJ Williams (close, IMO)
Cromartie or Champ Bailey (Bailey's 2007 wasn't great, but I'd take him)
Jammer or Bly (I might take Jammer)
Broncos O-Line or Bolts O-Line (duh, Botls, although Denver's youth is encouraging)
D-Rob or Jamal Williams (Jamal)
Coach Shanny or Norv (Norv did well last year, but, like any coach, you MUST look at the BODY OF WORK - I'd be worried about Norv as a Bolts fan)
Talk amongst yourselves.....