Answers by Bolts from the Blue lead author John Gennaro.
1. Mike McCoy has stated he thinks the Chargers can win here in Denver. What do you think of his comments?
I think he's smart to say that. He's in a win-win situation. He's been conservative all season, and the aggressive statement might be enough to fire his team up for that extra something that they need to play in Denver on a short week. If it doesn't work and they get blown out, the season is basically over, and he has 9 months to start building towards next season.
Statements like this aren't a bad thing. In fact, they show great believe in the team from the coach, and that's probably needed this season, when McCoy has become somewhat famous for throwing his guys under the bus and never criticizing a coach. The only time these brash statements can be negative is if they're made too frequently, and this is the first time we've heard it from McCoy.
I think it's a calculated move that can't do anything but help his team.
2. The Chargers are still in the thick of the wild card race. What are their chances of seeing the post season?
Probably somewhere around 30%. They need help from the Dolphins and Ravens (as in, they need them to lose) and they still don't have an easy path the rest of the year (against the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs). If they can find a way to win the rest of their games, going 9-7, their chances are probably above 50% and the season can undoubtedly be called a success.
3. How would you rate the Chargers' performance against the Denver Broncos last time?
Well, I wouldn't recommend that they give up 3 touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas again.
Seriously, I thought the Chargers played well in the second half, but lost the game in the first half with some piss-poor coverage and even worse tackling. Personnel has shifted a bit since that matchup a month ago, and it's resulted in better performance from the secondary and better tackling from the linebackers. Will it be enough to stop the Broncos? Probably not, but the team should look closer to the team Denver saw int he second half of last month's game instead of the one they saw in the first half.
If I'm giving that game a letter grade, it's somewhere around a B. The Chargers won the turnover battle and nobody played terribly. They usually win games like that. If they play that well again, I'd be happy with it.
4. As Bronco fans, which San Diego players should we be worried about?
On defense, the obvious answer is Eric Weddle. However, now that our defensive coordinator has figured out how to use them, Marcus Gilchrist makes for the other half of a very good pair of safeties that have been forcing turnovers at an alarming rate lately (7 turnovers in the last 3 games for the Chargers' defense).
On offense, Keenan Allen. Going by advanced metrics, Allen's having a rookie season that is on-par with the legendary rookie season of Randy Moss. He's a legitimate #1 receiver, and I bet there are less than 5 cornerbacks in the entire league that can stay with him one-on-one. He'll either have a big game or he'll create the opportunities for others in the offense to have a big game.
5. How would you rate Philip Rivers' season thus far?
Statistically, it has been every bit as good as his 2008-2009 stretch, when he was putting up stats that made it seem like he'd go down as one of the best QBs of all time. His 70.3% completion rate is the highest of his career, as is the 298.6 passing yards per game that he's averaging. He's currently tied for his career low in interceptions, but the real difference to his game has been fumbles.
Rivers' Achilles heel was always holding onto the ball when he was hit, because of the way he throws it and his awkward throwing motion/grip. I'm not sure how the new coaching staff fixed it, but they did. Before this year, the least amount of fumbles he had for a season was 7 (in 2010). It was at its absolutely worst last season, when he fumbled 15 times. With 3 games left, Rivers has fumbled just 2 times in 2013.
The offense is great and the numbers Rivers has been putting up are fantastic, but I think this rates as the best season of Rivers' professional career because he's been able to eliminate the biggest flaw in his game.
Big thanks again to Bolts from the Blue for taking the time to answer these questions!