A pivotal game coming up this weekend, and what better way to get ready than to find out what is happening in Chargers Country directly from the source. I sat down with DaBolts from Bolts From The Blue to get some answers to some pressing questions regarding the Powder Blues --
TSG: Obviously the loss of Shawne Merriman is going to be a blow, but what can you tell us about his backup, Jyles Tucker?
DaBolts: Jyles Tucker looks like a player. An undrafted FA out of Wake Forrest, he has moved from DE to outside linebacker. He has looked terrific in pass rushing, notching up three sacks last year and one sack with limited play in the preseason. He has the ability to affect the outcome of plays too, he caused an errant throw against Dallas and forced a Bulger fumble against the Rams, both in preseason. AJ rewarded him with a healthy five year contract; AJ likes to lock down good players early to long term deals; it speaks to how highly the Bolts think of his potential.
TSG: What is your feeling on how the Merriman situation was handled. Do you feel the team should have stepped in sooner in the best interests of the player?
DaBolts: My thinking has evolved on this, initially I was down on Charger management for not just having him get the surgery. It has come out now that Chargers' medical staff strongly recommended Merriman get the surgery back when Rivers did. Merriman chose then to ignore them and went on to play in the Pro Bowl. The Chargers should be looking after their players, but do they have the right to force Merriman into surgery he doesn't want? If Merriman had done the surgery when the Chargers wanted, he likely would have been available for perhaps the end of this season and playoffs. I should add that I don't know that Merriman's knee hasn't gotten worse since the end of last season, but on the surface it looks like his desire to play got in the way of his good sense; it's tough for me to hang that on the Bolts management.
TSG: Which player that most Broncos fans have never heard of should we keep our eyes on this Sunday?
DaBolts: Mike Tolbert came in as an undrafted free agent, most thought he would only be around until Pinnock got better. He just blew everyone away at fullback. He is 5' 9" and 240 lbs which gives him a low center of gravity. He is a great blocker as well as power runner. Hard to tell yet, but it almost looks like he is the short distance back, with Hester getting nary a carry last week. He has a nasty stiff arm and best of all great hands. He picked up thirty five yards on three catches last week, I'm thinking he may see even more action against Denver.
TSG: tough week 1 loss to the Panthers. The Chargers started slow last year as well and nearly made it to the Super Bowl. What are the feelings of Chargers fan towards this weekend's game? While not a "must win", is it close?
DaBolts: I'm not sure about the overall fans, for myself I can't even see it as close. Not that a loss isn't going to be the worst possible start, going two games down to a division rival, but there is an enormous faith in the skills on this team. Last year there was something of a panic with the slow start, but things really came together at the end of the season. They had an interesting article in the Union Tribune here sometime back where they went back to talk to some fans who were calling for Norv's and Cottrell's heads and most were pretty sheepish about having bailed out so early. I think we will see a more patient fan base this year.
TSG: The Chargers have been very good for a few years now. Do you feel the window is starting to close on this group or are they built for long-term success as well?
DaBolts: There is too much talent on the team to sign it all and stay solvent.
It looks like we have two premium shots at the big prize with this group of players, maybe three depending on how the CBA shakes out.
Right now AJ Smith has signed Castillo long term and is rumored to be working on Rivers. The hope is that he keeps the right players, and continues his strong drafting with the team emulating the type of recent long term success enjoyed by the Patriots and Colts; it looks to me like he might pull that off. It is certainly possible that we get into a rebuild year somewhere down the road.
TSG: Finish this statement - "The Denver Broncos will beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday if..."
DaBolts: The run defense contains LT without eight in the box, the Broncos don't fall behind by more than ten points and Denver doesn't lose the turnover battle.
TSG: is the latest on any potential stadium deal in San Diego? In 5 years, will the Chargers still be in SD?
DaBolts: I hate to hedge, but I'm calling it 50-50. Right now Chula Vista would need to find lots of cash to develop a site on the coast, with property values falling I'm not sure they can pull that off. There is an interesting initiative on the ballot this November that asks about putting a stadium in downtown over some shipping terminals. There are some folks saying the engineering can't be done, but if there is a decisive vote it might move our penurious mayor to reconsider his stance against opening the public coffers. The other thing that could happen this November is that our inept, belligerent city attorney is sent packing.
Note: You can check out my answers to his questions HERE
A big thanks to our friend DaBolts for breaking it down for us. While we both want our teams to win, we also look forward to a healthy game. Check out everything Chargers over at BoltsFromTheBlue.