No, that is not me at the 2004 game against the Falcons. However, I approve it's message. The only tunes I included in this week's post is a link to the Elvis Bootleg "Cut Me Ane I Bleed." If you don't want to deal with Youtube and want to listen on your own media player, you can listen to it here. Tomorrow's game is a big one. I know it's only Week 3, but the Bolts have a lot to more--to their fans most of all. Whether it was the Sunday Night shellacking in Foxboro in 2007, the "soft and embarrassing" loss at Pittsburgh in 2009 (see photo posted below), or the meltdown against New England last year, the Bolts haven't answered the bell in September in quite a while.
I know that you don't want to play your best football at this stage of the season. The Falcons are further proof that regular season wins don't mean shit. But they are coming into San Diego looking to finally get out of the first round, as the Chargers were in 2007. The Bolts can't really be satisfied with simply getting back into the postseason. I don't care what everybody says. Rivers, Gates, Hardwick, these guys want to finally run to the end. While these games don't indicate whether a team will be the only one to end its season with a win, the Chargers could really use a victory tomorrow. I just rattled off three games in which they fell flat early on. I'd say they were a pretty good indicator of how the team fared at the end of the season. In 2007, they were able to finally go toe to toe with New England in January. But it wasn't good enough. If Michael Turner gets past the late Junior Seau on 3rd and goal, maybe.
Speaking of which, I don't have a problem with Turner playing tomorrow. I know that Turner gained 120 yards in the teams' last meeting. The stat-obsessed crew from Massachusetts that run Cold Hard Football Facts point out that Atlanta is #1 in the "mother of all categories" right now, Passer Rating Differential. If you click on the link, you'll see that we're at #9 right now.
I caught enough of the Falcons' game on Monday Night to see that they're playing really well right now. They matched the Chargers 11/07 3 pick total of Peyton and Roddy White looked unstoppable. But this young NFL season has already shown that anything truly can happen. In fact, CHFF did a whole feature on how the Pats always win when they are 2 touchdown favorites. Sure, they don't cover, but I am sure these guys weren't thinking they'd lose at home against the Cardinals.
Matt Ryan is trying to shed the label that he can't step up in big playoff games. Rivers should be trying to dispute the same point. So far, both guys seem to have made a statement. With a more aggressive offense, Ryan might be playing his best ball yet. I still remember Philip Rivers coming off the field in December 2009 at Tennessee and interviewer Michael Lombardi looking at him with literal awe. That's how well he was playing at that moment. We all know what happened next and it's taken until now for this team to pull itself back up.
I've said it a couple times already this season. I feel better about this team right now than at any point during the last two seasons. There are still a lot of question marks and a lot to improve upon. But I don't get that feeling that the Chargers are about to commit yet another self-inflicted wound on their chances. I still fear Norv and his Foster Grant sunglasses. I will never forget the pain that Nate Kaeding has brought. I'm the first person to temper any enthusiasm I feel at this point. Yet, I still see a lot of reasons for hope.
If you check my Twitter feed or the JIC Facebook page, you'll see that I posted the pic of Sarah in her Fouts jersey. She came into the bedroom last week as I was watching the game and hung around for a while. She kept wondering when I would start screaming. I told her that I usually just mutter to myself when I am angry. She came downstairs at halftime and told Sam that "Daddy says they're winning, but he doesn't like how they're playing." There was a period where the Chargers seemed to get bogged down. But it wasn't like that aforementioned game against Indianapolis where they practically shat the game away and needed a miracle miss from Vinatieri. While I wasn't happy that we were letting Tennessee hang around, there was (dare I say it?) a sense of poise and subsequent control from the Bolts.
I was less than thrilled when Rivers tossed his first pick, but he wasn't getting any help from the ground game. I can't fault him too much for trying to jump-start things. I included a clip from NBC Sports Network's "Turning Point" show from this week. You can really see why other teams and fans hate Rivers. As my wife said, he is quite the chatterbox. Norv was miked up as well as giving Philip a hard time for the overthrow that resulted in the interception. But I think Rivers is making much better decisions thus far.
Of course, Atlanta's defense will be a lot tougher than the first two he's seen. If Mathews can be anything close to his best, it will be huge. Rivers has done a hell of a lot (sometimes by not doing anything) with no help from the running backs. However, I loved MCCCLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIINNN'S lone run and Jackie Battle's punishing display late. Gates said something to the Michael Gehlken "how many times do you think I'm going to miss?" I take that to mean he's ready to go.
I don't include the U-T links anymore since they now require a subscription, but I told you the Google Chargers group has the articles. Acee wrote a column that Gaither basically has the next few weeks to play another down for the Chargers. I don't see it happening, but I don't fault AJ for the decision to sign him. We're moving on, as The Cantankerous One, would say.
Can the line keep Rivers from the foolish fumble we saw on Sunday? Thus far, McFadden and Johnson have been held relatively in check. Can they throttle "The Burner?" He has those spells where he can't really break off long runs. I am sure fans will be hazing him over the DWI, as they should. I didn't know he also had a few kids via baby mommas until someone Tweeted me about it. I asked aloud if the secret life of Jesse Chatman was the next big scandal left for me to discover. I didn't know JC was in the UFL right now, by the way.
I know that Colby Underwood and I aren't the only ones who wish Shaun Phillips would stop dancing. Maybe John Lithgow should channel his Footloose character and outlaw it. You know who's not dancing? Mike Tolbert. My son has gained more yards crawling over three weeks than Tolbert.
I know the game isn't a sellout right now. Fans facing a blackout can find ways to see the game online or go out to a bar. I'll be upstairs in my bedroom after Sammy and I get back from Brooklyn tomorrow. We're seeing Springsteen at Met Life Stadium. I actually went to Thursday's show and my tickets for the 12/23 game were waiting for me in the mailbox when I returned. It sounds like my trip to Cleveland may soon be made official, so I will be hitting two games after going for the last couple of years without attending any.
I wish I was going to be at this one, however. I don't fault the fans, especially the ones who buy tickets, for being in "show me" mode. But they'll be loud and angry. Actually, I always feel like the stadium isn't loud enough. That Floyd replay call was awful and Boltheads should have been livid. But by wife says I comment that every stadium isn't loud enough. "Maybe it's you," she says.
Maybe it's me, indeed.
Yours In Justice,
PS Protect the dream or at least don't fumble it or throw it to the opposition.