The NFL football season will get underway tonight and while the Chiefs don’t hit the field until Monday night, we are in full game week mode here at AA.
As part of our Monday Night Preview, I spoke to Ernie over at Bolt Beat. Ernie just took over the site and he is already doing a fantastic job over there. Ernie was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. I encourage you guys to head over to Bolt Beat and welcome Ernie to the Fansided family. Even though he roots for the wrong football team, he is playing for the right sports blog network.
Here is what Ernie had to say about the
1. The Chargers have dealt with a pretty distracting offseason. Obviously the big story is the holdouts of Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson. How is the absence of these two All-Pro players going to impact the Bolts this season?
It would be a lie to say that the team would not be better without those guys. Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill are both All-Pro level talents and are being replaced with players that have yet to prove that level of success. There is still a lot of confidence in the offense with the addition of Ryan Mathews and Patrick Crayton. The offense will take on a different attitude this season and force the ball with the run. There are still plenty of offensive weapons with Antonio Gates leading the charge. Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee still have the ability to stretch the field and Darren Sproles is always a threat to take it to the house.
2. It looks like Brandyn Dombrowski will be filing in for McNeill. He will likely be taking on the Chiefs best pass rusher in Tamba Hali. How confident are you that he can protect Rivers’ blind side?
Dombo has shown a lot this preseason in going against Julius Peppers and Demarcus Ware. He has proven that he is capable of filling the position at a high level. He still is learning on the job though and Coach Norv Turner sometimes will place an extra tight end or full back on that side to help out. Dombo has shown that he is a better run blocker than McNeill. I am sure that Hali will win some of the battles, but he will have to get to Rivers before his quick release.
3. We all have to take the preseason with a grain of salt but after watching 4 games, what are you most encouraged by and what are you most concerned about heading in tot he season?
The running game on offense will be improved with Ryan Mathews! The kid is a stud and will not go down with arm tackles and will throw down opposing defenses with his stiff arm. The defense has also come in this season with an attacking attitude sending more blitzes and controlling the line of scrimmage.
I am concerned with the play at corner opposite of Quentin Jammer. We traded Antonio Cromartie in the offseason and replaced him with fromer 1st round draft pick Antoine Cason. Cason was picked on a lot by Drew Brees and David Carr. YEA, David Carr!!!!! If the defense will be blitzing the opposing offense, than the corners need to step up and play their man. We will see what Cason can do for us.
4. Everyone knows Ryan Mathews has had a good offseason and many pundits are forecasting him as a possible offensive rookie of the year candidate. Other than Mathews, what rookies should Chiefs fans keep an eye on Monday night?
On defense, the Chargers feel as if they got a steal with 5th Round Draft pick DT Cam Thomas. He will be asked to be in a rotation on the defensive line and has shown the ability to stuff the run and take on a couple of blockers.
Safety Darrell Stuckey will be getting some playing time also. He is still learning the game and does better against the run and is a very smart player. He definitely can use some polishing before becoming the starter.
5. The Chiefs of the 90′s are infamous for being a fantastic regular season team that couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. It appears as though that stigma has now been passed on to the Chargers. San Diego hasn’t been able to get over the hump with Shottenheimer and now Norv Turner. Do you think the problem is due to the coaches, players or just bad luck? Do you feel the window for the Bolts is still wide open or is it closing?
Fans in San Diego will blame that last loss on Kicker Nate Kaeding. He missed 3 field goals that would have given us the game. 2 of those field goals usually are made. Kaeding has choked in a couple of playoff games for the Chargers and is on a short leash if we get into the post season this year. The Chargers also come into the playoff games and lose to teams that can bang them around. The more physical the team, the more the Chargers tend to struggle against them. The team has a giant monkey on their back and it looks to weigh them down anytime something goes wrong in the playoffs.
The window is definitely still wide open. We just signed Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates to long term contracts and Ryan Mathews just signed his deal. When you have players of that talent signed to long term contracts, then you will always have a good opportunity at winning.
And of course, a bonus question here. We need you prediction for MNF at Arrowhead!
It will be a tightly fought game and the Chargers struggle out of the starting gates. I think it will be close game throughout and the Chargers will score a late TD to put the game away.
Thanks again to Ernie for taking the time to give us an inside perspective on a division rival. I wish his team the worst of luck on Monday night. =)