Chargers followers know that the team gave Philip Rivers a stout offensive line as often as George R.R. Martin finished a novel. Running for his life would have been a recurring theme if running and Rivers were not so antithetical. Rivers moved slower than coastal erosion when he was still in his twenties.
So seeing a passer complete passes downfield as he runs in a dead sprint towards the sideline is a relatively new experience for Chargers fans.
In his fourth professional game Justin Herbert and the Chargers played the Saints in New Orleans. Facing a 3rd-and 7 from the New Orleans 17-yard line, the nascent QB looked across the ball and saw seven Saints threatening an all-out blitz.
Allow me to paint the picture. Tight end Hunter Henry lines up in a three-point stance next to right tackle Trey Pipkins. Tailback Justin Jackson split out to the right of the formation and empties the backfield. No backs to protect against the blitz.
From the shotgun Herbert takes the snap; already anticipating pressure he doesn't endeavor to set up in the pocket. He has no time, so he bolts.
Pipkins blocks down on the defensive tackle leaving Henry with the unenviable position of having to both man up with the defensive end alone...and hope that the safety is simulating pressure? We cannot know who botched the blocking assignment, but Pipkins probably was not supposed to leave Henry on an island.
In a bind, Henry hesitates and whiffs on both. Jailbreak. Saints Cam Jordan and Malcolm Jenkins overwhelm him and in an instant they are both an arm's length away from Herbert.
The Chargers blown blocking assignment has the city of New Orleans about to exhale in the comfort that Dennis Allen's blitz package just schooled the rookie. Send the house. Kill the quarterback. Fourth down. Who Dey?
But Justin Herbert is too naive, too green, too immeasurable to know that he is defeated by the play's design; he is not bound to its expected outcomes. The Kwisatz Haderach is not beholden to time and space.
He runs three steps, and ten yards backwards and darts for the sideline to his right. His movements are so sudden that Jenkins, an All Decade safety who won a Super Bowl, has an instant to realize that not only has he missed out on a sack, he's lost contain on the ball. He dives at the rookie's ankles and misses.
Cam Jordan is still bearing down on him though. He closes the gap as quickly as Herbert created it and reaches out to reel in his quarry.
Herbert, who does not have time to set his feet, launches a pass from a dead sprint beyond the 30 yard line. The ball explodes out of his hand; a missile fired from a government drone. Its parabola never higher than the walls of a YMCA swimming pool.
Keenan Allen catches the ball in front of Saints safety Marcus Williams who is trailing. Touchdown.
Your mind reaches for comparisons to quantify what your eyes have seen. After living (and dying) with the gunslinger-in-cement-shoes for sixteen years you can imagine Chargers fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief after seeing Herbert throw that pass. How can these two people be playing the same position?
On the occasion of being flushed from the pocket, hemmed in by both the sideline and his genetic aversion to sprinting, Philip Rivers would throw the ball away as often as not. Sure, he could extend a play by ambling horizontally away from a collapsing pocket, but he didn't strike fear in the defense when he broke contain.
Any defensive coordinator worth his salt would rather take his chances with Rivers on the move than let him stand tall to survey the field and pepper them with that rifle quick sidearm delivery.
If his bevy of receivers were a buffet—blanketed by coverage after a complete read of his progression —then Rivers on the move was reduced to a raver at 4 A.M. on a quest for gas station burritos.
Most of the time he would toss it in the dirt or out of bounds to live to fight another down, but the inner gunslinger was always there waiting to reveal himself—usually in a one score game, because that is all the Chargers know how to play.
Last Sunday was the latest example as the team fell to 4-5 losing 41-38 to the Detroit Lions despite Herbert's side of the ball finishing the game with five consecutive touchdown drives. Even when he switches into god mode (completing 27 of 40 passes for 323 yards with four touchdowns) the Chargers find themselves scratching and clawing to win one score games. Remember the Raiders game that went to overtime two years ago on the final day of the season?
As Yogi Berra said once, "It's deja vu all over again."
Speaking of, the last time the Chargers visited Lambeau Field was in 2015. The only player remaining on the team from that game is Keenan Allen, who was on his way to a having a historic day (14 catches for 157 yards) before exiting the game early with a hip injury.
The Chargers battled back from a two touchdown deficit behind Rivers' career best 503 yards passing and had the ball inside Green Bay's ten-yard-line down by one score with under a minute to go.
On the final drive Rivers completed passes of 11, 12, 13, 12, 12 and 12 yards— as Keenan Allen watched helpless from the sideline. On second-and-goal at the 2, Rivers tried to rifle a pass to Gates on a corner route ignoring Danny Woodhead who was open in the flat. Incomplete,
Woodhead and the Chargers coaches probably told Rivers that he had missed an easy touchdown because on fourth-and-goal, he tried to go to Woodhead in the same place. Rookie cornerback Damarious Randall, who had spent the day being abused by Allen, jumped in front of Woodhead and knocked it down. Rivers laid on his back after the pass fell incomplete like a sailor lost at sea; searching for a familiar constellation that might light his way home.
"You have to laugh to keep from crying," Rivers said after the Packers prevailed, 27-20.
Tell me about it.
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Packers vs. Chargers Predictions
Bolt Bros Podcast
Kyle Sawyer (Season Record 5-4)
The "Broracle" reads the runes!
The Broracle Reads the Runes! URUZ. There is a lot of pain in our past and a lot of people have lost hope. Yet all is not lost yet. We have the strength to move forward.
WUNJO. No matter what we are filled with family, trust, and respect. We have an abundance of ability on this team and this week will surely prove it.
EHWAZ. The future of this team is not over yet. Our Journey is halfway done. The way things should fall into place does lead to victory. 31-20 Chargers
Chargers 31 - Packers 20
Rivers Lake Yacht Club
Señor Snappy (Season Record 3-3)
Under normal circumstances I’d expect Justin Herbert to take a step back this week: he hasn’t typically strung heroic performances together. That said, the situation in Week 10 is not normal. Herbert (among the most pressured QB’s in the league) comes off a game where he wasn’t sacked, performed “heroically” and still lost.
The Packers are still formidable despite their record, although weather doesn’t currently look to be in their favor. The Frozen Tundra, not so much.
The Brandon Staley Chargers play well when they are up against it and this game certainly qualifies as must-win.
I think Staley and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore scheme to protect Herbert and Keenan Allen (who suffered a shoulder sprain last week but is expected to play)—if the defense plays up to their standard then we will see a heavy portion of Austin Ekeler and co. That means a low scoring game and heart attack alerts on your smart watch.
Chargers 21 - Packers 14
Kea Humilde (Season Record 4-5)
Looks like the Chargers didn’t really have an appetite for deep dish pizza last week. Not to worry, this charcuterie board is the perfect appetizer, just in time for Thanksgiving! Smoked gouda, gruyere, sharp cheddar, camembert…the list goes on.
Now, our guys are hungry to turn this season around. The board is set, the food is ready to go, and the Bolts are looking to devour, especially hungry Justin Herbert who threw for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns just last week. Chin up Boltfam, we’ll send them packing and have something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
Chargers 28 - Packers 14
Mark White (Season Record 6-3)
The Chargers are licking their wounds after another barn-burner in which their defensive genius head coach tried to wear out the Lion's offense by keeping them on the field. One punt(!) forced in 60 minutes of football had the novelty of having rarely been tried. If nothing else, you have to admire Brandon Staley for fully committing to the bit.
The Chargers jump from out of the frying pan and into the fire this week, or rather, from out of the barn-burner and into the barn. Even this version of the Packers, quarterbacked by Jordan Love, knows Swiss cheese when they see it.
Packers 24 - Chargers 23
The Greek Uncles in Chicago
Abram Sexson and Panos Mamalis (Season Record 3-6)
The pulsing buzz of the island cicadas pierced the searing heat foreboding what was to come. It was early September; late summer of 1979 and AO Syros Football Club was a speck on the horizon, approaching Serifos on the next ferry. The white vessel was growing, its proximity seemingly matched by the ominous drone of a thousand cicadas.
Yiannis Petrakis had broken his big toe trying to impress Elina Kapsouras, back flipping off the harbor dock a few days prior. Our prized (AO Serifos) striker— and his swagger— on the sideline re-emphasized the fact that we hadn’t beaten AO Syros in 14 years. That, plus the news their new chairman goat cheese magnate Kostas Mitsos was throwing around money faster than Bouzouki Babis flinging drachmas and plates on a payday. Word was he’d acquired three Athenians from the second league.
Sunday’s story is not unlike that one. The Pack may have the cheese, but the Bolts are better, bigger and too much to handle. The talent gap here is wider than the one between Heavy Haris and the Swedes at Vayia beach.
Just like that fateful and somber Sunday of ‘79 that marked the beginning of the end of our tenure in the 4th league, the Chargers will easily score more than 20 points (the Pack haven’t since Week 2) and walk away with the W.
Even with cornerback Jaire Alexander and linebacker Quay Walker back in the fold, Lambeau is gonna be a docile sunny and 45 degrees. Not enough teeth to bite the Bolts… Chargers 30 - Packers 17
Thunder Down Under Podcast
Andy Prophet (Season Record 0-0)
Chargers fans are no stranger to the emptiness of time between a gut-wrenching loss and the next shot at redemption. Redemption that stands outside of Lambeau Field with the more-cold-than-hot Packers.
Can the pass rush overcome a week off against Detroit and challenge this line than has Jordan Love as the least pressured quarterback in the league? Will the Staley defense please stand up? The team cannot allow their opposition to exceed 21 points for the first time in two months and I don’t think they will.
Chargers 27 - Packers 20
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