The Chargers Brandon Staley told his players about the slippery surface of Lambaeu Field, going so far as to have the video department create a cut-up of other teams losing their footing and missing tackles, taking bad angles, or falling down on pass patterns.
The message being: Wear longer cleats and stay on your feet. More on how that went later.
So Staley warned them about the ground beneath their feet, but neglected to say anything about the sun above their heads? The team has a licensing deal with Oakley but I did not see any Chargers players even try to modify a pair into a Chuck Muncie looking set of goggles.
You might be thinking there have been some technological advancements since the days of Muncie, and you would be correct. See the tinted visors worn by Ronnie Harmon in the Nineties and LaDainian Tomlinson after him in the dictionary under "Look Good-Play Good."
Since Staley neglected to scout the large star at the center of our solar system I thought I would.
Our sun will not run out of hydrogen for another five-to-eight billion years—at which point gravitational forces will take over, compressing its core and creating a bloated red giant (think Andy Reid) that will gobble up the two closest planetary objects, Mercury and Venus before scorching the surfaces of the Earth.
"When a star dies, it ejects a mass of gas and dust — known as its envelope — into space. The envelope can be as much as half the star's mass," astronomer Albert Zijlstra of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "This reveals the star's core, which by this point in the star's life is running out of fuel, eventually turning off and before finally dying."
Zijlstra was speaking about the sun, and not about Joey Bosa, though it I can see some parallels.
When Bosa hopped in pain off of the field after severely spraining his foot in the first quarter some people on X (formerly Twitter) questioned if the longer spikes that Staley told the team to wear were to blame. That's a pretty accurate summation of how the 2023 season has gone for Staley. Even his soundest advice is questioned.
If a player takes a bad angle, it must be Staley's fault. If a player whiffs on a tackle, it must be Staley's fault. If a player gets hurt just sticking his foot into the grass on his way to the quarterback then it must be Staley's fault too.
Last Sunday in Green Bay it seemed as though the sun, the earth, the winds of change conspired against them.
How do you explain Austen Ekeler slipping on the handoff inside the 10-yard line and stumbling with the ball onto the unfrozen tundra, then getting up just to be hit and fumble?
How do you explain Ekeler stalking the sideline in solitude and dismay instead of swapping out his shoes for longer spikes? He would fall later on a pass pattern in which he broke wide open on a choice route costing the team at minimum a new set of downs. Was the training staff overwhelmed outfitting players with tinted visors?
How else do you explain Keenan Allen dropping two passes inside the 5-yard line— at least one of which is a certainly a touchdown? How else do you explain Quentin Johnston stone handing a beautiful pass on the sideline with less than a minute to go trailing by three? How do you explain bailing the Packers out on third-and-20 from their own 15-yard line with a pass interference penalty?
The Packers conversions included third-and-eight, third-and 10 and third-and 12, along with the third-and-20 they were gifted by Asante Samuel Jr.’s pass interference on the game-winning drive.
When asked after the loss why the defense has continued to let the team down linebacker Eric Kendricks said the shortcomings aren’t from a lack of general cohesion.
“Guys are connected,” he said. “We hang out off the field. We hang out in the locker room. We enjoy each other’s company. We work hard together."
Over and over again the defenders struggled to find answers for the same questions that have anchored the Chargers season. The players are not pointing fingers at one another, or at the coaching staff, but the fans sure are. Go online after a loss and tell me that they aren't.
The origins of the term “scapegoat” lie in the Old Testament: In Leviticus, the Israelites ritually placed all of their sins onto the head of a living goat, which was exiled into the wilderness to carry the bad vibes with it. Yes, scapegoating feels cathartic but it also belies a self-righteousness. No one likes feeling like a loser. No one signs up for waving the flag in last place.
We invest with our time and our emotions and we hope that the investment will return joy, but that is never guaranteed. When our investment flops we need someone, or something to blame. A symbol of everything that is wrong with a situation.
By casting others as "incompetent," "horrible," "unqualified," or “over their heads" then we assert our own claims to the opposite. That is a defense, too. We’re justifying. We’re moralizing.
Do angsty fans realize that Staley doesn't coach the players to drop passes, fumble balls, or grab receivers on third-and-long? More importantly, do they think that calls for Staley's head will lead to the team finding a championship-caliber head coach? Because it hasn't so far.
The Chargers players get asked every week if they still have confidence in Staley.
“I think he’s almost taking too much of the blame. It’s my fault, it’s Herbert’s fault, it’s Quentin Johnston, it’s me fumbling the ball... Staley is not out there making the plays...” said Austen Ekeler to 'The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz.'
“We believe in each other,” Derwin James said. “We ain’t fading on each other. It’s tough. It’s the NFL. We know what we’ve got in the locker room. … There’s more work to be done.”
Ravens vs. Chargers Predictions
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Bolt Bros Podcast
Kyle Sawyer (Season Record 5-5)
The "Broracle" reads the runes!
ANSUZ. We have to learn from our mistakes of the past and The Chargers have made many.
MANNAZ. Our team is very complex and full of talent. And they have seen the mistakes and so it’s time to make the corrections.
SOWILO. If the team has learned anything they will continue to progress and should be encouraging for the future of the team. However, I predict the team has too much to make up for this week.
Ravens 34 - Chargers 24
Rivers Lake Yacht Club
Señor Snappy (Season Record 3-4)
To imagine a world where this Chargers team defeats these Ravens, all of the following would be included:
Jackson doesn’t see Herbert as a threat and plays less aggressive than his usual
The Chargers defense manages to stop the run AND gets to the quarterback without Bosa
Kyle Van Noy sits out the second half of the game
OBJ has an off game or is not targeted
Harbaugh either ignores the blueprint for beating Staley’s defense OR Staley greatly simplifies his scheme
ASJ and Derwin avoid backbreaking penalties on critical downs
The Chargers (including Ekeler) do not turn the ball over
I mean, it could happen. I really want to see Staley and his defense turn their season around. Herbert won’t just surrender the season and he’s gotten mobile enough to avoid getting sacked on every 3rd down.
I sure hope the Bolt Fam shows up for this one—Baltimore fans are awful and we need to show out win lose or draw.
Ravens 40 - Chargers 32
Kea Humilde (Season Record 4-6)
Once upon a Sunday dreary
In Baltimore’s stadium eerie
The Chargers and Ravens weary
Clashed in a contest fiery.
As the clock ticks, tension heightens
Amid fans’ fervor, hope enlightens.
Herbert’s arm, a potent token
Against Lamar’s speed unbroken.
Each play, a twist, a turn, a score
A thrilling clash, forevermore.
Yet as shadow’s lengthen, fate’s decree,
The Ravens, a triumph, claimed to be.
In the end, a battle won
Beneath the Baltimore sun,
Ravens soar, victory won,
Chargers rue what’s come undone.
Ravens 28 - Chargers 24
Mark White (Season Record 7-3)
The lightning bolts wearing their all navy alternates just screams of tone deafness to me. When black cats are walking around your facility then breaking out the cursed navy jerseys seems like it could ill timed. As Nick Canepa once said, " Look like Duke University, play like Duke University."
Inglewood is about to see the most purple in town since Prince's 21 date residency at the Forum.
The team is 0-4 in their tough guy fits and will try to reverse the curse against the Baltimore Ravens who are rested and need to continue winning to hold onto the top seed in the AFC. This is a tall order for a team that doesn't have weekly discussions about curses—and the Chargers ain't it.
Ravens 31 - Chargers 24
The Greek Uncles in Chicago
Abram Sexson and Panos Mamalis (Season Record 3-7)
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before." If this is you Chargers fans, then you need a spouse. Theia Toula used to say "a complimentary marriage leads to a happy life." The Chargers haven't figured out how to marry the phases of the game into complimentary football. The offense has been propping up the defense for the most part, looking like Uncle Nonda in his tank top and waiting impatiently for his dinner to be made by Theia Voula.
It would be nice to see a team with this kind of talent put together a complete game and win. An unlikely outcome this week against that home wrecker, Lamar Jackson, and the stingy Ravens defense.
You show me a hard-working man who gets results and I'll show you a guy named Gus. Gus Edwards must be Greek. 9 TDs in the last 5 games? He’s scoring faster than cousin Gus on one of his carnival pre-lent rampages through the Bouzoukia.
Maybe the ire Staley showed during his presser this week when he was indignant about how good his defensive system is will rub off on the players. Maybe... or maybe he'll cost them another couple of games with his ill-timed decisions and poor play calling.
Do the Bolts have a playoff run in them? Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." Ravens 26 - Chargers 21
Thunder Down Under Podcast
Andy Prophet (Season Record 0-1)
I just don't see the defense holding up their end of the bargain. Even if Staley shakes up the personnel and substitutes Deane Leonard in for Mike Davis, or Asante Samuel Jr. then there are going to be teething issues. The Ravens are a fire-breathing dragon to be doing that against.
Perhaps there are Chargers fans wanting losses at this point for the sake of a higher draft pick, or to see Brandon Staley fired?
Ravens 38 - Chargers 27
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