Sounds so simple, I know. But this team will either do what no Chargers team has before or they will fall short. There is no in between at this point. The moment pictured above was amazing, but what really made it so fantastic was that it seemed to suggest this team was different from all those that came before. This piece from the LA Times did a fantastic job of summing it all up. Every time the Bolts have made the playoffs, something bad has been the reason they were ousted. They’ve had incredible, improbable runs just to get into the postseason. They’ve had some amazing playoff moments, but never a complete finishing of the job. It’s like looking at Friends episode titles:
“The One Where The Oilers Stole Our Signals”
“The One Where We Lost To The Fucking Raiders On Our Own Field”
“The One Where It Was 57 Below”
“The One Where Kaeding Missed, Part I”
“The One Where McCree Fumbled”
“The One Where Kaeding Missed, Part II”
If you can place the titles with the years, you are among the FAITHFUL READERS. There were other things that caused those losses and there were other playoff exits, but you get the idea. We have seen the Chargers lose in every possible round of the playoffs and suffered through many years where they didn’t make it at all. They’ve been 1-15, and pretty close to winless, in 2000. In fact, that was the one time I went to Baltimore. My then fiancee sat in the rain with me as Ryan Leaf quarterbacked us to a loss against a team that went on to win the Super Bowl.
You’d think this Ravens team was as good as that one. Seriously. Rivers wasn’t wrong when he said that they are the new hot team, just as we were right after this photo was taken. Of course, it’s the team that’s all the rage by midnight on February 3 that matters. I won’t be there on Sunday, but that’s because I think it’s time for the next generation to hold it down in the stands. That #BoltFam thing is no joke, by the way. I must say that this Deadspin piece did a good job of reminding people that there still are loyal Chargers fans. I don’t disparage anyone that won’t ever get over the move. I can point out the hypocrisy of rooting for the team that used to be the Browns or remind people that Eric Weddle isn’t the defender of all that is good and righteous. But that shit won’t matter unless the Bolts win. It won’t be easy. Jatavis Brown going down last week hurts. The decision not to sign someone, even for depth, after Perryman’s injury could be a big one. The fact that Addae still has a job could also end the season. The lateral last week was the first example of him trying to be flashy. He’s been shitty and hasn’t been a good tackler all season. In the game against Ravens two weeks ago, he was fucking awful. He couldn’t even wrap up the tight end on that touchdown.
But Lynn hasn’t benched him. I have no idea why. The defense needs to make the adjustments with possibly less personnel. Brandon Mebane, who has been dealing with a horrific situation concerning his daughter, probably won’t be there Sunday. Gus Bradley needs to find a way to get to Jackson. We’ve lost to a rookie before in Mark Sanchez, but didn’t have Bosa and Ingram. Those guys need to find a way to wreak havoc. Bosa never gets the holding calls and I’d love to see him start Sunday.
Phil will get a lot of attention and rightfully so. We’re already seeing the “my life will be complete even without a ring” articles. I actually saw someone question whether that was a reflection of a lack of desire. That’s completely insane. The one thing I have never questioned about Rivers is his competitive drive. I get why other teams hate him but he is just an Alabama kid who loves to play. He is a devout and humble player and I can’t imagine anyone who deserves to hold the Lombardi more. Nick Hardwick essentially said as much in one of the aforementioned articles.
That doesn’t mean he’ll win one or even win on Sunday. His playoff stats are reflective of any other guy who has a losing playoff record. He has made his share of mistakes and underthrows like the one to Mike Williams the week after the KC game and against the very same team they face Sunday could end the season. I’m not sure what happened against Denver. Rivers is always praised as one of the best anticipatory throwers and it seemed like he expected Tyrell Williams to be somewhere else on the second interception. The first one I really couldn’t tell what he saw.
The offensive line needs to get their shit together quickly as well. The Ravens pulled out the two wins they needed to get in with last second turnovers. The first one was against us. They’ve been playing with their backs against the wall. This team needs to do the same. In Seattle, Pittsburgh, and KC they’ve given us glimpses of what it might be like if they ever won it all. Gordon needs to get going on Sunday. I did question why Lynn had him out there when it was clear that the KC was going to beat the Raiders. But Gordon was rusty in the first Baltimore game and I do understand the need to get him touches beforehand. It seemed like Wisenhunt called very few running plays last week. I don’t know if that was in order to go “vanilla” after our seeding was no longer in doubt. It sounded like the Chargers always assumed this would be the matchup they faced. I don’t know if that included the coaching staff.
A running game with Melvin Gordon going off would be the best recipe for a win. He has been that good this year and deserves to have a big time playoff performance. It would also go a long way towards making it easier on Rivers, etc. I don’t think this team will be rattled by being on the road.
As for Hunter Henry, I do think he’ll play. For every person who hates on the Chargers inside and outside of San Diego, how can you not root for Henry. He’s been working all year just for this chance. If you don’t know his story, check out the Backstage: Chargers episode he appeared on. Kyle Schwarber can come back at the end for the Cubs, why not Henry.
I know it’s different. The Cubs were the best team in baseball and it’s a different sport. But there isn’t a fanbase more tortured than that one and when “It’s Gonna Happen” was their slogan in 2017, I had no idea that “It’s Gonna Happen Again” was the mantra for every failed season before. As a Met fan, I didn’t notice when we eliminated them the year before. But that team got into the World Series and put themselves on the brink. They came back and finished the job. Anyone reading this knows that the Chargers have a similar history of pain without the cache of ever being lovable losers like the Cubs. I looked away during the big moments in KC. I won’t again. It’s time to face the music.
Bolt up or shut up.