Kickoff is a little more than 24 hours away, and there are still many things that are yet to be revealed by the Bolts. Monday night provided many reasons for hope, but fans are divided on how much the Chargers looked to be improved in critical areas.
Jay Paris’ column in the North County Times is not reflective of many Boltheads aspirations for the 2012 seasons. Super Bowl chatter should not be saved for other cities and fanbases. The Bolts have a ways to go to have prognosticators, writers, announcers and their own followers trust them. However, the goal is still the same. This team needs to finish the job and go where no other Charger club has ever gone.
With that out of the way, let’s look at this week’s Fast Five:
What kind of impact can Ryan Matthews have, and can he stay healthy? This question will extend far beyond tomorrow’s game.
Fans will be holding their breath the first time he carries the ball and second-guess the decision to come back this week if he’s unable to finish the game. But there was no question in Oakland that the backups are not good enough.
ESPN pointed out that the Raiders’ was the worst rushing defense in the NFL a year ago. Ronnie Brown had no burst whatsoever. In the red zone, Mathews can be the difference between converted touchdowns and field goals. Hopefully, he can stay healthy.
Will the "bad" Philip Rivers stay away?
The anemia of the running game made Rivers’ patience all the more impressive. While he was no doubt chomping at the bit to air it out, he reined it in.
The first time the team appears to be in a hole, it will be crucial how Rivers’ responds.
Should he revert to his spastic performance of a year ago, the team’s fortunes will take a similar dive. But if he can prove that he’s learned from his mistakes, he can start fulfilling the expectations he himself set in his first five seasons.
Has the Charger defense really improved?
The third-down conversion rate wasn’t all that different than a year ago. However, there seemed to be a level of confidence and control that we didn’t see last season.The feeling that the team would commit a bonehead play and summon impended doom wasn’t there.
Cornerback Quentin Jammer, who played extremely well in Oakland, broke his hand in the process. He had surgery earlier in the week and will reportedly play. His game has always been driven by tackling and not intercepting. However, it will be interesting to see how he plays tomorrow.
Antoine Cason strikes fear in the hearts of Charger fans still.
Marcus Gilchrist looked to have taken a step forward on Monday.
How will Mike Harris' Week 2 go?
Jared Gaither’s back had an active week on Twitter, but the rest of him remained AWOL. Harris answered every test in his hometown on Monday, but it will be crucial that he follows it up this week.
Kamerion Wimbley will return to the field where he wreaked havoc last November as a member of the Raiders. Thursday’s game in Green Bay reminded fans how much damage a shaky line can do.
It’s imperative that Harris gives Philip Rivers time. It would be great if he could open up some holes for whoever is carrying the ball as well.
How will Antonio Gates look this Sunday?
It was admirable that Gates tried to plow ahead futilely for a first down on Monday. However, Charger fans would prefer that he not expose himself to a potentially injurious situation.
Perhaps he was trying to atone for uncharacteristically letting a touchdown pass bounce off his fingers That’s old hat for Brandon Marshall, but Gates usually hauls those in.
He will also allegedly go tomorrow as the Chargers honor the late Junior Seau. Gates can be effective even as a decoy, but if he really can’t play, that will dissipate as it did in the 2007 AFC Championship game.
Randy McMichael and even Dante Rosario might be good enough as a stop gap, but the Chargers need Gates like Mathews to be there for the long haul.