Monday Night: Time To Bolt Up or Shut Up


December 18, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs for a first down during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 34-14 Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Despite the fact that it is only week six of the NFL season, I am of the opinion that this is a must-win game for the Chargers.  Knowing that the team would still have ten more opportunities to post victories does not persuade me to think otherwise.

I don’t think it can be said enough how big it would be for the Chargers to go into the bye week with a 3-0 division record and a two game lead over the rival Broncos.

The stage has been set for just that to happen.  In my mind, I find it to be that much sweeter that we will attempt to gain this type of momentum against a Peyton Manning-led Denver team.

Oct 7, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) reacts to turning the ball over during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

After all, Manning is the one that decided the AFC West was his best/easiest opportunity to place one more Superbowl appearance under his belt.  As a fan, I took that personally.  I can’t imagine what truly went through the minds of our players; namely Philip Rivers.

Rivers comes from a 2004 draft class of quarterbacks that have combined to win four Superbowls ( Eli Manning and Roethlisberger each have two wins).  And Peyton Manning has the audacity to say that coming to Denver will inevitably mean that Rivers will have to wait until Manning retires to have his “next” chance to do so for himself.

Considering the fiery competitor that Philip is, I’m sure that he’s been looking forward to this game prior to the ink being dry on Manning’s contract.

December 18, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) celebrates after a touchdown run by running back Ryan Mathews (not pictured) during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Now let’s get back to the stage….. Monday night football in the house that Jack Murphy built. The entire nation will be watching as will football fans all over the world.

The Bolts charge into this game with the better of the two records. Yet media experts everywhere seem to be treating the Broncos as though they are the division leader.

In classic Rodney Dangerfield-like treatment, the Chargers get no respect.  All I can say to that is good.  Respect is earned and not given out like free samples at CostCo.

It seems to many of us that the Chargers receive very little respect from the league, it’s fans, and even players from the other 31 teams.

So how is it the team can earn the respect that some people think they deserve?  Quite simply, they need to win this game……. for starters.

To win this game the Bolts must rely heavily on Ryan Mathews.  Mathews looked excellent in limited touches against the Saints.  The Broncos run defense is similar to that of New Orleans in that it is considered to be poor at best.

In addition to getting the rock into the hands of Mathews, the Bolts have to keep the powder blue number 17 jersey of Philip Rivers clean. That is going to be a little more difficult if Jared Gaither is to be shelved with a groin injury that he suffered on the third to the last play of week 5.

As in any game, the Chargers must limit turnovers while forcing their share on defense.  This is a battle that I honestly expect the folks in lightning bolts to win.

Pressure on Manning will be the key defensively.  Even if the Chargers don’t post a huge sack total, it is imperative that they get a serious amount of pressure in Manning’s grill.  Hit him in the mouth; and repeat this step over and over again.

Nov 27, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Shaun Phillips (95) in overtime against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The Bolts boast the fifth ranked run defense in all of the NFL.  Willis McGahee has seemed to find the fountain of youth in recent years but I’m not all that concerned with him.

I also like the fact that Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are bigger and/or possession receivers that aren’t “burners” in the passing attack.  The Chargers’ secondary seems to struggle more with speed than physicality.  That’s not to say that wideouts like Dwayne Bowe haven’t had success against our defensive backs.  I prefer receivers that our secondary have a much easier job of keeping in front of them.

This is an extremely pivotal game.  Despite my confidence in the team, I am always concerned about playing against a team that is quarterbacked by Peyton Manning.  Throw his record against us with the Colts out the window.  Forget that he has lost a little bit in the arm strength department.  Mentally he is still Peyton.

When Manning chose the AFC West as his destination for residency, he had to have looked at the Chargers as his biggest stepping stone.  I could be wrong but it sure has begun to prove itself to be true.  Especially considering the lackluster performances of the Chiefs and Raiders to this point.

Only time will tell.  We are that much closer to finding out the true result of the game.  But in my opinion, this game provides the perfect opportunity to Bolt Up or shut up.

Win and we have certainly “bolted up” in not only preparation for the game, but in the execution of the gameplan.  Lose and we have allowed ourselves to fail in the rare opportunity of securing the aforementioned 3-0 division record and two game lead over the Donkeys.

Bolt Up or shut up…… Period…. end.

Thanks a lot for reading.

I’m Bolted Up….. are you?