Tag:Philip Rivers
Posted on: March 5, 2012 4:18 pm
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No franchise tag for Chargers WR Vincent Jackson

Jackson's time with Rivers might be at an end. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline for franchise came and went and Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson did not receive the franchise-tag designation, the team announced.

Jackson's arguably the top wideout on the market (though Marques Colston obviously has a case) but because the Chargers tagged him in 2011, another year would've been prohibitive, as the Chargers note it would have cost $13.7 million to franchise Jackson.

Now he'll hit the free-agent market, and he should get straight paid.

"We discussed it again this morning, and nothing changed," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said Monday. "We did not like the franchise number, never did. Vincent will enter the market, and we will see what happens. We would like to have him continue on with us, but other teams now will enter the picture. We will now evaluate our contract proposal, and proceed accordingly."

The Chargers have stated repeatedly that they'd like Jackson back in 2012, and it's hard to blame them. Jackson recorded 1,000-plus yards in three of the past four years. The one year he didn't surpass 1,000 yards was in 2010, when a holdout and suspension resulted in him missing the first 11 games of the season.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 1:41 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Coaching carousel winners and losers

Flynn is one of the big winners from the coaching carousel. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

The NFL coaching carousel has come to a close with the Buccaneers and Colts the final two teams across the finish line, hiring coaches on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers from a hectic offseason. Because if we're not firing out knee-jerk reactions, what's the point?

Winners

Matt Flynn: Flynn was already going to get real paid this offseason. But new Fins coach Joe Philbin was his freaking quarterbacks coach. Yeah, the rumor is the Dolphins like Peyton Manning better than Flynn. (Also a rumor: I like steak better than tofu.) But Flynn knows Philbin's system and he certainly has to be more inclined to sign his ridiculously overpriced free-agent contract with a team employing his old coach and his old system right? Even if he's not, he could end up in a bidding war between Stephen Ross and Dan Snyder. That's like a sandwich made of $100 Bills.

Ryan Grigson
: The new Colts general manager still has a long road ahead, and needs to draft well to really get Indy's latest rebuild rolling. But he's got an owner who's setting him up well: his first two decisions (firing Jim Caldwell, hiring Chuck Pagano) mean that the Colts simply need to hire a competent offensive coordinator to groom their No. 1 overall pick and let their defensive-minded coach get to work on installing his scheme. Sound familiar? It should.

Norv Turner: Turner was certainly on the old hot seat when the season ended and somehow he still has a job. It might be loyalty. It might be Philip Rivers' influence. Or it might just be a miracle. Whatever, Turner was a lock to get fired and somehow stuck around San Diego for at least another year.

Steve Spagnuolo: Spags got canned from the Rams job but landed squarely on his feet when he got the Saints defensive coordinator job. They'll contend for Super Bowls over the next few years and as Wilson pointed out, Drew Brees is secretly his best weapon. It's an ideal spot to reload and wait for another head-coaching gig.

Jeff Fisher: Fisher got the quarterback he wants, the personnel power he wants and a big old pile of money when he chose the Rams over the Dolphins.

Jay Cutler: Mike Martz retired and took his seven-step drops behind a shoddy offensive line and no pretense of having a running game with him.

Atlanta Falcons: No offense to Mike Mularkey and Brian VanGorder (as well as his superb mustache) but the ATL just got a major assistant upgrade. Ryan maxed out under Mularkey, and Dirk Koetter loves to go vertical -- having Julio Jones and Roddy White make that an easier task than whoever was catching balls with the Jaguars. And Mike Nolan, quite simply, has a fantastic defensive track record.

Cam Newton/Andy Dalton: The two biggest rookie surprises lucked out big time this offseason as their respective offensive coordinators, Rob Chudzinski and Jay Gruden, didn't move on to theoretically greener pastures. Now Newton and Dalton will each get a full offseason to prepare and should look even better in their second year.

Losers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Even if Greg Schiano is "the guy," and there's a significant number of people who think he is not, they bungled this search. (For the record, I kind of like the Schiano hire, but it's risky.) They fired Raheem Morris quickly but were the last team to get a new coach in place. They whiffed -- publicly -- on Chip Kelly. They interviewed a bunch of old dudes -- Brad Childress, Mike Sherman, Marty Schottenheimer -- who now probably feel used. An unimpressive effort all around and indicative of how attractive this job is.

Rob Ryan: Think of all the people who got interviews this offseason. Everyone got an interview. Except Rex's twin brother. Think running his mouth and losing twice to the Giants because his secondary couldn't defend anyone ended up hurting his chances to get a head coaching job? It absolutely did.

Mike Zimmer: Also a dude who can't catch a break. Or interview well? Whatever, Zimmer finally got some heat for coaching jobs (it's been long enough) and couldn't seal the deal on anything. Hopefully he'll get more looks but this has a "flyover" feel to it in terms of how much interest other teams will have in Zimmer going forward.

Brian Schottenheimer: Schottey Jr. might have landed with the Rams, but he'll likely be under heavy scrutiny from fans and could see a short leash, depending on how Fisher's feeling. The worst part is a year ago, he was a hot name for a head-coaching job and instead the Jets ran him off while managing to air out some of their respective greivances with the rest of the dirty laundry.

Mike Sherman: Sherman was the leader in the clubhouse for the Bucs job ... or so we thought. Now he's reportedly headed to run Miami's offense. That could vault him back up to a head-coaching gig, but considering he found out about his firing from Texas A&M at a recruit's house (!), landing an NFL job just a few months later would've been a major coup.

Peyton Manning: Bill Polian's out, Jim Caldwell's out and the Colts seem hell bent on cleaning house. The logical next move appears to be shipping Manning out of town as well.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 8:49 pm
 

LT: "I am contemplating retirement'

Is the end coming for an all-time great? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

LaDainian Tomlinson, without question, is a slam-dunk Hall of Famer. And it's possible we might have seen the end of his career, as the running back said on Friday that he's "contemplating retirement."

"I am contemplating retirement," Tomlinson told the Scott and BR Show on XX1090 AM in San Diego Friday. "That's what I told my coaches and told my agent and everybody. That's exactly what it is. This is the first time in my playing career that I've actually, honestly thought about this may be it for me. That's kind of where I am right now."

It's crazy to think that Tomlinson won't be playing in the NFL next year, but it also seemed crazy to think of Tomlinson in a jersey that didn't feature a lightning bolt on it, and the past two years he's spent with the Jets.

And it's also worth noting that Tomlinson admitted the question from the hosts was a "good question" -- he doesn't honestly know if he'll retire. And Tomlinson could end up playing again in 2012. He just wants to find that ring and is tired of suiting up without it being a legitimate possibility.

"I just think after 11 years of ... getting close and not getting it done," Tomlinson said. "It's getting tough for me to start over on that journey again."

When pressed about the issue, Tomlinson admitted that it was a "new team" he'd be looking for and probably not the Jets, though he wouldn't rule out a return to New York.

"That's hard to say, I can't say either way, honestly," Tomlinson said when asked if he wanted to go back to the Jets. "I think anything is open you guys. I'm not going to say 'no.' And I'm not going to say 'yes' either."

Tomlinson is fifth all-time in the NFL in rushing yards and he's third all-time when it comes to touchdowns scored with 162, behind only Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith. The majority of those came when LT was a member of the Chargers and the running back said he wouldn't be entirely opposed to a return stint with San Diego.

"Yeah, I absolutely would consider it," Tomlinson said when asked about being a role player with San Diego.

Now that would be a story -- Tomlinson returning for one final run in San Diego. I'm not entirely sure it would ever happen, if only because of the burnt bridges left in the wake of Tomlinson's departure from San Diego.

But if it did happen (and, again, it's unlikely), it would be a pretty big story. Almost as big as seeing one of the greatest running backs in NFL history walk away from the game. Which is also a possibility.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:40 pm
 

Chargers keeping Norv Turner, AJ Smith

Dean Spanos is bringing back Norv and Smith for one more run in San Diego. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Norv Turner will return to San Diego as the Chargers head coach in 2012, and A.J. Smith will continue to be the general manager, the team said in a statement released Tuesday.

“Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs,” president Dean Spanos said. “A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster, and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field.

“Together, we have stability and experience that’s hard to find in the NFL. They’ve both been in this league a long time. I don’t think there is anything they haven’t seen or experienced. They’ve led us through some difficult situations.

“As we’ve seen throughout Norv’s tenure and particularly this past season, the players believe in him, respect him and play hard for him. When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit. The team kept playing hard, and that’s a tribute to Norv’s leadership and the respect the players have for him.

“Now we will take a hard look at everything, from player evaluation to coaching to the rash of injuries we’ve suffered in recent years. Injuries have killed us. And no one is ever perfect in this business. Player evaluation isn’t an exact science. We need to improve across the board and I’m going to make sure we do."

On Monday, CBSSports.com's Clark Judge wrote that Turner and Smith could return to the Chargers, even though the speculation in recent weeks was that both were in serious danger of losing their jobs.

In six seasons with the Chargers, Turner was 52-34. Impressive, except that the team has missed the playoffs the last two years and has struggled to play consistently for most of his tenure.

San Diego started the '07 season (Turner's first) at 1-4, finished 11-5, and lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. A year later, they lost their final four regular-season games, made it to the postseason with an 8-8 record, before losing in the divisional round. In 2009, San Diego was 2-3 before wining 10 in a row … and losing in the first round to the Jets. The Chargers begun '10 at 2-5 and eventually missed the playoffs. And after a 4-1 start in '11, they lost six in a row. San Diego still had a chance at the postseason but a Week 16 blowout at the hands of the Lions sealed their fate.

Still, as Judge pointed out, "Quarterback Philip Rivers is a big fan of Turner and voiced his support Sunday for his embattled head coach." And despite fan and media sentiment, San Diego rallied to win three of four and finish in a tie atop the AFC West at 8-8 (the Broncos won the tiebreaker).

Judge adds: "That will go into Spanos' thinking. But so will a business decision. That's one reason he begged off on making an immediate move, saying he needed a couple of days to think about it." But he also notes that the news "doesn't mean Turner is in the clear. On the contrary ... Spanos won't tolerate another 8-8 season, so Turner has been put on alert." 

On Tuesday, Spanos sounded like he was confident in his decision.

“We all have our quirks and faults, but I want A.J. and Norv on my side. They are the right men to help us win a championship. … Despite the number of wins we’ve had, the net bottom line is it doesn’t mean anything unless you win a championship. That’s our goal and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl for San Diego.”

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 9:28 am
Edited on: January 2, 2012 10:04 am
 

Spanos taking 'a couple days' on Turner, Smith

The decision on Norv won't be made for 'a couple days.' (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

It wouldn't be surprising if Norv Turner were booted as coach of the Chargers on Black Monday (coming in a few hours to a box office near you!), but it's looking unlikely that he'll lose his job immediately.
Week 17 Recap

San Diego President Dean Spanos, who reportedly expressed support for the Bolts during their late surge, said he'd take "a couple days" to decide the fate of Turner and general manager A.J. Smith.

"I’m going to sleep on this for a couple days," Spanos said, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "There are a lot of things I want to think about. I’m looking at the entire organization."

Norv was a little less optimistic sounding when asked about returning in 2012, according to our Chargers Rapid Reporter Dan McLellan.

"I don’t need to answer that because there’s going to be a decision made, and we’ll all know what it is, and what my opinion right now is probably doesn’t have a lot of effect," Turner said. "I’ll leave it at that."

Turner, for all the criticism he receives, has the support of his team.

“I really believe in him,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “I can’t speak for every guy, but the guys that have been here and know what this league’s about, they all believe in him, too, and they all want him here. We all want him here."

Rivers reference to "we" probably includes Spanos as well; there's no doubt he believes the team has the talent to succeed and feels like the Chargers are close to contending.


The problem is simply that Norv can't get San Diego to turn the corner. He's obviously an offensive genius and his players clearly love him and a lot of times, Turner's teams look like potential world champs.

But with the continual disappointment of this Bolts regime it's going to be hard for Spanos to justify rolling with the status quo into 2012.

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 11:32 am
 

Report: V-Jax would be out in less important game

The Bolts need Jackson bad enough that he'll likely play through injury. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

In the middle of the week, Vincent Jackson suddenly appeared on the Chargers injury report with a groin injury. It was concerning, but there never appeared to be an issue with the wide receiver actually playing.

Until Sunday anyway; Adam Caplan of the Sideline View reports that Jackson is actually a lot more hindered by his groin injury than people believe. According to Caplan, had this been "another game of lesser importance, he probably would be listed as doubtful or out." Caplan notes that Jackson still wants to "test his injury in warmups" before deciding whether or not he'll play.

What makes Jackson's status interesting is the timing of the games on Sunday as it relates to the playoff race. San Diego doesn't play until 4:15, while Denver and Oakland suit up at 1:00 p.m. ET Saturday.

Should the Broncos win and the Raiders lose, Denver would clinch the AFC West. If that happens San Diego could only make the playoffs via the wild card and would need the Jets and Bengals to both lose at least once over the next two weeks.

So a Denver win and an Oakland loss means that the Chargers aren't quite as alive as they were after last week and we could potentially see Jackson on the sidelines.

Even if V-Jax does play, there's a pretty good chance he serves as a decoy of sorts, and Norv Turner and Philip Rivers will run the offense through Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd.


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Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Report: Norv, Smith's jobs depend on last 2 weeks

Norv Turner could potentially save his job with a 2-0 finish to 2011. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

At the beginning of December, the idea that Norv Turner could survive into next season as Chargers head coach was borderline laughable. San Diego was 4-7, dead in the water for the playoffs and Turner was as good as gone. Over the last three weeks, though, things have changed -- and it appears Norv can save his gig.

In fact, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the jobs of Turner and GM A.J. Smith "hinge on results in the final two weeks."

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Put simply, it sounds like the Chargers winning out -- they play at Detroit on Christmas Eve and then at Oakland on New Year's Day -- will save the jobs of Turner and Smith.

After the Chargers victory over the Ravens in Week 14 it appeared as if the tides were starting to turn in Norv's favor; Philip Rivers said "it would be crazy" to dump the coach and Acee reported that just getting to the Raiders game with a shot at the playoffs would "speak volumes" to team president Dean Spanos.


Spanos now believes, according to Acee's report on Friday, that the support provided to the team and Norv by the fans and players, respectively, indicate that things aren't that far away from being on the right track.

If the Chargers make the playoffs, Smith and Turner are likely safe. If they miss the playoffs, at least a 1-1 or 2-0 record is probably necessary to save their jobs, although it's worth noting that the two also appear joined at the hip moving forward.

"If Smith is retained, no one should think he will need a new head coach," Acee wrote Friday. "Sources inside and outside Chargers Park say Smith believes in Turner now as much as he did when he went out on a limb and hired him in 2007."

So the Chargers will play out the string and then Spanos will make a decision as to whether or not Smith remains; that decision will obviously affect whether or not Turner returns as well.

But if the Bolts can manage to close out the season 2-0, that decision could suddenly be a lot easier for Spanos, and easier on Turner and Smith.


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Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:01 am
 

Film Room: Lions vs. Chargers preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

The Lions were that Feel Good team of 2011. Then they started shoving coaches after the game, hitting quarterbacks after the throw, fighting opponents after the play, stomping linemen after the whistle and meekly apologizing for it all after the fact. Thus, they’re now the team everybody wants to see get its comeuppance.

In some ways, they’re like the Chargers – a team that, over the years, has mastered the art of irritating casual onlookers. They haven’t done it with reckless hostility, but rather, perplexing underachievement. If the NFL were like college basketball, where Final Four appearances and division titles mattered, the Chargers would be a dynasty.


Instead, they’re the club that always falls on its face but somehow manages to sneak into the postseason…only to fall on its face again. At least during the regular season they get hot at the right time – this year looking like no exception.

Let’s breakdown these two irritating clubs.

1. Motion
The Chargers offense is perhaps the best in football at using presnap motion to dissect a defense and create favorable matchups. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan recently took a page out of Norv Turner’s playbook.

After operating out of static formations virtually all season, the Lions created glaring mismatches by motioning Calvin Johnson into the slot against the Raiders last week. The results were extraordinary: Johnson, often working against Oakland’s backup safeties, had a career-high 214 yards receiving. Matthew Stafford threw for 391, with four touchdowns and no turnovers.

It might reason that the Lions will use more presnap motions this week, but that’s not a sure thing. If creating big-play opportunities were as simple as putting players in motion, Linehan would have had his players doing that long ago. But when you change your formation, the defense changes. When the defense is playing man, the changes are easy to read. But when the defense is playing zone, things become more complex.

With an inexperienced quarterback (Stafford will be making only his 28th start Sunday), fairly young tight end (Brandon Pettigrew), rookie wide receiver (Titus Young) and athletic but somewhat unrefined superstar (Johnson), Linehan may once again prefer to keep the Chargers defense – which usually plays to the situation, meaning zone on early downs and man on third down – as static as possible. The drawback with a static offense is it’s obviously easier for the defense to decipher, as there are fewer complexities in route combinations.

2. The running backs
Ryan Mathews has improved throughout his second season. He has the quickness, lateral agility and tempo-changing ability to create his own space or turn the corner. Physicality, down-to-down consistency, ball security and durability remain issues. In a pinch, the Chargers know they can fall back on the powerful, surprisingly versatile Mike Tolbert.

The Lions’ run game became an afterthought when rookie Mikel Leshoure’s Achilles tore in August. Statistically, things actually picked up on the ground for Detroit after receiving-oriented Jahvid Best went out with a concussion.

When healthy, Best’s replacement, Kevin Smith, has shown some suddenness and shiftiness, which makes him a good fit for this shotgun system. But overall, Detroit is unquestionably a pass-first team (28th in rushing yards, 31st in rushing attempts). That’s fine – as their 28 points per game (fourth best in NFL) attest.

3. Chargers O-line vs. Lions D-line
Figure San Diego must score 30 points to beat Detroit. That would have been dicey a few weeks ago when left tackle Marcus McNeill and left guard Kris Dielman first went down with injuries. But with left tackle Jared Gaither coming aboard and relieving helpless backup Brandyn Dombrowski, the front five has stabilized. Dielman’s replacement, Tyronne Green, has settled down in pass protection, and center Nick Hardwick has looked like his former Pro Bowl self.

Philip Rivers is arguably the best in the business at stepping into throws with defenders bearing down. He doesn’t need a clean pocket – just protection that can hold up for a seven-stop drop. The Chargers are up to the task, even if they’re facing the Lions’ high-octane front four. Last week, that front four was actually neutralized by a middle-tier Raiders bunch that had struggled mightily in prior weeks.

4. Rivers and his receivers
If Rivers is not under duress, he’ll throw for at least 325 yards Sunday. The Lions play some of the most basic Cover 2 and Cover 3 zones in football and simply don’t have the personnel to stay with Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd – especially with starting free safety Louis Delmas out.

Lions corners Chris Houston and Eric Wright are at their best playing off-coverage, where they can see a route develop in front of them and drive on the ball. The vertical nature of San Diego’s passing game, which is heavy on double moves, can be anathema to that brand of cornerbacking.

Inside, though Detroit’s linebackers can run, and though middle ‘backer Stephen Tulloch can play with depth in zone coverage, the Antonio Gates factor is still a major plus for the Boltz. Gates looks healthier than he has all season.



5. Screen game
Last week the Raiders became the latest team to successfully attack the Lions with screen passes. Because the Lions’ front seven defenders all play with their ears pinned back, offenses frequently use delay and misdirection tactics to coax them out of position. The faster a defender reacts in the wrong direction, the more daunting his recovery task.

San Diego regularly incorporates its running backs in the passing game (Tolbert and Mathews each have 47 receptions on the season). Expect several of the running back’s passes to be screens this week, especially early in the game when the Lions will, as always, will be amped up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com