Back to earth with a bump or what?
The end of that winning streak, the end of Tua’s no-turnover streak. And if we are really honest, we didn’t play well. We went up against one of the strongest defenses, and they bested us, without being at their best themselves.
Tua was off, waaaaay off. Missing open receivers time and again, throws that have become his bread and butter became his living nightmare, and baring a couple of flash plays in vain, he was a major contributor to the downfall.
But every quarterback has bad games, our offensive line was patched up, and maybe that made him jumpy. Who can blame him for that, given his concussions earlier this year? Except elite QBs can’t lose their head like that in the biggest moments, and elite QBs don’t let those moments become whole games. All of a sudden, QB1 has something to prove again.
And now he goes up against Justin Herbert. A guy who he has no rivalry with. BUT the media, the fanbases, they create rivalry, we talk, we speculate and we discuss opinions as fact and now there is a buzz around two people who were merely drafted in consecutive picks in this same draft. Yet now… there’s a narrative, and Tua goes into those narratives on the back of his worst game of the year.
This game was one that stood out on the calendar because of those narratives, and because it’s the game immediately before the Buffalo one. Now, after the 49er game, it seems to matter a whole lot more. So behind enemy lines I went, to meet Fred aka, @tha_frederation, and see how the Chargers fanbase is viewing this game…
Hello Fred mate, thank you for jumping on with me pal, you came highly recommended so I am excited to see what you think about some of these things. But for Miami fans who are unfamiliar with you, give us an introduction.
Hi JMR, thanks for having me. My name is Winfred, better known as Fred or by my twitter handle “Frederation” and I’ve been a Chargers fan for about 18 years.
18 years, love that! Not much less than that for myself, which I am pretty stoked about coming from a country which was late to the NFL party. So then, your Chargers, a pretty solid start to the season so far, sat at 6-6 with games still to play.
Is that a fair reflection of your season would you say?
Our record isn’t an indication of our team. To be honest we are lucky to be 6-6. The chargers are the most injured team in the league. 60% of our roster is hurt and most of our injuries are in major positions. We are 6-6 simply because of Herbert. You put any QBs outside of Herbert, Mahomes, and Allen on this current roster and your record would be 3-9 or worse.
Wow! Straight in with putting Herbert into that top tier company. I’m not one of those fans who will tell you to stop making excuses, those are legit reasons for poorer records. Unless of course, you were part of the groups that didn’t accept those reasons for Tua’s weaker first two years. Then of course, I’d ask you to apply some parity and fairness to the arguments haha! But I am sure we will get into that debate later.
And let’s have it right, those injuries have been LEGIT for you guys this year. I can’t remember a game where you weren’t down a significant portion of starting calibre players. Just how much has that hurt you this year?
The injuries are major. Losing 4 of your 5 starting linemen, losing Bosa, JC Jackson, your WR1, WR2. WR3, TE1, TE2, and a plethora of depth guys hurts the team. You cannot replace Pro Bowl caliber players easily so it’s a major uphill battle. Injuries cant is the excuse forever, but they do play a role. Injuries like this shrink the playbook offensively and defensively. Injuries have cost us quite a few games this year due to players being in positions they aren’t used to or being forced into major roles with minimum experience. At the end of the day, you play with the cards you are dealt. Sometimes the fortune favours our way and other times it doesn’t. It’s the story of football, any given Sunday.
I feel you. Hell, we lost Armstead and our whole offense went to pot last week. Influential players missing has a huge impact, and I know you guys have had more than your fair share this year. So I have sympathy, but equally, I hope we can take advantage of it come Sunday!
And we find ourselves 8-4 after our difficult game in San Francisco and looking to bounce back after some really impressive performances in the previous weeks. What’s the LA opinion on our Dolphins? Do you think our optimism is justified or was the 49ers result the start of a decline?
I cannot speak for all of LA or the Chargers fan base but let’s not act like the Dolphins aren’t a good team. They have two of the fastest WRs in the game in Hill and Waddle. I don’t believe there was a decline, they just ran into a really good defense, and in game like that you have to play in the trenches. The Niners are just a better trench team which is why they can pretty much win games with whoever is behind center.
That’s very fair and empathetic to be honest. We were missing a particular key piece in that trench battle, and yeah, I believe it made a difference. That said, there were plenty of mistakes on our part, and we have to take responsibility and grow and get better, hopefully starting on Sunday.
And like you say, we are a good team, with good players. Which of those players most concerns you ahead of this week’s game?
On offense obviously Tyreek and Waddle are the biggest threats. You can add Gesicki in there as well. Our run defense is poor so whoever is the RB can be a threat too. I would add Tua but really, he’s just the product of Waddle and Tyreek. When you have speed WRs of that caliber it can make any QB look elite. Defensively I’ll worry about the entire defense just based on the fact our entire O-line is in crisis mode right now. We’re down to practice squad players filling in for starters and backups. It’s been an uphill battle for the Chargers’ offense all season.
Your O-Line sounds like our secondary. Injuries all over the place, and looking for production from guys who may not have even made the 53 in an average year. Luckily for us, one of our undrafted Rookies, Kader Kohou, has stepped up and proven himself.
I think with closer attention, some of your assumptions may be misplaced. Gesicki, for example, is one hell of a talent, but his target rate is WAY down this year, a lot of games you can count his targets on one hand. His presence doesn’t seem to fit seamlessly into this Mike McDaniel offense, and his contract size may well mean that they move on from him this offseason. As much as we love him, he isn’t representing value for money right now and I don’t think you should be so worried about him. If I’m really honest, he would be a fantastic weapon for Justin Herbert in that Chargers offense, so maybe you could snag him. If so, look after him, we love him.
And of course, don’t sleep on Tua. I have no arguments that Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are helping our offense immeasurably this year. But those people who think that they are the sole reason that Tua is putting up those numbers just aren’t paying attention. Of course they are having an impact, but trust me, its complimentary football. So don’t sleep on Tua and his traits, he’s more than just his weapons.
But let me turn attention to your stars. There are so many of them. Allen, Herbert, Mack, Bosa, Ekelar… plenty of quality. So I am sure there is plenty scheming taking place for those names, but who do you have who is flying under the radar? Who are we NOT talking about, but we should be?
Michael Davis has flown under the radar. Two years ago he was our CB1. Before the season started he was CB3 and with the injury to JC Jackson, he’s pretty much our CB1 again. He’s been getting better with each game, and he can be a very serviceable corner. Drue Tranquil as well. He’s been one of our best LB’s in the trenches. Plays smart, closes gaps, can tackle and get after the QB. Joshua Kelley is another name I should add. His skill set as a RB has improved vastly, and he’s finally healthy and can take that RB2 role to give us chunk yards and take the full load off of Ekeler.
Ekelar worries the hell out of me, I can’t lie. Seeing what McCaffrey did to us, and knowing that Ekelar is a dual threat, on the ground and in the air I think he could cause us serious problems. Knowing that you have another RB who can also hurt us, really doesn’t help how I feel about that part of the game haha.
So after taking the L in San Francisco, with some poor performances at QB and OLine we are looking to bounce back. Because before that, Tua was playing top 5 football, with stats and highlight reels to back that up. That said, away from home we haven’t been the same generally, especially defensively with our away defensive stats looking like a different roster entirely than our home defensive stats. Have you seen a weakness highlighted in our roster that you can get at?
Pressure is the key to Tua. You force him out of the pocket and he’s prone to mistakes. He needs time because he doesn’t have the arm strength to go deep. Yes we have seen him throw deep balls to Tyreek and waddle but a good deal of them are underthrown and if Tyreek wasn’t as fast as he is then those would be incompletions or intercepted passes. Defensively you guys seem to like to blitz a lot and that can gas a defense over time if they can’t get off the field. Long drives to kill the defense, pressure to force Tua into mistakes.
Again, don’t sleep on Tua, ha ha. The underthrown thing is blown so out of proportion. If you watch full Dolphins games, yeah there are underthrown passes, but they’re not as frequent as people would have you believe. The amount of quick release completions, thrown over the center of the field hitting his guys in stride far outweigh the underthrown passes. I think the pressure argument is very fair, but not due to mistakes. You look at this season, before last week he had 3 total interceptions. He was playing really efficient football. But in my mind, he is a rhythm quarterback. That pressure you talk of, is not necessarily to force mistakes, but to break his rhythm. If you get him out of his rhythm, can knock him from his reads and play with his timing… THEN you have the potential for mistakes.
There are an awful lot of “easy” takes around Tua. And I am far from saying he is the perfect QB, let me make that clear. But there is a lot more intricacy to his NFL career. It isn’t as simple as “he has no arm, but his WRs make him look good.” And there is plenty tape to prove that.
But talk about your game plans and production for a moment please? If we are going to beat you, what areas of your play and scheme should we be targeting? Where do you feel you are weakest, making the most mistakes, missing the most players or whatever? What areas of the game would you be concerned about if we started to pick at it?
Anyone who has seen a Chargers game knows our 3 weaknesses. O-Line play, lack of good play calling, and a defense that can’t stop the run. We have given up 400 yards of offense in 4 straight games. Nothing to really cheer about. The poor defensive play is 99% to blame on injuries and lack of depth. Nothing we can do but to just go out and play. Poor tackling and not closing the gaps would be a close second concern with this teams weakness. The lack of pressure on the QB is a major concern as well. No point in blitzing if you can’t even get close to home. Every team attacks us the same way, run the ball, drain clock, rinse and repeat.
Well, if that’s the case, then Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson should feast. Mostert has that elite-level speed for real, and Wilson has been a real threat since we traded for him. A fifth-round pick for someone who really understands the Mike McDaniel methodology is sounding like a perfect deal for us to be fair.
And man… do I understand your pain for poor tackling. We have got to be the top of all the charts for missed and broken tackles conceded. So it’s nice to know we are not the only team suffering this and who knows, may be able to benefit from that ourselves this weekend.
But I just want to ask one more time. Tua. What else is the Charger fan base saying about him. The media have whipped the fan bases from both sides into this frenzy of comparison between Tua and Herbert due to where and when they were drafted. Both are high level quarterbacks and anyone who doesn’t believe that is just not paying attention or has an agenda to push. Both of these guys can have fine NFL careers but at this stage, due to comparisons and analysis, they are bound together in this manufactured rivalry. So take that out a little bit and talk about Tua the player, what do the fanbase see in him?
To be honest, I agree they aren’t rivals; NFL loves parity and wants to put players against each other. The only two things they have in common is draft year and player position. They are both great QBs in their own right. They have their strengths and their weaknesses. I have nothing against Tua and a lot of Charger fans don’t either. To be honest, you see a majority of Dolphin fans flooding the Chargers’ social media creating drama and parity. These QB’s are young and haven’t seen their prime yet. They can only go up from here, but Tua offensively is in a much better spot than Herbert is. I’ll leave it at that.
Now of course, I am going to defend a little bit, but primarily I agree with you. I just think that’s a recent take. If you look back over their first three years, Herbert had three years of Keenum Allen and Mike Williams, Tua hasn’t had anything like that until this year. So yeah, absolutely, Tua is in a better spot with what is around him, but that is a recent thing and is not representative of their opening years.
And man, I can’t stop those Dolphins fans flooding social media. All fan bases have those vocal few who find every excuse. What I will say is that we have had two seasons of “you picked the wrong guy” and such, I have to assume this is them getting that out of their system haha.
So go on then, what are your match predictions?
The optimist in me says it’s a close game with the Chargers somehow edging out a win with a 27-24 Victory. The realist in me, after watching this team play for 18 years and this season alone sees us on the wrong side of the scoreboard and not favourably. If the team that played this past Sunday shows up this Sunday then it will be a rout with the dolphins going 35-14. In my opinion, I think this will be a dog fight. People are expecting a shootout between the two QB’s but I don’t think that will happen. The game will be slowed down and fought hard.
I am expecting an offensive response from Miami. The 49er defeat will have hurt Coach Mike’s pride against his old team. Tua has many throws from that game that he will want back and will want to put the record straight and there’s even talk that Terron Armstead may make his way back into the team. Add in Eric Fisher’s recent addition, and it has me expecting an offensive response from this team.
That said, I do have fears defensively. Herbert is a talented guy, his potential is sky-high and in Austin Ekelar, he has one of the best dual threats in the game. Those two in tandem are underrated and people don’t talk about Ekelar enough when discussing Herbert’s weapons. They could hurt us. So I do expect points to be scored on both sides.
I wouldn’t go as far as to call a shootout, but with both teams defensive frailties and offensive options, I do expect points. But that bounce back and point to prove has me seeing a Dolphins win, 32 – 27.
I really enjoyed this one. I feel like Fred gave us our dues, but also called out Tua in the ways that the nation and media call him out. I think this represents an honest view of how other teams see us. Now, I don’t enjoy that underrated side of things, I feel like we have earned more than our dues this season.
But some fans spend so much time following their own teams, that their only opinions of other teams are driven by media narratives and red zone highlights.
Sometimes on Behind Enemy Lines, I speak with people who I build a rapport with and I get the impression that they say nice things about Tua to appease me, sensing my high level of support for him. But Fred kept it real throughout, giving his dues, but calling out the perceived shortcomings. Of course, I have defended him, but I feel this was a true insight to how we are seen around the league.
Let’s get on prime time and change that eh?