Thanks to Richard over at SB Nation’s Chargers blog, Bolts From The Blue, for answering our Chiefs-Chargers questions. You can find my answers to his questions over there.
Give me one reason why the Chargers aren't 9-6 right now and competing for a playoff spot.
BFTB: Mike McCoy feels like the simple and obvious answer here. Obviously, there are other reasons: injuries to key players haven't helped and GM Tom Telesco's roster lacked depth in addition to having some rather clear weaknesses in the first place. Ultimately, the biggest problem with the Chargers on-field product is the coaching staff. Ken Whisenhunt's offense has looked less like the offense he coordinated in 2013 and more like the Frank Reich / Mike McCoy mess we'd watched the last two years.
John Pagano's many flaws as a defensive coordinator have been covered up some by the emergence of Joey Bosa and other young talent, but he still goes away from things that are working quicker than any competent DC. Finally, we worried aloud during McCoy's first season as a coach that his in-game management was terrible. If anything, he has gotten worse.
What are your impressions of Joey Bosa? Where does he make life difficult for the opponent?
BFTB: Joey Bosa is already a star. He has made every single other player on the defense better merely by his presence on the field. Watching him before the draft, it was his hand usage that stood out as a trait that would translate to the NFL. And it really, really has. Nobody on the Chargers uses their hands half so well as Bosa does and he gives opposing linemen fits. He's also relentless and has excellent closing speed. I cannot say enough good things about Bosa. He has been the biggest highlight of this terrible season and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do with a full offseason.
Who are the Chargers receiving threats to worry about?
BFTB: Second-year wide receiver Tyrell Williams has been the Chargers' No. 1 receiver this season thanks to injuries to the guys ahead of him on the depth chart. He's a big-bodied receiver that can really run. He's especially dangerous on crossing routes and is a threat to turn them into huge gains every time. He's a little dinged up, though, and in spite of his size seems to not really enjoy contact, so that's an issue.
The other player to keep an eye on is rookie tight end Hunter Henry. He is a very willing and capable blocker, but he also runs clean routes and has exceptional hands. The Chargers still want to feed the ball to Antonio Gates, but Henry is their best weapon in the middle of the field these days.
Justin Houston won’t play. Can Dee Ford have another big game against the Chargers o-line?
BFTB: Anyone can have a big game against the Chargers offensive line. Last year, people blamed their failings on poor health. This year, they are healthy and even added a legitimate professional center in Matt Slauson, but they are awful. Orlando Franklin and D.J. Fluker have to be one of the worst guard pairings in recent history. And Joseph Barksdale playing on the first year of his big new contract has been a disaster at right tackle.
If Ford is lining up opposite Barksdale, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't have at least two sacks.
Your score prediction?
BFTB: I like the Chiefs in this one 24-20 because although the Chiefs are the more talented, better-coached team with more to play for, the Chargers are going to torture their fans one last time by keeping it close until the end because that's what they do. I'll be at the game in the stands hoping they don't get anyone hurt or blow their draft position, but I won't really be shocked if they manage both.