With the NFL draft behind us and a lockout raging on, the opportunities to talk about real football are becoming fewer and fewer. That being the case, I have sought out bloggers that cover teams that the Lions will play in the 2011 season to get a glimpse into what is going on with those teams.
Granted, this exercise presumes that no games will be lost due to the lockout (a safer presumption now than when I began the series). These Q&As aren’t meant to be any sort of game preview, it is obviously way too early for that. The subject teams may end up looking much different when the Lions play them compared to how they look now, but I anticipate this being a good introduction to each teams’ hopes, fears, needs, expectations, etc.
The Lions will finish up play against AFC West opponents when the San Diego Chargers come to town for a game on Christmas Eve. I was able to send some questions to Ernie Padaon, editor at Bolt Beat, and he was kind enough to provide responses. Here we go…
Zac Snyder: What is your overall impression of the Chargers draft?
Ernie Padaon: The draft does not have a whole lot of fans excited over the players we are bringing in, but We filled a hole on the defensive line by drafting Corey Liuget to be a starter and we filled some depth issues in our secondary and special teams. With five picks in the first 3 rounds we were looking for more impact players, rather than depth at certain spots.
ZS: How did the Chargers manage to lead the league in total offense and total defense and miss the playoffs?
EP: We had the worst special teams on the planet! We gave up RIDICULOUS plays on the special teams side of the ball. We gave up long returns for scores and allowed blocked punts and gave up field position. The offense would be able to move the ball down the field, but there were times that we could not punch it in for the seven points or have a costly turnover at poor times of the game. The running backs (Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert) were seeing the most action in the NFL that they have seen in their careers and they put the ball on the floor too many times.
ZS: Is there any sort of fan consensus on Norv Turner? Does he automatically enter the season on the hot seat?
EP: He enters every season on the hot seat and he never really gets off the hot seat with his slow starts to the season. We want a championship here in San Diego and we feel like we have the players that can get us there. There are still people calling to bring Marty Schottenheimer back. Norv is great with the offense, but there are too many times where his game management is questioned.
ZS: If you could change something about the Chargers as they are currently constructed, what would it be?
EP: I would love to bring in a championship calibur coach to take this team over the hump. I would also like to sign Vincent Jackson to a long term contract. He is one of the best receivers in the league and our GM AJ Smith just doesn’t feel that he is deserving of a long term deal. VJ has had a couple of incidents off of the field with DUIs and AJ likes his “character” guys.
ZS: What are your expectations for the Chargers in 2011?
EP: We will win the AFC West. We still have the best team in the division and we have already made moves to fix the special teams. Once we get into the playoffs, anything can happen! I expect us to be competing for that championship at the end of the year. Philip Rivers will have a whole season with Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, plus Marcus McNeill will play the whole season on the offensive line. I also expect another addition to the defense through free agency, not including the signing of Bob Sanders.