Glum Chargers fans can’t even boo Manning a last time
SAN DIEGO (AP) — These are glum times for San Diego Chargers fans.
Their loyalty has been trashed since February by team chairman Dean Spanos, who wants to move to Los Angeles. Now NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has signaled that the Chargers’ 55-season run in San Diego could be close to ending.
So here come the Denver Broncos, and Chargers fans can’t even boo Peyton Manning one last time.
With Manning sidelined by an injured left foot, the Broncos have rebounded from two straight losses behind Brock Osweiler, the understudy to Manning who helped Denver win at Chicago and then spoil the New England Patriots’ perfect season with an overtime victory in Denver on Sunday night.
The Broncos (9-2) are cruising toward their fifth straight AFC West title. The Chargers (3-8) are floundering in the division basement, overjoyed they were able to hold off four-win Jacksonville to snap a six-game losing streak.
Osweiler made a regional cover of Sports Illustrated this week. It doesn’t seem to be going to the tall Montanan’s head.
Asked if he picked up a copy, he said: “I haven’t. I picked up our game plan for the week, though.”
He claims not to have heard of the SI jinx.
“I think the biggest thing just to remind myself is there is no way I’m getting on that cover if it’s not for all those other guys that are out there fighting on Sunday, as well. To me, that’s a team-earned cover, and I wish all of us could be on there,” he said.
Here are some things to look for when Osweiler and the Broncos visit Philip Rivers and the Chargers on Sunday:
BOLTING BOLTS? This could be the penultimate Chargers game at aging Qualcomm Stadium. Spooked by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plans for a stadium in Inglewood, Spanos has been leading the charge to get his fellow owners’ approval to move to Carson, an industrial suburb of Los Angeles. On Wednesday, Goodell said San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis must have viable stadium plans by Dec. 28, which means no time for public votes. The problem is Mayor Kevin Faulconer is standing by his commitment for a public vote on a new Chargers stadium.
NFL owners are expected to vote on relocation in January.
The Chargers walked away from negotiations with the city and county in mid-June and have been focusing their efforts and a joint stadium with their rivals, the Oakland Raiders.
What it all means, short-term, is that there could be more Broncos fans than Chargers fans in the seats.
RIVERS REMEMBERS: Rivers said he worked out with Osweiler after he came out of Arizona State. The link was Noel Mazzone, Rivers’ offensive coordinator his senior year at North Carolina State and Osweiler’s O-coordinator at Arizona State. Mazzone’s now at UCLA.
Rivers said he was impressed with Osweiler’s passion and eagerness to learn. “He wasn’t a young guy that thought he had all the answers. He was real receptive. Not that I was anybody to give him every answer. He had the right approach and then obviously being able to be around Peyton Manning all these years.”
SON OF BUM: Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips followed Gary Kubiak back to Denver when Kubiak was hired as coach in January. Phillips was San Diego’s defensive coordinator from 2004-06 under Marty Schottenheimer.
With the Broncos, he oversees the NFL’s top-rated defense.
“He was a great mentor to me,” said Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, who worked under Phillips on Schottenheimer’s staff. “He was a great person to be around all the time, and the knowledge of football that he has.”
Phillips (?@sonofbum) had some fun on Twitter this week.
“My wife is a Charging fan-go figure,” he posted.
“Charging not Chargers-lol.”
PHILIP’S FOOT: Rivers appeared on the participation report with a foot injury but still practiced this week.
As usual, McCoy treated it like a national security issue.
Left or right foot? “Didn’t miss a snap. He looked great,” McCoy said.
What’s the injury? “A foot.”
Front foot, back foot? “It’s a foot.”
McCoy, a former Freedom Bowl hero, turned silent when asked which foot is more important to the passing game.
KEY MATCHUP: Denver has the NFL’s top overall defense (285.8 yards per game) and top pass defense (191.7 ypg). Led by Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, Denver is the only team that hasn’t allowed a 300-yard passer this season. Rivers has thrown for 3,511 yards, second in the NFL, and has seven 300-yard games this year, including a 400-yard game and a 500-yard game.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Hillman has three 100-yard games for the Broncos while C.J. Anderson has two. San Diego backs have no 100-yard games. Rookie Melvin Gordon’s best game was 88 yards in a loss at Cincinnati in Week 2. Gordon has yet to score his first NFL TD.
Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson