Jeff: Hey Oracle! If I haven't mentioned it before, congratulations on becoming a dad for the first time! I think I can assume that you'll raise her right...to be a Chargers fan of course!
Eddie: Are you kidding? My wife is born and raised in San Diego. She had a Chargers outfit before she was even born. Of course, she is ready.
Jeff: The Chargers have had a fairly uneventful training camp and preseason, although there are a few interesting stories that seem to be developing this week. What would you consider to be the biggest story of the preseason so far?
Eddie: I think the offensive line. The right side is a concern. Losing Mike Goff was not a big deal to me, as long as they got someone to replace him. I didn't like the idea of going with journeyman Kynan Forney. He was on the team last year and didn't see the field, and now he has been hurt with a neck injury. So we are gonna go with Louis Vasquez. I like the rookie, but he is a rookie. He is gonna be prone to mistakes. Worries me. Jeromy Clary needs to be better. He has not impressed me since being inserted into the starting lineup. Step up or step off, I say. If the Chargers are gonna go far, they need the O-line to play better. Period.
Jeff: One story I keep hoping to see includes AJ finding some O-line help. After watching the first three preseason games, what else has you concerned heading into the season?
Eddie: I think another big concern is my boy, Shawne Merriman. He looks to be favoring his knee. He may be doing it just to protect it during preseason, but it worries me. Come week 1 at Oakland, I hope I see #56 have that burst back.
Jeff: Have you seen anything that surprised you so far in the preseason?
Eddie: I think the play of some of the secondary has surprised me a bit. I like the way Cromartie and Jammer have been playing. That is kind of expected, but some other guys have looked good too. I am a big Kevin Ellison fan. I think the rookie safety will eventually take Clinton Hart's job. I think that C.J. Spillman has made some plays. Brandon Hughes looked ok before he got hurt. Steve Gregory looks like he has improved. It's good to see the secondary playing better.
Jeff: Which positions would you describe as the Chargers biggest strengths and weaknesses at this point?
Eddie: Linebacker is a big strength, so much so that the guys we cut might start for other teams. The addition of Kevin Burnett is huge. That guy will be a Pro Bowler. Larry English will be a nice situational pass rusher. I hope we keep Brandon Siler. He is a monster on goal line and special teams. It's tough though. Who do you cut? Antwan Applewhite deserves a spot on this team. He plays hard. And you still have Merriman, Phillips, Cooper, Dobbins and Tucker. I would cut Jyles Tucker if anyone, but they signed him to a fat extension and probably won't. James Holt, the rookie from Kansas would normally make this team but we are loaded. He may be a practice squad guy. Weakness is the right side of the O-line. Gotta improve.
Jeff: I'm with you on the linebacking corp, but another postion that has become surprisingly strong is wide receiver. And not just Jackson and Chambers, but Nanee, Floyd, and even Buster have looked great. Lets step away from the Chargers for a minute and discuss some of the other big stories from around the league. Jay Cutler is no longer a Bronco- what do you think of the big trade that kicked him out of the division and the drama that continues to surround the Broncos?
Eddie: I am fine with the Broncos being in disarray. They are a mess. It started with firing Shannahan. Mistake. He is gonna comeback in the league and win. Cutler was easy to rattle. He will be fine in Chicago though. Kyle Orton is not a good quarterback. They are gonna have to rebuild. Hopefully for a few years.
Jeff: What are your thoughts about the rest of the AFC West?
Eddie: It's the Chargers and then everybody else. Honestly, I will be disappointed if they don't sweep the entire division. Broncos, please. A mess. Chiefs? No chance. Bad offense and even worse defense. Raiders? I actually thought they might be better, until watching them in the preseason. JaMarcus Russell is terrible. They better start Jeff Garcia or they are done. Their defense is ok, but the Chargers should still whip them. 6-0 for the Chargers (in the AFC West).
Jeff: Brett Favre is back...again. What's your take on the man who couldn't retire?
Eddie: He is a liar. It bugs me. I think it is fine that he still wants to play, but just say that. Don't do all this ridiculous retirement stuff. Lame. I will say he makes the Vikings a scary team and maybe the team to beat in the NFC.
Jeff: Michael Crabtree- reaction!
Eddie: Not surprised. Whoever is in his ear does not have his best intentions. He was drafted 10th. He doesn't feel like he is a 10th pick. He feels like he is a top 3 pick. Sorry bud. This isn't hard. You are the 10th pick. You will get paid accordingly. So stupid. It will only hurt him.
Jeff: OK, back to the Bolts. So we've gone a few years now breaking down what some people consider to be "the most talented roster in the NFL," and I have to say I'm sick of the talk- how about you? Are you getting a similar vibe from the players and staff at Chargers camp?
Eddie: Not this year. The Chargers are playing it very low key. Not a lot of Super Bowl talk. Last year, that killed them. They thought they were better than they actually were. This year, it seems they are letting their talk happen on the field, which is great. The fact is they are super deep. They should make a run but they have to put in the work. Let's hope they do.
Jeff: They have a pretty tough schedule this season. How do you see the regular season playing out?
Eddie: I have them about 11-5. I give them 6 wins from the division. That means they only have to win 5 other games to finish with 11 wins. Should happen. I give them wins against Miami, Philly, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Washington. They could beat Baltimore, Dallas, Tennessee, Giants, and Pittsburgh. So any combo of those wins, should get them to 11 wins and easily winning the division.
Jeff: Time to take a deeper look into the crystal ball- who do you predict will be squaring off in Super Bowl XLIV?
Eddie: Wow, so early? I am gonna take the Giants in the NFC. And I will be the homer and pick the Chargers. It will be a rematch of our week 9 game. Rivers vs. Manning. Can't ask for more.
Jeff: One last question: Hank Bauer- one of the 50 Greatest Chargers Ever?
Eddie: Loaded question. It depends how you break it down. The Chargers are asking fans to vote on their website. They let you pick 2 special teamers. I have a hard time not picking David Binn and Kasim Osgood in that category. But if I am just listing Top 50 regardless of position...sure, I'll put Hank in there. How's that?
Jeff: I'm never going to get you on one of those Hank Bauer questions. Oracle, as always, thanks for taking some time out of your day to talk football with me.
You can catch Eddie on the Chargers Countdown To Kickoff Show that starts 3-hours before kickoff, and also weekday mornings on The Mikey Show, both on Rock 105.3.
Labels: Preseason 2009
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