Black Quarterback: The Seeing the Light Episode
By Brandon Simmons
Are We Finally Seeing the Light…ning?
The Los Angeles Chargers are a win or two away from becoming the number one seed in the AFC; so it might be overdue that the league is seeing how special this squad is this year. Playing in the AFC West, and in L.A. across the city from the Rams, it’s easy to overlook them when their immediate rivals are doing exceptionally well but the Chargers have no shortage of electric play. They are currently on a 4 game winning streak and have knocked off 2 of the top teams in the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. In both of those games, they won them by a margin of 4 points, including last week’s late game victory over the Chiefs, in which they made a 2pt conversion to win the game.
As mentioned earlier, the Chargers have been the quietest surprise of the NFL all season. Everyone assumes the Chiefs have overtaken the AFC West, and rightfully so, but Los Angeles has also been gnawing away at that margin. They started the year 5-2 then after the bye week, were able to go 6-1. As always, quarterback Philip Rivers is leading the offensive attack with a few more weapons on his side this time around. Wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams helps get things going on the outside while running back Melvin Gordon leads the rushing attack. All of that culminated into the Chargers becoming a 6th ranked offense. They have always been known for their offense, but the defense has been strong as well s they are ranked 7th overall and 8th against the pass.
The Chargers are hot right now and at the right time of the year. They have put the pressure on the Chiefs to win out the rest of the year as Kansas City appears to be getting chips in their armor. L.A. has proven they can compete with the best in the league in the most crucial times of a game, something that wil.l be needed when playing a traditional power like the New England Patriots or a rematch with the Chiefs or Steelers. Los Angeles can prove to be a dangerous matchup for a lot of teams right now, whether they are at home or on the road. They can light up the scoreboard on anyone and still play the defense needed to close a game out, or in this month’s case, play well enough to get back in the game. These big wins by the Chargers have people confident that they are more than just a flash in the sky.
Could the AFC flip?
The AFC might not look like the conference we’re use to seeing in recent years. Yes, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are among the top teams, but they might be sitting under the Houston Texans and either the Los Angeles Chargers or Kansas City Chiefs when playoffs roll around. The Chargers are currently tied with the Chiefs for the number one spot and could break that tie with a division win. The Patriots lost to the Steelers on Sunday and it pushed the Texans to the 2 seed, at least for this week.
The Patriots and Steelers have been playing good, but it’s been a bumpy ride by their standards. New England started the year 1-2 then ripped off a 6 game streak. However, they were brought back to reality going 2-3 in their last 5. The Steelers started their off 1-2-1. After their 6 game win streak, they lost 3 straight against the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders. Things have been quite different for the Chargers and Texans. Earlier, I wrote about the Chargers’ recent 6-1 success but the Texans also made waves when they went on a 9 game winning streak this year after starting the year 0-3.
It’s possible we could see the AFC “upside down” this year because these two teams have been dominant for so long, that it might be time for a changing of the guard. Steelers and Patriots are led by Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady at quarterback, respectively. These are 2 quarterbacks who have been in many playoff battles over the years. Almost the same can be said for the Chargers, except their playoff appearances has not been as plenty but their QB has been around long enough. The Texans and Chiefs on the other hand have younger quarterbacks, that have become the premier of this league as far their peers at their position. Eventually, these teams would see their dominance loosen up and now could be the perfect time for that to happen.
Are the Ravens really trying to commit to Lamar Jackson?
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the last of this year’s rookie QB’s to actually start a game and so far it’s been working. Jackson has went 4-1 as a starter, which has kept the Ravens in the playoff hunt as a 6th seed. Things have been so great, that the team has reportedly made it known they are moving from quarterback Joe Flacco, and has even placed him on the bench. With the number one ranked defense, things are really looking up for this team with a young quarterback but the question still remains: Can the Ravens really commit to Jackson as their franchise QB?
Lamar Jackson is a special kind of talent but will Baltimore be able to make sure he is able to be successful? Part of that success will include finding him a wide receiver he can get the ball to downfield. With his speed and athleticism, it’s only right that he is supplied with weapons to take the pressure off him and take the hits away from him as well. Another part of that will be investing heavily into his development as a passer at the pro level. In these 5 starts, Jackson has never thrown for more than 200 yards in a game, which could be a problem for the QB going forward in a pass happy league. Now he can run with the football, which will make him dangerous as a playmaker; but it is not in his plying career’s best interest to play the quarterback position like a running back.
Jackson is showing a lot of his potential right now to be a dangerous QB in the future. However, there is a lot more to be done in order for him to maintain this high level of rookie play and thwart him to that next level they want their 1st round pick at. Not only will they need playing pieces, but more than likely, the Ravens are probably going to find a coordinator knowledgeable on how to use Jackson in the best possible way. This is a guy who has already replaced the old franchise QB, so now the Ravens must get ready to invest in a new one.
Shout out to Rams cornerback Marcus Peters for bringing that West Coast energy. In Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Peters was being heckled by a fan and then proceeded to show the fan some West Coast love:
It’s never cool when fans and players get into it but this moment was too funny not to share.
Shut out to the Dallas Cowboys, who were actually shut out. A week after putting up 29 over the Eagles, the Cowboys went on the road against the Indianapolis Colts and were shut out by a team really not known for their defense in a long time. The loss puts the Cowboys only one game above the Eagles, who look a little but more liver since quarterback Nick Foles was returned as a starter to replace the injured Carson Wentz. But the Cowboys own the tiebreaker so they should not worry too much…for now.
This weekend will be followed by Christmas on a Tuesday, but Santa might be bringing playoff spots to some teams, depending on how nice they play. Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens visit the L.A. Chargers so the Ravens can move towards securing their playoff berth while the Chargers move towards securing that 1 seed. Sunday, the New Orleans Saints are hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers to battle it out for the layoff implications in their own conference; that night the Seattle Seahawks will be hosting the Kansas City Chiefs so they can make a last ditch effort for their playoff chances. People think of the Chiefs and see quarterback Patrick Mahomes setting fire to the Seattle defense. That could hold some truth but the Kansas City defense is terrible and will have their hands full against a team that has been running the football very well. But until then…I’ll hollla.
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