Someone is watching the Chargers and it’s not hard to see why. They’ll try to win their seventh straight game on Sunday when facing the visiting Denver Broncos.
We checked in on the Chargers, the one-time local NFL bunch, at the season’s start, not sure if it was the end of the relationship.
Would we still write about the football crew many once yelled for so loudly? Or would Year 2 of the team’s heartbreaking move feature the hostility revealed following its exit after 2016 season?
Not sure if the TV ratings reflect those cheering or jeering, but come Sundays, folks in this region still tune in. After flicking on the Chargers for 56 years of Sundays, some habits have a slow demise. When the Chargers played the Oakland Raiders last weekend, more than a million San Diego County screens landed on the contest.
North County remote-holders were among those numbers and what they’re seeing is a squad that’s easy to go, “Hip, hip hooray.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers, who remains one of us regardless of a North County commute that many of us can relate to, is having a sensational season.
“It’s not that bad,” Rivers said of his trek. “It’s a little longer to the games than to practice but we are making it work.”
What’s difficult is remembering when the Chargers last played at StubHub Center. They’re going 40 days between home games, although someone saying, “Carson” is the Chargers’ adobe, well, that’s a stretch.
But it’s real, the Chargers’ 7-2 record, and if the cards fall right, they’ll be 9-2 when facing the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 2.
Then again, it’s the Chargers, where a calamity is usually around the next bend. Although no one can twist an equation which shows a 13-3 mark over their last 16 games.
Still, inside linebacker Denzel Perryman, the team’s second-leading tackler, had his knee tweaked the wrong way in Sunday’s win over the Raiders. He’s gone for the season and an improving run defense took a haymaker to its jaw.
Rivers, clearly the most popular and familiar Charger with San Diego ties, is having a sweet 16th season. Rivers has heaved 21 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
Tight end Antonio Gates isn’t what he was, but with every catch the future Hall of Famer seemingly sets another record while rewinding our memory bank.
The owners? It’s the same family and that’s why many have blacked out and blocked out the Bolts. That’s totally understood. Same with the argument that some fans don’t attend games to peek at the owner’s box, instead putting their focus on the real Chargers, the players on the field.
That’s a circle of debate that is endless. Boil it down to the football and the Chargers are fun to witness.
Melvin Gordon is on the short list of best all-around NFL backs.
Rivers aims for a receiving corps led by Keenan Allen, with plenty of other reliable hands not belonging to him.
Safety Derwin James, the team’s top pick, has been phenomenal, showing versatility and playing at a velocity which is impressive. Defensive end Melvin Ingram is reaching another gear and just what happens when — if? — Pro Bowler Joey Bosa (foot) comes back.
Plus, there’s rookie Scott Quessenberry of La Costa Canyon High as he earns his stripes as a backup offensive lineman.
Considering the subpar football the Chargers presented fans around here — not making the playoffs in seven of the past eight years — they have long paid their dues to see some decent football. Now that’s it’s being played some 100 miles away from where it should be, isn’t right. But it’s not wrong enjoying Rivers and friends performing at a high level.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports