AFC West: Mike Scrifes

Punter a bright spot for Chargers

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
4:20
PM ET
Life is not fun for the Chargers these days, but at least, something is going right.

Punter Mike Scrifres is the ESPN Stats & Information punter of the week.

The Chargers lost their third straight game, 7-6 at Cleveland on Sunday. But Scrifres’ punting added two percent to the Chargers’ chances of winning the game. Scrifres averaged 46.5 yards on six punts and had just two punts returned against him for a total of 7 yards.

His net punting average was 45.3 yards. Scrifres pinned three punts inside the Browns’ 10-yard line. Again, the Chargers wasted Scrifres’ effort, but he has been recognized for his strong game.

In other AFC West news:
One of the reasons why Norv Turner and A.J. Smith are being brought back to head the San Diego Chargers for the 2012 season is the support they had from the players and the way the team finished the season.

Thanks to the Chargers' PR department, here is a sampling of quotes from a happy bunch of players:

Philip Rivers

On knowing Norv is his coach next season:

“It’s exciting. I think there’s still a great level of disappointment in the season with the way it ended and us not playing into January. It’s exciting to know from a continuity standpoint that our head coach is coming back. It wasn’t the season we wanted but I think there’s no doubt keeping that continuity gives us the best chance to win. Take a little time off and gear up again.”

On fans not knowing what goes on behind closed doors:

“It would be just like in any other place. It would be impossible to know unless you’re in here. Unless you’re doing it daily, with the game plans and the practices, training camps, to really know and appreciate. It’s a lot easier -- believe me, even me -- watching a Monday Night game at the house, where I would throw it than when I’m out there. That’s just the way it is. I think the fans here are passionate, they want to win and they want to win a championship. We do too. We’ve won a lot of games at home the last five years. We’ve won 29 games at home and they (the fans) have had a lot to do with that. Their support is huge. The one thing I know is you win and they’ll be supporting you. So we got to go win and that’s our plan is to go win a bunch of games and ultimately win a championship.”

On team continuity despite the team’s regression the past few seasons record-wise:

“Every year is different. You can’t always progress, so that’d be saying the Green Bay Packers regressed this year unless they win it all. Your record doesn’t always tell the whole story. It’s a constant change, moving pieces, injuries, bad play and good play, and trying to find a way to win games. The longer you keep that continuity and that consistency together, I think it’s proven to win out over time. You look at years’ past in Pittsburgh when they held that together with [Bill] Cowher for all those years. Over time it got done. You got to stick with it and that’s why I’m excited: to stick with it. Because there’s been plenty of 8-8 teams that have bounced back the next year and won it all. That’s obviously the ultimate goal and I think your normal offseason changes -- obviously we’ll have new players and we’ll lose some, hopefully retain a lot of them -- and find ways to improve from last year and go.”

On being outspoken in support of Norv and taking blame if it doesn’t work:

“No. What I take on my shoulders is the fact that we finished 8-8 this year. That was more about play than coaching by far. When you believe in something that doesn’t mean you’re always right. But if you believe in it you got to express it. I believe it is going to work and we are going to win and ultimately win a championship here. Obviously no one knows what’s going to happen. That’s obviously what I believe in and I’m going to do all I can to make that happen.”

Nick Hardwick

“It’s exciting for the continuity. We’ve got a great locker room here and the guys are I’m sure really excited. I’m super excited. Norv’s a heck of a coach. We have a great staff here, a really great staff. I’m just excited to continue to build on what we’ve learned, what we’re going to keep learning, keep moving forward and make a good push.”

Takeo Spikes

“I’m glad Norv is back. Anytime in life when you have stability, whether it’s family or dealing with business, that’s when you see progression start happening. That’s why I love the fact that Norv is back. Like I said earlier, what we have here is not broke. We may need to add a few pieces. But I’ve been places where we were broken and this is not even close to broke.”

Eric Weddle

“It’s great. We keep the guy we want here. We wanted him to lead us. Us as players, we got to go win it for him and make Dean right that he made the right decision. We’re excited to keep our head guys here and keep the continuity and energy up.”

“We know what we have, but we also know that it’s on us. So we have to improve not only for the coaches but for us as players. We’re here and we want to win. That’s what the bottom line is.”

Nate Kaeding

“Really excited. Having been here eight years now it’s a great working relationship with all of us players, Norv and AJ. Anytime you can have continuity and consistency within the organization, from a football player’s standpoint, that’s huge. Familiarity breeds confidence and consistency and those are huge parts of going out and playing and playing well. We’re obviously all really excited.”

Mike Scifres

“It’s exciting, it’s great news. When I got the text that it was happening I was actually on the golf course. There’s a lot of excitement just to know the continuity we’ve had in the locker room around here with him and the group of players we have; it’s big. I think people saw at the end of the season how much he meant to us as players, not just as a coach, but as a man and as a person. We love him, we love playing for him and couldn’t ask for a better person to be here still.”
This is the ninth in our series of position-by-position rankings. It is a little different this season because we’re ranking the players before free agency starts and before rosters are set. We will adjust accordingly as we go along, but we don’t expect many changes at this spot. On to a terrific group of punters and kickers:

1. Shane Lechler, Oakland: He is the premier punter in the game. His leg is registered-weapon material.

2. Mike Scifres, San Diego: His talent is close to Lechler’s. This is the best 1-2 punter division punch in football.

3. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City: His talent is close to Lechler’s and Scifres’. This is the best 1-2-3 punter division punch in football.

4. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland: Janikowski is the best placekicker in this division. He missed eight field-goal attempts last season, but he is a fine weapon for Oakland.

5. Matt Prater, Denver: This is one of the better young kickers in football. He is terrific on kickoffs, and he missed just two field-goal attempts last season.

6. Nate Kaeding, San Diego: Kaeding is a strong kicker. He was injured a lot last season and has struggled in critical situations, but, overall, he is a plus kicker.

7. Ryan Succop, Kansas City: He has a chance to be become a very good kicker. He has a strong leg.

8. Britton Colquitt, Denver: Dustin’s little brother punted well in his first full NFL season. He appears to be a keeper, and he rounds out a fine group of kicking specialists.

Chargers dump Steve Crosby

January, 3, 2011
1/03/11
7:10
PM ET
During the season when San Diego's special teams was killing the Chargers, Norv Turner stood up for the unit's coach, Steve Crosby, and vowed he wouldn’t be fired during the season.

However, one day after the Chargers’ disappointing season ended, the team announced that Crosby’s contract will not be renewed for the 2011 season.

“We appreciate Steve’s hard work and dedication to this team over the past nine seasons,” Turner said in a statement released by the team.

It is not a surprise that Crosby was let go, but it is surprising that he was let go after the team stuck with him during a terrible stretch. The Chargers had major issues on special teams during the first 11 games of the season before settling down. Five of the Chargers’ seven losses were affected by major problems on special teams.

Earlier in the season, San Diego -- which had to deal with having five long snappers after a 17-year veteran David Binn was lost for the season on opening day -- the Chargers had every imaginable collapse on special teams, including having five punts blocked. Punter Mike Scrifres had one punt blocked in his previous six NFL seasons.

Still, Turner backed Crosby, saying the problems were due to players making plays and not because of Crosby's coaching. San Diego did improve in the area toward the end of the season but finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

San Diego led the NFL in total offense and defense, but its special teams issues helped undermine those accomplishments. In the end, it cost Crosby.

Wrap-up: Chargers 29, Texans 23

November, 7, 2010
11/07/10
4:21
PM ET
A look at a key victory for the San Diego Chargers:

What does it mean? This was big for San Diego. The Chargers are now 4-5 and have won two straight games. It was San Diego’s first road win after losing its first four away from home. If 4-4 Oakland beats 5-2 Kansas City Sunday, the AFC West will be very jumbled.

Tomorrow’s talker: Philip Rivers is continuing to play out of his mind. Playing without his top four receivers and without star tight end Antonio Gates, Rivers was 17-of-23 for 295 yards. He threw four touchdown passes. Rivers is leading the NFL with 2,944 yards passing.

Trending: San Diego’s special teams continue to flounder. Mike Scifres had his fifth punt blocked of the season and his second in two weeks. Scifres had one punt blocked in his previous six NFL seasons.

What’s next: San Diego has a bye next Sunday before hosting Denver on "Monday Night Football" on Nov. 22.

Our AFC West position-by-position rankings continue with the kicking specialists. This is an awesome group. I think this is the best kicking and punting division in football. Our top five guys could be a serious contender to be ranked No. 1 in any other division. It’s a power group:

1. Shane Lechler, Oakland: He is a special talent. Watching him boom punts is a thing of beauty.

2. Mike Scifres, San Diego: This guy is a superstar, too. Scifres is a placement artist.

3. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City: It’s too bad he plays in the same division as Lechler and Scifres. Colquitt is a star in his own right.

4. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland: He is getting better with age. I’m not sure he was worth the record contract Oakland just signed him to, but Janikowski is a weapon.

5. Nate Kaeding, San Diego: It’s a shame Kaeding is most known for his postseason woes. The guy is very good.

6. Matt Prater, Denver: Prater is a kicker to watch. He improved greatly in 2009 and he is terrific on kickoffs.

7. Ryan Succop, Kansas City: Don’t look at his ranking as a negative. He is very good and he should be for the next 10-to-15 years. He showed a great leg as a rookie. Again, this is just a terrific class.

AFC West Pro Bowl primer

December, 28, 2009
12/28/09
4:00
PM ET
The Pro Bowl teams will be announced Tuesday.

The following is a look at the some of the players from the AFC West who have a chance to make the team:

Denver

Brandon Marshall WR: Marshall became one of five players in NFL history to post three straight years of 100-plus catches.

Ryan Clady LT: Clady should have made it as a rookie. Perhaps he will get the nod after a strong second season.

Elvis Dumervil LB: Dumervil is Denver’s single-season sack leader with 17.

Champ Bailey CB: Bailey keeps on keeping on.

Brian Dawkins S: Dawkins became the heart and soul of the Broncos in his first season in Denver.

D.J. Williams LB: He’ll get some consideration, but may be a long shot.

Kansas City

Dustin Colquitt P: He is having a solid season, but his competition is very stiff.

Oakland

Zach Miller TE: Miller is becoming one of the best tight ends in the game.

Kirk Morrison LB: Morrison has his faults but his big tackle numbers are impressive.

Nnamdi Asomugha CB: Asomugha is the best in the business. He’s a shoo-in.

Shane Lechler P: Lechler should nab another Pro Bowl bid.

Sebastian Janikowski K: His 61-yard field goal at Cleveland is another reminder of Janikowski’s big leg.

San Diego

Philip Rivers QB: If Rivers isn’t a Pro Bowl pick this year, when will he be?

Antonio Gates TE: This is perhaps Gates’ best season in a special career.

Vincent Jackson WR: Jackson is one of the best big-play receivers in the game.

Kris Dielman G: He’s a steady hand on a battered line.

Quentin Jammer CB: Jammer is one of the more underrated CBs in the league.

Darren Sproles KR: Sproles is great, but Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs deserves the spot.

Nate Kaeding K: Kaeding is the most reliable kicker in the game.

Mike Scifres P: Scifres and Lechler are the Manning and Brady of their craft.

Kassim Osgood ST: Osgood is a special-teams gem.

AFC West Pro Bowl voting update

December, 1, 2009
12/01/09
5:45
PM ET
The NFL has released an update on the fan portion of the Pro Bowl voting process. The fan vote makes up a third of the process along with players' and coaches' votes.

The following is a look at the AFC West players who are currently in the top five at their positions in the fan vote:

Quarterback: Philip Rivers, San Diego, fifth place.

Running back: LaDainian Tomlinson, fifth place.

Tight end: Antonio Gates, San Diego, second place; Zach Miller, Oakland, fifth place.

Fullback: Jacob Hester, San Diego, second place.

Defensive end: Richard Seymour, Oakland, fourth place.

Outside linebacker: Elvis Dumervil, Denver, second place.

Inside linebacker: D.J. Williams, Denver, fifth place.

Cornerback: Champ Bailey, Denver, first place; Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland, second place; Antonio Cromartie, San Diego, third place.

Strong safety: Brian Dawkins, Denver, second place.

Kick returner: Darren Sproles, San Diego, first place; Eddie Royal, Denver, third place.

Kicker: Nate Kaeding, San Diego, third place; Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland, fifth place.

Punter: Shane Lechler, Oakland, first place; Mike Scifres, San Diego, fourth place.

Special teams: Kassim Osgood, fourth place, San Diego.

AFC West Pro Bowl voting update

November, 17, 2009
11/17/09
5:49
PM ET
The NFL has released an update on the fan portion of the Pro Bowl voting process. The fan vote makes up a third of the process along with players and coaches votes.

The following is a look at the AFC West players who are currently in the top five of the fan vote:

Tight end: Antonio Gates, San Diego, second place.

Tackle: Ryan Clady, Denver, fifth place.

Fullback: Jacob Hester, San Diego, second place.

Defensive end: Richard Seymour, Oakland, fourth place.

Outside linebacker: Elvis Dumervil, Denver, second place.

Inside linebacker: D.J. Williams, Denver, fifth place.

Cornerback: Champ Bailey, Denver, first place; Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland, second place; Antonio Cromartie, San Diego, fourth place.

Strong safety: Brian Dawkins, Denver, second place.

Kick returner: Darren Sproles, San Diego, first place; Eddie Royal, Denver, third place.

Kicker: Nate Kaeding, San Diego, fourth place; Matt Prater, Denver, fifth place.

Punter: Shane Lechler, Oakland, second place; Mike Scrifes, San Diego, fourth place.

Special teams: Kassim Osgood, fourth place, San Diego.

Chargers notes

November, 8, 2009
11/08/09
8:25
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

Random notes from the Chargers’ 21-20 win at the New York Giants:

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson continued to struggle. He had just 22 yards on 12 carries. He is not making much of an impact. He has just 289 yards this season.

The Giants were very cautious with returner Darren Sproles as they kicked away from him. Sproles made his presence felt with a big catch on the game-winning drive.

The Chargers overcame the loss of inside linebackers Kevin Burnett and Tim Dobbins.

Safety Eric Weddle had a big day with eight tackles.

San Diego tight end Antonio Gates uncharacteristically dropped two passes.

The Giants ran 11 more plays than San Diego did.

Punter Mike Scifres continued his excellent situational punting.

The Chargers have 15 sacks in the past three games. Linebacker Shaun Phillips has five sacks in the past three games and Shawne Merriman has four sacks in the past two games.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

We're continuing our periodic AFC West position rankings with the best kickers and punters:

1. Shane Lechler, Oakland, and Mike Scifres, San Diego: This will likely get Oakland and San Diego fans heated as both groups think the punter on their respective teams is the best in the NFL. Neither fan base is wrong. I truly believe Lechler and Scifres are tied for being the best punter in the NFL. Lechler has the big leg and consistency. Scifres has a big leg and great touch. His work against the Colts in the playoffs was mind-blowing.

3. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland: Janikowski isn't perfect and he misses a lot of makeable kicks. But he has strong leg and he is one of the better kickers in the league.

4. Nate Kaeding, San Diego: Kaeding is an underrated kicker. He is consistent and should have a long career ahead of him.

5. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City: This is a deep list. Colquitt is a top-level punter when healthy. He became famous when Kansas City coach Todd Haley cited him when asked what the new coach liked about the team he was inheriting.

6. Brett Kern, Denver: There is a big drop-off from No. 5 to No. 6 on this list. But Kern has a chance. He has a strong leg and he was decent as a rookie last season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Stay tuned Thursday for movement on the Nnamdi Asomugha situation in Oakland. There were some strong indications Wednesday night and early Thursday that a long-term deal between the shutdown cornerback and the Raiders could be done at any time.

This would be huge news for the Raiders.

  • The Denver Post is reporting linebacker Boss Bailey may not be salary-cap causality. With five defensive starters already jettisoned and with more than $25 million in cap room freed up, Denver certainly doesn't need to create any more cap space.
  • New Kansas City coach Todd Haley said he hasn't named exact positions for several new assistant coaches because he hasn't figured it all out yet.
  • The Oakland Tribune is reporting that receiver Ronald Curry has been informed he will be cut.
  • The Chargers are hoping to secure LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates this offseason. Keeping his own has long been a mantra of San Diego general manager A.J. Smith.
  • The Ravens' decision to put the franchise tag on linebacker Terrell Suggs could affect both Denver's and Kansas City's plans. Both teams have plenty of cap room and both teams could have used a pass-rusher like Suggs.
  • The Chargers may be quietly bummed that the Raiders re-signed punter Shane Lechler. Many in San Diego believe their punter, Mike Scifres, is the best punter in the AFC but he keeps getting bypassed in favor of Lechler for the Pro Bowl. Some in the San Diego organization may have been hoping Lechler would go to an NFC team which would open a spot on the Pro Bowl roster for Scifres. My take on that one: Both Lechler and Scifres are the real deal.
  • Former Oakland wide receiver Tim Brown will coach the receivers in an alumni game featuring Notre Dame players in Tokyo this July.

Chargers halftime notes

January, 3, 2009
1/03/09
9:42
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

SAN DIEGO -- Halftime notes where San Diego leads Indianapolis, 14-10:

The hero of the game thus far for the Chargers is punter Mike Scrifes. He has pinned the Colts at their 2- and the 7-yard line. His last effort was a 67-yarder. Many in the San Diego organization feel Scrifes was snubbed for the Pro Bowl. Oakland's Shane Lechler was selected.

The Chargers are being dominated at the line of scrimmage but the awful field position Scrifes is putting the Colts is pushing this game San Diego's way.

The Chargers' running back combination of LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles is working well as both players have a touchdown. The two players have 63 yards on 12 combined carries, Tomlinson went to the Chargers' locker room with 41 seconds to go in the first a half, after San Diego scored, to get a head start on halftime treatment. He didn't practice all due to a groin injury.

San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson, who has been outstanding in recent weeks, didn't have a catch in the first half.

Could this game be headed toward another late-decided game between the Chargers and the Colts? It's starting to smell that way. The Colts won in San Diego 41 days ago on a long field goal to end regulation.

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