This week, Chris Hayre chats with Chargers radio analyst Daniel Jeremiah and Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. Also, catch another beat writers roundtable to get you prepped for Chargers vs. Bears.
First, Daniel Jeremiah breaks down what distinguishes Austin Ekeler from most running backs in the NFL.
"There are not ten running backs in the National Football League that do what Austin Ekeler can do," Jeremiah said. "It's just a fact. When you watch him split out, and when you watch him do stutter-go's (and) skinny-posts-- we've seen him run every kind of route, (including) all of those angle routes out of the backfield. Then you look at what he does on the perimeter run game and what he does after contact-- the ability to make people miss in space… that's what makes him special."
Next, Bears beat writer Rich Campbell gave this week's opposing view, saying that the Chargers will have to watch out for Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson.
"He's the MVP of this team, at least offensively, and it's not even close," Campbell said. "He's on pace for 1230 yards receiving, 80 catches and six touchdowns. He is able to get open all the time. He is a terrific route runner and is the only option in the passing game that has the trust of Mitch Trubisky right now."
Finally, for the second consecutive week, Hayre was joined by Chargers beat reporters Daniel Popper of The Athletic, Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times, and Gilbert Manzano of the Southern California News Group to discuss defensive end Joey Bosa's importance to the Chargers' defensive success.
"The way he's raised his play this season with all of the injuries has been incredibly impressive, and he deserves a lot of credit," Popper said. "He plays the most invaluable position on the field besides tackle and quarterback and he's doing it at an incredibly high level. He's defending the run, he's pressuring the quarterback, he's doing everything they ask of him (and) he's (even) lining up standing up."
On this week's edition of Playmakers, Shannon Spake of FOX Sports joined Hayley Elwood for a wide-ranging conversation. Our guest, who will be reporting from the sidelines of Sunday's game, discussed the type of stories that intrigue her most, offered advice to would-be journalists, and previewed the Bolts' next game against the Bears.
Regarding intriguing storylines she looks for on the sidelines, Spake says they can often be found where there is struggle or turmoil.
"Anyone can tell you that when teams are doing well, they're celebrating, they're excited, (and) they're happy," Spake said. "What's going on when people are trying to overcome adversity? That's what I look for in games."
Despite her busy schedule covering the NFL and hosting FOX's NASCAR race coverage, Spake finds time to run the stairs of each stadium she visits. FOX broadcaster and former NFL quarterback Brock Huard introduced her to the activity, and her stair-running tally has now reached 39 different collegiate and professional stadiums.
Additionally, Spake offered encouragement to up-and-coming journalists, preaching patience.
"I didn't actually figure out what I wanted to do 'til I was about 26 or 27," Spake said. "If it's something that you're passionate about, I truly believe that if you put in the time and you put in the effort and make the right connections and work really, really hard, it will come."
Spake then broke down the Chargers' upcoming matchup with the Bears, highlighting Bears linebacker Khalil Mack as "disruptive" and a "difference-maker." She also emphasized the Chargers' need to exploit Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's vulnerability.
"You gotta continue to try to disrupt Trubisky," Spake said. "We know that he's already struggling externally, and from what we've heard, maybe with the confidence...You gotta try to make him uncomfortable...If you can get to him, then I think it's going to be a really, really long day for the Bears."
In addition to pressuring Trubisky, Spake believes the keys to a Bolts victory lie in running the ball and putting last week's loss to the Titans behind them.
The veteran journalist also highlighted the Chargers' Joey Bosa.
"I've been watching him for a very long time," Spake said. "The gene pool runs deep in that Bosa family. I don't know what their mom was eating while she was carrying those two boys, but I should have found that out when I was having my kids."