Source: USA Today
The Chargers had their way with the Cardinals, and that is putting it mildly in Sunday's 41-10 victory.
But that feel-good vibe which accompanies any victory into the next week dissipated quickly Monday at Chargers Park.
The NFL sent word that starting safety Steve Gregory was suspended for four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
"I'm disappointed he won't be with us the next four weeks but we will make the adjustments we will need to make and we will move on,"coach Norv Turner said.
In other news which derailed some of the excitement of the Chargers reaching 2-2 was that linebacker Jyles Tucker will be placed on IR with a chest injury.
Gregory, who was key part of the NFL's top-ranked defense, said through a statement that he was shocked that a PED was in his body. But the NFL didn't buy his appeal and he won't return until Nov. 7 when the Chargers travel to Houston.
But the Chargers still have plenty to build on as the get set for visiting Oakland this Sunday.
"I'm very proud of the physical nature of the way our guys played,"Turner said. "Our run defense, the things we have been talking about since March — run defense, pressuring the quarterback, being able to run the football — wee did those things well."
The Chargers had a whopping nine sacks in the game, the most since they had nine against the Chiefs in 2007.
"I think it's everybody feeding off of each other and everyone wanting to make plays and be that guy,"said Travis Johnson, who one of the sacks. "Everybody wanted to do their job and we got it done. It speaks about the unselfish mentality that we have on defense."
That defense took a hit by losing Gregory for a month of games and Tucker for the season. But this no-name collection of players will march on, hoping the next guys are up are just as productive.
"When the whole defense plays great, we are all going to look good,"defensive end Jacques Cesaire said. "That what you're seeing out there right now."
They won't be seeing two key players. But the Chargers are confident they won't miss a beat in Oakland on Sunday.
The Chargers have yet to win a road games in two tries.
"We have to make that big next step,"Turner said. "We have to play on the road like we've played at home."
— RB Ryan Mathews was brought in as a savior for the running game, but so far he has taken a back seat to Mike Tolbert. But after Tolbert rushed for 100 yards and a score and Mathews added his first touchdown, coach Norv Turner said he's just going with the hot hand.
"I would just like to let this thing go and I see Ryan as our starting every down running back and I see Tolbert as a guy who makes it awfully tough to defend," Turner said. "We'll see how the games go."
— TE Antonio Gates reached the 500-catch mark in his career as he continues to shine. "It's what you dream about, becoming one of those elite guys," said Gates, who also had two touchdown receptions Sunday. "One thing that is not recognized is all the people that helped me along the way."
— ILB Kevin Burnett had a career-high two sacks Sunday as the entire unit played its best game. "There are no magic calls or magic play,"he said. "It's effort. That's all you can ask for from a football team. There is no perfect call or scheme. We just play hard and good things happen when we play hard."
— QB Philip Rivers finished the game with a 148.1 rating, the second-highest mark of his career. "It was good to get a win," Rivers said. "We needed to get one; now we have to go on the road in the division."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
— ILB Brandon Siler strained his calf in Sunday's game but the team doesn't think it is serious.
— LT Marcus McNeill continues to work in practice, but he must sit out two more games for landing on the roster exempt list.
— RG Louis Vasquez is still at least a week away from returning with a knee injury.
— RB Darren Sproles has returned to his duties in returning punts after giving way one week to Patrick Crayton.
— LT Brandyn Dombrowski was praised for his high level of play Sunday, one week after he struggled against the Seahawks.
— OLB Shawne Merriman (calf) is hopeful to return to practice this week and possibly play Sunday.
REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS
PASSING OFFENSE: A — Philip Rivers had a perfect rating in the first half and didn't much worse in the second half until being pulled on the second series of the fourth quarter. Rivers missed but five of his 20 passes, and that was good for 241 yards and two touchdowns. The pass protection was keen — he was sacked but once and he said he held onto the ball too long — and there weren't any drops from his receivers. TE Antonio Gates continues to pile up the numbers with seven more catches for 144 yards and two scores.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A — The Chargers running game continues to make significant strides as it collected 180 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Ryan Mathews was supposed to lead this resurrection, but it's been just as much about Mike Tolbert — he had his first 100-yard game of his career. The run-blocking was spot-on with holes for the players to run through. In particular Brandyn Dombrowski and Nick Hardwick were stout up front; Dombrowski and Kris Dielman were monsters on Tolbert's scoring run — good stuff.
PASS DEFENSE: A — Quentin Jammer continues have one of his finer years and game-high three passes defensed. Steve Gregory and Kevin Burnett added interceptions; Burnett's came all the way back for a touchdown. The pass rush was off the charts with nine sacks as the Chargers first chased Derek Anderson and then made life miserable for backup Max Hall. Once the Chargers got ahead, it was pin-back-the-ears time and the Cardinals could not protect their quarterbacks.
RUSH DEFENSE: A —Just 47 rushing yards for the Cardinals as the defensive front was stout on the runs but also when the Cards fell so far behind, they ditched the running game. But the defensive line is playing considerably better and the linebackers were active.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B — The team's biggest shortcoming seems to have been addressed as there were no returns for touchdowns or significant yardage. The Chargers' return game wasn't much but it didn't get a lot of chances to work out. Nate Kaeding missed a field goal from 38 yards but rallied to nail attempts from 48 and 47. Mike Scifres had but one punt, but he nailed it for 67 yards.
COACHING: A — Give Norv Turner plaudits for keeping a nice mixture in play-calling with the Cardinals never quite figuring out what was coming next. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera shouldn't be overlooked as well as his defense collected nine sacks and made life miserable for any quarterback the Cardinals sent out there. Plus, Turner kept the spirits high despite the Chargers coming off a dismal loss in Seattle. They were ready and it showed.