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Chargers Team Report - 10/28/10

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by ChargerRay, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. ChargerRay
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    ChargerRay Producer/Host of BoltTalk Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    Slip sliding away is what this season is doing. And now the Chargers are asked to face the Titans' defense and contain running back Chris Johnson.
    Good luck with that.

    The Chargers seek fortunate, divine intervention and better play in trying to put the brakes on a three-game skid and a season that has basically been in a deep rut.

    It's so deep, those lofty goals that once filled the Chargers' noggins have been sidelined. Instead of making it to the big game, the Chargers would settle for a single game.

    "We're worried about beating Tennessee; it's as simple as that," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We're trying to win one game."

    That doesn't seem like such a tall order for a squad coach Norv Turner proclaimed his best ever while in San Diego. But this city's skies show blue; it's been one black cloud after another for Turner's bunch.

    Special teams were an early bugaboo. Then came a defense that didn't shine on key downs. Then the offense was sketchy — six points entering last Sunday's fourth quarter — then this, then that ... you get the idea.

    Here's a brainstorm, Chargers: hold on to the darn football.

    Four turnovers on four straight possessions gave the high-flying Chargers offense a Keystone Kops flavor in last week's loss to the Patriots. A well-oiled machine this outfit isn't.

    So that brings us to Sunday, where the Chargers' sense of urgency should be on code red. Even residing in the AFC West, which the Chargers have won four straight years, won't save them if they don't win a game occasionally.

    "We're not worried about where we sit in the division," Rivers said, returning his focus to a singular mission. "We're not worried about the road ahead. We're just trying to win a game and do the things necessary that give you the best chance to win a game."

    But what about another AFC West crown? Going deep in the playoffs? Dare say, going to North Texas for the Super Bowl?

    "We've got to block out all those goals that we have," Rivers said. "Right now our goal is to win one game."

    They picked a heck of week to get that notion with their cupcake part of the schedule history. Instead they wrestle with an ornery Titans team that always seems to go out of its way to prove how physical it is when facing the Chargers.

    Better coach 'em up, Turner, and tell the men to bring their blue-collar attitude.

    And leave the carefree attitude when caring for the football behind.

    "The thing that's on my mind is, what do we have to do to get this team ready to play the best it can play against Tennessee?" Turner said. "Obviously one of the things we have to do is go into the game and take care of the football."

    The Chargers, really, could pull this off. They've proven to be resilient, although those rosters of players accomplishing that and the one presented now are vastly different.

    But it's imperative they not lose another home game, not with a road ledger already showing 0-4 with dates remaining at Houston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Denver.

    Just maybe the Chargers still have time to prove they're not as bad as their results.

    "We are what we are," Turner said.

    He's right. But in a season that has gone so wrong, a win Sunday could help the Chargers regain a swagger that has long been lost.

    SERIES HISTORY: 38th regular-season meeting. Chargers lead series, 23-13-1. These two old AFL foes have a storied history that includes the playoffs. Their most recent postseason meeting had the Chargers eliminating the Titans, 17-6, in an AFC Wildcard Game following the 2007 season. The teams met again last year, with the Chargers thumping the Titans in a regular-season game, 42-17. These games usually get chippy, none more so than in a 2007 regular-season game when the Chargers accused the Titans of cheap shots on former linebacker Shawne Merriman, which started his knee troubles.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —OLB Kevin Burnett isn't letting the team's youth serve as an excuse for some questionable play. "From day one of football ... don't turn the ball over, block, play well in the kicking game and tackle," he said. "That's it."

    —TE Antonio Gates knows of what he speaks. Because the Chargers are so sloppy with the football, it doesn't matter they sit atop various rankings — not with a 2-5 record. "You continue to turn the football over and you continue to do same things, it decreases your chance of winning football games," he said. "That format will stand 20 years from now. It's been a format if you look through the history of the game and normally the team that wins the turnover battle, wins the game."

    —Coach Norv Turner is anxious to see holdout WR Vincent Jackson return later this week, but he's not spending much time thinking about it. Jackson must still sit out three games after being placed on the roster exempt list." That's the furthest thing from my mind right now," he said. "The thing that's on my mind is, what do we have to do to get this team ready to play the best it can play against Tennessee?"

    —Turner coached Titans coach Jeff Fisher, when he was a defensive back, for one season at USC.

    —After making a costly mistake as a receiver when fumbling, Richard Goodman made among the rare positive special teams plays this season. He recovered an onside kick that gave the Chargers a chance to erase a 17-point fourth-quarter lead. "We needed a critical play," Goodman said. "We needed guys to make tough blocks and push guys back just like we needed a guy to go get that ball. Coach had confidence to switch my position on the kickoff team and allow me to make that play. I'm glad I was able to rush in there and snag it."

    —Looks like for the third time in four home games, the local TV blackout won't be lifted.

    —OLB Shaun Phillips said there's not much difference in the Chargers' five losses; they all stink. "Any loss is frustrating," he said. "One loss isn't more important than the other loss. Whether we lose by 50 or whether we lose by one it's still frustrating."

    —Rivers can break a franchise-record tie he has with Dan Fouts with a touchdown pass in 20 straight games. If Rivers does it Sunday, Fouts can see it. Fouts is calling the game for CBS.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 18 — Number of turnovers by the Chargers before reaching the season's midway point; the team had 17 turnovers all of last season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "History and a track record can only do so much; it can't go win the next game for you." — QB Philip Rivers when asked if the Chargers can rally after doing so in the previous years.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    The Chargers continue to tinker with their outside linebacker spot.

    Antwan Applewhite has been playing well but keep an eye on Antwan Barnes as he is seeing the field with more regularity.

    If the Chargers can get Barnes active on passing downs, he's been effective. That could be especially true this week with a mending Vince Young or a not-so-mobile Kerry Collins.

    OLB Shaun Phillips is getting most the attention these days on passing downs, so it's crucial the push on the opposite side is legit. So far, Applewhite and Barnes have done just that.

    PLAYER NOTES

    —WR Legedu Naanee is hopeful to supply the Chargers with a boost in returning to the lineup. Naanee was supposed to be a key player this year and had five catches for 110 yards and a score in the opener. Since, he's had only six catches for 71 yards and no touchdowns.

    —RB Mike Tolbert has seen his carries drop dramatically, some of that due to the fact he has trouble with ball security. Tolbert, a converted fullback, had but five rushes in the last two games. This after getting double-digit carries in four of the previous five outings.

    —RB Darren Sproles is being put into the passing game mix with more regularity. In the past two games, he has 14 receptions for 118 yards. In the previous three games, he had but four catches.

    —OLB Shaun Phillips found his way back into the backfield after a couple of games in which he was blocked well. Phillips had a sack Sunday, his first in three games. He leads the team with seven.

    —WR Buster Davis continues to get a chance to show the Chargers he was worth that first-round pick. Davis has nine catches for 92 yards in his last two games.

    GAME PLAN: The Chargers have long bragged about how physical this team was going to be when compared to last year's squad.

    The defense is playing well, and that's with being put in nearly untenable situations with the tsunami of turnovers.

    It gets a chance to show how physical it can be Sunday and the defensive game plan has to be bottling up Chris Johnson.

    The Chargers think they can get after whichever quarterback the Titans offer — Kerry Collins doesn't move well and Vince Young has been dismal when facing the Chargers in the past.

    But it gets back to winning the early downs, something the defense is picking up steam in doing.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers pass rush, which has been tested this season, against a Titans pass rush, which has collected 25 sacks this year. The Chargers have yet to show they can run the ball, so it's been Philip Rivers taking to the skies with regularity — 50 passes last week. But he is already showing some nasty bruises on various body parts as he has been sacked 19 times and hit on many other occasions. The line, which will have LT Marcus McNeill playing in his third game, has to be stout against the aggressive, physical pass rush the Titans offer. Instead of one guy collecting most of the sacks, the Titans spread it around so they can be difficult to defend. Jason Babin and Dave Ball both lead the squad with six sacks.

    Chargers passing game to TE Antonio Gates in the middle and on the underneath routes vs. a Titans pass defense which has S Michael Griffin playing at a high level. Gates was courageous last week when playing on an ailing toe. He was ineffective until the fourth quarter when he almost brought the Chargers back by himself. Look for Griffin to square off against Gates and if he can shut him down, that puts pressure on the unsettled picture at wide receiver. Griffin has an interception in four straight games and the way Rivers always looks to Gates, he could be in position to make it five straight games if Rivers isn't careful.

    Chargers run defense, which is coming off a solid game vs. Chris Johnson, the Titans' stellar running back. The Patriots' running game certainly doesn't have the firepower of the Titans' but props to the Chargers line and linebackers for bottling up the Patriots for 51 yards. Antonio Garay has continued to improve and if he can keep the Titans' blockers off the linebackers, they have a shot at keeping Johnson's damage to a minimum. ILB Brandon Siler has also gotten healthy for the Chargers, and he is good on short-yardage plays. Johnson will be eager to make up for last week when he had 66 yards on 24 carries. Johnson thumped the Chargers last year, rushing for 142 yards in 21 carries.

    INJURY IMPACT: TE Antonio Gates (toe) didn't practice and probably won't try to until Friday. He could be, like last week, a game-time decision.

    —WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring) was able to work and it appears he will be a go after missing the past two games. That said, he likely won't be near 100 percent, which could prevent him from getting open deep.

    —WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) didn't work and he will be out this week.

    —PK Nate Kaeding (groin) didn't practice and will not play Sunday.

    —ILB Brandon Siler (foot) didn't practice but that could be more of a cautionary move.

    —RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) got in a Wednesday practice for the first time this month. He had been resting on Wednesdays to help heal his ankle. That is an encouraging sign.

    —OLB Larry English (foot) is out another estimated three weeks.

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