Source: USA Today
Quarterback Philip Rivers should pack his running shoes for the Chargers' trip to Jacksonville.
San Diego seeks to snap its six-game losing streak Monday against the Jaguars, and the Chargers must do so with a patched-together offensive line.
Rivers will take snaps behind a line that will have either two or three of the opening-day starters.
Coach Norv Turner said he doesn't expect Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill to be back from his neck injury.
Pro Bowl left guard Kris Dielman is on injured reserve, as is his backup, Scott Mruczkowski. Both are dealing with concussions.
The only good news is right guard Louis Vasquez could return to action after missing two games due to a high ankle sprain.
It appears rookie Steve Schilling will remain in the left guard spot. However, the Chargers could move Anthony Moll over from right guard if Vasquez is able to return.
Either way, Rivers will be challenged to stand tall in the pocket against a Jacksonville defense that is ranked No. 4 overall and No. 4 against the pass.
The Jaguars' pass rush is led by Jeremy Mincey (4.5 sacks) and Matt Roth (3.5), although Roth didn't play last week because of a concussion.
—The sun came up Monday in San Diego — it usually does — and there was coach Norv Turner explaining away his team's latest loss.
The Chargers' losing streak has reached six games, the latest blunder an overtime loss to the Broncos. With the Chargers' playoff hopes fading fast the chatter is increasing on Turner's job status.
Turner, who was a two-time failure in Washington and Oakland, is getting the brunt of the blame for the franchise's stunning collapse. Since taking the field against the Jets for the 2009 playoff game, the Chargers are 13-15.
But Turner swears he's not listening to the outside voices calling for his, and possibly general manager A. J. Smith's dismissals.
"It really isn't difficult for me," Turner said. "I've been doing this for a quite a while and I know how to go about having a plan to get ready for a game.
"I do get concerned at times that it can affect some people around you so I work hard to make sure it doesn't."
The Chargers aren't talking playoffs — their goal is a lot smaller than that.
"It means we're trying to win a game," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "Everybody goes through rough stretches in their profession and in their life; battle through it and you'll come out stronger in the end."
But some wonder what the end game is with the Chargers and two of their top executives, Turner and Smith.
Regarding Turner, he said he hasn't heard one way or the other from either Smith or owner Dean Spanos.
"I don't think it's an issue right now and I'm sure that is something that when we are through with the season, it will be handled," Turner said.
How the Chargers handle their remaining five games could go a long way in determining if Turner is given a sixth season as coach. That stretch starts Monday night in Jacksonville, where the Chargers will try to flip their trend of playing poorly on the road.
—Not only are the Chargers struggling on the road, but the home cooking doesn't taste so swell either. The Chargers have lost three straight at Qualcomm Stadium. "I'm at a loss because, (losing) three at home is tough to swallow in itself," CB Quentin Jammer said. "It makes it a little worse than normal. It (stinks) to be sitting where we are, but I'll forever speak about the character of this team."
—DE Tommie Harris said that despite the fading Chargers' recent skid, they must remain strong. "It's not about crying and making excuses," he said. "It's about getting up in the morning and going to work and getting ready for the next week."
—It's probably a video that will live long, that one of K Nick Novak urinating on the Chargers' sideline behind the bench. He was covered with towels from some of the ball boys, but the CBS cameras caught him relieving himself. "That's pretty common," Novak tried to explain. "If we got to go, we take a knee right by our water cooler. We can't really run inside and do it. It's kind of embarrassing, but oh well."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—QB Philip Rivers got through a game without a turnover, which is a plus for him this season. However, he threw for only 188 yards and a score while compiling a 77.1 passer rating. Hard to believe, but Rivers' rating was lower than Tim Tebow's.
—RB Ryan Mathews had a career day, rushing for a career-best 137 yards against the Broncos. All three of his 100-yard rushing games are against Denver. However, he wasn't in the game for the most critical possession after taking a hit and being pulled by running backs coach Ollie Wilson.
—RB Mike Tolbert averaged 4 yards on 11 carries, but his 4-yard loss on the team's last play before setting up a field-goal attempt in overtime was fatal. A sweep was called, not exactly the right play for a straight-ahead runner like Tolbert.
—TE Antonio Gates isn't what he once was, but he had a game-high six catches for 49 yards and caught Philip Rivers' only scoring strike.
—WR Vincent Jackson had trouble getting open Sunday — a mark of the fine play of Denver's back end and a pass rush that wouldn't allow Philip Rivers to look very far downfield. Jackson had only two catches for 25 yards. His season continues to be up-and-down.
—WR Malcom Floyd is looking at missing his fifth straight game due to a hip injury. It has been difficult for the wiry Floyd to stay on the field.
—WR Vincent Brown is making good on his chance with Malcom Floyd being out. Brown was targeted 10 times — the most for any Chargers wideout — and had three catches for 50 yards.
—OLB Shaun Phillips returned to action last week after missing time with a foot injury, but he looked a step slow. He got burned on one big Tim Tebow run. He had only a deflected pass to show for his efforts in trying to reach the pocket.
—ILB Donald Butler had six tackles, three of them for losses. The run defense got hammered, but Butler didn't back down.
—ILB Takeo Spikes had a game-high 14 tackles last week, including one for a loss. Despite being in his 15th season, Spikes remains stout against the run, although his range has certainly been compromised.
—DE Vaughn Martin continues his progress from a project to a starter. He had seven tackles against Denver, the most of any Chargers lineman.
—DE Luis Castillo (leg) is out another estimated two weeks.
—K Nick Novak hit half of his four field-goal attempts Sunday, but he missed the most critical one, which would have won the game in overtime. To be fair, he was asked to convert a 53-yarder — no easy task. His other miss was from 48 yards. Of his two good field goals, one was a career-best 53-yarder.
REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS
PASSING OFFENSE: D — No turnovers here, which is a plus, but not too many positive plays. Philip Rivers was under siege most of the game, getting sacked three times and smacked many more times than that. He threw for a score, but for only 188 yards with a long of 30. Antonio Gates had a game-high six receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. Rivers' rating? A measly 77.1.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B — Ryan Mathews had a career-high 137 rushing yards but was mysteriously absent when the game was on the line. Mike Tolbert had 11 carries, and showed a 4-yard average. The run blocking delivered some keen creases for the backs to run through — run blocking was much better than pass protection.
PASS DEFENSE: C — Funny a grade like this when the other team completes but nine passes. But the Chargers allowed a touchdown toss from Tim Tebow — hard to do — and three receptions of at least 19 yards. Paul Oliver and Dante Hughes were picked on by Tebow.
RUSH DEFENSE: F — Tebow is a challenge, but come on — 208 yards rushing? That was what the Broncos churned out as Tebow went for 67 and Willie McGahee took advantage of Tebow's trickery by scampering for 117 yards on 23 carries. The Chargers, especially S Eric Weddle, were so intent on stopping Tebow that it opened up running lanes for others.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D — Time and again the Chargers' coverage units were burned, such a critical letdown when considering how important field position was in this low-scoring game. The Chargers allowed 166 return yards, including a long on a punt of 31 and a long on a kickoff of 36. Mike Scifres had some booming punts, especially early in the game. The Chargers' return game continues to show little, if anything. Nick Novak was two-of-four, with his two misses from 48 and 53 yards.
COACHING: F — Norv Turner coached not to lose instead of to win and it was evident in how he shut down the Chargers' offense at the end of the first half and the end of regulation. Then in setting up the potential game-winning field goal in overtime, he turned to two running plays — a sweep on the last one with a plodding Tolbert — which didn't help Novak's cause as he was forced to kick a 53-yarder — which he missed. Defensively, the Chargers had all week to prepare for Tebow — and they had played him before earlier in the year. But the Chargers, despite giving up only 143 passing yards, were dominated in the running game.