The San Diego Chargers came out of week 1 with a bad taste in their mouths having lost in the monsoons of Kansas City, to the Chiefs. The Jacksonville Jaguars on the other hand came out of the week on a high, having beaten the Denver Broncos. Week 1 is notorious for making football prognosticators look bad, bad teams look good and good teams look… Well not so good.
The Jaguars Quarterback David Garrard came off one of his best days as a pro against Denver where he threw for 3 touchdowns and had a passer rating of 138.9, which is extremely respectable for any QB in the league. However the Chargers were not ready to be intimidated, and they were not ready to allow the talking heads to proclaim their hold on the AFC West over.
Garrard found a new favorite target in the Chargers Corner Back Antoine Cason, who intercepted two of Garrard’s passes. Garrard had a day to forget, completing only 13 of 38 pass attempts and suffering 4 interceptions. It was a reverse of the week before as he left the game with a 62.7 passer rating. He was sacked twice and harried all day long. Garrard had this to say after the game "It was a terrible day at the office. It's a day that you don't want to have. Honestly, if I could erase my memory from today, I would, but we can't."
The Chargers Defense played very well, Strong Safety Steven Gregory had one of his best days as a pro, collecting 8 solo tackles and 5 assists. As mentioned before Cason had two interceptions but also forced a fumble, Line Backers Brandon Siler, and Kevin Burnett each hauled in an interception, and Defensive End Jacques Cesaire played like a mad man bull rushing his blockers and collecting 3 solo tackles and a sack. Linebacker Antwan Applewhite forced a fumble from Jones-Drew on a play which was recovered by Safety Paul Oliver.
The Game also saw the Return of Chargers Line Backer Shawne Merriman to action; though he did not start the game he did have an impact. At one point he engaged a blocker at the line of scrimmage, clogging a running lane, then shed the blocker and tackled the running back Maurice Jones-Drew for no gain as he had to try an bounce around Meriiman’s block.
All in all it was an excellent game for the Defense, one that when it was all said and done saw the Chargers collect 6 turnovers, it started with Cason jumping up and snagging a Garrard pass out of the air and did not let up until the big boned lady was singing. The Jaguars punter had a light duty day as most of the Jaguars drives ended in turnovers.
The Second quarter was a head scratcher. Each team seemed bent on giving the ball away. The Chargers Rookie Running Back Ryan Matthews fumbled and lost the ball, during the exchange leading to concerns about his ability to protect the ball. Though it is way too early to label him as a fumbler, it is something that the coaching staff of the Chargers will need to keep an eye on.
The Second quarter also saw ex-Charger Kassim Osgood break through and assist on a punt block by back up Jaguars RB Rashad Jennings. A special teams stand out in San Diego Osgood left the Chargers to play for the Jaguars in the offseason in order to get more playing time as a wide receiver. Unfortunately he was not able to make any catches on the day, and his home coming to San Diego, where he played colligate football at SDSU, as well as play for the Chargers was ruined by a stingy defense and a reawakened Chargers offense.
The Chargers run defense held the Jaguars, and Jones-Drew to only 71 yards rushing. The Jaguars have a very good run offense, but were not able to get on track. They attempted 24 rushes, for 3 yard average and suffered tackles for losses on 3 of those runs.
Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers suffered some interceptions of his own, being picked off once in the end zone, and once when Chargers Wide Receiver Legedu Naanee jumped for a pass, and tipped it up, into Jaguars Safety, Courtney Green’s hands. However he was on target more than not, completing 22 of 29 passes for 334 yards. This was the 15th time in his career that he has thrown for over 300 yards in a game. He averaged 11.5 yards per completion, and ended the day with a 119.0 passer rating.
Offensively the team seems to keep getting better. Tight End Antonio Gates had an exceptional day, with 57 yards receiving on 5 passes for an 11.4 yard average and 2 touchdowns. Darren Sproles, though he continues to fail to inspire in the return game received 4 passes for 63 yards, a 15.8 yard average, he also added 5 rushing attempts for 37 yards which is a 7.4 yard average. Malcolm Floyd and Mike Tolbert had good days as well. See the Cheers section below.
Mike Tolbert: Labeled the human dance machine by some fans because he has some of the best end zone dances in the NFL. However that title might be changing to the boogey Bowling Ball. He pounded the Jaguars defense with some hard running and pad popping hits. He gained 82 yards on 16 attempts for a 5.1 yard rushing average. His longest run was 29 yards and he scored 2 touchdowns. He also caught the ball once for 13 yards. All in all a work horse day, from a player who is making a strong case of why he should get the ball more often.
NFL Videos: Tolbert 2-yard TD *
Antoine Cason: Cromartie who?! Dawg you had 6 tackles on the day, 4 passes defended, 2 interceptions with an average return yards of 11.5. You played one heck of a good game. Keep it up! Oh yeah, let us not forget the fumble you forced during the game…
NFL Videos: Cason picks off Garrard *
Jacques Cesaire: I imagine that it has to be hard playing a defensive end in the 3-4 alignment. Not physically hard, anyone can watch a single play and gather that. But the Defensive End in the 3-4 is focused more on clogging holes and creating a log jam at the line of scrimmage than doing anything else. So when a 3-4 DE gets a sack and disrupts the opposition as much as you did yesterday, you get the Monter of the Game award! One sack, 3 solo tackles and numerous other plays where you dominated the line of scrimmage. Keep on keeping on big man!
Malcom Floyd: Week 1 left a lot of people wondering if you were the new go to guy in the receiving corps or not. However you stepped up in a big way yesterday leading the team with 95 yards receiving, and a long 54 yard touchdown pass. On the pass you caught it in stride and took it to the house. Not taking away from players who are sitting home but it was great to see a long pass caught in stride allowing for yards after the catch.
NFL Videos: Floyd 54-yard TD *
Ryan Matthews: I hate to do this but in all honesty you are raising more red flags than answering questions. There is a lot of football left to prove yourself, but make it happen. Protect the ball, pound out the yards. I however am cautiously optimistic when it comes to your ballin skills, you have shown flashes of greatness. Make those sparks light the powder keg!
Game Review from the NFL Channel:
NFL Videos: GameDay: Jaguars vs. Chargers highlights *
*Vidoes from NFL.com