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Best weekend yet, no?

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/story/9003080" target="_blank">NFL.com</a>

    By Rich Eisen

    (Oct. 25, 2005) -- No fewer than three Week 7 games got decided in the last five seconds, and that doesn't include the Chargers' late-game collapse in Philadelphia, which seems to be giving the Rams a sudden run for the moniker of Most Unbalanced Team in Football.

    But, we'll get to that in a moment.

    First, methinks it appropriate to point out that Marty Schottenheimer clearly does not read this column. Either that, or the old dog won't try the new trick of getting aggressive when holding a late-game lead.

    Last week, in this very space, your humble narrator pointed out the extreme benefits of going for first downs when in possession of the ball and leading late, rather than turtling up and running what is conventionally known as the Prevent Offense. With my point reasonably made through the employ of seven paragraphs, I cut one out for, as they say in the writing business, flow purposes. Plus, the NFL.com editor affectionately known as Zim once gently proffered an opinion that the top portion of this column tends to run on a bit too long. Although, I do believe I'm still 3,000 words a week shy of Easterbrook.

    At any rate, here's the graph in regards to the Prevent Offense that hit the Microsoft Word floor:

    We saw the method most prominently employed in last year's postseason, when the Jets could have made one more first down to get Doug Brien in better range to attempt his game-winning field goal attempt in Pittsburgh -- the one Brien eventually missed. We saw it applied the week before against the Jets by the coach whose name can be found within the nickname for the tactic: "Marty-Ball."

    No less than five days after its near posting on this website, Marty-Ball reared its conservative head, or rather jammed it back into its offensive shell, which, in the case of the orthodox Schottenheimer, is the football version of NORAD.

    So, here the Chargers are, lined up on the Philly 30, up by four points with 3:29 left in regulation. The Chargers defense had just stopped an Eagles team so desperate that they went for it on fourth-and-1 (with a pass, by the way, but, again, we'll get to that in a moment.) So, what does Marty do? End it on the spot by going up top to the flammable Antonio Gates, whose eight catches for 72 yards and a touchdown all came in the second half? Even a first-down throw to Gates would have put the Eagles on their heels. Two would have ended the game.

    No, Schottenheimer runs LaDainian Tomlinson three straight times. On an afternoon in which Tomlinson was getting so stuffed the eight yards he gained on the three runs gave him a career-worst seven total rushing yards on the entire day. (In fact, Drew Brees led the Chargers in rushing Sunday. When's the next time that's going to happen?) It was textbook Marty-Ball: Why risk trying to drive the nail in yourself? Just don't turn it over, make the opposition burn its timeouts, kick a safe field goal to get a safe touchdown lead, let your defense stop McNabb from scoring to tie the game and everything will be alright.

    Of course, nothing turned out all right. Blocked field goal. Eagles touchdown. Chargers now needing to make first downs. Receiver fumbles in desperate attempt to gain more yards. Game over. Long plane trip home.

    The Worm, watching in our studio, was apoplectic. "Marty-Ball! That's what happens when you play not to lose! That's what you get! Freaking Marty-Ball!" screamed The Worm at the big screen and to no one in particular. Of course, he was also ticked off that the Chargers blew a chance to lend his beloved G-Men a hand by hanging a loss on the defending division champs.

    Now, as for those Eagles -- the NFL's investigative arm is currently looking into the hot rumor that Philly's running game is buried next to Jimmy Hoffa beneath The Meadowlands. What in the name of Wilbert Montgomery is going on there? Only 10 more carries Sunday for the incredibly gifted Brian Westbrook, who currently ranks 34th league-wide in attempts this season. Trusty NFL Total Access chief researcher Andrew Villa perused the list of 33 running backs with more carries than Westbrook and noticed the list not only includes Marcel Shipp, Kevin Barlow and the convalescing Stephen Davis, but also two Kansas City running backs (Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson) and two Denver running backs (Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell.) It gets nuttier. At this juncture, 22 individual running backs have more carries than the entire Eagles team, which, to no surprise, ranks dead last in overall carries, 102, and average rushing attempts per game, 17.

    Of course, the two main problems pertaining to an underground ground game are potentially fatal. First and foremost, one must be able to run when the weather gets arctic, the games spike in importance and the yards become harder to gain. When one is looking at fourth-and-1 in the cold of January, one must have somebody who can plow his way through the Big Uglies to move those chains. On Sunday, when the Eagles needed that one yard late in the game against San Diego and chose to throw, it was Donovan McNabb's 53rd pass attempt on the day. Through Philadelphia's first six games, McNabb has thrown fewer than 45 passes only twice, which brings us to our second problem brought about by the groundless attack -- it's a great way to get your quarterback killed. And, in the case of the Eagles, everyone and their mother (especially McNabb's) knows that their quarterback already resembles the patient from "Operation."

    Thus, it came as no surprise when the first five questions thrown Andy Reid's way at his Monday press conference dealt with this very issue, which the coach himself admitted requires immediate attention: "Offensively, I have to do a better job on my side of getting this thing a bit more balanced up with the run/pass ratio and get that thing going," Reid said. "I will go back to the drawing board and work on that and see if we can't do a better job."

    So far, however, it really hasn't cost the defending NFC champs anything. Their defense might just be the best in the NFC -- see Tomlinson's stat line. They're still 4-2, tied atop the division with the Redskins and Giants, and a half-game ahead of the only team in the division with a tie-breaking leg up on them -- the Cowboys, who kick off this week's observations:

    <a href="http://www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/story/9003080" target="_blank"><strong>Read the Full Article</strong></a>

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