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Chargers beat up, but should find a way to win

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Scouts, Inc:

    Denver throttled the Raiders on Monday Night Football and the Chargers lost a heartbreaker to Carolina due to QB Jake Delhomme's last-second heroics. In light of the news that LB Shawne Merriman is electing to have season-ending surgery, the Broncos are in an excellent position to get a serious leg up in the AFC West. This a great week to play San Diego, but do not overlook just how talented the Chargers truly are. This is a big game.

    When San Diego has the ball

    Chargers head coach Norv Turner is an inventive play caller with an awful lot of fire power and personnel options at his disposal. Turner will employ a lot of heavy sets to set a physical tone to this game and pound the middle of Denver's defense. While it wasn't as evident against Oakland, the Broncos struggled mightily against the run last season, especially up the gut, and did not make huge changes this offseason to alleviate those problems.
    The Broncos also have two good cornerbacks, including one of the elite defensive players in the league in CB Champ Bailey, but the rest of their secondary can be beaten. As a result, the Chargers will employ quite a few multiple-wide receiver sets, which give them a distinct advantage -- except for whoever Bailey is covering. The matchup Turner will try to exploit most in the passing game is matching TE Antonio Gates against either of the Broncos' safeties. While Gates is certainly not 100 percent healthy, he still could have a huge game and his ability to line up anywhere on the field will be used to its fullest this week. Denver is going to find out very quickly that this offense is far more dangerous than the Raiders.

    When Denver has the ball

    Jay Cutler is an emerging quarterback loaded with physical ability and is continually increasing his aptitude to read and manipulate coverages with his eyes. He can make any throw in the book and was simply unstoppable against, what should be, a good Oakland pass defense. Cutler threw for just under 299 yards while connecting on some strikes that few signal callers would ever try. His stable of pass-catchers looks very strong with WR Brandon Marshall's return, the sudden emergence of rookie WR Eddie Royal and TE Tony Scheffler, who is capable of stretching the seam. Meanwhile, the usually-stout San Diego defense allowed 388 total yards in their home loss to Carolina. Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan will strive for balance and will attack new OLB Jyles Tucker in the running game. While it isn't in his nature, defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell has to be more aggressive with his play calling to best utilize the personnel.

    Matchup to watch

    Denver LT Ryan Clady vs. San Diego's OLBs Jyles Tucker and Shaun Phillips

    Merriman's season is over, but Tucker is a promising, young edge player in his own right. The rookie, Clady, will usually do battle with Tucker, who will line up on the weak side of the offensive formation, but he will also tangle with Phillips as well. Clady is an elite athlete with superb balance and although you wouldn't know it from his impressive performance on Monday Night, is also a somewhat-raw technician. Clady can be expected to struggle some with the speed of the game at this level and isn't overly powerful in the run game, but his initial performance was more than satisfactory. Denver obviously will not have to roll protections to Merriman's side, so Phillips should expect to be chipped by running backs or tight ends on passing plays far more often.

    Keys to Success

    1 Find an answer for LaDainian Tomlinson: Defenses have been trying to find an answer for Tomlinson since he entered the league, but to little avail. The Broncos' defense has good speed and players like WLB D.J. Williams should be able to keep up with Tomlinson in the passing game, but Tomlinson will do his share of damage no matter what. Turner will employ his superstar running back in many ways: he will run outside, inside, catch screens, maybe throw a pass or two and even detach from the formation and run routes downfield. Tomlinson's offensive line could be missing key contributors, but if the running game falters early on behind this patchwork line, expect Turner to stay patient with his play calling and continue to feed Tomlinson. Denver cannot allow him to explode and must be very sure with its open-field tackling, but that will be more and more difficult as the game goes on.
    2 Challenge the heavier San Diego front seven laterally: San Diego's run defense was less than stellar last week against the power-running Panthers, but this week Denver will challenge the Chargers with their fabled zone-blocking attack. Getting San Diego's defensive front to move laterally and contend with the overall athletic ability of Denver's run blockers could pay dividends for the Broncos. Although it wasn't last week, running right at NT Jamal Williams and Co. is often futile, but RB Selvin Young and the other members of Denver's stable of ball carriers might find holes they can hit quickly, once they get this defense reading on the move. Williams is also battling a knee problem and his already-suspect mobility will not be up to par.
    3 Get Tony Scheffler involved: San Diego had a tough time containing Carolina TE Dante Rosario last week and could face similar problems with Scheffler. Royal burst onto the scene and has all the makings of a future star and Marshall, who returns from suspension, is the total package for a wideout. This pair has a chance to really be terrific, but they face an even better pair of cornerbacks in Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie. San Diego's cornerbacks surely will not eliminate this dynamic pair of wideouts, but Scheffler is the pass-catcher who has the best chance to have a big impact. Scheffler is a top-notch athlete as tight ends go. He can stretch the seam and is effective detached from the formation or in motion. He will occasionally find himself matched up against the Chargers' 3-4 outside linebackers and simply should dominate those occasions, especially versus Tucker, who is much better going forward than in reverse. Even against San Diego's safeties and inside linebackers, Scheffler will prove very difficult to keep under wraps and will be a key component to this game.

    Scouts Edge

    By the looks of the Scouts, Inc. Advantage, it appears San Diego has a massive advantage in this football game. While that could be true on paper, several of these positional categories were very close calls. As stated above, this is a good week to get the Chargers on the schedule, but the Broncos are not going to be able to capitalize on that opportunity at home. We like San Diego's offense to expose holes in Denver's defense and even up this divisional race in a nailbiter. Prediction

    San Diego 27
    Denver 23


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