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Chargers Gameday Primer

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.sdboltreport.com" target="_blank">SD Bolt Report</a>

    By Denis Savage

    The Redskins have called this game a must-win. The Chargers feel the same way with Denver winning yet again and the other teams challenging for the playoffs looking to keep the pace. *Free Preview of Premium Content*

    "I look at it as. ‘We need a win.' Each one of these [games] is very important," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "Right now, we're beat up and playing a very good football team. The good news is that we're at home. I'm anxious to see how we respond."

    On Offense:

    The concern lies with Antonio Gates and his availability for Sunday's game. He has given it a go in practice, working individually, but it will come down to gametime.

    "We still have to go out and find a way, that's just the way it is," quarterback Drew Brees said. "There is not one guy on this team that we just can't do without. That's why it's a team game."

    One guy, however, opens up the game for other facets to perform. His loss would be similar, if not quite on the same level, as losing LaDainian Tomlinson.

    Gates in the seam keeps the safeties back so they can't hound Tomlinson with eight men in the box. In week one, Dallas blitzed without regard because they knew the safety net for Brees was gone.

    No one on this team can command double teams like Gates does and no one can regularly get open with two men on him like the tight end.

    Another road game and east coast trip will demand more of Tomlinson than in the past. The team has ridden a hot Brees over the last few weeks but must reestablish the dominance of Tomlinson.

    "I think there defense is good," said Tomlinson. "It always comes to play, especially at home. We have to expect a tough, physical game."

    Washington is one of the toughest teams to run on but this game may require a methodical push towards the goalline behind an offensive line that is at the height of its confidence.

    If Gates is out, the team will have to find a way to complete passes against the toughest defense in that category. They are only allowing 54.3 percent of the opposition's passes to be completed – first in the NFL.

    "Peelle knows basically everything," Gates offered to those biting. "He knows how to play this game and that is important in this offense. I feel confident with Justin out there. I know he is going to make the right decisions."

    On Defense:

    With few threats in a receiving core, outside of the speedy Santana Moss, the Chargers will bring a heavy blitz package to neutralize Mark Brunell.

    Brunell no longer displays the legs that enabled him to make plays on the run. That should give the Chargers an edge when they bring the heat.

    Rival quarterbacks can no longer sit back in the pocket and pick apart the Chargers suspect pass defense. Rookie linebacker Shawne Merriman has been on fire of late, collecting six sacks since becoming a starter four games ago.

    "I always wanted to come back home and play," Merriman said. "The first thing I did when I got drafted was look at the schedule to see who we were going to play and when I saw that we were coming back to play the Skins in front of my home crowd I couldn't wait."

    But don't overlook Shaun Philips, another linebacker with a burst - Schottenheimer said Philips' first step reminds him of Derrick Thomas, when Schottenheimer was coaching him in Kansas City. The Redskins use a lot of two tight-end sets, which could make getting to Brunell more difficult.

    "They have a very good scheme," Gibbs admitted. "They do a really good job. They're well coached. They certainly hustle to the ball. They make a ton of plays and put a lot of pressure on."

    "If you look at the Washington roster they have six tight ends," Schottenheimer said. "They seldom have two backs in the backfield."

    The formations they use not only aid in pass coverage, they essentially play with seven offensive linemen, two of whom can and will go into routes, it also aids in their running game.

    Clinton Portis, who has rushed for 5,270 yards since the 2002 season, the third-most in the NFL, is a familiar foe to San Diego.

    "Clinton Portis is a great running back," linebacker Donnie Edwards said of the former Denver Bronco. "He has great speed, quickness. I think he is one of the fastest backs in the league, he really gets to the hole."

    The defense will look to funnel him into the middle and that is contingent upon the defensive line maintaining its gaps. They don't want Portis getting to the outside in space where he can use his elusiveness to create even more running room.

    On the topic of tight ends, Chris Cooley is making his case to become an elite tight end. In just his second year, Cooley has 46 receptions for 543 yards. The Skins disguise him well and he will often make the move off the line and find soft coverage underneath. He is a weapon they must handle.

    On Special Teams:

    The Chargers kick coverage team has been terrible. The problem, according to Schottenheimer, isn't Nate Kaeding, his lingering injury, or his kickoffs – likely meaning Mike Scifres will stay with his punting duties.

    What irks Schottenheimer is the lane coverage and adherence to responsibility. The Chargers deploy a scheme called "inside shoulder force", which dictates that tackles should be made on the inside shoulder of the coverage team tackler, thus keeping responsibilities as a group.

    "We are probably going to go in with the same group but we have some variations to what we are doing," Schottenheimer explained. "It is a very correctable problem.

    "It is critical that you have coordination. As the ball comes off the tee each one of those players has a responsibility – in the perfect world the tackle is made on the inside shoulder.

    "It is a matter of getting off, locating the ball, and then everyone squeezing to the ball and maintaining angles that we call ‘inside shoulder force.'"

    The Redskins are tops in the NFL in kickoff return average allowed (19.3 yards) and fifth in punt return average allowed (5.0).

    But Sunday, Washington will be without the menacing 6-foot-3, 278-pound Mike Sellers, who leads the special teams with 22 tackles, and the reliable James Thrash, a master at downing punts.

    Sellers suffered a hairline fracture of a rib last Sunday against Oakland while Thrash pulled his right hamstring. Neither will play against the Chargers, who are 27th in punt return average but rank fifth on kickoff returns thanks to the diminutive Darren Sproles.

    "It's hard to lose Mike and James, but the rest of us have to step up," said Khary Campbell, who's second with 17 special team tackles and along with Rock Cartwright is one of two healthy Redskins who play on all four return and coverage units. "Mike brings that intimidation factor. A lot of teams don't want to wedge it up the middle because he's coming hard. And they don't want to do a lot of trickery, like fake reverses, because James is always there to sniff that out."
     

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