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Chargers Team Report - 11/03/10

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by ChargerRay, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay Producer/Host of BoltTalk Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    Source: USA Today

    The Chargers are quite a bit lighter.

    That October Monkey is finally off their back.

    It's been so long the Chargers have been able to say that, it's nearly a new sensation. The Texans, this week's opponent, catch the Chargers one week after San Diego disposed of a three-game losing streak.

    "I don't know if relief is the word, but certainly it's nice to feel like what it feels like to win," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "It's a tough month, tough three weeks ... It was nice to win."

    But it's even nicer to keep winning. And the Chargers' fingers are crossed they are poised to go on and do something they do annually at this time: get on a winning roll.

    Last year the Chargers reeled off 11 straight wins to close the regular season, erasing a disappointing start. This year's team may not achieve something similar, but every long walk starts with that first step.

    The Chargers (3-5) believe they have the type of players — mentally as much as physically — who can help them rally. They've got four straight AFC West titles to lean on as well as each other.

    "It's character," coach Norv Turner said. "This team has great character, and it's been put tighter that way. They have great trust. They believe in the coaching staff and what we're doing. They know when it's done right, it works."

    Sounds right, but there are still plenty of things wrong with the Chargers:

    —At some point, they must prove they can win on the road.

    —The special teams remain the NFL's worst — by a large margin.

    —The defense hasn't produced a turnover in four straight games.

    —Most of the experienced wideouts are banged up or not on the active roster.

    So while the players might have the right stuff, the stuff still hits the fan on a too-consistent basis for the Chargers.

    But, maybe, this squad that has been so underwhelming has found the switch after rebounding in the second half to beat the Titans.

    And maybe they catch the Texans at the right time, so soon after Houston fell to rival Indianapolis on Monday night.

    But the Chargers have too much on their 3-5 plate to fret too much about others.

    "It goes back to what we talked about from day one," tight end Antonio Gates said. "When things aren't going right and everything seems to be going the other way, it's the belief you have to have as a team."

    The Chargers really believe they can flip the season. A flop in Houston on Sunday would prove otherwise.

    SERIES HISTORY: 4th regular-season meeting. Chargers lead series, 3-0. The Texans are the only NFL team never to defeat the Chargers. The last time the teams played, the Chargers prevailed in San Diego in 2007, 35-10. Antonio Gates was on the receiving end of touchdown passes from Philip Rivers of 49 and 31 yards.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman was claimed off waivers by the Bills. Merriman was a three-time Pro Bowler before his career tailed off after injuring his knee, and the Chargers placed him on injured reserve earlier this season before waiving him.

    —Inside linebacker Kevin Burnett said the Chargers, at 3-5, can't get overconfident. "We cannot be complacent," he said. "Honestly, that's what it is, so now we have to be hungry enough to go win another one."

    —Coach Norv Turner, who gave an animated halftime talk before the Chargers' rally last week, was given a game ball afterward. "It will be one that I'll keep in a special place because this is a big win for our football team," Turner said. "I usually address them in some manner every halftime on what we need to do. I think I was probably a little bit more emotional about it because there were some things I felt that we weren't doing in the first half.

    —Tackle Adam Terry was brought back to the active roster.

    —The Chargers set a franchise mark by going 7-1 last season on the road. If they lose in Houston, they would go 0-5 on the road for the first time since their 1-15 season of 2000.

    —Quarterback Philip Rivers continues to set NFL and team records with his amazing start that has seen him throw 2,649 yards. "To me, it's a team deal," he said. "We'd much rather be 5-3 or 6-2 than be sitting at 3-5 and have a record like that. I think it's a reflection of our team, our guys up front blocking."

    —Receiver Seyi Ajirotutu was among the more unlikely players to contribute in Sunday's win with three catches for 48 yards. "It's gratifying," he said. "I was on the practice squad to help prepare the defense every day. Now I'm helping the offense."

    —Receiver Patrick Crayton noticed the Chargers' mistakes last Sunday, but the team sealed the deal. "A win is a win," the veteran said. "You never apologize for a win in this league. They are hard to come by. When you get them, you are thankful for them."

    BY THE NUMBERS: 0 — Road victories for the Chargers this season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "The man is an outstanding head coach." — GM A.J. Smith, on Norv Turner, after Sunday's win got the Chargers to 3-5 at the season's halfway point.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    The Chargers have made couple of tweaks at wide receiver and in the secondary.

    Buster Davis, a former first-round pick, continues to add to his disappointing resume by going on injured reserve with a groin injury. Considering all the others missing at this unit, young players must step up and prove themselves.

    Safety Steve Gregory is back after serving his four-game suspension. When Gregory left, he was a starter and the team's leading tackler. Paul Oliver has been starting in his place; Gregory is an upgrade. Even if Gregory doesn't start, he should see significant playing time Sunday.

    PLAYER NOTES

    —QB Philip Rivers has thrown a touchdown pass in a club-record 21 consecutive games. He was tied with Dan Fouts before last week.

    —ILB Kevin Burnett is battling a shoulder injury but continues to be productive. He has a career-high five sacks.

    —RB Mike Tolbert, and not hyped rookie RB Ryan Mathews, is having a big year for the Chargers. Tolbert is tied for sixth in the league in scoring. He has seven touchdowns in his last seven games.

    —P Mike Scifres is likely getting gun-shy. With last week's mistake, the Chargers have had four blocked punts this season.

    —TE Antonio Gates seldom practices due to a sore toe, but it's hard to tell on Sundays. Gates leads the NFL with nine touchdowns. He's the only player with at least eight touchdown catches in each of the last seven seasons.

    GAME PLAN: This seems a perfect recipe for Philip Rivers to add to his substantial numbers. Rivers is clicking, and the Texans' pass defense has struggled. But Rivers is missing several key receivers, and the Chargers tried to establish their running game with a purpose last week, and they did so. Just maybe they continue to let that run game mature; in the end, that will only add balance and possibly make Rivers better in the second half. Plus, despite owning the league's best pass defense ranking, that is a tad misleading considering how many short fields their special teams blunders have produced. It allowed more than 300 passing yards last week and many completions came on blown coverages, not tightly thrown passes. So the Chargers could run it to prove their mettle there, and also keep the ball away from Matt Schaub.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers pass protection, with LT Marcus McNeill vs. Texans pass rush led by RDE Mario Williams. McNeill has been pretty good since returning to the team on Oct. 17. But he's also had a couple of slip-ups and he can't afford too many — any? — when facing Williams. Rivers directs the NFL's top passing offense, and that's how the Chargers move the ball. But McNeill must keep Williams (he has a team-high five sacks) at bay. What might make that more difficult is Pro Bowl LG Kris Dielman is fighting a neck injury that forced him from last week's game. Joining Williams will be Antonio Smith, who has 2.5 sacks.

    Chargers run defense, which has shown growth of late vs. Texans running game with Arian Foster. The Chargers stood tall against the Titans' Chris Johnson last week, allowing the standout only 59 yards on 15 carries — and 29 came on his touchdown run. The line has been playing better, led by tackle Antonio Garay. But Foster is a beast, and the Chargers figure to be tested by the AFC's leading rusher. Foster had 231 yards in the opener; Foster had 102 yards and a score in Monday's loss to the Colts. The Chargers need their inside linebackers, Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett, to have big days thanks to the line's improved work up front.

    Chargers pass catchers vs. Texans woeful secondary. The Chargers figure to be without wideouts Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee; Buster Davis was placed on injured reserve. They still have Antonio Gates, but the likes of Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu, Richard Goodman and Gary Banks have to step up. The Texans give up more passing yards (just shy of 300) than any other team. Rivers may not have the most experienced targets, but he has already thrown for more yards than anyone else through the first eight games in NFL history. He'll look to pick on the Texans' young cornerbacks, rookie Kareem Jackson and second-year player Glover Quin.

    INJURY IMPACT: LG Kris Dielman (neck) didn't work Wednesday but is expected to play Sunday.

    —WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) didn't practice and is not expected to play Sunday.

    —TE Antonio Gates (toe) didn't work but he should go on Sunday.

    —K Nate Kaeding (groin) was out and he won't kick on Sunday.

    —WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring) wasn't able to practice, and it appears he won't play this week.

    —ILB Brandon Siler (foot) didn't practice. He will attempt to do so later in the week. He could be a game-time decision.

    —OLB Larry English (foot) was a limited participant. He is at least another week away from being game-ready.

    —ILB Kevin Burnett (shoulder) was a full participant and is a go for Sunday.
     

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