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Chargers Team Report - 11/09/10

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by ChargerRay, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay Producer/Host of BoltTalk Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    Source: USA Today

    Getting healthy is always job No. 1 during a bye week and the Chargers are planning to make it a team priority.

    The team returned to the practice field for the first time since winning their second straight game, 29-13 in Houston on Sunday, before the "rest week" begins.

    But the team was at less-than-full strength during the workout, as coach Norv Turner is determined rest is needed more than reps for many of his ailing players.

    When the Chargers get back to their game schedule against the Broncos on Nov. 22, coach Norv Turner is expected a beefed-up squad.

    "Obviously, we're going to get a lot of guys back that I think can have a significant role to helping us play better," he said.

    Among those Turner is counting on participating in the next game, a Monday night affair with the Broncos, are left guard Kris Dielman (concussion), tight end Antonio Gates (toe, foot), inside linebacker Brandon Siler and wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee.

    The situation wasn't as clear with running back Ryan Mathews, after he aggravated a high ankle sprain in Houston. Mathews has been bothered by the ankle since the season's second week.

    One guy not returning for the next game is Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson. He is still on the roster exempt list and eligible to come off Nov. 28 when the team travels to Indianapolis.

    —The Chargers had their second straight Victory Monday and man it felt good.

    That it came on the heels of their first road victory of the season and heading into a bye only made it better.

    Plus, the Chargers were minus key starters and still had enough to outlast the Texans, 29-23.

    "It's as good a team win as I've been around in a long time," coach Norv Turner said. "I think our guys have done a great job of overcoming adversity.

    "We had a bunch of guys playing that I don't think when the season started would be the guys who would have significant roles in the game at Houston."

    And now with the bye, many of those starters — among them Pro Bowlers Kris Dielman and Antonio Gates — are expected to return when the Chargers play again on Nov. 22 against Denver.

    "The most important thing for us is the cavalry is coming," Turner said. "We're gonna get a bunch of guys back that haven't been available for awhile."

    The Chargers are far from the complete team they thought they would be at this point. They've been plagued by special teams miscues, pass coverage breakdowns, a tepid pass rush — the list goes on and on.

    But despite those pot holes, the Chargers kept their car on the road Sunday, and it was Houston having the biggest problems.

    "We create adversity for ourselves," Turner said, "but we did a better job than we have overcoming it."

    That they did, for the most part, because of the wonderful play of Philip Rivers. The Chargers' quarterback continues to play at a high level and should be mentioned in the conversation for NFL Most Valuable Player.

    But that's a year-end deal. Right now, the Chargers are revved about their new lease on life after dusting themselves off from a 2-5 start to sit one game under .500 and 1 1/2 games out of the AFC West lead. Rivers leads all quarterbacks with 19 touchdown passes and 2,944 passing yards.

    "The guy is ridiculous," center Nick Hardwick said. "Every time he's in there, we have a legitimate chance to win. The most important thing is to keep him clean and let him work."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —WR Seyi Ajirotutu was ecstatic about his coming out party — two touchdowns and 111 yards on four receptions. "I'm so glad to be a part of what we're doing here," said Ajirotutu, an undrafted rookie out of Fresno State. "This was a big moment for me, even more so for this team. I'm just proud to say that I helped contribute to the win."

    —The special teams' blunders continue for the Chargers. "It's not acceptable; it's disappointing," coach Norv Turner said. But don't expect special teams coach Steve Crosby to get fired. "There's about five guys I'd let go before him," Turner said. "It would be the five guys out there making mental errors and getting punts blocked."

    —The Chargers have been on wrong ends of many breaks this season in going 4-5, but the tables turned in the final minute when a ball clanked off Andre Johnson's hands and over to Chargers S Paul Oliver to clinch the victory.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    PLAYER NOTES

    —QB Philip Rivers continues to pile up numbers which should start garnering him more consideration as the NFL's MVP. Despite being down his top three wide receivers and a Pro Bowl tight end, Rivers threw for four touchdowns and nearly 300 yards in the win at Houston. He is playing at a phenomenal level.

    —RB Mike Tolbert took over the bulk of the running-game chores when Ryan Mathews again went down with an ankle sprain, one carry after coughing up his third fumble of the year. Tolbert is a bruiser, and he finished with 32 yards on eight carries. Look for his workload to increase if Mathews is hobbled next game.

    —RB/KR Darren Sproles contributed but 9 yards rushing and receiving in the last game — a step back after increased production of late. He did have 114 kick-return yards; he had a 34-yard wiped out on a penalty.

    —WR Seyi Ajirotutu continues to gain the confidence of coaches and teammates as this undrafted rookie free agent stepped up in Houston. He had two touchdown catches and finished with 11 yards on four receptions. Even when the starters get back, coach Norv Turner said Ajirotutu will remain on the active roster.

    —WR Patrick Crayton also chipped in with the team down so many receivers. Crayton, the one veteran in last Sunday's receiving group, had 70 yards on three catches, including a long for 47.

    —TE Randy McMichael reemerged as a receiving tight end; when Antonio Gates is fit, McMichael is asked to block. But he proved his sure hands are still just that by corralling two touchdown catches - his one two receptions - that were good for 23 yards.

    —RG Louis Vasquez hurt his neck in the second half and didn't return to the game. Vasquez is likely OK, but the team will be cautious with him during the bye week.

    —ILB Kevin Burnett had seven tackles and a quarterback hit in Houston. He also was steamrolled by running back Adrian Foster.

    —OLB Shaun Phillips had two tackles and a pass defensed but continues to supply pass pressure on an inconsistent basis. Phillips has a team-high seven sacks, but four of those game in a game a month ago.

    —DT Antonio Garay was pushed around, like most of the line, in the first half by the physical running of Foster. Garay did record a sack and was stouter against the run in the second half.

    —CB Antoine Cason continues to get picked on as teams go away from veteran Quentin Jammer and test Cason. He had eight tackles but zero passes defensed, which is amazing considering the amount of times he is passed on.

    —S Steve Gregory returned from a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs but had very little impact before being forced to the sidelines with a shoulder injury in the second quarter.

    —ILB Stephen Cooper is usually among the Chargers' leading tacklers but he had but three tackles on Sunday. He was often out of position or just knocked off in trying to contain Foster.

    —OLB Larry English is back practicing on a limited basis and there is a chance he could play on Nov. 22. English, a former first-round pick, hasn't played since Sept. 19 after undergoing foot surgery.

    —P Mike Scifres is bearing the brunt of the team's special teams woes - he was blasted when the team let another punt get blocked in Houston. Scifres has a leg injury and will be rested most — if not all — of the bye week.

    REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS

    PASSING OFFENSE: A — Philip Rivers had four more touchdown passes Sunday and continues to add to his monster numbers. Doing it with so many backup receivers is truly impressive. Despite missing many regulars, he made standouts of players just getting their NFL feet wet. Rivers was afforded time to do so, with solid pass blocking that allowed only one sack.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: C — There was promise here before Ryan Mathews fumbled, then twisted his ankle again on the following carry. But this was a day to pass the ball - the Texans had the NFL's worst pass defense ranking — so the running game took a back seat and produced just 77 yards. Mike Tolbert ran hard (eight carries, 32 yards) after Mathews went down. Run blocking, when called upon, was solid.

    PASS DEFENSE: D — Bad tackling on many fronts and bad coverage on just as many other fronts. The Chargers got a break when Andre Johnson deflected a pass to S Paul Oliver in the closing minutes for an interception that sealed the victory. But the Chargers were picked on by the Texans at every turn. To be fair, the lack of a pass rush is putting the defensive backs in a rough spot. Until that gets changed up front, don't expect a change on the back end.

    RUSH DEFENSE: B — The front line and linebackers were getting pushed around and run over by Arian Foster. But it did become a little stouter in the second half, although why the Texans went away from the running game remains a mystery.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: F — Another blocked punt, although because it trickled past the line of scrimmage it doesn't go down as the team's fifth blocked punt of the season. And a terrible decision by Jacob Hester to field a kickoff that was heading out of bounds. Darren Sproles showed a spark when reeling off a 54-yard kickoff return — then it was brought back on an Eric Weddle penalty. How Steve Crosby, the special teams coach, retains his job is among the NFL's unsolved mysteries.

    COACHING: A — Norv Turner showed it's the system, not necessarily the players, making the Chargers so good. Of course the main man, Rivers, was still on the field, which makes all the difference. Still, Turner deserves credit for devising ways to get the unproven players in the right spots at the right times and the result was one of the more unlikely Chargers victories in recent memory. Ron Rivera tried to keep Matt Schaub guessing by sending various blitz packages; none of them really worked. The Chargers gave up nearly 400 yards, and if they can't figure out a way to pester quarterbacks, those big-number games will only continue.
     

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