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Conc’s Conundrums

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://www.bolttalk.net/forums/image.php?u=150&amp;dateline=1215924008"><img title="Curtis Egan" src="http://www.bolttalk.net/forums/image.php?u=150&amp;dateline=1215924008" alt="" width="192" height="195" /></a></div>

    Ok Charger fans, the road just got a lot longer, and the hill got a lot steeper. The season did not start off quite like many of us thought it would. I myself was calling for a 7 point victory over the Panthers, and was more that just little shocked and dismayed when I saw them moving the ball almost at will against a defense that I thought would be very stout this season.

    My expectations were high, hell they should be high! We have arguably one of the best teams in the league, we have solid stars all over the roster. Defense is a plethora of probowl picks, The offense is having a new wing put in at Canton to fit them all in. My expectations were high as was my confidence in this team.

    Now one week into the regular season and I find myself glancing at the sky every now and again looking to see if there are any tell tale cracks that might herald a falling. Shawne Merriman, the all pro star linebacker is now out for the '08 season with a bad knee. My frustration is we the fans find out that it was strongly suggested to Shawne that he get the knee fixed after the end of last season.

    ARGH! Shawne, I love ya man, but use your head. I can only imagine that the immortality of youth, coupled with the brass balls effort by Philip Rivers last season made you think that you could play on the bad wheel. But Shawne, like LT, you need solid treads on those tires, you use that knee a lot more than a QB does- Oh well what is done is done.

    Does this mean the season is over- Not in my opinion. Does it mean we can not win the west- Hellz no! Does it mean that Superbowl dreams are done- Naw- What does it mean then? What are these emotions that are swirling around in my head right now- Well let's take a look shall we? Yes, let do!

    OK, so I sat with a good friend watching the opening game, which was good because even though, living in the Temecula area we the fans are blacked out in the event of a non-sell out game, our television market decide to show the Cowboys/Browns game, rather than the Chargers game- Love those stupid double standards- Anyway I digress. I sat with my friend watching the game, seeing the many times that our starting defensive line was on the sidelines. A bit of worry started knawing at me.

    The defensive stand of the 3-4 defense has to start with the defensive line and more to the point, the Nose Tackle. Now we the fans of the San Diego Chargers have been spoiled recently by having what I believe to be a hall of fame caliber nose tackle in ‘Jamal, the Wall' Williams. He has been a force to be reckoned with, but Jamal did not play in the pre-season, and lets face it, he is getting no younger. My worries started when I saw Jamal being man handled backwards about three to five yards on a lot of plays. Is it rust? Is it age? Is it the push off of the ball? I don't know, I wish I had the answer, but our defense starts with Jamal.

    Jamal is one thing, but why was Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky on the sidelines as often as they were? Was it to keep them fresh? Again, I don't have the answers, just a bunch of questions. I know, I know, be part of the solution not part of the problem right- OK we will get to that.

    Lets take a few steps back from the defensive line. About five yards back to the position of the linebacker. The Line backer is the heart and soul of any 3-4 defenses. They have to play the whole field, sideline to sideline, from behind the line of scrimmage to the end zone. I was not at all impressed with much of the linebacker play I observed from my perch high atop the View zone of Qualcomm stadium. Shaun Philips was playing well, but I just can't say much for the others.

    Now we know Shawne Merriman could not go like he wanted, and the homer in me can't hide the fact that it was readily apparent on that Sunday against Carolina. However there is a saying I like to throw around, and it is not just a homer saying, though it resembles it very closely.

    That is "IN AJ I TRUST". Never in my many years of being a Chargers fan have I seen anyone assemble a team like this one, and one thing we have is quality depth. So let me jump to my concerns, and with those we will address that issue about solutions.

    <em>Conc's Concerns:</em>
    <strong>Defensive Line</strong>
    As stated before there was a lot of movement in and out of the offensive line, more than I expected. Olshansky did not seem to be in there as much as his backup. Yes, this could be a false perception, but right now perception is my reality. Williams does not seem to be the powerhouse he has been in recent years.

    But you know what, IT WAS THE FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON! Enter the clichés: It is not how you start, it is how you finish! This is a Marathon, not a sprint! Etc-. OK enough of that. The team will improve I know that. I also know much of my criticism is based on the frustration of losing a game I thought was going to be a sound victory. That is why they play the game- Ok, I promise no more clichés in this paragraph. But this is Jamal's first game, I don't recall him playing at all in pre-season. So yeah maybe he was rusty, and he was going against a good and big offensive line. Maybe Coach Turner and AJ have faith in the defensive linemen backing up Castillo and Olshansky, I have to assume that is the case.

    Bottom line, the season isn't over and 16-0 was a pipe dream and best.

    <strong>Linebackers</strong>
    This is the unit where most of my frustration lies. Maybe it is because of my ‘glory days' playing linebacker for an unknown high school in Utah, or maybe it is because that position is so important. Either one you chose, the play of the Chargers linebackers was not impressive at all, especially the play of the inside linebackers.

    I know there are several fans out there getting the tar heated and plucking the chickens right now while planning a little party for Ted Cottrell the Chargers Defensive Coordinator. Not so fast folks, put the chicken down and slowly back away. I know we have Ron Rivera behind Cottrell, and I know the grass is always greener, but back to the linebackers. Rivera is tasked currently with coaching the inside linebackers, the unit that I thought played the worst throughout that game. Yes that may be harsh, but what the heck, if I am going to armchair coach, I am going to do it all that way.

    Now Merriman is out, names like Tucker, Waters and Applewhite (I hope) enter the mix, can they play for the injured Merriman and have an impact? YES! YES! And a resounding YES! You do not lightly replace a force like Merriman, but all is not dark (get it, a lights out reference), Waters will prove to be, in my opinion the steal of his draft. Tucker is a very good linebacker, Siler is in the mix, we have a bevy of talent at the linebacker position, (THANK YOU AJ!). Will there be hiccups? Yeah, can they overcome them? YES!

    Each game these players play together they will get better. The Chargers season is not done folks, it just got a bit more interesting!

    <strong> Kickoffs and Punts</strong>
    What the hell happened here?! Man I hope this does not prove to be a regular problem, because the special teams have given us consistently good field position in recent years, but against Carolina that was not the case. Again, it is only one game, so I suggest we keep an eye on things, not start making voodoo dolls just yet.

    <strong>Pressure</strong>
    One thing I feel the Chargers MUST do better regardless of who lines up where is pressure the Quarterback. The Carolina QB had far too much time to stand in the pocket and look down field for receivers. WAY TOO MUCH TIME. This is a problem that goes back to last years team. The defense needs to pin their ears back and get to the passer. If that is coaching, fine fix it, if it is players, fine fix it, what ever it is fix it!

    This along with turnovers is the biggest factor in games switching momentum, so lets do this! Especially against Denver please- Sack Cutler into next season-.

    <em>So in a nutshell what am I trying to say?</em>
    It is only one game, and nothing we are seeing is something that is not able to be fixed. Our defense is designed to get turnovers, our secondary is the most talented I have EVER seen a Charger secondary. We will win games. I believe we will still win the West. It is never easy, but the season is not over. NEVER judge a season off of the first game. How many times has a player been a start in week one only to disappear from the boards faster than an egg roll from a Chinese buffet? The season is a long one, I expect 3-4 more losses. But I know this team can still be playing for the Superbowl come January.

    AJ Smith has gotten us the best backup talent we could get. The loss of Merriman stings, the questions about health may still worry us, but let's watch and see how things work themselves out. I am still ready for a good year, and still bleeding blue and bolts!

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