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ESPN Scouts Inc Second Look SD at NE

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Oct 1, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: ESPN

    Tuesday, our scouts filed their advance advance scouting report on this week's matchup between the Chargers and Patriots. Now they're back with a second look.

    Expect the Chargers to give New England a huge dose of RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Feeding L.T. the ball often and in every way possible will accomplish two things. One, it will help control the clock and keep QB Tom Brady and New England's ball control offense off the field. Two, the ball will be in the hands of the best running back in the NFL. The Pats thrive on time of possession, and if Tomlinson can put the offense on his back, it could spell trouble for New England.

    There was much made about the Chargers not throwing to Tomlinson in the first two weeks, but throwing to L.T. isn't always easy against a defense that can put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, like the Patriots can. They do it not only with their front three but also with blitzing linebackers. Someone needs to stay in to help an average offensive line pass block, and it will not be TE Antonio Gates. Tomlinson has too often filled that role. Getting him in space in the passing game is imperative. No one in the league combines the balance, power, burst and elusiveness L.T. does.

    • New England doesn't have anyone who can match up with TE Gates. The Pats' big pass-rushing outside linebackers cannot run with him down the field, but they can help by not allowing him a free release off the line of scrimmage. Mike Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin, and Willie McGinest need to be very physical with Gates and make him take extra steps to get back into his route. New England usually tries to eliminate an opposing offense's strengths, so expect new starting SS Guss Scott to often be the eighth defender in the box to help with the immense run threat of Tomlinson. That could mean a big day for Gates.

    • Brady will be using his top wide receivers and both tight ends quite a bit. Expect the Pats to spread the field effectively. Super-efficient Brady will make quick reads and find match-ups he likes while eating clock and controlling tempo. The Patriots have a lot of weapons who bring a variety of skills to their passing game, so expect Brady to consistently exploit the Chargers' bigger, stiffer cornerbacks. Physical CB Quentin Jammer was a good matchup vs. the Giants' big, slower wide receivers, but Deion Branch could turn him inside-out with quickness in short areas.

    • The left side of New England's O-Line, especially new LT Nick Kaczur, is an obvious area of concern. By playing double-tight-end sets or spreading the field with three wide receivers in order to see San Diego's 3-4 blitzes better, Brady will have an extra second to stand in the pocket, pick his mismatch and step into his throw. These quick patterns and decisions will mean the young offensive line won't have to sustain blocks as long. RB Corey Dillon is also a solid pass blocker and could be kept in to help the left side of the offensive line. Last week the Patriots used a combination of TE Daniel Graham and Dillon to effectively pick up the Steelers' blitzes. Expect more of the same this game.

    • New England's double- and triple-tight-end sets have been very effective vs. 3-4 defenses (see Pittsburgh). These sets will stretch the defense horizontally across the line of scrimmage and make running the ball easier without sacrificing the passing game. San Deigo's three man defensive line is very stout vs. the run and plays more like a nose tackle and two 4-3 defensive tackles than like a traditional three-man line. All of them do a nice of job of playing strong at the point of attack and eating space between the offensive tackles. Spreading these big bodies out could create gaps and get New England's interior offensive line on the second level.

    San Diego's inside linebackers are not particularly physical and do not excel taking on big blocks. Jeremy Shockey abused San Diego last week, so expect more of the same with the talented combo of Graham and Watson. Both Graham and Watson can outrun the Chargers' outside linebackers and are a serious size mismatch against their safeties. Using one back two tight ends allows the Patriots to put their best football players on the field. Also, do not be surprised to see the Patriots in three- and four-WR sets to further spread the defense and allow Brady to find the mismatch he likes best.

    • New England's defensive line -- Richard Seymour in particular -- had its way against Pittsburgh's excellent offensive line. The Patriots had the Steelers confused in the second half after apparently making halftime adjustments the Steelers could not account for. The Chargers' offensive line is young and nowhere near as talented as the Steelers' and could really struggle against the Patriots, who line up three former first-round picks. OG Toniu Fonoti is now healthy, and adding his huge body and overall nastiness will help, but San Diego's offensive line looked as though it really missed former line coach Hudson Houck in the first two weeks of the season. They were disorganized and not nearly as effective as last year. New England's defensive line will show multiple fronts to confuse this young offensive line, and the Patriots linemen are far more talented than the guys trying to block them.

    • OC Dan Koppen and the Patriots' guards are really going to have their hands full with NT Jamal Williams, an elite pure 3-4 nosetackle. He is a very powerful bowling-ball type who handles a double team as well as anyone in the NFL without giving ground. This allows LB Donnie Edwards to run relatively free and not have to take on too many blocks, which is not his forte. San Diego's defensive ends are not active playmakers but play more like true 4-3 DTs. Young players Luis Castillo and Igor Olshansky in particular are big and very strong. If the Pats try to line up in base sets and hammer Dillon in the middle the field, they will have very little room to run. OC Koppen is a technician and is gritty, but he will need a lot of help from OGs Logan Mankins and Steve Neal to get movement of Williams.

    • Both of these teams play 3-4 defenses, but the Patriots' version is much more versatile because of Seymour. The fifth-year veteran can play his defensive end spot in the 3-4, a true power defensive end in a 4-3, an intimidating interior pass rushing defensive tackle and can even be effective dropping off into coverage. This allows the Patriots to do many things up front that San Diego simply cannot match with its standard 3-4.

    Willie McGinest is a great fit as an experienced blend of a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 outside linebacker. He is huge for outside linebacker, but he isn't a major liability in space, and he still has the ability to put his hand on the ground and bang with offensive tackles. Chargers first-round pick Shawne Merriman eventually could be that player, as well. He has begun to get more and more playing time and shows a lot of promise.

    The Pats' inside linebackers are also more physical, take-on linebackers than San Diego's, who free-flow to the ball without a lot of obstruction. It is very difficult to run outside vs. San Diego due to the inside linebackers' speed and playmaking ability while Williams and the defensive ends clog the middle.

    Guss Scott replacing the injured Rodney Harrison could limit some of the packages the Patriots are able to run this week, but the Patriots almost exclusively bring in intelligent football players and do a fantastic job of preparing every player on the roster. More is being made of Harrison's injury effect on the champs than is necessary at this point. Harrison's leadership and physical play will undoubtedly be missed, but this team isn't like others in the league. It repairs its damage remarkably well.

    Special Teams
    Darren Sproles is an explosive and dangerous punt and kick returner for San Diego. This rookie running back is capable of big plays every time he touches the football and could be a difference-maker. New England must keep him bottled up -- he's fearless, fast, elusive and overdue for a big play.

    New England's punt team has some issues. The Patriots have struggled some to protect Josh Miller and have not done a great job of making plays in punt coverage. Miller also has a shoulder injury that could limit his effectiveness. If San Diego is to get a big play on special teams, it could come when New England is punting.

    • San Diego TE Antonio Gates vs. New England SS Guss Scott
    • San Diego RG Mike Goff and RT Shane Olivea vs. New England DE Richard Seymour
    • New England OC Dan Koppen vs. San Diego NT Jamal Williams
    • San Deigo OC Nick Hardwick vs. New England NT Vince Wilfork
    • New England's TEs vs. San Diego's OLBs

    Scouts' Edge
    Richard Seymour and the Patriots defensive line is going to be too much for San Diego's offensive front. And by spreading the field, Tom Brady should be able to consistently find mismatches that favor his wide receivers and tight ends while controlling the clock.

    Including the playoffs, New England is 36-5 in its last 41 games. In each of the five losses, New England had three or more turnovers and 10 or more penalties. In other words, in the games the Patriots lose, they beat themselves. Don't expect it on Sunday at home against an AFC contender. It is amazing, but the New England Patriots are still an underrated football team.

    Prediction: Patriots 30, Chargers 17

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