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Inside Slant - 09/23/08

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm" target="_blank">USA Today</a>
    <div class="inside-copy"><a href="http://i2.chargers.com/assets/239/41660_600w600h.jpg"><img class="alignleft" title="Safety ric Weddle #32 celebrates with teammates after an interception by Weddle in the second quarter against the New York Jets on September 22, 2008 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America)" src="http://i2.chargers.com/assets/239/41660_600w600h.jpg" alt="" width="135" height="184" /></a>That sound you heard last Monday night was the Chargers fans - and the players and coaches - exhaling.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers finally played up to their lofty expectations by smoking the Jets, 48-29.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">After two tough losses, the Chargers needed this one - and played like it.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Now the Chargers head to Oakland, with coach Norv Turner returning to one of his NFL outposts, where he coached for two years.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">A little extra motivation this week, Coach?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Here's what you do," Turner said. "You guys all talk about all that. And we look at tape. All that stuff doesn't mean anything to me or to us."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">That's hard to believe. But what's real is the Chargers could go from wobbly to .500 in a short period of time.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Now that they have that first win to reach 1-2, next up are the Raiders and Miami Dolphins. The Chargers would be heavily favored in both, and could be 3-3 by mid-October.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">What was obvious in the win over the Jets was that the Chargers were much more aggressive in getting after the quarterback. But Turner tried to downplay the Chargers going from passive to pressure in getting after Brett Favre.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It's always a perception thing," Turner tried to explain. "I'm not sure we blitzed a wholesale more, a dramatic amount different."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But the Chargers' pass rush was real - after having but one true sack in the first two games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Now it's on to Oakland, with the Chargers feeling better about themselves.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It's big," wide receiver Vincent Jackson said of Monday's triumph. "We weren't saying it was a must win but we knew our backs were against the wall."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers added another solid performance to what has been a terrific start to the season. He was 19-for-25 passing for 250 yards and three touchdowns Monday and is the NFL's leader in TD passes. Rivers has nine, while Denver's Jay Cutler (eight) and Arizona's Kurt Warner (six) follow behind.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"He's playing at a level, man, that is unexplainable at this point," said TE Antonio Gates, who had one of Rivers' scoring tosses. "He is our leader."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Defensive end Luis Castillo had his breath taken away when RB Thomas Jones took him out at the knees. Castillo laid motionless on the ground for several minutes. "It was a scary moment there, obviously," coach Norv Turner said. Castillo missed six games in each of the past two seasons with injuries.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Norv Turner is liking the running of LaDainian Tomlinson and the change-of-pace back in Darren Sproles. "I like the mix we have with our backs," Turner said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Safety Clinton Hart, who was playing with a cast on his recently repaired left hand, said the defense had a different attitude Monday night. "We were back on our heels a lot," he said of their approach the first two games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Cornerback Antonio Cromartie bounced back from a rough outing in Denver to intercept Brett Favre twice, returning one for a touchdown. "The first two weeks I didn't play the way I wanted to play and I came out this week and was more focused and ready to play," he said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FB Jacob Hester, a rookie, is having a tough time getting on the field in the offense. He had but one carry for three yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Craig Davis caught his first three catches of the season, and two of them were for first downs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo had an MRI on his sprained knee and the test didn't reveal any damage.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Marcus McNeill (neck) is back in the starting lineup after missing the preseason and first two games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Chris Chambers has but six catches in three games - and four of them have been good for touchdowns.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Anthony Waters was, at one point, on the fast track to get on the field. But he was a healthy inactive against the Jets.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-C Nick Hardwick (foot) could get his first start of the season on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. JETS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: A - Philip Rivers continues to shine and he is quickly becoming one of the elite players at his position. Rivers' first series saw an interception returned for a touchdown but he was fantastic after that in throwing for three touchdowns for the third straight game. Rivers spread out his 19 completions to eight different receivers. The pass blocking was excellent as Rivers didn't so much as get touched in this game. Chris Chambers added another touchdown catch; even Craig Davis snagged three receptions.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: C - LaDainian Tomlinson showed his toe is OK but the same can't be said for the run blocking. Despite showing 26 rushes, his longest gain was of five yards. His 2.6-yard average per carry isn't up to his standards. Darren Sproles is still being productive, averaging 7.6 yards on five carries.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: B - The Chargers got after it with more blitz packages and being more aggressive in getting after Brett Favre. The pass rush showed three sacks, including two from Jyles Tucker - the player replacing Shawne Merriman. With the increased pressure up front, it showed in the backend with Antonio Cromartie getting two picks and Eric Weddle adding another - Cromartie dropped another one, so did Clinton Hart.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: B - Better here with more aggressive play inside from Derek Smith and Matt Wilhelm. But it's tough getting a solid read on this as the Jets weren't interested in establishing a running attack - they rushed but 13 times for 41 yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: F - Nate Kaeding nailed his two field-goal attempts and Mike Scifres had a solid lone punt. But the coverage teams were horrible and that is going to kill the Chargers if they don't get it fixed. They gave up a whopping 291 yards on kickoff returns. Leon Washington had a 94-yard return; Jerricho Cotchery had one of 54 yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: A - A must win for the Chargers? Hogwash. Still it was difficult to overestimate how important it was for the Chargers to get into the win column after two heartbreaking losses. Give Turner credit for continuing to let Rivers fling the ball around. And defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell mixed in more blitzes and sent different people, which kept the Jets and Favre off balance.</p>
     

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