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Inside Slant - 09/25/07

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 25, 2007.

  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>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The look on the Chargers' faces tells the story. Like many so-called NFL experts and their fans, they are baffled why they sit at 1-2 and tied for last place three weeks into the season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers were still bemoaning about a game Monday they should have won. But the Packers' Brett Favre led yet another classic comeback to steal away a win in the fourth quarter.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> And while it's still the first quarter of the season, the Chargers also know they are playing with fire.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Dig too deep a hole, and that automatic (so some thought) return to the playoffs goes flat.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "Of course it's a wakeup call because you don't want to continue a downward spiral and go from 1-2 and find ourselves at 1-5," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "And all of a sudden it's over. And that is what you don't want to get into; we have to definitely find a way to win one game this week."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The tonic could be a visit from the Kansas City Chiefs. Although they share the same 1-2 record - the Chiefs beat the Vikings Sunday - the Chargers are prohibitive favorites.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But be careful when something looks like a slam dunk. The Chargers are experiencing that firsthand as they have struggled, instead of building, on last year's 14-2 record.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Many of those problems come from a running game which - despite having Tomlinson - is stuck in the mud. When asked if the Chargers can win without establishing a consistent running game, Tomlinson didn't mince words.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "We haven't been able to run the ball in three games and we are 1-2," he said. "I think that is the answer to your question."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers have to find some answers quick because they get a big heaping of AFC West play starting Sunday. Following the Chiefs, the Chargers travel to Denver then entertain the Raiders.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "There is a level of concern certainly at 1-2," Philip Rivers said. "But I think we don't need to overdo that concern. We are getting better; there are some things we are still ironing out and making our way through to get to where we want to be."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LaDainian Tomlinson said the team will have to guard against the big dose of negativity headed the Chargers way as they stumble from the gate. "There are a lot of people that are going to try to divide this team," Tomlinson said. "There's going to be talk that we're not as good as a lot of people think we are, and that may be the case. We have 13 more games to go. We better find out what's going on real fast."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-CB Antonio Cromartie got fooled by the Packers' Brett Favre in allowing the go-ahead touchdown in Sunday's loss. Cromartie thought the Packers would look to Donald Driver instead of Greg Jennings. Jennings went 57 yards for the score. "I expected them to throw the ball to my side because we were doubling Driver," Cromartie said. "I just have to make a better play on the ball than what I did and come up with the tackle and not go for the ball."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers lack success in one of the game's basic fundamentals - tackling. With more teams spreading out the Chargers defense - Green Bay copied New England - bad tackling shows up even larger. "They catch the ball, we got to tackle them," safety Clinton Hart said. "As a secondary, we have to go back to work and make sure we do that next week."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Philip Rivers said despite the 1-2 showing, the Chargers aren't that far off. "Everybody needs to turn their game up one percent," he said. "If everybody turns their game up one percent, we'll be good to go. We're not far away - we just need to click. We're still jelling, which we shouldn't be because we got the same team we did last year."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers gave up 31 points once last year in 16 games. They've done it twice this year in three games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo hurt his foot early in the game and didn't seem very effective the rest of the afternoon.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Two down one to go: The Chargers pass defense has on its plate this season games against Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. So far, they are 0-2 against that elite group.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shawne Merriman talked much before the game how he relished the chance to put a lick on Favre and maybe knock him out of the game. Merriman said he wanted to hit Favre out of respect and to tell his kids he once put a hit on him. But Merriman never got close to a sack, recording only two tackles. Through three games, Merriman has two sacks.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RT Shane Olivea (back) suited up Sunday but it was decided not to test his injury. He should go this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LG Kris Dielman suffered a foot injury Sunday and might not practice Wednesday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RG Mike Goff (knee) is also worth watching this week. His pain tolerance, though, is pretty high and it's likely he would play Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DT Luis Castillo (foot) likely sits out Wednesday's practice.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Matt Wilhelm (calf) is questionable for Wednesday's practice. He has been running pretty well of late after missing most of the last two games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shaun Phillips had a team-high five tackles and added 1.5 sacks against the Packers. He now leads the squad with 2.5 sacks.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Eric Parker is still out at least one more game after toe surgery.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> REPORT CARD VS. PACKERS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> PASSING OFFENSE: B - Philip Rivers had a solid day, throwing for 306 yards and three scores - even finding a way to get the wide receivers involved as Vincent Jackson and Craig Davis each caught one touchdown. But this game will long be remembered for his interception by Nick Barnett that was returned to the Chargers 2; the Packers scored soon after. The pass blocking allowed two sacks but gave Rivers enough time to deliver a big game. TE Antonio Gates was a key, catching a game-high 11 passes for 113 yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> RUSHING OFFENSE: D - The running game is somewhere, but for three straight Sundays, it hasn't showed up for a Chargers offense desperate to spring Tomlinson. Sure, the Packers stacked the line with eight men, daring the Chargers to turn to the pass. But this isn't anything new - the Chargers seldom trotted out a wideout demanding respect deep. But still, the Chargers, and Tomlinson in particular, found a way to get the yards on the ground. So far, that hasn't been the case. Tomlinson averaged 2.8 yards on 22 carries and, to show you how bad the running game is, that's nearly one yard better than what he started the game averaging from his first two games. It isn't all Tomlinson's fault as the offensive line is showing blemishes by being challenged to open holes on a consistent basis.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> PASS DEFENSE: F - Terrible, once again. Brett Favre goes for three touchdowns and 369 yards with no picks. Antonio Cromartie made the biggest mistake of his career as he let Greg Jennings catch a quick slant pass, missed the tackle and Jennings didn't stop running until reaching the end zone for the game-winner. S Marlon McCree's tackling was dreadful. It seems like the corners took turns getting beat. Favre was sacked only twice in 45 attempts - and no interceptions. Once again, the back end of the defense cost the team a victory.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> RUSH DEFENSE: B - The run defense was pretty good, as most of the poor tackling came from the defensive backs. But the run defense wasn't tested because Favre was torching the secondary with such ease. The Packers ran but 11 times and were held to 42 yards. The run defense played better with veteran Carlos Polk replacing the injured Matt Wilhelm instead of second-year pro Tim Dobbins.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> SPECIAL TEAMS: C - The coverage units were good. Nothing big from the Packers' return game. For the Chargers, Darren Sproles had a nifty return of 39 yards on a kickoff; nothing much from Sproles on the punt returns. K Nate Kaeding was true on his 44-yarder in the fourth quarter.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> COACHING: F - Norv Turner, the noted offensive guru, has to find a way to get the Chargers' running game on track. For the third straight game, Tomlinson looks like he is running against 11-man fronts. Until Turner can figure this out, the Chargers will continue to struggle. And Wade Phillips may be missed more than Marty Schottenheimer. The Chargers defense isn't playing with the same aggressiveness as last year - and the tackling has been atrocious.</p>
     

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