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Inside Slant - 11/29/07

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm" target="_blank">USA Today</a>

    <img src="http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061022/capt.83bcd9987a3e420bbee7da85cdabf5b9.chargers_chiefs_football_mocr121.jpg" alt="Philip Rivers vs the Chiefs" height="233" width="309" />
    <p class="inside-copy"> The road has not been kind to the Chargers. And if they want to stay in the AFC West catbird seat, they need to spread their wings away from Qualcomm Stadium.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers play at Kansas City on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> While they are in first place, the Chargers limp into rowdy Arrowhead Stadium with a dismal 1-4 road record. They've lost their past two road games at Jacksonville and Minnesota.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> What's crazy is that lone road win came at Denver, which is usually a house of horrors for the Chargers. But they demolished the Broncos 41-3, and they expected that would change their road fortunes.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Instead, it was just a tease.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "It could be the home crowd or the comfort of playing at home," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said of the road woes. "I don't know what it is, but we have played better at home and we need to find a way to play better on the road."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But many a Chargers team has crumbled in the Show Me State. And the Chiefs have shown they aren't intimidated by the Chargers after giving the team its lone home loss earlier this year. Overall, the Chargers are 5-1 at Qualcomm Stadium.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "What better place to test ourselves than by going to Kansas City, which is always a tough place to play," Tomlinson said. "And I'm sure it will be no different Sunday."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers' disappointing season will be made or broken on the road. After spending Sunday in Kansas City, the Chargers have road dates at Tennessee and Oakland. The Raiders game will close the regular season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> If nothing else, the Chargers will be used to being booed. Their fans let them have it early in Sunday's win over the Ravens.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "Don't get me started on that," said center Nick Hardwick, who is back in the lineup after missing four games with a foot injury. "Just give us time, let us work."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Their Sunday work will come in the hubbub of Arrowhead, a place where line calls and audibles can be lost in the wave of noise ricocheting around the venerable venue.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But the Chargers have to be encouraged about the Chiefs' struggles at home this year (2-4), despite the fact Kansas City is going for their first sweep of the Chargers since 2003.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers can't afford too many more road stumbles, as they lead the Broncos by just one game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "We got five more games to go," wide receiver Vincent Jackson said. "We got out heads down and we're pushing hard."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> What's been difficult is getting a win away from sunny San Diego. The weather won't be dreadful Sunday, but it won't be 72 degrees with a soft sea breeze, either.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "We definitely want to put a run together," defensive end Igor Olshansky said. "This has been an up-and-down, roller-coaster season for us. So this is going to be the biggest month for us. This is where our history is going to be written."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> December's first chapter gets penned on Sunday. If the Chargers can survive their visit to Kansas City, this season just might have a happy ending.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>SERIES HISTORY:</strong> 96th meeting. Chiefs lead, 50-44-1. The Chiefs have had their way in this matchup of late, winning three of the past four games. The Chargers have won just once in their last 10 visits to Arrowhead Stadium, where they were suffered one of their two regular-season losses last year. Earlier this year, the Chiefs handed the Chargers their lone home loss, 30-16.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson said QB Philip Rivers' big day last week should carry over to Sunday's contest in Kansas City. "I think it was important because success brings confidence," Tomlinson said of Rivers, who threw for three touchdowns in the win over the Ravens. "When you have it, you're going to continue to believe that you're going to be successful."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-For the first since 2002, the Chargers head to Kansas City without Marty Schottenheimer at the helm. New coach Norv Turner hasn't fared well against the Chiefs, going 0-6 against them. Turner was 0-4 with Oakland, and he lost his other two games as coach of the Redskins and Chargers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Since 2000, Kansas City is 15-1 in December home games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-K John Carney, the former Chargers Pro Bowler, was signed earlier this week by the Chiefs, and he will kick against his old team on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Donnie Edwards is in his first year during his second stint with the Chiefs. Edwards led the Chargers in tackles for five years before joining the Chiefs over the offseason. Once again, he is atop his team's tackles list, recording 87 to pace the Chiefs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-It's believed Tomlinson, who raced past the 10,000-yard rushing mark last Sunday, would have to play for six to seven more years if he wants a shot at Emmitt Smith's NFL record of 18,355 yards. Tomlinson, 28, doesn't sound as if he will aim for that mark. "I've never set out to break Emmitt's record," Tomlinson said. "But if the opportunity presented itself, obviously, it would be huge. But if my heart is not in it, I'm not going to keep playing to break a record. I would never do that."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chiefs T Kyle Turley and WR Jeff Webb played at San Diego State.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Hall of Fame WR Charlie Joiner, one of the Chargers' all-time greats, is the receivers coach for the Chiefs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Eric Weddle, a rookie, is getting used to his sporadic playing time. "It was tough at the beginning not playing every down, going from college to here," said Weddle, a second-round pick who is used in the dime package. "I played so much in college and now I adhere to a certain role. I know what my job is here on this team."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OL Damion McIntosh, a former Charger, is with the Chiefs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards and offensive coordinator Mike Solari played at San Diego State.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>BY THE NUMBERS:</strong> 1994 - Last time the Chargers won at Denver and at Kansas City in the same season. The Chargers prevailed at Denver earlier this year for their lone road win in five attempts.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "It's going to happen, and he's going to get through it and he's coming out of it." - RB LaDainian Tomlinson on QB Philip Rivers lifting his game down the stretch.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Considering how late it is in the year, the Chargers are relatively healthy.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> One of the spots where they are down a starter is defensive end, but Jacques Cesaire and Ryon Bingham are doing a good job holding down Luis Castillo's spot. They are doing it by rotating in and out to stay fresh.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> In the secondary, Drayton Florence is being used as the nickel back and covering the receiver in the slot. Florence has taken a back seat to Antonio Cromartie as far as starting, but if the run defense is strong Sunday, that should put the Chiefs into passing situations that will require three cornerbacks, with Florence seeing a lot of playing time. And Florence will be eager to make a play and try to get his starting job back.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-QB Philip Rivers is perfect in the red zone. In his career, he has 20 touchdown passes and no interceptions inside the opponents' 20-yard line.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shawne Merriman has had two sacks in a game nine times, including two against the Chiefs on Oct. 30, 2005.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates had three 100-yard receiving games in the first five games, then didn't have another one until last Sunday. Gates is one 100-yard game from setting a career high for a season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Chris Chambers usually plays well against the Chiefs. In three career games against Kansas City when with the Dolphins, he caught 11 passes for 256 yards and his career-long 77-yard touchdown.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-K Nate Kaeding hopes to carry his hot streak into Sunday's game. Kaeding had four field goals Sunday, and for the first time he had two 40-plus-yard successful kicks in one game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson has had five of his 40 100-yard rushing games against the Chiefs. Of his two 100-yard games this year, both have come against AFC West teams, including the earlier meeting against the Chiefs, when he rushed for 132 yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>GAME PLAN:</strong> This should be the week defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell takes the gloves off his attacking defense and send his players after green QB Brodie Croyle. If the Chargers can be stout against the run and force Croyle into obvious passing situations, Cottrell should turn Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips lose. The Chargers had four sacks last week and need to reclaim their status as one of the defenses that gets after quarterbacks. San Diego led the league with 61 sacks last year, but Cottrell hasn't been as aggressive as his predecessor, Wade Phillips. The time is now to change that philosophy, especially against a Chiefs front line that is patched together.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>MATCHUPS TO WATCH:</strong> Chargers pass protection, with LT Marcus McNeill, vs. Chiefs pass rush, with Pro Bowl RDE Jared Allen - Much has been made of QB Philip Rivers' slump in his second year as a starter, but the same could be said for McNeill. After a sensational rookie year in which he made the Pro Bowl, McNeill's play hasn't been as consistent as it was last year, when he gave up only two sacks. On Sunday, he has to hold off Allen, who has 9.5 sacks, tied for fourth in the NFL. Allen also has deflected a career-best 11 passes with his push toward the pocket and has four tackles for losses on running plays. McNeill probably will get some help on the edge from a tight end, and the Chargers would be well-advised to have a running back at least chipping on the hard-charging Allen if they want to develop some downfield routes.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Chargers pass defense, with CBs Quentin Jammer and new starter Antonio Cromartie, vs. Chiefs passing game, featuring QB Brodie Croyle making his second NFL start and rookie WR Dwayne Bowe - The Chargers got torched earlier this year by then-QB Damon Huard and Bowe; Bowe had eight receptions for 164 yards, which included a 51-yard scoring catch. Jammer is back after a strained hamstring limited his play before he returned to the starting lineup last week. Cromartie is in his second game as the starter after filling in for the injured Jammer. The Chargers can't let Croyle get comfortable completing the outside routes or it will be a long day for the linebackers and safeties, who also have to keep an eye on Pro Bowl TE Tony Gonzalez.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Chargers passing game, featuring TE Antonio Gates and WR Chris Chambers, vs. Chiefs secondary and linebackers, including LB Donnie Edwards - The Chargers showed last week how scary they can be when Chambers is a threat on the outside. Gates was wide open on his two scoring catches, in part because the defenders couldn't cheat toward the middle of the field with Chambers out wide. And it was a key to Chambers' scoring catch that he did it after a wink and a nod toward Rivers as they both saw the same coverage they could exploit. The Chiefs will have Edwards, the NFL's leading active linebacker in interceptions, clogging the middle, and he certainly knows how the Chargers like to use Gates, his former teammate. The Chiefs have to decide if they want to put a safety or linebacker on Gates' routes, and if so, how they will handle Chambers out wide.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>INJURY IMPACT:</strong> DT Jamal Williams, as his is custom, didn't practice Wednesday. He is fine and will play Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is out three more weeks.</p>

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