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Inside Slant 9/11/07

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 12, 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>

    <img src="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/168/31798_600w600h.jpg" title="Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers runs the ball against the New England Patriots in the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game held on January 14, 2007 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.(Harry How/Getty Images North America)" alt="Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers runs the ball against the New England Patriots in the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game held on January 14, 2007 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.(Harry How/Getty Images North America)" height="198" width="297" />
    <p class="inside-copy"> As the Chargers began preparation for one of their most anticipated games of the year -- hello, New England - they do so with a boost of confidence.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> From playing stellar ball in their season-opening win over the Chicago Bears.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Not exactly.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Instead, the Chargers are fired up after playing at times ice cold. And still, they marched away with a 14-3 win.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> So it wasn't the win that was so grand, but in the manner the Chargers did it.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "We had a lot of adversity there, we had some really bad plays and we were put in some pretty tough circumstances," defensive end Luis Castillo said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Much like their performance the last time they eyed New England. On that day in January, the Chargers melted like an ice cube on a hot, tin roof.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But not so in the opener. And Castillo speculates that new mindset will pay dividends this Sunday and for every other game day this season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"There was a different level of maturity than we had six months ago in the New England game," Castillo said, alluding to the Patriots' 24-21 conquest in that divisional playoff game. "That is what Norv (Turner) has preached the whole time, continue to be a complete team."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> So on a day when all-everything back LaDainian Tomlinson was held to a microscopic 25 rushing yards; a bungled ref's call cost them possession at the Chicago 1; and a touchdown pass was dropped by Vincent Jackson - the Chargers still prevailed.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "I hope we are more mature than last year," Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick said. "We'll see as the year goes on. That's one thing we definitely have to work on."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> If so, this talented team will truly come of age. If so, being long in the tooth may lead to the longtime goal of winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers K Nate Kaeding complained that the wire hanging over the field for the portable camera got in the way of his second-half kickoff. "They shouldn't have it there, period," said Kaeding. "It's 5-10 yards off a kick and that's our job to get the ball down the field. And if we have a wire in the way, it really doesn't help out much."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> P Mike Scifres thought his third-quarter punt, which hit Charles Tillman, first glanced off the wire. That worked to the Chargers' advantage as the ball was recovered by Matt Wilhelm.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Linebackers coach Ron Rivera apparently told his charges that the way to beat the Bears is to rattle QB Rex Grossman. Rivers was the Bears' defensive coordinator last year. "Coach told us that Rex was kind of a mental midget so you can get into his head and create that doubt," Wilhelm said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Stephen Cooper, and Wilhelm, held up well in the first game as starters inside. They replace Randall Godfrey and Donnie Edwards. Their teammates weren't surprised with their success. "They learned from some good guys, some veteran guys and they got a taste of it last year," Jamal Williams said. "Yeah, they were testing them but they did a good job out there."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Marlon McCree gave new defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell high marks in his Chargers debut. "I think that Ted Cottrell did a great job of making some good calls that gave us a chance to make plays," said McCree, who had an interception. "We had a good feel for what they were going to try and do to us and we got the best out of our defense."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates proved again the Chargers do have a go-to receiver - he just plays tight end instead of wide receiver. Gates had the ninth 100-yard receiving game of his career, going for 107 yards and a touchdown.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Eric Weddle, a rookie, was all over the field in recording a sack and a fumble recovery. Look for him to see the field more as the season progresses.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shaun Phillips - the team's other pass-rushing Shaun - set the tone with his thunderous sack on the game's second play when the Bears bungled a pass-protection scheme. Phillips had one sack to Shawne Merriman's zero.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-KR/PR Darren Sproles is day-to-day after suffering a concussion in the first quarter Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FB Andrew Pinnock, a backup to Lorenzo Neal, is nursing a strained hamstring.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Clinton Hart sustained a pulled quad muscle, but should be OK.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> REPORT CARD VS. BEARS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus - A little higher grade here thanks to LaDainian Tomlinson throwing a touchdown pass, his seventh of his career. Rivers went 22 of 31 for 190 yards and an interception. What helped his numbers dive were about four or five dropped passes, including one by Vincent Jackson in the end zone. Also, pass blocking was suspect at times as he was sacked three times.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> RUSHING OFFENSE: D - This grade comes with the respect that the Bears have a dynamite front seven. The Chargers' blockers had to contend with that and often a few extra bodies with the Bears crowding the line of scrimmage. Too much penetration here from the Bears to get anything established on the ground. Tomlinson had 25 rushing yards on 17 carries - the second-lowest output of his career. Michael Turner fared better late, averaging 4.1 yards on 10 carries.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> PASS DEFENSE: B - One pick here by Marlon McCree and a nifty break-up at a key juncture by Drayton Florence. Shaun Phillips left a mark on QB Rex Grossman when he clobbered him, coming in untouched on the Bears' second play. Jacques Cesaire and rookie Eric Weddle also added sacks - Weddle blitzed often.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> RUSH DEFENSE: B - Cedric Benson couldn't plow his way through the run defense, which had a question mark before the game. The Chargers are breaking in two new inside linebackers in Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm. Both played very well and had some key tackles and fumble recoveries - Wilhelm's came on special teams. NT Jamal Williams was a beast in the middle.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> SPECIAL TEAMS: B - A blocked field goal here was offset by a big-time fumble recovery off a Mike Scifres punt. But the return game was very pedestrian as Darren Sproles was lost to a concussion after fielding his first kick. Craig Davis was inserted as the punt returner and fumbled - the Chargers recovered.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> COACHING: A - Hey, this wasn't the expected result of the Chargers' high-octane offense and guru Norv Turner. But the Chargers did enough to win and they won playing the other guy's game. That is probably more impressive than if the Chargers pasted 40 points on the board against a team with a so-so defense. Ted Cottrell, the team's new defensive coordinator, had fun unleashing various blitz packages.</p>
     

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