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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>
    <div class="inside-copy"><img width="199" height="255" align="left" alt="Charger Igor Olshansky stops Shaun Alexander in the first quarter." title="Charger Igor Olshansky stops Shaun Alexander in the first quarter." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/060826chargers/KC_chargers260185x198.jpg" /> The Chargers head for soggy Seattle, wondering if their young quarterback needs a jolt from an espresso.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">Grande Cafe Latte, Mr. Rivers?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Seahawks, losers of two straight for the second time this year, wait as the Chargers make their final road trip of the regular season. With a win, it could be their last trip of the year - save the Super Bowl in Miami.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But while those Super Bowl thoughts are fresh on their minds, so is a quarterback, a young quarterback, who was horrible on Sunday night.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Does Philip Rivers deserve a mulligan?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Was it just a bad game to be ignored?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Are the media making too much out of an 8-of-23 night for 97 yards and two interceptions?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I'll learn from it," Rivers said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">What the NFL and Chargers fans learned was that Rivers can get a little hot when he's ice cold. Once, when leaving the field after yet another incompletion, he gave his helmet the old heave-ho, and it rattled around the bench.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">That's good, in a way. One would hate to see their franchise quarterback merely shrug as the wheels wobbled on the offense. It means something to Rivers, but the team really already knew that.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But what the team doesn't know - and can find out Sunday - is how Rivers' responds to a stinker. How well does this first-year starter rebound?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It's good every now and then - shoot - to see some things you did that weren't very good and move forward without any huge consequence," said Rivers, who has struggled in two of his past four games. "We won the game. I think that's the key thing to remember: We won."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Win they did, and clinched a first-round bye along the way. A win Sunday could bring with it home-field advantage.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers seemingly have every advantage offensively, with a balanced attack that features likely MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates and Pro Bowlers at fullback and along the offensive line.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">They also have a quarterback who has done everything and more in his first season. So he stubbed his toe? Is that cause for concern or just a reason to watch Rivers a little closer this Sunday in what could be a windy and wet Christmas Eve in Seattle.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Rivers is confident he'll be fine. The most important thing to take from playing the Chiefs last Sunday night wasn't that he had trouble, but that the Chargers prevailed for the eighth straight week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I didn't have a great game but we won," said Rivers, the NFL's seventh-highest rated passer. "I'm not playing golf or tennis. We won. If I were playing golf, I definitely would have hit a few out of bounds yesterday."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It's the back nine of a season, which includes a potential Super Bowl run, that the Chargers are concerned with.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>SERIES HISTORY:</strong> 48th meeting with the defending NFC champion Seahawks leading, 25-22. The teams last played in 2002 when the Seahawks prevailed in overtime, giving them five straight wins over the Chargers. Seattle has won 10 of the last 12 meetings between these former AFC West rivals.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The nine Pro Bowl selections for the Chargers not only led the NFL but it also was the most number of selections in one year in team history. And three of the Pro Bowlers came to San Diego in the 2004 blockbuster trade that sent Eli Manning to the New York Giants. QB Philip Rivers, LB Shawne Merriman and K Nate Kaeding - all parties in the Manning transaction - are bound for the Pro Bowl. They're joined by FB Lorenzo Neal, C Nick Hardwick, TE Antonio Gates, DT Jamal Williams and special teams standout Kassim Osgood. RB LaDainian Tomlinson, in the midst of one of the most productive seasons in NFL history, heads to Hawaii for the fourth time in his six years. For Neal and Gates, it's their third appearance; for Williams and Merriman, their second. The other four will participate in the Feb. 10 all-star game in Honolulu for the first time.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-C Nick Hardwick is taking the entire offensive line with him to Hawaii - he's hoping to get some help paying for it from Tomlinson. "I'm not sure how that works," Hardwick said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-When Paul Hornung set the scoring record that Tomlinson broke on Sunday, he did so serving as both a back and a place kicker. Tomlinson never tried his foot as a kicker, but said he was a backup punter at Waco University High in Texas. "I got beat out for the No. 1 job, but I would say I really didn't want to have the title as a punter anyway," he said with a laugh. "That's the reason why I let the guy beat me out."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Rivers said getting a first-round bye can't be overlooked. "It will be huge, mentally and physically both," he said. "To get a little rest is huge. At this point, it's not looking ahead. At this point, this is the reality. It's now. It's what we're playing for."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers receivers coach James Lofton was a finalist for the Stanford coaching job that went to ex-Chargers QB Jim Harbaugh.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Clinton Hart is going to the Pro Bowl, tagging along with fellow special-teamer Osgood. "We made a deal in training camp," Osgood said. If Hart was to make it, he had to take Osgood.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers ILB Randall Godfrey played for the Seahawks in 2003.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers RB coach Clarence Shelmon coached the Seahawks RB from 1992-97.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers scout Tom McConnaughey was the head coach at Federal Way High, a suburb of Seattle, from 1988-96.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>BY THE NUMBERS:</strong> 1 - The Chargers need a single victory to reach 13, which would be a franchise high for a regular-season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "If there was one thing that was apparent on that 85-yard run, he's still fresh." - Head coach Marty Schottenheimer on RB LaDainian Tomlinson's stamina this late in the season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Look for Vincent Jackson and even Kassim Osgood to get more looks on passing downs. Eric Parker, the No. 2 wideout, is bothered by a sore neck that often prevents him from playing the whole game. Jackson has the speed to get down field; both of them have proved their worth as blockers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell is back practicing on a full time basis as his calf continues to feel better. McCardell's numbers are down this year but he is still a threat opposing defenses have to be cognizant of.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LG Kris Dielman is playing so well that his name came up first when coach Marty Schottenheimer was asked which OL deserved a Pro Bowl invitation. Dielman and the Chargers are trying to come to terms on a long-term deal.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-K Nate Kaeding once went three weeks in November without trying a field goal. So for him to make his first Pro Bowl is somewhat remarkable. Kaeding has been solid when called upon, missing but three of 25 attempts. Kaeding's 119 points leads the AFC.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Vincent Jackson has proved to be just as valuable as a blocker as a pass-catcher. He threw key blocks on both of Tomlinson's TD runs last game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Randall Godfrey is playing so well he might delay his retirement for the second straight year. Godfrey, an 11-year pro, had a career-high two sacks last week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>GAME PLAN:</strong> Look for the Chargers to pound the early, and then gradually work on getting Rivers confidence back after a rocky game on Sunday. Tomlinson is running behind a line that is playing exceptionally, and it will look to impose its will on an undersized unit. Rivers might be eased into the mix with some underneath routes and flares to Tomlinson. Then, expect a deep ball or two. But look for the Chargers to be fairly conservative early on - by their standards, anyway.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>MATCHUPS TO WATCH:</strong> Chargers pass rush, which had six sacks on Sunday vs. Seahawks pass protection, which features LT Walter Jones - With the Chargers' defense getting healthy again, the pass rush has been raised a notch. LB Shawne Merriman continues to be disruptive and DE Luis Castillo is moving better after battling through an ankle injury. The Seahawks' front line has been in flux because of injuries; Jones had an ankle ailment earlier. The key is the Seahawks are down about a yard on average on first downs. When you're getting 3.6 on first downs, it can lead to third and longs. That lets the pass rush tee off and the way the Chargers have been getting after quarterbacks, that can't be overlooked.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers running game, with a decorated offensive line vs. Seahawks run defense, which is built around speed - The Chargers' OL is a macho point which proved how tough it can be last week against Kansas City when Tomlinson rushed for 199 yards. C Nick Hardwick got his first Pro Bowl invitation and LG Kris Dielman was a first alternate. They'll be out to show those selections are no fluke against a run defense which is built on speed. It's among, if not the smallest DL in the league. If they don't put up much of a fight, the OL can shoot out and aim for LBs Julian Peterson (who is having a solid year) and LB Lofa Tatupu, a Pro Bowler not playing at that level this year.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers run defense vs. Seahawks running game, with Shaun Alexander - The Chargers put a notch on their belt last week after containing the Chiefs' Larry Johnson for the first time in three games. Alexander will be looking to regain his swagger as he continues his comeback from the foot injury. He'll also be motivated to show he's every bit as good as Tomlinson - although certainly not this year. ILB Randall Godfrey is on a hot streak and playing stout against the run. So is DE Igor Olshansky, as he takes advantage of the attention given to Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams in the middle.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>INJURY IMPACT:</strong> DE Luis Castillo (ankle-questionable) didn't work Wednesday but he should go Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Randall Godfrey (hamstring-questionable) didn't work Wednesday, but has a chance for Sunday. Stephen Cooper has done a good job filling in for him when he's out.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Marques Harris (hamstring-questionable) didn't work Wednesday but will try to later in the week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-G Scott Mruczkowski (knee-questionable) didn't work and probably will be down again this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Eric Parker (neck-questionable) didn't work, and there's a concern he won't go this week. And even if he does, he has had a hard time finishing games. If Parker is down, Vincent Jackson replaces him opposite WR Keenan McCardell in the starting lineup and McCardell would handle punts.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">- S Bhawoh Jue (knee-probable) didn't work but will play Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Shawne Merriman (shoulder-probable) worked and will be fine to play.</p>

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