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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <div class="inside-copy">Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a></div>
    <div class="inside-copy" />
    <div class="inside-copy"><img width="313" height="209" title="QB Philip Rivers and team, about to be introduced." alt="QB Philip Rivers and team, about to be introduced." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/060917titans/JBchgTen17sep1h261951x007.jpg" /></div>
    <div class="inside-copy" />
    <div class="inside-copy">The Chargers obtained what they sought: a 6-2 record at midseason after sweeping two home games after a heartbreaking loss in Kansas City.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">Now come two games that might deliver a peek into their second half: contests at Cincinnati and at Denver.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">For all the Chargers have accomplished this year - co-leaders of the AFC West - there are still some items to check off.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">No. 1 is winning an away game against a playoff-caliber team.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers have two roadies in their pocket, but neither victory required crossing state lines. Wins in Oakland and San Francisco level their road mark at .500. But what's more telling are the losses at Baltimore and Kansas City.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">So that's what makes Sunday's game against a wobbly Bengals squad so important. If the Chargers really are one of the elite teams, they need to prove it.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Not in Oakland. Not in San Francisco. But in Cincinnati. Then at Denver.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"We got what we needed to get done as far as the two home games," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We're kind of in a stage where we're getting on that roll and we need to keep it going. We need to win a tough game on the road."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But the Bengals don't figure to roll over. They are getting blasted in all circles as underachievers, they are pointing fingers at each other and they are absorbing all the arrows that come with a disappointing first half.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Bengals, though, aren't dead yet despite losing four of their past five to waste a 3-0 start. Those four losses are by a total of 10 points, so it's not as if they are being demolished.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">And it would be a mistake, coach Marty Schottenheimer has said, to think they will greet the Chargers with anything less than their best effort.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It's a sink-or-swim game for the Bengals. For the Chargers, it's a fish-or-cut-bait.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Either you among the top-of-the-heap teams in AFC's, or you're not.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It's going to be a test for us, no question," said LaDainian Tomlinson, who's being mentioned as an MVP candidate. "It's going to be tough going into their place. They're going to be ready. We have to match their intensity and be ready to go from the jumpstart. They're going to try to jump on us fast and get the crowd behind 'em."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">If the Chargers can bolt from the gate, that Paul Brown Stadium crowd could quickly turn on the Bengals.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It should be loud either way.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It's up for to the Chargers to determine where the voices are directed.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>SERIES HISTORY:</strong> 29th meeting. The Chargers lead the series, 17-11, which includes them losing their only postseason matchup with the Bengals that cost them a trip to their first Super Bowl. One week after beating the Dolphins in overtime in that epic playoff game in humid Miami Beach, they fell to the Bengals in the Freezer Bowl in the 1981 AFC title game. The wind-chill was 59-below and the Bolts lost, 27-7.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-It was a big day for LaDainian Tomlinson on and off the field last Sunday. Before the game he had a chance encounter with Browns great Jim Brown. "I will never forget the moment of meeting him," Tomlinson said. "He said I had a great career so far and (said) to stay healthy. The guy inspired me a lot. To me he was the best combination of power and speed. He was phenomenal. But walking around the corner and seeing him... I'm there thinking to myself, 'My goodness, that is Jim Brown.' The first thing I do is go and shake his hand and say, 'Hey, I appreciate you inspiring me to be a running back.'"</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Coach Marty Schottenheimer called the league office to voice his displeasure with the rule that cost the Chargers 15 yards for calling consecutive defensive time outs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Bengals revamped their uniform scheme in 2004, with six variations of jerseys and pants. For Sunday, they will down black jerseys and white pants, which has produced its worst winning percentage (.333) of all the get-ups; they are 4-8 in that garb.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RG Mike Goff played for the Bengals from 1998-03.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FB Lorenzo Neal wore the Bengals stripes from 2001-02 and earned his first Pro Bowl nod in Cincinnati.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Injured LB Steve Foley was a Bengal from 1998-02. Foley, who was shot three times by an off-duty officer, remains on crutches. He is on IR.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers' defensive unit was introduced before the game, plus one offensive player: Neal. The club wanted to make sure his 200th consecutive start didn't go unnoticed. "I'm grateful, thankful and very blessed to play 200 games, but hey it's about winning for me," Neal said. "I really don't care about 200 games; it's just about getting out there and winning, playing a game I love to play, football."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Said Philip Rivers: "I asked him if when he walked out the tunnel for the first one or the 200th one if there was any difference. He said, 'No it's the same thing. You always want to win and be the best and that is why I am still out there.' That is what the game is all about, those kind of guys."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Bengals QB coach Ken Zampese, the son of former Chargers offensive coordinator Ernie, was a wide receiver and coach at the University of San Diego.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Marcus McNeill going against RDE Justin Smith should be worth watching. McNeill has been stellar in his rookie year and Smith has a team-high 6.5 sacks and is tied for a team-best 60 tackles. McNeill, though, did give up a sack last week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"That was my fault," Philip Rivers said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">McNeill will face a revved Smith. He was taken by the Bengals over LaDainian Tomlinson in the 2001 draft.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Marlon McCree attended nearby Kentucky.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and the Chargers' Marty Schottenheimer both hail from Ft. Cherry, Penn.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson leads the AFC with 828 rushing yards and is on pace to finish with 1,656. Tomlinson would join Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson as the only players with at least 1,200 rushing yards in each of their first six seasons. Dickerson went for 1,200 yards in his first seven.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Tomlinson was named to his seventh AFC Player of the Week award and his fourth since the start of 2005. Tomlinson rushed for 172 yards in the win over Cleveland, the fourth-highest total of the year.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-More projections: The Chargers, with 31 sacks would land at 62 through 16 games, to tie the club record set in 1986.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers-Broncos game at Denver on Nov. 19 will be played at 8:15 PM ET on NBC, after the network switched it from an afternoon game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>BY THE NUMBERS:</strong> 20: Number of sacks by the Chargers in their past five games; they lead the NFL with 31.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "Now we're at the point we've got to get it to full throttle." - QB Philip Rivers on the Chargers evolving offense.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers' fingers are crossed that OLB Shaun Phillips can go. But if not - and even if he does - the Chargers will be looking at their linebacker depth to step up big again.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">That means Carlos Polk (especially on running downs) and Marques Harris have to be strong on the outside. When Polk gives way on passing downs, Derreck Robinson and Stephen Cooper will be asked to contribute. At some point Matt Wilhelm and Tim Dobbins will see the field as well as injuries and suspension have forced the team to employ a linebacker-by-committee approach.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-CB Antonio Cromartie proved his worth with his special teams play on Sunday. He saved a potential touchdown when he raced across field to haul in Dennis Northcutt on a punt return.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Donnie Edwards is nursing a sore hip flexor, which came after he collected the 26th interception of his career on Sunday. That is the most among active NFL linebackers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Igor Olshansky (knee) played well Sunday in his first game action after skipping two weeks. Olshansky is a huge part of the team's stingy run defense.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Jacques Cesaire is making the most of his chance of late. He set a career-high with two sacks last week and has been playing well.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LS David Binn will tie a team mark by playing in his 200th game on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LG Kris Dielman is coming off probably his best game - one offensive player said he graded out at 98 percent on Sunday. Dielman, a converted defensive lineman, had two key blocks to spring Tomlinson on two touchdown runs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>GAME PLAN:</strong> The Chargers shouldn't out-think themselves here, what with RB LaDainian Tomlinson on a rushing tear the last two weeks and the Bengals having issues stopping the run, where they are ranked No. 24 by coughing up nearly 130 ground yards a game. But the Bengals will probably think the Chargers will come out running - instead, look for them to establish the pass earlier than expected. The Chargers often picked on CB Deltha O'Neal back when he played for the Broncos, so look for them to target him, as well as try to get the hard-charging Justin Smith on a couple of screens his direction. Then, stick the ball in Tomlinson's gut and watch him go.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>MATCHUPS TO WATCH:</strong> The Chargers' pass protection, which could get a boost from the return of Shaun Phillips, against a Bengals pass protection that has been uneven. The Chargers are on a roll getting to the quarterback, despite their numerous injuries and suspensions. Phillips might come back in time to pester Carson Palmer. The Bengals will be missing LT Levi Jones and C Rich Braham, which could play in the Chargers' favor. The key will be succeeding on the early downs to Palmer up into obvious passing downs so the Chargers can get their pass-rushers on the field.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers run defense, which might be limping against a Bengals running game led by Rudi Johnson. With anchor Jamal Williams clogging the middle, the Chargers seldom have to worry about their run defense. But ILB Donnie Edwards is shaky off a pesky hip flexor from last week, and FS Marlon McCree is hobbling around with a calf strain. Then Luis Castillo, who plays alongside Williams, hurt his ankle more than he said last Sunday. Johnson is sixth in the AFC with 629 rushing yards and he has six touchdowns.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers' secondary, which is coming off a six-penalty game, against the Bengals three wide outs. Drayton Florence had half of the six flags that came the Chargers' secondary way in Sunday's win. He has to rebound, as does S Clinton Hart, who gave up a big play. The Bengals will counter with Chad Johnson, T. J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry. If the some reason the pass rush is slow getting to Carson, it could be a challenging day for the secondary. Rookie CB Antonio Cromartie has held up well of late, but you can be he will tested at some point on Sunday by this trio of talented pass-catchers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>INJURY IMPACT:</strong> OLB Shaun Phillips (calf) is back practicing and should go after missing the past two games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Derreck Robinson (foot) didn't practice Sunday and is questionable.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo (ankle) will probably try to go Sunday, but it is a strong questionable. But even if he can, he'll be limited. Jacques Cesaire would replace him. Castillo didn't practice on Wednesday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FS Marlon McCree (calf) is still hobbling and his range could be compromised by his injury - if he goes.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Bhawoh Jue (knee) didn't work but he will play Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Donnie Edwards (hip) should be fine for Sunday.</p>

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