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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Oct 19, 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="215" height="148" align="left" alt="Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez tries to escape the clutches of Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards." title="Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez tries to escape the clutches of Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/051224chiefs/C42049F4_83E4_4392_8CC4_91BEB45D562D_pobj_MINI_1.jpg" /> The Chargers are heading to Kansas City Sunday, dipping their toe back into the AFC West waters riding a two-game winning streak.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">They are also toting along a new quarterback, one that continues to get better every week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">This week, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is the offensive player of the week after his stellar showing in the win over San Francisco. He threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns as the Chargers lifted their record to 4-1.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But he's never started in Kansas City before the rowdies that fill Arrowhead Stadium with a din not heard in many other places. Rivers, though, shrugs saying it's no big deal if you're prepared.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> If nothing else, Rivers has proved he was prepared when opportunity came knocking. After two years of being Drew Brees' caddy, Rivers has grabbed the offensive wheel and the Chargers are humming along as one of the NFL's best teams.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is predicting even better things for the former North Carolina State star, who came to the Chargers via a trade in 2004.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"What he did against Pittsburgh and last week, I think that he has proved to himself that he can do it in this league and I can be just as good as any other quarterback in this league, even the top quarterbacks," Tomlinson said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson was always one of Brees' biggest boosters. The two knew each other from Texas high school football teams and they both arrived in 2001, eager to flip a franchise that had been woeful for so long.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">So when the Chargers said so long to Brees in the offseason, letting him flee as a free agent to New Orleans, some wondered how Tomlinson would react.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson, while hurt his buddy was moving on, has been behind Rivers 100 percent. And he's quick to tell everyone Rivers has been everything he had hoped for, and more.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"He's been growing; it wasn't just that he grew like overnight in our eyes," Tomlinson said. "He's been growing every week, gaining confidence. He is just now busting out to have people really aware of what he wants to do."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Rivers, who has the NFL's third-highest rating, faces a Chiefs defense that got pounded by Pittsburgh, 45-7, last week. Its pass rush hasn't been effective, and while the secondary isn't bad, Rivers could be in for another big day in the Midwest.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson said Rivers always had the skills and the mind-set of a starter. But now that he has some solid performances under his belt, he'll continue to get better</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I think as a quarterback I guess he started out the season where there were times where he hoped he would do well, that maybe some things happen to make you question yourself sometimes.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"But what Philip has done the last few weeks - and even against Baltimore even through we didn't throw the ball a lot, he was still effective throwing the football - his confidence has just been growing."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers' winning streak could grow to three. If so, it means another step for Rivers, who has taken very few in the wrong direction.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>SERIES HISTORY:</strong> 93rd meeting. The Kansas City Chiefs lead the series, 48-43-1, and won nine of the last 11 meetings at Arrowhead Stadium. These teams usually play close games as 10 of the contests have been decided by one point - the most of any series in the league since 1960. While these two AFL rivals have a long history, they've met but once in the playoffs when the Chargers prevailed, 17-0, in the 1992 AFC Wildcard game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Are the Chargers among the NFL's better teams? QB Philip Rivers thinks so and isn't afraid to say it. "I think you are supposed to think about that," he said. "I think you are supposed to say how good can we be, how good are we and let's keep it there and keep going. I don't think we need to deny the fact of what we want to be and want we are. It's OK to be a good team, and we want to be a good team and we want to win a championship and that is what we are trying to do. But you have to keep it all in perspective and not jump ahead too far."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Coach Marty Schottenheimer is appreciative of the support the Chiefs receive at Arrowhead Stadium after his stint there from 1989-98. "It is a tough pace to play as a visitor and a great place to play when you are at home," he said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Billy Volek has jumped to the backup role from No. 3. Rookie Charlie Whitehurst is now No. 3. "It was our expectation at some point because of (Volek's) experience that he would be elevated to that position."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Although the Chargers' running game is ranked second in the league, Schottenheimer isn't pleased with how it is progressing. "We just haven't had things as clean as we want to see them," he said. The Chargers are averaging 158 yards per game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-If you want to stop the Chiefs, you got to stop Larry Johnson. He is the team's leading rusher and receiver. "He's like their main yardage producer on offense." The Chargers defense hasn't forgotten he ran he rushed for 131 yards against them last year. "A lot of us remember that game now we get another opportunity."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-With DE Igor Olshansky being out for about a month, it's going to be up to Jacques Cesaire and Derreck Robinson to pickup the slack. "We all know when the second group comes in, there is no drop off," he said. "You have to be just as good."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-A win Sunday lifts Schottenheimer into sixth-place on the all-time list with 191 regular-season victories.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Three of the Chargers first five rivals didn't score in the second half. The Chargers still haven't allowed a third-quarter point.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Since 1997, the Chargers have allowed only 59 teams to rush for 100 yards. That ties the Ravens for the lowest number of games over that span.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers' rivals are a combined 11-22.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>BY THE NUMBERS:</strong> 25 - Number of Chargers victories since 2004, the sixth-highest total in the league over that span.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "I look at him in the huddle and I'm thinking he's trying to be like Brett Favre." - RB LaDainian Tomlinson on Rivers going three or four days without shaving.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">DE Igor Olshansky isn't going to be playing the next three-to-four weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Olshansky is among the team's top run-stuffers, and his absence could be felt against an offense that is led by the powerful Larry Johnson.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">With Olshansky down, Jacques Cesaire will play the early downs with Derreck Johnson coming in on the passing situations. Cesaire isn't bad, but he isn't nearly the power player that the muscular Olshansky is.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB Michael Turner will keep his role as kick-returner despite two muffs on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Stephen Cooper is spelling veteran Randall Godfrey occasionally on running downs. Cooper is expected to step in for Godfrey next year as he's going to retire after the season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo's INT was big news among the Chargers. A defensive lineman hadn't picked off a pass since Adrian Dingle did it in the 2004 season finale.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-K Nate Kaeding will break his tie with Rolf Benirschke for the team mark for consecutive PATs with his next conversion. They both have 87 straight.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates is coming on of late after a slow start. With TD catches in each of the past two games, he now leads the team in that category with three.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Shaun Phillips has proven to be more than a capable replacement for wounded starter Steve Foley. Phillips' six sacks leads the AFC. And it was his deflection of an Alex Smith pass which led to Castillo's INT.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Roman Oben (foot) hasn't been cleared to leave PUP and start practicing.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>GAME PLAN:</strong> Now it's the Chargers' turn to do what other defenses have done to them: stack the line and tempt an inexperience quarterback to beat you. The Chargers will zero in on QB Damon Huard, who will be starting his 11th NFL game. So the run defense is going to be primed to stop Larry Johnson; look for SS Terrence Kiel to crowd the line of scrimmage with regularity. If the Chargers can shut down Johnson, they can unleash a pass rush that has collected 21 sacks, the most ever by a Chargers team over the opening five games. If Johnson is stopped, it could be a long day for Huard.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>MATCHUPS TO WATCH:</strong> The Chargers' run defense, minus DE Igor Olshansky, vs. the Chiefs running game, led by Larry Johnson. The Chargers' run-stuffers have a score to settle with the Chiefs' Larry Johnson. He was the last one to eclipse the 100-yard mark as a rusher, doing it last Christmas Eve when going for 131 yards on 31 carries. The Chargers run defense comes in with the No. 1 ranking, allowing but 71.6 yards a game. But the Chargers will be missing one of their best run-stoppers in Olshansky (knee).</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers' running game, led by LaDainian Tomlinson vs. a Chiefs' run defense which allowed 219 yards in last week's loss to the Steelers. Tomlinson scored four rushing TDs last week, but a closer look reveals the Chargers' running game isn't where it should be. Instead, the Chargers have been getting the ball to Tomlinson through the air, as there have been too many mental mistakes to establish the running game as well as Schottenheimer wants. The strength of the Chiefs' defense is the back end, so look for the Chargers to try and exploit a run defense in which Willie Parker gained 109 yards and two TDs on last Sunday. Tomlinson is averaging 3.7 yards a carry for the season, but only had a 3.4 average last week with a long of 9.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers' kick coverage teams, which are strong against the punt but shown leaks defending kickoffs, vs. the Chiefs' return games, featuring the shifty Dante Hall. Just the Chargers luck that Hall is expected back this week after missing last week's game with a hip injury. The Chargers' kickoff coverage team has hit some rough spots and is ranked No. 18 in the league, allowing an average of 22.5 yards per return. But against punts, the coverages have been much better, earning the No. 3 ranking with just 5.1 yards per return. Much credit for the punt coverage should go to Mike Scifres. He leads the league with 43.5-yard net return average. But Hall is in a class by himself - he returns punts and kicks. Hall is averaging 23.2 yards on kickoffs, with a long of 32. On punts, Hall is averaging 12.8 yards and has a 60-yarder for a score.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>INJURY IMPACT:</strong> RT Shane Olivea has bounced back from what was believed to be a serious knee injury sustained Sunday in San Francisco. He didn't do all the work on Wednesday but is expected to be a go for Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Bhawoh Jue (knee) was limited in his work; he's a bit of a long shot for this weekend.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Marcus McNeill (hand) could be compromised with a pad on his right hand after pins were inserted to hold his broken hand together. He didn't practice on Wednesday, but is expected to start.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Vincent Jackson (adductor strain) was hurt during practice and his condition will be better known on Thursday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Igor Olshansky (knee) is out 3-4 weeks.</p>

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