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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jan 3, 2006.

  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>

    The Chargers' offseason became more clouded with the news that quarterback Drew Brees suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder in Saturday's season-ending loss to the Denver Broncos.

    Brees, who dislocated his throwing shoulder when trying to recover his fumble, will undergo surgery, possibly as early as this week.

    Brees said he was told he could return to football drills in four months, although the extent of the damage won't be known until he is operated on.

    "In my mind I feel like I'm going to come back better than ever after this deal, and I don't even want to call it a setback," Brees said. "I think it's an opportunity for me to just get going a little bit earlier than expected rehabbing and working out and to make sure when I come back I'm better than I was when I went in."

    But going into the offseason, Brees' situation changes the dynamics surrounding his position. Do the Chargers offer Brees a long-term deal not knowing how he will rebound from a significant surgery? Or do they franchise him at nearly $10 million for one year?

    And what about Philip Rivers, Brees' backup who has played sparingly in his two seasons? Some speculated Rivers might be traded to help the Chargers shore up their shortcomings on the offensive line and in the secondary.

    But would it be wise to move the 2004 draft's fourth overall pick with such uncertainty around the quarterback position?

    Good questions, none of which were addressed by general manager A.J. Smith. He's declined to speak with the media since Brees' injury.

    It's clear, though, that the Chargers' offseason plans took a hit when Brees absorbed a punishing blow from Gerard Warren near the end of what was a disappointing season for the Chargers.

    Said Brees, regarding himself and Rivers, "We both feel like we are starters and going to be great players in this league, and obviously both of us can't be on the same team for too long. So we'll see what happens."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    -Running back LaDainian Tomlinson scored his 20th touchdown Saturday, breaking the team's single-season mark held by Chuck Muncie. Muncie was on hand to congratulate Tomlinson. "He is definitely something special," said Muncie, who had 19 scores in 1981. "And I think the best is still ahead of him."

    -Tomlinson still finds it hard to believe that the Chargers' once promising season limped to the finish line.

    "Losing your last three out of four games, well, it's incredible," he said. "I don't know where we go from here, but I think we need to have a gut check."

    -Tomlinson, despite playing the last month with a cracked rib, said he plans on participating in next month's Pro Bowl.

    "Unless I fall down at home or something," he said.

    -Linebacker Randall Godfrey has considered delaying his retirement. Godfrey, in his 10th season, was second among Chargers with 76 tackles.

    -Next season the Chargers host the Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Browns, Steelers, Cardinals, Rams and Titans. Their road games are at Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Seattle and Buffalo.

    -Linebacker Shawne Merriman's team-high 10 sacks are the most by a Chargers rookie since Chris Mims had 10 in 1992. Leslie O'Neal holds the team's rookie mark with 12.5 in 1986.

    -Keenan McCardell's six receptions put him at No. 10 on the NFL's all-time list with 825.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

    -DE Luis Castillo suffered a sprained knee in the season finale, but it is not considered serious.

    -NT Jamal Williams, who is headed to his first Pro Bowl, was named the team's defensive player of the year.

    -Despite having another Pro Bowl season, RB LaDainian Tomlinson didn't rush for 100 yards in his final five games and scored only one touchdown over that span.

    -ILB Donnie Edwards led the team in tackles (154) for the fourth year.

    -ILB Shaun Phillips had seven sacks this year, giving him 10 in his first two years.

    REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS

    PASSING OFFENSE: D - Neither Drew Brees nor Philip Rivers had much success against the Broncos, as together they threw for but 183 yards and one interception. Much of the blame here can be attributed to the pass-blocking, which never got comfortable picking up the numerous Broncos blitzes; the Chargers allowed six sacks. The Chargers' longest completion was 22 yards, as they continued to have difficulty getting the ball downfield.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: C - LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for a score and 92 yards, but most of his work can be attributed to his own skills. The run-blocking continued its month-long slide as it was unable to open many - any? - holes for him.

    PASS DEFENSE: B - The Chargers allowed a season-low 98 yards and no touchdowns. But really that number can be traced to the ease in which the Broncos were able to run the ball. And once the Broncos got ahead 16-7 in the third quarter and had backup Bradlee Van Pelt in the game, they turned their nose up at passing the ball.

    RUSH DEFENSE: F - Chargers gave up a season-high 157 rushing yards, with Tatum Bell collecting 52 of them to go with three touchdowns. The Broncos chose to assign just one blocker on NT Jamal Williams, freeing up a body to go bang a linebacker.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus - The coverage units were solid, maybe turning in one of their best games of the season. But the return game has been stuck in neutral for some time; Darren Sproles did have a 26-yard kickoff return. Three of Mike Scifres' punts were downed inside the 20-yard-line.

    COACHING: F - It was an epic pratfall, as the season-ending loss made it three of four defeats down the stretch for the once highly regarded Chargers. Despite having nothing to play for, the Broncos easily showed more intensity and determination as the Chargers fell behind early and never recovered. San Diego seemed disinterested, and it showed in losing for the fourth time at home this season.
     

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