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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 13, 2005.

  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://bolttalk.com/images/brees15.jpg" class="left" alt="Drew Brees scrambles against the Dolphins" />Whenever tough times visit Drew Brees, he accepts them and says they happened for a reason.

    So what was gleaned from Sunday's pratfall to the two-touchdown underdog Miami Dolphins? Even Brees wasn't sure.

    "At this point, you wish it didn't (happen)," Brees said. "Like you always do when something bad happens or you are kind of faced with some adversity. Like, 'Hey, why did this stuff happen to us?' But it did."

    And the Chargers know they can waste little time playing the woe-is-me card. With three killer games awaiting - the first being Sunday against the undefeated Colts - the Chargers have to get back to work to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

    "You have to move on," Brees said. "Maybe this gives us the strength to pull together and win this one and win the next one, and win the next one and get ourselves in the playoffs and go for that championship we have been talking about for so long."

    But the Chargers are no longer in the driver's seat in that regard. If they could have won their final four games, the Chargers would have been assured the AFC West title and their second straight playoff appearance.

    But after Sunday's nose dive, the Chargers need help from others - and they likely must win their final three.

    Does Brees really expect to be playing past December?

    "There's no doubt in my mind," Brees said. "It's an expectation to make the playoffs."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    -Fullback Lorenzo Neal was baffled over the 23-21 loss to the Dolphins.

    "It's frustrating to know we had all the answers to the test and we failed," he said.

    -After a string of decent performances, the Chargers secondary was picked on by Miami's Gus Frerotte. He consistently delivered the big play, finishing with two touchdowns, 229 yards and no interceptions. Frerotte, who set various career highs against the Chargers when he was with Denver, realized where the Chargers struggle.

    "We knew that when you play teams, everybody has a weakness," he said. "To us, that became their secondary. That's what we tried to exploit."

    -Dolphins left tackle Damion McIntosh, a Charger from 2000-03, and Dolphins offensive line coach Hudson Houck, a Chargers assistant from 2002-04, enjoyed the upset.

    "That was big for all of us that came up out of here; it's something personal to come out here and do something like this," McIntosh said. "I'm sure (Houck) is proud."

    Added Houck: "It means a lot because it means we are getting better. It's a heckuva accomplishment because that's a helluva team."

    -Twice in the first half coach Marty Schottenheimer revealed his lack of trust in Nate Kaeding's leg strength. The Chargers had field-goal opportunities at the Miami 32 and 35, but Schottenheimer called for a pass (incomplete) to Eric Parker and a punt.

    "My sense was, with what we had talked about it before the game, that we were better prepared to go for it," he said.

    -Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas had another interception of Drew Brees, his third career pick of Brees.

    -The Chargers' opening score drive of 15 plays was their longest of the season. Their 7-minute, 52-second scoring drive in the second half was their longest this season.

    -The Chargers hogged the ball for 40:17, their most since possessing it 40:39 on Nov. 11, 1996, against Detroit.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

    -RB LaDainian Tomlinson (chest) probably will have his practice time curtailed his week, but he should go Sunday.

    -S Bhawoh Jue (knee) likely won't practice until the end of the week.

    -CB Quentin Jammer (shoulder) said he's OK.

    -WR Reche Caldwell (leg) should be OK.

    -DT Luis Castillo (hip) should be fine.

    -LT Roman Oben (foot) likely will miss his seventh straight game.

    -The Chargers' inactives against Miami were OL Roman Oben, Wes Sims and Cory Lekkerkerker, TE Landon Trusty, S Jerry Wilson, WR Malcom Floyd and DE Derreck Robinson.

    REPORT CARD VS. DOLPHINS

    PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus - Drew Brees set career highs in attempts (52) and completions (35), which just about guarantees a defeat. And that's what happened Sunday, with the Chargers having to lean more on Brees with LaDainian Tomlinson ailing. Many of Brees' passes were little dink throws; his longest reception was 25 yards. The pass blocking was OK. Brees got sacked five times, one of which caused a fumble that just about sealed the loss. Brees also threw his 12th interception; he had seven all of last year.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: C - Tomlinson was slowed by a bruised chest and he didn't hit the hole with his usual brilliance. It's obvious he wasn't fit, but he gets high marks for carrying it 21 times for 75 yards. The run blocking brought back memories of Philadelphia - and that's not a good thing. On a day in which Tomlinson needed some extra room to roam, the running lanes were difficult to find.

    PASS DEFENSE: F - The secondary took a step backward after having a couple of decent performances. The key here is the pass rush - there wasn't any. And anytime that happens, the back end of the defense gets exposed. No sacks - for the first game this season - and relatively little pressure as Gus Frerotte ran around with ease. Quentin Jammer and Drayton Florence had a good play here and there, but the bottom line is, when the secondary was asked to step up and turn back the Dolphins, it failed miserably.

    RUSH DEFENSE: A - Once again a team came in bent on establishing the run and left with cleat marks on its chest. The Chargers' top-ranked unit against the run allowed just 71 yards. Randy Brown (2.7-yard average) and Ricky Williams (2.5) were bottled up as the defensive front clogged the running lanes and the linebackers did the rest: Randall Godfrey had eight tackles and Donnie Edwards had six. NT Jamal Williams (six tackles) was active as usual. Rookie Luis Castillo had a solid game as well.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: F - Darren Sproles' fumble on a kickoff in the third quarter was a killer - it gave the Dolphins a short field, and they quickly scored. He brought it out from about 5 yards deep in the end zone. And the coverage unit again gave up a big gain - a 43-yard kickoff return to Wes Welker. Coach Marty Schottenheimer swears K Nate Kaeding's leg is fine, but he declined to try field goals from about 51 and 52 yards in the first half.

    COACHING: F - Schottenheimer will tell everyone who will listen that the team was prepared and didn't overlook the Dolphins, a two-touchdown underdog. But actions speak louder than words. The Chargers - according to numerous players - were flat and acted as if the Dolphins were just going to go toes up. Instead, the Chargers didn't catch on that they were in for a battle until the fourth quarter, and by then it was too late. Schottenheimer can say one thing, but it was obvious to those witnessing the game the Chargers' heads were elsewhere.
     

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