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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 8, 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>

    It's such a robotic response from NFL coaches: "Yes, the bye has come at good time for us."

    But in the Chargers' case, it's more than coach-speak. The Chargers truly are weary after a rugged five-game swing, and embrace this bye week with both arms.

    The Chargers kept their playoff hopes alive with a thrilling victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. Although the Chargers, at 5-4, aren't quite where the defending AFC West champions expected to be.

    But it could be worse. Just like this bye couldn't come at a better time.

    Seven starters were missing on Sunday, the by-product of playing both of last season's Super Bowl teams in two of three trips to the East Coast over five weeks.

    The Chargers are tired, plain and simple. Especially when four of their past five opponents were coming off their byes.

    Now it's the Chargers' week to put their feet up.

    And coach Marty Schottenheimer is letting them do just that. The team will work just on Wednesday before reporting back Nov. 14 to begin preparing for the Buffalo Bills.

    Schottenheimer can accept where his team is, and is excited on where it might go.

    "We are one game off the pace from this time a year ago, and I believe we are a better football team than we were a year ago," said Schottenheimer, alluding to the Chargers' four defeats coming by a combined 12 points.

    The point of this week is to lick the wounds and prepare for a seven-game stretch with a playoff berth at stake.

    After that bummer of a defeat in Philly two weeks ago, Schottenheimer christened a new a nine-game season for the Chargers. So far, his ploy is working just fine.

    "We feel pretty good at where we are," Schottenheimer said. "We are 2-0 in the new season."

    And with a whole week to relish it.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    -Rookie DE Luis Castillo had played high school ball not far from Giants Stadium, and he had a cheering contingent of nearly 200 family and friends. The group was loud and proud, waving the Dominican Republic flag and generally making a ruckus.

    "To come on this field for the first time as a player, after seeing it so many times as a kid was an unbelievable feeling," said Castillo, who had two tackles.

    Although his crew cheered no matter what he was doing.

    "They are Dominicans," he said, "so they don't really know much about football."

    -For nearly four quarters, Leander Jordan, making his first start at left tackle, blocked Pro Bowl DE John Abraham just fine.

    Then Abraham beat him to the edge late in the game and Abraham smacked quarterback Drew Brees. That forced a fumble that gave the Jets a chance at a victory.

    "I had my hands around him the whole time, but once he got that step on me, that was it," Jordan said.

    Veteran RG Mike Goff was impressed with Jordan's showing. "(Jordan) played his (tail) off against one the best defensive ends in the league," Goff said.

    -Rookie LB Shawne Merriman continues to make progress, as he had a team-high nine tackles and recorded his fifth sack, which leads the team.

    -How banged up were the Chargers? They were missing seven starters. Out were LBs Randall Godfrey and Steve Foley, offensive linemen Nick Hardwick and Roman Oben, DBs Drayton Florence and Terrence Kiel and WR Eric Parker. During the game, CB Sammy Davis exited with a leg injury.

    -WR Reche Caldwell, who fumbled his last two receptions coming into the game, rebounded with a solid outing; a career-high five receptions for 43 yards.

    "I made sure I protected the ball this game," Caldwell said. "I was conscious of that; I didn't want my team down."

    -Rookie WR Vincent Jackson made his first NFL catch, an 18-yard pickup in the second quarter. Jackson, who battled leg injuries earlier in the season, came back on the pass and made a nifty diving catch.

    -LaDainian Tomlinson's four touchdowns were the most by a Charger since Chuck Muncie did it on Nov. 29, 1981 vs. Denver. With his first-quarter scoring reception, Tomlinson became the fourth player since 1970 to score multiple touchdowns passing, receiving and throwing in one season. The others are Marcus Allen, Walter Payton and Craig James.

    -QB Drew Brees on the move Tomlinson put on Ty Law on his 25-yard scoring catch: "It was ridiculous."

    PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

    -OLB Shawne Merriman suffered a slight wrist fracture on Sunday. He had pins inserted in it on Monday and is expected to be fine for the Bills game on Nov. 20.

    -WR Eric Parker hasn't had much production lately, but that's due to his reduced number of snaps because of nagging injuries to his ankle and back. After the bye, he should resume his role as the No. 2 receiver.

    -TE Antonio Gates is on a roll, which saw him gain a career-high 132 receiving yards on Sunday. He's among the league's receiving leaders, despite missing the opener while serving a three-game suspension.

    -CB Drayton Florence (ankle) is expected to resume his starting position after the bye. It's important for the Chargers that he does - especially with Sammy Davis ailing with a sore calf.

    -QB Philip Rivers continues to hold off newcomer A. J. Feeley for the backup position.

    -PR Darren Sproles has been fielding punts better, which has helped him keep that role - as well as Eric Parker, his backup, being nicked up.

    -The Chargers aren't certain of the availability of LB Steve Foley (abdominal strain) and LT Roman Oben (foot) after the bye.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    REPORT CARD VS. JETS

    PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus - Drew Brees put up solid numbers for the third straight week, throwing for 270 yards and a score. But he did have two turnovers, the last one late in the game when being sacked by John Abraham. The protection was fine except the one play when Leander Jordan missed Abraham. Antonio Gates goes for a career-high 132 receiving yards, and he's a big reason for Brees' accuracy (20 of 27).

    RUSHING OFFENSE: A - LaDainian Tomlinson's three scoring runs were with ease, which shows the type of run-blocking he was receiving. He did much of it on his own with his jaw-dropping cuts on the Giants Stadium Field Turf. Tomlinson finished with 107 yards; the team had 133.

    PASS DEFENSE: C-minus - Uneven day here, as this defensive phase makes a star out of Brooks Bollinger - two TD passes to rally the Jets. But when the game was on the line, Jamar Fletcher and Quentin Jammer knocked down passes for the win. This unit is missing CB Drayton Florence and SS Terrence Kiel. LB Shaun Phillips has two sacks in another good game.

    RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Chargers' front seven was keen, holding the Jets to 89 rushing yards and Curtis Martin to a 3.4-yard average. The Jets' offensive line was playing hurt, and the Chargers' defensive linemen took advantage. Great quickness from Shawne Merriman and Donnie Edwards helped to slow Martin.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: D - Coverage units are leaking oil, as the Jets averaged over 28 yards a return and had a long of 45. Shoring them up needs to be addressed over the bye. P Mike Scifres and K Nate Kaeding did their duties and KR Darren Sproles just missed a touchdown on a 50-yard return.

    COACHING: A - Some say the Chargers won despite of Marty Schottenheimer, as he sat on the second-half lead and pinned too much on his suspect secondary. He did play it safe by going for a field goal from the New York 1 - but it put him up two scores with 8 minutes to play. However, for his team to prevail on the road at the end of a tough five-game stretch is worth a high mark.
     

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