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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm" target="_blank">USA Today</a>

    They call him Cool Brees for a reason.

    Quarterback Drew Brees isn't panicking on the Chargers' stumble from the gate. He's confident the Chargers can get back on the winning track Sunday, when entertaining the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium.

    But don't confuse Brees' low-heart beat with a lack of concern. He knows it, the Chargers coaches know it, and the entire Charger Nation knows it: a loss against an AFC West rival on Sunday - it would be their second AFC West defeat in three games - would deliver a roundhouse to the Chargers' playoff hopes.

    Not a knockout, mind you. But with the Chargers' upcoming rugged schedule which includes three more trips to the Eastern Time Zone, they know a toe-stubbing at home is out of the question.

    "We are confident and relaxed but there is definitely a sense of urgency," said Brees, who is 128-of-199 for 1,505 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. "We understand the situation we are in."

    A peek at the standings is what gets Brees' attention.

    "It's 3-4 and we cannot afford to go out and blow another opportunity like have," he said, referring to Sunday's loss in Philadelphia on a late blocked field goal. "I would like to say that experience tends to prevail in these situations."

    So Brees looks around the locker room and sees steady players in running back LaDainian Tomlinson, left tackle Roman Oben, in wide receiver Keenan McCardell, in linebackers like Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey. Brees hope their days in the NFL will let the light shine through a difficult stretch.

    "We got some solid, veteran guys," Brees said. "This is what the NFL is sometimes: it is tough sledding. But what you want to do is get on a roll and keep it going."

    Despite only hitting the season's halfway point, the Chargers have crossed this path twice, and rebounded in the proper fashion.

    They started the season 0-2, then pasted the Giants, 45-23.

    They were 2-3 when they dominated the Raiders, 27-14.

    "We've been through this before," said Brees, who is one interception shy of matching his 2004 total of seven.

    But they don't waste too much time looking back on four losses by a combined 12 points.

    "Sure we could sit here and say, 'we could be 7-0 or 6-1 or whatever,"' Brees said. "But the reality is we are 3-4 and we can't do anything about that."

    But Brees, last year's NFL comeback player of the year in a Pro Bowl season, believes what doesn't kill you, makes you tougher.

    "I believe things happen for a reason," he stressed. "We have those losses for a reason; we are facing this adversity for a reason. It is only going to teach us and make us wiser in the future and build our team."

    The Chargers believe they can build a winning streak off a victory Sunday. That they can get past the Chiefs, and then handle a Jets team on the road which has major questions at quarterback.

    That would put the Chargers at 5-4 heading into their bye week.

    It won't be a breeze. But with the reliable Brees at quarterback, the Chargers are confident they can pull it off.

    SERIES HISTORY: 91st meeting. The Kansas City Chiefs hold a 47-42-1 lead in the series, although the Chargers have won five of the last seven played at Qualcomm Stadium. Those seven games at the Q, have decided by a total of 26 points.


    Just when the Chargers' struggling secondary took a step forward on Sunday in Philadelphia, it retreated one on Thursday.

    Starting cornerback Drayton Florence didn't practice on Thursday after working on Wednesday. Florence, who is nursing sprained ankle, has missed the past two games.

    Florence is listed as questionable, and he could still play Sunday. But it figures to be a long day for a secondary chasing the Chiefs passing attack, and that ankle might not hold up.

    The Chargers' secondary has been the team's weak link since opening day. But against the Eagles, the secondary held up fairly well under Donovan McNabb's 54 passing attempts.

    It held McNabb to less than 300 passing yards and restricted him to one touchdown pass. That's hardly cause for a celebration, but it was an improvement for a pass defense that enters Sunday's game with the NFL's No. 29 ranking.

    Come Sunday, it must harness QB Trent Green and a stable of receivers that includes RB Priest Holmes, TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Eddie Kennison and WR Dante Hall.

    To do so, it will likely need Florence at close to full strength. If Florence can't go, he will be replaced by Sammy Davis. But Davis has some tender ribs, and his chances of holding up an entire game are suspect as well.

    -In 10 seasons as the Chiefs' head coach, Schottenheimer won 101 games and led the Chiefs to three AFC West championships and seven playoff trips. He still feels strongly about the organization, especially its owner, Lamar Hunt. "He is certainly in my Hall of Fame," Schottenheimer said.

    -Charger LB Donnie Edwards played his first six seasons with the Chiefs.

    -Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders replaced Don Coryell as the Chargers head coach and served in that capacity from 1986-88.

    -WR Keenan McCardell needs 71 receiving yards on Sunday to move past former Chief Andre Rison (10,205 yards) for 22nd place on the league's all-time list.

    -The Chargers have rose to No. 2 in rushing defense, allowing but a 76 yards per game.

    -Chargers LB Steve Foley knows there is a challenge in facing the two-headed Chiefs running monster of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. "It's important for us to get 11 players around them," Foley said.

    -That run offense impresses Schottenheimer as well: "Their running game is an elite as any in the league and it starts up front."

    -The Chargers remain the NFL's best team scoring touchdowns in the red zone. They've crossed the goal line 18 touchdowns.

    -The Chargers will face their fourth straight well-rested team. They played three straight teams coming off their byes, and now they get the Chiefs - they got two extra days rest by going down to Miami early because of Hurricane Wilma.

    -Ex-Charger GM Bobby Beathard gets a lot of flak for drafting Ryan Leaf. But he selected a good one in Chiefs QB Trent Green, especially considering he was an eight-round pick.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 4: Number of Chargers losses, which matches last year's total.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You get the ball to your playmakers, and let them make it happen.' - QB Drew Brees on how to beat a team which consistently blitzes.


    -FB Lorenzo Neal agreed to a two-year contract extension that keeps him with the club through 2007.

    -Rookie OLB Shawne Merriman has gradually worked his way into the starting lineup. All indications are he will start again on Sunday against the Chiefs.

    Merriman, the draft's 12th overall pick, was just coming in on passing downs, but has moved past Ben Leber to have a starting role. Now, it will be interesting to see how he holds up on Sunday against the run, which isn't his strength.

    The Chargers could go back to Leber on running downs, especially if Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson are running wild. But for now, it's Merriman's job to lose.


    -RB Darren Sproles said he is back returning punts, after being spelled last week by Eric Parker.

    -CB Jamar Fletcher is pushing nickel back Sammy Davis for more playing time after Fletcher's solid game on Sunday.

    -CB Drayton Florence is making his best effort to return Sunday after missing two games. At least his replacement, Davis, is moving better after sustaining bruised ribs on Sunday.

    -P Mike Scifres needs to be on his game Sunday when kicking to Dante Hall. Scifres, a Pro Bowl first alternate last year, has been punting better of late.

    GAME PLAN: Take aim at the Chiefs' secondary. The Chargers' strength, obviously, is running behind Tomlinson. But it's imperative that the Chargers loosen up the Chiefs defense, which will undoubtedly take note of what the Eagles did last week. Expect the Chiefs to stack the line and dare Brees to beat them with the pass. So that is exactly what the Chargers need to do: come out throwing and stretch the defense. If not, it could be another long day for Tomlinson.


    Chargers running attack, paced by RB LaDainian Tomlinson, vs. the Chiefs run defense. Hard to fault Tomlinson for that showing in Philadelphia - can't run with two or three defenders around your feet. It's imperative the Chargers' offensive line gets more a push against a run defense which is ranked No. 8. Keep an eye Chargers LG Kris Dielman against RG Will Shields. Dielman is making his sixth NFL start against Shields, a 10-time Pro Bowler.

    Chargers' pass defense, which is coming off its best game of the year, vs. the Chiefs' passing attack, led by Green and TE Tony Gonzalez. The Chargers pass defense, which is ranked No. 29, held Philly's Donovan McNabb to under 300 passing yards despite him throwing it 54 times. But CB Drayton Florence is returning from an ankle sprain that has cost him the last two games, and the nickel back, Sammy Davis, has sore ribs. The linebackers are going to have to help out on Gonzalez, as he is always primed to show he is the best tight end on the field when going against Antonio Gates. Also, the Chargers' pass rush is going to have to help out the back end. It had three sacks against the Eagles, but again that came against a quarterback passing 54 times.


    -C Nick Hardwick (ankle) didn't practice Thursday and is listed as questionable. He's looking more like doubtful, and if he can't go, Bob Hallen fills in.

    -OLB Steve Foley (abdominal) didn't practice Thursday, but unless something odd comes up he will go Sunday.

    -TE Ryan Krause (foot) didn't work Thursday and won't play.

    -ILB Randall Godfrey (neck) didn't practice in the team portion Thursday and is questionable. He will play. He was hurt when body-slamming Donovan McNabb on Sunday, a hit that resulted in a $5,000 fine.

    -OLB Steve Foley (abdominal) didn't practice Thursday but he will play Sunday. He hasn't been as effective, though, of late playing with the injury.

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