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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 25, 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>

    The Chargers are a better team this year than last season when racing to their first AFC West title since 1994.

    If so, does that means the Chargers are primed to go on a season-ending, nine-game winning streak to match last year's 12-4 mark?

    Coach Marty Schottenheimer sifted through the car wreck Monday of a game the Chargers carelessly threw away the previous day. For the fourth time in their four losses, they were unable to hold a fourth-quarter lead and the result was a 20-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Sunday's loss was particularly painful and it came on a blocked field goal. Few things steam Schottenheimer to the degree of being sloppy on such a critical play.

    "My feeling has always been that other than the kneel-down, placement protection is the shortest play in football," Schottenheimer said. "It takes (a couple of seconds) and it's over. You've got to focus for that whole time."

    In the flash of an eye Quintin Mikell burst through a hole left open by blockers Steve Foley and Scott Mruczkowski. He smacked away Nate Kaeding's 40-yard attempt and it was retrieved by Matt Ware for a 65-yard touchdown return.

    But the Chargers can't let this one linger long, with an AFC West game coming up fast on Sunday. If they really are going to prove they are better than last year's squad - and keep their playoff hopes alive - they can't afford their third home loss in four games at Qualcomm Stadium.

    Already, they have lost more home games than they did last year. And if they lose on Sunday, the will have lost more games than they did in the entire year.

    But Schottenheimer - who is a bottom-line guy - swears this team is better. It better hurry up and start proving it.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    - The Chargers have already matched their number of losses from last year, with nine games to play.

    - RB LaDainian Tomlinson couldn't recall when he was bottled up the way he was in Philadelphia, rushing for a career-low 7 yards on 17 carries. "Off the top of my head, I really don't know," he said. "I will say it's been a while since it's been like that."

    - FB Lorenzo Neal said the Chargers' knack for losing leads in the fourth quarter of all four losses is giving the team a reputation it doesn't embrace. "What I see is that teams are now saying that they know who we are and we just have to learn to finish," he said.

    - With 299 passing yards on Sunday, Drew Brees became the fourth Chargers quarterback to throw for more than 10,000 yards. The others are Dan Fouts, John Hadl and Stan Humphries.

    - LT Roman Oben signed a contract extension which goes through the 2008 season.

    - CB Drayton Florence is anticipating playing on Sunday. He has missed the past two games with an ankle sprain.

    - LB Shawne Merriman had his first NFL start in Philadelphia and did nothing to hurt his cause of holding on to it over Ben Leber.

    - CB Sammy Davis (bruised ribs) will likely have his practice time compromised this week and could miss Sunday's game. If Davis and Drayton Florence are ailing, Jamar Fletcher would start.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    REPORT CARD VS. EAGLES

    PASSING OFFENSE: B - Drew Brees had to face a number of blitzes, and it showed in his completion percentage as he often just dumped the ball on hot reads before the receivers had turned to look. But the offensive line had trouble with protections; it gave up only two sacks, but Brees was pressured into one interception because of the rush. Antonio Gates caught a touchdown pass, but he also let a ball go through his hands which resulted in an interception. And Reche Caldwell's late fumble after a catch was a game-killer. Keenan McCardell comes alive with another scoring grab.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: F-minus - Philadelphia put everyone but Ben Franklin in the box and LaDainian Tomlinson simply had no where to run. He was met often in the backfield, which shows by his rare numbers: 17 rushes for 7 yards. The offensive line consists of two guys not in the opening day lineup - C Bob Hallen and RG Kris Dielman - and RT Shane Olivea is playing with a sprained knee. A total of 21 yards rushing from a Marty Schottenheimer team? Wow!

    PASS DEFENSE: B - This unit was pretty impressive considering Donovan McNabb put it up 54 times and was held under 300 yards passing and but one touchdown toss to Terrell Owens. Bhawoh Jue has become a big-hitter at safety; one hit led to a Donnie Edwards interception. And backup Jamar Fletcher had one of his better games of his career with an interception, four tackles, a sack and two passes defensed. The Chargers got to McNabb for three sacks, although two of them resulted in roughing-the-passer penalties. But for a unit which has been blamed for many of the team's woes, it held up well under constant duress.

    RUSH DEFENSE: A - Hard to argue with 24 total rushing yards allowed - but it comes with an asterisk. The Eagles never did commit to the run, as Brian Westbrook rushed by 10 times. And with McNabb nursing various injuries, he wasn't too keen on taking off in the open field either.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: F - When you get a field goal blocked and it costs you the game, there's not much wiggle room here. Steve Foley and Scott Mruczkowski let Quintin Mikell bust through untouched and he easily swatted down Nate Kaeding's kick which was recovered by Matt Ware for the winning touchdown. The return game of the Chargers is losing steam. Eric Parker replaced Darren Sproles on punts, but didn't deliver a spark.

    COACHING: F - Coach Marty Schottenheimer played not to lose instead of playing to win and the result was predictable. He got way too conservative in the latter stages of the fourth quarter when settling for a field-goal attempt instead of staying aggressive. And he took a penalty with the Chargers about 18 inches from the goal line, to gain another down. But that strategy went bad when Hallen was called for holding and the Chargers had to settle for another field goal. The Chargers have now lost four games by a combined total of 12 points, and some of the blame has to land at the feet of the coaching staff.
     

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