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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 12, 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 sifted through the aftermath of another disappointing loss on Tuesday, and the culprit was the same: the secondary.

    That's not to say there weren't enough blemishes to spread around other parts of the defense, offense and special teams. But once again the secondary stood out as the weak link in the team's 24-21 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    "They are a young group and they are developing," coach Marty Schottenheimer said of his 25th-ranked unit.

    Please. That excuse has been trotted out for at least three years and it's simply not true.

    Cornerback Quentin Jammer was the fifth overall pick in the 2002 draft, making him a four-year pro.

    Cornerback Drayton Florence was a second-round pick of the 2003 draft, and he's in his second season as a starter.

    Strong safety Terrence Kiel was a second-round pick of the 2003 draft; he has been starting since late in his rookie year.

    Free safety Bhawoh Jue is in his fifth season.

    So that alibi is wearing thin and few who've watched the Chargers closely are buying it.

    "I think what happens is a sense of panic sets in," Schottenheimer said of his secondary. "It's a natural reaction."

    It is when getting carved up for 240 passing yards per game. It is when two of the quarterbacks doing the slicing and dicing - Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger - are in their second seasons.

    Funny, but the youth of those two aren't mentioned.

    What's no joke is this team was built for a serious run deep into the playoffs this year. Instead, it sits at 2-3 and has no confidence in a secondary which this week faces Oakland's Randy Moss.

    At this point, covering Kate Moss might present a challenge.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    - The Steelers were the first of three teams the Chargers will face coming off their byes. Next up is the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday.

    - LB Randall Godfrey said Monday's loss goes on the defense: "The offense puts us in position to win and we couldn't finish it."

    - The crowd of 68,537 was the biggest home gathering in team history

    - DE Luis Castillo felt terrible about banging QB Ben Roethlisberger's knee, which forced him from the game in the final minutes. "I heard him yell," Castillo said. "I felt his knee hit my shoulder. You want to go out and knock people out but you never want to see someone get hurt."

    - Keenan McCardell has been surprising everyone with his play at age 35. But he had trouble getting open against the Steelers and was restricted to one catch for 5 yards.

    - When RB LaDainian Tomlinson has scored a touchdown in 17 straight games, one off the NFL mark held by Lenny Moore (1963-65).

    PLAYER PERSONNEL

    - RT Shane Olivea will have an MRI done on his sprained knee.

    - DE Igor Olshansky had his best game of the season and maybe his career when recording seven tackles.

    - OLB Shawne Merriman was good against the Steelers, recording his first NFL sack and forced fumble. He added another tackle for a loss.

    - WR Vincent Jackson (calf) is fit but was a healthy inactive on Monday.

    - DE Jacques Cesiare is battling a sore shoulder.

    - LB Stephen Cooper is nursing a sprained ankle.

    - CB Drayton Florence has a sprained ankle.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    REPORT CARD VS. STEELERS

    PASSING OFFENSE: C - Drew Brees was OK and not much more. He was victimized by a drop by TE Antonio Gates which was turned into a Steelers interception. Brees felt his share of pressure, which is understandable considering the Steelers' blitz packages. He was only 20-of-35 and missed some open receivers.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: D - Not that LaDainian Tomlinson gets much of the blame. Instead, the run-blocking by the Chargers wasn't very good. Tomlinson averaged 3.4 yards on 18 carries, good for 62 yards and a score. But every yard was like pulling teeth as the Steelers' front had its way with the Chargers' OL.

    PASS DEFENSE: F - Too many big plays, too many penalties, too many missed opportunities. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 225 yards and a score, which are hardly gaudy numbers. But just when the Chargers needed a big stop, they could never get it from their suspect secondary. The pass rush wasn't bad, as Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips each had a sack; DeQuincy Scott and Steve Foley shared the other one.

    RUSH DEFENSE: C - A look at the rushing yards by the Steelers (104) hardly is cause for a double-take. But again, it was when those yards were gained. The Chargers had the lead at home and all they had to do was stop the Steelers for the win. Instead, they gave it to Jerome Bettis and he gained 21 yards to help set up the game-winning field goal. LB Donnie Edwards, though, was sensational with 15 tackles, 10 of which came in the first half.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: C- - Darren Sproles got a break when he fumbled away a punt; officials ruled otherwise noting his fair catch signal. And K Nate Kaeding continues his hot streak by being true on all three attempts. But the kickoff coverage needed to be stout before the Steelers' last drive and fell short when giving up a 29-yard return.

    COACHING: F - The energy oozing from the Steelers couldn't be matched on the Chargers side of the ball. And on the 2-point conversion try after the Chargers' final touchdown, the call which came down showed no creativity - an inside handoff to Tomlinson, with Gates in single coverage on the outside. Marty Schottenheimer's lads are swimming upstream when peaking at their schedule, and it will be a challenge for Schottenheimer to keep them upbeat.
     

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