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Lightning Crashes

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <img src="http://i2.chargers.com/assets/178/33103_699w393h.jpg" title="Chargers helmet" alt="Chargers helmet" height="202" width="309" />

    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    Like the distant sound of thunder rumbling on the sky at dusk, and the distant flashes of lighting as it assaults the ground beneath it the 2007 regular season is quickly approaching, looming ever closer each day, and the Chargers are ready to strike. Thursday August 30, 2007. The last preseason the San Diego Chargers play this season, and then it is for real. But it is this time every year in which fans and sports talking heads alike begin to scratch their heads and ponder "What if?"

    The "What ifs" are running rampant on San Diego Charger's fan forums as fans try to be the first to find that ***** in the teams armor. Some want the insulate themselves in the event of a let down, some want to have the "I told you so" rights, others want to discuss a topic and get other takes on what they are seeing. But all end up asking questions. The topics have changed over the past few months since the opening of Mini camp. Questions like, "<em>Will Parker be cut?</em>", "<em>Can Hart beat Weddle? </em>", "<em>Will Cromartie start? </em>", "<em>Is Olivia good enough? </em>", "<em>Will our secondary get the job done? </em>", "<em>Where is the pass rush? </em>", and many more. All could be legitimate questions as we all try and prognosticate and decide how our team will do in the upcoming season.

    Some call this arm chair coaching, Monday morning quarterbacking, or simply spouting off our opinions. One this is certain, it is a time honored tradition practiced by fans of every team in the NFL. It is our right, our honor, nay our duty to try and prognosticate, and build up our team, just as much as it is to talk smack with the fans of the opposing teams.

    So heading into the regular season we Charger fans are in regular season form when it comes to raising questions about the team. There is an excitement in the air, Charger football is returning. The team is poised to do great things, but there are always those questions:

    <strong>Can Norv Lead the Team to more Regular Season Wins?</strong>
    This has been asked time and time again since he was announced as the fourteenth head coach of the San Diego Chargers. My answer is simple: "<em>Does it matter?</em>"

    The stated goal of the team is to make the playoffs. If that is done with 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16 wins the result is the same. Of course I would love to see 16 wins, but what I truly want to see is the team winning in post season. Playoff victories, that should be the question, "<em>Can Norv coach the team to more playoff wins than last season?</em>" That will be the proof in the pudding for me. Fourteen regular season wins last season did not equate to a playoff win, so to me the number of wins greater than what we need to make the playoffs is just extra frosting on an already good season.

    Norv Turner has experience in the playoffs, his record as a head coach leaves some scratching their head, but look at it this way- Since the Superbowl implosion, who has found success in Oakland as their head coach. No one. Who has been able to find success as a head coach under Daniel Snyder? No one, not even the NFL Hall of Fame head Coach Joe Gibbs. This season will be the true measurement for Norv Turner as a head coach.

    Until then we can see some positives from the three preseason games played under Norv's watchful eye. That being that in each game there were fewer flags thrown against the Chargers. I for one am excited to see what Norv can do with an already potent Chargers offense.

    Next Question:

    <strong>Can LT Surpass Last Season? </strong>
    Can? Yes! Will he, time will tell. I am sold that LT is the best running back in the league right now, if not the best player. He has the vision, balance, ability, and metal ability to make the cuts, get the tough yards, deliver a '<em>lightning bolt</em>' stiff arm, and get the TD. He is not just a running and receiving threat, he can pass the ball when the Defense bites too hard on him being in the back field.

    We have a solid offensive line who have shown that they can open the holes for him, big bodied wide outs and huge fullbacks and tight ends to pave the way for him. Will he see as many opportunities this season? He may just maybe see even more. Norv Turner is known for his running game and he is coupled with an offensive coordinator in Clarence Shelmon who is one of the premier coaches in the league when it comes to the running game.

    LT no longer has to be a one man show; with Gates, Manumaleuna, Turner, Floyd, Davis, Jackson and the other budding talents on the offensive side of the ball opposing defenses will have to carefully pick whom they will provide double coverage on. The Bears I believe will be eager to shut down LT and prove that the commercial where LT gashes the Bears defense is fiction.

    The Bears may be able to key on LT and prevent him from gashing them, but the other weapons on the Offense will take up the slack. LT is an elemental, a force of nature, you can contain him only so long before he explodes. He could indeed do better than last season, but I am sure that reaching the playoffs and advancing in them is a bigger goal to him.

    Next Question:

    <strong>What is the Weakest Link?</strong>
    During this past off season Charger fans debated as to whether it was the secondary or the receiving corps that were the weakest links. There were a few camps of thought on this:

    <em>First Camp:</em>
    Largely many fans thought that the pass rush covered for some of what they saw as inadequacies in the Chargers defensive backfield. In fact the Chargers secondary must have felt like the unwanted stepchildren, the Fans cheered the Line backers, the Defensive Tackles and chanted "YOU CANT RUN!" repeatedly. But to my recollection there were never any chants of "YOU CANT PASS!" In fact the secondary went largely unnoticed unless they produced a yellow hanky on the field, or delivered a WWE-esque Head-butt at an inopportune moment.

    But should we take another look at this. Yes, do lets! Not many teams had a successful time running the ball against the stingy run defense last season. So what does that mean? That means that our defensive secondary saw a lot of balls thrown through the air at them. They were one of the most thrown on units last season, this was not because they were a weak link, no it is because players like Jamal ‘the Wall' Williams prevented the opposition from getting yards on the ground. But the secondary did indeed do their job, we won a lot of games last season, even with the opposition feeling their best chance was through the air. So something was going right. Was it perfect? No, name one pass defense in this league that is, with out naming a unit playing the Raiders. But they did enough to help the team win, and that was their job.

    <em>The Second Camp:</em>
    The second camp were comprised of the fans who would say that our running game was so good, it made our receivers look better than they are. I am sorry, but this is one I just don't get, perhaps it is the ball watcher in me, or I am being obtuse, but Philip Rivers had an extraordinary season last year, one that very few first time starters have. So did all of his completions go to the running back, fullback, or tight end? I don't think so. Again I point out that this is a team sport. I recall several time seeing the wide outs throwing a block on a running play. I saw them blocking for their quarterback. They do what they can when they can and they got first downs for our team.

    No I do not see them as a weak link, perhaps they are the sexy pick because we have arguably the best running back, fullback and tight end in the game. We only have ‘Good' receivers. So it is easy by comparison to say that our receiving corps is not that good, because they don't rank very high on my fantasy list. Well this year they might get some fantasy points, they may not. But I bet to a man, getting the W is more important to them that getting personal accolades.

    My take is that it will be neither the Secondary nor the Receivers who will be the weak link. I hasten to point out that on this team a weak link is probably a solid squad on 20 other teams. I am most interested to see how the containment on kick offs and punt coverage is when it is for real. That is an area that is very important to the game, it can set the tone for the drive and give a boost to, or kill momentum. That is what I want to keep an eye on. Those mentioned by the other camps, they will do fine.

    Next Question:

    <strong>Will Merriman be the Sackmeister Again? </strong>
    Much like getting more wins than last season, I am on the mindset "<em>Does it matter?</em>" So long as Shawne and Shaun help the defense to prevent the opposition from scoring it doesn't matter to me. It would be nice to see either side of Shaun Squared lead the league in sacks, but a more telling number for me would be how many tackles they have, and how many are for losses.

    In my opinion we have the very best outside line backing tandem in this league. They will get theirs, and it is possible that Shawne could very well lead the league in sacks again. Ted Cottrell has been known for an attacking defense, and has coached a number one defensive unit before. But it is hard to tell. The coverage and schemes will of course have changed some with the coaching change the team went through this season, but I don't think it was solely the schemes that lead to Shawne's success last season.

    So He is very capable of repeating as the man who abuses the opposing Quarterbacks the most, but I will not be disappointed if he does not gain that solo honor. I want the whole defensive unit to do well, Team first, individual second is my theory.

    <strong>Outlook on the AFC West: </strong>
    Ohh I feel it coming back again! Like a rolling thunder chasing the wind! I see no other way to see it. The AFC West is the Charger's to lose.

    In Oakland there has been a big shake up but some of the bigger locker room cancers are still there. Their shaky offensive line is largely unchanged, and they have a rooky head coach. I am not saying they wont win some games, but THE RAIDERS ARE ON THE CLOCK.

    Kansas City, they used to have one of the best offensive lines in the league, that is no longer the case. This is perhaps the oldest team in the AFC West and the crows feet at the corner of their eyes are beginning to show. This team will have to have a season for the storybooks to see the post season.

    Denver. I can't stand this team or their coach, but they will be in the hunt. However I see inconsistency in the defensive line, and their run defense. That is bad news for them as they face some of the best running backs in the league several times this season. A wildcard possibility, but they have to pry the West from the Chargers. I do not see that happening.

    <strong>In Closing: </strong>
    The "What Ifs" and all questions are soon to be answered. They Chargers open against the defending NFC champion Chicago Bears at home before traveling to Foxborough to take on the new England Patriots in a rematch of the playoff game which ended the Chargers 07 season.

    Like them, hate them or what have you, these are two very good teams the Chargers open against. These two games while not a make or break situation by any means, will be a good sounding rod by which to judge the teams. Each team will be looking for the advantage, the means to get their season started right.

    As a fan and an admitted homer I find that I am excited when I think about these games. The bears defense is great, but they have to choose their poison. Who do they double team. Do they bite and key on LT, leaving the remainder of the field in man-to man? Or do they try and sit back and react to what we do? Either way I see big play potential.

    New England, I think this will be war. There is bad blood between these two teams, and I am sure that LT and Philip Rivers will be looking to show the ‘sorriest corner in the league' that they do not appreciate his antics. I think that the Pats also will have to pick their poison, who do they defend? Do they leave the tight end in the backfield to protect Brady, or go all out? We will see, but one thing is sure, first come the Bears.

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