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McNeill 'struggling' to serve and protect

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Yet Chargers tackle continues to persevere

    By Kevin Acee
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    December 14, 2007

    In the aftermath of Sunday's overtime victory at Tennessee, Norv Turner spoke of Marcus McNeill in front of the entire team, holding him up as a model of perseverance and heart, an example of what happens when a man will not be beaten down and fights to the end.
    There was, of course, another way to look at Sunday's game.
    “If we would have lost, I know I would have been a big part of it,” McNeill said yesterday. “I would have taken that to heart. In certain times, in crunch times, I did give up sacks.”
    There are not too many people who have watched Chargers games this season and not wondered, “What the heck is the matter with Marcus McNeill?”
    First off, the Chargers' left tackle is not having as bad a year as many think.
    But he is not the Pro Bowl phenom he was in his rookie season. “He's struggling,” General Manager A.J. Smith said this week. “But not each and every game, and not the entire game. But he's been having trouble in a couple games with outstanding pass rushers.” By the count of STATS Inc., McNeill has allowed 9½ sacks this season compared to five in 2006. By the Chargers' count, McNeill allowed two sacks in 2006 and six this season.

    To be fair, Chargers quarterbacks have dropped back to pass 415 times this season. McNeill has not allowed a sack on 98 percent of those plays. Yet the nature of his job is that he is deemed to be having a subpar year.
    Among the reasons he is not the protector he was is he has too often been technically messy or even slow. Also, teams have had almost two seasons to see him, understand where he is vulnerable, when he is prone to leaning over or not getting leverage or being sloppy with his footwork. Additionally, some opposing ends are more hyped up to play him than when he was relatively unknown.
    For about 50 minutes of Sunday's game, Tennessee defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, whose nine sacks are tied for 13th in the NFL, made sport of McNeill too often.
    McNeill moved to Vanden Bosch too late on a third-and-11 pass in the first quarter, and Vanden Bosch hit Philip Rivers as he threw, forcing a pass to sail high and long into the arms of Titans safety Michael Griffin. McNeill gave up two sacks to Vanden Bosch in which the Titans' defensive end simply ran past him.
    But every time there was pressure from the left side, it wasn't McNeil's fault alone or at all.
    On Albert Haynesworth's second-quarter sack on Billy Volek, McNeill held off the country-strong Haynesworth long enough. That was a coverage sack that Volek could have avoided by throwing the ball away.
    Vanden Bosch and Haynesworth even made guard Kris Dielman look bad at times, something no one has done more than a play or two all season. Dielman has been the Chargers' best lineman, yet he and everyone who went up against Haynesworth struggled much of Sunday.
    The Titans' tackle-end combination is the best the Chargers have faced this season and one of the best in the league. And they were stunting (moving after the snap) in ways the Chargers had not seen on film.
    “They definitely made us look bad a couple times,” McNeill said.
    Sunday was the second straight game McNeill has gone up against an elite end. The previous week, it was Kansas City's Jared Allen, who is tied for third in the league with 11½ sacks.
    But McNeill played Allen well late at Kansas City. And this past week, he was pushing Vanden Bosch around in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
    Suddenly, it was the Titans end's head that was snapping back, it was he on the ground, he giving up pursuit after a step. The stunts run brilliantly for three quarters weren't even attempted in the fourth. Haynesworth kept leaving the game, and Vanden Bosch might as well have.
    McNeill accepted praise for the finish, knowing what he had survived.
    “I've got to be like a cornerback,” he said. “I can't live off the last play. If I let them get in my head, there would have been no way we'd have been able to come back in the fourth quarter. I get beat on certain plays. I really let them go after they happen. They're going to happen. “That's one of our mottos: You wear on them for three quarters so you can impose your will in the fourth.”

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  2. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

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    It's nice to see that he's acknowledging his bad play. Through acknowledgement, he can work to get better.
     
  3. BoltFanDC

    BoltFanDC Mufflers Are Overrated

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    Hopefully he knows what he needs to work on, and he'll get it done.
     
  4. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    This is all too common among sophomores. Some people call it the jinx, but there is all too often a let down in the second once someone makes a dynamite rookie debut. If this is a wake up call for McNeill then it comes at exactly the right time. He has a rematch with Jared Allen and we need to beat Detroit so we can clinch the division. Just love it that the Donks were so pathetic last night.
     

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