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No Worries for Chargers Yet, but Antonio Gates Needs Help

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Joy Division, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. Joy Division

    Joy Division Slightly-known Member

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    No Worries for Chargers Yet, but Antonio Gates Needs Help
    .9/14/2010 10:02 PM ET By Tom Krasovic


    SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Until an AFC West foe fields a quarterback who's nearly as capable as Philip Rivers, the Chargers and their fans shouldn't fret losses such as San Diego's 21-14 setback in Kansas City on Monday night.

    The NFL is a quarterback's sport. Most teams that go far must be able to throw the ball well. And although Rivers has waxed and waned in his last two games, including the playoff lost to the Jets, he's still far better than anyone in the AFC West

    Hail to the Chiefs for upgrading a 4-12 team. They've quickened their offense and special teams, and smartened their defense. Yet their passing game remains clunky. Matt Cassell threw for only 68 yards. Admittedly, it was windy and wet in Flyover Land, but does anyone think Cassell and his mediocre receivers can get the Chiefs into the playoffs this year?

    Barring a few minor miracles, the Chargers should win their fifth consecutive AFC West title largely because Rivers can wing it. It also helps that Ron Rivera can coach up a defense. Rivera's gang gave up a 56-yard touchdown run Monday to the division's best running back, Jamaal Charles. In its other 47 plays, Kansas City totaled 147 yards. "Other than that play," said Chargers coach Norv Turner after viewing the game film, "I thought defensively you can't play a whole lot better than that. That's exciting."

    Rivers threw for 298 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, yet it was a "C" performance for Chatty Phil. Reminder, the other quarterbacks in the spiral-challenged AFC West are Jason Campbell in Oakland and Kyle Orton/Tim Tebow in Denver. As long as Rivers stays healthy, it still looks like one for the thumb in San Diego, which last failed to win the mild West in 2005.

    Good for Chargers fans to expect better, though.

    "We're going to look hard to make sure that when he's grabbed and held, that we emphasize it to the officiating crew."
    -- Norv Turner on defenses trying to defend Antonio Gates The home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday could be blacked out, which seems odd for a franchise that's the only NFL team in a region of 20 million people. This Great Recession is squeezing a lot of football fans. Nonetheless, Southern Californians prefer wide-open football, and the Chargers may not to be as entertaining as they were a year ago.

    I don't see the downfield passing game being nearly as exciting, owing to the absence of lead receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill.

    What the Chargers seem to be doing, though, is what all sports teams aspire to do: contending for the top prize and rebuilding simultaneously. The rest of the AFC West may make it impossible for the Chargers not to contend for the playoffs, where anything can happen, even for team's that don't earn a bye. The current on-field youth movement that Turner cited Tuesday as reason for optimism should gain steam in April, when the club could have four or five extra draft picks.

    Ask the New York Jets how they like Antonio Cromartie. The Chargers snagged a third-round draft pick for him last offseason, because they figured they could go to the playoffs without him. On Sunday in his New York debut, "Cro" was beaten for three catches in the second quarter alone. He also was flagged four times. The winter trade that sent No. 3 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst netted additional picks.

    Next, the Chargers may be able to leverage the Minnesota Vikings in a swap for Jackson, assuming an arbitrator on Thursday rules that his team-issued a three-game suspension -- on top of a league-mandated three-game suspension -- would be voided by a trade. Potentially, the Chargers could add two high-end draft picks for 2011, when they should be coming off another trip to the playoffs.

    Back to Monday's game and the fallout:

    • Chargers tight end Antonio Gates will miss Jackson more than any other Charger will.

    A year ago, Gates told me that no other Chargers teammate in his seven NFL seasons created more room for him downfield than Jackson did last season. Monday, Gates looked like he was playing inside a mosh pit. Sometimes the Chiefs had three guys on him when the ball was snapped. Embroiled in a salary dispute, Jackson wouldn't have played on Monday even if the Chargers had signed him. He was serving a suspension for misdeeds off the field. But it was obvious that the passing game has less stretch to it without him.

    • New Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, formerly of the Patriots, created familiar headaches for both Gates and Turner.

    Crennel's defense typically is unsurpassed at "banging and moving the tight end around," Turner said. Gates still grabbed five passes for 76 yards, including a three-yarder for the night's first touchdown. But Crennel's handsy Chiefs recalled Crennel's Patriots, unpleasantly so for the Bolts. "People have tried to jam [Gates] since he burst onto the scene," Turner said. "Some people do it better than others. This was very similar -- and I hate to bring it up -- to the [21-12 playoff defeat] in New England three years ago. They had someone on him on every snap and had the same mindset of keeping him from getting off the line off scrimmage."

    • Zebras this year will get an earful from the Chargers, to watch how Gates is defended.

    "We're going to look hard to make sure that when he's grabbed and held, that we emphasize it to the officiating crew," Turner said. "Because there are rules about after five yards, about being [in a] collision and being held. Those are things that he, like any other player, needs to be protected with."



    • Rookie running back Ryan Mathews will need to help more in the passing game.

    The Chargers traded up to get Mathews, partly because they believed he can stay on the field on third down. He caught only one pass on Monday. Eventually, the Chargers will need him to catch the ball, a critical part of Turner's offense. Turner said the Chiefs "did a good job on a couple of checkdowns" but said Mathews will learn how to win 1-on-1 duels, once he gets better at catching the ball without his back to the defense.

    • Mathews had a mixed night, one typical of a rookie.

    He misread his blockers a few times. He lost a fumble in the second quarter, and the Chiefs turned it into a touchdown. For what it's worth, the legend that he is replacing, LaDainian Tomlinson, also fumbled in his NFL debut, and in the opener last year. Mathews ran 19 times for 75 yards, a 3.9 average. He looks fairly promising, but as I noted last week, he may need to attack from a lower angle at times. The Chiefs stopped him cold several times.

    • Here is Turner on Mathews: "I thought he was very good early. I thought after the fumble, he started pressing a little bit. He tried to be perfect. It's exciting to watch him run, he's a very physical runner, and the more he plays, the more comfortable he's going to get."

    • The Chargers need to sign McNeill.

    That's not a knock on Brandyn Dombrowski, who did a credible job at left tackle on Monday. With McNeill, the Chargers would improve in several ways. Rivers would have more time in the passing game, bringing Turner's downfield designs into play. What's more, Dombrowski could slide over to right tackle, where he likely would be an upgrade on Jeromey Clary, a try-hard player who would be a good backup. If Chargers can shower Darren Sproles with many millions of dollars, they should do the same with McNeill.

    • The Chargers missed Kassim Osgood

    Chiefs rookie Dexter McCluster, an exciting return specialist from Ole Miss, ripped off a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown. Teammate Javier Arenas raced 60 yards with two punts. Osgood was a Pro Bowl regular as a special teams ace for the Chargers. He signed with the Jaguars last offseason so that he could play receiver as well, and he caught a TD pass on Sunday. Turner said didn't see that TD pass and declined to comment on any former Chargers on Tuesday. He said the team's coverage players may have been rusty. They also appeared tentative, perhaps, Turner said, because they were "trying to be perfect."
     
  2. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    I commented on this and this dude is the first person I have seen post this opinion.

    The guy runs tall which presents more target area for the defenders.

    Eric Dickerson ran this way and did well so I am not sure it is all that bad. It looks awkward to me and I guess other than this writer, no one has commented on this.
     
  3. RipTheJacker

    RipTheJacker Well-Known Member

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    thank you!!!!!
     
  4. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    "I don't see the downfield passing game being nearly as exciting, owing to the absence of lead receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill.

    So after a sloppy game in the rain, where dudes were slipping and falling all over the place, and the ball was wet, it's because we had no Jackson and McNeil. How did I know this story was going to get written?

    Let's see what we look like this weekend on a dry field before we start bemoaning the end of the world for our offense because two dudes aren't there.
     
  5. Scott the Rock

    Scott the Rock BoltTalker

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    I mentioned that he ran to upright way back when everyone was salivating for him to be drafted. I think he has the talent to be great but that stand up running through the lines only works at the college level.
     
  6. SDBoltzFan

    SDBoltzFan BoltTalker

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    I agree with Gates being much more effective with VJ on the field. The Chiefs would not have been able to put two or three defenders on him.
     
  7. Dublin Bolt

    Dublin Bolt BoltTalker

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    I agree with alot of this article especially the bit about paying Sproles but not McNeill. I have to believe AJ knows he has erred in paying Darren 14m or whatever it is over 2 years. Crazy stuff. Having said that Dombo might be a better LT than a RT but he is probably an upgrade on Clary. Whatever about punt coverage there was a couple of times mon night when there was a punt you just know Kassim would have controlled down on the 1 or 2 yd line.
     
  8. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    Good read because I had not seen anyone else post this comment on his running style here (I do not read the mocks so ....)

    Eric Dickerson had the same upright running style or what I call running tall when they should be running small through the lines. He did well so we shall see.
     
  9. scratchnz

    scratchnz BoltTalker

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    Great read...I agree with almost everything
     
  10. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    38 points
    334 passing yards
    Three TD passes
    Eight different players with receptions
    15.2 yards per reception

    I guess the sky wasn't falling without Jackson.

    Yeah, it's one game, but the author was doomsaying our offense after one sloppy game in the rain.
     
  11. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Lets be fair, Jax has a terrible passing defense that allows Kyle Orton to throw for nearly 300 last week.

    We had a great game, but we need a better test to see whether we truly are as good without VJ as we were with him. Only time will tell
     
  12. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    I never made any assertions that we are as good without VJ as we are with him out there. I took issue with the nearly automatic article that was churned out after one bad week in sh*tty conditions.
     

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