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Offensive line building chemistry

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Norv Turner insists Nick Hardwick will be the Chargers’ starting center if and when he is able.

    But the head coach acknowledges it is valid to at least wonder if that’s what is best for the Chargers after going on three months with Scott Mruczkowski as a part of the chemistry experiment that is an offensive line.

    At this point, deferral is what’s best.

    “We’re a ways away from having to deal with that,” Turner said. “I think Mooch has handled this thing extremely well. … Any time you have a guy injured and you have somebody playing for them, it’s always a tough decision, particularly if you’re playing well.”
    Mruczkowski has come a long way since his first start, in the season’s second game against Baltimore, when he and fill-in right guard Brandyn Dombrowski were overwhelmed by the speed and scheme of the Ravens’ blitzes. He has improved weekly, and while he lacks Hardwick’s athleticism and acumen, Mruczkowski has become a valuable member of a line playing its best in the past month.

    “He’s done an unbelievable job,” Hardwick said. “To take advantage of the opportunity he’s had, we’re super proud of him. I’m pumped for him.”

    Go to Gates

    Philip Rivers has completed at least nine passes to eight receivers. He spreads the ball around as well as almost any quarterback and is grateful for his abundance of targets.

    But Antonio Gates remains his go-to guy after all these seasons.

    “Oh yeah,” Rivers said with a smile. “I mean, that’s a hard one to answer. But I think there’s no doubt about it. As trust, chemistry grows with time, well, it’s the guy you’ve known the longest, thrown to the most, gotten the feel for the best. That’s just the facts.

    “And a tight end, and in this case one who’s really not the normal tight end, is in a lot of cases that safety net.”
    Among Gates’ 67 receptions are 18 on third down. Every pass Gates has caught on third down has been converted into a first down. The Chargers converted on five third downs Sunday in Cleveland, and four were on passes to Gates.

    Gates has always been a first-down machine and is on a remarkable tear of late — with 18 of his past 19 receptions going for first downs. His average of yards after a catch is significantly higher than in any of his previous six seasons.

    “This is the best he’s ever played,” Rivers said. “That’s saying a lot if you’ve watched him over the years.”

    Rivers ranked 13th in the league with a 91.8 passer rating after the season’s fifth game. Seven games later, he is third at 104.9 — behind Brett Favre (108.5) and Drew Brees (111.3).

    Antonio Cromartie was targeted four times last week and has been targeted 53 times this season, third-fewest among the league’s cornerbacks who have started all 12 games. Cromartie has had 31 passes completed on him.

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