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Postcard from Chargers training camp

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by sdbound, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. sdbound

    sdbound Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2006

    By Shawne Merriman


    August 3, 2008

    We're a little more than a week into camp.
    Camp will bring all the emotions. Camp will make people retire. This is always a tough period. Your body aches, you're hurt. It's a tough time you've got to get through mentally. After the first week, it's all mental. Your offseason workouts get you through that first week, because you're athletically fit. But after that first week, now it's mental. Now it's repetition of things you've got to do every day.

    I haven't been on the field for practice a few times recently because I want to work on things specifically that I need for my knee, which I had surgery on in March. Like I didn't practice Wednesday, but I did on Thursday and then I took Friday morning off and practiced Friday afternoon.
    When I'm not out there, I'm just inside doing a lot of isolated stuff, things for my knee to strengthen things up and make sure everything is ready to go once the season starts. It's obvious I know how to play, that I can get things done. But it's not going to do anybody any good if I'm not 100 percent.

    This rest will be regular. I've got to get ready. You saw the things we went through last year having guys run down. The way I play is never going to change, but the way I practice and prepare can change. I can rest. So I might take a morning off every other day or so.

    My knee is fine, but I feel a lot better right now than if I were out there all the time.


    Chargers practice art of the takeaway

    By Kevin Acee

    August 3, 2008

    DeJuan Tribble swooped in quickly and cleanly, reached around the receiver and knocked the ball away during a one-on-one drill during practice this week.
    The rookie cornerback showed good form, played the ball well and probably felt pretty good about himself . . . for a second-and-a-half.

    From across the field came the voice of assistant secondary coach Kevin Ross: “It's not volleyball, baby. Take it the other way.”

    Welcome to the Chargers, son. Now get ahold of that ball.

    That's how the Chargers rolled last season to an 11-5 record and an eight-game winning streak that carried them into the AFC Championship Game.

    For the first time since ever, the Chargers led the NFL in takeaways, with 48, and interceptions, with 30. For the first time since 1993, they led the league in turnover ratio, at plus-24.

    Most of those weren't just throwaway turnovers that made for nice stats. It is remarkable how many of the Chargers' victories were swayed by a takeaway and how in their losses they failed to take enough and gave too often.

    For every Clinton Hart pick of Peyton Manning at the end of regulation, there were two Shawne Merriman forced fumbles that stopped good drives (one against Baltimore and one against Tennessee in the playoffs) and three Antonio Cromartie interceptions in the end zone (one against Indianapolis and two at Kansas City) that changed games.

    And a few of the losses were affected conversely.

    Maybe the Chargers aren't embarrassed in New England in the season's second week if Philip Rivers' first pass isn't intercepted at the San Diego 28 and his fifth pass isn't intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

    And maybe the crowd at Qualcomm Stadium doesn't end up chanting “Marty, Marty” after the Kansas City game if Rivers isn't intercepted twice and doesn't get hit from behind, fumble and watch helplessly as the guy who stripped the ball (Tyron Brackenridge) runs 51 yards for the put-away score.

    So, now, as they chase that elusive Lombardi Trophy, the question is: Can the Chargers achieve a plus-24 turnover margin again?

    “I think you've got to be able to count on that,” Norv Turner said.

    To that end, Turner had offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon stand up in front of the team in their first meeting this summer and talk about ball security, proper handling of the ball, about the fact that LaDainian Tomlinson has not fumbled in 678 regular-season carries, how not one time after any of the Chargers' 30 interceptions last season did they give the ball back by turnover, about protecting the quarterback so he isn't blindsided and likely to fumble.

    Then defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell stood up and talked about how to strip the ball, every player running to the ball, wanting the ball in the air, and he showed more than a dozen clips of the Chargers creating turnovers in 2007.

    “From day one, they understand if you get the ball in your hands, you're going to protect it,” Turner said. “And if you don't protect it, you're not going to play. Then defensively, you run to ball. You hustle, good things happen. That's what we're selling.”

    There was certainly an increased emphasis on creating turnovers last season under Cottrell and with the added expertise of new inside linebackers coach Ron Rivera, who was coordinator for a Bears defense that led the NFL with 44 takeaways in 2006. But coaching turnovers is a difficult thing to do. It takes players (like Cromartie, who set a team record and led the NFL with 10 interceptions.) And it takes a certain mindset.

    “I think it's more a mentality,” Merriman said. “It's like we're going to get the ball every time.”

    The Chargers learned about ball security on offense as well.

    When the Chargers started protecting the ball last season, they started winning. In their five losses by mid-November, the Chargers were minus-6 in turnovers.

    Up until the AFC Championship loss, the Chargers were 12-0 in games in which they won the turnover battle.

    In just the eight-game winning streak from November to January, they were plus-18 in turnovers. Rivers was intercepted just five times in 214 attempts in that span (versus 14 interceptions in 332 attempts in the Chargers other 11 games), Billy Volek was intercepted once and the Chargers lost just two fumbles while their defense took the ball away 26 times.

    “It's amazing,” Rivers said. “I'd love to know over a year's time period the statistics of who wins the turnover battle and who wins the game.”

    Well, Philip, we can do better than one year's sample. According to Elias Sports Bureau, over the past five seasons NFL teams that have won the turnover battle are 835-193 (an .812 winning percentage).

    The Chargers were better than that. And they're working to be so again.

    “I don't think you can count on being plus-24 every year, but I'll tell you what it's a huge part of our emphasis here,” Rivers said. “ . . . (Turnovers) correlate to wins. If you don't throw any touchdowns but you don't throw any picks, you're probably going to win.”
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  2. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    Nice. Danke.
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Merriman is pussing out on TC. :icon_tease:
  4. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    So is Jamal. When are these guys gonna a get a clue and beat themselves up for us before the season starts so we can rave about them during training camp and deprive us of the joy of ripping them when they wear down during the season? I'm going to have to tease the parrot with his crackers to get my sadistic pleasure now.

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