Cris Collinsworth Has a Point…

While listening to the post game reports and waiting for my pasta to boil for dinner prior to the Bills/Patriots game (while I was crocheting an afghan for my sofa to calm my nerves after a really frustrating Chargers’ loss), I actually heard Cris Collinsworth utter something that made sense.  With respect to LT’s lack of productivity thus far this season, the main factor is the disrespect by opponents toward the Chargers’ passing game. 

Hence the reason for the offensive slump, and, most importantly, Philip Rivers’ troubles.  Collinsworth very accurately pointed out that when Rivers is rushed, he doesn’t have the opportunity to plant his feet and successfully complete a pass.  His improvisational play is pretty poor.  As a result, defenses are focusing on the probability that San Diego will run the ball, typically with LT, and are able to successfully stop him short of any real gain.

So listen up John Ramsdell …do whatever you have to do to get Rivers to do what you got him to do last season.  You know, when the Bolts were the best team in the league at 14-2 and had eleven Pro Bowlers, including Rivers.  You know, last year, when Rivers had 3,000+ yds, 22 TDs and only 9 INTs.  If it means ignoring Norv, then, by all means, DO IT.  (Yes, I’m a bit perturbed.)  Go on and turn Rivers into a QB great like you did to Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger. 

Oh, and while you’re at it, I know you used to be the Rams’ WR coach as well, so please, would you and James Lofton do something with our WRs??!!  The dropped balls have got to stop (are you listening Vincent Jackson??  I love you man, but you need to hang on to the ball.)  Chris Chambers has had some fabulous grabs, and Buster Davis is coming along; but the inconsistencies are glaring.

Football gets me through the holiday stress; however, this year, the Chargers are contributing even more.  I’m too young for hypertension.  Come on guys, I’m your number one fan (no, not in the Stephen King-“Misery” sense), and if you care about your fans, you’ll find a way to win out the season, beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, and win your first Super Bowl.  I know you can do it, but do you?

Rivers in trouble

(Rivers in trouble….)


*&!?%?@#$ (Week 11 Postgame, SD @ JAX)

Norv’s expression says it all.

Chargers 17,  Jaguars 24

What happened to the awesome DST from last week?

David Garrard entered this game after a 3-game injury absence with no INTs all season, a situation (Chargers fans would think) prime for another steller performance by the Chargers’ defense.  Unfortunately, there were several missed opportunities for INTs.  But this season has been just that for San Diego — a season of missed opportunities

Philip Rivers did, however, regain a portion of his confidence with a few very nice completions to Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers, ending the day 22/40 for 309 yds, 1 TD and 2 INTs.  LaDainian Tomlinson managed another TD today off 62 rushing yds (as well as a nice 93 receiving yds), and is edging ever closer to the 10,000 yard mark,

One plus was the relatively clean game played by both teams:  no sacks, no turnovers, and very few penalties.  That is, until the 4th quarter when San Diego just self-destructed.  A pass interference call on Chambers negated a 19-yd gain, followed by an INT by Rivers.

However, another momentum shift brought San Diego to within 7 points, after a nice 24-yd TD by Antonio Gates.  A definitive defensive stand by San Diego gave Rivers plenty of time to engineer a game-tying drive; cut short by Rivers’ 2nd INT, ending the game, for all intents and purposes, with under 2 minutes left – dropping San Diego back to .500 and extending Jacksonville’s record to 7-3.

The one bright spot for San Diego today was the loss by Kansas City to Indianapolis, keeping San Diego atop the AFC West.

As a postscript, Norv Turner did, in fact, act out of character by challenging a legitimate play; a fabulous catch by Chris Chambers, originally called incomplete, but reversed.  The play calling had its moments of brilliance, most notably giving LT more touches and the ability to contribute to the game; however, as usual this season, it just wasn’t enough.

The Chargers host the equally-streaky Baltimore Ravens next week, coming off a wild loss to Cleveland.

SD v. JAX


Why….

does Norv Turner insist on challenging plays that are unwinnable?  It was blatantly obvious on both challenges last week vs. Indy that they were unwinnable.  I understand that some feel that using a challenge saves a timeout; however, if a coach loses two of them, he doesn’t get anymore.  Plain and simple.  And what if he REALLY needs to use one later in the game?  Instant replay has been around since 1999; at least the instant replay we all know and love(?)  Due to excessive abuse resulting in 4+ hour games, since the 2004 season, an amendment was added to grant a team a third challenge if the first two were actually won; although this isn’t utilized frequently as oftentimes the coach needs to make a split-second decision before the opponent runs the next play.  However, in the case of the Chargers/Colts game, they were obviously (at least to me) bad calls.   And, apparently I’m not the only critic.


Week 11 Pregame – Chargers (5-4) at Jaguars (6-3)

During their last meeting, in 2004, San Diego won 34-21 behind the arm of Drew Brees, the hands of Antonio Gates, and 3 defensive turnovers.  Prior to that game, the only other meeting proved victorious for Jacksonville.

Both teams have a lot on the line this week.  With the Chargers’ throttling of the Colts last Sunday night, Jacksonville is poised to tie Indy for 1st place atop the AFC South should they lose again.  San Diego is trying to achieve some consistency to keep them atop the AFC West; a division many were picking the Chargers to easily win; however, poor play calling and costly mistakes have cost them dearly.

David Garrard is expected to return to the Jaguars’ lineup after a 3-week absence due to a high ankle sprain.  Interestingly, he is the only regular’ starting QB who is yet to toss an INT this season; and with the Chargers’ DST stellar performance last week, it is widely expected that he will suffer at least his first turnover.

Jacksonville isn’t a team to be taken lightly.  They currently are 3rd in the league rushing, putting up 168 yards against the then-#1 ranked rushing Titans’ defense last week.  Similarly, San Diego’s top-10 ranked rushing defense was exploited during week 9’s embarrassment in Minnesota, where Adrian Peterson set the new single game rushing record of 296 yards. 

The key to a Chargers victory lies in the effectiveness of San Diego to reestablish their passing attack.  Philip Rivers has looked uncomfortable in the pocket all season; not to mention the poor play-calling has virtually eliminated Antonio Gates’ and the Chargers’ WR corps’ productivity.  On the ground, LaDainian Tomlinson, coming off a record-setting season last year, hasn’t had the opportunity to shine thus far yet, although he does lead the league in TDs by a RB with 9.  Antonio Cromartie will get the start again for an injured Quentin Jammer and he, along with the rest of the Chargers DST need to continue to force turnovers.


Week 11 Early Injury Analysis

C Nick Hardwick has been in limited participation in practice:  a GOOD thing after his recent absence from his recent foot injury, as has CB Quentin Jammer with his hamstring (although with Cromartie’s stellar performance last week, Jammer wouldn’t be causing the team any harm by taking it easy this week too.)

DE Luis Castillo is out for several weeks after the Vikings-induced foot injury.  (Get well Luis!!)

Apparently there was a slew of problems as a result of the Chargers annihilation of the Colts (yeah, I know, a strong word, but oh so fun to type!) including the following (all who rested on Wednesday…and deservedly so after the utter destruction of Peyton Manning’s ego (OK, I’ll stop now.)

LB Shawne Merriman, ankle; LB Shaun Phillips, groin (I guess it wasn’t completely healed last week); LB Marques Harris, toe; DE Jacques Cesaire, toe (dang that turf!); S Eric Weddle, knee.

Take care guys, heal (or, in some cases, heel) quickly!!

(Report courtesy of chargers.com; humor courtesy of me!)


San Diego’s Special Teams ARE Special!

In this day and age of “me me me” players, it’s nice to see a cohesive team who genuinely respects each other.  As is the case of the Chargers special teams.  Actually, the entire team is like that, with no “superstars” taking the spotlight or complaining about not seeing enough action.  Really, here is a team with the current reigning MVP of the entire league; and although LT isn’t having as stellar a year as last season, you NEVER hear him complain or bad mouth his teammates.

Along those same lines, the Chargers special teams players are really special.  They are constantly praising each other, and when one player receives special accolades, it is acknowledged and shared by all.  For example, when Mike Scifres won the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week a few weeks ago, he shared the honor by praising his teammates; similarly for Antonio Cromartie (who should receive the Defensive Player of the Week for week 10.)  Scifres praises long snapper David Binn and all the coverage guys who ensure his punts get the most yardage.  Similarly, Darren Sproles gave kudos to fellow RB Andrew Pinnock (who usually doesn’t see much offensive action) for throwing a key block in Sproles’ successful opening KR for a TD.  Kassim Osgood’s athleticism pinned Indy deep inside their own territory on several occasions, while both Marques Harris (LOVE the roundoff/backflips) and Carlos Polk were key in stopping the Colts’ special teams.  And, as always, Nate Kaeding showed why he is one of the premier kickers in the league (step aside Mr. Vinatieri!)

Keep up the great work San Diego….and the camaraderie!!


The Unofficial Antonio Cromartie & Darren Sproles Praise Blog

Antonio CromartieChargers officials collected Antonio Cromartie’s gloves, shoes and jersey along with the ball he returned 109-yards after Ryan Longwell’s missed FG last week.  These items are on display in Chargers Park commemorating Cromartie’s unbreakable new NFL record. 

Now, about those defending World Champion Colts…3 INTs by Cromartie in the 1st half (and kudos to Shaun Phillips, Clinton Hart and Matt Wilhelm for one apiece also.)  Undoubtedly he will be named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week this week.

Amazing one-handed INT

Darren Sproles

Secondly, way to go FINALLY Darren Sproles!  Returning the opening kickoff 89 yards for a TD, then a subsequent punt return TD of 45 yards, becoming the first player to accomplish this feat since the Chiefs’ Dante Hall in 2002.  I am thinking AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. 

Darren Sproles PK TD return.

(You know, I told Sproles he would break one when I met him after the Cardinals/Chargers preseason game in Phoenix earlier this season.  I hope he remembered!  Check out the autograph below (w/Jamal Williams’!))

Darren Sproles & Jamal Williams Autographs

The ultimate honor for these two this week, however, has to be the Sunday Night Football horse trailer!!  Way to go!!!  Nice mugshots, by the way!!

(Source:  chargers.com)


Week 10 Postgame – Colts @ Bolts

Chargers 23, Colts 21

Let me gain my composure first……

Allright….what a game!  I’m surprised the police weren’t dispatched to my house due to the noise!

On the first play of the game, Darren Sproles FINALLY breaks an 89-yd TD kickoff return!  And then, still in the first quarter, he breaks a punt return for another 45-yard TD, the only player to return both a kick off and punt for a TD since
Kansas City’s Dante Hall in 2002.

AFC Special Teams Stud of the Week last week Antonio Cromartie stayed at the top of his game, intercepting Peyton Manning in the endzone to halt the Colts’ first drive of the game.  Then a second INT by Shaun Phillips, returning after an injury, to give Manning the first 2-INT quarter in his career.   Correction, 3 INTs after Cromartie’s 2nd one, still in the 1st quarter.  Correction, 4 INTS, and #3 for Cromartie in the 2nd quarter.

Now on to the 2nd half.  What’s this?  Another INT by Matt Wilhelm after Manning completed a 4th and 2 at midfield to avoid a punt.

And there the game turns.  The Colts scored 21 unanswered points in the 2nd half; however, Mr. Automatic Adam Vinatieri uncharacteristically missed 2 FGs, and the final drive by Indy ended with the 6th INT of Manning to give the heartstopping win to the Chargers.

Yes, Philip Rivers looked off (again) and whether it was the rain or nerves, now it really doesn’t matter (although I started him on one of my fantasy teams.)  LT managed a TD,  76 rushing yds and 21 receiving yds.  Antonio Gates was held to 3 receptions for only 26 yds. 

It was the DST which was the star of this game.  Sproles’ 2 TDs, Cromartie’s 3 INTs, and INTs by Phillips, Clinton Hart, and Matt Wilhelm. 

The Chargers lead the AFC West now by one game over the Chiefs and Broncos.  While still atop the AFC South, the Colts also have a narrow one game lead over Tennessee and Jacksonville.

Courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images

(Simply amazing!)

Manning/Rivers

(6 INTs?  Where’s the real Peyton and what have you done with him?)

 


Week 10 Injury Report

C Nick Hardwick – foot.  Still out after his injury against the Texans.  Cory Withrow stays in his absence.

DE Luis Castillo – ankle.  Out 6-8 weeks after having surgery to correct his ankle injury sustained last week against the Vikings.

CB Quentin Jammer – hamstring.  He has missed the last 2 practices and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s matchup against the Colts.  Special-teams stud Antonio Cromartie is eager to get his first career start.

LB Marques Harris – toe.  He missed Thursday’s practices and is listed as questionable for this week.

LB Shawne Merriman – knees.  Soreness kept him out of practice Wednesday, but he participated fully in Thurday’s sessions.

LB Shaun Philips – groin.  Full participation in this week’s practices.

WR Craig Davis – ankle.  Participated fully in this week’s practices.


Marty-ball may have been bad, but Turner-ball is worse

Marty Schottenheimer holds a unique distinction.  He is the winningest coach since 1966 to never make it to the Super Bowl.  200-126-1 in regular season, and a disappointing 5-13 in the postseason.  He has led both the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game, losing to the Denver Broncos in both 1986 and 1987 with Cleveland; as well as losing to the Buffalo Bills in 1993 while helming the Chiefs.

Many believe his best shot was last season with the 14-2 Chargers.  Unfortunately they were eliminated at home by the New England Patriots who then went on to lose to the world champion Indianapolis Colts.

Soon after his latest postseason disappointment, Schottenheimer lost both his offensive and defensive coordinators.  The strained relationship with general manager A.J. Smith (namely over their vocal differences regarding Drew Brees and Philip Rivers) resulted in Schottenheimer’s firing.

Marty Schottenheimer

(Yeah, Marty…I’d be angry too!)

Enter Norv Turner on February 19, 2007; his third head coaching job (previously Cleveland and Oakland.)  He inherited a 14-2 team with perhaps the best collective talent of any team in recent history and managed to lose 3 of his first 4 games; however, making a turnaround to get the Chargers back to .500 going into week 8.  They extended their win streak beating the Texans in week 9; however, in Minnesota, it appeared as though Turner regressed to the horrible play calling which surfaced during their losing streak, most notedly, not giving LaDainian Tomlinson the ball nearly enough.

Much speculation was focused on Turner’s hiring.  With head coaches with more than 3 full seasons, Turner has the dubious distinction of being the worst head coach in NFL history based on his win/loss percentage.  Definitely NOT reassuring to Chargers fans, or even players.  Hopefully both he and the Bolts can regain and maintain their winning ways throughout the rest of the season, particularly as they host the defending World Champion Colts in week 10.

The Turner/Schottenheimer story has come full circle.  You see, when Norv was fired by Washington after a bleak 2000 season, Marty was hired to replace him.

(Sources:  Norv Turner takes the reins in San Diego.  USA Today, Wikipedia.org.)