Chargers Week Four Report Card
A loss is a loss is a loss. The Chargers now sit at 0-4 after having an opportunity to save their season thwarted by the Raiders. In the Black Hole, the Bolts could have made a stand, but instead, go home with their heads between their tails. Growing up in New Jersey I used to remember the saying, “SOJ” or “Same Old Jets”. Now the words apply tot he Chargers, “SOC” or “Same Old Chargers”. Losers of eight straight dating back to last season, they still get graded out…
Drew Brees stats say he had a good game. 21-31 for 187 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. He also caught a TD pass. What aren’t in the stats are the almost interceptions, the open receivers missed and the lack of getting it done when it was needed. Eric Parker caught one pass, all because of Brees. A touchdown reception, denied by Brees. Parker was streaking open down the middle of the field, and had Brees delivered the ball in stride, we would not be talking about a loss today. As the field general, he did not lead.
LaDainian Tomlinson personally took this team on his back. He ran the ball effectively to every side despite the Raiders knowing he would get the rock. 187 yards on 28 carries, including a touchdown run of 55 yards, and four receptions for 24 yards. LT also threw a touchdown pass. In overtime, Tomlinson was doing everything in his power to make it back on the field with trainers, not would be tacklers, draped all over him and harassing him. After the game, LT was one of the few Chargers to show any emotion over the loss. Neal was solid again in his blocking up front and his versatility in the short game does not go unnoticed.
The all undrafted group of receivers had its moments. Dondre Gilliam showed why he should have never been cut from the team with four receptions for 67 yards. Eric Parker got open, but Brees could not get him the ball. Kassim Osgood, not a big factor in the passing game, blocked well downfield. Grant Mattos was a no show. As a unit they dropped less balls then the normal starters.
Justin Peelle made a great catch in the end zone for a touchdown reception, snaring three overall, and Antonio Gates came alive in the passing game to snare two balls, the first two of his career, both for first downs. A holding call against Peelle ended a drive for the Chargers at midfield. They blocked well as is the norm.
The line, battered on the right side by injuries, played excellent. The running game averaged 5.7 yards per carry and Brees was not sacked. Bob Hallen had the game of his career and looked agile pulling to his left to help lead the way for Tomlinson. A 15-yard personal foul on Kelvin Garmon thwarted a drive for San Diego and Oakland scored on the next series.
Without DeQuincy Scott the defensive line would have had zero pass rush. Rich Gannon had as much time as he needed to throw the ball. Marcellus Wiley is not getting any pressure at all and the middle of the line has shown no ability to collapse the pocket. When the Raiders ran the ball, they were bust off the line.
The linebackers held down the short area quite nicely. They took away the running backs in the flat, but could not stop Doug Jolley from making plays. Their play on inside runs was fine, but the few times the ball went wide to the left side, they could not provide containment. On the goal line, Doug Jolley was left alone in the end zone with no one choosing to cover him. Zeke Moreno had a sack. He can thank the coverage for it. Donnie Edwards had an easy interception.
A 31 yard pass interference call on Quentin Jammer was iffy. The unit took away the dinks to get killed by the intermediate routes. There were several soft pockets in the 15-20 yard range and the Raiders exploited it when the Bolts failed to have a significant rush up front. Several times the Chargers secondary was left covering their man for 5-10 seconds and it is only a matter of time before receivers get open. 348 yards allowed through the air and the numbers are deceiving. The secondary played as well as they could. Give anyone the kind of time Gannon had and they will kill you in the NFL. Drayton Florence got a wake up call when the Raiders Future Hall of Famers toasted him on two or three different plays. Sammy Davis got hurt twice in the game and seems to be made of glass. The secondary play suffered when he went out.
Besides the kickoff that went out of bounds, Mike Scifres limited the Raiders return game. He did not get any inside the end zone, but his kickoffs were high and the coverage solid, allowing just 16.6 per return. The one kicked out of bounds changed the game and gave the Raiders life and meant death to the Bolts. Give the Chargers 4th and 6 at the 30 and the defense will win out most of the time when they play the Chargers. Without confidence in Steve Christie, they will go for it and miss more often than not, or just punt. Darren Bennett had one 19 yard kick, but was solid. Only one kick was returned for no gain against him and they recovered another.
(This grade is based on the lack of trust in Christie and the kickoff out of bounds. The whole unit is punished justly for this loss)
Marty Schottenheimer was brought here to teach a young, growing team how to win. He has failed miserably. Second half playcalling is again in question and the Chargers are now losers of eight straight dating back to 2002. Sure players did not execute, but it after getting rid of all the players the Bolts did, it falls on the coach to prepare his team. Where was Coach Crosby to remind Scifres to just kick it in bounds? Where is the emotion? Players draw strength from their coach and if he doesn’t believe, how will the team? Wear your heart on your sleeve.
The entire Chargers team will work at five area Payless Shoe stores for the team’s annual “Back to School Shoe Distribution” program. All players will distribute more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to needy elementary school students. Davis and Florence will be at the Junior Charger Gatorade Camp, a project of the Chargers Rookies Club, at the South Bay Recreational Center.
Denis Savage can be reached at email@example.com