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News » San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-24


San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-24


San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-24
The Chargers could be getting frustrated with the lack of burst they are seeing from LaDainian Tomlinson. That means Darren Sproles could get some more carries as the Chargers look for a spark for what has been a tepid running game. Also, they could go to more three-receiver sets after the emergence of Malcom Floyd when Chris Chambers was out. With Floyd showing what he can do and Chambers (ankle) expected to play, the Chargers might ditch the running game and start flinging it around to outlast the Saints in a shootout.


PLAYER NOTES

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson has but one 100-yard rushing game this season and has gone three games without a touchdown.

--TE Antonio Gates could be in for a big game as his hip and toe injuries are getting better. Plus, the last time the Chargers played the Saints he tied a career high with three touchdown catches.

--LT Marcus McNeill gave the team a scare last week when he twisted his ankle and had to leave the game. But he later returned and is taking all his reps this week.

--P Mike Scifres entered the game ranked second in net punting (42.3 yards) and third in gross punting (48.9).

--Despite turning the ball over three times in the loss at Buffalo, QB Philip Rivers remains the NFL's leading passer with a rating of 108.5. He has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 1,697 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.

--Before the season, CB Antonio Cromartie spoke of setting the NFL record with 15 interceptions this year; he led the league with 10 in 2007. If so, he better get busy. He has but two interceptions through seven games and they both came on Sept. 22.

--FS Eric Weddle leads the team with 20 tackles over the last two games.

GAME PLAN: It has been spotted but on rare occasions, but the Chargers need to rediscover what was once one of the most powerful running games in the league. The Chargers should pound the ball -- it's up to them how successful they are -- and keep the ball away from Saints quarterback Drew Brees. If they can run -- and score -- and keep Brees on the sidelines, it lessens the changes of him getting to pick apart a pass defense that is being battered like a low-hanging pinata.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers pass defense and a weak pass rush vs. the Saints high-octane passing game. The Chargers couldn't as so much lay a hand on Trent Edwards last week and he torched them right out of Western New York. Somehow the Chargers need to find a pass rush or any quarterback -- but especially one as accurate and hell-bent on revenge as Drew Brees -- will tear them up. The Chargers are dead last in defending the pass and that ranking is no mistake. The Chargers' task gets tougher with WR Marques Colston back in the lineup; they catch a break with Reggie Bush (knee) being out. The trouble for the Chargers' pass rushers -- they do have some, don't they? -- is that the Saints offensive line is stout and takes protecting Brees seriously. What's scary is while the Chargers are ranked last in defending the pass, the Saints are ranked first in passing.

--The Chargers running game, which has been inconsistent, vs. Saints run defense, which is ranked 16th but got pushed around a bit in last week's loss to the Panthers. The Chargers know it -- so does everyone knowing football: If the Chargers can't run the ball, they are fooling themselves in thinking they are an elite team. This didn't figure to be a problem with the great LaDainian Tomlinson but Tomlinson hasn't run like he used to -- he still has an injured big toe -- and the run blocking has been shaky. The Saints, though, gave up 143 rushing yards last Sunday, although before that it kept teams right around 80 rushing yards per game. This will be a key part of the game if the Chargers want.

--Chargers run defense, with inside linebackers Stephen Cooper and Tim Dobbins, vs. a Saints running game missing Reggie Bush. The Chargers' run defense hasn't been terrible -- in fact it has shown signs of coming on of late. But the key is when it absolutely has to stop a team and get off the field -- like when needing the ball back when trailing -- it hasn't been able to get that big stop. Cooper and Dobbins have brought some life into the run defense after they were recently inserted into the run defense. But this might not play into the Chargers hands, with Bush being out, because they will face a more smash-mouth type of running attack from Deuce McAllister, Aaron Stecker and Pierre Thomas. The Chargers' 3-4 alignment means their linebackers are more quick than beefy, which translates into being able to move more to track down speedy runners like Bush. Instead, they must prove Sunday that they can stick their nose in the gap and take runners more likely to run through them than around them.

INJURY IMPACT:

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) went through the workout and is a go for Sunday. But it's worth watching how the toe holds up during the game. If it becomes fatigued, it could mean more carries for Darren Sproles.

--CB Antonio Cromartie (hip) wasn't able to practice. That hip has been a season-long ailment, and if he's not 100 percent against the Saints' pass-happy attack, it could be a real drawback for the Chargers.

--WR Chris Chambers (ankle) was limited in his work and the team no longer feels as optimistic as earlier in the week that he will play Sunday; he's missed the past two games. If he can't go -- and even if he does -- it means more playing time for Malcom Floyd.

--OLB Jyles Tucker (hamstring) continues to work and appears to be ready for Sunday. He's been out the last three games and the Chargers are in dire need of a pass rush against QB Drew Brees.

--WR Craig Davis (groin) didn't work and won't play on Sunday. No big loss as he could have been a healthy inactive if Chris Chambers goes.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 24, 2008

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