NCTimes: Chargers report card

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

By: JAY PARIS - Staff Writer

QUARTERBACK: C - Drew Brees had but a 85.3 rating and had a hand in two turnovers. That is not a winning performance in coach Marty Schottenheimer's eyes, as well as Brees? Did you see he heaved it 30 times in the first half, on his way to a career-high 52 tosses? That was the hint all was not right under LaDainian Tomlinson's pads.


Tomlinson was probably no more than 75 percent to 80 percent fit as his bruised chest still bothered him. He took himself out after some plays and didn't seem to have his usual burst through the hole ---- the rare occasion one appeared. Still, he averaged 3,6 yards on 21 carries, but it was obvious he wasn't right.


When seven receivers catch the ball, that's distribution. But the trouble is many of the completions were little dink passes that came about because the Dolphins' secondary played up to its reputation. Keenan McCardell did match a career high with his eighth scoring catch. Antonio Gates was a monster with a career-best 13 catches. Surprised, though, that Zach Thomas wrested away a pass from him.


This unit hangs its helmet on its run-blocking, and it was crucial a wounded Tomlinson had some room to run. But the Dolphins plugged nearly every gap and were disciplined enough not to allow the cutbacks. Shane Olivea was tagged for a false start, and the line had a hand in an illegal-formation flag. Plus, Brees got sacked three times.


Miami's running game was thrown on the scrapheap with all the others, restricted to 71 yards. Jamal Williams had six tackles to lead this unit; Luis Castillo added four. But the inside pressure on passing plays was seldom seen, which allowed Gus Frerotte to sidestep the rush from the edges.


Randall Godfrey started the final regular-season month of his career with gusto, collecting a team-high eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Donnie Edwards collected six tackles. But where was the rush? Shawne Merriman has returned to earth with a thud, Steve Foley went another game without a sack and Shaun Phillips got pressure but not a bring-down.


It's as easy to predict as Schottenheimer blowing his lid after a rival's long kickoff return. When the front seven doesn't pester the quarterback, the defense's back end gets exploited. And while there were a handful of key pass defenses turned, the bottom line is Drayton Florence got burned for a touchdown and Quentin Jammer got turned around for another one. Today is the one-year anniversary of Jammer's last interception. Funny, but there was no confetti being tossed.


Darren Sproles' fumble on a kickoff return was a killer, giving the Dolphins a short field that they quickly covered for a touchdown. The coverage unit, again, was rocked for a long return, Wes Welker's 43-yarder. Welker averaged 30 yards on three efforts.


Maybe it's like that annoying drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. Schottenheimer is relentless in telling his players about the one-play-at-a-time, one-game-at-a-time mantra. Some Chargers said they were so focused, that they played tight. The pass rush never did get to Frerotte, which is baffling with the difficulties Miami's line was experiencing. If the scheme is lacking there, the secondary doesn't stand a chance.