- Aug 18, 2005
A season-opening upset loss is deflating for a team and fans alike, but the day after the Chargers’ 28-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Marty Schottenheimer didn’t sound like a man short on air. This is his 20th season as an NFL head coach, after all.
“I’ve been 0-1 before,” said Schottenheimer, now in his fourth season as the Chargers’ head coach. “As I told our football team, it’s a marathon. That’s what it is – day after day, week after week.”
The Chargers’ second game of the four-month marathon is Sunday at the Denver Broncos, a team that also suffered an upset loss. The Broncos are playing their home opener after losing to the Miami Dolphins 34-10.
In addition to the Chargers and Broncos, the Oakland Raiders lost their opener on Thursday at the New England Patriots, 30-20. Of the four AFC West teams, only the Kansas City Chiefs came away a winner, beating the New York Jets 27-7.
“On the positive side, we’re in a division where we’re only a game out to one team,” Schottenheimer said. “Three teams are 0-1.”
Head coach Marty Schottenheimer talks to the media about the Dallas Cowboy game, penalties, special teams, the final drive, Bhawoh Jue, injuries, Bill Parcells, Shawne Merriman, Darren Sproles and Ben Leber.
Marty Schottenheimer (20:44)
Drew Brees talks to the media about the final drive, not using Tomlinson as much in the second half, third and longs, his summary of the Dallas game, Antonio Gates, Kris Dielman and Justin Peelle.
Drew Brees (4:30)
LaDainian Tomlinson talks to the media about Drew Brees, doing what he's called to do, Antonio Gates opening up the running and passing game and not being selfish.
LaDainian Tomlinson (1:58)
Antonio Gates talks to the media about not having control on what's happening, being a team, Justin Peelle, being happy to play again, being in practice shape and whether he's on the active roster.
Antonio Gates (2:56)
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Schottenheimer said the coverage and returns by the special teams were probably the best he’s seen in his time in San Diego and maybe as good as any he’s seen of all his teams. He mentioned the play of Hanik Milligan, Kassim Osgood, Stephen Cooper and the returns of rookie Darren Sproles.
“It’s unfortunate with that kind of a performance in the kicking game we didn’t come up with a win,” Schottenheimer said. “Basically, you need to win two out of three phases to prevail in a game. You always want to say if you prevailed in the kicking game, you only need to win one of the other two phases of offense or defense.”
Schottenheimer said the game was close enough that the Chargers only needed to convert their final possession, when they had first-and-goal at the 7-yard line in the final two minutes, or prevent one of Dallas’ third-down conversions that led to a touchdown, to win a second phase and the game.
“It came down to our inability to make plays in that drive where we had four shots from the 7-yard line,” Schottenheimer said. “We didn’t make a single one of them. On the defensive side, they converted 7-of-11 third downs, which you can’t (allow). And three of those first downs were from penalties.”
Cornerback Quentin Jammer was twice called for pass interference. On one Schottenheimer said Jammer was playing bump-and-run defense within the 5-yard bump zone, but Bledsoe aimed a quick pass.
“He was within the legal jam zone,” Schottenheimer said. “But you become a victim of circumstance because you have no control over when the quarterback throws the ball.”
Overall, Schottenheimer said Jammer “played really well,” but he did add the other holding call to prevent a long completion was one Jammer must learn to avoid.
“You have to have confidence that the ball won’t necessarily be thrown perfect,” Schottenheimer said. “And if the guy does catch it, so what. In the National Football League if you play cornerback, you’re going to get beat, and you’re going to get beat a number of times in the game. I know he’s disappointed and frustrated, but to me it’s part of the game.”
He was more concerned with the overall pass defense than Jammer’s play specifically.
“We have got to do a far better job,” he said. “We’re not where we need to be from a coverage standpoint, there is no doubt about that.”
He said the Cowboys’ game plan to bring linebackers and safeties from a 3-4 defense to fill gaps prevented the Chargers from giving the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson more on runs or screen passes. Tomlinson was forced to stay in and block in the final series rather than roll out for a pass.
“They played considerable man-to-man, which compromises your screen game,” Schottenheimer said. “We saw eight men in the box. As we reflected we probably could have tried to get him the ball more than we did, but we were having success throwing the ball.”
Schottenheimer also said that defensive end Igor Olshansky’s bruised quad was more serious than his sprained ankle, but the team won’t know his availability until later in the week. The Chargers also are hopeful defensive end/outside linebacker Shawne Merriman to make his pro debut after missing last week’s game with an injury.