What a strange start to the 2010 NFL season it has been. Who would have thought that week six would feature a match-up between the 1-3 Dallas Cowboys and 1-3 Minnesota Vikings? No one could have predicted Tony Romo may have thrown the Cowboys season away after a mere five games. And how about the Chargers? If someone told you before the season that the Chiefs and Raiders would be ahead of San Diego in the AFC West with less than two-thirds of the season remaining, you’d probably have laughed in their face.
Such is the nature of the National Football League, and the Chargers now must face the reality of a must-win game against one of the better teams in the AFC. The AFC West isn’t the strongest division so losing this weekend wouldn’t kill San Diego’s chances, but they certainly don’t want to start the season 2-5. If they’re missing Antonio Gates, they may not have a choice.
One player normally won’t make or break a team’s chances, but Gates is about as close as it gets on that front. The Chargers have already been without their top wide receiver in Vincent Jackson, who remains a holdout. Malcom Floyd has filled in admirably in Jackson’s absence, but he suffered a hamstring injury against the Rams on Sunday and isn’t expected to play this weekend. Legedu Naanee is battling a hamstring injury of his own and was unable to go on against St. Louis. The Chargers are “hopeful” Gates can suit up against New England with a toe injury, but if he can’t it could be a long day for San Diego.
It’s no secret that the Patriots’ weakest component is their pass defense. Without Gates, Floyd, and Naanee, it’s tough to imagine a Philip Rivers and the Chargers would be able to exploit that weakness. If San Diego’s slow start persists and the injury bug starts getting a hold of them, Chargers fans may be headed for the ledge.
The Chargers’ offense looked great on Sunday, roasting the Raiders for 506 total yards, 415 of them coming in the air. Despite the impressive output, they managed to lose to the Raiders for the first time in 14 games, falling 35-27 in Oakland.
Special teams was the bane of San Diego’s demise once again. Their first two possessions, they had Mike Scifres’ punts blocked by the Raiders resulting in a safety and a touchdown. The blocked punts book ended a Raiders field goal, so San Diego was down 12-0 early in the game.
As if the special teams problems weren’t enough, Mike Tolbert and Philip Rivers lost back-to-back fumbles from the Oakland 1 and 14 in consecutive possessions. Even with the problems, the Chargers wasted little time taking the lead in the second quarter and a 17-15 lead into halftime.
San Diego’s defense did a good job shutting down the Raiders. They only gave up 279 yards with 16 of Oakland’s 35 points coming on defense or special teams. One has to figure that without the special teams problems the Chargers would have won the game.
That marks the third game San Diego had costly mistakes on special teams, all of which resulted in losses for the Chargers. They lost their season-opener in Kansas City, allowing a punt return for a touchdown by Dexter McCluster in a 21-14 game. They lost in week three to Seattle giving up two kickoffs returned for a touchdown by Leon Washington. In week five, they lost to the Raiders giving up nine points thanks to two blocked punts. It’s not unreasonable to think that the Chargers could easily be 5-0, and most people have to feel they’re better than their 2-3 record. They better get these problems fixed before it’s too late to make the playoffs.
It was 2nd down, final two minutes of the game, Broncos looking to tie it up. In a play that seemed all too familiar to anyone who had seen the infamous Brady tuck rule play against the Raiders, Jay Cutler rolled right, let the ball escape his hand, and seemed to have fumbled the game away to the Chargers. Only problem, Ed Hochuli inadvertently blew his whistle as soon as the ball hit the ground, meaning only the fumble/interception could be overturned. By blowing his whistle too early on, Hochuli prevented the Chargers from taking over possession of the football. Hochuli knows he screwed up, and the Broncos know they caught a lucky break:
“I blew it,” is how Hochuli explained it to Turner on the sideline.
“That is not acceptable,” Turner said. “This is the NFL. Our guys fought hard to come back. It was just disappointing to have that kind of performance spoiled by that call.”
“I think it was a fumble,” Cutler said afterward, and he was one of many Broncos to say so.
That’s a terrible break for the Chargers, but there’s no way to be certain that they would have recovered the fumble had the whistle not blown. Additionally, the Chargers still could have stopped the Broncos on the 4th down play or the two point conversion to get the win. They didn’t do either. Sure, I’m disappointed since the Chargers were one of Doc Brown’s picks, but reality is that San Diego had this game won. Check out video of the final minute around the 2:20 mark to see the blown call:
Wednesday it was announced that LaDainian Tomlinson was pulling out of the Pro Bowl because of his knee injury. Later in an interview with ESPNews Tomlinson said the severity of his knee injury should have been explained more to the public so that he wouldn’t have been criticized by analysts the way he was. Turns out Tomlinson has a sprained MCL — not that we’re doctors here. The point, as I discussed with my pops the other day, is that Norv Turner actually is one deceptive mofo. Follow me for a second.
For two weeks in a row, All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates was listed as doubtful with a toe injury. Both against the Colts and Patriots, Gates was doubtful after hurting his toe against the Titans. Doubtful means just that — doubtful to play, like 25% chance. Most guys who are listed as doubtful during the regular season don’t wind up playing. About half of questionable guys play, and most guys who are probable play — just as the words would indicate. Moreover, Philip Rivers was doubtful as well for the Patriots game with a partially torn ACL. Both Gates and Rivers played. Now LaDainian Tomlinson, despite his knee injury, wasn’t even on the official injury report for the Patriots game. He lasted what, three plays? So get this — Gates and Rivers are doubtful, but they play the entire game. Tomlinson isn’t even listed as being injured, yet he gets replaced in the 1st quarter. What does that tell you?
If you put this all together, you come to realize that Norv Turner totally played the fans, the media, and pretty much everyone else except the Patriots. He absolutely manipulated the injury report. He got everyone to believe that Rivers and Gates were the problems and that Tomlinson was OK. He made everyone think the running game would be the focus and that the passing game wouldn’t be working. Au contraire, mon frere. It was actually just the opposite. Instead, Rivers came out looking like a hero, and Tomlinson an absolute dud. Norv Turner is indeed a master manipulator. And yes, he’s a heck of a lot smarter than we all thought.
A few weeks ago I was sitting here bashing Philip Rivers for opening up his big mouth during a game against the Broncos. My contention was that Rivers had no right to be running his mouth the way he was. I still believe that. But one thing that Rivers did not have before, which he officially has now, is my respect. Come to find out that those reports last week saying Rivers had an ACL tear were actually true. The mofo had his knee scoped Monday and played Sunday. With a torn ACL.
Philip Rivers’ anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee is â€œtotally goneâ€ and he will have reconstructive surgery soon.
The recovery time for the surgery is not known but Rivers said he definitely will be 100 percent by the start of next season.
Reading this sort of report and seeing photos of Tom Brady in a walking boot Monday makes you really appreciate what those guys do out there on the field. And don’t think that Rivers and Brady are the only ones who nutted up — Gates played with a dislocated toe, and I’m guessing mostly everyone else had to be shot up or something before the game because of their painful injuries. These guys have some serious guts, and Rivers is chief among them. And man, he actually played pretty well all things considered.
From potentially axed to now the GM with the most security in the NFL. The Chargers extended A.J. Smith for five years through 2014. I just don’t seem to understand the timing of the move. Why would you lock him up long term (though I admit, I don’t know how much of it is guaranteed), when your team was struggling at .500 only a month or so ago? I thought firing Schottenheimer was the right move as long as you replace him with someone better than Norv Turner. If the Chargers get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, or second round again, what good does it do them?
OK, I admit it — I’m just bitter because I was looking forward to Smith’s firing following a disappointing season so Pete Carroll would make the leap to the pros. Now that Smith has the security, I can pretty much flush those plans down the drain. A.J. has an excellent record of drafting players including Shawne Merriman, Antonio Cromartie, and Marcus McNeill, not to mention signing Antonio Gates. But come on, hiring Norv Turner? That was a dumb move if you ask me. They’ll make a playoff exit like they did last year and be stuck in disappointment. And for this, A.J. Smith gets rewarded. Makes me wonder what kind of legs Norv Turner will have.
I totally whiffed on this story from the weekend, probably because I missed all the games and highlights. Philip Rivers was caught on camera jarring with Jay Cutler late in the 4th quarter of San Diego’s easy win over Denver. Just like Signal to Noise wrote, Rivers has no place to be talking trash in a game. Sure, if it gives you an edge as a player, more power to you, but we all know that Rivers is not one of the top players in the league and hasn’t earned the right to talk smack. Funny enough, that’s exactly how All-Pro CB Champ Bailey feels:
“And I don’t really care for the guy, first of all,” Bailey said of Rivers. “He’s not a respectable guy right now because you talk too much trash and do this and that, but you’re really not a great player in this league right now.
“You’re surrounded by great players, but you’re not a great player. I think he needs to understand where he stands in this league – where he stands on his team first and foremost.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Didn’t we go through something quite similar when an unknown from the Steelers guaranteed victory against the Pats? The parallel isn’t that Rivers is an unknown, rather, that Rivers should know his place in the league. Take away Gates and LT and we’ll see how well Rivers compares to Cutler as a QB.
Goes to Maurice. Not bad for a 5’7″ dude going up against a former steroids offender. Of course, if you ask me, I don’t know how shocked I am by the play. Mo has been underestimated his entire career and is capable of doing anything at this point. And that would include pancaking a ferocious linebacker that outweighs him by 60 pounds:
This is just so off the wall, I’m not sure I can even believe it. I am truly, truly struggling with this story. How can a reputable reporter like Jay Glazer have taken the bait on a tale and featured it so prominently in his weekly column? Answer: maybe it’s true. Check out what happened with Chargers special teams coach, Steve Crosby:
Crosby received the oddest of calls this week while the team was practicing in Arizona. Crosby’s house is near the San Diego Wild Animal Park, a safari-type theme park in the San Diego area. Apparently, the fires ripped apart some openings in the park, allowing some of the animals to roam where they wanted.
Crosby received a call from his wife informing him that she walked outside to assess the damage and get this she found a hippopotamus in their swimming pool! A hippo! She called the authorities, who came and tranquilized the animal and removed it from their swimming pool.
I’ve always wondered whether or not those things could get loose, now I guess we know the answer. It’s like Ju-effing-manji in real life. Freaking insane. That is our world without boundaries, my friends. And for everyone who ever had nightmares that gators or sharks were in their pool, looks like you never know what can pop up.
So now that Castillo has been placed on the Madden Cover, the trifecta has been completed. Think about it — we have an admitted steroids user to go along with a murderer, and a dog fighter. Now, if only they can convince Najeh Davenport to appear on next year’s game, we’ll have every sect of the NFL covered.
So, the natural question must be asked: Who was on the brief list of possible candidates to appear on the cover of this game? Perhaps Matt Gutierrez and Anthony Gonzalez? Does Carlos Rodgers count? He’s got half of it covered. Your comments are welcome …