Turner Relies on Tight-Knit Roster

The Chargers swore they wouldn't do it, and they did: stumbled from the gate once again.

In what has become a San Diego tradition under coach Norv Turner, the Chargers have hit the ground running in the wrong direction.

The latest in a string of sorry September performances arrived Sunday in the team's 27-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

That puts the Chargers at 1-2, the third time in Turner's four years they've begun by losing two of their first three.

"We were 1-3 the first year I was here and there were some tough times," Turner said. "The problem that I would say is we're doing so many good things that we're not taking advantage of them because there are a lot of plays obviously being taken away."

Soon players might have their jobs snatched from them.

Turner hinted there could be some roster changes in the wake of the team being caught flat-footed twice in allowing two returns for touchdowns. That's three in three games.

"(Against Jacksonville) just because we won the game, some of the bad plays weren't publicly acknowledged," he said of the team's disturbing trend of shoddy special-teams play. "They were certainly acknowledged in our meetings and on the practice field. We know we can't make those kinds of mistakes and we're working hard to eliminate them."

Turner remains confident his core leaders will step up, and at some point, the kids will be all right.

"It's as close a group as I've ever been around," Turner said. "That's why we've been able to manage some tough situations since I've been here and that's why we'll manage this situation."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The special teams play was poor, giving up two long touchdown returns and 252 return yards in all in the loss to the Seahawks. It seems some players aren't even listening in the special-teams meetings, according to Patrick Crayton. "We got to take this stuff seriously," he said. "It's not a sense of entitlement. It's a privilege to put on the uniform every day. Some guys have to straighten up."

--QB Philip Rivers' voice was shot after trying to yell over the noise at Qwest Field. "The hardest part is communicating in the huddle," he said. "You just have to scream it out because of the noise. It's like this most road games. You just feel better when you win."

--The Chargers have nine turnovers in 12 quarters, with five of them being lost fumbles. Turner said that needs to change. "It's just a mindset and an attitude that we're not going to let the ball out," he said.

--LT Marcus McNeill signed his contract and is eligible to come off the roster exempt list and play his first game on Oct. 17 in St. Louis.

--With some 8,000 tickets remaining for Sunday, the Chargers will likely have their second blackout in as many home games.

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Ryan Mathews could attempt to practice this week. But after missing Sunday with a sprained ankle, he's no lock to go next Sunday against the Cardinals.

--OLB Shawne Merriman only was in for a handful of plays before his calf revolted. Merriman will likely let it calm down and aim for later in the practice week. For Merriman, it's just another injury to what's become a lengthy list.

--RG Louis Vasquez's status will be determined later in the week; he wasn't moving very well after Sunday's game when injuring his knee. If Vasquez can't go Sunday, Tyronne Green would likely replace him. Green filled in for Vasquez when he went down Sunday.

--WR Patrick Crayton replaced Darren Sproles as the punt returner and had a long of 13.

REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAKWS

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Philip Rivers threw for a career-high 455 yards and added two touchdowns. He did have two picks; one from a tipped pass and the second on a last-gasp pass on his final play. But he was sensational for the most part as he was rocked on more than a few occasions -- he was sacked four times -- when throwing the ball a whopping 53 times. Antonio Gates (seven catches, 109 yards and a score). Rivers finds different receivers in spreading the ball around -- but those turnovers can't be ignored.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Mike Tolbert coughed it up, which overshadowed his 4.3-yard average on 17 carries. But the Chargers didn't crack the 90-yard rushing mark as a team as they turned to Rivers to bring them back from a 17-point deficit. Sproles had but one carry for 16 yards -- he never saw it again.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Quentin Jammer had a pick; Antoine Cason was picked on briefly but he improved. The pass rush showed three sacks -- one was a gift -- but the pass pressure still hasn't been a consistent staple. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 17 yards in the second half.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Only 68 rushing yards allowed although there were a few deep breaths when Justin Forsett took off for 28 yards. But Brandon Siler and Kevin Burnett play tough inside and get the lion's share of tackles because the starting ends had but two.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Among the worst special-teams performances in franchise history. Two touchdowns allowed to Leon Washington on returns and he would have had a third if not for tripping over his feet. The coverage lanes were non-existent and the want-to is hard to find. Younger players are being asked to fill significant roles and to date, they've yet to step up. These units have been a complete disaster.

COACHING: F -- OK, another September to forget for the Chargers under Norv Turner. The team refuses to play well under his watch early in the season and it hit a new low with a sloppy performance in Seattle. The passing game picked on a Seattle secondary, as planned, and the defense was stout against the run and didn't let Hasselbeck distribute much damage. But until Turner gets through to his ball-handlers that more care is needed -- four more turnovers Sunday -- this won't get straightened out. Defense continues to shine, certainly playing well enough to win.


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