Chargers-Chiefs Post Game

Atrocious. When watching a game for the second time and trying to find some light at the end of the tunnel – and there is nothing but darkness enveloping you, it must be bad. What worked? Well that is easy – not much. What didn't? Easier yet -- everything. Up in the air? Interesting question and the response should be a wake up call to the San Diego Chargers.

In the first half, the Chargers were awful. They did next to nothing right. Trent Green passes at will, Priest Holmes touched the ball singing a lullaby and the Chargers offense could not hold off a Chiefs defensive line that proved to be stout.

"Credit the San Diego Chargers," Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil said. "I thought they didn't lie down and battled in that second half. We didn't score a touchdown in that second half and they did. Not making any excuses, but we just got penalized too many times in the second half on key big plays and put us in situations where you're trying to convert with too many yards to go."

The Chargers were better in the second half, but some of that came when Priest Holmes was out of the game.

"They brought more pressure, Chiefs quarterback Trent Green said. "We really couldn't get in sync. They did a good job of mixing it up, the coverages and fronts were mixed up. They mixed in some blitzes. Give them credit, they caused us some confusion."

What worked

We maintain that very little worked and one touchdown by the Chargers came in garbage time.

Josh Norman

Norman proved he is not a one drop a game guy as many had tabbed him. He got open often and caught four passes for 66 yards. The 66 yards receiving led the Chargers. He was thrown to five times and the one incompletion should never have been thrown by Drew Brees as he threw it into the hands of Sean Barber who was sitting in the middle of the field. Luckily, the ball went incomplete as Barber dropped it.

Norman blew by linebackers – showing exactly why the Chargers thought so highly of him last year. His touchdown reception came as he ran a crossing route against linebacker Scott Fujita and he went into the end zone untouched. He was one of only two Chargers not to drop a pass.

Eric Parker

The forward pass on the punt return aside, Parker showed his explosive speed on punt returns and as a wide receiver. He caught just two passes, but one was for a touchdown. On the play he had to reach behind him and extend high as the pass was a little off. He ended with 43 yards receiving, second to Norman on the team. Parker is the other receiver not to drop a pass.

On punt returns, Parker averaged 11.5 on 4 returns with a long of 16. He also had a 41 yard return called back after a chop block was called on Stephen Cooper. The penalty was the third such infraction to bring back a long gain by Parker.

Drew Brees

Brees actually had a good game. Considering he was behind early and was running for his life more often than not, Brees completed 55% of his passes, going 18-33 for 202 yards. At least six passes were dropped by the receiving corps, but we will get to that soon enough.

"They are a pretty sound defense," Brees said. "They brought quite a bit of pressure today and that seemed to work and I'm sure with those safeties and how big and physical they are, they are able to do those things and get pressure on the quarterback and they did a good job of that today."

Most of his decisions were on target and one of his interceptions was off a missed pass. Only twice did he try to make something happen out of nothing. With the Chiefs knowing pass was coming, Brees did a formidable job. He showed his elusiveness in the pocket and was rewarded often when he went on the move.

"I think we sacked him a number of times," said Vermeil. "Most of his plays were out of the pocket running and flailing. That's the kind of competitor he is. He can make those kinds of plays. That really hurt us. He kept drives going. We broke down the execution of their offense but he would make it up and get outside that pocket. We're going to face other guys who can do that and him again."

What Didn't:

Zone coverage

Just so fans have it straight. You draft two players in successive years that can play bump-and-run only to play soft zone coverage against one of the best passing offenses in the league?

One more quick question for the fans: You ask young men that have barely played together to know where each other is on the field in zone coverage?

The zone coverage experiment failed. Anytime they were in it, the Bolts defense faltered. Open pockets in the zone were picked apart by the veteran Green and screen passes were open all day because the defense was playing too deep.

"We knew we were going to face a powerful offense," Coach Schottenheimer said. "Offensively, I think that this team is one of the best teams in the National Football League. And if there's any questions about Priest Holmes' hip, I think that has been dispelled."

The middle was open for anyone to take a route inside and sit. Communication in the young secondary was weak. They didn't know where their help was coming from and often got mixed up. Chalk up the touchdown to Johnnie Morton on a failed assignment in zone coverage.

When the team went to man-on-man, the defense responded with better play. They should have gone to it earlier. An interception by Jammer was a result of man-to-man. Many other incompletions are attributed to the same coverage.

Damion McIntosh

McIntosh was the worst player on the field today. He single-handedly changed the face of the game. Vonnie Holliday blew past him with numerous moves more often than he was stopped. Holliday had three sacks on the day and missed another when Brees made a great play to elude him. Holliday also got to Brees yet another time and was penalized only because he led with his helmet on a hit.

"It was a great day and I think we made a statement as a team, as a defense," said Holliday. "After coming in here I hear all the talk about this defense and how we were in the cellars in the NFL. That's not what I saw when I got here. I see guys with talent. I was just glad I was able to come out today to show the NFL that we have a special group and we can play football."

McIntosh also had a false start in the first and a holding call in the third. In a contract year for the lineman protecting the blindside of Brees, his effort was inexcusable.

Other receivers

Reche Caldwell got the nod and started on Sunday. He dropped at least three passes as a reward. The former second round pick is trying to get out of the stigma that defines him as a bust coming out of the University of Florida and has done nothing to disprove it. In fact, he had eight passes thrown to him that went incomplete and only two receptions. One pass went off his right shoulder pad and right into the hands of Glen Wesley for an interception. It was a nightmare day for Caldwell.

Tim Dwight missed an easy catch as well, but was not nearly as incompetent as Caldwell. He only had four passes thrown his way and caught two. Still he was not open enough against a secondary that was torched like the Bolts last season.

"I think they have a little bit more depth involved," said Tim Dwight. "They are bringing in (Dexter) McCleon as the nickel back and he's moving outside, so he's been on a couple of teams that have been to the Super Bowl and he has a lot of experience. They are little bit more physical and bringing a lot more heat I think, something that gave us problems picking up blitzes. That is something we kind of expected but just didn't handle very well today."

Even David Boston was not on today. He had two catches and missed another. One other time he looked to run a wrong route and numerous times he fell down when trying to get separation. Boston will come around.

Who else will?

Tackling

Would be tacklers bounced off Priest Holmes with regularity. He is a great back, of that there is no doubt, but it happened again and again on other players as well. Ben Leber missed more than his share, Quentin Jammer missed one in the backfield, and defenders all over the place were not making tackles on the first hit. Every screen pass went for big yardage. It was one of our keys to the game if you recall and it proved truthful.

"Priest (Holmes) he is one of the better backs in this league and he's going to do things," said safety Kwamie Lassiter. "But again we have to make tackles and we missed a lot of tackles that cost us on certain down and distance situations."

Uncertain:

Zeke Moreno

Moreno was invisible in the first half and much of the third quarter. When it counted, he was out of position and not showing the knack for the ball. Maybe it was the constant misdirection that Kansas City had, but as a linebacker it is his job to snuff those out. He also got beat to the corner on a Priest Holmes touchdown run.

In the fourth quarter he was everywhere. What changed? Priest Holmes did not have the ball to make him look silly. Still he was in the backfield more and was hitting people who came over the middle. He should get better. Carlos Polk was even worse out on the field.

Defensive Line Play

When plays went into the middle, the line stuffed them. When plays went outside and it was up to the linebackers, big gains were made. Still it is the job of the defensive line to hold up the offensive line and not allow them to have clean hits on the linebackers. They must clog the lanes to allow the freedom of the linebackers to shoot gaps. They didn't do that.

They did not show enough pressure and with the young secondary, it was a disaster. Several times the defensive ends fell into pass coverage and each time they came up with good plays. Ray Lee Johnson dropped back once and caused an incompletion. Adrian Dingle played well in his starting debut and made a tackle on a reception on the opposite side of the field, 10 yards downfield. Dingle needs to be a little more consistent, but he was playing one of the best offensive lines in the game.

"I think it's obvious that the Chiefs are a much better football team," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "That was reflected in the outcome. I was disappointed mostly defensively.

Three draft picks inactive?

Mike Scifres, the kickoff specialist for the Chargers, was inactive. They took Mike, in the fifth round of the NFL draft, to kick the ball into the end zone and nullify a return game. Playing against the likes of Dante Hall, who made the Pro Bowl last season as a special teams player, one would have thought nailing some touchbacks would be important. Christie wasn't bad, kicking the ball to the 10, 7 and 5. Still the Chiefs had an average starting point of their own 31 on those kicks.

Matt Wilhelm, a fourth round pick out of Ohio State, was benched. Stephen Cooper played in his place and had a costly penalty. Wilhelm could have been used as a physical presence in the middle that was needed. To have him sit while an undrafted guy plays speaks volumes.

Courtney VanBuren, a third round pick, sat out. Phil Bogle, an undrafted free agent out of New Haven, got the nod. Van Buren has shown progress in camp, but is miles away from where Bogle is and it was a smart move. The only problem is: Van Buren was a third round pick and he is inactive already.

What does that mean concerning the Chargers draft when three are inactive in week one?

One more rant:

Can anyone explain why Andrew Pinnock was not used on third and fourth and short? Coach? Isn't that why you drafted him? Why not use the BIG, BRUISING back for the purpose he was intended. Poor coaching decisions were just one of many causes for this loss. You can never be perfect, but this loss…gives credence to those who say Marty-Ball is a thing of the past.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

SD Super Chargers Top Stories