The Last Word

Ah the bye week. A week of enlightenment. A week where the San Diego Chargers can't lose. A week where the team continues to search for answers to the same questions. When will they stop committing penalties? When will they stop the outside running game and when will they win a game?<br><br> The bye week afforded multiple looks at the last game in Jacksonville and the results...

Nine games in a row. A nice streak and tough to do, even if they lost all nine. The Chargers went pass heavy in a loss to Jacksonville, feeling they could not run effectively with their makeshift line.

The good:

On the defense, Jason Fisk finally played up to his abilities. He pressured up the middle while Jamal Williams took on double teams. Fisk recovered a fumble in a scrum in the middle and was consistent, a first for him in 20+ games in San Diego.

Marcellus Wiley in particular should thank Fisk. Wiley was the beneficiary of a Fisk pressure and got his sack because Fisk held Leftwich up around the ankles.

Fisk also got his first stuff (tackle for a loss) of the year in Jacksonville and came close to a few others. Fisk was facing Vince Manuwai, a rookie, so the hype for his coming out party is still tame until he faces fiercer competition.

Boston was superhuman in Jacksonville. He had something to prove coming in after being suspended a week ago and now all the detracting fans wishing he were gone have been quelled. 181 yards on 14 receptions, just three yards shy of his all time high when he was with Arizona. He showed power off the line and grace in evading tackles. Several times he took plays that were nothing and made them into something. The wide receiver screen he scored on was using patience and allowing his blocks to develop.

Boston also drew a holding call on another play which likely would have put him over his all time high. Simply put, the Chargers used Boston in the way he was intended. When defenders played off of him they got him the ball. When the defender was on top of him they threw him the slant. Crossing routes were used to create separation underneath and he used his physically imposing frame to gain extra yardage.

The Bad:

Sammy Davis has to b the worst tackler on the team. He was awful all day long.

Now our whole crew was at training camp in Carson. Will Mortensen and I saw countless practices. What I can tell you is this. They taught getting low in your stance and driving with your legs into the tackle while still wrapping up. Tackles were made low to take away any momentum a ball carrier had. They practiced this daily and some of the running drills ended with a "mock" tackle. It has been taught, why aren't they listening?

One play in particular stood out. Davis closing on Jimmy Smith had a chance to lay him out, similar to what Donovin Darius did to Kassim Osgood late in the fourth, and threw his body into the air with his head looking down and away from the play to bounce off Smith, luckily knocking him down. Had Davis went after him hard with a hit to the chest, there is no saying if Smith would have held onto the ball. Shots don't come any cleaner than that.

On another play, Davis had a chance at a tackle on big Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala. Instead of getting around the bruisers legs, Davis tried to tackle him with his arms up high around the shoulder pads. Ma'afala shrugged him off easily and got at least seven extra yards.

Picking on Davis was easy today. He was bad in run support and his jams at the line in pass coverage were dreadful. Fans have already called him out for being injury prone, and maybe today was a day he didn't want to get hurt because he didn't get dirty.

Matthew Hatchette made Davis look silly trying to jam him on his go route that resulted in a long reception. The catch started at the line of scrimmage. Davis tried to hold him up and Hatchette simply out muscled and out maneuvered him and raced past him for the completion.

Several other times he was beat at the line trying to get his jam on. The result was almost 100% efficiency for the Jaguars when they threw his way. At one point, Davis had been thrown on six times and the Jags had six receptions to show for their efforts.

Marty Schottenheimer led teams have always been protectors of the rock. The Chargers came into the game having not fumbled. On the very first play from scrimmage, LaDainian Tomlinson got hammered by Darius and the ball came loose. Lorenzo Neal hopped on it.

"Donovin set the tone with a huge hit early in the game. I thought that was awesome. He played pretty well yesterday," Jaguars Coach Jack Del Rio said.

First drives were killer to the Bolts. On the first go of the third quarter, Antonio gates lost a fumble deep in Jaguars territory with the team down 10-7. The Jags marched down the field and scored on an 11 play, 90 yard drive that was capped off by a Troy Edwards TD reception in the back corner of the end zone. That was at least a 10 point swing and maybe even 14.

David Boston also fumbled trying to do too much. Having been the only offensive threat on the day it is hard to fault him. The ball was held loosely and it hit off his knee, squirting free. The Jaguars converted that into a field goal.

So while Jacksonville converted, the Chargers could not on their only forced turnover on the day. Take ten points off the board for Jacksonville and the Chargers won the game.

LaDainian Tomlinson gets 14 touches. "It is (more) frustrating when I don't touch the ball," said Tomlinson. "I'm so frustrated right now I really don't even know what to say."

"I've been on teams where we have," said Brees, about the style that allowed him to throw for two touchdowns and 181 yards in the second half. "At Purdue, we threw it 83 times in one game; it was ridiculous.

"But that is not going to help us win every week, as good a player L.T. is. You got to give him the ball. The fact is L.T. is a too good of a player and the more we give him the ball and incorporate him into the offense, the better we are," Brees said.

"What he needs to do is he needs to get his touches, both as a runner and a receiver," Marty Schottenheimer said in one breath. The key is to balance the load between Tomlinson and the passing game. When a team is down, the numbers may not come out even, but he was rarely used on screens. Part of that was the inability of the right side of the line to release their blocks and get in front of the screen, part was the playcalling in general.

"Their front four is very talented," Schottenheimer countered. "The opportunity to throw the ball was there."

You can't argue with the success of David Boston, but the success of this team will ultimately lie with Tomlinson chewing up yards and giving the defense extra rest. Boston is just one dimension of this offense

The future:

Tony Brackens whipped Phil Bogle in the first quarter. Specifically, two plays in a row during the second Chargers series saw Brackens beat him to the inside. Bogle took an initial step back with his right foot, opening up the hole to the inside that Brackens exploited. It was as if Bogle expected a speed rush to the outside and was caught off balance and out of position. One resulted in a missed completion to Eric Parker just out of bounds and the other was not disturbed as Brees hit Boston on a quick slant.

He bounced back for two quarters and then looked rundown in the fourth. He ignored/missed an assignment on one play, letting the defensive end in without being blocked. Who did Bogle pick up? No one. He was out in space looking lost.

"He is a battler and a fighter," said Schottenheimer. "He is not always where he needs to be. He kind of started slow, but then he got a little more comfortable as it unfolded."

For much of the game he looked good. There were bouts of forgetfulness, but he is a rookie playing tackle, the toughest spot on the line. Most of the time he got beat to the inside, overcompensating for a speed rush attempt outside. Recognition will be the key to his future at tackle, but he may not have to worry about that.

With Solomon Page returning, Bob Hallen on the mend and Cory Raymer struggling, Bogle could step in at guard.

According to agent Mark Lepselter, "Apparently it is Phil's job to lose for the rest of the season."

Since talking with Lepselter the team has inserted Cory Raymer in at guard with the first team.

SD Bolt Report is setting up an exclusive interview with Bogle for the coming week.

The other kids:

Courtney VanBuren saw his first game action in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. He replaced a struggling Damion McIntosh and did ok in his limited action. He did lose one block to the inside, but it did not hurt the team. In a small sample, Van Buren graded out fair. Who knows what a full game will do to him.

Terrence Kiel will be starting soon. He got his first defensive game action this week and his role will continually expand. Coming back from the bye week will be the perfect time for him to start.

Rumors said Carlos Polk would see some more time coming out of the bye week. Don't believe the hype.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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