PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Third down is the money down in the NFL, but so far quarterback Drew Brees hasn't cashed too many chips. Brees is dead last in the NFL with a rating of 30.2 on third down, as he's completed 21 of his 43 attempts. There's other factors as well -- penalties on early downs, long distances on third downs, dropped balls and protection breaking down. Overall, the passing game hasn't matured as the team thought it would with Brees in his second year as a starter and the addition of wide receiver David Boston. Boston did have one stellar game -- 14 catches, 187 yards, two touchdowns -- but he's also missed one with a bruised heel and one because of an suspension for breaking team rules.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- It's really of no fault of LaDainian Tomlinson, but he hasn't been his dominating self this year. Part of the reason is because the Chargers weren't competitive in their first three games, falling behind by at least 20 points heading into the final quarter. By having to play catch-up, it's taken away the Chargers' inclination play power football. Through five games last year, Tomlinson was on his way to his first Pro Bowl with 564 yards and five touchdowns on 115 carries. This year, he has only 457 yards and two touchdowns on 90 carries. The run-blocking has been OK, which is about what one would expect after a season-ending injury to right tackle Vaughn Parker (knee) and right guard Solomon Page (ankle) missing two games.
PASS DEFENSE: F -- No pass rush, and no consistent coverage leads to this mark. The corners are routinely getting picked on -- which isn't a big surprised considering Quentin Jammer is a second-year pro, and rookie Sammy Davis starts opposite him. The nickel back is another rookie in Drayton Florence. It seems those three rotate as to which wears the bull's eye on any particular Sunday. Strong safety Kwamie Lassiter should be at free, and free safety Jerry Wilson is a converted cornerback. Marcellus Wiley was supposed to be healthy this year and dominate -- after one sack in 20 quarters, that obviously isn't the case. Adrian Dingle (2 1/2 sacks) and Raylee Johnson (two sacks) have been OK on the other end. Still no inside push from tackles Jason Fisk and Jamal Williams.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Chargers once hung their hat on their run defense. Now, they just hang their head. Rivals are averaging a tick under 145 yards per game, as the linebacking corps has one bright light in Donnie Edwards; Ben Leber and Zeke Moreno aren't getting it done. The team misses Rodney Harrison's run support from the strong safety spot. Until this gets fixed, the Chargers are in for a long season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Eric Parker showed a spark returning punts but his star has dimmed of late. Tim Dwight was to give the kick-return team a boost, but a bum knee has kept him from that role on a consistent basis. The punting game has been solid, thanks to Darren Bennett's booming efforts and tight coverages. The kickoff coverage unit has been good, especially considering how short Steve Christie's kicks are. The Chargers are also hamstrung with Christie on field goals, as his leg rarely lends itself to an attempt past 40 yards.
COACHING: F -- Everyone listened attentively and nodded when Marty Schottenheimer went on and on during camp, saying this team was better than last year's, how the defense was quicker, how Boston would balance the offense ... you get the idea. Instead, Chargers fans have been sold a bill of goods as this team is obviously lacking in so many areas. And while Schottenheimer prides himself on being a teacher, the students he has either aren't listening, are not doing their homework or are just not very good. It's probably a combination of all three. The blame here has to land at Schottenheimer's feet, after he made such grand statements before the curtain rose how this was, "a damn good football team."
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