Insiders Report Card Week 14

San Diego won its third game of the season and they are in danger of losing the number one overall pick. Doug Flutie is now 2-3 as a starter and there is talk of benching him in favor of Drew Brees. The Chargers defense played well against a battered Lions club and held their opponent to under 10 points for the first time in well over a year.<br><br> The grades for both teams:

Chargers Grades:

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- If not for an ill-advised pass into triple coverage and losing a fumble, this grade would be higher. Flutie scrambled long enough to find LaDainian Tomlinson on a 16-yard scoring pass; then clicked with Tomlinson again for a 73-yard hookup. Look, Flutie's best days are behind him. But he still delivers a spark, and he can still improvise with the best of players. He ended up throwing for 244 yards and rushing for 30 more.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- This mark is aimed more at the run-blocking than the running backs. Tomlinson often sidestepped two or three tacklers, just to get 2 yards. The Lions had their way with the Chargers' patchwork line, which had one opening day starter playing his same position -- LG Kelvin Garmon, and when he had two penalties on consecutive plays in the third quarter, he was briefly benched. Tomlinson, again on his own doing, finished with 88 yards on 25 carries.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Everyone knows the Lions can't run the ball, so this was going to be a test for the young secondary. And save a touchdown pass from Joey Harrington to Casey Fitzsimmons, the secondary held up. Kudos here to backup Kevin House, who replaced starter Sammy Davis. The Lions continually tried to pick on House -- especially late -- and the result was a game-high four passes defensed for him.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- But some of that has to do with the opponent. But after getting torched for more than 600 rushing yards the previous three weeks, the Chargers will take it. In particular, SLB Ben Leber had his best game of the season, making eight tackles -- one behind the line of scrimmage -- and blowing a screen play which had potential for a big-gainer. MLB Zeke Moreno was solid in his gap assignments; WLB Donnie Edwards had a game-high 10 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-- P Darren Bennett got off a long of 52 yards and had three efforts downed inside the Lion 20 -- that's a solid day. The return game could have produced more, but the biggest one -- a 31-yard return by Leon Johnson -- was brought back on a Quentin Jammer holding penalty. The coverage units did get burned for a critical 25-yard punt return by Eddie Drummond.

COACHING: B -- Marty Schottenheimer found a carrot to put in front of the Chargers, and they took a bite. He stressed that he wanted to finish this dismal season strong by winning the last four games. The team took the first step, anyway, with a road win. He has gets points for deploying a much more forgiving Cover 2 scheme with his youngsters on the back end; and he got Tomlinson involved in the passing game, which made sense with the Chargers' banged-up front line, and the beef the middle of the Lions' line possesses.

Lions Grades:

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The completion percentage was fine and there were no interceptions but the production was totally insufficient. WRs are not getting open consistently and QB Joey Harrington sometimes is too quick going to his check downs, producing a lot of short completions that don't move the team. WR Az-Zahir Hakim dropped two more passes before leaving the game with back and hand injuries.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Playing against the 29th-ranked run defense in the NFL, RBs Shawn Bryson and Olandis Gary gained 48 yards in 15 carries. And on one screen pass, three blockers ran past the Chargers LB who blew up the play for a mere three-yard gain.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Aside from a 33-yard reception by WR David Boston, the Chargers WRs didn't do a great deal of damage. It was RB LaDainian Tomlinson who drove them crazy with nine receptions for 148 yards, including touchdown plays of 16 and 73 yards. QB Doug Flutie was as elusive as ever; the Lions didn't sack him once all day.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Lions actually did a pretty good job on RB LaDainian Tomlinson, holding him to 88 yards (9 below his per game average) and an average of 3.5 yards per carry (2 yards below his average). But the Chargers still ground out 131 yards to help build a time of possession advantage.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- No glaring breakdowns. P Nick Harris had a good week, averaging 43.0 yards on nine punts and a 38.6 net average. PR Eddie Drummond had a 25-yard return in the closing minutes but the offense wasn't able to convert it. Punt coverages were good, kickoff coverages adequate.

COACHING: D -- Coach Steve Mariucci did everything he could to get the Lions out of the post-Thanksgiving Day doldrums. He changed the routine to keep them focused on the San Diego game. And still the Lions were flat and seemingly unmotivated, and that's how they played.

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