Mental or Forced?

Drew Brees will start next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Glad to get that out of the way early, the review of Sunday's loss to Green Bay is still the same today. The San Diego Chargers played the Lion on the Wizard of Oz far too many times. They left their brains home for the game and error after error pounded them into submission.

Forget about the David Boston fumble on a screen pass with twelve yards to go. Concentrate on the play before that – a delay of game – causing the Chargers five yards. Action – reaction.

Overlook Brees' first fumble and take a gander at what happened to set it up. "False start number 85, offense." Antonio Gates was the culprit on a second down and seven. We all know second down and seven in the Chargers offense – a run by Tomlinson. Not on Sunday!

Marty Schottenheimer said he counted, "29 mental errors on offense."

Imagine if they were all as bad as the two outlined above.

Regardless of how the play was setup, the Chargers lost the turnover battle.

"That's the big difference," Grady Jackson said. "Win the turnover battle; you are going to win the game."

Schottenheimer focused on the fumbles:

"Fumbles, in my opinion, are a product of a lack of concentration. I'm not very smart, but it's probably the most obvious of all things in this business. It's not taking care of the ball the way it has to be taken care of."

Yet he named the main fumbler, Drew Brees, the starter?

"We find ourselves playing with a lot of guys who weren't starting for us in week one," Schottenheimer defended.

OK, we can't argue. That was a smart move.

On the other side, Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman was not so quick to give the credit to concentration. He was more about his own guys working hard and forcing the fumbles.

"The fumbles – guys are going after the football. We actually forced a fumble on (LaDainian) Tomlinson in the third or fourth play and Tomlinson recovered his own fumble. The guys were very active going after the ball throughout the course of the game."

Whatever the reality is, a little of both, they will need to hold onto the ball a little better to succeed in the NFL. What is glaring is the fact we are still talking about this in week 15 of an NFL season. Sure, there have been one week sabbaticals but those are few and far between. One week it is penalties, the next week fumbles, and then there is the dropped passes…

"I guess the head coach hasn't gotten the message across yet," Schottenheimer said. "There's really no excuse."

We have not even talked about the defensive errors!

Denis Savage can be reached at

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