Chargers feel the itch

One win. It starts from here. The San Diego Chargers are in line for more after getting out of the gate with a victory. Many thought it wasn't possible. The Bolts proved the doubters wrong and are hungry for more.

After a successful campaign against the Texans, some of the Chargers are already looking towards next week and improving.

There will always be plenty to improve upon. Such is life in the NFL.

The Chargers did many things well. They converted on third down. They created turnovers. They came up big on defense in the second half.

Then there were the penalties. The yards allowed. The lack of suitable coverage on special teams.

Even the better performers of the week were talking about how they need to get better.

Antonio Gates spent more time talking about his penalties than he did on his eight reception day. He began to look forward with a simple statement:

"We have to look forward to next week."

Gates was a talent waiting to bust out and did it in style against Houston. His emergence lightens the load on receivers and the attention he gets will soften the front for LaDainian Tomlinson.

It hasn't been easy for Gates. He is in just his second year – almost hard to believe. And it is his true sophomore season. He redshirted for his entire college career when he played basketball at Kent State.

Four penalties prove it is more than just talent that he needs to pay attention to. Playing tight end is more than just the pass receptions. He needs to block better. He needs to learn his assignments and he needs to learn not to give away his position.

"It has definitely not been easy," admits Gates. "Every year it gets harder. People start keying on you. You just have to do the little detail things that are taught."

On the defensive side of the ball, Steve Foley seemed to be everywhere.

Despite head coach Marty Schottenheimer offering praise, it didn't make him happy. Instead of pawning over the turnovers he was a part of, Foley was focusing on the future. He acknowledged his personal play but had a caveat when he mentioned he didn't register a sack.

"That is what I was brought in for my ability, to exploit the tackles' weaknesses," Foley said. "I am by no means happy by my performance. That is what it is going to take to come out next week and make our corrections."

They need to get better with 458 yards coming to town in form of the New York Jets offense.

The Texans had their way with the Chargers defense during that first half. That is until they got into the red zone. But a defense can only make so many of those stops before offenses start to punch the ball in with regularity.

"They came out in the first half and had a field day on us," Foley fumed. "They didn't put up many points but they moved the ball at ease. They had plenty of (big plays) in the first half."

The Chargers got one win – but to get more they need to get better. They know it. This is a different team than a year ago.

Last year they would have talked about how this is the corner they have turned.

This time they are looking at themselves. Tired of losing they are focusing on how they can elevate their games.

Surprise team? Not after hearing a few people talk on Monday. This team may actually have direction.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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