Facing an active linebacking group that is similar to their own, the Chargers will look to pull them in on play action to open up some passing lanes down the field. Drew Brees was excellent in his execution of play action a week ago. It is an area of the game that is seldom talked about but one that he has looked to perfect. With LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield, his ability to pull the linebackers and safeties in a step will free up a weak receiving corps.
The Chargers line faces a very good defensive line this week. Shaun Ellis is a Pro Bowler, Dewayne Robertson is coming into his own and eating up bodies, and Jason Ferguson is underrated. Throw in John Abraham who will line up along the line and at linebacker and the Chargers line will have their foot speed tested.
If they can give time to Brees, he could exploit a young secondary that has not been together long.
"I thought they battled their tails off," Schottenheimer said of his offensive line based on their week one performance.
Tomlinson will look to go inside and out on the Jets. With the added speed in New York, inside is the way to go.
In week one, the Chargers offensive line was not crisp pulling outside and Tomlinson had to get most of his yards by himself. On the inside, the line was able to handle their assignments with ease. Asking five players who have not had a lot of action together to do too much is not the way to build continuity.
"I consider Tomlinson the best back in the league," Jets running back Curtis Martin said.. "That's just my opinion when you look at pure skill and ability. And he has stayed consistent.
"I'm hoping he can keep it up, just not against us."
"By no stretch of the imagination are we going to stop him from running the ball," Herm Edwards said.
Getting Tomlinson going can open up the field for the Chargers receivers, mainly Antonio Gates. He will again be the main target for Brees – until some team proves they can cover him. The Jets don't have a player that can handle Gates with ease so this could be a matchup to watch.
"I think he has developed as well as any player I've seen develop in my career," Schottenheimer said of Gates.
The Jets offensive line is one of the best in football. It will take a masterful performance by Wade Phillips and his defense to get pressure on the unusually calm Chad Pennington.
Curtis Martin got more action in this preseason than he had in his previous two and in game on for the Jets he ran over Cincinnati to the tune of 192 yards.
The problem with facing such a potent offense this early is the defensive system is still being deployed. Phillips has kept the scheme as simple as possible but the complex notions that really make the defense special are what throw opposing offenses into fits. The Chargers have yet to fully grasp that part of the game.
"You can't take a system and install it and expect to have it the way you would like it at the outset of a season," Schottenheimer admitted.
If the Chargers can create some sort of havoc in the backfield they may have a chance. Even then, Pennington has many weapons to choose from. Santana Moss has the speed to get early separation and Justin McCareins can muscle and fight for the ball on the quick slants.
Chris Baker and Anthony Becht also figure into the equation. As the Chargers blitz, it will open up the lanes over the middle for Baker and Becht to sit in and make receptions.
Since taking over as the starter, Pennington has been a model of efficiency. He does not turn the ball over and has the uncanny ability to make plays and put the ball where he wants it.
"He is very accurate," linebacker Steve Foley said. "We are going to have to keep pressure on him or he will sit back and take us apart."
"He has had time to grow," Herm Edwards said. "He was on the sideline under Vinny (Testaverde's) tutelage. He learned a lot then. We knew he was a smart guy coming out of Marshall. The year he took over for us, we won a division and he played a lot."
It all comes back to the offensive line versus San Diego's defense.
"That offensive line – plays really well together," Steve Foley said. "We have to be aggressive."
The gameplan must be aggressive for them to succeed. Multiple looks and blitzes will need to be used in conjunction with solid play from the secondary.
"They're very fast on defense," Herm Edwards acknowledged. "They have two excellent corners. They have some people up front and linebackers that can run and hit."
Santana Moss – is there any other name out there that strikes as much fear in Chargers fans ears?
Considering how bad the team was on coverage of punts and kicks last week it reeks of disaster.
"The coverage part of it is something we need to work at," Schottenheimer said.
Schottenheimer has said Mike Scifres has turned into a weapon and they will need to make sure he strikes as planned. Any small errors in this phase of the game could be deadly.
If the Jets have a shorter field to work with they will be the victors.
"We have some talented guys," Donnie Edwards said. "LaDainian Tomlinson – he is the best back in the league right now. He makes everyone look foolish. He is that great of a player. He makes everyone look foolish. We have some great players."
Weighing player against player is not something that can be done this week. The Chargers cannot go pound for pound against the Jets in the player department. To win they will need a team effort.
They did that last week in Houston. Now at home they have to be able to execute the same.
"I think Marty is doing a great job with these guys," Herm Edwards said. "Going to Houston and doing what they did says a lot about them."
"They're good," Schottenheimer said of the Jets. "We really have to have our stuff together to play well against them. They have a good linebacking corps, good defensive backs, and good men up front."
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