Chargers face offensive assault

Can the San Diego Chargers hope to contend in a game that history says they will lose?<br><br> Since 1970, the Chargers are 5-28-1 in Denver. While Denver comes out of the gate like a bat out of hell, the Chargers whimper in a corner. That has been the case year after year.

Where are those boxing gloves now? You remember. The ones they used during training camp. Perhaps that will mean they can actually put up a fight.

In the Bolts first game they looked aggressive but that theory left the team against a veteran offense in week two.

Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan sees a team that has potential.

"They've been playing well," he said. "The first game against Houston, they had four turnovers. They are averaging 28 points a game over two games."

While the statement is true, the onus will be on the Chargers defense this week. An early lead by Denver will lead to another blowout.

The Chargers may have battled back last week but as Schottenheimer continually says, this is not a team that plays well coming back from large deficits.

What team really is? The Chargers, built around LaDainian Tomlinson, are generally even weaker in that regard.

The defense has changed schemes and the talk before the season was of the extra swagger they had as a unit. They looked forward to being aggressive and getting pressure on the quarterback.

That hasn't happened nearly enough. They showed signs of aggression in week one but got plenty of lucky bounces. The pressure on the quarterback has often been picked up by the offensive linemen.

Instead of playing cautious, Wade Phillips need to open the defense up, present multiple looks and become a nuisance in the backfield.

It won't be easy against the zone blocking scheme of the Broncos offensive line. It is a look, however, that the Bolts have seen before. It was the same scheme that Houston now employs, but they will see it in its efficient form on Sunday.

Denver is where running backs go to become stars, remember?

The Chargers are aware of the mojo they face.

"They are probably one of the quickest O-lines that we face," defensive lineman DeQuincy Scott said. "They aren't very big, but they get to their blocks and put a hat on you and that's what makes them so effective. We just have to match their intensity and make sure that we are in our gaps."

Gap control will be important against not only Quentin Griffin, but also quarterback Jake Plummer.

Plummer is nimble and the Broncos like to roll him out of the pocket to freeze the linebackers and open up soft spots in the middle of the field.

Plummer is a threat to scramble when the ball is in his hands and he makes quick decisions on when to do it.

The problem with shadowing Plummer is it will open up the running lanes on the cutback. If Plummer hands the ball off well and fades to his right. The Chargers linebackers will go left with him. That extra step could prove the difference between a tackle and a game breaking play.

The worst part is the Broncos quarterback knows it and will try to exploit it.

"It just depends on how they play it," Plummer said of the Chargers 3-4. "They are going to have guys on the line of scrimmage— the Sam (strong side linebacker) and the Will (weak side linebacker). From seeing film, they have done a couple different things. They have shot the (linebacker) down the line to contain the run, and they have shot the (linebacker) straight up to take the (bootleg) away. We are going to have to see what they are doing. We are obviously going to keep bootlegging the ball out. If they keep extending that (linebacker) up then that's going to give us some cut-backs and giving us more options in the run game."

Scary how predictable a defense can become in two weeks. To be successful, Phillips can't keep throwing the same packages out there. Mix it up and a little praying – perhaps a lot of praying – will go a long way in determining the game.

Lightning quicks:

  • Tomlinson was back on the practice field on Thursday -- no surprise.

  • Antonio Gates missed out on Thursday's practice and remains listed as questionable. The tight end said he would be ready to go this weekend but it may hinge on whether he practices on Friday.

    Complicating matters worse was the absence of Justin Peelle who sat out with back spasms. Losing either tight end would press rookie Ryan Krause into extended action.

  • Denis Savage can be reached at

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