Chargers game day primer

At 1-1 the San Diego Chargers still have faith in the 2004 season. That could change rapidly depending on what happens in Denver. The Bolts continue through the toughest part of their schedule and a loss could cause a chain reaction.

On Offense:

Marty Schottenheimer says he will mix the run and the pass – isn't that always the case?

The reason he is adamant about pointing out just that is the team has been largely forced to abandon the run in past games against the Broncos.

The Chargers would like to keep the ball as long as possible using LaDainian Tomlinson and a short passing game. Eat up the clock and, perhaps most importantly, take out the crowd.

"They are going to be formidable, particularly at their place," Schottenheimer agreed in reference to the noise level at Invesco.

The Broncos know that the dose of Tomlinson will be high. They will focus most of their efforts to stopping him.

"He is their offense to be honest with you," Champ Bailey said. "He's the guy who makes everything go. We know that and know we've got to stop him before we stop anything. He's the total package."

Eight men in the box will be the norm, challenging Drew Brees to make them pay for it. It will be that way from the start of the game. While Schottenheimer preaches ball control and keeping the Denver offense off the field, it may be tough with them keying on the star runner.

"When a player is challenged, that's how you define a great player in my opinion; one that won't run from a challenge," Tomlinson said in defiance.

Then there is the decibel level to go with the thin air at Mile High.

Schottenheimer has always placed a premium on the crowd, or 12th man. He feels it gives the home team the edge. Last week in San Diego, the crowd was alive and seemed to fuel a comeback.

This week the effect is the opposite. The crowd in Denver will be loud and force the Chargers to know the play in the huddle or offsides penalties will become the norm.

"You are so focused on the situation you are able to block it out," Brees claims. "Communication is a factor, but that is where hand signals come into play."

If the Chargers are down early, there may be no escaping the third down boom. It will seem like the speakers are on at full blast and a young offensive line may feel the brunt.

On Defense:

Looking for a breakout game? Dial up Chargerville. The numbers continue to stagger, even after the change to a new defensive scheme. The linebackers are biting hard on play-action fake.

Who can blame them when the first two feature backs they have faced are averaging 106 yards per game. As they cheat forward in anticipation of the running game, the tight ends and backs can sneak out and make some big plays.

The result has been 13 incomplete passes in two games. Twenty three receptions in those games have gone to tight ends or running backs. Fifteen of those came in week two where the Jets run play action to perfection.

Compounding matters even further is the presence of Jake Plummer. Plummer has the ability to get outside the pocket and when he doesn't see something developing he tucks and runs.

"Keep him in the pocket," linebacker Donnie Edwards said of Plummer. "We are going to be very aware of Mr. Plummer."

Play action, bootleg, and his arm isn't half bad.

So what is the cost? While Plummer does have 14 rushes through two games – a lot for a quarterback not named Vick – his ability to scramble and command some sort of shadow opens up the game even more.

The Broncos receivers are growing in talent. From former practice squad player Rod Smith to former first rounder Ashley Lelie, the Broncos have talent everywhere.

"Ashley is a fast guy and Rod knows a few tricks," Jammer said of the primary receivers he will face.

Special Teams:

Jason Elam is one of the finest kickers in the league. His leg has won more games than rookie Nate Kaeding has kicked in. Funny that they did not go to him last week in a loss.

Micah Knorr has the ability to pin the opposition deep and already has a Special Teams Player of the Week under his belt.

Tim Dwight may lead the conference in return average but odds are he will not make a huge return this week and his average will falter.

Last word:

"We weren't as crisp as we needed to be," Schottenheimer said referring to last Sunday's game. "We will have to do better, certainly coming up this week with Plummer and that crowd. It was not up to the standard where it needed to be."

Schottenheimer also mentioned the Broncos are the best in the AFC West during the week and said his team was still a work in progress. Not very convincing.

Prediction: Broncos 27 Chargers 17


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