Chargers Report Card: Week 3 at Denver

In a close game, the winners are defined by converted opportunities. When the play of the team that lost is so bad, it begs the question, how were they even in it? Looking at the grades, it is hard to fathom.

QUARTERBACKS:

Drew Brees is performing like a rookie. We will grant him a reprise on the fact that he had little time to throw but good quarterbacks stick in when faced with a rush and make blitzing teams pay. The only payment Brees has made is to make it easier for him to be overthrown. Look at the first half stats in the last two weeks. It is disgusting. It will only get tougher and it sounds like players are beginning to grumble.

Grade: F

RUNNING BACKS:

LaDainian Tomlinson tried to do it all. His pass in the first half made him the leading passer on the team for a while. With eight and nine men in the box he someone managed to get 60 yards and just missed breaking one open for a touchdown. It will happen if they continue to overload the line but he needs support or will continue to take a beating.

Grade: B-

WIDE RECEIVERS:

This motley group didn't perform that bad. They got open – for the most part. Eric Parker, Tim Dwight and Reche Caldwell each had to watch balls get thrown to spots they were not at. Kassim Osgood not looking for the ball during the blitz was a rookie mistake that can't happen to a second year player. Parker did the same thing but it isn't talked about because Oz had another error that turned out much bigger. When a blitz is recognized, look for the ball.

Grade: C

TIGHT ENDS:

Antonio Gates was a shell of himself. Whether it was the gameplan of the Broncos or the Chargers not getting him involved or the injury that had him down, Gates needs to be utilized early and often. He proved he is their best receiving weapon. Use him accordingly. Justin Peelle was not the blocker he usually is. Facing a potent defense, Peelle looked overwhelmed at the point of attack.

Grade: D

OFFENSIVE LINE:

Not one player on the line can say they had a good game. Roman Oben talked about Denver respecting the Chargers but the Broncos certainly have no respect for the line. They brought people from every angle and that person usually went unblocked. There were times that they brought more heat than available blockers but that is why they teach the bump of one guy to get to the next guy. Practice has shown they know this trick but they never moved off the original blocks and when they did it was too late. This was a complete line breakdown.

Grade: F

DEFENSIVE LINE:

The line was formidable against the run. They had a purpose and Jamal Williams proved the anchor. Run defense is but one phase of the game and the line brought nothing to the pass rush. While holding the Broncos to 1.8 yards per carry is commendable, not getting anywhere near Jake Plummer is deplorable. It was 2003 all over again in terms of the pass rush.

Grade: D

LINEBACKERS:

This unit had the same affliction as the defensive line but they also added in woeful coverage in the short zones. When crossing routes beat the manned up corners, one would figure a linebacker would be close by. That was not the case. They were off in their own little world. Ben Leber performed better than any linebacker on the field – a first for him since his rookie year of promise. Too often the spots they defend against the pass are soft. Perhaps it is a depth problem – they aren't deep enough to cut off the play before it breaks or perhaps it is just the personnel that cannot handle it.

Grade: D

SECONDARY:

Sammy Davis had his worst game as a professional and the problem could manifest itself in weeks to come. It was asked whether Schottenheimer would consider a change at the position and he was noncommittal about the subject. Another game like this and it may not even be a question. Quentin Jammer had a good game – the touchdown to Ashley Lelie aside. Condemning him is not justified. Jerry Wilson was missing from most of the game. Terrence Kiel continues to look strong against the run but when will he deliver that bone jarring hit on someone crossing the middle of the field?

Grade: D

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Kassim Osgood made the game changing play. He sailed into the air to block a Micah Knorr punt and ended up hitting the punter and getting called for a penalty that ended up in a Bronco touchdown. Blocking angle is a basic fundamental that is taught. When you launch into the air, only your arms should be able to hit the kicker. Nate Kaeding has proven to be the best draft pick used. Hitting from over 50 yards on his first try from that distance in a hostile environment provided a moment of pure joy. Mike Scifres nailed three kicks that went for touchbacks – two booted too far. The other was poor coverage and veteran tomfoolery. Eric Parker was consistent on his returns and has the moves to break one. The one he brought back 30 yards was negated by a Michael Turner penalty. Tim Dwight had one nice return on six tries and his ability to break that one will keep him in. The kickoff coverage was weak at best.

Grade: D

COACHING:

The staff knew what it was up against in Denver. With a hostile crowd, they should have taken a few shots down the field in the first quarter. The first deep pass didn't come until less than two minutes to go in the half. The defense provided its usual Jackal and Hyde. In the first half they were barely able to make stops and in the second half they came out with a renewed vigor. The game is sixty minutes and the coaching staff is not doing a good job of preparing as such. With so many blitzes coming, where was the screen pass to the blitzing side?

Grade: F


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