With run game in doubt, screen

Steve McNair or no Steve McNair, the San Diego Chargers need to focus on themselves. They have been woeful of offense of late. Rather than worrying about how they stack up against the Titans, it is time to get back to the basics. Block, run, throw. Each must be accomplished with equal zeal.

Football is a simple game. Block the man in front of you and you will likely have more time to run through gaps or throw the ball. Against the Tennessee defense, which has some meaty bodies in the middle of the lineup, the focus remains the same.

"They're a tough team and they look pretty good," said center Nick Hardwick. "They have one of the best defensive lines we'll face this year. It's going to be a good challenge and it's going to be exciting. I'm definitely looking forward to it. It'll give me a measuring stick for where I'm at."

It will be a test for the entire line – but not necessarily as much a challenge as originally expected when looking at the schedule during training camp.

For all of the bulge in the middle, the Titans have given up 265 yards on the ground over the last two games.

Good news for the Chargers. The ground game in San Diego has come to a halt because of an ineffective pass game from Drew Brees and playcalling that leaves a lot to be desired.

This could be the chance to bring back Marty-ball.

While there surely is blame to spread around, it becomes hard to put any on an offensive line that has had to block more of the opposition than they have on the line.

Simple mathematics says that if eight men are coming in and there is only seven to block them – one roams free.

The game will continue if the Chargers cannot spread the field – and with two wideouts health an issue it could get downright ugly.

"We are impressed with their offensive line," Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher surprisingly said.

Is it that his team hasn't tackled well enough in the past two games that he has a healthy respect for every line or does he believe it?

Tough to say. The linemen in San Diego don't have the tenure that many other lines in the league have. That alone is a detriment and they have two rookies – but the experience is making them better.

The ball will remain in Tomlinson's court. He is the best they have and the Bolts have to find creative ways to get the ball in his hands. Even when he throws a pass, he is making plays.

This week – the screen pass will become all-important. Oddly enough, the Chargers haven't used the screen much this season. Perhaps they are unsure the offensive line can get out there in time. Whatever the holdup, it is time to take the money and screen.

With eight and nine man fronts forevermore commonplace, the buzzer beater could be a well-timed screen. Remember when the Texans used the play effectively on two separate run blitz occasions. Put LaDainian Tomlinson in that role and the effect is multiplied. If eight or nine are in the box that leaves two to four players left to beat. Those odds sound much better.

Plus, Tomlinson can bring out the patented stiff-arm – a lost art in today's game.

"I use it a lot," Tomlinson says. "Every time I have my free arm, and defenders are trying to come up to try to tackle me, you better believe I'll bust out and use my stiff arm.

"I don't like people to get into my body. I like to kind of keep them away. It helps me to break the tackle. The stiff arm is to keep people away from me."

It is one of the many reasons that he has remained healthy through the years. He does not take the pounding that a normal back takes.

Marty Schottenheimer has also noticed something that could explain the low pass catching totals of his top threat.

"It is kind of interesting because you look at him as a runner and you talk about eight men in the box and all of that goes on, but the other thing is that you see defensive lineman that will be starting to rush the passer and they see him come out and as he begins to release they are out there trying to get a hand on him, they are not as concerned about getting that rush as they are making sure he doest get into the pattern clean."


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