Chargers' weapons provide silencer

It was one of the better all around games played by the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The offense was stellar, the defense was hearty against the run and the special teams had its share of the glory. The real scary part about the Halloween game is how many weapons the Bolts suddenly have

Welcoming the Raiders to town ensures their fans will also come out in droves. The silence from them was deafening by halftime and the parking lot was spacious in the aftermath.

The Chargers have swung a 1-2 spiraling season into a 5-3 hopeful one and have one game before they enter the bye week – getting a chance to rest LaDainian Tomlinson for the stretch run.

At the beginning of the season the Chargers only had a hammer to work with. They would pound away inside with their star runner and hoped a chisel here or there would provide enough support to help them chip away at opposing defenses. That chisel turned into a pick axe when Antonio Gates got rolling. But that was it. Two weapons against an NFL defense isn't exactly the way to get through the Special Ops.

Suddenly, the Chargers have been inundated with talent. Butch Coolidge couldn't find a better assortment of weapons to help out Marsellus Wallace from Zed and Maynard.

And the Chargers are on the cusp of realizing that talent. Keenan McCardell has provided a spark that would make Match Light jealous.

"Keenan is one of those guys who is a great matchup for us," quarterback Drew Brees explained. "He is a playmaker and we want to get him the ball. You try and take him away and how you going to cover (Antonio) Gates. You try and take him away and how you going to cover Eric Parker. And then we bring Tim (Dwight) in the game. And Kassim (Osgood) and LT. The list goes on."

"Eric Parker had a big day," coach Marty Schottenheimer added. "Keenan McCardell played good. There are weapons here that we can throw the ball to that we did not have a year ago."

For Brees, deflecting the attention is a little something new for him. He had a remarkable game but wanted to talk about the players surrounding him in the huddle that made it possible.

Brees talked about finding the mental strength to succeed this year and it starts with leadership. It took him three years, but he is finally figuring it out. He defers the attention away from himself and the players are smiling and laughing because of that newfound camaraderie.

"Everybody talked about Gates, but what about Justin Peelle," Brees pointed out. "What he does for us from the standpoint of blocking and route running. He is the ultimate. Tim Dwight comes in and first route of the game catches a touchdown pass.

"Everyone contributed today. I have to plug the o-line here because they battled their butt off. They absolutely deserve a lot of credit."

The only people he left out were the lemonade vendors and if he had enough time he would have mentioned them as well.

But that is the real progression of this quarterback, not the reads he is making on the field. Everyone knew he had talent, but it is the attitude that separates the winners from the has-beens. Perilously close to that fate, Brees has risen to the occasion.

That in turn has his constituents calling his name in return.

"We knew coming into this game that we wanted to get off to a good start," said Gates. "You have to give Drew a lot of credit."

"He is so comfortable back there," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "He is throwing strikes."

Brees, on the ropes just weeks ago, has danced to the center of the ring. Instead of the knockout blow that seemed primed to happen, Brees is throwing a barrage of punches.

Perhaps he was just being misinterpreted and didn't have the arsenal he has today. Or, it could just be that Drew Brees, a 25 year old man, has finally grown up.


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