Chargers offense fine; Secondary still a concern

A last look back at the week shows an impressive offense but a defense that still has some question marks, particularly in the secondary. That has to concern the Chargers as they head east this week.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Drew Brees was sensational as he was in complete control the entire game. He hit on 19-of-22 passes for 191 yards and two scores. He spread the ball around to six different receivers, and was often able to go through his reads at least once thanks to the fine pass-blocking. And by the Chargers being able to establish the run, it set up a touchdown pass from LaDainian Tomlinson to Keenan McCardell after he had taken a pitch outside. McCardell continues to outrun Father Time as he has two more touchdown catches.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The Giants came in ranked among the top run defensive units, but got hammered up front and couldn't hold on to Tomlinson long enough to bring him down without much damage. The front line of the Chargers gave Tomlinson plenty of running room -- and he doesn't need much. A whopping 268 rushing yards piled up by the Chargers, with 192 coming from Tomlinson's cleats.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Still plenty of work to be done here, as Eli Manning collected 352 passing yards and two scores. Quentin Jammer continues -- each game -- to get beat for a touchdown, a long gain and commit a penalty. This Sunday was no different. Drayton Florence, though, did a nice job of some coverages, but his game had some blemishes, too. The pass defense continues to be the weak spot of this entire team.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Much better than the previous two weeks as Tiki Barber was held to 60 yards and the Giants got but 86 as a team. Donnie Edwards had a great game with a game-high 13 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Although it doesn't show through on the stat sheet, the linemen did well to keep the Giants' blockers occupied long enough to let the linebackers to swoop in and do their thing.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Darren Sproles is so close to breaking one on a return. He almost did it again against the Giants, with a long of 58 on his way to 134 return yards. The Chargers, for the most part, shut down what was an impressive Giants' return game. Mike Scifres had but one chance, but he cranked out a 50-yard punt and Nate Kaeding was true on his lone effort from 44 yards.

COACHING: A -- Instead of virtually ignoring Tomlinson, the game plan was wrapped around his enormous skills -- why it wasn't the first two weeks is for somebody else to answer. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron also went to an up-tempo, no-huddle approach which Brees thrives in. The rhythm that had been missing in the previous two weeks was on display for all to see. Coach Marty Schottenheimer didn't hide the fact, privately, how important this game was and his charges bought into it.

Giants Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Eli Manning completed 24 of 41 passes, threw for two TDs and didn't get picked. He was on top of his game, enjoying a (short) career highlight with 352 yards. Much of that was to the credit of the O-line, which blocked well. LT Luke Petitgout and LG David Diehl were especially efficient, and RG Chris Snee had a few outstanding blitz pick-ups. WR Amani Toomer looked awkward frequently and may be nearing the end of his long and distinguished career. WR Plaxico Burress, once he joined his teammates after the first quarter (disciplinary reasons: late for two meetings during the week) caught five passes for 52 yards and a TD. So did third WR David Tyree, who did exactly the same. TE Jeremy Shockey led the receivers with six catches and 101 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Virtually nonexistent, and as well as the O-line blocked for the passing game, that's how erratically it blocked for the run. RB Tiki Barber had 15 carries for 60 yards, and discounting three scrambles by Manning for 13 yards, only reserve RB Derrick Ward had positive numbers -- four carries, 13 yards. The Chargers were blitzing more than the Giants obviously expected. LB Donnie Edwards blitzed for the first time this season and came away with a sack, one of two the Chargers recorded. He also registered 13 tackles, eight coming on running plays.

PASSING DEFENSE: C-minus -- QB Drew Brees threw 22 passes and only three were incomplete. He totaled 191 yards and a pair of TDs, and his QB rating was an astronomical 133.1. RB LaDainian Tomlinson threw one pass -- an option to WR Keenan McCardell that went for a 26-yard TD. There was virtually no pass rush from the Giants, to the point where Brees not only wasn't sacked -- but never was knocked to the ground. In the secondary, there was more trouble than performance at an acceptable level. Both RCB Will Peterson and SS Gibril Wilson were removed for a time because of unacceptable play.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D -- Tomlinson gained 192 yards on 21 carries, more than nine yards per carry. He scored three TDs. He had a long gain of 62 yards (and was brought down by rookie DE Justin Tuck, which stunned the star. "I guess I'll have to check out his speed in the 40," Tomlinson said. The front four was abysmal, especially DT William Joseph and DT Kendrick Clancy. There was virtually no run support from the outside linebackers, while MLB Antonio Pierce had his worst game since joining the Giants as an UFA from Washington.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- Nothing disastrous happened to the special teams, which was probably the highlight of the night for the Giants. Dangerous rookie Darren Sproles ripped off one kickoff return for 58 yards and had four in total for 134, but he didn't hurt the team nearly as much as the offense did. Sproles also took back two punts for a minor 10 yards. Giants' P Jeff Feagles averaged 44.0 gross on four punts and a 41.5 net with a long of 54. K Jay Feely still hasn't missed all season; making three FGs and both PATs.

COACHING: C-minus -- The team looked unusually unprepared, and that has to trace directly to head coach Tom Coughlin and his two coordinators, Tim Lewis (defense) and John Hufnagel (offense). Coughlin's decision to bench WR Plaxico Burress for the first quarter adversely affected the team rather than the player and might have been reconsidered.


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