As tribute to the late Nipsey "Principal Edwards" Russell from "Wildcats," I think the Chargers need to come in here thinkin' Wildcats football. Everyone's saying that this is going be a tough, grind it out football game, well what we need are a couple game-breaking plays by someone the likes of Levander "Bird" Williams. Whether that comes from the QB position, that the Bird so effectively played, or from another spot (gosh knows we have better athletes on the squad than the brothers from a different mother, Wesley and Woody, who are only able to come together after getting each other in the proverbial "zone"). Running the ball is gonna be tough. We need some play action, which I've noticed we haven't run too much. Maybe some end arounds to keep the Steelers honest and not rush the inside of our line. I think Pitt is gonna focus on LDT, and leave their corners to man the deep third, there's nothing in my mind that says Polumalu can cover Gates. He's basically an extra LB, but what he does well is hang around the middle of the field and scavenge low thrown balls. Drew needs to thread the needle this week, hopefully he can. LDT will block his heart out.
As for our D, Willie Parker can only run outside, Hot Jamally Williams will stuff the middle, but Shawne and Ben need to do what they did last week and parole the outside. If the refs let us play a little tonight, I think our corners can get away with a little pushing and shoving, since the Steelers wideouts do the same (same as New England's band of trash talkers). Tom Brady is a little cry baby, Benny Bonghit is not. He's gonna come to play and will butt heads with our guys without shedding a tear. If Big Igor can play, I think we will get to him a little bit with our OLB's, maybe even irritate that bum shoulder. Too bad we didn't see you at the game last week, we were also there and actually got on the jumbo tron, just before we were threatened to be booted for literally cheering too much for the Chargers. I hate New England, and the Steelers deserve no better. We should be thinking 1994 all night. This game is where the stars shine...powder blue color, maybe this year Spanos will realize these are the colors we should be wearing.
"It's the Sport of Kings, better than diamond rings...Football!"
Vlad's email seems pretty prophetic now. The Bolts could definitely have used a little more play action passing. Unfortunately, they didn't get LaDainian Tomlinson going enough on the ground to make such fakes effective. I also was looking for that end around play, preferably to Parker, to additionally loosen up the Steelers' defense.
As Vlad feared, the Chargers were unable to stop Pittsburgh's quarterback when it mattered. The secondary probably still got away with some contact, even though they were flagged a few times. Quentin Jammer committed his prerequisite pass interference since he can't stay with his man.
"The referees are really cracking down on it this year," Jammer said on Wednesday.
QJ is the poster boy for our defense. He finally gets a shot at a pick in the end zone and he can't get his hands on it because he is a poised for a hit. Does he think he will jar the ball loose before the receiver can get his feet down? Sadly, I think he does.
Drayton Florence, who I've conversely supported in this column, lost his cool on ABC much like Darrien Gordon against the Traitors. I don't know whose wife Jamar Fletcher slept with to find himself buried so deeply on the depth chart, but he couldn't be any worse than Sammy Davis. I don't know if The Organization is trying to justify The Candyman's (or Jammer during the last year of his deal) first-round selection, but it is currently sacrificing the season in the process.
There was a lot of speculation after the fact as to what the outcome of the game would have been had the Chargers converted touchdowns on their first few 3rd quarter trips to the red zone. The consensus seems to be that we would have seized control of the game. But the way our defense was playing, the Steelers would have been forced to go on the attack and would probably have been successful.
The same goes for all the speculation surrounding the playcall on the conversion attempt. I agree that the run to LdT looked a little too reminiscent to one of those futile shots into the line in OT against the Jets. However, we would have all screamed bloody murder had he not gotten the ball. When given the ball in the open field, he did have success against the Steelers. Antonio Gates definitely had a classic battle with Polamalu, but we are kidding ourselves if we thinking that throwing him the ball on that play would have sealed the win.
Unfortunately, we lost the game because the defense was unable to stop the Steelers when they needed it most.
Steve Foley is clearly hampered by the abdominal pull. He got called for a questionable penalty, but we got our share of breaks from the refs in the second half. There appears to be no one back there to stand up and shut down the opposition. Shawne Merriman seems to be the closest thing to a playmaker on defense right now.
Our pass defense is our most glaring weakness and that is right now what is keeping us below .500. Marty Schottenheimer can rationalize all he wants to about how the pass rush could help the secondary. You would thinking seeing all of the blitzes LeBeau called would give him and Wade some ideas. I hope that Schottenheimer is only trying to inspire and maximize the talent we have right now. A.J. Smith, who appears to building a championship team, needs to upgrade our secondary. In the meantime, we need to bring more people on the blitz to compensate.
Much was made of Jerome Bettis' runs of Pittsburgh final drive. Our run defense doesn't concern me. Much like our offense, a little more innovation on previous plays would have minimized the damage.
Al Michaels mentioned that the Chargers have lost the lead in all three losses this season. But the truth is that they never had control of any of those games. When the game is on the line, we can't rely on our defense right now. The Bolts are fooling themselves if they really believed that they could have been 4-0 before Monday Night. Who's to say that they would have been nearly as aggressive (and subsequently effective) in Weeks 3 and 4 had they not found themselves in a hole?
Maybe that's the problem, it takes being backed up against the wall for this team play inspired football. That needs to change. It can begin in Oakland on Sunday. It has to.