Chargers Gameday Primer

Pretty soon Chargers fans will be flooding Oakland to catch their team play. There are certainly enough seats left open.

Quell the Black Hole. Strike quick and don't give them an opportunity to raise hell – literally by the looks of some fans.

While it will not be a sellout and the Black Hole may actually represent the television audience in the area, whatever fans are in town will be true to their team and have the lungs to match.

On Offense:

Establish the run early. Too many times in this season alone the Chargers have not gotten LaDainian Tomlinson involved from the first blow of the whistle. Even though he received his touches this past week, he was absent from the gameplan to start.

Tomlinson is one of the best divisional players in the game. Since 2002 he is ranked fourth in rushing yards against teams within his own division with 1,885 yards and his 29 touchdowns place him third among all running backs.

This is a new Raiders' defense that has stressed stopping the run. But Tomlinson remains the best in the game, despite a healthy respect for the team he will face.

"Ted doesn't move at all," Tomlinson noted. "Sapp still likes to talk to you. It is interesting them guys together."

Allow your best weapon to strike up his own conversation. Many remember the stinging comment after his touchdown last year when he flipped the ball in mock of the fans.

"I know I can have someone to talk to with Sapp," Tomlinson added. "It is always interesting the things he says."

None of those samples, however, are rated PG.

Brees must deliver the gameplan and hit his receivers, even – or perhaps especially – when pressured. He has become a rhythm quarterback and his accuracy is thrown off when he is unable to put a string of good plays together.

To truly become an elite quarterback, he must face the pressure, step into his throws and connect. Right now, that is not happening.

"We feel like we can have a field day against anybody if we execute," said Brees.

While the San Diego secondary has been under fire, the Raiders don't boast a defensive backfield that doesn't tempt teams to pass either. They need to take advantage of the lapses in coverage that is supplied by Tomlinson finding the second level.

On Defense:

Kerry Collins doesn't inspire fear – even with Randy Moss. But give him a good running game and some protection – look out.

Despite not throwing an interception this year, he has locked onto Moss at times and delivered short or long. Collins also has a history of fumbles. The Chargers need consistent pressure up front to take the slack off a unit that could be without Drayton Florence. Plus, knocking a ball out of the hands of Collins should be a priority if a sack is within reach. This isn't the burly Ben Roethlisberger who won't go down.

"Any quarterback – you get pressure on them and it is hard to throw the ball," linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "That is what we have to do this week."

Merriman is slowly exerting his will on opposing offenses and his play is instrumental with Steve Foley hobbled by a strained abdomen. It is clear he is a difference maker on defense and the increased reps mean more chances to make a play that turns the game in the Bolts favor.

LaMont Jordan seems to have hit his stride in Silver and Black. And that is scary. He has the speed to gain the edge and can run it between the tackles, falling forward to gain the extra yard.

He also is a fantastic receiver and Jordan in space is a mismatch, despite the speed of San Diego's linebackers.

"They have a couple of different weapons on their team," Merriman added. "Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan – we went to the same school so I know a lot about him. You have so many offensive threats on that side of the ball it is pretty hard to stop them."

But this defense must find a way to avenge their late game collapses with a 60-minute game. Even the slightest lapse could cost them dearly.

"One of the keys for us is you don't fall asleep – Randy will walk off the line and even when he is running a route he will jog the route," safety Bhawoh Jue began. "One time he will jog and then it is a jump ball and a foot race."

On Special Teams:

Mike Scifres notched his first two punts downed inside the twenty on Monday and he faces off against one of the best in the business, Shane Lechler. Not allowing the opposition to return a punt will give them the field position battle they want. Lechler has a leg, but offers some opportunity for a return.

Darren Sproles has been a trip away from the house. How demoralizing would a big return be?

Of course, last week it was a combination of poor kickoffs and coverage that allowed Pittsburgh to answer Charger scores quickly. Keeping the momentum is necessary in the hostile environment.


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