Chargers Gameday Primer

If the Chargers ever needed a complete game this would be it. With their playoff chances hanging by a thread and a cat swatting at it to knock it completely loose, the Bolts don't need motivation – they need a win.

On Offense:

In Marty-ball we trust. If there was ever a time to run up 40 minutes on the time of possession ledger – it is this week.

That means ground control. Hopefully Major Tom is listening.

LaDainian Tomlinson is in better health this week and his ability to run the ball between the tackles will be instrumental in the team's ability to keep the Indianapolis offense off the field.

"He has the speed, the power. He's a great back," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. "He's at the top of his game right now. You just have to fly around to the football and depend on your teammates if you miss.

"But he's a great route runner. He can do it all. He definitely has to be accounted for. He's a very good player. But you really can't concentrate so much on one player because some other guys can hurt you. (Tight end) Antonio Gates can hurt you. (Wide receiver) Keenan McCardell, he's a great receiver and can hurt you."

We know that Tomlinson relies on his full compliment of abilities – but will he be hindered at all this week? The Chargers offense can't afford anything less than his best and given the man that he is he will give it everything and more.

The Chargers will try and work over the middle of the field, trying to negate the speed of the Colts' defense.

"You have to focus on yourself," warns Tomlinson.

Which means they will try, at times, to test the edges to see if they can give Tomlinson the ball with space. It is a tough task.

"They are extremely fast," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "They have unusual speed in their play. You may think a guy is block but you better make sure you finish the block."

Once the ground game is established, look for play-action-pass to be the weapon of choice in the passing game. Their linebackers and safeties in the Colts' scheme have to cover a lot of ground and can be baited. It also means finding ways to get Antonio Gates off the line of scrimmage – shirking the extra blocking responsibilities of Dwight Freeney.

Eric Parker and Keenan McCardell will be counted on heavily in the passing game, especially if they have to max protect with Gates.

"Let's just go get this game and see what happens," Tomlinson said in finality.

On Defense:

Keep Peyton Manning under pressure. This isn't as easy as it sounds, despite the team's four sacks of Manning last year. The problem is the Chargers defense must be in his face consistently – even if it does not mean sacks.

If last year taught the Bolts anything it is that their secondary can't keep up with Manning for sixty minutes. Manning is the best quarterback in the league at deciphering where the blitz will come from and attacking the vacant space.

"He is a great quarterback," quarterback Drew Brees said of his counterpart. "What he has done has been impressive."

"He has got to be considered one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in the NFL right now," echoed Schottenheimer.

Marvin Harrison, the Colts' all-time leading receiver, is having another Pro Bowl season, with 72 catches for 992 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is complimented by Reggie Wayne who is one reception shy of Harrison with 72 for 943 yards and five touchdowns.

The threat of the passing game is setup nicely by Edgerrin James who leads the AFC in rushing with 1,440 yards. After a record year from Manning, the Colts have come back with a balanced approach on offense. The threat of the pass and many audibles at the line has opened up running lanes for James.

The defense can't afford to play on its heels and will have to take the occasional risk.

"Number one offense in scoring," linebacker Donnie Edwards reminded. This trio (Manning, Harrison and James) has been together for seven, eight years. Same scheme – and they are having another wonderful year.

"That core – that means something. You have that relationship with each other and that is why they are so effective scoring points."

On Special Teams:

No game will rely on special teams more than this one. It starts with the kickoffs. Short kicks will not be welcome as it makes the field shorter for the Colts' offense. That simply can't happen.

Coordinated effort and knowing how much special teams factors into a game – just ask Darren Sproles. His fumble last week was the beginning of the end. Parker will be back there this week.


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