Jammer-Time!

With a Quentin Jammer signing all but a formality as of September 10, 2002, we need to examine what he will mean to this Charger team. Coming in just after week 1 does not afford him a great learning curve, but he has been touted by many scouts to be the best CB to come out of college in the last 5-6 years.

He stands just less than 6' tall and weighs in at 204 lbs. His name speaks his attitude towards the game. He "jams" WRs at the line playing a bumping style and is punishing as a tackler. Playing for Texas teams shied away from his side of the field opting to test anyone but him. Yet his numbers are still stellar. Jammer has started 38 of the 46 games he has played in and tallied 195 tackles, 7 interceptions and 57 passes defended during that time.

Failing to get reps in preseason and without the benefit of practice and true learning time while unsigned has put this year in jeopardy to make an impact. Best case is Jammer is ready for game 4 versus New England, and that may be a stretch. Many rookies who come in late fail to make a significant impact. Can we expect Jammer will have an easier time? Can Jammer come in as Ladanian Tomlinson did last year and fight for rookie of the year?

The resounding answer is no. Jammer faces new terminology, new types of coverage, new defenses to read. Tomlinson merely had to run the ball where he saw a hole. Jammer needs to learn on the fly exactly what a WR intends and to anticipate those moves. Some of that is instinct but a lot of that is learning the Pro game and knowing your opponents.

In game 1 versus Cincinnati, Alex Molden played a slant to Peter Warrick perfectly. With Rodney Harrison closing in on Warrick, Molden was able to step right in front of the pattern and pick the ball off. Harrison, as the safety and one of the hardest hitters in the league, merely had to come up on the receiver and threaten him with a hit, which caused Warrick to cut his route short. This allowed Molden his chance and he took it. The Chargers have been unable to stop this in the past and face fiercer competition in the coming weeks.

The best situation we can hope for is a debut as a nickel back where the physical Jammer takes the slot WR and cuts off the slant pattern. This is crucial to the Chargers success especially when playing the Raiders who deploy the slant as a primary weapon in their version of the West Coast Offense. Denver will do the same with McCaffrey back in the fold. Quick 3 step drops that have big play written all over them if left uncovered.

Jammer is here to stop that. He is here to tackle; he is here to provide a shutdown presence. He is ultimately here to make the one part of the defense that really struggled last year better. Too many times last year the Chargers gave up the big play against more physical receivers. In a meaningless preseason game David Boston did just that, scoring on a 66 yard pass where he physically manhandled Ryan McNeil on the play. Not to insinuate any CB can handle Boston who is the biggest receiver in the game, but we don't know how Jammer would have contained the situation. He has the potential where others don't.

Jammer is signed, yes, but he will face a tough road ahead in year 1. No matter when he signed, expectations remain high. Jammer has some homework to do. For the Chargers defense who so desperately need him, the sooner the better.

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