Key Matchups in Week 3

<u>Special teams vs. MarTay Jenkins and the Cardinals return team. </u>

MarTay is only the #1 kick returner in the league. MarTay is the same guy who returned a kickoff for a touchdown last week. The Chargers are the same team that allowed Jermaine Lewis a kick return of 38 yards. OK, holding MarTay to 38 yards on any kick return might be a small victory, but ultimately it shortens the field for the Arizona offense. MarTay turned in a record setting 2000 campaign as the NFL's first single-season 2,000-yard kickoff returner. Considering the Charger coverage unit has been shaky up to this point it could mean the game.

The Chargers main goal here is to stay in their coverage lanes on a kickoff. This task is not as easy as it sounds. When the ball is kicked several tendencies develop as players drift from their lanes, thus creating holes for the returner to exploit. MarTay is one of those returners with excellent vision and can explode through that hole. Quentin Jammer will be on the field for special teams in his first NFL game. Jammer will be on the spot to use his speed and tackling skills in neutralizing the return game of the Cardinals. Jammer is but one of a group of Chargers who are entrusted with this duty. Zeke Moreno and Carlos Polk will also be heavily counted on as they continue to impress on special teams.

By keeping the Arizona return game to a minimum it will force Jake Plummer and company into a situation where they will have to drive the length of the field and play into the hands of the #1 defense in the league through 2 games. The Chargers have yet to allow a touchdown this year and will look to keep that intact. Longer drives, over the history of the league, equals fewer points.

Chargers Receivers vs. Cardinals secondary

Let's face it; Curtis Conway alone has been the offense from a receiver standpoint. While he is a great safety net for Drew Brees, there are other receivers who need to see the ball so Brees can establish a rapport with them and gain confidence in them for the rest of the season and the future. Tim Dwight, the 15 million dollar man, has 3 receptions and was shut out last week. Reche Caldwell and Tamarick Vanover have been shut out of both games. Stephen Alexander has 3 receptions for 3 yards. Unacceptable from a receiving corps.

Dwight is a playmaker. He must see the ball in open space so he can make use of his speed and then have the opportunity to break one. How does an offense with a new QB get him the ball? Wide Receiver screen. This will leave Dwight with blockers in front of him and give him the opportunity to cut much like he would do on a kickoff return. Short slants. Dwight is fast; there is no debate there. If a corner is playing off the line of scrimmage run him on a slant and take advantage of the open space.

Caldwell needs to get his first catch of the year to drop any anxieties he may have. This will turn into crisper routes and a budding relationship for the future between Caldwell and Brees.

Vanover looked solid in the preseason and was the main reason that Trevor Gaylor was traded to the Falcons. He must produce. Vanover is 6'2 and needs to be used on sideline routes. He has the moves to get open and catching a few balls should gain him confidence in his ailing return game.

Alexander is in the toughest spot. He faces a team that has the former tight end of the Chargers. Freddie Jones was loved by his teammates if not by management. Alexander must regain his Pro Bowl form and out duel Jones who is surely fired up for this game. If Alexander is unable to deliver it could crush his psyche and the confidence of those around him. Doubt this early in the season is never a good thing.

Arizona gave up 352 yards in the air last week. They also gave up a play of 48 yards and another of 27. In week 1, the Cardinals gave up 327 yards with a long of 43. That's 2 300-yard performances through 2 games. The conservative game plan must be scraped this week to test that weakness. Well over 600 yards passing against and only 1 interception from the Cardinals. Brees should have some time to throw the ball as the Cardinals are still working on creating more pressure. With that time receivers need to get open.

This is for now and the future when they will need to change up their game plan to play with any team. If they are unable to prove they can throw the ball and throw it effectively by distributing the ball around, it could lead to problems down the road.

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