Quarterbacks- Drew Brees was as solid as he had to be. Brees did not try and do too much and relied on the strong field position the defense gave him. As the field general he turned 2 turnovers into 14 points. Brees ended the day 17-31 for 181 yards. His lone mistake was throwing an interception midway through the 4th quarter as the Chargers were attempting to eat up the clock. Brees will need to stretch the field in coming weeks and gain confidence in his other receivers not named Conway. Grade: B-
Running Backs- Ladanian Tomlinson did his best against a team that stacked the line against him. He ended the day with 96 yards on 26 carries and whenever he did break a run his linemen were called for holding. He still ended the day with 2 touchdown runs. Grade: B
Offensive Line- Cory Raymer is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. His replacement Jason Ball played well in his absence. The line allowed 2 sacks and had a few penalties that could have proved costly. They will need better push in opening lanes for Tomlinson to take the load off Brees in the next few weeks. Grade: B-
Receivers- Curtis Conway again shows he is Brees' favorite target. Conway gets another 7 catches and 92 yards to add to his total for the year. Tomlinson adds 5 catches out of the backfield and Stephen Alexander gets 3 catches for 44 yards including a key 19 yard reception that led to a touchdown. Tim Dwight is kept out of the offense with 1 catch and Reche Caldwell is again shut out. When do these guys become part of the offense? Grade: C+
Defensive Line- Marcellus Wiley gets an interception that he somehow returned for 40 yards in the slowest 40 yard dash in sports. Wiley also got his 4th sack of the season and his partner in pass rushing Raylee Johnson got a sack as well. Leonardo Carson got constant pressure on Plummer and came up with a big deflection late in the 4th. Adrian Dingle got another sack as he continues to create pressure. The line did allow 97 yards rushing but one play went for 27 yards on a run from Thomas Jones. Grade: B+
Linebackers- Donnie Edwards returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown and kept Freddie Jones in front of him in man-to-man coverage. Ben Leber forced a fumble and continues to impress. Junior Seau was flagged for 2 personal fouls (Unnecessary Roughness/Taunting) in the same series, and then beaten on a 31 yard score from Jake Plummer to Marcel Shipp later in the game. Grade: B
Secondary- Quentin Jammer played in his first NFL game but was not tested. He gave up one catch to David Boston but saw little action come his way playing as a nickel back. Alex Molden gave up one long pass to MarTay Jenkins that resulted in a touchdown but bounced back nicely. Ryan McNeil recovered the fumble Leber created. Grade: B
Special Teams- Wade Richey neutralized MarTay Jenkins return game single-handedly. Richey had 3 touchbacks out of 4 kicks and the 4th went 6 yards deep and was returned to the 14 yard line as the coverage unit converged on the tackle. The Charger return game was nothing special. Carlos Polk blocked a punt resulting in a safety. Why exactly did the Chargers opt to have Steve Christie attempt the 50-yarder with Richey the onlooker? Grade: B+
Coaching Staff- Coach Marty Schottenheimer addressed the team before their 1st and goal stand at the 9. The result was 4 plays for no gain. His staff will need to open the offense up and rely a little more on the arm of Brees and the weapons they have brought in. 2nd round pick Caldwell had no receptions and that trend cannot continue. Grade: B
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