In depth Analysis of Week 3

Each week we take a look at the key matchups that the Chargers needed an edge in to secure a win. This past week against the Arizona Cardinals pitted the Chargers special teams against MarTay Jenkins and the Chargers receivers vs. the Arizona secondary. Lets go in depth into how successful the Chargers were in their cause.

Chargers special teams vs. MarTay Jenkins

MarTay was touted by us as one of the premier kick returners in the league and was coming off a game in which he returned a kick for a touchdown. Wade Richey was booming kickoffs this past Sunday in Tempe and it resulted in 3 touchbacks in 4 tries. On the only kickoff that was returned, Richey still kicked the ball 6 yards deep into the end zone when MarTay decided to return it. This was on the first Charger kickoff of the day and Zeke Moreno and Justin Peele set the pace tackling MarTay at his own 14. The big key was the unit stayed in their lanes and beat their blockers. MarTay did not attempt to take another kick return back after that.

What we did not count on was MarTay being a big factor as a receiver. We knew he had blinding speed and great elusiveness but he was a factor we did not consider. Last year he had 32 receptions and 3 went for touchdowns. Not exactly gaudy numbers. The point we missed was his explosiveness anytime he touches the ball. He is one of those rare players who can take it to the house at any given point. So on the third play from scrimmage for Arizona, MarTay broke on a quick slant pattern looking for a first down on 3rd and 4. What he got was much more. MarTay beat Alex Molden on the play and weaved his way to a 65-yard touchdown reception leaving Molden and Jammer chasing him all the way. He had 2 other receptions, one resulting in a first down and the other in a crucial part of the game for no gain at all with the Cardinals driving and 3rd and goal at the 9. He did have the ball thrown his way 3 other times but good pass defense prevented him from getting any other receptions.

Besides the breakdown on the slant pattern he scored on, MarTay was held in check. The biggest thing was Richey not allowing the Cardinals field to be shortened with good returns.

Chargers receivers vs. Cardinals secondary

Curtis Conway again paced the Chargers offense with 7 catches for 92 yards. Drew Brees has shown confidence in Conway and been rewarded. We have stated he is not the only receiver on the team and that the Chargers would need to spread the ball out more.

Stephen Alexander stepped out of the shadows with 3 catches for 44 yards, dwarfing his 3 catch, 3-yard performance in the previous week. The most encouraging sign was seeing Alexander leaping for a catch in the end zone that he appeared to have before losing it when he hit the ground. The play was reviewed but the call of incomplete on the field stood. On the very next play Alexander caught a 19-yard pass down the sidelines that setup a Ladainian Tomlinson touchdown run.

Tim Dwight caught his first pass on the 4th play of the game. That catch seemed to set him up for many more as the game progressed. The very next play he had a pass thrown his way but it went incomplete. Moments later he had another pass intended for him but Kwamie Lassiter was there to break it up. Dwight did not see another pass come his way until the 12-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Dwight ended the day with his one catch and was not part of the gameplan during the heart of the game.

Reche Caldwell and Tamarick Vanover both had 2 balls thrown their way. Neither of them recorded a catch. One of the balls thrown Vanover's way was nullified by a roughing the passer call, and the other was a perfect throw by Brees that went right through his hands.

This game was not the coming out party we were hoping for from the Charger receivers. The Arizona secondary did what it had to do and got some help from the bad hands the Chargers receivers displayed. All of the Charger touchdowns came off turnovers. Brees got the ball to his receivers and probably would have thrown at Dwight more if he was as reliable as Conway. The fact remains Brees has little faith in his receivers and it will cost them. It is great to be 3-0, but they will be behind at some point this season and will have to rely on the ability of his receivers to get open and catch the ball. Without building the blocks for those healthy relationships now it will be that much tougher when the time comes. That time could very well be this week when they face New England, the defending Super Bowl Champions.

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