Key Matchups part 2

Yesterday the Charger defense vs. the Patriot offense was dissected and it cam across as a unit to unit matchup. Today is much the same as we look at the Charger offense vs. the Patriot defense. Anytime you face the defending Super Bowl Champions one unit alone does not get it done. This is a team effort that will create a win for the Chargers. With that in mind let's take a look at the featured matchup of the day.

The Chargers Offense vs. the Patriot Defense

Bill Belichick has more disguises than Dana Carvey. He uses his disguises in his defensive scheme against opponents. Belichick throws every possible look he can to confuse quarterbacks, and young QBs; well he generally has a field day defending them.

Ty Law and Tebucky Jones are 2 of the better blitzing defensive backs. Blitzing is all about timing and these 2 execute that to perfection. The Patriots have 10 takeaways in 3 games. The talent in the secondary alone has accounted for 8 of the 10 turnovers. The group is also willing to take chances and capitalize on their reads. This tenacity by the defense can be exploited if the Chargers develop the running game with LaDainian Tomlinson. The young offensive line will have to make a strong push and open up holes for Tomlinson. If the running game is doing well, play-action-pass is in play and the secondary may bite giving Drew Brees some open lanes to throw the ball. Lawyer Milloy is one of the best tacklers in the league and he also plays the run well. He will be helped out by linebacker Ted Johnson and defensive end Willie McGinest both of which play the run and pass well.

Our apologies if this theme seems redundant, but besides Curtis Conway the receivers have been non-existent. Tim Dwight has 4 catches and will need to get in the groove early in the game. Dwight is an explosive playmaker but his talents have yet to be used. Stephen Alexander caught 3 balls last week and provided a spark. He will need to be a bigger factor this week and use his size to his advantage. Reche Caldwell has not been in the mix at all and when his number has been called he has not delivered. A wide receiver screen to get him the ball and his first catch of the season may do wonders in his development. In contrast Deion Branch, also a rookie chosen in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft, has caught 15 passes this year. Without a true #2 WR making plays teams will key on Conway more and more in the coming weeks. The trend has to change this week. Josh Norman has shown explosiveness for a tight end and he finds a way to get open. This talent will be needed against the Patriots.

So far Brees has not been asked to do a lot. Expect that to change this week. Brees will be asked to make plays and smart reads. He will need to deliver the ball quickly and accurately, and can ill afford to make mistakes. Winning the turnover game will pay an important role in the success of the team. Brees must lead the offense to scores and provide solid clock management. The Chargers want to win the time of possession battle to limit the Patriots offensive opportunities and it all starts with Brees.

The Jason Ball learning curve has ended. In the first start of his NFL career he will be required to make the adjustment calls along the line. What he says will affect not only the guys up front, but also the tight ends and running backs in certain protection packages. A bad read could mean bad news for quarterback Drew Brees. "I like to try to be a student of the game and learn," Ball said. "Every game day you're going to go out and give great effort, and if you know what you're doing or where you're supposed to be going, it's just going to help you fly around and make plays." If his adjustments are wrong, Drew Brees may be looking up at the crystal clear sky in San Diego and dreaming of somewhere else.

Besides checking off at the line, Ball will be responsible for knowing the snap count and not creating false starts by his other linemen, and he will be responsible for the Center to QB exchange which must be flawless all game. A mental error in the exchange and the Patriots will surely capitalize.

Richard Seymour is developing into one of the best defensive tackles in the game in his second year in the league. Ball will surely see him on many stunts and will have the tough job of containing him. No game is easy for a rookie, but Ball will have all his skills tested. Last week he played well in the absence of Cory Raymer who is out for the year and the line as a whole allowed one sack while Ball was in. The Cardinals are not the defending Champs though and a tough task lies ahead.

Many parts make up a unit like a well oiled machine. The sum of the parts and how they act and react to in-game situations are what separate teams from week to week. On any given Sunday a team can come out and win, but to do so the team will have to play as a cohesive unit and rely on each other. The offensive line protects the QB and opens holes for the running back. The quarterback spots open receivers and gets them the ball. Wide receivers run crisp routes and allow the QB an opportunity to get them the ball in open lanes. When one of these falls apart the rest follows shortly after. In this game more than any other, the best defense is a good offense. The key for the Chargers and their quest for 4-0 starts and stops here.

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