Key Matchups part Deux

50 rushes for 395 yards with two touchdowns. 25 catches for 297 yards and three scores. Those are the current numbers of Charlie Garner, the weapon who needs to be contained. He is on pace to rush for 1,264 yards, gain 950 yards receiving and score 20 touchdowns. Impressive.

Charlie Garner is averaging 7.9 yards per carry and 11.9 per reception, giving him an unbelievable average of 9.2 yards every time he touches the ball. With those numbers, the Chargers have to figure out a way to slow Garner down. The biggest concern is Garner out of the backfield. He has been a terror in open space. Last week the Bolts could not defend Priest Homes out of the backfield and it almost cost them the game.

"Garner is a different guy in the sense that he's got unique explosiveness," Marty Schottenheimer said. "My reference to the team is that he has what I call climax speed. I mean, he goes one step, and the next he's gone. Priest Holmes has very good speed, but I wouldn't think he is as fast as Charlie is." Now that is scary seeing how Holmes was able to catch the ball at will against the Bolts.

With the talented receivers the Raiders have it will be a tough assignment for the San Diego linebackers, potentially without Junior Seau, to defend Garner. "Personally, I don't think there is a linebacker out there who can cover me one-on-one," Garner said. Who can argue with that philosophy thus far this season. Donnie Edwards will likely draw him in the coverage scheme. Edwards leads the Chargers in tackles (37) and interceptions with 3. Edwards is a very agile sideline to sideline player and is the quickest linebacker the Bolts have. He will have to up the ante this week covering Garner.

Linebacker Eric Barton had this to say, "He is also a pain in the butt. During training camp, I am the one he is doing those moves on. I know how difficult it is to defend him. In camp, we spent a month trying to do it, but it is almost impossible. He is so versatile."

The problem is the Chargers defense plays a cover-2 with their safeties which is designed to keep the play in front of them. If receivers are running deeper routes there are fewer players to collapse on a running back out of the backfield. If a linebacker cannot stay with Garner, he could have room to run and his breakaway speed becomes that much more dangerous.

Stopping Garner will be a big key to stopping the Raiders but the Chargers also have to keep the Raiders from getting big plays from their receivers. The Raiders have been explosive on offense all season long topped off with Jerry Rice who constantly torches the Chargers. Rice has an average of 121.7 yards a game against San Diego, and his 1.6 touchdowns a game was higher than his average against any other club. Scary I dare say again.

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