Bye Week Report

The Chargers sit at 6-1 and are in the midst of their bye week. Coach Marty Schottenheimer has given his team off until Tuesday, when they will prepare for a home game with the New York Jets.

On Offense

The Chargers are 12th in the league in yards per game averaging 344.4. The Bolts only produce 182.7 YPG in the air: that's 28th out of 32 teams. They do have a 62.3% passing completion rate which rates 13th in the league. They also have allowed only 8 sacks, good for second place (Miami and San Fran have allowed 7 apiece). The Chargers are second in yards rushing per game with an average of 161.7 (KC leads with 163.1). They are also second to KC (13) in rushing TDs with 12.

On Defense

The Chargers are 8th in the league in yards allowed per game averaging 312, which includes being 2nd against the run (78.7 yards per game), and 21st against the pass (233.3 yards per game). The defense is tied for 2nd in the league in sacks with 22, and tied for 3rd in interceptions with 11 on the season. The run defense has only allowed 1 TD all season goof for first overall, sharing that honor with Dallas.

Special Teams

The Bolts are 30th in the punt return game averaging just 4.8 yards per return and are 15th in returning kickoffs with a 22.8 average. Opponents are averaging 11.8 yards per punt return and 20.0 yards per kickoff return. The Bolts have allowed 2 of their punts to be blocked, and worse, they came in consecutive weeks.

Quarterbacks

Drew Brees is completing 62.3% of his passes coupled with 9 TDs and 6 INTs to give him a 83.6 passer rating. Brees has been the consummate professional leading his team back for a win in Kansas City in the waning seconds and playing a conservative game as he lead his team to wins. He continues to show poise even after throwing interceptions in that same Kansas City game, and proved when called upon, he will find a way to succeed. Grade: B

Running Backs

LaDainian Tomlinson leads the league in rushing with 785 yards and has added 251 yards receiving on 34 catches. Tomlinson also has scored 8 TDs (7 rushing, 1 receiving). In just his second year he is becoming a complete back. Tomlinson has showed patience in allowing his offensive line to open holes for him and his vision allows him to burst through any open holes. Fred McCrary has been solid as his blocking back. McCrary continues to open holes for Tomlinson and is one of the keys to his success. 40-50 Power. Coach Schottenheimer revealed his "secret" to the press yesterday. It is a running play which the Chargers continue to run successfully to either side. Another big part of the running game is the reverse and the fake reverse. It keeps the defense honest and has been a catalyst to their game. Grade: A

Receivers

Curtis Conway leads the Bolts in receiving with 39 catches for 565 yards and 4 TDs. Conway has been keyed on, seeing double teams but he continues to get open and again is on pace to cross the 1,000 yard mark. Tim Dwight is a distant second with 19, but he has come alive in recent weeks to take some pressure off Conway. Josh Norman, a rookie tight end, has been a factor in the passing game and finds ways to get open. He hurt his ankle in Kansas City just as his role was expanding. Stephen Alexander has been a bust thus far. Injuries have limited his gametime, but even when he was in the game, he failed to make many game turning catches. Rookie Reche Caldwell has been slowly placed into the gameplan. To begin the year he was running poor routes and dropping balls. Lately Brees has shown confidence in him, and Caldwell has responded with the game winning TD catch in KC and a TD catch in Oakland. This unit also is perhaps the best blocking unit in the league. Dwight, Conway and Caldwell have all made solid blocks that have made the highlight reel and never take a play off. As Brees grows so will they. Grade: B

Offensive Line

The goal for any offensive line when they enter the season is to lead the league in rushing, and lead the league in sacks allowed. The unit has put itself in position to contend for both of those titles. The unit has allowed only 8 sacks, and has paved the way to 2nd in the league in rushing. On September 26th the Chargers placed Center Cory Raymer on injured reserve and the league believed the Bolts had a serious problem. Enter Jason Ball, an undrafted rookie out of New Hampshire, to take his place. Ball has not looked back. He has been a ferocious run blocker and pass protector. Add to that there have been no fumbles on the Center-QB exchange. Toniu Fonoti, another rookie, has been a grinder. Fonoti is massive and has pancaked opponents as Tomlinson runs behind him. Damion McIntosh, yet another young lineman, has been spectacular in his game. Vaughn Parker, the cagey veteran, has been the weakest link although he has the most experience. Parker allowed the most sacks of this strong group. Bob Hallen and Michael Keathley have proved to be versatile and have played well every game. Grade: A

Defensive Line

The unit has converged on the ball in the run game to go along with 22 sacks. This minus Marcellus Wiley for a little over 2 games as he was hurt in Denver. Despite missing a few games Wiley has 3 sacks on the season. Adrian Dingle has replaced him in the lineup and has provided 4.5 sacks to tie the team lead with Ray Lee Johnson. These two have also been solid against the run, and Johnson leads the Bolts linemen with 4 stuffs behind the line of scrimmage. Jason Fisk was signed to take the place of the departed John Parrella. Fisk has provided a big body in run support and done a formidable job as Parrella's replacement. Leonardo Carson and Jamal Williams round out the group. Believe it or not they should have many more sacks and don't be surprised if they lead the league at the end of the season. Grade: B

Linebackers

Donnie Edwards, a free agent signee in the offseason, has been everything anyone could have dreamed of. He leads the team in tackles with 47, leads the team in interceptions with 4 and has provided great coverage against tight ends. Junior Seau has been an emotional leader as always. He has missed some time due to injury but has still contributed with his high energy play. Ben Leber, a rookie, has provided big plays game after game. He has 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles on the season, and provided many big stops in the running defense. Amazing he is only a rookie. Zeke Moreno has filled the big shoes of Seau while Seau was hurt. This unit has played well in support of the run and kept plays in front of them in pass coverage. They will need to get better against running backs out of the backfield in the coming weeks. Grade: B

Secondary

The unit still has a tendency to give up the big play. Alex Molden is second on the team with 37 tackles, and Ryan McNeil is third with 31 but they have failed to come up with the big play as they have just 2 interceptions. Rodney Harrison has laid out some great hits but has been bothered by a groin injury that has slowed him down and it shows in his coverage. First round draft pick Quentin Jammer signed late and is showing he too is a ferocious hitter. Jammer is still growing into his role as evidenced by the 3 penalties he took this past Sunday in Oakland. An injury to Tay Cody weakened this group. Vernon Fox, yet another undrafted rookie, has played well replacing Harrison, but has also given up the big play. Last game he gave up a quick slant to Tim Brown that went for 45 yards. Rogers Beckett has been solid if unspectacular. Grade: C

Kickers

Darren Bennett has averaged 40.5 yards per punt, but 14 have landed inside the 20, good for 3rd in the league. San Diego has only had 6 field goal attempts by Steve Christie, two of which were from beyond 50 yards. That is a testament to the Chargers converting in the red zone and coming away with a touchdown instead of 3 points. Two punts have been blocked, one because they only had 10 men on the field and the other was a missed assignment. Wade Richey is second in the league with 12 touchbacks but this unit suffers from mental errors as he also has kicked one out of bounds. Grade: C

Returners

Tamarick Vanover has been terrible in the return game. He has averaged just 4.9 yards per return and has muffed one and fumbled another. Ronney Jenkins has also showed nothing in the kick return game averaging 20.7 yards per kickoff return. Reche Caldwell has begun to see time as a kickoff returner and has had one return for 39 yards, the Chargers longest of the season. Grade: F

Coaching

Marty Schottenheimer has led his no nonsense, Marty-ball team to a 6-1 record. He has led, been there to console and given direction in the midst of battle. On one occasion he went out to the huddle on the field to talk to the team. The unit responded with a 4 down stand against Arizona to preserve a lead. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has loosened the strings on Brees and it has proven to be a great choice. Week in and week out they find the keys to win the game and have developed better balance on offense. Hudson Houck has taken an offensive line that was offensive to a new level of play. The unit trusts each other and is playing as if they have been together for years. 6-1, is there really much more to say? Grade: A

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