Positional Game Notes

The Chargers do hold some advantages against the Rams this week. How each unit responds will be the key to the game. The defense will have its hands full trying to contain Faulk, while the offense looks to create some big plays through the air and a strange defensive alignment. Meanwhile special teams looks to rebound from its season long funk.

On Defense:

Defensive end Raylee Johnson will face a healthy Orlando Pace this weekend. Pace has established himself as perhaps the best offensive tackle in the game. Johnson will have to play smart and not get hammered at the line as running back Marshall Faulk will surely be running his way.

Defensive end Marcellus Wiley has a clear advantage over John St. Clair, the Rams offensive tackle that plays opposite Pace. St. Clair has actually improved from his horrid play in preseason and the early season to be a solid tackle. Wiley is a Pro Bowler and will look to exploit St. Clair. Wiley will have to be careful not to over pursue as he flies upfield to get to the quarterback. The Rams will run delayed draws to exploit the hole created by a rushing Wiley.

Linebacker Donnie Edwards will likely shadow Faulk in passing routes and the run game. Faulk is still the most explosive back in the league and Edwards will need help on this assignment and key to the game. Faulk is such a deadly threat that he will lineup as a slot receiver and run routes just as a starting wide receiver would.

Junior Seau had a rather pedestrian week against the Jets. His timing was a bit off after an injury limited his work in the weeks preceding the Jet game. Look for Seau to blitz this week and be more effective reading snap counts. Seau should be in the backfield disrupting plays this week, especially with a virtual rookie under center in quarterback Marc Bulger.

On Offense

The Rams will deploy a 4-1-6 scheme for their defense. The unit is rather soft against the run in this formation and running back LaDainian Tomlinson will look to control the clock and make them pay for not respecting him. The Chargers are 6-0 this season when Tomlinson has 20 or more rushes and 0-2 when he does not get his touches.

The offensive line must continue its workman like game. They head into the game without Damion McIntosh. Ed Ellis and Sammy Williams will take his place in a rotation. They will have a tough task against a unit that has a sack machine in Leonard Little and the non stop motor of Grant Wistrom.

With six defensive backs it will be hard for Drew Brees to find many open passing lanes. Good running by Tomlinson will open up play action pass and may make the secondary bite on a run while Brees airs it out to his receivers.

Wide receiver Curtis Conway saw double and triple coverage last week against the Jets. The Rams are likely to do the same this week after seeing Tim Dwight and Reche Caldwell catch one pass between them. Dwight and Caldwell must get open to put the pressure on the Rams to cover them and take the heat off Conway. Tight end Stephen Alexander had a breakout game last week against the Jets with 7 catches (doubling his season total). Alexander will also look to use his big body to become a more constant target for Brees.

Special Teams

Can it be possible that we have more to say about this lackluster unit?

Yes, there will always be things to pick apart.

San Diego uses five rookies and two second-year pros on its punt team. That's 7 players with fewer than 2 years experience on a unit of 11. Their lack of experience discipline has created openings for returners. The unit is allowing 15.4 yards per return. This is due to their inability to tackle and players leaving their lanes. The unit is also not shedding their blocks quickly enough to cover a Darren Bennett punt which often outkicks the coverage.

Coach Schottenheimer says it's a technique issue. He states that his players have allowed opponents to gain leverage by getting their hands inside the arms of San Diego's players, thus enabling them to slow players release off the line.

Ronney Jenkins could be back this week, and Tamarick Vanover will retain his job as the punt returner for another week. Something has to kick-start this unit to allow for better field position during Sunday's game.

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