From The Other Side, Part 1

To get the lowdown on the Dolphins' next opponent, the San Diego Chargers, we checked in with's Michael Lombardo. In Part 1, we find out about the Chargers' offense.

Q. How has former Dolphins wideout Chris Chambers been playing so far this season?

Michael Lombardo: Chambers has been less consistent but more explosive than last season. After coming to San Diego in a midseason trade in 2007, Chambers caught at least two passes in every game during his first season with the Chargers. This year, he's already been limited to a single catch twice. However, Chambers is doing more with his opportunities. He's turned half of his eight receptions into touchdowns and his average per reception (24.5 yards) is the highest in the NFL amongst players with at least eight receptions.

Q. Both LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates have had to deal with toe injuries; how close are they to 100 percent?

ML: Many observers believe Tomlinson is back to 100 percent after his performance against the Oakland Raiders, when he carried 20 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. However, if you take out his scoring runs of 13 and 41 yards, Tomlinson's rushing average would have been less than 3 yards for the third consecutive week. He's getting closer to being fully healthy, but he is still lacking the ability to make sharp cuts and explode through running lanes. Gates' situation is similar to Tomlinson's. Gates isn't getting the kind of separation he achieved in years past, but he's still talented enough to make defenders pay for overloading against the run. He's on pace for his lowest reception and yardage totals since his rookie year in 2003, but he still leads all NFL tight ends in touchdowns (three).

Q. Is the Chargers offense much more open under Norv Turner than it was under Marty Schottenheimer?

ML: In a word: No. Schottenheimer gave offensive coordinator Cam Cameron almost complete autonomy on that side of the ball and Cameron had the Chargers clicking on all cylinders. In 2006, Schottenheimer's final year with the team, the Chargers ranked No. 4 in the NFL with an average of 365 yards per game. In Turner's first year with the club, the offense fell 16 spots in the rankings and averaged approximately 40 yards less per game. The Chargers are off to a fast start this season, ranking No. 8 in the NFL with 356 yards per game. However, a lot of that has to do with an easy opening schedule, as the Chargers have played two teams that rank in the league's bottom 10 in total defense -- the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos. Also, Turner has the benefit of a downfield playmaker in Chambers who was not around for the Schottenheimer era.

Q. Philip Rivers has put up big numbers this year. Is this an aberration or is he ready to reach another level as a quarterback?

ML: I believe Rivers has ascended into the upper echelon of quarterbacks. His accuracy and decision-making have improved, and he's asserted himself as the unquestioned leader in the clubhouse. His teammates expect him to come through in the clutch and he has delivered, as evidenced by his NFL-best fourth-quarter passer rating of 139.3. If his defense had not collapsed in the final minutes of Weeks 1 and 2, he would be leading a 4-0 squad and boasting the moniker "Captain Comeback."

Q. Is it too early to call 2007 first-round pick Craig "Buster" Davis a bust?

ML: It is absolutely too early to call Davis a bust. Case in point, look at 2006 first-round pick Antonio Cromartie. In the first 20 games of Cromartie's career -- the same number Davis has been around for -- Cromartie failed to grab a single interception and was quickly coming under scrutiny. It wasn't until midway through his second season that Cromartie began to make an impact, and cornerback is typically an easier position to assimilate to than receiver. As any fantasy football player knows, it is very common for receivers to break out in their third year, and I believe Davis is on a similar schedule. He showed flashes of his ability in Week 3, catching three third-down passes and moving the chains on each occasion. Part of the problem is the talent around him -- for Rivers to throw to Davis, he must first look away from Tomlinson, Gates, Chambers and Jackson.

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