"The Rams are an awfully good offensive football team," said Schottenheimer. "That football team in St. Louis is built for that arena. They have such terrific speed there that it's tough to manage it. You go play in their place, and it's like going to Indianapolis and playing down there."
The Chargers know about that all too well. They went into Indianapolis and lost 34-31 two weeks ago. That game wasn't emblematic of the Chargers defense, just like the Jets experience in St. Louis was out of character for them.
"The Colts and Rams are built for their arenas," said Schottenheimer . . .
There has been a lot of people questioning the Jets 10-6 record due to their weak schedule, but you could make the same argument about the 12-4 San Diego Chargers. The Chargers wins came over Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Carolina, Oakland and Kansas City twice, New Orleans, Denver, Tampa Bay, Cleveland.
The wins over Carolina and New Orleans were before those teams got hot. So the only impressive win by the Chargers was over Denver, and the Broncos are an average team this year . . .
It's no secret the Jets pass protection was awful last week in St. Louis.
Kevin Mawae says one reason the Jets had trouble protecting was because Chad Pennington was forced to use so many seven step drops. When you face a fast team like the Rams on the fast track in St. Louis, deep drops play into their hands.
The Jets offensive line, which has actually struggled in pass protection the last two weeks, faces another stiff challenge against the Chargers 3-4, a front that gave the Jets problems in games against Pittsburgh and New England this year.
"The 3-4 presents many problems in pass protection, identifying where the linebackers are," said Jets running back Lamont Jordan.
In the 3-4, the outside linebackers provide most of the pass rush. Chargers OLB Steve Foley leads the team with 10 sacks . . .
The Chargers feel it could be a trap to think that Pennington's is having a problem with his shoulder and can't throw the deep ball.
"We can only speculate how his shoulder is feeling," said Chargers linebacker Ben Leber. "We can sit here all day and say, ‘Okay, we're going to prepare more for underneath routes,' and then all of a sudden he throws a 40-yarder. I think the game plan is really going to remain the same."
But the fact that Pennington likes to throw short passes over the middle, like the quick slant, is something that Leber feels favors the Chargers in their 3-4 look.
"It plays more into the linebackers' hands," said Leber. "It might take a little more pressure off the corners and safeties." . . .
The Jets might want to consider throwing to their tight ends more than the two times they threw to them last week. The Chiefs Tony Gonzalez caught 14 passes against the Chargers defense in Week 17. For some reason, after Chris Baker's impressive 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter, he didn't see the ball the rest of the game. One problem with the Jets offense is that they are so caught up in spreading the ball around, they never seem to play a hot hand, and allow one target to have a prolific game. When was the last time you saw a Jets receiver with 10, 11 catch game for over 100 yards like Gonzalez had last week . . .
The Chargers defense is playing much better now (aside from the fourth quarter against Indianapolis) than they were against the Jets in Week Two. First year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has done a tremendous job. He keeps verbiage simple so players can react and not think too much.
"His demeanor, the way he teaches, the way he coaches, everybody can really just grasp it and really understand it," said Leber. "He's a great guy, laid-back. When you're teaching it's easy just to learn from a guy that's not on you and yelling down your throat." . . .
Schottenheimer said the Pennington reminds him of his quarterback in Cleveland Bernie Kosar of Cleveland, relying more on timing and anticipation than a big arm . . .
The Jets secondary matches up a lot better with the Chargers than the Rams. The Chargers have a solid receiving corps, but they have just average speed as a group.
"I don't think they are the caliber of Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce," said David Barrett . . .
The Chargers will play the Jets in the Meadowlands next year . . .
The centerpiece of the Chargers defensive is their 330-pound nose tackle Jamal Williams. If he's not making plays, he is tying up opposing offensive linemen so the team's talented linebacker corps can make them.
"He is a key to their front," said Mawae. "It is going to be challenge for me and the guards to contain him . . .
The first time the Jets played San Diego this year, Jon McGraw knocked Chargers quarterback Drew Brees with a concussion. But there are no hard feelings.
"He knows it wasn't intentional," said McGraw. "We know each other outside of football."
One of McGraw best friends is Leber, a Kansas State teammate. Brees and McGraw hung out at Leber's wedding last off-season . . .
Mawae says the sideline argument between he and Mawae, that was shown on CBS during the game, was blown out of proportion.
"It wasn't even an argument," said Mawae. "It was ‘I don't want to talk to you now, get away from me'."
"Football is not a sport for the weak-hearted or the sensitive," said Pennington. "What CBS didn't see was the exchange Kevin and I had five minutes later." . . .
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