PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS
PASSING OFFENSE: A-plus --
Spreading the ball around to eight different receivers, throwing for
400-plus yards and adding three touchdown passes with no interceptions
is as good as it gets. Tom Brady was once again terrific Sunday, and
Deion Branch was his No. 1 target, catching eight passes for 129 yards.
Through two games, the passing has been flawless.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- There
weren't too many rushing opportunities, but give BenJarvus Green-Ellis
credit for icing the game with his 16-yard touchdown run in the fourth
quarter. The team's ability to pass has opened up opportunities in the
running game, albeit on a limited basis, but the players are taking
advantage when they have a chance to make a big play.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- This is
still a concern, whether it's the lack of a pass rush or the propensity
to give up big plays. The secondary deserves some kudos for the two
interceptions on Philip Rivers, but the Patriots are too easy to throw
against in situations where it's obvious the opponent is going to throw
the majority of the time. That is probably the most alarming issue.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The front
seven did a nice job against the burly Mike Tolbert, stopping him on a
goal-line stand early in the game and then forcing him into a crucial
fumble down the stretch. The Chargers converted on a couple of long
runs, but the run defense held up overall. The turnovers were critical.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Nothing to
bark about here. The Patriots rendered the return game irrelevant by
not allowing any punt returns and also held up defensively on kick
returns. Stephen Gostkowski bounced back from last week's miss by
hitting two field goals Sunday.
COACHING: A -- Give credit to
Bill Belichick for the play-calling toward the end of the first half
when the Patriots marched up the field in a matter of seconds to set up
a field goal in the closing seconds. The rest of the game was fairly
simple from a play-calling standpoint -- let Brady carry the team on
CHARGERS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Philip
Rivers threw for two touchdowns and 378 yards -- a big deal? Most games
it would be. But his three turnovers (two interceptions) trump all. He
didn't take care of the ball and that is always the main goal for any
quarterback. Vincent Jackson was stellar with a career-high 10
receptions. The pass protection had a leak or two -- two sacks -- but
for the most part Rivers had the time to survey the defense. TE Antonio
Gates was missing in action; the Patriots made sure the Pro Bowler
wouldn't be the one to beat them by using near-constant double team
help from a safety.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- A lack of
ball security is the big red flag flapping in this category. Mike
Tolbert's fourth-quarter fumble inside the New England 35 with the
Chargers poised to march in for the go-ahead touchdown was a killer.
Ryan Mathews continues to blossom; he had a combined 126 yards, showing
his versatility as a runner and a pass-catcher. But the turnover by
Tolbert can't be ignored.
PASS DEFENSE: F -- Shredded,
mutilated -- you pick the adjective. Tom Brady went for three
touchdowns and 423 yards as it looked at times as if he was in a 9-on-7
drill. The pass rush seldom put him in a hurry; Brady's hurry-up
offense exploited the Chargers lack of communication and coverage
skills. Tough day for the safeties, as Bob Sanders and Eric Weddle had
subpar games. The corner got picked on as well, with them giving too
much cushion as Brady continually took advantage of it.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The
Chargers kept the Patriots under 100 rushing yards and that is always a
milestone the defense wants to reach. But the Patriots ran but 23 times
as Brady was more than content to burn the Chargers through the air.
Rookie ILB Donald Bulter had a good day; Takeo Spikes added seven
tackles. Longest run of the day by the Patriots was 16 yards -- not bad
when compared to what was being allowed through the air.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- No
complaints here as the coverages were keen. But the Chargers are still
searching for a spark in the return game, especially on punts. Richard
Goodman had a 27-yard kickoff return and that was the lone highlight in
the return game. New kicker Nick Novak didn't get tested on any field
goals; he was perfect on his three extra-point attempts.
COACHING: F -- Norv Turner was
upbeat after the game, saying how excited he was in what this team can
accomplish. That's nice coachspeak but his team was dreadful on both
sides of the ball in the most important areas. His offense gave up four
turnovers; his defense got zero takeaways and allowed the rival to
run-up 504 yards and 35 points. New defensive coordinator Greg Manusky
was hired to shine in games just like this one and the Chargers fell
flat. There was doubt in defending the no-huddle and Brady often stood
in the pocket for extended lengths of time to find the right receiver.
Yes the Chargers had a chance to go-ahead late in the game -- so what.
There are no moral victories in the NFL and the Chargers don't need to
go claiming one here.
Report Cards: Patriots - Chargers
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