What the Chargers have to do on Sunday

P>Pulling off the upset. Is this the week the mighty Patriots fall at home? Many have tried and all have failed over the last 21 attempts. Unconventional wisdom will dictate this affair. Get inside for more analysis of what the Chargers have to do on offense, defense and special teams.

What the Chargers have to do on Sunday
An Insiders perspective from San Diego.
By Denis Savage

Pulling off the upset. Is this the week the mighty Patriots fall at home? Many have tried and all have failed over the last 21 attempts. Unconventional wisdom will dictate this affair.

On Offense:

Taking a page from their opponent, the Bolts would love to spread the ball around in Massachusetts.

Beyond the top four, and that includes LaDainian Tomlinson, there aren’t many players seeing the ball. Reche Caldwell was supposed to have a big role this year, remember? Instead he has just one catch.

But this week the Patriots come in with a battered and bruised secondary. Throw some four wide receiver sets out there with routes that weave in and out to confuse a secondary that has not worked together and could be prone to mental mistakes.

Don’t lock in on just Antonio Gates.

“I am put in situations to make plays and Drew does a great job of finding the open guy,” said the tight end.

The open guy. That puts the onus on Drew Brees to find the open man, something he has missed on several occasions this year. Justin Peelle against Dallas. Lorenzo Neal in Dallas. Eric Parker in Denver.

Injuries to the New England secondary should be exploited, right?

“They fought through injuries before,” Brees warns. “They are very good against the run. They play very unselfishly. They are efficient.”

“We don't pride ourselves on getting guys hurt and still trying to win games," linebacker Willie McGinest said. "We need everybody we can (get).”

On Defense:

Be strong inside the twenties and create turnovers. The Chargers defense is going to give up yards to the short passing game of the Patriots but where they must excel is in the red zone.

If they can limit touchdowns and keep the Patriots to three, they have done their job effectively. Head coach Bill Belichick excels at disguises and will throw the kitchen sink at the Bolts. Preparation is usually one of the key components to facing a team but this may come down to pure athleticism as the look and feel that is the Patriots offense becomes a chameleon.

“He always comes up with a different scheme from week to week,” said linebacker Donnie Edwards. “You just never know what you are going to face.”

Of course, it is only made possible because of quarterback Tom Brady. He reads defenses on the fly and routinely beats blitzing defenders.

“We are facing a quarterback who can get out of the pocket, has good vision, can feel the pressure coming from the defense and knows when to get rid of the ball,” linebacker Shawne Merriman said.

While everyone thinks the Patriots will pass against a Chargers’ secondary that has allowed an abundance of yards, don’t be surprised to see the running game established with Corey Dillon.

With a few injured linemen, it would seem absurd that the Patriots would test their fate against a run defense that is sturdy – but that is exactly why they will do it.

The Chargers have their own opinion on things.

“The game this week is going to come down to turnovers,” said Edwards. “Mark my words.”

On Special Teams:

“Terrific skills with the ball in his hands,” head coach Marty Schottenheimer said of Darren Sproles.

He has a 31.9 average on kickoff returns through the first three games and has three 40-plus yard returns on the year, more than the San Diego return team had all of last year.

Pinning New England deep will be a primary focus and that means unleashing Hanik Milligan and Kassim Osgood. Staying in the return lanes and preventing any big returns will keep the initial excitement of the crowd at bay. If there is one play sure to make or sustain a momentum swing it is on the kickoff. After a score, a sure tackle can keep the Chargers rocking and the Patriots reeling.


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