We are 3-3, and it wasn't pretty getting here. Nonetheless, we are .500, and it feels better than having our season over by week 7. The Miami games was a hanging curve ball of sorts. It really didn't give our team much of a fight, outside of the 1st 20 minutes of the game. This week, however, will be more than a challenge for our guys. The Chargers are 4-1, and looking to return to the playoffs, after the 1 year hiatus. Will we have the same success against them this year, that we have had the last few playoff games? It all starts with the matchups.
If we thought our passing game was in trouble after the 1st half of last weeks game, then you might not want to hear this. The Chargers have the 2nd ranked pass defense in the NFL. Now I'm going to tell you why I don't care. If you look at any of the teams they have beaten, you will notice a trend. Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins, Broncos. None of these teams really have the receiving talent we have. When they faced the Patriots, Brady was able to put up 400+ yards on that pass defense. Of course, it doesn't matter what kind of talent we have, if they can't execute the plays.
The biggest secondary threat to us, is Eric Weddle. He is one of the NFL's top safeties. Rex pointed out, earlier this week, that the Chargers play about 80% defense in zone. This might save us, or kill us. If Mark Sanchez has to worry about constant pressure, he might misread their complex zone D. If our O-line can hold off their pass rush, our receivers should be able to find holes in the zone. As always, it all starts up front. As far as sacks are concerned, the Chargers have the same amount as the Dolphins. That's not to say they don't get pressure. Antonio Garay is a very good NT, and will be a hand full for Mangold. We should have never let him go.
Where we have thrived in the past, is our running game. In 09, when it was 4th and 1, with under 2 min to go in the game. Rex had the confidence to call a running play to seal the win. Do any of us have the confidence to go with that call these days? Even though our running game has gotten off to a horrible start, it has shown signs of life. Maybe it's against the 17th ranked rush defense, that they have a coming out party. Greene torched the Chargers in 09 with 128 yards, and a TD. I don't expect him to have that kind of game, but he should have a better matchup than last week. It's also worth noting, that the more we run the ball successfully, the longer our defense stays off the field. In the 1st half last week, our D was on the field for almost the entire 1st half. That will not cut it. Our offense needs to extend drives, and eat up clock. The longer Rivers sits, the more frustrated he gets.
I wonder which defense is going to show up on Sunday. Will it be one of supreme confidence and strength, or one of fear and pain? Our D has a tough game ahead of them. It looks as if all of the Chargers' big weapons will be healthy and ready to go. It is our job to render them useless. Depending on how much Revis is on Action Jackson, will determine how dangerous he will be. It will be another heavy weight matchup that I can't wait for. It's everyone else that I'm going to worry about.
The one weapon San Diego has that worries me, is Antonio Gates. He is back, and healthy. That means trouble for Eric Smith. This is a matchup problem waiting to happen AGAIN. Rex needs to find a way to slow Gates down without taking too many defenders away from run defense. Rivers will be looking to Gates, Mathews, and Tolbert on the majority of 3rd down plays. Each RB has over 200 yards receiving. Tolbert has 2 TDs though. Look for him to be the main back around the Red Zone.
Mathews and Tolbert are no joke on the ground either. The Chargers are a top 10 team in rushing, unlike the past, where they focused mainly on passing. They will probably try and break us down on the ground, early in the game. They are confident in running with either back. Our defense can't allow long drives, or they will wear us down even more late in the game. If we can stop Gates and the running game, we can stifle the Shargers offense. Rivers has also shown times of confusion against our defense. Unusual looks on D, mixed with at least a little pressure can lead to turnovers. If we can do all of that, 4-3 here we come. J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS