The Chargers Are Begining To Look Like A Typical Marty Team
Marty has always coached physical, tough, and poised teams and the Chargers have that look and feel about them. We should be fighting for the playoffs and Super Bowl year in and year out. The glory years for Charger fans have returned. Lets take an overview of this team and see what we have.
To breakdown any Marty Schottenheimer teams you have to start with the kicking game:
We have a young punter in Scrfies who is a weapon in his own right. Marty stresses field position and we should win that battle; Keading had a phenomenal rookie year making 20 out of 25 attempts and 2 out of 3 of over 50 yards (from memory so may not be exact but close). I remember when the Chargers didn't try field goals over 40 yards just two years ago and I watched the Chargers lose in Oakland because we did not have a reliable long range kicker. You want 7 points but you can have a long drive and get 0 points because of a lack of a kicking game. Nate, work on your kickoffs and you will not hear a squeak out of me; and lastly we now have Darren Sproles to handle kick returns. The guy looks like he can make something big happen whenever the ball is in his hands. Darren, just make good decisions on when to fair catch and hold onto the football and we are set. My grade -- A+
Defense (you know the Capt. of the D had to start here):
Front 5: I know it's called a 3-4 but we essentially have 5 guys on the line of scrimmage. We have Foley (270 lbs.), Igor (305), Jamal (350), Castillo (303), and Merriman (260). If the rookies can play solidly, I think we can improve on the 3rd best run defense in the NFL (scary thought). Additionally, we have a potential bookend for Foley on passing downs (the biggest need for the Chargers going into the draft, thank you Detroit!). Jamal, Igor, and Luis are going to be a load for ANY team to handle. This is assuming that Merriman makes it to TC and is ready to play. If Merriman is not ready to play we have Leber, a 3 year starter, and Phillips to battle it out. Or we can use a combo of Leber in running situation and Phillips in passing situations. Reserves: Leber, Phillips, Ball, Cesaire, Scott, and Bingham (I don't have a roster in front of me but this seems to be the gist). My grade -- A+ (This grade is based not only on the potential of our two first round picks but also because of the depth that we posses up front).
ILB: We have Godfrey, the consummate plugger LB and Edwards who should have been in the Pro Bowl last year. The only concern with the starters is age. Godfrey has hinted that this may be his last year. Donnie is excellent in his filler role and he is great in pass coverage. Reserves: Cooper, Polk, and Wilhelm. My grade -- B+ (this grade is based mostly on the age of the starters; the quality of depth needs improving. look for the Chargers to draft depth at this position in next years draft. Cooper looks like a player and Polk is solid but he's a demon on special teams. This is an important year for Wilhelm to see if he can play the plugger position.)
DBs: We have Jammer, Florence/Davis, Keil, and Jue. These guys are young but they now have a few years of NFL experience. Youth is no longer an excuse. Jammer is fine in coverage but as everyone has been saying, he needs to make a play on the ball. Florence has the physical ability and mental make-up. He needs to be consistent in his play. He needs to understand that you don't have to make a big play every play, but to be in a position to make the play. Davis, everyone talks about his technique. Sammy is always close to the receiver but last year he wasn't in a position to make the play. He was always a step or two behind the receiver. Sammy needs to regain his strength and become a more physical corner. With experience, he should no longer hesitate or second guess where he should be and that should place him closer to the receiver to make a play. Keil, I love his play. I hear that he needs to get better at run/pass recognition. Jue, well he has played some corner so he should have the skills to cover from the FS position, a big need for the Chargers. Reserves: Hart, Fletcher, Wilson, Milligan, Pippins, and Butler. My grade -- C+ (First off, I believe the potential of this group is in the B+ to A range, but I am trying not to be a homer and look at past performance. We should now have a pass rush, the boys have experience, but you are going to have to earn a higher grade. It's there, but it's the play on the field that matters. I love the depth that we have in the backfield. When this group improves, there should be no stopping the Chargers.)
QB: We are set. If Drew matches his season from a year ago, and we improve on our pass defense, the Chargers are serious Super Bowl contenders. However, there are a few ifs in there so I am going to leave it at that. Rivers, I like his attitude and the fact that he has worked out in the off season. I personally would like to see what Philip can do in more than just one game. However, this is not a Brees/Rivers thread and I will not allow anyone to highjack this thread into one. Reserves: Lemon My grade -- B+ (the only reason that this grade is not higher, is that we need to place last year in Drew's body of work. When this grade goes higher, everyone wins)
RB: We arguably have the best backfield in the NFL. LT, nothing to say but you ARE the man. Neal is the consummate blocking FB, but he is getting up in age. Reserves: Chatman, "The Burner" Turner, Sproles, and Pinnock. Chatman and Turner could probably start for a lot of teams. I would like to see Turner on the kick-return team. Sproles will see some action on 3rd downs. My Grade -- A+++
OL: We return all 5 starters. Oben, Fonoti, Hardwick, Goff, and Olivea. Oben did a masterful job against Dwight Freeney last year that you can't say enough about. This was after Freeney embarassed Jonathan Ogdon of Balt. who is thought of as the best LOT in the league. Fonoti should have an endorsement from the International House of Pancakes. He needs to get better in pass protection. Hardwick should improve just from experience. He's a solid player. Goff was invaluable last year with his experience and savvy. However, we need to be a better push from the right side of the OL. I can live with Goff here this season but the team will have to improve at the ROG position. Olivea too should improve with experience. He has the perfect disposition for the OL. Some are saying that he will make a better OG than an OT. Reserves: CVB, Brandt, Dielman, and the 3 rookies. My grade -- B (there is room for improvement. We have to get a better push from the right side of the line, but we are now getting depth. Look for the Chargers to start drafting OL higher in the draft next year to round out our OL)
WR: We have McCardell, Caldwell, Parker, Osgood, Floyd, and VJ. McCardell, he is what a receiver is supposed to be. You can have all of the blinding speed in the world, but it is precision route running and understanding the defense that makes a very good receiver. Caldwell was having a fantastic year before his injury. I love Parker's game, but he has to stay healthy. Hopefully we can keep him healthy by him not returning kicks. I have high hopes for Osgood (fellow spaztec). If he can take a page out of Keenan's playbook and run the precision routes, he is going to be a terror by being such a huge target. Same with Floyd. VJ, does anyone else see a pattern with the types of receivers the Chargers like? 6-5 and can run. Vj take your time and learn. I am sure you will get some spot playing time this year (again, thank you Detroit! ). My grade -- B (A solid group. Understand that there is nothing wrong with being solid).
TE: We have Gates, Peelle, and Krause. Gates is in the LT category in that there isn't much more that you can say. The only thing is to stay hungry and continue to get better. I saw last year that Gates was ducking under the jam at the line of scrimmage. He will have to mix that up or someone is going to take a cheap shot. Peelle is a solid TE with good hands. Krause unfortunately could make Peelle expendable at some point. My grade -- A
According to my analysis, the Chargers do not have many holes. There are a few spots where we can up grade or add depth because of age, but this is a solid team. But what will make this a typical Marty team is if they do not turn the ball over and minimize mistakes. All this team needs is more experience and to be more physical (our young guys are still growing into their bodies and as they grow, it will help in the physicality dept.) Go Bolts!
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