Tag:Malcom Floyd
Posted on: December 24, 2011 11:32 am
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Report: V-Jax would be out in less important game

The Bolts need Jackson bad enough that he'll likely play through injury. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

In the middle of the week, Vincent Jackson suddenly appeared on the Chargers injury report with a groin injury. It was concerning, but there never appeared to be an issue with the wide receiver actually playing.

Until Sunday anyway; Adam Caplan of the Sideline View reports that Jackson is actually a lot more hindered by his groin injury than people believe. According to Caplan, had this been "another game of lesser importance, he probably would be listed as doubtful or out." Caplan notes that Jackson still wants to "test his injury in warmups" before deciding whether or not he'll play.

What makes Jackson's status interesting is the timing of the games on Sunday as it relates to the playoff race. San Diego doesn't play until 4:15, while Denver and Oakland suit up at 1:00 p.m. ET Saturday.

Should the Broncos win and the Raiders lose, Denver would clinch the AFC West. If that happens San Diego could only make the playoffs via the wild card and would need the Jets and Bengals to both lose at least once over the next two weeks.

So a Denver win and an Oakland loss means that the Chargers aren't quite as alive as they were after last week and we could potentially see Jackson on the sidelines.

Even if V-Jax does play, there's a pretty good chance he serves as a decoy of sorts, and Norv Turner and Philip Rivers will run the offense through Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd.


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Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:01 am
 

Film Room: Lions vs. Chargers preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

The Lions were that Feel Good team of 2011. Then they started shoving coaches after the game, hitting quarterbacks after the throw, fighting opponents after the play, stomping linemen after the whistle and meekly apologizing for it all after the fact. Thus, they’re now the team everybody wants to see get its comeuppance.

In some ways, they’re like the Chargers – a team that, over the years, has mastered the art of irritating casual onlookers. They haven’t done it with reckless hostility, but rather, perplexing underachievement. If the NFL were like college basketball, where Final Four appearances and division titles mattered, the Chargers would be a dynasty.


Instead, they’re the club that always falls on its face but somehow manages to sneak into the postseason…only to fall on its face again. At least during the regular season they get hot at the right time – this year looking like no exception.

Let’s breakdown these two irritating clubs.

1. Motion
The Chargers offense is perhaps the best in football at using presnap motion to dissect a defense and create favorable matchups. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan recently took a page out of Norv Turner’s playbook.

After operating out of static formations virtually all season, the Lions created glaring mismatches by motioning Calvin Johnson into the slot against the Raiders last week. The results were extraordinary: Johnson, often working against Oakland’s backup safeties, had a career-high 214 yards receiving. Matthew Stafford threw for 391, with four touchdowns and no turnovers.

It might reason that the Lions will use more presnap motions this week, but that’s not a sure thing. If creating big-play opportunities were as simple as putting players in motion, Linehan would have had his players doing that long ago. But when you change your formation, the defense changes. When the defense is playing man, the changes are easy to read. But when the defense is playing zone, things become more complex.

With an inexperienced quarterback (Stafford will be making only his 28th start Sunday), fairly young tight end (Brandon Pettigrew), rookie wide receiver (Titus Young) and athletic but somewhat unrefined superstar (Johnson), Linehan may once again prefer to keep the Chargers defense – which usually plays to the situation, meaning zone on early downs and man on third down – as static as possible. The drawback with a static offense is it’s obviously easier for the defense to decipher, as there are fewer complexities in route combinations.

2. The running backs
Ryan Mathews has improved throughout his second season. He has the quickness, lateral agility and tempo-changing ability to create his own space or turn the corner. Physicality, down-to-down consistency, ball security and durability remain issues. In a pinch, the Chargers know they can fall back on the powerful, surprisingly versatile Mike Tolbert.

The Lions’ run game became an afterthought when rookie Mikel Leshoure’s Achilles tore in August. Statistically, things actually picked up on the ground for Detroit after receiving-oriented Jahvid Best went out with a concussion.

When healthy, Best’s replacement, Kevin Smith, has shown some suddenness and shiftiness, which makes him a good fit for this shotgun system. But overall, Detroit is unquestionably a pass-first team (28th in rushing yards, 31st in rushing attempts). That’s fine – as their 28 points per game (fourth best in NFL) attest.

3. Chargers O-line vs. Lions D-line
Figure San Diego must score 30 points to beat Detroit. That would have been dicey a few weeks ago when left tackle Marcus McNeill and left guard Kris Dielman first went down with injuries. But with left tackle Jared Gaither coming aboard and relieving helpless backup Brandyn Dombrowski, the front five has stabilized. Dielman’s replacement, Tyronne Green, has settled down in pass protection, and center Nick Hardwick has looked like his former Pro Bowl self.

Philip Rivers is arguably the best in the business at stepping into throws with defenders bearing down. He doesn’t need a clean pocket – just protection that can hold up for a seven-stop drop. The Chargers are up to the task, even if they’re facing the Lions’ high-octane front four. Last week, that front four was actually neutralized by a middle-tier Raiders bunch that had struggled mightily in prior weeks.

4. Rivers and his receivers
If Rivers is not under duress, he’ll throw for at least 325 yards Sunday. The Lions play some of the most basic Cover 2 and Cover 3 zones in football and simply don’t have the personnel to stay with Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd – especially with starting free safety Louis Delmas out.

Lions corners Chris Houston and Eric Wright are at their best playing off-coverage, where they can see a route develop in front of them and drive on the ball. The vertical nature of San Diego’s passing game, which is heavy on double moves, can be anathema to that brand of cornerbacking.

Inside, though Detroit’s linebackers can run, and though middle ‘backer Stephen Tulloch can play with depth in zone coverage, the Antonio Gates factor is still a major plus for the Boltz. Gates looks healthier than he has all season.



5. Screen game
Last week the Raiders became the latest team to successfully attack the Lions with screen passes. Because the Lions’ front seven defenders all play with their ears pinned back, offenses frequently use delay and misdirection tactics to coax them out of position. The faster a defender reacts in the wrong direction, the more daunting his recovery task.

San Diego regularly incorporates its running backs in the passing game (Tolbert and Mathews each have 47 receptions on the season). Expect several of the running back’s passes to be screens this week, especially early in the game when the Lions will, as always, will be amped up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 5:40 pm
 

Chiefs place Matt Cassel on injured reserve

Posted by Will Brinson

Last Monday, we noted that Kansas City lost quarterback Matt Cassel to a hand injury that required surgery and would likely knock him out for the season.

Cassel's injury appears to have done just that, as prior to Monday night's game in New England, the Chiefs placed the quarterback on injured reserve Monday afternoon, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Tyler Palko was expected to start for the "foreseeable future" anyway, but now it looks like the Chiefs will ride out the former Pittsburgh Panther (and Steeler) for the entire season, unless they decide to sign an additional veteran.

Interestingly, as my colleague Dan Marino notes in the Monday night preview below, Palko is the reason Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco transferred from Pitt to Delaware. Ergo, he must be capable.

As Brian McIntyre of Mac's Football Blog notes, the Chiefs now have $37.5 million in total cash sitting on Injured Reserve.

Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry going down for the season will do that to you.


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Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Chargers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The Chargers have not won a game since we featured (and lauded) them in a Week 7 Film Room post. The Bears, on the other hand, are white-hot, having won four straight in taking over the NFC wild card lead.

Here’s a five-part breakdown of the two teams in this Sunday’s late afternoon showdown at Soldier Field.


1. Quarterback
It was not long ago that the preeminent strong-armed, interception-prone quarterback in his mid-twenties with an on-field demeanor that rubbed many the wrong way was Jay Cutler. This season, however, it’s Philip Rivers.

His league-leading 15 interceptions have been genuine turnovers – not the kind of cheap tipped picks that plagued Eli Manning last season. Rivers’ downfield accuracy has waffled. He also has been uncomfortable passing from a dirty pocket. That’s alarming given that his best trait in years past has been making strong throws in the face of pressure.

Cutler knows all about operating in the face of pressure. However, lately he’s been throwing from much cleaner platforms. Because he has the strongest raw arm in football, he does not necessarily need to set his feet in order to throw. He’s a solid athlete with underrated mobility that allows him to buy time. But it’s when the time is bestowed upon him and he is able to set his feet that he gets in rhythm.

It’s not quite a Brady/Brees/Rodgers-like rhythm – Cutler has too many fundamental flaws for that – but it’s a potent enough rhythm to carry a team to victory.

2. Offensive line
The reason Cutler has been more comfortable is he trusts his pass protection. Mike Martz knows that his unathletic offensive line cannot hold up long enough to consistently protect seven-step drops, so he’s built more three-and five-step drops into the gameplan (though the Bears did drift away from this just a bit against the Lions last week). As Cutler has said, he’s potent when he has room to throw.

To be fair, the Bears offensive linemen have elevated their play as of late. Guard Lance Louis has been particularly solid since becoming the new right tackle. Losing left guard Chris Williams (on I.R. with a wrist injury) hurts because, until Gabe Carimi returns from his knee problem (he’s missed seven games and underwent arthroscopic surgery last week), Frank Omiyale will likely play. Omiyale was a train wreck at right tackle earlier this season. He played guard earlier in his career, but if he were truly viable there, he never would have moved outside. Edwin Williams replaced Chris Williams last week, but the Bears have not named him the new starter. He could still be in the mix.

Either way, offensive line coach Mike Tice will have his hands full helping this group continue performing at an acceptable level.

Rivers has felt a lot of Cutler’s old pain as of late. Left tackle Marcus McNeill has fought injuries the past few weeks; after he left the Raiders game last Thursday night, backup Brandyn Dombrowski was eaten alive. Inside, backup left guard Cornell Green, filling in for All-Pro Kris Dielman (out since suffering a concussion-related seizure after the loss to the Jets), has struggled to move his feet in pass protection.

Even though Norv Turner’s playbook is heavy on slow-developing downfield passes, the Chargers did not give the left side of their line much help last Thursday. That should change going up against Julius Peppers.

3. Receivers
Once again, these two clubs are going in opposite directions. The Bears have recently gotten healthy outside, with Earl Bennett back and showing newfound quickness. Bennett is no longer just a plodding possession slot receiver – he’s Cutler’s go-to guy. His presence has eased the burdens on the unreliable Roy Williams and permanently raw Devin Hester.

Also, what can’t be understated is the brilliance of Matt Forte. His success on the ground has given the offense balance, which helps the passing attack. Forte is also one of the best receiving backs in the league.

The Chargers, on the other hand, are without Malcom Floyd (hip injury). His absence has been ameliorated by the flashes of athletic explosiveness from rookie Vincent Brown.

However, San Diego’s usual stars have disintegrated in recent weeks. Antonio Gates has looked heavy-footed and Vincent Jackson has consistently failed to separate against man coverage. Jackson had a three-touchdown outburst against Green Bay thanks in part to some coverage busts. But in the three games before that, he caught a total of seven balls for 98 yards. Last week against Oakland, he had just one reception for 22 yards.

4. Cornerbacks
It will be tough for Jackson to reignite at Soldier Field. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is having arguably the best season of his stellar career. Tillman thoroughly won his one-on-one battle against Calvin Johnson last week, using a mixture of aggressive press coverage and well-timed post-reception physicality from off-coverage positions.

Tillman, like all Bears cornerbacks, used to only play one side of the field. It was part of Chicago’s strict Cover 2 scheme. But as this season has progressed, Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have drifted away from Cover 2 and more towards single-high safety concepts with the corners playing both man and zone principles. This allows the other safety to roam the field as an extra run supporter or, more often, versatile pass defender.

Consequently, the corners have moved around based on matchups. Tillman defends the opposing team’s biggest (and often most dangerous) receiver, while Tim Jennings (who is having the best season of his career) follows the smaller-but-quicker No. 2 receiver. The commendable performance of these corners is the reason Chicago has been able to spice up its defensive scheme.

In sticking with our theme, San Diego’s secondary has been increasingly disappointing the past month. Left corner Quintin Jammer and slot corner Dante Hughes have been fine, but on the right side, Antoine Cason and rookie Marcus Gilchrest have taken turns replacing one another in the starting lineup. Free safety Eric Weddle moves well and has some interceptions, but he’s not a true stopper.



5. Defensive front
A feeble pass-rush doesn’t help matters for San Diego. The loss of Shaun Phillips (still out with a foot injury) and Larry English (injured reserve) leaves the Chargers with journeymen Antwan Barnes and Travis LaBoy on the edges. Barnes is fast and has actually been as impactful as his team-high six sacks suggest. LaBoy’s run defense compensates for his low sack total (1).

Still, the bottom line is the forces that once buttressed San Diego’s pass-rushing depth are now the forces that comprise San Diego’s pass-rush period.

If the Chargers want to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback, they have to blitz. Inside linebacker Victor Butler and slot corner Dante Hughes are the two best options for this. Blitzing is not preferable for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, though.

It’s never been preferable for the Bears. They almost exclusively use a traditional four-man pass-rush, which works when you have a deep rotation, a highly-skilled No. 2 rusher like Israel Idonije and a monster like Peppers. In an effort to create matchup problems, Peppers has been lining up at both end positions and, lately, inside on certain passing downs.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 11 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 4:37 pm
 

Cassel needs surgery, Tyler Palko Chiefs starter

Posted by Will Brinson

The 2011 season's been quite the rollercoaster for the Chiefs. But after back-to-back losses to the Dolphins and Broncos, things are going to get worse, as Matt Cassel has a "significant" hand injury, will need surgery and could miss the rest of the year.

That means it's Shane Falco Tyler Palko time in Kansas City -- Todd Haley confirmed the news.

"We feel good about Tyler, or he wouldn’t be our No. 2," Haley said, per our via our Chiefs Rapid Reporter Bob Gretz. "I have belief in Tyler. He has a great understanding of how our offense works and his role in it."

Haley also indicated that Cassel, who injured his hand in the fourth quarter while being sacked by Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, could end up on injured reserve, depending on how surgery went.

Week 10 Wrapup

"It’s possible, but I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute," Haley said Monday.

The only absolute is that Palko's starting, and Haley said he would do so "for the foreseeable future." Palko went undrafted out of Pittsburgh in 2007, but was signed by the Saints. Since then he's bounced in and out of the NFL before landing with the Chiefs over the past two years.

Palko's completed nine of 13 passing attempts over the past two years, including five of seven in replacement duty for Cassel on Sunday.

And now he'll get an interesting little trial by fire as the Chiefs play the Patriots, the Steelers, the Bears, the Jets and the Packers over the next five weeks.


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Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:51 am
Edited on: November 1, 2011 5:36 am
 

Chargers lose to the Chargers, again

Posted by Will Brinson



No one beat the San Diego Chargers worse in 2010 than the San Diego Chargers. And in an ugly 23-20 overtime loss in Kansas City on Monday, many of the problems that have plagued San Diego during Norv Turner's tenure emerged in typically ugly fashion.

None was more ugly than what happened with 1:03 remaining on the clock, the Chiefs out of timeouts and the Chargers well within kicker Nick Novak's range for a game-winning field goal. Philip Rivers then fumbled a snap right before taking a knee.

"Worst day ever," Rivers mouthed from the sidelines after the fumble.



That's an understandable feeling from Rivers, who's struggled mightly this season. He threw two picks -- one his fault and another on a tipped pass -- but actually straightened up to produce a pretty solid line (26/41, 369 yards) despite not throwing any touchdown passes.

San Diego finished with 12 penalties for 105 yards, which was three more yards than the Chargers had rushing. They fumbled three balls and lost two of them, and gave away the two picks.

The Chiefs weren't much better, but they ultimately just shot themselves in the foot fewer times.

"It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination," Todd Haley said.


No it was not. Matt Cassel looked pretty bad, the Chiefs didn't have much of a rushing game to speak of until a nice late drive that featured a touchdown from Jackie Battle.

None of this is to take away from Kansas City because, my goodness, they're tied for first place in the AFC West all of a sudden. This is unbelievable, given that they looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL three weeks into the season. And they're getting ready to welcome the 0-fer Dolphins to Arrowhead, while the Raiders match up against the Broncos and the Chargers welcome ... the Packers.

Yes, it's entirely possible that Kansas City will be in first place all alone come this time next week. That's a credit to them for fighting back from a slew of big-time injuries. But San Diego had more than enough opportunities to push Kansas City back and extend their division lead on Monday.

They couldn't convert anything in the red zone (at one point a first down from the Chiefs 22-yard line ended up in a fourth-and-22 from the Chiefs 34-yard line) and had to settle for Nick Novak field goals all night long.

This is a common theme with the Chargers this year, who score less than 50 percent of the time they get inside the opponent's 20. And it's been a common theme for a while. It always seemed like talent might trump these problems, but as Monday night proved (again), sometimes the Chargers just can't get out of their own way.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 9:26 am
 

Mike Tolbert out for Bolts, WR Floyd active

Posted by Will Brinson

Reports began circulating Monday that Chargers running back Mike Tolbert would miss the game in Kansas City on Monday with a hamstring issue, and now it's official, as Tolbert was listed as one of the Chargers inactive players.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Tolbert was on the field, running around and looking "really good" as recently as about 6:30 p.m. ET.

However, Tolbert's (presumed) attempt to prove he was healthy enough to play didn't change Norv Turner's mind, and the running back was ruled out shortly after 7 p.m. ET. This means the Bolts will depend heavily on second-year back Ryan Mathews, who's dealt with an assortment of injuries throughout the season as well.

Other inactives for the Chargers include linebacker Shaun Phillips, guard Kris Dielman, defensive lineman Luis Castillo, safety Darrell Stuckey, linebacker Gerald Hayes and defensive lineman Ogemdi Nwagbuo.

Wide receiver Malcom Floyd, however, is active and will start, thought it's not expected he'll see a full game's worth of snaps on Monday.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Chargers reach agreement with WR Malcom Floyd

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Ravens, with a huge need for a big-play wide receiver to line up opposite Anquan Boldin, had an offer on the table for Malcom Floyd*. On Friday, Floyd, who spent the previous seven seasons in San Diego mostly as a backup, re-signed with the Chargers.

Chargers.com reports that the team reached an agreement with Floyd on a two-year deal.

“We have a lot of happy Chargers today with the return of Malcom,” General Manager A.J. Smith said. “He has been an integral part of our team and it’s great to have him back. He is a very talented receiver and that will just add to the continuity of our offensive unit.”

In 2010, Floyd caught 37 passes for 717 yards (19.4 ypc) and 6 TDs. The season before, he hauled in 45 passes for 776 yards (17.2 ypc) and 1 TD. At 6-5, Floyd is an obvious red-zone target, but he's also capable of stretching the field as evidenced by his DeSean Jacksonian yards-per-catch average. He'll rejoin another 6-5 pass-catcher, Vincent Jackson, as well as Patrick Crayton, Kelley Washington, Laurent Robinson and highly touted rookie Vincent Brown as potential options for QB Philip Rivers.

Floyd will likely be the second or third WR in a Chargers' offense that features tight end Antonio Gates and one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Ravens, who have been trying desperately to find legit pass-catching options for young QB Joe Flacco. As it stands, Baltimore has Boldin, rookie Torrey Smith and, well, not much else. Thirty-seven-year-old Derrick Mason could return (despite his age, he has been productive for the Ravens), and perhaps the organization will make a run at recently released Jets wideout Jerricho Cotchery.

We have yet to play a preseason game but Ravens fans are already questioning if Flacco can lead the team to a Super Bowl. We're not absolving Flacco of blame in Baltimore's recent playoff losses, but it would certainly be a lot easier for him if he had someone to throw the ball to.

* UPDATE: According to Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens had trouble clearing enough cap room for Floyd.

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