Tag:Norv Turner
Posted on: November 23, 2011 9:33 am
  •  
 

Press box officials to aid in concussion battle

K. Dielman had a grand mal seizure after suffering a concussion Oct. 23 (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When Chargers guard Kris Dielman suffered a concussion in the Oct. 23 game vs. the Jets, the game officials sensed something was wrong with the way he wobbled and fell down after his collision with Calvin Pace. But Dielman ignored the officials’ advances and stayed in the game, and the Chargers coaching and training staff didn’t force him to return to the sideline.

On the plane ride home, Dielman suffered a grand mal seizure, and since then, the NFL has come under greater scrutiny, even though San Diego coach Norv Turner said at the time, “Everything was handled extremely well."

Obviously, the league has disagreed. Although the NFL told officials to be on the lookout for players suffering from head injuries, the league is giving them some help. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is reporting that league observers who sit in the press box for every game now will be responsible for communicating with each teams’ training staff in order to care for players who might have suffered concussions.

In a memo sent to each team obtained by ESPN, the league writes, “A direct ring-down phone line must be in place from the NFL Observer position in the press box to both the home and visiting bench areas. This line should be clearly marked on the NFL Observer's phone. The purpose of the additional phone lines is to allow the NFL Observer to alert the Athletic Training staff to a possible injury that may have been missed at field-level."

After receiving a call from the observer, the training staff will be responsible to double-check the player to determine whether he can continue to play.

The reason the observer could be a better judge of whether a player should be observed than an on-field official is because the observer will have access to game broadcast replays to determine more accurately where a player was hit and what his reaction was.

After the Dielman incident, this is what NFLPA medical director Dr. Thomas Mayer had to say:

"I've looked at the play at least a hundred times. And not only does the broadcast footage provide a clear visual record, you can hear the collision loud and clear on the audio. It really was an unfortunate event, but this is a process and an opportunity to further strengthen our protocol. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here.”

And one lesson to be learned is that an extra set of ears and eyes can be helpful in helping a player avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Because as we see time and time again, players are willing to ignore their head injuries in order to get back in the game. We need somebody to save them from themselves.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Report: Norv Turner's days could be numbered

Turner could be looking for work come January. (AP/US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Norv Turner is in his fifth season as the Chargers head coach. He took over the team in 2007 after general manager A.J. Smith fired Marty Schottenheimer for going 14-2. In three of the four seasons since, two things have been constant: the Chargers have gotten off to glacially slow starts only to mount a late-season run and make the playoffs. And San Diego, despite a franchise quarterback and plenty of playmakers, is still looking for its first Super Bowl.
Turner's record in San Diego
2007: Started 1-3, finished 10-2, lost to the Pats in the AFC Championship game
2008: Started 3-5, finished 5-3, lost to the Steelers in the AFC Divisional game
2009: Started 2-3, finished 11-0, lost to the Jets in the AFC Divisional game
2010: Started 2-5, finished 9-7, missed the playoffs 
But 2011 was different; the Chargers started 4-1, were the clear favorites in the AFC West (and even some folks' Super Bowl favorites), and everything was finally coming together. Unfortunately, the new collective bargaining agreement didn't shorten the regular season to five games. San Diego has dropped five straight and is a complete mess of a franchise. Philip Rivers has looked, well, awful, the run defense is non-existent, and head coach Norv Turner, through it all, remained expressionless.

But barring a Tebow-like miracle, Norv won't have to worry about the Chargers much longer. The San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee writes that Turner's days could be numbered.
At this point, it is apparent only a drastic turnaround will save Turner, as the Chargers have lost five straight and are in last place in the AFC West, in grave danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight season. [Owner Dean] Spanos also has wondered about repeated game management decisions, and after five years it is possible Turner has been given enough time to get done what no Chargers coach ever has – win a Super Bowl.
Ah, yes, those game-management decisions. The latest came Sunday, in the Chargers' loss to the Bears. San Diego lost its final two timeouts with 3:16 to play and trailing by 11. They burned the first one, and then during thee timeout decided to challenge a ruling. The Chargers lost the challenge (of course they did) and another timeout. You don't see that every day.

But Turner isn't the only guy who should be worried about his job. Smith could be in trouble, too. Acee writes: "But even late last week, word had begun to circulate in league circles about Spanos' escalating concern about the state of his franchise in the hands of Turner -- who has the second-highest winning percentage in team history at .608 (45-29) -- and even Smith, the man Spanos has given virtually complete control of football operations over the past nine years."

In general, Smith has done a good job of roster-building and fielding a winning team. But the lack of success in the postseason coupled with Turner's weekly gaffes have started to add up.

Early last season, when Vincent Jackson was holding out for a new deal and Smith refused to budge, Jackson's agent Neil Schwartz said "We had multiple deals in place. It is our understanding … that the Chargers were unreasonable. More than one general manager referred to A.J. as the 'Lord of No Rings.'"

Short of an improbable turnaround, Norv and A.J. might soon be the Lord of No Jobs.

As we mentioned in Tuesday's Coach Killers, maybe Rex Ryan was onto something.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 22, 2011 10:00 am
 

Coach Killers, Week 11: Johnson returns to form

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Mark Sanchez, Jets

It's been five days since Tim Tebow led the Broncos on a 95-yard game-winning drive against the Jets. The other, perhaps more important storylines to come out of that game: Von Miller is scary, Denver's defense is improving, and Mark Sanchez was the worst quarterback on the field last Thursday.

That's not hyperbole. Sanchez looks the part and has the pedigree but nearly three years into his NFL career and he's a replacement-level quarterback. That would be one thing if he were, say, a former seventh-round pick like Ryan Fitzpatrick (pre-shiny new deal, obviously). It's a different story altogether given that the Jets traded up from No. 17 to No. 5 to take Sanchez in the 2009 NFL Draft.

When New York's defense is one of the best in the league and the running game is working, Sanchez has been good. But that's sort of the point: you don't draft a franchise quarterback to man the controls when everything is going well. You draft a franchise quarterback to win those games that you were previously losing. The Jets are 5-5 and a big part of that is because of Sanchez.

Late in the third quarter of the Broncos game, with the Jets leading 10-3 and facing a third and short, Sanchez threw a pick-six. It wasn't a tipped pass, or a 50-yard bomb that was effectively a third-down punt. It was a jerk route to Plaxico Burress. Typically, the joke is that the defender in coverage ends up looking like a jerk on such plays.

Not this time. Sanchez's throw was off target, Burress didn't come back to the ball, and cornerback Andre Goodman jumped the route. Twenty-six yards later, the score was 10-10. And then Tebow happened.


Mark Sanchez has thrown three pick-sixes this season.

Head coach Rex Ryan defended Sanchez (Because, really, what's he going to say? "I'm happy to announce that Mark Brunell, 52 years young, will now lead us to the playoffs!")

"This is our quarterback," Ryan said at his Friday press conference. "He’s going to be our quarterback for as long as I’m here, which I hope is a long, long time. He can make all the throws. He’s a competitive guy. Has it been perfect? No, absolutely. But it hasn’t been perfect for our entire team."

But Rex, what about the children!?

Graham Gano, DeAngelo Hall - Redskins

It may seem unfair to blame Gano for the Redskins' latest loss, but let's be honest: he's the team's best offensive player. (And, hell, he might even be the team's best quarterback. We haven't seen him throw but we have seen the Rex and Becks show. It can't be worse than that.) If Washington is going to win, Gano will have to make everything, including the out-of-zip-code attempts. Instead, he missed two field goals Sunday against the Cowboys, the first from 49 yards, the last from 52. And it was that last miss in overtime that allowed Dallas to march down the field for a game-winning kick of their own.

Now, for your unintentional comedy interlude, courtesy of Redskins' Radio Network (featuring Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff and by way of DC Sports Bog)…
The missed Gano field goal

Larry: We are ready, this is it, from 52 yards out. The kick is on the way, he’s got the distance, and heeeeeeeee…
Sam: He’s got it!
Larry: He missed it! He missed it wide right!
Sam: He missed it?
Larry: He missed it wide right, so the Cowboys will take over.
Sam: I thought it went through?
Larry: Wide right.
We've been saying for several weeks that there's a decent chance the Redskins lose out. They're now 3-7 and six weeks closer to that reality. Silver lining: players are taking responsibility. In fact, cornerback DeAngelo Hall thinks he should be cut. We won't disagree with him.

“It’s frustrating, but I can’t point a finger at anybody but myself,” Hall said, via the Washington Times. “The way I’m playing right now, they need to go cut me because I’m definitely not worth what I’m getting. It’s frustrating. Hopefully they see something in me and they bring me back next year, but the way things are going right now, I’m definitely not playing up to par.”

Could the Redskins really lose out?

We know Hall wasn't responsible for a wide-open Jason Witten sprinting to the end zone on a 59-yard reception midway through the fourth quarter. But Hall didn't exactly track Witten down, either. For a former "NFL's Fastest Man" champion, he sure looked slow (but not quite as slow as the time Hines Ward, wearing one shoe, outran him to the end zone).

One last thing: former NFL quarterback turned handball aficionado Jake Plummer spoke recently about playing for Mike Shanahan. The two were together in Denver from 2003-2006 until Plummer retired after it became clear that Jay Cutler would be the starter.

“It just seemed like every game I could have completed these four more passes or these five more shots here and it would have been perfect," Plummer said, via Yahoo.com. "And that just wasn’t my personality....But Shanahan wanted perfection and he wore a lot of us down there.”

We're guessing Shanahan would do just about anything to have such problems now. To Plummer's credit, he didn't take pleasure in Shanahan's current predicament (at least not publicly).

“Yeah and you know what, I don’t like to see that,” he said. “I mean I don’t want to see anybody struggle. And I’m not sitting here gloating or feeling better about his lack of success down there. As time goes you learn more things. … Hey, I was lucky to get the opportunity to play for Shanahan. He helped turn my career around and gave me a chance to show that I was a winner, regardless of how things went down."

Chris Johnson, Titans

First, some background: the Lions selected running back Kevin Smith in the the third round of the 2008 draft. After suffering late-season injuries in '09 and '10, the team chose not to re-sign him. He was out of football until two weeks ago when Detroit, in dire need of warm bodies in the backfield, gave him a call. Against the Panthers Sunday, Smith ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and added another 61 receiving yards and a score.

Recapping Week 11

We mention this because after Chris Johnson treaded the Panthers for 130 rushing yards last week, there were some rumblings of him "being back." Turns out, that performance was an aberration and unless the Titans are facing the Panthers every week from here on out, Johnson continues to be one of the worst backs in the league.

Back during training camp, when Johnson was parked on his couch waiting for a new deal, one of the reasons his supporters gave for paying him was that Johnson's presence in the backfield would take pressure off rookie quarterback Jake Locker. Well, Locker saw extensive action against the Falcons and he looked just fine. And he did it without anything resembling a running game.

Maybe the Titans should sign this Kevin Smith.

Which brings us back to CJ. He carried the ball 12 times in Atlanta for a grand total of 13 yards. That works out to a nifty 1.08 yards per carry. Put differently: Matt Hasselbeck, who left the game with an arm injury and probably travels 40 yards in closer to six seconds than five, was the Titans' leading rusher with 17 yards on the afternoon.

(Even more embarrassing, courtesy of colleague Will Brinson's Sorting the Sunday Pile: "There were nine -- NINE! -- quarterbacks with more rushing yards than Johnson in Week 11.")

“I know we didn’t execute some plays that we could have,” Johnson said, via the Tennessean. “They are a pretty good defense, and they made a lot of plays out there. I’m sure if we would have executed better, then we could have had a better day in the running game.”

Or, as we mentioned above, the Titans could just petition the league to face the Panthers every week.

Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars

Let's be honest: Blaine Gabbert Bears very little responsibility for the Jags' 3-7 season. He's a rookie quarterback on one of the NFL's worst offensive teams, and Jack Del Rio is a lame-duck coach who'll likely ring in the new year looking for a new job.

Jacksonville's final drive against the Browns Sunday was a microcosm of their offense and their season. Trailing 14-10 and on the Browns' 2-yard-line with 13 seconds to go, the Jaguars ran the following three plays:

1st and goal: Maurice Jones-Drew 1-yard run (eight seconds remaining).
2nd and goal: Gabbert throws incomplete to Jason Hill (three seconds remaining).
3rd and goal: Gabbert throws incomplete to Mike Thomas (game over, thanks for coming).

So that happened. When Del Rio was asked after the game why he didn't get the ball to the Jags' best playmaker, MJD, this happened:

“Our offensive coordinator [Dirk Koetter] calls the plays. I can’t speak to his thinking. You’ll have to get with him,” he said via the Florida Times-Union.

Translation: "I checked out of this job in September and I'm just going through the motions until I'm officially canned. I almost forgot we had a game Sunday."

What makes Del Rio's comment even more bizarre: Jacksonville called timeout with eight seconds left. Presumably, he had some say in the final-play strategy.

“We certainly talked about those things through the course of the drive. We got down and took our crack. You can make a case for doing that. You can guess any number of plays when you don’t connect. [It’s] a missed opportunity,” Del Rio said.

As PFT.com's Gregg Rosenthal noted Monday: "Mike Tomlin, Bill Belichick and Mike Smith would all be involved in a call like that. They are defensive coaches, but they make big decisions on offense. It’s their team."

You know what else those three coaches have in common? They ain't getting fired in two months.

Philip Rivers, Chargers

There is very little to be excited about in San Diego but there is this: Philip Rivers has played much better the last two weeks. Moral victories are for losers, but … well, the Chargers are exactly that. Unfortunately, "Not Bad" Rivers in 2011 isn't a top-5 quarterback. In fact, he might crack the top-15. But unless he can play defense, special teams and coach, San Diego's five-game slide isn't entirely on him. That said, he leads the league in interceptions, and he threw two more Sunday -- both in the fourth quarter, both in critical situations.

The first pick was another miscommunication with Vincent Jackson in the end zone (it happened in Week 10 against the Raiders). The second was inexplicably bad. Rivers, flushed from the pocket, went to throw the ball away. Somehow instead of, you know, throwing the ball away, the pass sailed right into the arms of Bears defensive back Corey Graham.


The 2011 Chargers: where not even incompletions are routine

When you're incapable of throwing an incompletion, it portends bad things for the season.

After a 4-1 start, the Chargers are now 4-6. Next up: the 5-5 Tebows are coming to town and Rivers is reduced to saying things like this:

“We’ve got to find a way to think that we have a one-game season against Denver at our place,” he said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “And let’s find a way to win that game.”

There are six games left in the 2011 season and barring a miraculous turnaround and a ton of luck, San Diego will miss the postseason. And that, according to the Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee, could mean curtains for Norv Turner.

"At this point, it is apparent only a drastic turnaround will save Turner, as the Chargers have lost five straight and are in last place in the AFC West, in grave danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight season. [Team owner Dean] Spanos also has wondered about repeated game management decisions, and after five years it is possible Turner has been given enough time to get done what no Chargers coach ever has – win a Super Bowl."

Maybe Rex Ryan was onto something.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:46 pm
 

NFL Week 11 podcast review + MNF preview

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 11 is almost wrapped up and so we take to the airwaves in order to break down the football action from the weekend.

We discuss whether or not the Bears can make the playoffs with Jay Cutler missing, whether the Giants are about to start their annual late-season collapse, if Adrian Peterson's injury matters in the big scheme of things, whether Norv Turner will be fired, if the Redskins are showing life, if the Lions found a running game, if the Dolphins are the hottest team in the NFL.

Then we dive into how bad the Bills are, why no one should pay running backs, if Baltimore is the class of the AFC, if the Eagles can make a playoff run and whether Oakland or Denver is the best in the AFC West.

All that and much, much more, below.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Chargers place Kris Dielman on injured reserve

After suffering a concussion against the Jets on Oct. 23, Dielman lands on IR. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Chargers placed left guard Kris Dielman on injured reserve Wednesday, three weeks after he suffered a concussion during an October 23 game against the Jets. The move means no relief for a beleaguered San Diego offensive line -- or quarterback Philip Rivers -- and it also snaps Dielman's streak of four straight Pro Bowl appearances.

Concussions are a weekly occurrence in the NFL, but Dielman's injury drew the league's attention because he suffered a grand mal seizure on the team flight back to San Diego. He sustained the concussion early in the fourth quarter. It went undiagnosed at the time, though Dielman clearly struggled to maintain his balance after the collison with the Jets Calvin Pace.

The Chargers came under scrutiny for how they handled the injury, but head coach Norv Turner believed that "Everything was handled extremely well."

"All the proper precautions were taken. Kris was evaluated when we landed and all the tests were excellent. We're fortunate, he's fortunate and we're moving on," Turner said at the time

He added that nothing seemed out of the ordinary at the time because players routinely take hard hits during the course of a game.

"Guys get bounced around pretty good. It's tough to see everybody from the sideline, or even from upstairs or a TV screen what a guy's condition is," said Turner. "Our guys understand that if they aren't able to go, they need to get out. I think it was handled the way we'd try to understand any injury situation."

Dielman's case led the NFL to instruct its officials to actively look for concussion-like symptoms during games.

"I've looked at the play at least a hundred times," NFLPA medical director Dr. Thomas Mayer said earlier this month. "And not only does the broadcast footage provide a clear visual record, you can hear the collision loud and clear on the audio. It really was an unfortunate event, but this is a process and an opportunity to further strengthen our protocol. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here. ...

"You can see on the video when Dielman wobbles backwards that the umpire (Tony Michalek) is concerned and the referee (Ron Winter) notices something, too," Mayer continued. "Dielman waved off the umpire. I know he's one tough dude, but this is what we're trying to avoid. We can educate the officials to treat this like a significant injury, stop time and call for medical attention. When Dielman continued to play in the game, he was subject to further collisions by the nature of the sport and his position."

More bad news for the Chargers: left tackle Marcus McNeill, who suffered a neck injury during the Week 10 loss to the Raiders, saw a specialist Monday, and right guard Louis Vasquez was seen in a walking boot that same day. Rivers has had enough issues with consistency this season without additional concerns about his pass protection.

San Diego will face Chicago on Sunday, and given how the Bears treated Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford last week, Rivers has legitimate reason for alarm.

In related news (via Chargers.com): San Diego added guard/tackle Tony Moll on Tuesday and rookie guard-tackle Stephen Schilling also remains on the roster.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
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 3, 2011 9:17 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 9:23 am
 

LT: Rivers 'distracted' due to being 'the guy'?

Posted by Will Brinson

Philip Rivers is struggling right now, no question about it. Statistically, he's way off his production from the past two season in 2011. And the Chargers final play of regulation in a tough loss to Kansas City Monday, in which Rivers fumbled a snap before taking a knee, sums it up succinctly.

No one's precisely sure what's wrong with Rivers, but there are multiple theories -- a hidden injury, offensive injuries, Antonio Gates' health -- as to why he's not performing up to par. Rivers' former teammate, LaDainian Tomlinson, has his own idea, and it involves leadership.

"I don't know what Philip may be going through right now. But I will say, to me, he seems distracted for some reason," Tomlinson said to the media recently. "It just seems like he's distracted. I always said this: It's hard to be the guy on the team. When they say this is your team. It's hard to be that guy now. Because you get all the questions of what's wrong and what's right.

"Then, you get your teammates that expect certain things from you. When that doesn't happen, you get strange looks in the locker room. So it's hard to be that guy when it's your team. So that may have a little bit to do with what's going on."

I'm not so sure this rings true. Rivers played all of 2010 without Tomlinson, and though the Chargers didn't make the playoffs, he had a monster statistical year and kept the Bolts afloat despite more injuries than they suffered so far this year.



It sounds like A.J. Smith, Chargers GM, probably agrees with me. Or just doesn't like Tomlinson sticking his beak in someone else's business.

"I agree with what LT said about it’s hard being the guy," Smith said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But I think it’s a lot harder when it’s no longer your team, and you’re not the guy."

Annnnd, burn. Oh right, but Rivers had a comment as well.

"Based on what you told me," Rivers said. "He has to be speaking from experience. I don’t feel that burden, nor has it had anything to do with the struggles.

"People say, 'It's your team.' I’ve never bought into that."

Naturally, Smith and Rivers are referencing the fact that Tomlinson wasn't exactly a leader in his final year with the Chargers. As you may recall, before the 2010 season began, Rivers expressed that there was "a little bit of relief" in San Diego with Tomlinson gone.

This went over really well with Tomlinson, who ripped back at Rivers and Gates, so to say he's not biased on this subject is silly.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com