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Tag:Philip Rivers
Posted on: October 19, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 8:03 pm
 

If Rex coached Bolts he'd 'have a couple rings'

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATED 8:01 p.m. ET: Norv Turner has decided he's not going to take any guff from the likes of Rex Ryan.

That's why he said this today after hearing about Ryan's statement:

"I hadn't seen his quote and I was a little bit surprised by the call. And then after I saw the quote, I didn't have a chance to ask him this, but I was wondering if he had those rings with the ones he's guaranteed the last couple of years."

Wow.

----------

Rex Ryan's a fiery guy. It also seems like he's the type of fella to hold a grudge; he makes no bones about the fact that he should have (in his mind) gotten the Ravens coaching job.

And in advance of the Jets matchup versus the Chargers -- make sure and check out Andy Benoit's Film Room preview here -- he had some interesting words about San Diego. relating to the job interview he had in 2007 for the San Diego gig.

Namely, Rex feels like if he'd landed the job when he interviewed for it in 2007, he'd have "a couple rings."

"Well, I think I would have had a couple rings," Ryan said on Wednesday, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I'm telling you, those teams were loaded."

This is interesting because it says, quite obviously, that Rex believes he's a great coach. (In case you didn't know that.) But it also somehow manages to simultaneously insult his own team, the Jets, as well as the Chargers current coach Norv Turner.

Turner took over in 2007 and hasn't won a Super Bowl with the Bolts -- Rex seemed to imply that Norv misused a slew of talent and somehow failed to win a Super Bowl. Knock on Norv all you want for his coaching ability, but it's insane to think Rex is correct in assuming he'd have won "a couple" rings in that time frame.

Which is probably why, about 15 minutes after making the comments, Rex rang up Norv to apologize for the remarks.

The bigger question is whether he's trying to use this statement to motivate his own team -- they beat the Dolphins on Monday but didn't look good doing it, and they could certainly used some improved play if Rex wants a shot at getting started on "a couple rings."

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 10:12 am
 

Film Room: Jets vs. Chargers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



For the first time in the Norv Turner era, the San Diego Chargers enter their sixth game of the season with a record other than 2-3. Now that the perennial power of the AFC West is finally living up to high expectations out of the gate, no one seems interested in acknowledging them.

That’s about to change. The Chargers’ matchup against the Jets is the only marquee game on an otherwise shabby Week 7 schedule. Below is a breakdown of that game and this very good San Diego team.

(Ed. Note: But first, our film-room edition of the Pick-Six Podcast. Subscribe via iTunes here.)


1. Norv Turner’s offense
Slow starts and a seemingly lax, bland personality have made Turner ripe for criticism over the years. But what no honest critic can deny is Turner has always been ahead of the offensive strategizing curve, particularly recently, as the Chargers have finished in the top five in scoring each year since he arrived.

Turner’s offense is unique. While the rest of the NFL is spreading out, the Chargers operate predominantly out of base personnel (two backs, two receivers and a tight end). Turner believes that you don’t need to align horizontally in order to attack vertically. The Chargers refer frequently to seven-step drops and dictate one-on-one matchups for their gazelle-like receivers by designing routes that go outside the numbers.

This tactic is fairly easy when Antonio Gates is in the lineup, as safeties are compelled to focus on him in the middle. When Gates is sidelined, as he’s been since Week 3, the receivers’ routes are inclined to develop more slowly, which forces the offensive line to elevate its play (blocking on a seven-step drop is not easy). San Diego’s front five has answered that challenge this season.

One-on-one matchups outside can also be commanded simply by lining up in base formations. With a line as powerful on the ground as San Diego’s, defenses are compelled to have a safety eye the running back, if not walk all the way down into the box. Otherwise, the Chargers can run with ease against a seven-man front. A preoccupied safety can’t offer viable help in coverage outside.

Long developing routes not only generate big plays (San Diego frequently finishes near the top of the league in 20-plus-yard passes), they also stretch a defense, which creates space for dumpoff passes to targets coming out of the backfield. Fullback Mike Tolbert (a surprisingly skilled receiver) and running back Ryan Mathews have combined for 48 catches this season, averaging over 10 yards per pop.

2. The personnel and matchups
The Jets don’t mind the Chargers creating one-on-one matchups for their receivers. They’re used to that, in fact, given the way Darrelle Revis shadows the opposing team’s top wideout with no safety help. Expect Revis to blanket Vincent Jackson, and expect Vincent Jackson to see few balls come his way (Revis is coming off a two-interception performance, and the Chargers had no problem going away from Jackson when he was guarded by Champ Bailey two weeks ago).

This leaves Antonio Cromartie-Malcolm Floyd as the key matchup. Cromartie is built to defend downfield routes; he’s a long-striding runner who likes to track the ball in the air, rather than rely on physical jams and proper press technique. If he can handle Floyd one-on-one, the Jets are in business. Most likely, though, he’ll need some help.

With two corners who, for the most part, can match up to San Diego’s receivers, it will be interesting to see how New York defends the running backs underneath. The Jets indiscriminately integrate their linebackers and safeties into blitzes and zone exchanges. Rex Ryan will likely utilize those blitzes and zone exchanges given that even if the Jets can’t sack Philip Rivers, they can at least disrupt and discourage his seven-step drops. Thus, Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, Bart Scott and David Harris could all take turns blitzing the passer and spying the backs.

3. Philip Rivers
Often, systems are only as good as the quarterback running them. The Chargers have one of the game’s best in Rivers. He is a perfect fit for Turner’s offense. The seven-step drops require a strong arm and the toughness to make throws with defenders bearing down on him.

Rivers has this – all in one package, in fact.

Thanks to his shot-put throwing motion, he does not need much room in order to throw. He can push the ball downfield without having to fully step forward or, obviously, wind up. Mentally, his focus when a hit’s on the horizon is as impressive as anyone’s in the game.

4. The run game
Because Turner’s offense is built largely around manipulating the strong safety, it, more than most, thrives on run-pass balance. That’s why the Chargers traded up last season to draft Ryan Mathews in the first-round. After a disappointing, injury-filled rookie campaign, the first-rounder from Fresno State has started to blossom in recent weeks. Mathews has very fluid lateral agility, which makes him potent in space. The issue has been whether he can create his own space. Last season, he struggled to press the hole and break the line of scrimmage at full speed. That’s a sign of a runner thinking too much.

Mathews has corrected this. He seems to be reading defenses before the snap more than after the snap. As a result, he’s rushed for 98, 81 and 125 yards his last three outings. It helps that he plays with solid lead-blockers in Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester, a mobile interior line, a capable road-grader like Marcus McNeil and arguably the game’s best left guard, Kris Dielman.

5. Other side of the ball
San Diego’s defense has been every bit as effective as the offense this season. Coordinator Greg Manusky has a very straightforward approach, often basing his tactics on the down and distance. With his corners playing so well and with this being a cohesive veteran unit, Manusky does not have to get cute in his approach.

Aside from the willowy Shaun Phillips, the Chargers don’t have a dominant pass-rusher, though Larry English and Antwan Barnes have both flashed occasionally this season. Still, Manusky is willing to blitz on third down, usually with a traditional inside linebacker who can give the Chargers a fifth pass-rusher to dictate that the speed guys face one-on-one matchups outside. The Jets’ floundering pass attack shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for the Bolts.

What might be a problem is New York’s run game. True, it has been stagnant this season. It’s starting to look like Shonn Greene’s ’09 postseason coming out party will also be the pinnacle of his career. But we’ve seen the Jets succeed before.

Physically, they have the potential to pound the rock, and the Chargers’ run defense stumbled against Willis McGahee and the Broncos two weeks ago. Starting ends Jacques Cesaire and Luis Castillo are both on the mend, and nose tackle Antonio Garay, while a quality player, has not stepped up accordingly. Hard to picture that changing against Nick Mangold.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 7 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Antonio Gates out for Chargers on Sunday

Posted by Will Brinson

The Chargers are 2-1 on the year, but have struggled through two victories, as Philip Rivers has not looked good thus far. Perhaps part of Rivers lack of success is the absence of tight end Antonio Gates, who he'll have to live without again on Sunday, as the tight end is inactive against Miami.

This is the second-straight week Gates will be sidelined with plantar fasciitis, a foot injury he's struggled with for the past several years.

All eight of the passes Gates has caught in 2011 came in Week 1, as well -- he went catchless against the Patriots and was inactive against the Chiefs in Week 3.

In fact, the injury's been so debilitating that there were questions as to whether or not Gates should retire -- he definitely said he wasn't going anywhere, however.

As someone who has had plantar fascitis, let me tell you one thing: it is absolutely brutal. It's like a constant ache below the arch of your foot, making the simple act of walking around incredibly painful. That Gates can even attempt to play football is beyond impressive.

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: August 31, 2011 10:34 am
 

Podcast: Top-10 QBs, Power Rankings, Frank Gore

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Podcast time, kids! And it's the last one before we go full-on with our heavy schedule of talking on the Internet radios during the regular season. So I suggest you get your subscribe on right here.

New season, new name (CBSSports.com's Pick-6 Podcast) and snazzy new art. Yeah, that's how we're rolling.

In the meantime, we debate our top-10 quarterback list if the season started right now (read: Peyton Manning doesn't make it unless you think he's faking), wonder whether Tony Romo can make the jump to an "elite" quarterback, why Will thinks Philip Rivers is better than Drew Brees and what on earth Ryan's doing with Ben Roethlisberger in his top three.

We also debate Pete Prisco's power rankings and then wonder why the 49ers gave Frank Gore so much money.

Conversatin' starts … now (and while we have you, remember to 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.



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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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Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Plaxico injures ankle; Mason in, Cotchery out?

Posted by Will Brinson

The Jets wide receiver corps is in serious flux as the head into 2011. With the exception of Santonio Holmes -- who also signed a five-year deal worth $50 million in the offseason, if you want to count that -- it's entirely likely that the group catching balls from Mark Sanchez will look entirely different.

For starters, there's the presence of Plaxico Burress who, by the by, is dealing with an injured ankle after "tweaking" it on Wednesday while "running around, trying to stay sharp." And it's not even the same ankle injury he's deal with in the past. So that should be concerning, right?

Well, coach Rex Ryan said, per our Jets Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman, it's "nothing serious."

And, according to Burress, if this were a game week, he'd be able to practice and/or play.

In other news, the Jets appear on the verge of signing former Ravens wideout (and therefore "teammate" of Ryan's) Derrick Mason, who was cut by Baltimore during their Borders-like employee cuts last week.

To make room for Mason, it looks like Jerricho Cotchery will get the axe.

"If [Mason] passes the physical, he's on the team and I won't be," Cotchery said, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. "It's time to move on."

So that means in a very short time, the Jets will have gone from Santonio Holmes/Braylon Edwards/Jerricho Cotchery/Brad Smith to Santonio Holmes/Plaxico Burress/Derrick Mason in terms of their wide-receiver depth chart.

If that happens, is that an upgrade?

No, I'm pretty sure it's not. In fact, there's a pretty good chance that it's a huge downgrade.

Cotchery was praised last year for his toughness, despite playing the slot and not getting any of the love that Edwards/Holmes did. And while Santonio might be one of the most explosive playmakers in the NFL, he's going to see a lot more coverage coming his way if the only two options on the field are both 30-plus, with one of them just a few months removed from a lengthy absence from football.

All that being said, you can't fault the Jets for some of the moves -- the Santonio signing is justified as long as he doesn't get suspended, Edwards is a troublemaker and not worth the money they might give him, and there's no way they could have paid Brad Smith what the Bills gave and justified it.

But giving Burress $3 million guaranteed and dumping a locker room leader and consistent on-field presence like Cotchery? That reeks of a mistake, even if Cotchery's dealing with offseason back surgery.

Fortunately for the wideout, he's probably got options. As I noted on Twitter, both the Panthers and Chargers stand out as great options for Cotchery. The Panthers could use veteran wide receiver help to draw coverage away from Steve Smith and mentor David Gettis and Brandon LaFell.

Cotchery was Philip Rivers' No.-1 target in college and the Chargers are currently looking for someone to line up opposite Vincent Jackson.

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Posted on: July 17, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Panthers' Smith interested in Chargers or Ravens?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Wide receiver Steve Smith might regret not getting to know the rookies during a decade's worth of Panthers training camps, but that doesn't mean he's any more likely to want to stay in Carolina for an 11th NFL season.

Eye on Football blogging colleague Will Brinson wrote in May that Smith could be interested in the Raiders or Chargers, but pointed out that, "Smith doesn't exactly control his destiny in terms of where he'll end up in 2011, and you can expect the Panthers to use his value in an effort to try and rebuild on the fly."

And while we're so close to a new CBA and actual football, we're not there yet. Which means we're left to speculate and go on others' words. A source tells the Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorensen that the Chargers and Ravens are currently Smith's teams of choice.

Sorensen writes that "Although Smith, and not Julius Peppers, is the best player in Carolina history, the Panthers aren't obligated to trade him. It's not as if there's a lifetime achievement award he can parlay into a Get Out of Charlotte Free card. Depends what the Panthers can get for him.

Smith's Saga in Charlotte



"A third-round pick feels insufficient."

It feels insufficient until you remember that the Broncos might have to settle for a third-round pick for Kyle Orton, and the Steelers shipped Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-rounder last offseason. (Although that bargain-basement price tag had everything to do with Holmes' off-field troubles. But still, he was the Super Bowl MVP and the best pass catcher on the Jets in 2010 -- you'd think he'd still be worth more than that.)

Sorensen also notes that should Smith stay in Carolina he could serve as Cam Newton's security blanket, but that's part of the problem. As Brinson pointed out Saturday, "Smith wasn't a big fan of Jimmy Clausen [last season]. It's hard to blame him, because Clausen's ascension to the role of starter meant a serious step back for the passing game."

Plus, Smith's 32. He's not interested in being a part of the Panthers' rebuilding process; he wants to win now, while he still has a few good years left.  And in that regard, San Diego makes a lot of sense. In fact, when quarterback Philip Rivers was asked about the prospects in May, he was all for it.

"Bring him on," he said. "Hey, we've got a great deal of weapons here. I certainly appreciate each and every one of them. Any time you can add a guy of that caliber, I'm all for it."

As is Smith, we'd imagine.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 4:12 pm
 

Chargers GM talks Eli Manning-Philip Rivers trade

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Chargers general manager AJ Smith is known as much for his ability to identify talent and assemble a roster as he is for his sometimes stubborn disposition.

He refused to give wide receiver Vincent Jackson a new contract last offseason, and Jackson ended up holding out for the first two months of the season. When Jackson finally returned in Week 12 (he had to first serve a three-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy), it was without a new contract but the Chargers were 6-5. They would eventually miss the playoffs, and although most of that was because of their dreadful defense special teams, Jackson's absence certainly didn't help.

(Edit: the commenters rightly point out that it was special teams -- not the defense -- that cost the Chargers a shot at the playoffs last season. My brain was thinking "special teams" but my fingers typed "defense." To hammer home the point, Football Outsiders ranked San Diego offense fourth, their defense seventh, and special teams ... 32nd.)

In 2005, Smith placed Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates on the "roster exempt" list for the season opener against the Cowboys because Gates wouldn't sign his one-year exclusive rights free-agent offer of $380,000. The two sides eventually came to a resolution but not before San Diego lost to Dallas. The most famous example of Smith vs. uncooperative Chargers player came the year before, when the team selected Eli Manning with the first-overall pick of the 2004 draft even though Manning said he'd rather sit out the season than play in San Diego.

Smith, undeterred, drafted Manning anyway. About an hour after Manning stood on stage with that "Did this really just happen?" look on his face while holding a Chargers jersey, Smith traded him to the Giants for Philip Rivers, and draft picks that would later become Shawne Merriman, Nate Kaeding and Roman Oben.

Despite the Chargers getting the most out of that trade, all most people remember is that Manning and the Giants won a Super Bowl in 2007. In a recent interview with Sporting News, Smith talked about Rivers and Manning. 

"I believe with my heart and soul that [Rivers] one day will lead the Chargers to a world championship," Smith said. “He’s a great quarterback—a phenomenal leader with great character, great work habits.”

No one disputes that. In fact, Football Outsiders ranked Rivers as the NFL's third-best quarterback in 2010, behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Eli ranked 16th, behind Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel. If nothing else, it reinforces the importance of surrounding your franchise quarterback with playmakers at the skill position and a good defense.

As for how Smith feels about Manning seven years after drafting him … well, let's just say he's still a little bitter. "He was a Charger for 45 minutes and that was too much time to be a Charger, in my opinion."

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