Tag:San Diego Chargers
Posted on: December 17, 2011 6:46 pm
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Pouncey out, Ben questionable for MNF at 49ers

Big Ben limps down the steps to the locker room after Pittsburgh beat Cleveland last Thursday. (AP)

By Will Brinson

The Steelers wrapped up Saturday's practice and there's some good news/bad news for Pittsburgh relating to Monday's game agianst the 49ers. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was limited in practice and is questionable to play Monday in San Francisco. However, center Maurkice Pouncey, dealing with an ankle injury, has been ruled out.

Week 15 Preview

Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle injury last Thursday in a 14-3 win over Cleveland but eventually returned to lead the Steelers to a victory over the Browns.

Much of the talk about whether or not Ben should play revolves around not Monday and/or how he's feeling then, but rather Sunday night.

That's when the Ravens and Chargers play, and if San Diego can win, it sure seems like Roethlisberger becomes more likely to play. After all, a Baltimore loss plus a Pittsburgh win on Monday means the Steelers are tracking for the top seed in the AFC.

A Baltimore win, though, and it's going to ridiculously tough for the Steelers to top the Ravens in the standings.

Of course, Roethlisberger's not exactly known for not playing hurt -- a lot of teammates believe that he plays better when he's injured, and we're not inclined to disagree.

So if you see him suit up on Monday, don't be shocked despite reports that his ankle hurts worse now than it did when he returned to the game against the Browns.



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Posted on: December 17, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Antonio Gates on Ravens, Norv, Tebow, Snapdragon

By Will Brinson

Antonio Gates knows the Chargers are up against it. (Getty Images)

The Chargers are fighting for their lives to make the playoffs right now and their toughest test comes Sunday against Baltimore in San Diego. For that game -- and the rest of the season -- the Chargers are renaming their home field "Snapdragon Stadium."

In advance of the first ever game in Snapdragon Stadium on Sundya night, we talked to all-world Chargers tight end Antonio Gates about his health, whether the Bolts can make the playoffs, how much Norv Turner's job security is one the line, the upcoming Ravens game, why Philip Rivers struggled so much during the early part of the season, whether Tim Tebow's getting too much media attention and much more:

Will Brinson: Alright, so the Chargers are changing the name to Snapdragon Stadium, can you talk about the what's going on with that and the process involved?

Antonio Gates: I'm actually looking forward to it, playing in Snapdragon Stadium for the first-ever time Sunday. For people who don't know know, Snapdragon is the heart of your smartphone and it does so many different things. It allows you to watch HD video, play video games, it allows you to search the web without draining your battery, so it's definitely going to be a fun experience, it's definitely going to be an amazing experience and I'm just looking forward to it this Sunday.

WB: Cool deal - big crowd, blackout's lifted and you've got just five catches to break Charlie Joiner's franchise record for receptions. Is that something you're eying for Sunday night?

AG: I'm not trying to go out of my way to get it. It's not like Sunday night's game is about me getting five catches. But it would definitely be an honor to be able to break the record at home, if that's in the midst of the game, if you will, because it's whatever helps us win the game. We still have an opportunity to go to the playoffs if things fall our way.

WB: Yeah, you guys have been hot. You've got 36 catches, 400 yards and five touchdowns since November and you haven't been on an injury report since December 3 that I can see. Just how healthy are you with the plantar fascitis right now?

AG: It's definitely getting better -- it's allowing me to do more physically which ultimately gives me a better chance which helps our football team win the game. I think you see glimpses of that at times, me making catches,  me having pretty good games -- last week I had a pretty good game -- so you see glimpses of it, but it's still an ongoing process.

WB: Yeah, it's a nasty injury. Look, there was a Yahoo Sports article and there was someone who said you'd looked like you'd gotten older … it was kind of disparaging from an unnamed source I'd say. Did you see that and did that motivate you at all?

AG: Nah, it had nothing to do with my motivation at all. To me, outsiders never had any impact on what I do day to day. I've always said that I control my own destiny, and part of that was me just getting back to being healthy. Like I said, there wasn't anything motivating me from the outside of me trying to put this team in the best position to win and go after a championship.

WB: Right on. Philip Rivers was an enigma early in the season and no one could really figure out what was going on, but he seems to have really hit his rhythm in December. Do you guys have any clue why he was struggling early on?

AG: Well, one thing about this league is that the perception is that the quarterback is struggling. It's not always the case. Things could be broken down in other areas but somehow the quarterback takes all the responsibility. And I think that's what was the case when I hear people say things about Philip or about guys on this team.

There's just so much with the one person you see on a consistent basis. Guys will see Philip throwing the ball and if it's an interception, you say "Wow he keeps throwing interceptions," but what people fail to realize is that protection schemes or the wrong route probably played just as big a role in that interception as him actually throwing it.

WB: Yeah, that makes sense. The hidden injury theory's gotten blown out the last couple of weeks -- Ryan Mathew's been on fire the last few weeks. Do you think he's capable of stepping up and becoming a legit feature back?

AG: He definitely has the ability and the potential to be one of the elite backs in the NFL. You can see the maturity level, you can see the growth and that's always a positive thing for a young player who comes in the league.

WB: A lot has been made, at least in reports, that Norv Turner's job is on the line. Is that something you guys worry about when focusing on the next game?

AG: Yeah, a lot of people like to point that out and use the coach as a tool like that. But if his job's on the line that means the rest of the players jobs are on the line. So I think collectively we understand that this is a performance-driven business and with all due respect, we want to the do the right things to enhance our performance, or else you find the best man for the job. I think that's just the nature of this business.

WB: So you guys recognize that he could be out at the end of the year then?

AG: It's just the reality for anyone playing in this league or coaching in this league. To me we're trying to do what we can control, which is win the next game. I think you come in, you prepare, you go about everything first class and then at the end of the season you have to wait and see what happens. There are things that just aren't in your control. And what you can control is how you prepare and how you continue to be a first-class citizen in how you go about your way. And that's definitely the case with this organization and this coaching staff. They continue to come in and work as hard as they can and put us in the best position to win.


WB: Alright, talk about this game on Sunday -- the Ravens defense is obviously stout and typically limits tight ends pretty well. You got anything you guys are planning on gameplanning to throw the Ravens off their game?

AG: Well we know it's a tough challenge. We know they're a very physical defense and a very good football team. In my opinion, they're probably one of the best football teams in the league right now, just because they can do so many different things. They can beat you so many different ways -- they can throw the ball down the field, they can run the ball, they can stop the run, they can cover. They're great in special teams, they're well-coached, so it's gonna be a tough challenge on Sunday night.

WB: OK, I'll get you out on this -- I gotta ask you about this guy first and I feel bad about asking you, but Joe Flacco was complaining about him and all we hear these days is "Tebow" and you guys play him in the division, so are you guys sick of hearing "Tebow, Tebow, Tebow" all the time yet? Are you tired of it yet?

AG: You know, I feel for the other 10 guys that's on the field with him. Really, I do, because the perception is it's about Tim Tebow. And I think the world of him, I think he's a very good football player, but I can honestly say that it's more than Tim Tebow on that team. That's the reason they're winning those football games.

At some point, the credit does go to the quarterback, but that defense is phenomenal, that run game is phenomenal and the offensive line is protecting him to the point where he's not getting touched either. There's so many factors in the game, and I have no problems with them talking about it, but it is what is and I understand he's not doing it all by himself.

WB: Haha, that's a wise answer, my friend. Hey, thanks again for talking to us.

AG: No problem man, take it easy.

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:19 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 15 preview + Thurs review

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Thursday night's scorcher of a game between the Jaguars and Falcons kicked off Week 15's action, and the guys wonder whether Atlanta is getting hot at the right time, if Jacksonville has any hope and just how awesome Shahid Khan's mustache is.

Then they turn their attention to the rest of the week's slate, debating who's in more trouble if they lost Saturday between Raheem Morris and Jason Garrett, why Rick Perry is talking about Tim Tebow, how much trouble Sam Hurd is in and why he did the things he allegedly did, whether the Broncos can actually upset the Patriots, if the Eagles can make a run, why Joe Flacco is whining about Tim Tebow's media coverage and much, much more.

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.



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Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:05 pm
 

Report: Ray Lewis to return for Ravens Sunday

By Will Brinson



The Ravens are 4-0 since Ray Lewis was sidelined with a toe injury, but that doesn't mean the team isn't "very hopeful" he'll return for the stretch run. And, according to a report Wednesday, Lewis will be back on the field Sunday night in San Diego.

Lewis, who told reporters he's "feeling way better" Tuesday, is expected to play Sunday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

However, Lewis was non-committal on returning when asked Tuesday at a charity event near Baltimore.

"I'm feeling way better," Lewis said, per the Baltimore Sun. "Way better. I thought I had a good chance the last four weeks to play, but the coaches are going to make those decisions. They're just being smart. I don't mind being smart. The warrior side of me of course is always going to want to get back out there."

The Ravens, at 10-3, are in a dogfight with the Patriots, Texans and Steelers for the top spots in the AFC. And their battle with Pittsburgh is even tougher; both are 10-3 and the difference between winning the division and finishing second can't be overstated -- the fifth seed travels on the road and plays an extra playoff game.

Baltimore also got somewhat lucky with the timing of Lewis' injury, as they played the run-heavy offenses of Cincinnati and San Francisco before beating the neutered attacks of Indy and Cleveland in the last two weeks, each by a score of 24-10.

San Diego, who's in a must-win situation, presents a much more difficult problem for the Baltimore defense, particularly they way they've played the last two weeks.

It was previously believed Lewis could be kept out as long as Week 17, but at the time, the Ravens intimated that if the game against the Chargers was "big" then he could return. Clearly, this qualifies as a "big" game, particularly with the Steelers not playing until Monday.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:35 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 14

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 14 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. They're Not Saying 'Boooooo' ...

True story: Just over two years ago, T.J. Yates came on the jumbotron at the Dean Dome during a North Carolina game as the lead-in to a UNC football video, said "I'm T.J. Yates and I'm a Tar Heel," and Yates, who was in the crowd, was booed mercilessly by Tar Heel fans in attendance.

One surprisingly strong senior season and a slew of injuries to Houston quarterbacks later, Yates is the starting quarterback for the first Texans team to ever make the playoffs. He's no figurehead, either, as his play in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-19 victory in Cincinnati showed.

We think that logic and common football sense says a rookie quarterback can't take a team deep into the playoffs, but does it? This Texans team's success is predicated on running the ball and playing defense.

And that's not too far off what Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger leaned on as rookies. Both those guys went to the AFC Championship Game, as a rookie quarterback mind you.

Yates is different than those Sanchez or Roethlisberger because he's matured under tough circumstances, his expectations are lower, he didn't leave school early so he's more experienced and he's got good mentors surrounding him on the roster.

If Houston gets into a shootout with an opponent or finds themselves with a huge halftime deficit, they're probably in trouble. But if that happens, it's not on Yates anyway -- the defense and rushing attack probably already let them down.

Just remember that when it comes time to debate the viability of the Texans in the postseason that the rookie quarterback under center is about as viable as the stereotype that the Texans can't stop anyone on defense.

2. Where It's Due in Denver

It's about time, in this LOL-worthy Tim Tebow saga that hit another high with Denver's 13-10 overtime win over Chicago Sunday, to give credit where credit is due. No, not the defense. No, not the running game. No, not the super-human effort from kicker Matt Prater on Sunday. No, not John Fox or John Elway.

Let's give credit to ... Josh McDaniels.

Remember, McDaniels is the guy that drafted Tebow and blossoming receiver Demaryius Thomas. Both might have been reaches when they were taken (25th and 22nd overall, respectively) and both looked like absolutely horrid selections pretty recently. But McDaniels obviously knew something about these guys and his premonitions and talent evaluation is paying off for Denver now.

Look, there are guys that were taken after Tebow and Thomas that are better overall additions to a roster (Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty stand out), and the value McDaniels wasted at those spots is disappointing. Also, given the Rams struggles on offense this year, handing credit his way isn't exactly the chic thing to do.

But as we get further from his nightmare regime in Denver and more ensconced in Tebowmania, it at least warrants a tip of the cap to McD for his decision to select two guys who are starting to fulfill the expectations that come with their draft slot.

3. Cowboy Down

We spent the better part of the podcast (you can listen above, just by clicking play!) trying to figure out who to blame for Dallas' failings in their 37-34 loss to the Giants on Sunday night.

But since Rex Ryan egged on some defensive coverages, Tony Romo egged on a big third-down throw to Miles Austin and Jason Garrett egged on clock management, isn't it possible that it's a systematic issue across the team as a whole?

We assume that because there's a new coach running the show, with different coordinators in place and some new players, that things are different. But things just aren't.

Jerry Jones knows this -- with the Giants at the goal line and the clock ticking down, an NBC camera caught him screaming "Timeout, Jason!"

Give credit where credit is to due to Eli Manning and the Giants for clawing their way back into this game, because it was a pretty magnificent comeback, something Eli's becoming quite proficient at this season.

But these Cowboys just can't close. We've seen it over and over this season and at some point, the bossman's patience for a lack of execution is going to run out.

4. Start 'Em/Sit 'Em?

The Packers have, with their 46-16 obliteration of Oakland in Green Bay, now officially clinched a first-round bye. Thanks to the 49ers losing to the Cardinals on Sunday, Mike McCarthy's team is just one win or one San Francisco loss away from clinching homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

But Sunday's victory came at a price -- star wide receiver Greg Jennings is likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Aaron Rodgers said that "hopefully" the Packers can get Jennings back in time for the team's first playoff game, following their bye, which is approximately five weeks from now.

This begs the question: will McCarthy and Green Bay chase 16-0 with the same fervor as the Patriots?

Losing someone like Jennings is debilitating to their run at repeating as Super Bowl champions, but it's not a dealbreaker because of all the talent they have at the various skill positions. Losing Aaron Rodgers? That's a whole different story.

And what if someone like Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams or Clay Matthews was lost for the rest of the season playing in a meaningless game? Yeah, that would be bad.

There's no right answer that doesn't involve "winning the title" so it's unfair to judge whatever McCarthy and Ted Thompson decide to do. We don't know how things would play out in an alternate universe. But Jennings injury might be a bad sign for the chances at Green Bay running the table.\

5. Familiar Feeling

New England is streaking towards a likely No. 1 seed right now. And they have a  kerfluffle on the sidelines between Tom Brady and his offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien that everyone can talk about. And there's the whole "Can I draft Rob Gronkowski in the second round of my fantasy league next year?" debate that might be worth discussing when going over interesting things about this team. 

But I can't shake the fact that the Redskins piled up well over 500 yards passing between Rex Grossman and Brandon Banks (!) plus 120 rushing yards from Roy Helu and narrowly lost to the Pats 34-27.

Again: the Redskins did this. Back in 2009, New England got throttled by the Ravens in Foxborough, because Baltimore had a stout defense and Ray Rice went HAM on a Pats defense that couldn't shut him down.

This year? The Patriots defense, a season-long problem for the team, reminds a lot of that squad, in that they can't stop anyone who's physical and can play ball control. Or, really, they can't stop anyone -- only four teams have scored less than 20 points against the Pats, and one of those was quarterbacked by Tyler Palko.

There are a lot of good defensive teams headed to the playoffs in the AFC, with a lot of good running backs, and some pretty talented quarterbacks.

Brady and Belichick are great about covering up flaws on a roster, but when they run into a physical team in the playoffs, we might see a similar result from years past.

6. So You're Telling Me There's a Chance?

The 2011 NFL season wouldn't feel right if we didn't get a Lloyd Christmas-inspired false-hope run from the Eagles and Chargers, would it?

The Eagles are still alive after a 26-10 beat down of Miami, although making the playoffs at this point involves jumping a whopping five other teams, and is about as likely as the Eagles retaining Juan Castillo next season.

San Diego's path to the postseason should have been a little bit easier, because the Raiders lost and the Broncos were supposed to lose (see: Tim Tebow doing what Tim Tebow does). Now things are much murkier, as San Diego needs either the Jets -- a team they should have beaten -- to go 1-2 down the stretch, or the Broncos -- another team they should have beaten -- to lose. And the Bolts have to win

8-8 and 9-7, respectively, are doable based for the two teams, based on their schedules. But even that kind of effort might not be enough to save the jobs of certain people in certain positions for these teams.

7. Call It a Comeback, Kid

For the second time this season, four teams in a single week overcame 12-point (or more) deficits to win.

Why? Well, as it turns out, offensive points aren't the only exciting thing that's happened as a result of the offense-friendly rules the NFL installed over the past few years. Comebacks occur more frequently too.

And big comebacks as well -- Atlanta, Jacksonville, Houston and Arizona were all down by 12-plus points and mounted a comeback in Week 14 -- in Week 2, another four teams did it as well.

Limitations on members of the secondary, limitations on defensive players hitting quarterbacks and the middle of the field opening up because of defenseless receiver rules mean teams are able to sling the ball around more frequently.

Defenses simply can't clamp down on teams when they have a lead and if someone takes their foot off the gas (see: the Panthers vs. the Falcons on Sunday), a comeback is absolutely in the cards.

8. Taking Flight

Note to anyone who ends up in a December-only fantasy league: draft Shonn Greene. Dude gets unholy hot when the weather gets cold and he's doing it again this year, with four touchdowns and well over 200 yards the last two weeks, including a career-high 129 rushing yards in a blowout win against Kansas City Sunday.

Not coincidentally, it might be smart to not write off the Jets ever again. Somehow, someway, they manage to win enough games to sneak into the playoffs.

Rex Ryan's crew is doing it again, and even though this rendition of the Jets is clearly inferior to the previous two seasons, it's hard to count them out.

Twice in his two years as head coach, Ryan's used a formula to get to the AFC Championship Game despite fighting uphill to even get into the playoffs. And now he's doing it again.

The Jets last three opponents -- Buffalo, Washington and Kansas City -- are about as cream-puffy as it comes, but you only have to play the people on your schedule. So I'm really not sure why this wasn't as obvious an outcome as Greene being largely irrelevant for fantasy teams until now.

9. Get Your Mojo Running

Lost in some of the fantastic Week 14 action was the fact that the incredibly underrated Maurice Jones-Drew, the only elite skill-position player that the Jaguars have, set the franchise record for career touchdowns, surpassing the also incredibly underrated Fred Taylor.

"Mojo" did it on a day in which he went absolutely b-a-n-a-n-a-s, rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns, and catching six passes for 51 receiving yards and a pair of scores through the air as well.

“Words can’t really explain how excited I am,” Jones-Drew said.

Jones-Drew's one of the prototypes for the modern NFL back -- small but powerful, quick, great hands and a secret workhorse. (Not to mention he's a stalwart in the community, and a good guy to boot.) Amid an often ugly offensive performance by Jacksonville on a weekly basis, MJD's been insanely consistent in 2011.

Dude deserves some love.

10. Great Expectations

It's fascinating to see that Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo are two guys everyone agrees find themselves firmly on the hot seat. That's because last year, Morris and Spags were a combined one game away from both being in the playoffs last year.

Morris won 10 games with the surprising Buccaneers and even though Spagnuolo went 7-9, he had a shot at winning the putrid NFC West in the final week of the season.

The 17 total wins for the two teams has created a pretty terrible predicament for the coaches who nearly got them to the postseason though: both guys are looking like strong candidates to be fired after the 2011 season.

Tampa Bay lost its seventh-straight game in horrific fashion on Sunday when Blaine Gabbert and the Jags dropped a 41-14 bomb on the Bucs and the Rams are scheduled to start Tom Brandstater against the Seahawks. That will probably not end well.

The point of all this is that the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me lately business and Spags and Morris have lost lately. A lot.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Packers have now scored 466 points on the season, the second-highest total in NFL history through 13 weeks, behind only the Pats 503 in 2007.
... Drew Brees and Johnny Unitas are the only two quarterbacks in NFL history with 40-straight games with passing touchdowns.
... Rob Gronkowski has the all-time record for touchdown receptions in a single season by a tight end with 15.
... Eli Manning's 400-yard passing performance was the 14th over the season, an NFL record.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF(S) O' THE WEEK

You can see video of KC kicker Ryan Succop executing the worst onsides kick in the history of football right here, but this GIF of the three-yard putt/kick is just mesmerizingly depressing.



And I'm double dipping this week again, as Jabar Gaffney's dive into the seats without being caught is just too much fun to ignore.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Steve Spagnuolo -- Spags really, really needs a win on Monday night against the Seahawks.
  • Raheem Morris -- As noted above, this team won 10 games last year!
  • Todd Haley -- After righting the ship, the Chiefs are back to sinking. This may be related to "starting Tyler Palko" but still, Haley's the coach.
  • Jim Caldwell -- *stares blankly at Colts record*
  • Norv Turner -- Norv's fanning the hell out of his seat, but the Chargers might not have enough games left to make up for the bad start.

Award Worth Discussing of the Week

Aaron Rodgers has retired the MVP watch and the Colts are locked into Andrew Luck so I'm adjusting on the fly. Today's award worth discussing: Coach of the Year.

I find this race fascinating because you have four primary contenders, all with totally different situations.

There's Mike McCarthy of the Packers, who's threatening to run the table with a defending Super Bowl champ. Then there's Jim Harbaugh, who's made the a talented, underachieving 49ers team relevant again and quickly. They're the two favorites.

Then there's the underdogs: John Fox, who continues to win despite Tim Tebow flying under the radar in terms of media attention, and Gary Kubiak, who will not let a quarterback injury kill his season.

If McCarthy goes undefeated it's impossible not to give him the nod because, well, they didn't lose. But if the Packers falter at all, Harbaugh's sheen could fade enough down the stretch (a loss to Pittsburgh and struggles against Seattle and St. Louis maybe?) to let Fox and Kubes make a play for the award.

My vote, provided things play out the way they have so far, is for Fox, since he's winning with less in a way no one ever saw coming, well ahead of when people believed he'd win.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:46 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:48 pm
 

Even if fired, Turner, A.J. Smith should be OK

Turner, SmithBy Josh Katzowitz

As just about everybody here at CBSSports.com has predicted, Chargers coach Norv Turner likely will be fired after this season, and there’s also a pretty decent chance general manager A.J. Smith will get a pink slip in his final paycheck (probably because the season has "snowballed out of control," moreso than most would have thought).

That’s especially true if Chargers owner Dean Spanos wants to go after former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, because there’s a high probability Fisher wouldn’t take the job if Smith is still in the GM chair.

But according to the San Diego Union Tribune, neither Turner nor Smith should fret too much about their job security. That’s because sources tell the paper that both men would be in high demand if and when they’re banished from the Chargers franchise.
 
As reporters Kevin Acee and Andrew Burer write, “League sources have said over the past two weeks that if Turner is fired he will be in high demand as an offensive coordinator and his availability could even prompt teams to drop current coordinators. Smith is also predicted to have multiple opportunities should he be jettisoned. … It is believed Smith will be a candidate when the Oakland Raiders hire a general manager job and also be in line for possible job openings in St. Louis and Miami.”

Turner running out of time
That’s because, even with their failings in San Diego, the two are talented football men. Turner was an offensive coordinator in Dallas in the early 1990s when the Cowboys were one of the top offensive teams in the NFL. Unfortunately for Turner, he was not a good head coaching hire for the Redskins, and though the Chargers have had good seasons in the Turner era, he certainly hasn’t taken the organization to the elite level.

Smith took over the GM role in 2003, and since then, the Chargers have had four seasons of at least 11 wins. But his contract disputes with Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill last year have scarred his reputation, and Turner’s failings have become Smith’s failings as well.

Though Smith still has three years and $6 million left on his current contract, it’s seeming likelier that he won’t be around after this year. As one of Acee’s sources said earlier this month, “The needle [on Smith's possible firing] has moved from 50/50 to 75/25."

And for Turner, that needle is at about 100 percent.




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Posted on: December 8, 2011 7:59 pm
 

Lew Bush, former Chargers LB, dies at 42

Bush is the seventh member of the 1994 San Diego team to die before age 45. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Lew Bush was a linebacker on the 1994 San Diego Chargers, the only team in franchise history to play in the Super Bowl. On Thursday, six days after his 42nd birthday, he died of an apparent heart attack, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Bush is the seventh member of that team to die before the age of 45, and the second this year after defensive lineman Shawn Lee passed away in February of cardiac arrest after a long bout with diabetes. He was 44.

The others to die prematurely include David Griggs, who was killed in a car accident in June 1995 (he was 28); running back Rodney Culver died when his plane crashed in the Florida Everglades (he was 26); Doug Miller died when he was twice struck by lightning in 1998 (he was 28); Curtis Whitley died of a drug overdose in 2008 (he was 39), and Chris Mims died of an enlarged heart that same year (he was 38).

Bush was selected in the fourth round of the 1993 draft out of Washington State. (He was in the same draft class as Doug Miller, who was a seventh-rounder.) He played seven season for the Chargers and had 201 tackles, three sacks and an interception. He spent the final three years of his career with the Chiefs before retiring after the 2002 season.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 2:25 am
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 13

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 13 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman  Cam Matthews Tolbert Coughlin
Judge  Tebow Harrison   Brown  Kubiak
Prisco Rodgers  Houston  Brown  Kubiak
Brinson  Cam Harrison  Brown  Kubiak
Katzowitz  Rice  Smith  Brown Munchak
Wilson  Cam Harrison  Brown  Carroll
Week 13 is a wrap and that means awards time!

Props to rookie quarterback Cam Newton for his first-ever division win, his first-ever NFL winning streak and now, his first-ever Eye on Offense Award!

On defense, we had a tie between Clay Matthews and James Harrison. Since Harrison's picture scares me more (my defacto tiebreaker these days), he got the nod for our Eye on Defense Award. Sorry, Clay.

Antonio Brown, who returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown as the Steelers whipped the Bengals, nearly swept the Eye on Special Teams Award.

And Gary Kubiak provided the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with its first start at quarterback by an alumni in the NFL ... and got the win with rookie T.J. Yates. That's worth something, right?

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Cam Newton Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Newton scored his 13th rushing touchdown this season. He ran for three alone against Tampa Bay on Sunday but did you see how he jumped over the Bucs defense on one of them? It was like a Michael Jordan dunk. It was crazy.

Tim TebowTim Tebow, QB, Broncos
People said he can't throw, so he puts up a passer rating of 149.3. They said the Broncos couldn't win with him, but they're 6-1. Maybe it's time to start looking for what's right with the guy instead of what's wrong ... and what's right is that he has Denver in first in the AFC West.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tony Romo Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
He completed 28 of 46 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants. He also drove the Packers to the game-winning field goal in the final minute. Give him this award every week.
Cam NewtonCam Newton, QB, Panthers
Newton set an NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback on Sunday with his 13th on the season. Three of those came Sunday as Newton had arguably his best game as a pro, also throwing for another score. It was his first win in the division.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Ray RiceRay Rice, RB, Ravens
Remember how we criticized the Ravens for not giving Rice enough touches (and somehow John Harbaugh defending the strategy)? Yeah, this is what happens when Rice gets plenty of opportunities – 204 yards on 29 carries and a TD. Hopefully, Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron have learned their lessons.
Cam Newton Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Not only is Newton the rookie of the year, you could make a good case that he's a top-10 NFL quarterback. Against the Buccaneers, he was 12 of 21 for 201 yards and a touchdown, but he also scored three more times on the ground. Oh, and he hauled in a 27-yard pass, too. This ain't your Jimmy Clausen Carolina Panthers.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Clay MatthewsClay Matthews, LB, Packers
The Packers defense isn't great and it can be had but every week it seems Matthews makes some sort of huge play. He did it again against New York with a pick-six. No, the Packers defense has holes but Matthews continues to make offenses pay.
James Harrison James Harrison, LB, Steelers
He had a team-high three sacks in the Steelers' 35-7 shredding of Cincinnati, keeping Pittsburgh on track with Baltimore in the AFC North. The Steelers' defense was supposed to wear down as the season went on. Instead, it's getting better,  allowing 16 points in its last two starts.
Prisco Brinson
Justin HoustonJustin Houston, LB, Chiefs
This rookie from Georgia had three sacks and spent the day in the Bears backfield. Houston gives the Chiefs another option on the other side from Tamba Hali. Three, zero, zero and three sacks, respectively, in four games.
Clay MatthewsClay Matthews, LB, Packers
For as much as junk as the Packers defense takes for giving up a ton of points, it's important to remember they've got a pile of playmakers -- Matthews proved that with a pick six of Eli Manning that ended up being the difference in the Packers shootout win over the Giants.
Katzowitz Wilson
Aldon Smith Aldon Smith, LB, 49ers
Aside from the fact Smith recorded two sacks against the Rams, his celebration after his final sack was awesome. Instead of dancing like a maniac, he sprinted to the sideline, tried not to touch anybody and just sat on the bench. It was awesome, sort of like Smith’s performance.
James Harrison James Harrison, LB, Steelers
Harrison missed four games in the middle of the season with an eye injury but since returning to the lineup in Week 9 he has six sacks, three coming against a Bengals offensive line that had done a good job of protecting Andy Dalton all season.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Mike TolbertMike Tolbert, RB, Chargers
The play he made on kickoff coverage wasn't the kind of play you will see on highlights across the country but it was damn impressive. Tolbert completely annihilated a kick return by the Jaguars. I mean, it was a textbook, single-handed destruction. And remember: Tolbert is one of the key cogs on offense and he still sacrifices his body like that.
Antonio Brown Antonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
H His 60-yard punt return for a touchdown finished off Cincinnati in a game that was supposed to be closer than it was. One reason it wasn't: Antonio Brown. The guy's been a productive receiver all year, but he pushed the Steelers to their third straight win and seventh in eight games with a nifty punt return. Hey, the more you can do ...
Prisco Brinson
Antonio BrownAntonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
He has emerged as a big-time receiver this season, but he's still a good return man. He had a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 28-7 at the half against the Bengals.
Antonio BrownAntonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
Brown's one of the more underrated all-around performers  in the NFL. A big sleeper coming into his second season, the Pittsburgh wideout's begun blowing up as of late and doing it all over the field -- Sunday he took a punt 60 yards to the house to finish off the Bengals by halftime.
Katzowitz Wilson
Antonio Brown Antonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
Aside from his 45-yard catch that helped set up the Steelers first score, Brown also finished off Cincinnati late in the first half. After the Bengals scored to get some momentum and cut the lead to two touchdowns, Brown took a Kevin Huber punt and returned it 60 yards for the score to give Pittsburgh a 28-7 lead. And that was basically ballgame.
Antonio Brown Antonio Brown, WR/KR, Steelers
Pittsburgh hasn't been known for their coverage or return teams for some time but young players are changing that. Brown is not only an emerging talent at wideout, he's a dangerous return man, too. His 60-yard punt return against the Bengals capped a 28-point second quarter for the Steelers.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Bill BelichickTom Coughlin, HC, Giants
I know, unusual choice, but seeing the Giants against the Packers after they were debacled the previous week, was interesting to see. Coughlin had his team ready and I don't think there's going to be a Giants collapse. For once.

Gary Kubiak Gary Kubiak, HC, Texans
He wins without his top defensive player. He wins without his top offensive player. He wins without his starting QB. Now he wins with a rookie third-string QB, beating Atlanta behind T.J. Yates. Kubiak was supposed to be fighting for his job. Instead, he's jockeying for playoff position.
Prisco Brinson
Gary KubiakGary Kubiak, HC, Texans
Kubiak, after losing both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart to injury, beat the Falcons, who are a good team with rookie T.J. Yates making his first start. That's impressive. 
Gary KubiakGary Kubiak, HC, Texans
The meltdown is supposed to happen, because this is the Texans we're talking about. But no matter who goes down for Kubiak's team, he keeps the ship righted and Houston steered towards the franchise's first playoff berth. A win over would-be contender Atlanta was especially impressive.
Katzowitz Wilson
Jim Schwartz Mike Munchak, HC, Titans
Tennessee went to Buffalo and beat the fading Bills, and if you wanted to know why, you could point to Chris Johnson’s 23-carry, 153-yard, two-touchdown performance. But considering Johnson has had about two strong games this year and yet, the Titans are 7-5 and in the AFC wild card race, Munchak deserves plenty of credit.
Hue Jackson Pete Carroll, HC, Seahawks
Beating the Eagles in Week 13 doesn't carry quite the cachet as doing it earlier in the season but the Seahawks are one of the league's most improved teams over the last month. They steamrolled Philly last Thursday and if the 49ers hadn't run away with NFC West, Seattle might be in the running for another 7-9 division title.



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