Join Date: Mar 2007
Okay, so a couple notes from the game last night...
There was some improvement I felt by the team in terms of holding back on committing penalties. Yes, there were still a bunch of penalties, and a lot of them on key drives and plays, but overall I think we did better and limited our mistakes in the penalty department. In terms of "nerves" we looked much better this week. There were no fumbles and we had zero turnovers which was excellent, showing a lot of that first game stuff was probably just shaking the cobwebs off. Also, the communication amongst the players, for the most part seemed much improved. The sacks let up against Rivers, were because he had tripped, and because Olivea messed up on Little, so I can live with only one earned sack. In terms of playcalling, we saw them get a little more creative on defense then they did with the Seahawks last week, which was a good sign, they let Phillips do what he does best, and it worked really well. On offense, the playcalling was a bit predictable at times still, but it seemed to work fine, we moved the ball well throughout the game. On a last note, we also saw some fire in Turner for those who said he may be "too nice" to coach effectively, he really ripped into the offense when Volek was forced to call that timeout.
Philip Rivers had another solid, typical performance, which is what we can expect of him now. The touch on his passes is good and it puts his receivers it situations where only they can catch it. Even some of his incompletions, like his early ball to Davis on the first play of the game, was in a situation where only Davis could have come down with it. That benefitted him when he put nice touch on the balls he threw to Gates, and to Vincent Jackson on his touchdown. He seems to be able to make smart reads, and is consistently taking what the defense gives him, which is why all his passes are so much shorter then other QB's who would like to air it out more. He also did a good job sensing pressure. On one play, McNeill had gotten beat to Rivers' blindside, but he still managed to sense the pressure without neccesarily seeing it, and threw that ball where Gates made the nice catch. The only thing we still saw that can be a problem is, although I thought his mobility in the pocket looked nice on that one play, he tripped on the screen play, and couldn't evade the Olivea sack. Other then that though...good work. Volek started out a little slower, but I thought looked like a good backup still. He overthrew a wide open Chandler on what could have been a big play, but came back and then threw an impressive looking dig to Malcom Floyd, that had a ton of zip on the ball. He also held the ball with two hands this time when he got sacked, which he didn't do last week and it resulted in a fumble. To top things off, he threw a nice touchdown to a wide open Chandler in the endzone. Whitehurst didn't get much passing work, but he did throw a hell of a pass on his first play out there that was completed for over 20 yards. The thing I saw though on his pass to Camarillo was that he may stare down his target a little too much. However, he's just a second year player, and Rivers still does that at times, so we'll see how he works that out.
Michael Turner looked amazing out there, and absolutely tore things up. Granted the Rams' run defense is very weak, but he still did it against a starting defense, which was impressive. He made on read on a zoneblocking play, where the O-Line got good push, and made a very nice cutback into a hole, then ran through an arm tackle for a good amount of yards. That's what it came down to for Turner; He ran hard, found the holes, and broke plenty of arm-tackles in a really good performance. Darren Sproles was looking to be more incorporated in the screen game, but the plays weren't always set up for him, which hurt his effectiveness in the game as a running back. When he did get the ball however, he certainly looked comfortable with the ball in his hands. Obviously though, his biggest play came on the 80 yard punt return, which seals his spot on this team, in my opinion. Tyrone Gross, unfortunately was injured in the game. I haven't heard any news on this, but I really hope its not serious and he can still play. I don't know if he would have made the roster, but you can tell by the way his teammates surrounded him out there when he was injured he was a popular guy in the locker room, and a serious hard worker. When he was out there though he looked very impressive. He reminded me of a combination of Turner and Sproles. He had Sproles sense of balance and toughness in staying up, which he needs because he is not as big as Turner, but he was also able to run though many tackles like Turner had done. It was a shame he got hurt. One improvement he would need to make though is in the pass-blocking game as a RB. Germaine Race, who came in for him, looked very good on some of his runs, but I have a hard time seeing him making the roster this year. Lorenzo Neal, as always made crushing blocks that set up big runs for us. He's so valuable to this team. Andrew Pinnock, I still do not want to see on this team. He, in my opinion showed no reason we should keep him. He dropped a ball, was only able to get about two yards every carry, and where he should have shined on the goal line, he was stood up twice, and couldn't do anything special really.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Vincent Jackson had a better game as a receiver, actually a good game, then he had last week. The first thing of note is that his down the field blocking is great. There was one play, where if MT breaks one more tackles, VJ's block gives the touchdown. His touchdown catch showed great possession and he caught the ball with his hands extended, which was very good. What he also did well, was make first down catches. Rivers seemed to feel more confident in going to Jackon on 3rd and 4-7 then he did the other receivers, except Gates, obviously. The only problem was his penalties. He had a false start and an illegal motion, which was discouraging. Craig Davis is continuing to be worked into the game by San Diego and the coaching staff. He was targeted on the first play, and targeted on some short out patterns towards the sidelines. It looks like they are using him to stretch the field, as two of Rivers' "Deep Balls" were aimed in his direction. He looks solid for a rookie out there. Malcom Floyd looked shaky early on, and didn't really improve all that much until the second team went in. However, when they did go in, Floyd looked really solid, which might mean it was just that he needed time to get loosened up. He also had a false start though, and tripped on a ball he could have caught. Kassim Osgood dropped a pass, and bobbled another that he ended up hanging on to. It's not concerning because he is on the team for special teams though. Greg Camarillo had a pretty nice catch on a comeback pass from Whitehurst, but didn't stand out very much. Legedu Naanee didn't do anything really this game and was much more impressive last weak, as were all the rookies. Antonio Gates is a stud. There's not much more to say on him, he made a bunch of good plays and is always there to bail Rivers out if need be. Manumaleuna is mainly a blocker, and looked good when he had to do that, keeping the pressure off of Rivers, but he made a very aware play early on when he ran out of the backfield to pick up an early first down on 3rd and 7. Scott Chandler was robbed of a nice pattern when Volek overthrew him, but he still had a very good game. He looks sure handed, and made a touchdown grab late in the game. The only thing that upset me was he ran a short pattern and failed to pick up a first down on third and six. The pattern could have been run deeper, but he did look to use the stiff arm right away, which was nice.
Overall the offensive line played pretty well, much better then they did last week when they were really a big disappointment. They got good push on almost all the run plays, it was only a couple where was a defender who got through. On one run play Hardwick got knocked back with a defender who almost blew the play up big time in the backfield, but Turner managed to pull through it. Marcus McNeill played well at times, but he doesn't look like he's quite the same blocker he was last year, and least towards the end. He's still good, but on one play Rivers was forced to adjust because his bad leverage let the rusher run around him too much, and he flat out whiffed on a block down by the goal line, which you can't have, especially down there. Olivea played decent, as did all the line, but he got beat by Little, who although is a good pass rusher, must be kept at bay. He let up a sack with only three rushers which is unacceptable. Mrcuzowski also let up an ugly sack on Volek, but the blame has to be shared with Gross who did nothing to stop the defender after he got by the first level. Towards the end of the game, some of the second and third stringers were getting good push for Gross and Race, which was good to see out of the backups.
Early on, there was very little penetration out of the big three. That is to be expected, because for the most part they are getting double and triple teamed, but a lot of the times they were being knocked down which is concerning. Jamal, Igor, and Castillo all held their ground better as the game went on, but early on they were being pushed a little bit, which, when you have inexperienced linebackers, let the offense get way to much running room, and really hurt us when Leonard was running all over us early on. The backups I thought looked pretty good. Brandon McKinney got some really nice penetration on one of his early pass plays he was in on, and that could be big. Bingham, and even Louis Leonard all looked impressive. If the injury bug bites the D-Line again, we have some decent guys to sub in.
This continues to be an area of concern for me. Hopefully, Matt Wilhelm will be able to play, and well, so that erases some of my concerns. Cooper overall played well. He got caught up by a blocker on one play, but not nearly as much as some of the other guys. He made a real nice play on a loop around blitz, and looks very good in attacking the line of scrimmage and taking on blocks so others can flock to the ball. At times he looked a little outmatched in coverage but also showed a good knack for it when he knocked down a pass intended for a receiver, that otherwise could have been caught. Tim Dobbins was still starting, but I was disappointed in him again. A lot of the times he is still out of position, ducking the wrong way, or getting blocked too far downfield. He's continually over or under pursuing which opens up big cutback lanes for the runners, that they took advantage of. There was also one play, on a fullback pass to the flat, that he completely blew the tackle on, but was bailed out by a corner. He did have one really great play, where he took on a block and tackle the back at the line of scrimmage, but that was about all the good out of him, he looked overmatched in coverage by even some second team guys. Roach and Siler, some more young guys, had problems similar to Dobbins, where they got hesitant and caught off the ball too often. Siler did look decent though on some of his plays, and you can see a little bit of potential in him. Anthony Waters did not play, I guess because of the right knee injury he had last week, hopefuly he gets back out there. Shawne Merriman made a nice play on a counter, and was in position for the fumble recovery, but didn't rush as well as Phillips did. This could be attributed to him not trying to be injured in preseason, or going against some more attention from the blockers, but his rush wasn't as impressive. Shaun Phillips on the other hand might have had the best game of any defender. He was constantly getting pressure when he was in there, and also hustled well to force a fumble on a receiver who had been stood up. He made great use of the strip technique both on the pass rush, and on that fumble he forced. Carlos Polk and Antwaan Applewhite both did nothing that great to stand out. Polk I know is a solid backup, Applewhite I didn't see enough of to make a statement on anything really out there.
The key battle start with Hart vs. Weddle, and I think Clinton Hart won the battle today out there. Hart blew up a draw play that he read early on very well, and also was in position to bail out Drayton Florence, who got absolutely burnt on what could have been a touchdown. He got a nice looking interception on that play as well. Quentin Jammer looked pretty good in coverage, but what concerned me was that he missed two tackles, one on Leonard and one going into the half, which is something that he usually is able to make. I'm not worried yet though, when it comes to that out of him. Drayton Florence on the other hand, didn't look as promising. He had a couple penalties, one offsides, and another holding call that gave the Rams' momentum back on their drives when they appeared to be stalling. He also lost to Holt on a number of routes, and got bailed out big time by Hart on that interception. Overall, whereas last week he looked very strong, this week he really struggled. Antonio Cromartie, I still feel, didn't do much better however. He was soft in coverage almost all game long, letting receivers do to much on him, especially on some situations where it mattered a lot. There was one play on Drew Bennett where he stuffed him on a 3rd and short situation, but aside from that play he was soft where he should have been more on top of the receivers. Not a very convicing performance in my opinion. Marlon McCree did not stand out at all really, good or bad, which is improving form last week where he looked very weak on the touchdown he was beat on. Eric Weddle took a step back from where he was at least week. While he still looks great, amazing even in run support and reading the draw play, it hurts him in pass coverage. It's not that Weddle can't cover, but he struggled in reading the play action, on some fake draws, and being able to pick up on receivers routes. There was a third and 17 early on where Weddle was caught out of position for a 25 yard pass play, which is unacceptable. He's got a great motor, but it's more of his ability to react to the pass, not neccesarily cover it that he needs to work on. Hart beat him today. Jue looked poor in coverage on the play where Bennett was injured. He was way to far away and although he made the tackle, both him and Weddle share the blame for letting up that pass play. Cletis Gordon still looked poor out there, although, he did at times play well. There was good and bad, he was burnt bad on one play but lucked out from a tripped receiver, and also dropped an interception. He did however get to the ball well on a play where the receiver caught it, and got an interception. He looked better then Oliver out there. Paul Oliver had one good play in coverage where he was all over the receiver, but he also let up a third down conversion and a touchdown when he should have been in coverage. More then anything it was his failure to recognize the route and lack of agility that forced him to let up the touchdown. Gordon looked better out there, though not by all that much.
Mike Scifres had a bunch of really good punts, like he always does, but his biggest mistkae was his hold on the Kaeding field goal, where he forced a ground ball kick by Kaeding. Osgood managed to get down the field and down the ball within the ten, which was huge for us. Obviously, Darren Sproles touchdown return was a big play we had in the ST department, and Kaeding kicked decently on his kickoffs, typically getting it in the 2-5 yard line area. A little more leg strength would be nice, but I'll settle for that consistently. There was good coverage, aside from the first kickoff return for St. Louis.
Okay, that took a while.