San Diego Chargers Dominate the Tennessee Titans: 5 Observations
I made a few observations in this game that are completely fixable.
Norv Turner's play-calling has been spectacular over the first two weeks. He's showing a lot more patience and it's paying off.
This isn't last season's squad that had holes springing up all over the place. The Chargers look like they are ready to make their return to the playoffs as long as they can continue to limit turnovers.
The Jackie Battle Signing Now Makes Sense
I was beside myself when the Chargers went out and signed Jackie Battle. I thought it was a waste of time. This big slow guy, bumbling and stumbling along the way, is another Mike Tolbert.
At least, that's what I thought.
Unlike Curtis Brinkley, Battle took the handoff and thundered into the line and really blew away the exhausted Tennessee defenders. He rumbled for 69 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Those are Ryan Mathews-type numbers.
The Chargers offense can take it to the next level if the rushing attack holds up its end of the bargain.
Curtis Brinkley Makes Too Many Cutbacks
When Brinkley decided to cut it back when he caught a short pass with no one in front of him, I knew it had gotten ridiculous.
Last week, Turner said that the line was blocking fine at times, but the running backs were making bad reads. Remembering that, I immediately yelled, "Run straight, Brinks!"
At one point, the announcers made a point to say that the play appeared to be designed to go inside, but Brinkley broke it wide and gained six yards. Unfortunately, left tackle Mike Harris wasn't expecting an elusiveness-free Barry Sanders impression and held the defender when he looked over and saw Brinkley in a spot he had no business being in.
Brinkley needs to do a better job of trusting his teammates to do their job. From what I saw, there was only one running play where Brinkley didn't make a sharp cut and it was his only good run of the day: a 12-yard gain.
After watching Ryan Mathews roll last season, it's easy to see why Brinkley is emulating his running style.
Like Turner told Mathews last season, Brinkley needs to stop making so many cuts and just go!
The Chargers Dodged a Bullet for the Second Straight Week
The Chargers fumbled the ball three times against the Titans, but didn't lose any of them. Couple that with Rivers' up-for-grabs interception, and it's fortunate for the Chargers that they didn't turn the ball over more than once.
Besides the wild heave for Malcom Floyd that was picked off, Rivers had a couple of unnecessary fumbles. The Titans had clearly won those battles. Instead of Rivers diving on the ground and protecting the ball, he tried to make a play where there was none and it was nearly a disaster.
Against the better teams in the league, the Chargers can't expect to get away with that type of sloppiness.
I can't say it enough. If the Chargers don't turn over the ball, there are hardly any teams that can compete with the Bolts.
The Bolts Have Too Many Weapons
The Titans had Brinkley's number, so the Chargers countered with Battle. They hemmed up Robert Meachem, so the Chargers countered with Malcom Floyd. When the Titans least expected it, the Bolts attacked with lesser-known guys like Dante Rosario and Ladarius Green.
The Chargers had eight players catch passes and five players run the ball (including Rivers).
The Chargers went to the well on the Titans. When you have as many capable guys as the Bolts, it's going to be extremely difficult for even the elite teams to match up with them.
Scat Backs Have Not Chance Against the Bolts
The Chargers have faced two great but small running backs in the Oakland Raiders' Darren McFadden and the Titans' Chris Johnson. They've combined for 49 yards on 23 carries, barely cracking two yards per carry.
Small, elusive backs have not been the Chargers' problem, however.
The defense finally gets a test against a big back next week with Michael Turner the Burner.
The former Charger is about 245 pounds and one of the most difficult runners to tackle in the NFL. He'll give the Chargers a different challenge after physically dominating little guys for the last six-and-a-half quarters.
They'll have to buckle up their chin straps and get even more physical.
If they go out and stuff The Burner, the Bolt may definitely be back in San Diego.