San Diego Chargers Vs Kansas City Chiefs: 10 Grades Of The Bolts' Performance
The San Diego Chargers 2010 regular season didn't start off the way they had anticipated after a difficult loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on a wet and loud Monday night game at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chargers were looking to start their 2010 campaign on a positive note, however they found themselves walking of the field soaked and with a big one in the loss column, wondering if they were headed for another typical Norv Turner slow start.
Let's take a look at the report card of the Chargers performance from Monday night's game.
Philip Rivers has played in front of the hostile Arrowhead Stadium crowd numerous times before. During the cold winter months and the temperature near freezing, but he was served up with a dose of the unexpected when the rain started coming down Monday night.
There were times during the game, especially when Rivers couldn't get the snap from center Nick Hardwick resulting in Rivers using a timeout or incurring a delay of game penalty, or his receivers were dropping catches or missing routes that the Chargers quarterback could be seen acting like a prepubescent teen not getting his way.
Rivers has always been known by his teammates as a fierce competitor. He goes out to play and win. He's is the Chargers leader.
However, his actions on Monday night showed the contrary. While I will always applaud his competitive nature and desire to win, a leader of a football team needs to keep his head cool especially in the face of adversity. Don't get me wrong telling some of your teammates to get their heads out of you know where when the game is on the line may be called for, but some of his antics were just down right childish.
Philip Rivers is a great quarterback and it shows by the way he can lead his team down the field when it's not pouring rain. He did throw for 298 yards and two touchdowns. I think that those numbers may have been higher had it not been raining for half the game though.
Running Backs, B-
Ryan Mathews got his first taste of what it is like to play in front of a nationally televised crowd, and in the loudest stadium in the NFL.
After having an impressive preseason, Mathews wasn't one to disappoint.
He continued his hard hitting, running up the middle, bouncing off tackles, and motoring until he was on the turf types of plays that made most every Chargers fan forget whatever his face was that went to the East Coast and had a lame New York Jets tattoo inked on leg.
However, Mathews did make one big rookie mistake that helped keep the momentum going in favor of the Chiefs and that is to hold on to the ball. I'm going to attribute that fumble in the second quarter to nothing more than rookie butterflies, but you can probably guarantee that probably won't happen again. Especially from someone with Mathews work ethic.
I forsee a bright future for Ryan Mathews as a San Diego Charger, now all we need is an offensive line that can open up holes for him to run through.
Wide Receivers, B+
Monday Night Football commentators Brad Nessler and Trent Dilfer had made comments on the current situation of holdout wide receiver Vincent Jackson, how the Chargers could have used the services of their Pro Bowl wideout.
I couldn't have disagreed with them more.
Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee proved that the Chargers can make big plays during the regular season without Vincent Jackson.
Floyd and Naanee had a few drops and missed a couple passes from Philip Rivers, but I would blame that more on the weather and field conditions at Arrowhead Stadium rather than on the athleticism of the Chargers number one and two receivers.
Buster Davis finally showed us the talent he posses, too bad it took four seasons for us to finally catch a glimpse of it.
Tight Ends, A-
The San Diego Chargers have the most dangerous tight end in the National Football League.
Gates, is a versatile player, and has the ability to make huge plays. Just as he did on Monday night.
Philip Rivers found Gates in the end-zone for the Chargers first score of the game.
With the Chargers advancing the ball late in the fourth quarter, Gates was drawing double coverage, and the Chiefs secondary was making sure they were jamming him at the line of scrimmage. The last thing the Chiefs defense wanted to do was give up another touchdown (the potential game-tying touchdown) to Philip Rivers' favorite target.
Gates wasn't the only tight end that saw some action on Monday night.
Randy McMichael also got involved in the passing game, giving defenses a look at what could potentially become a stellar two tight end combination.
Offensive Line, B-
Once again, and probably all season (or until Marcus McNeill decides to end his holdout) was the focus on left tackle Brandyn Dombrowski.
Dombrowski showed he was up to challenge of replacing McNeill in the preseason after facing off against tough pass rushers in the likes of Julius Peppers, and DeMarcus Ware in consecutive weeks.
Monday night brought forth a completely different situation.
Dombrowski would be fending off the Chiefs monster of a defensive end Glenn Dorsey and trying to stay focused with the deafening roar of Arrowhead Stadium in the background. In the end, Dombrowski proved to fans once again he can handle protecting Philip Rivers blindside.
The Chargers offensive line did an o.k. job of creating a stable pocket and giving Philip Rivers plenty of time to get the ball down field, however there were a few instances when protection broke down and Rivers found himself scrambling in order to avoid getting sacked.
Where the Chargers offensive line really struggled was in creating holes and gaps for their running backs to run throw. Too many times was the rushing offense stuffed at the line of scrimmage or held to a short gain because of the lack of creating those holes.
What good is it to have solid running backs in Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, if they can get passed their own lineman.
Defensive Line, C+
The Chargers defensive line was not bad, but it sure heck wasn't good either.
The front three were having a difficult time getting penetration past the Chiefs offensive line, and a Chargers team known for being tough against the run allowed Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles to rush for a 56-yard touchdown on his way to racking up 98 yards on the night.
It might be time for Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to consider inserting fifth-round draft pick Cam Thomas at the nose tackle position or start taking some steps to improve the defense more, otherwise this will be one long season for the San Diego Chargers.
I'm going to keep this one short, simple and sweet.
Where is Shawne Merriman?
He didn't play in a single preseason game, and now has missed the first game of the season. All because of a nagging Achilles' tendon injury.
The San Diego Chargers need Shawne Merriman back. The defense needs that spark of intensity that only Shawne Merriman seems to be able to provide.
Nothing but good things to say about the Chargers secondary, only because they were actually making big plays, but not for a good reason.
The Chargers defensive line, and linebackers were having a hard time containing the run, and the secondary was having to make the tackles in order to prevent the Chiefs ground attack from running the score up more than it already was.
Chargers defensive back Antoine Cason, had a very impressive game for his start in over a year. I look forward to seeing more for this young and talented player.
With the being said the Chargers secondary held the Chiefs to 68 yards passing all night.
Special Teams, D
Special teams just didn't seem to have it together on Monday night.
Plain and simple!
I was going to give them an F, but as I was going through the highlight reels the one good thing that came from the special teams was Chargers punter Mike Scifres making a spectacular tackle to save a touchdown, so I realized there was something actually worth giving them a grade that wasn't completely failing.
Hopefully, the Chargers special teams will have get their act together for the home opener at Qualcomm Stadium this coming Sunday, or else we are going to have problems.
Next Game: Jacksonville Jaguars, B
The San Diego Chargers welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday for their regular season home opener.
The Jaguars are coming off an impressive weather-delayed home opener against the Denver Broncos last Sunday and are looking to improve their record to 2-0, while the Chargers are looking to get out of the stigma that has been part of the Norv Turner, of starting slow and finishing strong.
Granted, starting strong and finishing slow isn't what Chargers fans have in mind either. Something that Broncos fans know all too well.
Sunday's game will be interesting, and somewhat of a homecoming for former Chargers special teams playmaker Kassim Osgood. Osgood scored the go ahead touchdown for the Jaguars in Jacksonville's win against the Broncos, and you can bet Osgood will be looking to make big plays against his former employers.
My prediction: San Diego 28, Jacksonville 24