San Diego Chargers Vs Seattle Seahawks: 10 Things to Watch For
Sunday is fast approaching, and that means another San Diego Chargers' game is just around the corner.
There was a lot to like about the Chargers last Sunday at their home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were dominant on both sides of the ball, and came away with an extremely one-sided victory.
This week, the Chargers travel to Seattle to take on the 1-1 Seahawks, who suffered an equally painful game last week against Denver, losing 31-14.
Here are ten things for Bolts fans to watch as the Chargers look to develop early season momentum in the face of a team that is out for redemption.
1. The Qwest Field Advantage
As mentioned before, the Seattle Seahawks are 1-1 and have come off quite a beating at INVESCO Field against the Denver Broncos.
But what about the other game?
The other game, their home opener, was a 31-6 beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers, at team who matched defending the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints point for point on Monday night.
What is to say that the Seattle Seahawks won't be fired up by their home crowd and run away with this game like they did against San Francisco?
It will be up to the San Diego Chargers to silence the crowd early and keep them out of the game.
2. Out For Redemption
No team likes to suffer through embarrassing defeats like the Seattle Seahawks suffered last week.
Just look at the Chargers. After flopping in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chargers bounced back with a Super Bowl-worthy performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Seahawks will be out for blood on Sunday afternoon, so it will be up to the Chargers to continue to play stellar defense like they did against Jacksonville, and complement that with a better game from Philip Rivers.
3. Mike Tolbert
There has always been a part of me that has wanted to see Mike Tolbert start a game as the featured back.
It appears that desire will finally be satisfied on Sunday.
The news is more or less official that the San Diego Chargers will limit or hold out rookie Ryan Mathews after he suffered a mild high ankle sprain last Sunday.
His replacement? Mike Tolbert.
Tolbert is a very exciting player, considering his unique combination of size and speed that cause many to liken him to a bowling ball.
Expect Tolbert to pound his way through the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Don't go so far as to expect a 100+ yard, considering how stout the Seahawks' rushing defense appears this season, but he should make some great plays, most of which should include him leveling a defender or two.
4. Antoine Cason
Antoine Cason set a pretty high standard against which the rest of his season will be judged last Sunday.
Cason had two interceptions and one forced fumble against the Jacksonville Jaguars, numbers akin to a Pro Bowl level cornerback.
This week, Cason finds himself up against a passing offense that, despite talent at wide receiver, is having a tough time asserting their dominance.
If the Chargers can crank up the heat on Matt Hasselbeck like they did against David Garrard last week, Cason could be in position to have another big game.
5. Legedu Naanee
After a stellar preseason performance and a great opening performance in Kansas City, Legedu Naanee seems to have been forgotten.
This week, though, should be different for two reasons.
The first reason, the more unfortunate of the two, is that Malcom Floyd has been nursing a hamstring injury all week. Should he play, he may be less effective than he has been so far. This should make Legedu Naanee the first or second target for Philip Rivers.
The second reason, and this really applies to all of the wide receivers, is that the Seahawks are really struggling with their pass defense. They have generated three sacks in two games, yet they still rank 26th in the league in defending the pass.
Sunday could be a breakout day for Naanee.
6. The San Diego Chargers' Pass Rush
Remember this guy? His name is Shawne Merriman, in case his lack of production has caused him to slip from your mind.
He will be playing against an offense line that, despite being constantly shuffled around this season, has only given up two sacks. This is the proving ground that he needs.
With Jyles Tucker likely out against the Seahawks, the burden of generating pass rush will lie with Shawne Merriman and Larry English.
Shaun Phillips will surely be the outside linebacker that draws extra coverage, if he can, so it will be up to those two to capitalize on that.
This is especially important, because Shawne Merriman needs to recover his game, or he will find himself on the street at the end of the season.
7. James Holt and Brandon Lang
While Stephen Cooper continues to nurse a knee injury, the rest of the inside linebackers suddenly find themselves one more spot up on the depth chart, leaving Kevin Burnett and Brandon Siler in the starting roles for the second week in a row.
The question here is not about their ability to play, as both are more than competent players.
The question is about the backups.
Right now, the San Diego Chargers indicate on their depth chart that, in the event of an injury to Stephen Cooper, Brandon Lang, the rookie out of Troy, will be the one to step up into the backup role.
Lang was a fan favorite in the preseason, and could get some quality playing time on Sunday should Ron Rivera feel the need to rotate his inside linebackers.
Along this same vein, ILB James Holt could see some action outside of special teams, depending on whether or not the coaches feel he is ready for prime time action yet.
8. The Screen Pass
There was a time where the Chargers' deadliest weapon was the screen pass to Darren Sproles.
Somehow, though, San Diego has gotten away from that.
While it does have something to do with the way teams are scheming against that, the Chargers cannot completely abandon the strategy.
Whether the ball goes to Darren Sproles, Mike Tolbert, or Legedu Naanee (on the rare wide receiver screen), it doesn't matter, as long as the Chargers try to resurrect this valuable offensive strategy.
9. The Safeties
While Antoine Cason grabbed the spotlight last week, the safeties were silently putting together another great performance.
Eric Weddle and Steve Gregory have proved to be a dynamic duo in the backfield, racking up 26 tackles and half of a sack between the two in the first two games.
Steve Gregory plays very well up on the line against the run, and should continue to help a surprisingly effective Chargers run defense this Sunday, while Eric Weddle continues to play solid coverage in the backfield.
10. The Numbers
This season seems to be marked so far by huge number performances, such as Matt Schaub's 497 yards and three touchdowns against Washington, or Arian Foster's 231 yards and three touchdowns against Indianapolis.
This week seems like a week for the Chargers to put up some high numbers. They face a team that currently ranks towards the bottom in almost all offensive and defensive categories. They haven't gotten to opposing quarterbacks often, and have only managed four turnovers in two games.
It would be a good idea to keep your eyes on Philip Rivers and Mike Tolbert on Sunday. They could surprise you with some big numbers.