Okay, before you Patriots fans get your panties in a bunch, let me begin by saying that the Patriots were the better team in Week 2. Tom Brady showed that he has no peer in the NFL at the quarterback position. Coach Belichick also proved that he is an outstanding game planner and has his offense running like a finely tuned machine. Okay?
Now, let's get down to what the Chargers did this week that helped the Patriots walk away with a convincing 35-21 victory. Like it or not, I believe the Chargers deserve as much blame for this loss as the Patriots deserve credit.
After watching this week's game, I must say that I am really looking forward to next season's cast for Saturday Night Live. Philip Rivers and the Chargers proved that they are certainly "Not Ready For Prime Time Players."
Why do I have a picture of the Patriots punter here? Well, quite frankly, it's because I couldn't find a picture from today's game that had anyone from the Chargers' special team unit.
Actually, that makes sense. There isn't much to say about the special teams play today, and that's a good thing. Last year, and even last week, I would often have terrible stories to tell about the Chargers' special teams performance.
This week, there is very little to discuss. Chargers punter, Mike Scifres, possibly the player of the game last week against the Vikings, only got to kick one punt and hold for a few extra points.
Newly acquired kicker, Nick Novak had a nice game I guess. He was asked to kick three extra points and he did make them all. He didn't get a chance to kick a field goal as the Chargers either scored a touchdown or turned the ball over on almost every possession.
One negative was Novak's first kickoff. He layed into a kick from his own 35 and it landed at the New England 20 and was returned to the Patriots' 37-yard line. What was that?
Other than that, I recall Goodman not doing anything special returning kicks and Walters made another bad decision by not fair catching a punt when a Patriot was basically inside his own uniform. After two weeks of punt returning for the Chargers, it is obvious that Walters needs to work on his judgement.
Philip Rivers did nothing today to back up the argument that he is at the elite level where Tom Brady plays. Don't get me wrong, I really like Rivers and I think he is a very good quarterback. BUT, the simple fact is that two of his worst games in the last two years were against the Patriots. He makes bad decisions, lacks accuracy at times and fails to find ways to get the ball in the end zone as often as his counterpart.
Yes, Rivers threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns. That is nice, but he also threw for two interceptions. The first pick was a miraculous catch by the Patriots' pleasantly plump defensive tackle, Vince Wilfork. Somehow, Wilfork stuck out his big paw and batted the ball out of the air and caught it like a cat would knock a bird out of the air.
Rivers' second pick came shortly after when he attempted to throw a 15-yard out pattern with nothing but his arm. There was pressure in the pocket which kept Rivers from being able to step into his throw. Instead of checking down, or even taking the sack, Rivers decided he arm was strong enough to throw the out. It wasn't.
Malcom Floyd had a great start to the game with two big first-down catches flying high over the defender. Then he proved that his talented hands are attached to his brittle body. He hurt his groin and was out for the game. The sad thing about that play was it came minutes after this conversation between my daughter and I:
My daughter: "I just love Malcom Floyd!"
Me: "He's talented, but he gets hurt too often."
Well there you go.
Vincent Jackson had an outstanding day. He ended up with 10 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. That will do! Hopefully, Chargers GM A.J. Smith was watching this game.
Finally, for the second week in a row, dump passes and swing passes to Tolbert and Matthews were quite effective and I think we can expect to see many more passes just like those in the future. At least I hope so.
Ryan Matthews was very effective today with 64 yards on just 12 carries. Personally, I thought the Chargers went away from the run too early, and should have given Matthews a chance to show what he can do carrying a heavy load.
Mike Tolbert was outgained on the ground by Philip Rivers. That's right, Philip Rivers. To add insult to injury, Tolbert also tried to do his best Walter Payton impression by plunging the line, stopping, backing up and trying to run around the end. In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, Surprise!" he fumbled the ball! Will someone tell Tolbert he is more like Larry Czonka than Walter Payton please?
The biggest game-changing play was when the Chargers had the ball at the Patriots' half-yard line on fourth down. "Offensive genius" Norv Turner decides to stretch out the play and run around the Chargers' right tackle, hence losing a yard, the ball and all the momentum.
Tom Brady: 31-40 for 423 yards, three touch downs, zero picks and a 135.7 QB rating...nuff said?
Well, let's just say that with the exception of a few plays where the Chargers DBs had tight coverage, I think I was closer to New England receivers than some of the Chargers. By the way, I live 3,000 miles away from Foxboro.
There were also some plays where Brady got pressured and even two occasions when he got sacked. The problem was that on even more occasions, Brady had time to text his super model wife, teach Ochocinco a couple of plays and then look for open receivers to hit.
Brady further proved his Superman status by surviving a nasty blow to the knee by 300-plus pounder, Antonio Garay.
Overall, I was fine with the Chargers' run defense. New England didn't break the century mark, gaining 94 yards on 25 carries. Not a shutdown effort by the Bolts D, but a decent job considering the emphasis was trying to stop the pass this week.
The Chargers did give up a late touchdown run to BenJarvus Green-Ellis that officially nailed the Chargers' coffin shut. But let's face it, if he doesn't get in the end zone, the Pats kick a field goal and go up by two scores anyway.
All week long, Patriots coach, Bill Belichick sung the praises of Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner. Personally, I believe that is because he knows that the longer Turner leads the Bolts, the longer the Pats continue their dominance over them.
Norv continued to show that he is much better at making adjustments after the halftime break than he is preparing a game plan during the week prior to a game.
Just like last week against he Vikings, the Chargers struggled in the first half and only managed to get seven points on the board, despite moving into Patriots territory on every drive.
I could get into the defensive coordinator and discuss his inability to get pressure on Brady for much of the game, but I won't. At least not yet. The way I see it, the Chargers have a new DC and several new defensive players. It will take them some time to get on the same page. I won't give this pass forever, but I could see not expecting too much until after their Week 6 bye. By then, the Chargers should be 4-1, or at the worst 3-2 and be ready to take on some tougher foes.
As for Norv, you can put away the pitch forks and torches. He's not going anywhere this year. However, no playoffs appearance equals no job. No playoff victories should also equal no job. Time will tell.
The Chargers injuries were not career ending, but they did have a large impact on today's game.
Malcom Floyd went out early after tweaking a groin.
Mike Tolbert was limping around on what appeared to be a sprained ankle.
Antonio Gates was completely shut down which tells me that his plantar fasciitis was acting up again.
Shawn Phillips was also hobbled at times with a bad wheel.
The worst injury that I noticed was to the pride of quarterback Philip Rivers. Don't be fooled by the total passing yards or even his 12 yards rushing. Rivers threw two picks, fumbled once and missed several open receivers, especially in the opening drive when it looked like the Chargers were destined to get at least three points, if not seven.
Despite a poor performance against the Patriots, I think you can bet the farm that the Chargers bounce back next week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs fell to 0-2 and scored a total of three points for the second consecutive week. They also lost another key player for the season (Jamal Charles). It's been a tough year for the Chiefs in the injury department. I hear that team doctors, Hawkeye Pierce and B.J. Honeycutt will be taking the flight out to San Diego for this one.
This is one game where I think the Chargers are better in all phases of the game...EVEN COACHING!
Now, I don't think that the Chiefs will be held to three points in Week 3, but I do think that they will be unable to keep up with the Chargers offense, especially on the road.
I look for Rivers to bounce back and for the Chargers defense to load "the box" and force Matt Cassell to beat them. I like the Chargers' chances if the hopes and dreams of the Chiefs are on Matt Cassell.
Prediction: Chiefs 13 Chargers 38
Thanks for reading and enjoy Week 3!