Bears At Chargers Post-Game Impressions

The Chargers won a slugfest on Sunday in a game that feature two of the NFL's elite defenses. Not the easiest game to watch, the Bolts nonetheless came away with a victory. There were a number of players that caught my eye and I'd like to share my impressions of their performances in my post-game thoughts and impressions. Click on to read part one of two.

Eric Weddle continues to impress. While only credited with one sack, Weddell had two sacks in my eyes. He is a game changer and its only a matter of time before he starts opposite Marlon McCree on the base defense. Ted Cottrell and Ron Rivera are dialing up safety blitzes left and right and it’s a pleasure to watch. Using the defensive backs to blitz was something I would have loved Wade Phillips to do, and I called for them often last year. This is just another clear difference in philosophy that the defense under Cottrell/Rivera has versus the old Wade Phillips style of defense.

While he unquestionably has the physical tools to dominant in this league, it’s the mental aspect of the game that hinders Vincent Jackson’s ability to prosper. Jackson was called for a couple of penalties; one was an acceptable offensive pass interference that prevented a possible interception, but on the same drive Jackson was again flagged, this time for a costly false start. The knock remains against him about using his hands to catch so watching a football hit him directly in the chest and bounce off was both expected and yet heart-breaking. Jackson is expected to have a breakout year this season, and Coach Turner is certainly using him in a variety of roles – including lining him up in the backfield as a blocker. If Vincent can just wrap his head around the game, he is going to be a good one. He will never have a better opportunity than this season; no veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, and a thorough knowledge of the offense. He needs to have a nice season if he is going to have any shot at remaining the number one receiver. C’mon VJ!

The offensive playbook has certainly expanded, and if you were seeing the Chargers run plays that you never saw in years past, you weren’t alone. Its not too early to see why Norv Turner carries to reputation for being an offensive mastermind. The way the Bears defense was playing on Sunday, it’s a marvel the Chargers scored at all, let along two touchdowns in the second half. Its going to be awesome watching the Bolts run more of these new plays throughout the year. I’d expect a reverse play for next week’s matchup against New England.

Keep pounding the rock. Last year when the run game wasn’t there, Cam Cameron stopped calling it. Not so with Norv Turner. The Chargers kept running the ball, knowing they were facing eight and nine men in the box. The running backs accounted for 31 rushes in total, for only 78 yards. But the important thing is that the team remained committed to their bread and butter and forced the Bears defense to respect the run. LT didn’t gain but 25 yards rushing, but he needs his carries to thrive. He is still getting into his game-shape after sitting out the entire preseason as a precautionary measure. There is no better tune up than facing those Bears and their D-linemen. Especially considering Tomlinson will be taking the team into Foxboro next week where he is going to be counted on to lead the offense in hostile territory.

I have always liked Stephen Cooper, and I eagerly anticipated the day where he would take the reigns as a full-time starter. Cooper was forever around the ball, and hits with tremendous force. He has a compact and punishing build, similar to Michael Turner and Lorenzo Neal. Those two players are renowned for the blows they deliver to opposing teams, and Cooper is no different. He led the team in tackles and had a forced fumble to boot. Cooper will be more than an adequate replacement for Randall Godfrey and will bring a menacing presence to the middle of the field.

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September 10, 2007

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