It All Starts With Attitude

It all starts with attitude.

The San Diego Chargers, at 5-5, do not have one. It was evident watching the game, and it was made crystal clear in the locker room following an embarrassing loss:

“We need to get an attitude, period. We need to get an attitude around here,” said a furious Shawne Merriman.

Defensively, there was a reluctance to tackle people. Nobody past the front seven wanted to put a hit on somebody. Nobody wanted to play football. Instead, the secondary sat back and tried to play seven-on-seven. The Jaguars’ secondary, on the other hand, played with aggression and were viciously hitting people left and right. Fans were able to see a personal favorite of mine, Reggie Nelson, and how he affected the game. Nelson was the Jaguars leading tackler with 5 hits and 1 interception. Nelson hit Chris Chambers so hard that he drew an unnecessary roughness penalty from the referees.

Jaguars cornerback Brian Williams also had 5 tackles and Rashean Mathis added 3 of his own.

Yes the Chargers threw the ball more than the Jaguars did. But the Jaguars’ secondary came up and supported the run. They were hitting the Chargers receivers instead of dragging them down. Aside from Marlon McCree, nobody on the Chargers secondary had more than 2 solo tackles. Antonio Cromartie, who started the entire game, didn’t even appear on the stat line. No tackles, no assists. Cromartie has amazing cover skills, but unless he takes some classes at the Quentin Jammer School of Tackling, he’ll never be a complete player. He needs to use that big body of his and start running through people.

Clinton Hart? Don’t even get me started. He’ll get his one big tackle a game and then disappear. As a strong safety, you need to be a head hunter. You have to want to be physical and mix it up. If you blow a coverage you’ll be forgiven because you absolutely wreck running backs. But where is Clinton Hart? Standing around with a clean jersey. He gets credit for more tackles than he really makes. I’d like to see more solo tackles from our safeties instead of this assisted tackle nonsense.

Steven Cooper gets mad props from me. That guy plays angry. He brings it on Sundays. If you are on the opposing offense, you know where number 54 is because if you can’t see him, you’ll certainly be able to hear him. He talks trash and backs it up. He doesn’t just tackle you, he smacks you in the mouth. He runs through you.

Teams are staying away from Shawne Merriman. They are game planning against him like you wouldn’t believe. Shawne is understandably frustrated because they guy plays his heart out every Sunday, and yet after two weeks of embarrassing Chargers football, has only 4 tackles to show for it. Merriman is busting his butt and has to watch as teams go away from him and pick on the guys who don’t like to tackle people.

“This game is played with violence. It’s played with an attitude. I have no friends out there on the field. I just want to go out there and play football for 60 minutes. You have to go out and play aggressive for 60 minutes. That’s how you win a football game. You’ve got to want it and you’ve got to hate to lose. That’s the way we have to play as a team.”

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November 19, 2007

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