Three And Out: December 08, 2009

Riding a seven game winning streak, the San Diego Chargers are one of the NFL's hottest teams. In control of their own destiny, the Chargers are a few wins away from locking up a playoff spot. The challenge ahead of them is a formidable one, as they make their first trip ever to the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium this week. The Cowboys are one of the NFC's top teams, and will be an excellent measuring stick to see how well the Chargers match up with one of the conference's best.

(Photo Credit: Mike Nowak/San Diego Chargers)


The Cowboys are an excellent rushing team, averaging 5.0 yard per carry - tops in the NFC. They have a big, physical offensive line and like to pick up first downs on the ground. The Cowboys protect the ball well and have a stable of backs who can get tough yards. Dallas is also a proficient passing team, behind only the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals in total passing yards and yards per game. They are also number three in the league in total offense.

However, while the Dallas has an abysmal December record, the Chargers have won 14 straight in this month. Will the Chargers and Cowboys provide a Super Bowl preview? Or will the Bolts have their way with a team notorious for falling apart in December?


A native of Texas and a Dallas Cowboys fan growing up, there is no question this game will be of special significance to Ladainian Tomlinson:

"It'll be a pretty emotional day for me, pretty much," says Tomlinson. "The fact of the matter is, you look at your career, my last time I was there was my rookie year and I'm in my ninth year and the schedule says that I might not play there again. It'll be special. I've heard so much about the stadium. I've got friends who have season tickets. They say it's great, and I just can't wait. This is the next thing, this stadium. This is as big as it gets. I'm going to look around, hopefully be able to take a tour. I would like to see where Jerry Jones sits, and, you know, check it out."


There are number of connections between these two teams, let's take a look at the excellent notes the Chargers released today;

Besides Turner, Chargers’ offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon was the running backs coach in Dallas from 1998-01. Offensive line coach Mike Sullivan, a former center and guard, was drafted by the Cowboys in the sixth round in 1991. Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett was a second-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2005 and played four seasons (05-08) in Dallas. Tackles Corey Clark (Spring Branch) and Jeromey Clary (Mansfield) are both from Texas. Clark went to school at Texas A&M. Cornerback Quentin Jammer (Angleton, Tex.) is a University of Texas alum. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson (Waco, Tex.) is a Texas Christian alum. Guard Louis Vasquez (Corsicana, Tex.) went to Texas Tech. Dallas Head Coach Wade Phillips spent the 2004-06 seasons as defensive coordinator in San Diego and helped install the 3-4 defense currently run by the Chargers. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck held the same post in San Diego from 2002-04. Cornerback Cletis Gordon played for the Chargers from 2006-08 as did defensive lineman Igor Olshansky from 04-08. Center Duke Preston went to Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego and is the son of former Chargers linebacker Ray Preston. Cowboys with ties to Southern California include kickers David Buehler (Anaheim and USC) and Nick Folk (Sherman Oaks); linebacker Victor Butler (Rialto), and cornerback Orlando Scandrick (Los Alamitos). Chargers radio play-by-play man Josh Lewin resides in Southlake,Texas and is also the television voice of the Texas Rangers. Cowboys play-by-play man Babe Laufenberg played quarterback for the Chargers in 1985 and ’88.

December 9, 2009

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Anonymous said... Dec 10, 2009, 12:32:00 AM

(Gulp...) Just finished the last of the Thanksgiving Crow (burp), and this sure is an important, look-see game for our Bolts.
My Prediction: Our beloved boys in blue & gold will lose this one against a hungry Cowboy team, embarrassed (again) by their inability to stop the run (mostly) and an occasional big pass; which will all keep Rivers and our Receivers off the (whaaa...) field, where only they could win it. I'm just sayin'...
I hope I'm wrong, of course; and I'll keep my fork and knife handy if more Crow is in my future. But the defensive effort against the Browns was nothing but sad (for us), and the complexion of the season is changing. For our Chargers to make the playoffs and advance will be by a razor-thin margin, if at all. Mark my words, and if I'm wrong (I hope, I hope, I hope) please feel free to say you told me so.
Nevertheless, GO BOLTS!!!

Rob Zepeda said... Dec 10, 2009, 8:21:00 AM

JLM good to hear from you again! Don't choke on all that crow you've been eating, I've got some Chargers Kool-aid to help you washing it down if you'd like:

The Chargers are the hottest team in the AFC not named the Colts, and the Cowboys have a notoriously bad stigma for falling apart in the late months, particularly December. In fact, I think that's why they built a new stadium in the first place - to get away from any ghosts that were haunting them. There last stadium had turned into a graveyard where Cowboy playoff hopes go to die.

While I don't think the Chargers will drop a game of this magnitude, I do think the Cowboys are going to be an enormous challenge, particularly in the ground game and with their pass rush.

As you said, this game will be a barometer, but the thing I fear the most is coming away with a win and turning confidence into cockiness.

Anonymous said... Dec 10, 2009, 12:19:00 PM

Ogemdi Nwagbuo (DT) Placed on IR (ankle).
Antonio Garay (DT) Activated from the Practice Squad.

This is a pretty big blow as OG has been a big part of the rotation. Ian Scott has seemed to be respectable in filling in at NT but I think part of the reason for our improved play has been based on rotating guys in and keeping everyone fresh.

Rob, any insight on Garay? I havent heard anything about him.

Rob Zepeda said... Dec 10, 2009, 1:03:00 PM

All I really know about Antonio Garay is that Ron Rivera is familiar with him, so at least the coaching staff has familiarity with him and it wasn't a move that the front office made without consulting their coaches.

Agree that the rotation is key with the D-line, but all these moving parts is a cause for concern, especially considering the Cowboys ability to run the ball.

Anonymous said... Dec 11, 2009, 3:40:00 PM

I havent seen the stats but I imagine defensively the Bolts must not look very good in terms of yardage given up. But what they have done well is hold teams to field goals and even better get turnovers in the red zone. On top of that the offense has been scoring TD's and not field goals. A great recipe for wins. (Unlike the playoff loss to New England last year where the Bolts couldnt score a TD to save their lives and New England scored nothing but TD's.)

Thanks for the insight Rob.

Anonymous said... Dec 11, 2009, 3:45:00 PM

(I meant playoff loss 2 years ago to New England.)

Anonymous said... Dec 11, 2009, 8:57:00 PM

Rob, why discuss connections w/ Dallas for guys we let go??? i.e. Corey Clark!!!

Anonymous said... Dec 12, 2009, 10:01:00 AM

Clark was put back on the practice squad 12/5

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