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NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
Want the good news on the Chargers' front?
The Denver Broncos are up next.
Want the bad news on the Chargers' front?
The Denver Broncos are up next.
The answer is the same and that's just how life is as the Chargers prepare for the Broncos' visit on Sunday.
"I think the quicker you can put one behind you; this is probably the toughest one you can put behind you that we've had in a long time, but you put it behind you and you go," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "You go forward."
What other choice do the Chargers have after letting a potential victory slip away Sunday in Washington? The Chargers were poised at the Redskins' 1-yard line as regulation time winded down, but it wasn't meant to be in a 30-27 overtime loss.
Oh well. But to get well, the Chargers need to let it go. So in some ways, their focus has to return quickly with the powerful Broncos rolling into town.
"There's nothing we can do to change last week, but there is something we can do about this week," Rivers said. "We've got a tough group of guys, mentally tough group of guys, and like we've always said, we signed up for all of them."
But Rivers admits before signing off on last week sitting at 5-3 would be so much nicer than their 4-4 perch. The Chargers went from having the No. 6 seed in the AFC to being a big collection of teams with playoff aspirations.
"Yes, it would be nice here to have one more win than we have, or a couple more wins than we have, but we don't," Rivers stressed. "But we still have a shot to play five of six division games, and five of eight at home. And it starts this Sunday with Denver."
The Chargers are fortunate that so many games against AFC West foes remain. Then again, years ago, that was a plus. But with the Chiefs and Broncos having but one loss between them, and the Raiders already owning a victory over the Chargers, that might not be a good thing.
But if the Chargers are going to claw their way back in the AFC picture, they need to get right quickly. Like on Sunday, when Peyton Manning and his impressive arsenal arrives at Qualcomm Stadium.
"The personnel speaks for itself," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "With the quarterback and skilled position guys they have, they are very talented group with good depth. A majority of them have been together for over a year now and it gets a lot easier with the tempo they play at.
"They have five guys up front that play together and have done a nice job of protecting Peyton Manning."
The Chargers need to protect their turf.
SERIES HISTORY: 107th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 57-48-1. The last time the Broncos were in San Diego, they erased a 24-0 lead on "Monday Night Football" to win, 35-24, which set the course for the season for both teams the rest of the way. The Broncos went on to easily win the AFC West while the Chargers recorded their first losing season since 2003 and it cost coach Norv Turner his job. This series has some extra spice with new Chargers coach Mike McCoy coming over from Denver this season, after serving as its offensive coordinator.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
--Coach Mike McCoy said the return of outside linebacker Jarret Johnson was big on Sunday and will be a key moving forward. Johnson not only sets the edge on running plays, but is tied for the team lead with three sacks -- despite missing the two games leading up to the loss at Washington with a cranky hamstring.
"It was great to have him back out there," McCoy said. "It was tough the last couple of weeks without him out there. Not just because he wasn't playing but because he wasn't too happy about not playing. He's a guy that is a true professional. He understood the situation and his health, and why we did what we did. He was like a little kid out there."
--The Chargers' thoughts are certainly with Broncos coach John Fox, who is recovering from heart surgery. Fox was on Bobby Ross' staff as a secondary coach in Ross' first season in San Diego in 1992 and McCoy worked under Fox before taking the Chargers job this offseason.
--The Chargers won't have a local TV blackout on Sunday, which usually isn't news in the majority of NFL cities. But the team has often needed an extension to sell enough tickets to show home games this season; last year half of its eight-game home schedule was blacked out. While some might see this as the Chargers' fan base keeping the faith, the real factor is Denver has loads of fans in Southern California, and that will be evident come Sunday when many of them will help pack Qualcomm Stadium.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 - Consecutive number of plays from their opponent's 1-yard line in which the Chargers have failed to score a touchdown.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we don't come out ready to rock and roll on Sunday, we're going to get blasted" - FS Eric Weddle on how the underdog Chargers have to approach Sunday's game against the Broncos.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Keep an eye on the Chargers' secondary, and how they play the high-powered Broncos' passing game. Derek Cox, a $20 million free-agent pickup in the offseason, was benched midway through last Sunday's game against the Redskins after repeatedly getting burned for big plays.
There's been no word on if Cox will regain his starting role opposite Shareece Wright. The Chargers could go with Johnny Patrick or Richard Marshall to send a message to Cox as well as try to slow down Manning's targets. More than likely, it will be all hands on deck as the Chargers -- no matter which defensive back is playing -- will be hard-pressed to slow down the Broncos' passing game.
--ILB Donald Butler (groin) participated fully the past two days and is listed as probable. Butler has missed all but one play in the last three games, but he is making steady progress. Unless he suffers a setback, he has a solid chance of playing on Sunday.
--WR Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice all week and is listed as questionable against Denver.
--T Mike Remmers (ankle) has been ruled out vs. Denver. Always a concern as he is the top backup behind King Dunlap; Dunlap has suffered two concussions in eight games.
--DE Lawrence Guy (toe) did not practice Friday and is questionable.
--G Chad Rinehart (toe) was limited for the third straight day but listed as probable.
--OLB Tourek Williams (thumb) practiced all week and is listed as probable; he could also be a healthy inactive.
--QB Philip Rivers is looking to rebound from an average game in Washington -- by Rivers' standards this season. Rivers is averaging 309 passing yards per game, second-best in the AFC. He has completed at least 20 passes at an 80 percent completion rate in three games this season, tying him for a mark set by Brett Favre (2009) and Drew Brees (2011). Rivers is 11-5 against the Broncos as a starter.
--RB Ryan Mathews got pushed aside last week, carrying the ball only seven times. But he has three career 100-yard games against the Broncos, the most he has against any team.
--RB Danny Woodhead is getting some of the touches that Ryan Mathews is missing. Woodhead, who came over as a free agent from New England, leads the NFL among running backs with 49 receptions -- a career-best.
--WR Keenan Allen coming off a career-high 128 receiving yards last week, and he is averaging 104 yards over the past four games.
GAME PLAN: The plan is simple: get the ball out of Peyton Manning's mitts. Easier said than done, but that was among the reasons the Chargers didn't prevail against the Redskins -- Washington, not the Chargers, played keep-away and won the time of possession battle.
The Chargers have proven they can run the ball. What they haven't proved is their defense being able to be successful on a consistent basis on third down. They weren't in the loss to the Redskins, and were unable to get off the field when they needed to. So while the Chargers have to run the ball to keep Manning idle, first they have to prove they can stop Manning -- that's the big test.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers running game, with Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead vs. a Broncos run defense, which will include Von Miller and Wesley Woodyard -- The Chargers got away from giving the ball to Mathews last week, and we can't figure out why either. Mathews was coming off consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards, something no other back has done this season. Woodhead is carving into some of those carries -- or better put, short swing passes which serve as runs. But the Chargers would be wise to wear out the more physical Mathews to wear down the Broncos. Mathews probably needs a little love after being ignored on the critical goal-line series last week toward the end of regulation, and if he can get going, it would help drain the clock and keep the ball away from Peyton Manning. But the Broncos see Miller -- although he's known as a pass-rusher -- knocking more and more rust off his game after being suspended the first six contests. Woodyard has become a force in the middle with his active style and hard hits, some which have drawn the attention of the NFL and led to fines. The Broncos are No. 3 against the run, but some of that figure speaks to rivals always being behind and trying to get back into the games through the air.
--Chargers pass rush, with Jarret Johnson and Larry English vs. Broncos pass protection and the quick release of Peyton Manning -- The blueprint on beating the Broncos is fairly short: get after Manning with pressure and a physical presence. But that's easier said than done with the quick release he has. But the Colts proved it can be done -- now if only the Chargers had a pass rusher like Robert Mathis. They don't, but they do offer Johnson, who made his mark, really, as someone setting the edge on early downs. But with the numerous injuries the Chargers have had, he's been playing on passing downs and playing well, with his three sacks tying him with Corey Liuget for the team lead. English has shown a pulse of late, and if following this former first-rounder's career, that is a pulse. He needs to supply some heat on the opposite site, otherwise the blocking scheme will be skewed toward Johnson. Still, defensive coordinator John Pagano gave his brother, Chuck, the Colts' head coach, a call this week to ask about a plan to reach Manning. The Chargers' Pagano isn't shy about blitzing from the secondary, with FS Eric Weddle and CB Johnny Patrick being the two leading the charge. But the Broncos have gotten RT Orlando Franklin back, which allows ex-Charger Louis Vasquez to go back to his regular spot at right guard. The Chargers might find a route through LT Chris Clark, an undrafted rookie asked to start after Ryan Clady was lost for the season.