Shaun Phillips is watching. Shaun Phillips is always watching. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Welcome to a new feature that will be around for a while (except for next week, due to the San Diego Chargers bye week): The "Power Play of the Week". To summarize, I will pick one powerful play (or one that played a big part in the Chargers winning/losing) from the previous game and break it down a little bit.
On this play, Shaun Phillips embarrassed Broncos RT Orlando Franklin and missed sacking Kyle Orton only because Orton stepped up in the pocket at the right time. Phillips, with his long reach, made sure that if Kyle threw the ball it wouldn't be an easy throw to make and the errant pass ended up almost hitting Donald Butler in the chest.
Now, I know what you're saying. The Chargers were up 3-0 when this play happened and, instead of capitalizing on it, Philip Rivers responded with an interception of his own that was returned for a touchdown. I understand that, but this play had both a short-term and long-term impact for San Diego.
This play got the fans on the aggressive against Kyle Orton, booing him and cheering for Tim Tebow to be put into the game, very early. Kyle Orton is tied with Philip Rivers and Michael Vick for the league lead in interceptions. The difference is that Vick and Rivers continue to show flashes of the players they've been before, among the league's best QBs. Orton has never been among the league's best, and really hasn't shown flashes of anything good this season.
I don't care if the opposing team's backup QB is Peyton Manning, any time you can get the ball rolling to eventually knock the starting QB of the opposing team out of the game you have effectively ruined the offensive game plan of that team. Did the Broncos play better with Tebow in there? Sure, but I'd rather have a backup QB that's taken no snaps this year in the game over the starter no matter how well he might be performing as soon as he enters the game.
This play took the Denver crowd out of the game, at least until Tebow entered, and created a larger rift between Orton and Broncos Head Coach John Fox. That's the desired effect of any defensive play.
Shaun Phillips once again proves why you cannot block him with one offensive lineman. Everyone knows this, but it's nice to see it reiterated. The attention defenses have to play to Phillips is why guys like Antonio Garay, Antwan Barnes and Larry English can make a big impact on games.
Donald Butler continues to make a name for himself, playing good coverage and taking advantage of the poor throw by Orton to notch his first career interception. Turnovers are always hard to come by for the San Diego defense, and if Butler can show off a soft pair of hands it could make a major difference.
The Denver Broncos, with whom the Chargers have one more game against this season, seem to be leaning towards Tim Tebow as their full-time starter at QB for the rest of the season. It's one of those "We need to see what we have" situations. You can expect guys like Brian Dawkins and Willis McGahee to eventually have some snaps taken away from them as well, which means the next time the Chargers play the Broncos the score should conceivably be less close than it was on Sunday.