The Chargers won under pressure; but there are clearly still some weak areas. The Buccaneers managed two terrific drives for touchdowns in the third quarter; but the defense came up with three turnovers so some grades might be higher than you would otherwise expect. This was a team effort though and there were standouts on both offense and defense, so lets take a look.
Quarterback - A
Four touchdowns and no interceptions. Rivers is now one TD away from Dan Fouts record. Any time a quarterback gets mentioned in the same sentence with Fouts; he's a great quarterback. The other thing Rivers did yesterday was he didn't force anything; when nothing was there he threw the ball away.
Wide Receivers - A
Vincent Jackson coming off a concussion was lights out. He was almost always open; he continuously got position or separation on a very talented Tampa secondary. Chambers also came up with several catches for first downs and Legedu Naanee had one good drive where he caught two. He has really good form catching the balls, he reaches out and grabs it out of the air.
Tight Ends - A
Gates had four catches; but two of them were for touchdowns. On one play he just plucked the ball out of the air with one hand before turning it up field; I think that was the point at which I thought this was going to the Chargers day. Manu came up big too; he caught the screen for seven points and was also blocking well on the running plays.
Offensive Line - B+
Rivers had a great day in part because he had time to let things develop; there was only one sack on the day. The line gave him the time to deliver the ball. They also managed to create some running lanes for LT who had a good day and ended up with 90 yards on 21 rushes. The screens for the Chargers have also regularly been going for good yards; though the Bucs did diagnose several for no gain.
Running Backs - B+
While they only put up just over 90 yards on the ground; that doesn't capture the screens and YAC pass plays. Together Sproles and LT caught for over 60 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive line - B+
Jamal is just a wall in the middle. Luis Castillo came up with the huge forced fumble and Olshansky hit Garcia hard; he has been so quiet this season I couldn't figure out who it was for moment. Also huge was the ability of the line to hold their running game; Garcia was the Bucs leading rusher.
Linebackers - B
The linebackers picked up two sacks on the day and got just enough pressure on Garcia late in the game. Stephen Cooper continues solid gold play; he was the second leading tackler. He also picked up his fourth interception; although it was just a bad pass. Applewhite got good pressure on Garcia once; but on Garcias running TD he looked slow and gave up early on it.
Cornerbacks - B
Cromartie is really nailing receivers inside five yards from scrimmage; he got one defensive holding penalty but I'm ok with the aggressive sticks he is putting on the wideouts. Quentin Jammer put an enormous hit on Garcia on a bootleg and Garcia seemed a bit shaken and was bleeding from the nose. It was not too much later that he tipped up a pass that Cason then ran back for the touchdown.
Safeties - D
Safeties are supposed to keep the play in front of them, but Antonio Bryant beat our safeties regularly deep. The Chargers were very fortunate that several opportunities went for naught. Weddle was the leading tackler; mostly in run support but also gave up coverage on the deep pass to Bryant. Steven Gregory looked awful last night; he was slow and way off the coverage but at least didn't get beaten deep.
Special Teams - B+
This would be an A+ if not for the blown kickoff coverage. Kaeding hit the long field goal to end the half and Sproles was scurrying around the field like a squirrel on meth. Punt returns; kick returns; screen passes; every time you looked up he was tearing by Bucs for big yards.
Coaching - A
This was just a great game plan; great execution and there were just four penalties for 25 yards. He was aggressive with plays like the flea flicker and last second Jackson strike to end the half; but he wasn't reckless. This was just a terrific game by Norv.