I know it won't come as a surprise, but there won't be many "Dolts" after yesterday's game. It was a well-played game against a weaker opponent, so I'll tone down the positive rhetoric as well.
The one thing that should be noted, though, is that for the first time in a long time the Chargers did not play down to their weaker opponent. This was a game they knew they should dominate and they did. With a weak schedule ahead of them, this is a fantastic sign of things to come.
Onto the best and worst from Week 7's win in KC.
Philip Rivers - 18/30, 268 yards, 3 TDs (122.6 QB Rating). No interceptions and no mistakes. The only way the Chiefs were going to be competitive in this game was if they got a few turnovers, and Philip made sure that wasn't going to happen. His deep ball wasn't perfect (it was raining), but it was good enough. Add on his 2 runs for 18 yards (is that becoming a weapon?) and you have a great all-around game. Everything we'd expect from Rivers when he's given time to throw.
Vincent Jackson - 5 catches, 142 yards, 1 TD. (Yawn) Another average day for Vincent Jackson. He's having a hell of a season. In the offseason I was hoping the Chargers wouldn't try to sign him, because top-flight WRs are extraordinarily expensive, and now I think he should be the team's top priority. Apparently top WRs are so expensive because they're worth it. It should be noted that VJ came about 6 inches away from having 2 TDs yesterday.
Darren Sproles - 5 rushes, 41 rush yds, 3 catches, 58 rec yds, 1 rec TD. Sproles was used to perfection in yesterday's game. This is precisely what I'd like to see from him every week. He wasn't forced to be the focal point of the running attack, and he made one big play catching the ball out of the backfield that put the game out of reach. He was also solid, but unspectacular, in the return game. Can you really argue with a 8.2 yards-per-carry and 19.3 yards-per-reception?
Mike Tolbert - 1 catch, 2 yards. This has nothing to do with stats. Mike Tolbert is developing into the FB that everybody wanted him to become when they saw his Lorenzo Neal-like frame. The running game works much better when he's blocking for LaDainian Tomlinson instead of Jacob Hester. Enough of the FB by committee. Tolbert should be the full-time FB.
Tim Dobbins - 11 tackles, 1 defended pass, 1 interception. What a game! He looked better than Stephen Cooper out there. Dobbins was all over the place, making tackles and making plays. Would I trust him in coverage against the Broncos or Colts? I don't know. The Chiefs couldn't really test his pass coverage, but everything they threw at him he destroyed.
Defensive Front Seven - You know how every time Eric Weddle ends up the team's leading tackler, nobody is real happy about it? If a Safety is your lead tackler, your front seven didn't do their job....right? Let's look at the Chargers' leading tacklers from yesterday by position:
- Dobbins (LB)
- Siler (LB)
- Phillips (LB)
- Merriman (LB)
- Gregory (Nickel CB)
Luis Castillo - 2 tackles. Luis was a beast yesterday that the Chiefs could not contain. He stopped running plays in their tracks, got consistent pressure on Matt Cassel and even tackled a WR "over the middle". Although the stats don't show it, and they normally won't if you're the best player on the 3-4 defensive line, this may be turning into the best season of Castillo's career.
Steve Gregory - 4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 defended passes, 1 interception. The most questioned member of the Chargers "re-tooled" secondary had the biggest game. We certainly saw why he was moved to Nickel CB over Antoine Cason. What Gregory lacks in size, he makes up for in physicality, toughness and smarts. He was much better rushing the passer from the nickel spot than Cason has ever been. He took risks that I don't think Cason would've ever taken, and they usually worked out. I still worry about Steve getting burned by a fast receiver, but the Chargers needed desperately to win the short game before worrying about the deep game and Gregory helps them in that regard.
Eric Weddle - 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 defended pass. Eric Weddle has turned into exactly what I thought he would when he was drafted. He is a solid, intelligent player that delivers consistently. Is he a great leader? Not necessarily. Does he have weaknesses? Sure, he can't really cover TEs. Still, what he can do he does very well and he's hardly every out of position. I think one of Eric's best talents is rushing the passer, and Ron Rivera apparently agrees. In obvious passing situations yesterday, Kevin Ellison was taken off the field and Weddle was moved to SS as a sometimes-blitzer (with Paul Oliver playing FS). The Bolts saw plenty of success with that personnel, and I imagine we'll see more of it in the future.
Jacob Hester - 1 blocked punt, 1 fumble recovery, 1 ST TD, 3 rushes, 8 rush yds. For as much as I've been disappointed in him as a FB/HB this year, I've been just as impressed with Jacob on special teams. Which is funny, considering Tolbert was the one who was kept on the roster because of his contributions on special teams. I think he should still be a part of the offense, because he has soft hands and good speed, but I don't know exactly where he fits. Either way, Hester may be the rightful heir to Kassim Osgood's special teams throne in 2010.
Mike Scifres - 4 punts, 49.0 yards-per-punt, 2 punts inside opposing 20 yd line. Yesterday's game included a 63 yard punt from Scifres, which means he's 100% healthy or close to it again. Also, when facing one of the better punters in the league, Scifres had a higher YPP, less touchbacks (0-1) and didn't have any of his kicks blocked (0-1). Although it was a good competition, Mike came out the victor.
Chris Chambers - thrown to 4 times, 0 catches. Fans and coaching staff alike have always looked past Chambers' dropped passes because he caught the ball when it mattered. On third down, in the fourth quarter, in a playoff game, etc. When the heat is on, Chris' hands turn to magnets. Not the case yesterday. There were several drives that were stopped dead in their tracks because he couldn't make an easy catch on 3rd down. That's not acceptable.
Brandyn Dombrowski - Before you can win a football game, you need to eliminate mental errors. When you line up as an eligible receiver, you better know it and you better know to report. Especially when you're that close to the end zone. That was a really stupid mistake that ended up costing the Chargers 7 points. In a close games, mental errors mean everything. Thank you lucky stars it wasn't a close game and work on thinking when you're on the field.
Editor's Note. I am not including the offensive line because as poor as they may have been when close to the goal line, they were fantastic otherwise. It was apparent to everybody watching that the Chargers were desperately trying to get LT a running TD, just as it's apparent that LT can no longer get any yards when running to the outside. The Chiefs did the right thing in putting 10 or 11 guys in the box and sending them all at Tomlinson. That's part of what made the Offensive Line's job so difficult down there.
There are no defensive Dolts this week.