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Obvious Answers: Riverside Chargers bars, Cromartie's tackling, re-drafting and Merriman's contract chances

Welcome to the second edition of our now continuing edition of Obvious Answers, where I answer the San Diego Chargers-related questions that you e-mail to me.  This week I got twice as many questions as I did last week, so I'm now back to being excited about this series.  If you have a question, don't hesitate to send it in and I'll answer it next Saturday.

Where is a Riverside Charger Fan to hang out for the opening game against the Raiders?  It is Monday night football and I don't want to watch it at home, so is there a sports bar in the area that is known for being a Charger hangout? - Jerry

I've spent a little bit of time in Riverside, but I don't know that I've ever encountered a great bar to watch a Chargers game.  Honestly, the TGI Friday's isn't terrible but it was a mix of Chargers and Raiders fans when I was there.  If you are willing to go a little north, I've heard good things about a place called The Pizza Factory in Rancho Cucamonga.  The address is 12273 Highland Ave #132 and technically it's in Etiwanda, CA.  Supposedly it's the only real Chargers fan hangout in the Inland Empire during the games.

Perhaps the commenters have some suggestions? 

More questions answered after the jump.


Why doesn't Antonio Cromartie tackle harder?  Is he just trying not to get hurt?  Or is this a skill he just doesn't have? - Gusto

I find it funny that this e-mail was sent after the Falcons game, where he just about knocked Jerious Norwood out with a big hit.

The short answer is that I don't know Antonio, nor do I know his reasons for not trying to knock everybody's head off.  However, I can share my theory with you.  When the Chargers drafted Cro, I remember the initial response once he got on the practice field was "This kid can hit!"  It's not unusual for a guy with his quickness to be able to focus that quickness into some hard hits (see Bob Sanders, Troy Polamalu).  Since then, he hasn't become the worst tackler in the world but he's certainly declined and does sometimes seem to shy away from big hits.

I believe this has a lot to do with Deion Sanders.  Neon Deion didn't like to hit and certainly wouldn't lay somebody out, but he had his reasons.  Similar to Marvin Harrison, Deion has a philosophy that he could have a greater impact on the game for a longer period of time if he protected his body as much as possible.  So while he wouldn't hesitate to jam a receiver at the line (and neither does Cromartie), Sanders knew that there were ways in which he could "hold up" a guy and let his teammates catch up to the play to make the tackle.  Since Deion is a mentor to Antonio, I wouldn't be surprised if he has shared his philosophy with Cro.

The other thing you have to consider is....Cro really isn't that bad of a tackler.  Deion averaged around 30 tackles per 16 game season and Antonio averages about twice that amount.  Cornerbacks typically are not supposed to lay running backs and wide receivers out.  However, Cro gets analyzed as being a "bad tackler" and not enough of a "big hitter" because he plays opposite Quentin Jammer

Q is a bit of a freak.  He's the best WR jammer (I know, ironic name) on the line, probably the best pure tackling CB in the league and definitely the biggest hitter.  Cromartie will never be able to be that kind of hitter, because he doesn't have the same body type and because he is trying to protect his body.  I don't disagree with the philosophy.  I'd rather have Antonio healthy, getting 5-10 interceptions every season, than having him beat up all the time and trying to play through something like a broken hip.

To summarize: You want big hits from a corner?  Look at Jammer.  You want lots of interceptions?  Look at Cromartie.  They're fine the way they are, there's no reason to change them.


I was wondering if now that we have seen a little of Larry English, and seen how bad our run game is would you go back and draft a good RT like Micheal Oher instead of English? i know its to early to tell how good these rookies will be, but our run game is not looking good. - Miles

No.  No, no, no, no, no.  No.  Miles, take a deep breath.  Repeat after me.  "It's only the preseason".  Once more, "It's only the preseason."  Do you know what the preseason is?  Do you know what it means?  It means strategy is completely thrown out the window.

In a preseason game, you typically don't care who your opponent is.  You care more about your own team.  The Falcons and Cardinals weren't blitzing because they think that's the best way to stop the Chargers offense.  They were blitzing because these are new plays and they want to see how they work against real, live competition.  There's no real thought in the offensive play-calling either.  If the team is blitzing, you should call a lot of screens and draw plays to get them to back up.  Well, the Chargers did that (as a way to test their screens and draw plays) and the Falcons never backed up.  Why?  Because they really didn't care if they got beaten deep during the preseason.  If they did, Vincent Jackson would've been double-teamed on every play.

In a preseason game, you typically don't care who is getting the carries.  Sure, you'd like to see what Gartrell Johnson has and what Jacob Hester could do as a RB, but mostly you just want to keep guys like LT and Sproles healthy.  The players know this as well.  Do you really think LT or Sproles were giving 100% when they were handed the ball?  Do you think the offensive linemen were trying to make the best block of their lives?  Of course not.  Everyone just wanted to stay healthy, so they probably gave 75%.

In short, and trust me....I could go on forever....nobody actually knows how good the running game is going to be until we see it in action.  Based on the deep threats the Chargers have at receiver (Gates, Floyd, VJ), and the health they have on the line, I don't think it's going to be an issue.  With poor play from the right side of the line for years, the Chargers have almost always ran left.  That worked well enough for LaDainian Tomlinson to break a few records, so if it comes to that I think the team will be okay with it.

Now, imagine a quick scenario for me.  In Week 2, against the Ravens, Merriman again hurts his knee.  With Oher, the Chargers would be back in the same situation they were in 2008.  Good offense, no defense.  With English, there's not as much concern because hopefully there's not much of a drop-off in the pass-rush.


Do you, honestly, think we have a chance of re-signing Merriman...not talking about CBA and all?  And, after watchin the boys beat up Atlanta, are we ready to go back to the superbowl? - Jim

Jimmy.  It's the preseason.  Calm down.  Nobody is ready to go back to the Super Bowl in the preseason.  We have 17 weeks of luck, good or bad, and injuries that will help determine who is even going to make it into the playoffs in 2009.  The Chargers have the ability to be one of the best teams in the league, but unfulfilled potential doesn't mean anything.  A lot of the time at least one of the teams playing in the Super Bowl is there because they got healthy and got momentum on their side in December, then carried it over into January.  Look at the Arizona Cardinals last year or the New York Giants the year before as your proof.  All we can do is hope the Chargers stay healthy and have momentum at the end of the season.

Now, Merriman.  Yes, I think the Chargers have a very good chance at re-signing Merriman.  The team the player is currently on always has the best chance to sign the player.  Shawne has a house and a business in San Diego.  He loves being close to Los Angeles.  He also loves winning and hates losing. 

Even after you factor in Rivers' contract, the Bolts are well under the NFL's salary cap.  They certainly have the money to do a deal.  Whether or not Shawne signs a long-term contract with the Chargers depends on one thing and one thing only: Do the Chargers want him or do they think he could be easily, and cheaply, replaced?


Do you have a question for next week's mailbag?  Don't hesitate to e-mail me directly with your question and I'll make sure to answer it before next week's game.