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Bolts & Dolts: Chargers at Chiefs

It's strange how good everyone seems to feel about the team after a Week 1 loss to the worst team in the AFC last year, but there's good reason for that. Well, sortof. It's partially that we're all crazy and have been brainwashed by Norv Turner, Philip Rivers and AJ Smith. But hey.....In Norv We Trust, right?

Here's why I feel good about the game though. The team looked capable, when it wasn't raining, of doing okay at Arrowhead and great elsewhere. After the jump, let's take a look at this first drive by the Chargers (good plays bolded).

Roll Call: tonoxtono, riversformvp, John Gennaro, cameronm, Zach (maestro876), xa2173, Sam (sdsuaztec4), jkvandal, Axion, Superduperboltman, zelkolnikov, Jeffery, TJB, thepadfather, cowbell, tonik, I8EtoDunbar, Dex, catch22b, FriarFaithful4Life, JiltedEmu, kentuckybronco, losbolts, Neoplatonist Bolthead, Worthington, HuangDi, gman87, Ben R, $#%@ eli and his daddy, Slyintine, BoltfromBoston, Rich Garcia's defective eyes, Jonny Dub, Stan Darsh, bo_shilo, Aussiecharger, CABurrito, Adriel Bergman, gatesoftds, MarineCorpsDuck, Derek Snyder, TritonEye, Jonathan Holmes, NocturnalMatt, Its Mikey!!, TecateBoltsFan, benrb, KSJ49, NorthCountyBolt, GambitUte, Michaelt817, bstew95, shaqfor3

1st-10, SD28 14:01 R. Mathews rushed up the middle for 4 yard gain
2nd-6, SD32 13:17 P. Rivers incomplete pass to the right
3rd-6, SD32 13:11 P. Rivers passed to L. Naanee to the right for 15 yard gain
1st-10, SD47 12:37 P. Rivers passed to A. Gates to the right for 11 yard gain
1st-10, KC42 11:57 R. Mathews rushed to the right for 7 yard gain
2nd-3, KC35 11:19 R. Mathews rushed up the middle for 4 yard gain
1st-10, KC31 10:32 P. Rivers passed to R. Mathews down the middle for 2 yard gain
2nd-8, KC29 9:51 R. Mathews rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-7, KC28 9:03 San Diego committed 5 yard penalty
3rd-12, KC33 8:38 P. Rivers incomplete pass down the middle
4th-12, KC33 8:22 M. Scifres punt, touchback

3rd & 7 on the KC 28, after starting on our own 28. That's a good drive. Legedu Naanee, Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews and Philip Rivers were all having good drives. Then, two mistakes were made. Nick Hardwick held onto the ball too long and created the first Delay of Game penalty, then Malcom Floyd couldn't hang onto the ball after getting hit on his way down from making a leaping catch. The first one could be attributed to Arrowhead.

The offense looked strong and capable when the rain was light, although it was still going to be a tough game because of that environment. Once the rain started pouring, the offense looked anemic and after giving up 2-3 big plays to the Chiefs it was all but over. The only reason the Chargers were able to come back was that their potent offense came back once the rain lightened up a bit. So this told Chargers fans "Get the team away from Arrowhead and out of the rain, and they're the same team that won 11 games straight last season." We're all okay with that.

Onto the Bs & Ds.




Legedu Naanee

5 recs, 110 yards, 1 TD

I really like what I saw from Naanee in this game. He was confident and cocky. He knew he belongs on that field as a starting WR, and he proved it. He over-powered, out-ran and our-routed his guy a lot. Almost every time he was matched up against Javier Arenas, he found a way to get open and had the ball thrown to him. Legedu Naanee = Professional Receiver.


Antonio Gates

5 recs, 76 yards, 1 TD

What could I possibly say about Gates that hasn't been said before? The man simply doesn't make sense. With that body he shouldn't be faster and quicker than the safeties and corners they put on him, yet he is. His hands are soft and he has a mind for the game.

My favorite thing about Gates, and it was my favorite thing about Vincent Jackson and it's becoming my favorite thing about Legedu Naanee, is that he sees and understands zone coverage. As soon as the play starts and he understands it is zone, Gates looks for a hole in the coverage and sits down. It doesn't matter what his route is or was, he's going to get open and then look back at his QB and wait for the pass. If every receiver in the league understood how to do this, and was capable of doing this, zone coverage would be extinct.


Kevin Burnett

5 tackles, 1 pass defended

I talked about this in the "5 Good Things" post yesterday, but Burnett is one of those CBD-like players that has the talent but needs the health. He had the health against the Chiefs and played his part very well. If he can stay healthy all season, he can do a lot to solidify the middle of the Chargers defense.


Shaun Phillips

5 tackles, 1 sack

I think he's time we take the label off of Shaun as a #2 OLB. Remember when he was thought of as a guy that was only good when Shawne Merriman was on the other side of the defense? Phillips is a #1 OLB, and one of the top ones in the league. He has all the moves at the line, lots of speed and strength, and is very good in coverage as well. He's gotten a little bit better each year and is the type of player that Defensive Coordinators covet.

Aside from one play in the Chiefs game, where he bit hard on the play-action and left Matt Cassel wide open to scramble for the first down, Phillips played a perfect game. I really hope that this is the season where Shaun finally breaks out and makes it to the Pro Bowl, but he's going to need some help on the other side to get there.


Antonio Garay

1 tackle

Again, touched on it in the "5 Good Things", but in a nutshell Garay is playing the best Nose Tackle the Chargers have seen since at least 2008 and maybe earlier. He was disruptive all night and had the Chargers taken a lead and forced the Chiefs to throw more I think he could've knocked Cassel out of the game. In the first quarter alone he got a handful of big hits on him.


Defensive Secondary

13 tackles, 3 passes defended

All of them were good. Eric Weddle made big plays defending passes and stopping runs. Steve Gregory was all over the field and led the team in tackles (more on this in a second). Quentin Jammer played the way Quentin Jammer plays and basically shut Dwayne Bowe down. Antoine Cason looked like a vast improvement over Antonio Cromartie, both against the pass (where was Chris Chambers?) and against the run (when's the last time Cro had 4 tackles?).

Back to Steve for a moment. The funny thing is, with the more time Gregory gets on the field at SS (with Darrell Stuckey falling behind in his development) he looks more and more like the solution there. He obviously doesn't have the ideal size but, like Weddle, Steve is a smart player that almost never gets caught out of position and can lower the boom with a big hit from time to time. It would not surprise me to see Gregory hold onto that starting spot for the rest of the season with the way he's played thusfar this year (preseason included).





Darren Sproles

5 carries, 3 rush yards. 2 recs, 2 rec yards.

I'm going to keep track of how many Bolts and how many Dolts each player gets this year and post them weekly. Part of the reason for this is because nobody really knows for sure who led for each last year (my guesses: Rivers, Sproles). If Sproles ends up the leader in Dolts by the end of this season....I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be good.

The thing about Darren Sproles is that he's good for about 4 really great big plays per season, and outside of that he's almost useless. Yet you never know when the big plays are coming, so he gets about 15-20 touches per game (14 in this game) just to give him ample opportunity to make a big play.

You know what I think of when I think of Darren Sproles? Ever play football against your buddies, in a park or something, and one of them tries to "juke" you? All they really end up doing is stopping and shaking back and forth, giving you a ton of time to run up and hit them. A real "juke" is not a double, triple or quadruple move. It's "my head goes this way, my body cut this way." Yet every time Sproles gets the ball and he has to beat a guy in space, he dances back and forth and waits for the guy to come hit him. It's ridiculous.

I love Darren. Great guy, inspirational guy. If he were getting paid $1 million a year I'd probably be okay with what he brings to the team. However, at roughly $7 million a year I'd like him to be a little more than an average kick returner, average punt returner and an average 3rd down RB.


Nick Hardwick

What a rough game for Nick. He had trouble with run-blocking, was just okay with pass-blocking and struggled with the crowd noise and the Chiefs defensive schemes (some of his Delay of Game penalties came because he was trying to figure out who the blitzer was going to be while the Chiefs kept moving guys around). I don't know if it was rust (he really only played in 2 full games last year), or maybe the extra weight (I think Nick put on something like 30 lbs over the offseason at the request of Hal Hunter) or maybe it was just one of those random bad games that players have. Or wait.....maybe this dolt should go elsewhere....

Nick Hardwick Kevin Acee

I went to Acee's "Chargers Roll" filming last week. Why? Because I had nothing better to do, I guess, and because when I was in Philadelphia I always wanted to go to one. I wound up driving in and walking in right behind Nick Hardwick, and saw him sit down and start talking to Annie. "Where's the SIlver Fox?", I wondered.

About a minute later I hear Kevin's voice, as he's walking in the door, saying "Oh no! This has never happened before! This is a terrible sign!" A terrible sign indeed, KA. You're on a short leash this week. Two rules you must follow this week:

  1. Be on time. I cannot stress this enough.
  2. Should this week's participant in Chargers Roll have a terrible game, a game so awful that it causes the Chargers to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars almost solely because of that player's terrible game.....SHUT IT DOWN. Close up shop on "Chargers Roll" and remember the good times, when your internet show wasn't cursed.

Stephen Cooper

3 tackles

A lot more on this later today (maybe tomorrow), but Mr. Cooper has carried over his poor 2009 performance into 2010. Any hope of him righting this ship seems to be fading. He doesn't have the strength and speed he displayed during his fantastic 2007-2008 seasons, and if he did have it it disappeared after he limped off the field with an injury. Once he returned to the game, the Chiefs made it a point to run the ball right at him repeatedly and had success doing so.


Special Teams

We've been over this a thousand times now, but who do we blame? The coaches? The rain? Antwan Applewhite and James Holt (who both seemed surprised when Arenas flew in between them at lightning speed)? I still have no idea.

Poor kick and punt coverage can kill a winning team's chances for a winning season. Just ask the Denver Broncos, who were absolutely horrendous at it last season. If this was going to happen, let it happen in Week 1 when the Chargers have a chance to fix it before the most important chunk of the schedule. I don't know who's fault it is and what needs to happen to fix it besides lots and lots of practice, but until it shows itself to be better than it was on Monday it will continue to receive Dolts.