I'm finally home, back in sunny San Diego, and I feel terrible for San Diego Chargers fans that weren't able to watch yesterday's game in it's entirety. So many players that get picked on by the fans had huge games (Darren Sproles, Jacques Cesaire, Buster Davis, Antoine Cason), and then some of the favorites did as well (Malcom Floyd, Mike Tolbert, the entire offensive line).
This was one of those games that, while things are being wrapped up in the fourth quarter, you overhear other Chargers fans saying "What a fun game!" and you realize that you've almost lost your voice from all the screaming along with good plays. It wasn't a perfect game, there will be some Dolts tomorrow, but it was a game that wiped away any memory or need for Marcus McNeill and/or Vincent Jackson. Unfortunately, since most people didn't see it (or only saw highlights), that idea probably still exists.
Anyways, onto 5 good things about the Jaguars/Chargers game.
1. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
I was just saying in the game-preview that this is a team that has struggled to get turnovers for two full seasons now, and then they explode for 6 in one game. WOW. Ron Rivera tapped into something (I have my own theory) and wound up putting a lot of pressure on David Garrard and the Jacksonville WRs. Simply put, the Chargers defense was bigger, stronger and in a better position than the Jaguars offense on almost every play.
2. Chargers catch a break (or a sprain)
Ryan Mathews' career is not off the start everyone was hoping for, with 2 fumbles in 2 games and both of them ending with him on the sideline. However, it's very obvious when you watch him with the ball (and you hear of his work ethic) that he has the talent and will probably turn into a very good RB. He is a big factor in the 2010 San Diego Chargers season, and I'd be willing to say that they need him to do anything of significance this year....so watching him get carted off the field was a little scary.
When he came back in the second half and looked ready to get in the game, I felt a lot better and started each play off by looking for him in the backfield. Supposedly, although his ankle was sprained, he felt like he could've came back but Norv Turner didn't see a reason to risk putting him in. I agree with that. It's week 2, the Chargers were up big. Find out if he's okay in practice, not during this game. If Mathews goes the whole week without missing any time and then starts next week at Seattle, the Chargers should consider themselves very, very lucky.
3. The Haitian Sensation!
It figures the Jacques Cesaire would explode for a career game the first time that San Diego wasn't able to watch him on their local tv. Cesaire, for the time that I can remember, was dominant all game. He shut down plays when the Jaguars ran the ball at him and got an excellent sack as well. Jacques looked big, strong, fast and smart. Actually, he looked like a second Antonio Garay (and Garay arguably had a better game than the one against the Chiefs). However, this may not have been entirely on Cesaire....
4. Shhhh...don't jinx it.
I can go on and on about how right I was about Brandon Siler playing instead of Stephen Cooper (and I probably will at some point), but the defense as a whole was a lot better and it wouldn't be a surprise to me if it had something to do with Shawne Merriman returning to the field (and looking really, really good). With Garay and Merriman demanding double-teams, guys like Luis Castillo, Cesaire, Kevin Burnett and Siler were more free to make plays and did.
It's really amazing what Merriman stepping on the field does to an offense and for the defense, and when Shawne started looking like a guy who couldn't be stopped by one guy (without drawing numerous holding penalties) it changed the complexion of the game. Hell, it changed the complexion of the season. I don't want to go too deep into this, but....let's just say while the league's Left Tackles are putting on this tape and thinking that Shawne Merirman is finished they might stop and say "Uh oh" after the first few plays.
5. Cautiously looking ahead
I know, I know....it's early and I'm going to get everyone down talking about "next offseason". The truth of the matter is that Eric Weddle, who is often thought of as the star of the defense, is playing on the last year of his rookie deal. We have been caught in this situation before and have said "Well, of course the Chargers will sign Marcus McNeill to a big deal." This may or may not be the case next year. I sincerely hope, and honestly believe, that negotiations will go off without a hitch and Weddle will get his deal. However, Steve Gregory might be arguing against that.
Gregory is playing at a ridiculous level right now, and has led the team in tackles each of the first 2 games of this season (and seemingly in every preseason game). It's almost like the Chargers have 2 Eric Weddles in the secondary, and it's a big reason why both Matt Cassel and David Garrard have looked downright foolish trying to throw the ball against this team. Not only has Gregory won the spot, but he has a deathgrip on it and is looking like a not-so-bad alternative to Weddle at FS next season, should it come to that.
5a. Stanky Leg
It has made it's 2010 debut, and it was glorious.