Cardinals at Chargers Week 4 Preview
Chargers on Offense
Spoiler Alert!!! Philip Rivers is very, very good. He went wild against the Seahawks last week, throwing for a team record 455 yards in a failed comeback attempt. I am sure dropping back more than 50 times is not in the best interest of the Chargers, but when they fell behind Seattle early, they had no other option.
Attempting so many passes was not good for Rivers’ health either. Seattle got to him a few times and he had to be attended to by the team’s training staff on at least one occasion.
The beaten up offensive line didn’t have the greatest game last Sunday, but even the best line can’t be expected to keep the quarterback clean when a team passes that often.
To keep Rivers upright, the Chargers must run the ball and must hold onto the ball. Mike Tolbert ran the ball pretty well against Seattle, but spoiled all the good when he fumbled the ball as the Chargers were driving for a score.
Ryan Mathews appears to be ready to return from injury this week, but won’t be at 100%. So, a split between Tolbert and Mathews is probably in the Chargers game plan.
Also, it’s probably about time the Chargers get Darren Sproles involved some more. A huge financial commitment was made to him in the offseason and so far this season, he has just not been a factor.
The receiving group looks pretty solid right now for the Chargers. Antonio Gates was special again last week. He and Malcolm Floyd both caught touchdown passes against Seattle. Buster Davis looked good again last week and Patrick Crayton had his coming out party against the Seahawks.
Cardinals on Offense
Derek Anderson is no Kurt Warner…the Cardinals fans are seeing that more and more every week. Anderson is completing just 52% of his passes so far in 2010, which just isn’t good enough for a starting NFL quarterback. It seems like a long, long time since Anderson had that terrific season in 2007.
Injuries to Steve Breaston and Early Doucet have left the Cardinals very thin at wide receiver. It’s going to be Larry Fitzgerald and a bunch of youngsters trying to stretch the Chargers defense. A mix and match Stephen Williams, Max Komar and Andre Roberts will be opposite of the All Pro Fitzgerald. Undrafted from Toledo, Williams, appears to be the biggest threat of the young group and looked very impressive in the preseason.
Beenie Wells and Tim Hightower will split time at the running back position. Neither are world beaters, though Hightower has been very dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield.
Former Ohio State star Wells missed the first two weeks of the season with an injury returned with 75 yards and touchdown last week. With Anderson ineffective, the Cardinals may feed Wells the ball if they can keep the game close.
Chargers on Defense
Despite the injuries at the linebacker position, this is another pretty good match up for the Chargers defense.
Mission number one for San Diego, stop Fitzgerald. Quentin Jammer with some safety help should be able to handle arguably the best receiver in the league. The Raiders were able to limit Fitzgerald to only a couple of catches last week.
San Diego needs to follow the lead from the Raiders and blitz and put pressure on Anderson. Last week, Anderson completed less than 50% of his passes and kept limited him to only two completions to Fitzgerald.
The Chargers will be without outside linebackers Larry English and Shawne Merriman. They will have to find a pass rush from someone else. Antwan Applewhite will need to help Shaun Phillips on the outside.
When will Luis Castillo become the pass rush threat he was touted to be out of college? Maybe the worst stat this season…last week against the Seahawks, Castillo had two tackles, the same amount as offensive guard Kris Dielman.
Cardinals on Defense
Arizona will have a tough time matching up with the Chargers weapons on offense. This sure isn’t the ferocious defense that played in the Super Bowl just a couple of seasons ago.
A Cromartie will be on the field at this Sunday in San Diego this Sunday. Cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is a top notch defender and will give Floyd all he can handle. This Cromartie is not afraid to tackle either.
Linebacker Joey Porter is not quite the dominating force he was early in his career, but he can still get after the quarterback. He recorded his first sack of the season last week and with the depleted San Diego offensive line, Porter will sure to see Rivers in the Chargers backfield.
Chargers Special Teams
Really, Chargers? Really? Dexter McCluster scores on a 94-yard punt return in week 1, Leon Washington scores on 101-yard kick off return and a 99-yard return and if it weren’t for wet turf, he likely would have had another kick off return for a touchdown in week 3. That ineptness doesn’t even include the long return given up to Jacksonville in week 2.
It’s hard to believe one player can make that big of a difference on special teams, but the Chargers seem to really miss Kassim Osgood. San Diego is going to try something different this week to fill Osgood’s cleats…they are calling on defensive starters like Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle.
Admittedly, injuries have taken a toll on depth, which trickles down to special teams, but it’s time for someone to step up and make a tackle.
Cardinals Special Teams
Arizona has a very talented return man in LaRod Stephens-Howling. He opened the game with a 102 yard return against the Raiders last week and must be licking his chops thinking about facing the Chargers.
You just can’t pick against the Chargers. Unless the Chargers catch another case of fumblitis or do a horrible job of tackling on special teams, they should blow out the Cardinals.
Rivers will have another huge day at home and the combination of Tolbert and Mathews will grind out yards on the ground in the second half. San Diego will pull away in the second, pulling them back to .500.