And the chains they crash like thunder
While the weak ones all retreat
Gotta draw first blood
Or they'll read your funeral rights
When the lightning strikes
I'm still superstitious enough to go with the Aerosmith for the second week in a row. You probably saw my B/R article already on my continued fears about Rivers. Incidentally, those of you that worried about and for me when I began writing pieces over there will want to read this article on Bleacher Report. All I'll say, is that I still feel like it's been a good arrangement.
As I mentioned in the aforementioned piece, I know that tomorrow night's game is inconsequential compared to the Denver game the following week. But for my confidence in this team, it's a huge deal. Let's be honest, no one thinks that they can win tomorrow. Between the Saints being "due" at 0-4 and Brees having a big game the previous week, the stage seems set for them to get their first victory.
Factor in the face that the NFL is letting Payton attend the game to watch Brees break Johnny U's record and you've got everyone pulling for New Orleans. Brees and Payton built a system that utilizes Drew's strengths better than anything Brian Schottenheimer could cook up. I'm sure you remember, FAITHFUL READER, that Brees played in a spread offense at Purdue.
I mentioned in the Bleacher Report article that I would gladly trade a Super Bowl ring for the stigma and punishments that accompany a bounty program. But I don't have a lot of sympathy for the idea of the Saints being unfairly targeted. You got to the Super Bowl by beating the living shit out of Kurt Warner and Brett Favre. It seems like there's pretty substantial evidence to support the NFL's claims. Stop whining about it. They let you keep the Trophy.
I'm sure the Chargers have already gotten the sense that no one expects them to win. The spread might be three points, but I don't think anyone really thinks the Bolts can come up big in a big game. Why would they? There was a lot NOT to like about last week. The last time they had that many turnovers, they lost on a last second field goal in 2008, so I guess I should be happy that they won the game at all.
But they are far from playing like a complete team. Do they have the pieces to become one? AJ seems to have brought in some good pieces to accompany the guys he's drafted and signed previously. Butler is finally showing the burst that he had at Washington. Gaither's appearance made things a lot more comfortable for Rivers.
The secondary is obviously a concern going into the game. Maybe Norv knew that Cason would be such a pain in the ass when he was drafted. He looked even more vacant than usual. Hank Bauer is constantly begging Cason to "hug up" on the receivers. He's right to say that the corners need to at least attempt to be great. Cason is so concerned with his man blowing by him, that he allowed that very thing to happen last week.
If Cassel hadn't overthrown a wide open receiver and the Queefs had cut the lead to seven, who knows how the game would have turned out?
I don't have a problem with Norv listing Battle as the starter on the depth chart once again? I'm always screaming that he never does stuff that a real coach would do, so I can't knock this move. AJ made his comments, and they were said for all the right reasons. Mathews was costing us games. Antonio Gates spoke with Marty Caswell after the game and it seemed like Gates understood the need for a "message" sent. Acee actually said the same thing to Darren Smith. I won't say that Norv is a "hard ass coach," but I applaud the move.
Mathews ended up with more yards than Battle and arguably had more meaningful carries. As he himself said, he was fresher when he came in. Obviously, he has to be integrated more and more into the offense. He can't stay in this role forever. But I think the Chargers are making the transition into making him the featured back he was drafted to be.
But tomorrow night will all come down to Rivers. But that may be dependent on what Rivers DOESN'T do more than what he does. It would be great if Meachem was more involved, but Rivers simply cannot make the throws that he has over the last three games. I'm sure he really wanted to sling the ball more in Oakland, but I was very grateful he didn't. A win tomorrow won't erase all my doubts about Rivers, but I am very concerned right now.
He wasn't nearly as rushed last week and he still made some very questionable decisions. He could have been picked off in the end zone. He didn't run for a first down near the goal line. He threw the ball backwards and it seemed like only Mathews knew that it was live and could be recovered. His interception caused many people to question the acquisition of Robert Meachem, but it was still a horrible decision and execution. You can't throw that pass in the red zone, especially after last year. XX1090 also had an interview with Jim Trotter which talks about Rivers' need to prove himself. However, I don't think it's the absence of Vincent Jackson that matters. The bad habits that Rivers has developed since he was knocked down (literally and figuratively) by the Jets in the playoffs were obscured by Jackson's play.
And then there's Tweety. I certianly don't share Acee's sentiment in the aforementioned radio spot that Kaeding has fought his way back. He's still a choker and should never be given the chance to ruin a playoff game again. Of course, Novak missed his shared down the stretch last year after a hot start. So while I don't wish Kaeding ill, I can't say that I am hoping he can avoid IR since that is the only way that we can keep him off the field. When Acee says "some in the organization" favor Novak, I wonder who he is speaking about specifically; People with eyeballs?
I think tomorrow is a huge "nut up or shut up" game. I recognize how important the Denver game is in the standings, but I would like to see the Chargers win both. I think more people expect them to beat Peyton Manning again in San Diego than Brees and the 0-4 Saints tomorrow. The Bolts' inability to step up in these spots has been even more evident on the road. Each season is a story that unfolds every week and hopefully in a positive way. We all know that the Chargers got to 4-1 and came out of the bye only to blow it against the team that has ended their season twice. But this game isn't against some cream puff. A win tomorrow night in the Big Easy would be a big step for the Bolts.
If you can't protect the dream, at least don't shit all over it again.