ReFo: Chargers @ Buccaneers, Week 10
The Bucs are moving up thanks to an improving offense and a defense that makes the most of opposing teams mistakes. The Chargers? Not so much right now...
ReFo: Chargers @ Buccaneers, Week 10
At times the year has promised so much, but right now, for all the good plays they manage, something calamitous seems just around the corner. That’s why it’s hard to see Norv Turner being back next year in San Diego and why change for the Chargers seems inevitable.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers know all too well about change. Under Raheem Morris a once ‘youngy’ team forgot their football fundamentals. They missed tackles, took bad angles and executed poorly on offense. They were a laughing stock.
Now, with Greg Schiano instilling more discipline into the unit, they’re a force. The playoffs are a possibility and they’re playing tough football on both sides of the ball. That’s why when the Chargers scored on their first two drives, the Bucs didn’t falter and picked up a fourth win in their past five games.
Let’s take a look at some of the most notable performances.
San Diego – Three Performances of Note
Playing like an Undrafted Free Agent
When your starting left tackle is Jared Gaither, you need to make some sort of contingency in case his notoriously troublesome bad back plays up. Memo to the Chargers, rarely does an undrafted free agent rookie constitute contingency. You have to feel bad for Michael Harris (-6.6) who looks so far out of his depth right now. Maybe in a few years he’ll be grateful for what he’s learned. Right now though, it can’t be much fun taking a bit of a beating whenever ‘Gameday’ Gaither isn’t ready for gameday. By the end of the day he’d given up a sack, two hits and six more pressures (with another negated by a penalty) in a true horror show that reinforced just how much a healthy Gaither means to this franchise.
Good Work Undone
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. It’s not Philip Rivers’ (0.0) arm that is the problem. It’s his brain. To be more specific, it’s his decision making. This was a game where, despite being under constant pressure (56.1% of plays), he made things happen. He went to work on rookie Mark Barron with a couple of big play-action passes midway through the first quarter and did a good job of exploiting the Bucs’ defense. He also threw that interception. You know the one you might make on Madden when you get the buttons confused. It was an inexplicable as it was ugly to watch and really shifted this game away from the Chargers. That’s Rivers season in a nutshell. At times he looks like that guy that impressed us so much a couple of years back. Then he does something stupid that means you know that guy is gone.
How the Linebackers Fared
I’ve made it clear for a while that I’m not a huge fan of the rotational policy the Chargers have employed with their outside linebackers. Jarret Johnson plays in base, Melvin Ingram comes in for obvious pass rushing situations and Shaun Phillips plays all the while. On paper it’s not the worst idea, but in reality it isn’t working. The signing of Johnson, a player who is tremendous at setting the edge and ordinary at best rushing the passer, smacks of poor scouting. The Chargers didn’t need a run defender. What they really needed was someone to get after the passer. Sure they drafted Ingram, but that hasn’t fixed their early down woes. He rushed the passer six times in this one and generated three hurries, but with just 11 snaps to make an impact what else was he meant to do? It didn’t help Shaun Phillips (-2.4) had an extremely quiet day with no pressure on his 15 pass rushes. An overall unconvincing performance from an unconvincingly put together group.
Tampa Bay – Three Performance of Note
A Career Day
Sometimes life gives you lemon’s and you have to make lemonade. Sometimes you win the lottery and it’s just about making sure you remember to collect your check. Well, Daniel Te’o’Nesheim (+4.6) didn’t forget and took full advantage of the luck that is the NFL schedule. Facing an undrafted free agent, he posted career-best figures in collecting a sack and seven hurries as well as two more defensive stops. Nothing quite highlighted his dominance over the left side of the Chargers’ line like the quick-fire pressure he picked up on Tyronne Green with 9:44 to go in the second quarter. The question for ‘DTN’, as I have crowned him, is can he build on this?
No Longer Just an Additional Tight End
There was a time when Demar Dotson (+3.3) would be grateful to get five snaps in a game. All the while watching lead-footed Jeremy Trueblood being beaten inside and out on the sideline. Well, that time is over and Dotson is making the starting right tackle spot his own. Since becoming the starter he’s graded positively in seven of eight games in pass protection, and this was the second time he’d walked away without giving up any pressure or penalties. Sometimes injuries can help you find out what you’ve got and that certainly seems to be the case for the Bucs here.
A Late Run for Rookie of the Year?
You probably think I’m talking about Doug Martin, but I’m not. Martin had a few nice runs but was held in check by the Chargers for the most part. No, I’m talking about Lavonte David (+3.9) who seems to be getting better the more he plays in the NFL. He added another 13 tackles to his tally, including another eight defensive stops, leaving him with 29 on the year already. Of all other 4-3 outside linebackers nobody else has more. The play of a couple of quarterbacks may make him a longshot, but he’s looking likely to make a debut appearance on my Race for the Rookie of the Year piece tomorrow.
– Josh Freeman picked up 12.7 yards per attempt when pressured and 8.3 yards per attempt when not. Make of that what you will, but opposing defenses should be careful when he starts to move around in and out of the pocket.
– The Chargers missed only two tackles. That’s some solid football fundamentals. If only they could have avoided a pick-six and blocked punt.
– Lavonte David rushed the passer nine times and picked up three hurries.
You can only beat what is in front of you, and that’s exactly what Daniel Te’o-Nesheim did.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled