Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers: Four Things to Watch For

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The upcoming preseason game between the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys should have a very interesting first half.

The Chargers rookie running back Ryan Mathews will be looking to impress the home crowd once again at the expense at the Cowboy defense.

Mathews may be surprised to find that the Cowboys defense is not only very similar to the Chargers’ bunch, but they are very familiar with the Chargers’ offense since the Cowboys run the exact same system as the Bolts on both offense and defense.

I will be looking for Mathews to continue to show off his impressive balance, speed, agility, and power. With the dark visor, he was looking like a young LaDainian Tomlinson against the Chicago Bears.

The Chargers swarming defense looked like the wrecking crew of old against the Bears. They racked up six thunderous sacks, caused turnovers, and wreaked havoc on the potentially disastrous Bears offense (meaning don’t get overly excited about the dominance).

I will be closely watching this game to see if Tony Romo fares any better than the Bears quarterbacks. While linebacker Antwan Applewhite should continue to declare war on the backfield while working his way back from major injury, Shawne Merriman will likely miss the game due to a minor hamstring injury.

A lot of “experts” are overlooking the rebuilt Charger defensive line, but the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t. They should be well aware of young lions like Vaughn Martin and Ogemdi Nwagbuo. Their development could be the difference between a solid defense and one that smashes opposing offenses.

Rookie defensive tackle Cam Thomas will be put to the test in the first half against the Dallas starters, who should play about a half. The Chargers coaching staff kept Thomas on the bench for the first half last week and he proceeded to dominate guys who will be working at Dominoes soon. Now he’ll get his test against the big dogs of the NFC East. I will be looking to see how he fares this week.

With the recent news that Vincent Jackson has had discussions with the Seattle Seahawks about a potential trade, Charger fans, players, and coaches will be taking a hard look at the other wide receivers. There is no receiver in the league with V-Jax’ combination of speed, size, and power, so the Chargers offense will have to change if Jackson is no longer a part of it (and it will probably need to change for the better).

Anyone who has objectively looked at receiver Craig “Buster” Davis when he’s been on the field knows he looks like the best player out there when he has the ball in his hand. He has some sort of superstar swagger that could be something like a dagger through the hearts of opposing defenses. The only problem is Davis is usually injured within a play or two of his first couple of catches. I don’t just want, but I need to see Davis make it through this game healthy.

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Chargers: Ryan Mathews Could Be the Missing Link

Listen to the Audio Version of this Article: Ryan Mathews Could Be the Missing Link

If there is one thing that made San Diego Chargers fans cringe, it’s the one yard and a cloud of dust running game that plagued the Chargers’ high powered offense with 2nd-and-nine far too often in 2009.

The addition of Ryan Mathews may change all that if he can stay healthy. In last Saturday’s game against the Chicago Bears, Mathews continuously gained yardage, against a vanilla Bears’ defense.

Norv Turner is known as a quarterback guru, but his offense starts with the running back. With a new high powered engine driving his attack, quarterback Philip Rivers should have an easier time dissecting defenses. Even scarier for defenses is the notion that they may have to play eight man fronts even more often which will leave defensive backs one on one with Chargers receivers.

That’s not good for opposing defensive coordinators.

As Steve Mariucci would say, the Chargers may hang a couple of “50-burgers” on opponents in 2010.

On display in the game were Mathews speed, power, and balance.

He repeated blew by surprised defenders who were seemingly in position, but found themselves standing still as Mathews went by. Mathews leveled a couple of guys (on the same play) with effortless stiff arms. On one play he was nearly leveled by Charger guard Kris Dielman only to be hit by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. He bounced off of both guys and exploded for a gain of 18 yards.

Love LaDainian Tomlinson or hate him, he and fullback Lorenzo Neal (along with fullback Andrew Pinnock) led a Chargers rushing attack that struck fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators. Without a powerful fullback, the Chargers running game was lost. With LT losing a step, it completely fell off the map.

The Chargers scored nearly 500 points in 2006 with a powerful rushing attack to compliment a solid passing attack. If the Chargers can regain their powerful rushing attack to compliment a now spectacular passing attack, the Chargers could surpass 500 points in 2010.

A Typical LaDainian Tomlinson Night In New York for the Jets

LaDainian Tomlinson stayed true to form with eight carries for 17 yards tonight for the Jets against the New York Giants. His longest run was five yards. On his other seven carries, Tomlinson averaged 1.7 yards per carry.

How will the New York media react to that?

Tomlinson also had a 14 yard catch, which is also typical of the way he performed (when given the chance) last season. Hopefully the Jets get LT more involved in the passing game than the San Diego Chargers did last year, because he is still effective in that aspect of his game.

There is no way the Jets should be taking carries away from Shonn Greene and giving them to LT. One idea is for LT to switch to receiver where he can use the abilities he has.

Either way, Tomlinson will make a good third and long option at running back with his blitz pickup and receiving skills, but would Greene be the better option here as well?

LaDainian Tomlinson: A True Locker Room Cancer

Let’s be honest with ourselves, there has never been a more moving chant at Qualcomm Stadium than “LT, LT, LT, LT.” Still, a lot of us have turned our back on the scorned superstar and for good reason.

The act of tattooing the New York Jets logo on LaDanian Tomlinson’s massive calve was the equivalent a backhanded inner city pimp slap across the face of millions.

His sharp comments about his former offensive line’s inability to open up holes stymied support from his biggest supporters (literally).

His soap opera-esque backstabbing of Norv Turner would make JR Ewing blush and then humbly bow to the greatness of LT. Norv is the man who tried his best to save LT for the playoffs, so that LT could obtain his much desired post season glory. Norv is the guru who installed the offensive system that aided LT in securing millions of dollars and elevating himself to the status of icon.

Still, LT stabbed ol’ Norval in the back.

I’ve searched and I’ve searched for LT’s comments praising Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers as his two of his biggest allies in his quest for a Hall of Fame final destination.

Nothing.

I’ve tried to find his deference to Keenan McCardell’s supreme route running abilities and third down mastery as a great help in his ability to remain on the field to generate Madden NFL 1998 style ridiculous stats in 2006.

That’s a ridiculous notion. LT doesn’t share credit, but he’ll pass the blame.

LT found himself in the limelight, and he basked in that limelight like a true locker room Cancer.

Not a Terrell Owens in Philadelphia type cancer, but a born in the month of June or July Cancer. We’re talking astrology here.

Tomlinson worked hard. He worked tirelessly. He consulted with the great Emmitt Smith on how to become a great runner. He didn’t do this for the fame or money! He did it because that’s who he is. That’s a great strength of the Cancer.

LT had his chance to become an inspiration to young Jay Cutlers everywhere. He could have fought to leave San Diego after his rookie deal was up. San Diego was a terrible team. Instead he fought to stay with his football family like a loyal Cancer is supposed to do.

As LT’s weary legs began to fail him, the villainous San Diego General Manager AJ Smith sensed the decline and looked to move the Chargers on without him. The perceptive LT was able to sense AJ Smith’s cold-hearted business mentality and went to the team CEO Dean Spanos for support. He obtained it.

The Cancer’s ability to perceive and project emotions (and therefore intentions) shot LT in the foot as he had a horrendous season to end his Hall of Fame caliber San Diego Chargers career.

It seems that AJ Smith was correct and the finger pointing began.

Over the years, we’ve seen a moody LT angrily storm away from a struggling Philip Rivers only to look like a fool when Rivers delivered the win in the end. We’ve seen the emotional LT embarrass himself, the team, and the entire city of San Diego with his outburst after an error filled loss the the New England Patriots. We’ve seen the sensitive, but indecisive LT say he doesn’t care with the Chargers think one day only to fire back the next day.

The spiritual Tomlinson obtained glory and adoration in the city of San Diego only to be humbled time and time gain. I happen to believe that it’s because he is loved by the one who matters most.

If the one who matters most loves the man, then I can set aside my petty anger over the Jets tattoo and appreciate the hard work, dedication, and enjoyment LT brought to the San Diego Chargers organization even in his worst season.

Thank you LT for the time you spent in San Diego and good luck!

Some San Diego Chargers Fans Need to Use Their Heads

I don’t know about all of you, but I am tired of hearing from Mike Florio from profootballtalk.com. This guy has disrespected the Chargers organization all off season, because he feels like the Chargers are screwing Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill by not offering them long term deals.

Here is a national sports writer who has his hand in way too many cookie jars . There is a reason the Chargers keep making the playoffs every year.

They plan in advance. Making rash decisions, like the Cleveland Browns signing Derek Anderson to a ridiculous deal after one season of productivity, can set a team back years. If you, as a Chargers fan, have already forgotten the end of the Bobby Beathard reign in San Diego, there is not much I can tell you that you’ll actually hear.

Florio claims that since the Chargers gave number one draft pick Ryan Mathews a long term deal, it proves that the Chargers are full of hot air by saying that they want to wait until the league and players come to an agreement before handing out big contracts.

First of all, is anyone really stupid enough to listen to that angle (actually yes). A draft pick is a special circumstance number one, and number two Ryan Mathew isn’t trying to get paid $10 million per season.

The Chargers are smart for taking their time with Vincent Jackson, because V-Jax has been harrassed by the cops not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES in his tenure as a Charger. Unlike a lot of young black and latino men (especially in San Diego) who have legitimate grips with the police for being stopped for no reason, the police were correct every time they stopped Vincent Jackson. I wouldn’t trust this guy with a dollar, let alone the $40,000,000 over four years he wants. Malcom Floyd has identical stats (based on the number of times he was thrown to) and could be resigned for much, much less than that.

This is common knowledge to many Charger fans, but over Mike Florio’s head. These same fans will turn around and forget what they know and allow themselves to be swayed by a national writer, simply because they are on a well known website.

The Chargers are smart for taking their time with McNeill, because of his injury history. Marcus McNeill is smart for holding out, because with his injury history, there is no guarantee that he won’t suffer a career ending neck injury sooner or later. With McNeill’s spinal stenosis, the Chargers are going to have a heck of a time coming up for a long term deal for Big Mac that makes since for both parties.