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Keys to the Game: Chargers vs. Giants

Posted Dec 6, 2013

Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants.


Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants:


1.
Ball Security– Last week was the Chargers worst offensive output of the season, scoring just 10 points, and the major reason for sputter was turning the ball over.  The Bolts coughed the ball up three times in 60 minutes after turning it over just three times in the previous six games.  All year long the Chargers have been able to move the ball down the field, but in order to turn those drives into points they can’t shoot themselves in the foot by committing fumbles or tossing interceptions. .  Along with committing fewer penalties, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt spoke of the need to secure the ball:

“Obviously, you can’t turn the football over and you can’t have penalties. I think that’s something that you don’t like. It’s disappointing because we did a lot of good things in that game but when it comes down to the end, which is having sustained drives that end up in points, we failed. So we’ve got to do better than that.”

 

2.  Cruz Control – An undrafted free agent out of UMASS, Victor Cruz has gone from a little known wide out to a genuine super star in three seasons.  While there are a number of weapons on the Giants offense, Cruz may present the greatest mismatch with his ability to make plays out of the slot.  Defensive Coordinator John Pagano repeatedly stressed the need to bottle up the Giants’ playmaker:

“You have to be aware of number 80. He is somebody they like to feature. Anytime you get these slot receivers in the National Football League, especially someone like Victor Cruz, he’s very crafty. Inside, he is someone that you have to be aware of and accountable for. He is somebody they do a lot of different things with. Offensively, they do a great job of moving him around in different spots even though he is the slot receiver. They put him in different spots to give you different looks.”

 

3. Beware of Tuck and Rolle– Justin Tuck anchors a revitalized pass rush that also features Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul (who was ruled out for the game with a shoulder injury).  A stalwart for many seasons, Tuck had four sacks last week and appears to be hitting his stride.  In the secondary, ball-hawking veteran Antrel Rolle leads the Giants with five interceptions.  While there are a number of players to be wary of, Philip Rivers mentioned how Tuck and Rolle are two of the biggest names to watch out for:

"Tuck has been there a long time. It goes back to playing against him when he was with Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. He was there years ago when I first saw him on the opposing side. He kind of leads that group. I think their defense starts with their front. It starts with those guys. They have (Jon Beason) in the middle and Antrel Rolle on the backend. It’s a very capable group as we all know. They got off to a slow start but it’s still the same team that for the most part has won a lot of football games together.”

 

4. Pick Off Eli – It’s fairly safe to assume that Eli Manning shouldn’t expect a warm welcome from Chargers fans.  Hopefully, the Bolts make it even worse by forcing him into throwing picks.  He ranks second in the league with 18 picks, one behind the New York Jet’s Geno Smith after leading the league in that dubious category for most of the year.  There have been numerous games where Manning has thrown multiple picks in one game. Eli has been much better protecting the football of late, but it may very well take just one interception to open up the floodgates.  Still, as Eric Weddle points out, Manning is an extremely capable quarterback that the Bolts need to be wary of:

"When they protect him, he’s as good as they are. Turnovers, obviously, have been an issue for them as a group. They’re leading the league in turnovers, but it stems as a group. It’s not put on one guy. Obviously he’s the franchise and they look to him, but when they protect him, he’s as good as they are. But when you pressure him, make him move and get a hand in his face, he struggles like any quarterback. It’s imperative that we pressure him, get our hands on the receivers and win on first and second down.

 

Do or Die– The mantra has long been one game at a  time, not focusing beyond the upcoming weekend’s opponent. However, as Weddle pointed out, it’s become a do or die scenario for the Chargers.  Still, he likes the mentality the team has taken this week in practice leading up to what he believes is a critical game:

“Do or Die. Our mood is fantastic. How can it not be? I’m as happy as can be. It’s another challenge. Another week to play this game we love with the teammates we love and a chance to win games and keep our hopes alive. So we’re not down at all. We’re frustrated and mad over the loss, but that’s Monday. That was days ago. We’re excited for this challenge – 5-7 versus 5-7. Loser is probably out, so we both know this is going to be a hard fought test on both sides and the winner will keep their season alive.”

 

 

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