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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Cardinals

Posted Aug 20, 2013

A complete scouting report breaking down this week's game between the San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals.

The San Diego Chargers hit the road for the second consecutive week when they travel to Glendale, Arizona to take on the Cardinals.  Kickoff is set for 7:00pm.

A Look Back At Last Week

The Bolts dropped to 0-2 on the preseason with a 33-28 loss to the Chicago Bears.  San Diego trailed 20-0 before mounting a comeback, but they couldn’t get over the hump as Brad Sorensen’s last-second Hail Mary was knocked out of the back of the end zone. The Chargers defense started strong as Jarret Johnson opened the game with a two-yard tackle for loss against Matt Forte on the first play, followed by a two yard sack and forced fumble against Jay Cutler on second down. Corey Liuget closed out the series with a five-yard sack on third down. On offense, Ladarius Green caught his second touchdown pass in as many games while Mike Willie recorded a pair of his own in the loss.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

The Chargers brought in a new offensive coordinator in Ken Whisenhunt, who spent the previous six seasons at the helm of the Arizona Cardinals.  Leading the attack is Philip Rivers, the venerable quarterback entering his 10th season under center.  In 2012, he recorded his fifth-straight 3,500-yard season, throwing for 3,606 yards and 26 touchdowns. Also returning are last year’s leading rusher, Ryan Mathews as well as eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates. The biggest change offensively is to the offensive line as only two holdovers (Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary) from last year’s front five are back, though Clary is moving to a new position (right guard).  The line features three newcomers, including right tackle D.J. Fluker, the team’s top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

On Offense for the Cardinals

Former Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders quarterback  Carson Palmer takes over as the Cardinals’ new starting quarterback in 2013. While the Cardinals must replace four starters on the offensive line, one constant is wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, one of the NFL’s most-dangerous pass catchers. The Cardinals’ leading receiver each of the last six seasons, Fitzgerald ranks 33rd in receiving yards in NFL history. He has 764 career catches, 10,413 yards and 77 touchdowns.

On Defense for the Chargers

John Pagano returns for his second year as defensive coordinator, looking to build upon an impressive 2012.  Some of the brightest young defensive linemen in the league constitute the front three in the form of Corey Liuget, Cam Thomas and Kendall Reyes.  At inside linebacker, the team’s second-leading tackler each of the past two seasons returns in Donald Butler.  He’ll be lined up alongside Notre Dame Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o, the team’s second-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. At outside linebacker, veteran strong-side linebacker Jarret Johnson is joined by future Hall-of-Fame veteran Dwight Freeney, the Indianapolis Colts’ all-time sacks leader. In the secondary, Derek Cox and Shareece Wright man the cornerback slots while 2012’s leading tackler Eric Weddle anchors the safety position alongside Marcus Gilchrist.

On Defense for the Cardinals

Defensively, Arizona must replace its top three tacklers from a season ago, but they still have the ever-present Patrick Peterson, who doubles as their leading cornerback and punt return specialist. Last season, Peterson picked off seven passes to rank fourth in the NFL. Defensive end Calais Campbell, second on the squad in 2012 with 6.5 sacks, anchors the front of Arizona’s 3-4 defense.

Series History

San Diego leads the all-time preseason series 10-9, having won the last four contests.  In the regular season, the Bolts lead the all-time series 9-3.

By the Numbers

In 2012, the Chargers ranked 31st in total offense (297.2 yards per game), 24th in passing (205.9 ypg), 27th in rushing (91.3 ypg) and 20th in points (21.9). The Cardinals ranked 32nd in total offense (263.1 ypg), 28th in passing (187.8 ypg), 32nd in rushing (75.2 ypg) and 31st in points (15.6)

Defensively, the Bolts ranked ninth in total defense (326.4 ypg), 18th in passing (230.1 ypg), sixth in rushing (96.4 ypg) and 16th in points allowed (21.9). Arizona ranked 12th in total defense (337.8 ypg), fifth in passing (200.8 ypg), 28th in rushing (137.0 ypg) and 17th in points allowed (22.3).

A Look Back at 2012

Antonio Gates caught seven touchdown passes to raise his career total to 83 and became the franchise’s all-time leader in that category, surpassing Hall of Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth. Gates extended his streak of at least seven touchdown catches to nine seasons.

Philip Rivers passed for 3,606 yards and 26 touchdowns to extend his team-record streaks of 3,500-yards passing and 25 touchdowns to five seasons. Only five quarterbacks in NFL history can claim five or more consecutive seasons with at least 25 touchdown passes. That list includes Peyton Manning (1998-2012), Brett Favre (1994- 98), Dan Marino (1984-88), Drew Brees (2006-12) and Aaron Rodgers (2008-12).  Rivers also passed John Hadl’s career yardage total during the season to become the second-most prolific passer in team history. Rivers finished the season with the NFL’s seventh-best completion percentage (64.1) and he is the team’s career leader in that category (63.6).

Malcom Floyd caught a career-high 56 passes and was closing in on a new season high for yards before an ankle injury sidelined him the last two games.

Ronnie Brown caught a career-high 49 passes. As a team, Chargers’ running backs caught 123 passes this season, second in the NFL only to New Orleans’ 140.

The Chargers’ defense had a team record-tying 11 sacks in a Dec. 23 win against the New York Jets, including 3.5 from rookie Kendall Reyes, the most by a Chargers rookie since 1986, and two from Corey Liuget.  Reyes, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2012, finished the year third on the team with 5.5 sacks, while Liuget, the squad’s top pick in the 2011 draft, finished the year second on the squad with seven. For the season, Reyes paced the defensive line with 19 quarterback pressures and 15 quarterback hits, while Liuget ended the year as the defensive line’s leader in sacks, tackles (61), tackles for loss (15) and passes defensed (9).

Eric Weddle led the team in tackles (111) for the first time in his career and he tied for the team lead with three interceptions. The Chargers scored a total of seven defensive touchdowns in 2012, second in the NFL to Chicago’s 12, and two shy of the San Diego team record. The 1961 Chargers returned nine interceptions for touchdowns to set the mark while last year the Bolts returned five interceptions and two fumbles for scores.

The Chargers were in virtually every game they played in 2012. Their seven wins came by an average of 13.4 points, while all but two losses were close. Only defeats to Atlanta and Carolina were by margins greater than 11 points, while San Diego’s other defeats were by margins of 7, 11, 1, 10, 3, 3 and 7 points.

Thanks to the powerful right leg of Mike Scifres and his pin-point accuracy, the Chargers allowed only 9.1 yards per punt return in 2012.  Scifres posted a 40.6- yard net punting average, the second-highest season average in team history. It went along nicely with a team record 48.3-yard gross average that was third in the NFL and shattered the previous team mark of 46.7 (min. 50 attempts), which Scifres had set in 2010.

Nick Novak made 18 of 20 field goals in 2012, the third-highest conversion rate for a season (90.0%) in team history. Novak’s only two misses this season were also his longest attempts of the year from 54 and 55 yards.


Offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt was the Cardinals head coach from 2007-12.

Fozzy Whittaker ended the 2012 season on Arizona’s practice squad.

Chargers kicker Nick Novak went to training camp with the Cardinals in 2006.

Guard Rich Ohrnberger played in 13 games and started four for the Cardinals in 2012.

Special teams coordinator Kevin Spencer spent the 2007-12 seasons in the same capacity for the Cardinals.

Secondary coach Ron Milus spent the 2003 season coaching defensive backs in Arizona.

Quarterbacks coach Frank Reich coached the Cardinals’ wide receivers in 2012.

Defensive quality control coach Chad Grimm spent the 2009-12 seasons as an offensive quality control coach with the Cardinals.

Broadcast Information

CBS (KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego and KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles and Orange County) – Dan Fouts (play-by-play), Billy Ray Smith (analyst)

Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst)

Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst)

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