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Scouting Report: San Diego Chargers vs. New Orleans Saints

Posted Oct 2, 2012

The Chargers aim to improve their record to 4-1 as they head to the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football.  The Saints enter the game as a dangerous team despite their surprising 0-4 record. If only a couple breaks had gone their way, they very easily could have a winning record. The primetime matchup features two of the most explosive offenses in recent years, helmed by two premier quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and Drew Brees. Nonetheless it should be an entertaining affair.

A Look Back At Last Week

San Diego rebounded from a Week 3 loss in resounding fashion, dominating the Kansas City Chiefs 37-20. Jackie Battle notched a pair of touchdowns against his former team while the defense forced a league-high six turnovers against the NFL’s number one ranked offense.  Philip Rivers set numerous personal milestones in the victory as well. Number 17 started his 100th career game, completed his 2,000th career pass and became just the 63rd quarterback in league history to eclipse 25,000 passing yards.

Photo Gallery: Familiar Faces | Bolts for the Brave | More Photos

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

The Chargers offense will look to keep things rolling after posting a season-high 37 points against the Chiefs.  Head coach Norv Turner indicated that he will continue to split carries between Jackie Battle and Ryan Mathews, believing that the two running styles perfectly complement each other. They should both get a chance to shine against a Saints team that ranks last in the league in run defense. In the passing game, watch for Philip Rivers to get Robert Meachem involved early and often as the wide out will be facing his former team for the very first time.

On Offense for the Saints

Drew Brees has been solid for the Saints, throwing for more than 300 yards in three of four games as he enters Sunday’s match with 1,350 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Brees has a number of capable targets including tight end Jimmy Graham (24 catches for 248 yards and three scores), running back Darren Sproles (23-207-2), and wide receivers Lance Moore (19-287-2) and Marques Colston (19-313-1). The Saints employ a backfield by committee with Pierre Thomas as the team’s leading rusher with 28 carries for 152 yards.

On Defense for the Chargers

In order to contain the Saints dynamic, high-scoring offense, the Chargers defense needs to create takeaways like they did this past week. It is unrealistic to expect them to record six again, but they will need to force the Saints offense into turning the ball over in order to get their high-flying attack off the field.  Maintaining a consistent pass rush is equally as  important, for when Drew Brees has enough time to sit in the pocket, he is as dangerous as any quarterback in the league.

On Defense for the Saints

An area the Bolts need to exploit in order to win this game is New Orleans’ weak defense, which is ranked dead last in the league. Linebacker Curtis Lofton leads the Saints with 44 tackles, while Junior Galette leads the squad with two sacks and cornerback Jabari Greer has their lone interception.

Series History

The Chargers and Saints have met 10 times in the regular season with San Diego holding a 7-3 series edge. The last meeting between the teams actually took place in London in 2008. It was a New Orleans home game that was played at Wembley Stadium and won by the Saints, 37-32. The teams combined for more than 850 yards of total offense with Philip Rivers and Drew Brees passing for 341 and 339 yards, respectively, and three touchdowns apiece.

By the Numbers

For the year, the Chargers rank 24th in total offense (311.8 yards per game), 23rd in passing (211.8 ypg), 17th in rushing (100.0 ypg) and 14th in points (25.0). The Saints rank eighth in total offense (401.5 ypg), third in passing (320.8 ypg), 26th in rushing (80.8 ypg) and 10th in points (27.5)

Defensively, the Bolts rank 12th in total defense (317.5 ypg), 17th in passing (237.2 ypg), sixth in rushing (80.2 ypg) and sixth in points allowed (17.8).  New Orleans ranks 32nd in total defense (463.2 ypg), 24th in passing (276.5 ypg), 32nd in rushing (186.8 ypg) and 29th in points allowed (32.5).

Milestones on the Horizon

Shaun Phillips has 63.5 career sacks, fourth in team history. Phillips needs two more to tie Lee Williams (65.5) for third, and he needs 3.5 to tie Gary “Big Hands” Johnson (67) for second. Phillips leads the team this season with 3.5 sacks, 11 pressures and five quarterback hits.

Jarret Johnson is expected to make his 100th career start Sunday against the Saints.

The Chargers need five regular-season victories to reach 400 all-time. The Chargers’ all-time regular-season record is 395-386-11.

A.J. Smith is the winningest general manager in franchise history with 94 wins. He needs six wins to see the team reach 100 wins under his watch. Additionally, the Chargers’ next division title will be Smith’s sixth as general manager, most in team history, and the Chargers’ next playoff win will be Smith’s fourth as general manager, also most in team history.

Norv Turner (114 career wins) is tied with former Chargers coach Don Coryell for 32nd all-time in career wins. Several others are within reach this season. Turner needs three wins to tie Dennis Green (117) for 31st, four to tie George Allen (118) for 30th and nine to tie another former Chargers coach, Sid Gillman (123), for 29th.

Philip Rivers needs 1,757 passing yards to move past John Hadl for second in team history.

Antonio Gates (76) needs five touchdown catches to match Lance Alworth’s (81) team record.

Eric Weddle (15) needs five interceptions to crack the team’s top 10 for career picks.

Nick Novak (30 career field goals) ranks ninth all-time in team history. With one more he’ll tie Dick Van Raaphorst (1966-67) for eighth and with two more, he’ll tie Ray Wersching (1973-76) for seventh.



Photos: Familiar Faces
Connections between the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers.

Wide receiver Robert Meachem was a first-round pick by the Saints in 2007 and he played in New Orleans from 2007-11.

Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin played for the Saints in 2011.

Safety Brandon Taylor attended LSU and is from Franklinton, La.

Tight end Ladarius Green went to Louisiana-Lafayette.

Punter Mike Scifres is from Destrehan, La. (Destrehan High School).

National scout Tom McConnaughey signed with the Saints as a free agent wide receiver in 1981.

Senior executive Randy Mueller was the Saints’ general manager from 2000-01.

Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. was a Chargers offensive assistant/quality control coach from 2002-05.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was a scout for the Chargers in 1993.

Quarterback Drew Brees was a second-round pick by the Chargers in 2001 and he played for the Bolts from 2001-05.

Running back Darren Sproles was a fourth-round pick by the Bolts in 2005 and he played for the Chargers from 2005-10.

Broadcast Information

NBC Sports
(KNSD, Channel 7 in San Diego & KNBC, Channel 4 in Los Angeles and Orange County) – Al Michaels (play-by-play), Chris Collinsworth (analyst) and Michele Tafoya  (reporter)

Dial Global Radio (National) – Dave Sims (play-by-play), James Lofton (analyst) and Scott Kaplan (reporter)

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