San Diego Chargers
2002 Record: (1-0) 9.15.02 | 3:15pm
San Diego, CA
September 12, 2002
Texas Champs Head to SoCal
by Jimmy Mohr
The Houston Texans take an undefeated record into San Diego this Sunday when they play the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Texans deserve to walk out of the visitor’s locker room and onto the field with a swagger that would make John Wayne envious after demoralizing Dallas last Sunday night on ESPN. The Texans could become the first expansion team to ever start their inaugural season with two straight wins. Unfortunately, the competition improves this week.
The 2001 campaign was dreadful for the Chargers. They began the season 4-1 and then proceeded to lose nine games in a row and finished the season 5-11. In the Chargers’ defense, the team was young and inexperienced. Even so, Head Coach Mike Riley was fired and Marty Schottenheimer replaced him. With a new coach and last year’s dreadful experience behind them, expectations are considerably higher.
Setting the tone for the 2002 season, the Chargers destroyed the hapless Bengals in week one, 34-6, behind top performances from two of their young stars. Second year QB Drew Brees, who won the starting job from 35-year old Doug Flutie in the preseason, completed 15 of 19 throws with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Another youngster, second year RB LaDainian Tomlinson of TCU, rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown and caught three passes for 45 yards. The pair possesses Pro Bowl talent, and showed what they are capable of in Cincinnati. The Texans will have their hands full attempting to limit their impact in this game.
The Chargers defense is still spearheaded by perennial Pro Bowler LB Junior Seau, who is entering his 14th season. Seau and the rest of his defense held Corey Dillon and the Bengals to 13 net yards rushing. The Texans weak running attack plays to the Chargers strength.
Palmer When the Texans have the ball…
Chris Palmer surprised everyone last week when the floodgates opened on the Texans’ first play from scrimmage. As a result, the Chargers will have to expect the unexpected. The Texans have little hope in improving the running attack, so they will have to throw deep to keep the Chargers honest. Of particular concern is LB Junior Seau who is one of the brightest minds in the game. Last week, he was calling out the Bengals offensive plays before the snap of the ball. The Texans had better keep Seau in their sights since he has the ability to single-handedly carry the Chargers defense.
When the Chargers have the ball…
Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson are the heart and soul of this offense. Against the Bengals, Brees had a QB rating of 136.8 and Tomlinson rushed for over 100 yards in only three quarters of play, impressive numbers to say the least. The key strength is the offensive line that allowed the offense to amass 402 total yards. Look for the Chargers to use the O-line to set the tone early with a power running game. They also ran three reverses last week with tremendous success, so look for them to mix a few in. If Tomlinson gets untracked early, the pressure will be off Brees and make life much easier for him. The Texans will need to try and stuff the run, and then confuse Brees by mixing up coverages.
Carr Win the turnover battle
On the road, this is imperative. Last week against the Cowboys, the Texans won the battle 2-1 and eventually won the game. David Carr needs to play within himself and limit his mistakes just like he did against the Cowboys. The Texans’ O-line will have to keep the Chargers out of Carr’s hip pocket, a tall task with all of the injuries. A Tony Boselli sighting on the field would be a huge boost.
Quiet the crowd
The San Diego crowd should be pumped, assuming anyone bothers to show up. They have a young and exciting tandem in Brees and Tomlinson, and the Padres have sucked since the last millennium. A big play early would go a long way in taking some of the home field advantage away from the Chargers.
Improve the running game
The Texans would love to have a back similar to Tomlinson on their roster, but for now, James Allen and Jonathan Wells will have to do. Against the Cowboys, the offensive line did a respectable job under the circumstances; however, most teams fail to win with those kind of rushing numbers. On the bright side, Tony Boselli could see his first action this week. Allen and Wells will need to combine for a minimum of 100 yards this week to win.
Drew Brees vs. David Carr
Brees has an extra year under his belt, but both are starting for only the second time in their professional careers. Carr was impressive in that he threw more touchdowns than interceptions last week, but the Cowboys have a weak secondary. The Chargers secondary is not very far ahead of Dallas, so the deep pass has potential. First round pick Quentin Jammer was finally inked by the Chargers this week, but he is not expected to play much this week.
Texans vs. Overconfidence
Gargantuan wins by young teams are great, but the next game counts just as much in the standings. The Texans are flying high after defeating the overconfident Cowboys last week; hopefully it does not go to their head. The Chargers are not the same 5-11 team from last year. The Chargers are 13½ point favorites for a reason; the Texans can’t take them lightly.
HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: Nice win, guys. Now back to reality. Tomlinson will
be tough to stop and the Houston offense still needs training wheels. Chargers 20, Texans 6
Dave: Too much Tomlinson, not enough Allen/Wells. Chargers 28 Texans 20
Jimmy: The Chargers run over the Texans. Chargers 31, Texans 17
Keith: Bolts tighten on Texan offense as San Diego Brees-es to victory. Chargers 24, Texans 13
Ric: Well, hell, if I didn’t think they could beat Dallas… Chargers 24, Texans 6
Warren: The opportunistic Texans won’t have as many chances to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes this week. Chargers 17, Texans 13
2002 Regular Season Records Bob 0-1; Dave 0-1; Jimmy 1-0; Keith 1-0;
Ric 0-1; Warren 0-1
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 22 10 145 2/1 TEAM 22 10 125 2/1 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 19 56 2.9 0 TEAM 35 78 2.2 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 4 99 24.8 1 TEAM 10 145 14.5 2 CHARGERS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT Brees 19 15 160 2/0 TEAM 19 15 160 2/0 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Tomlinson 21 114 5.4 1 TEAM 45 241 5.4 2 REC NO YDS AVG TD Tomlinson 3 45 15 0 TEAM 15 160 10.7 2 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review