Justice Is Coming answers Total Titans’ questions about the Chargers


Thanks to Ross Warner of the Chargers site Justice Is Coming for participating in this week’s Q&A session.  Thanks to Scott and Andrew for suggesting questions (sorry, Scott, I didn’t get your until after I’d sent the email to Ross).

Questions and answers follow beyond the jump.

Total Titans:  Chris Johnson is the Titans’ most dangerous offensive weapon, and a threat to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball.  How worried are you about him, and how will the Chargers try to stop him?

Justice Is Coming: How worried am I about Chris Johnson?  You’d have to have lived under a rock to be extremely worried about him.  The Bolts run defense was an issue even when Jamal Williams was healthy last season.  But what has really changed for this team is standing tall in the red zone, with a defensive line, I might add, that you couldn’t pick out of a lineup.  Chris Johnson is going to get his yards.  But the Chargers’ offense has really kept other teams on their heels during this winning streak.  Last season, especially in the first half, they were constantly playing from behind.  Teams could stick with the run against them.  The key for the Bolts will be getting off the field on 3rd downs and staying disciplined with their tackling.  Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him anything else) was able to get some YAC last week that the Bolts can’t allow Johnson to get.

Total Titans: Andrew asks “I’d like to know more about the Chargers receivers. We know all about Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates. It says quite a bit for the Chargers WR depth when they can release a starter who goes on to put up some big numbers right away for his new team. How does Malcom Floyd improve the Bolts’ offense over Chris Chambers? What can Titans fans expect of Floyd and the other Charger wideouts?”

Justice Is Coming: I love Malcom Floyd.  The guy has come off the scrap heap and into the starting lineup.  He had some huge catches in 2006 and had he not got injured, I think we may not have crapped all over ourselves against New England in the playoffs that season.  He and Rivers had a nice rapport right away and caught long touchdown bombs against Baltimore and Cincy that season.  These days, he’s most reliable for the “jump ball,” that people are starting to connect with the Chargers lately.  As a kid who grew up idolizing Wes Chandler, I can tell you that he has made some of the nicest grabs I have ever seen.  As he showed on the last offensive play against the Bengals, he can also work the sideline when it counts.

Total Titans: The Chargers are 30th in rushing yards, 32nd in yards per carry, and, for good measure, 31st inFootball Outsiders’ Rushing DVOA.  Is LaDainian Tomlinson done, the offensive line that bad, or a combination of both?  Has Darren Sproles been incorporated into the offense, and should he get more work?

Justice Is Coming: It’s a combination of all those things.  LT is not the  2006 version, nor do we need him to be.  The line has been great at protecting Rivers, but not as good on run blocking.  However, they have been working without Nick Hardwick since Week One and without an improving Jeromey Clary since the second Denver game.  Also, they have had a rookie starting in Vasquez.  LT does not hit the hole as quick as he did, but every time I think he might be holding us back he makes a move that only he can.  Sproles has been using more sparingly than originally advertised.  Norv Turner said before the season that the 2 would alternate depending on who was better suited for that week’s opposition.  However, LT was out for two weeks and Sproles was the featured back.  He was the recipient of a couple of 3rd and short runs that ended with losses.  With Mike Tolbert, I will never understand why he doesn’t get those carries.  Anyway, LT is all about getting a shot at a ring.  He hasn’t been healthy since the aforementioned 2006 disastrous playoff game.  However, he needs to get into a rhythm like any other runner.  So I guess that is why Sproles has not been used as much.  However, Sproles made a huge catch on the final drive against the Giants and will get the ball in the clutch.  Thus far, I can’t fault any play calling that Norv Turner has made lately.

Total Titans: There’s been some noise this week about bad blood relating to the teams’ meetings in 2007 and Shawne Merriman in particular.  Does this go beyond normal trash-talking, and do you expect it to play any role in the game?

Justice Is Coming: In 2007, Merriman felt that he was cheap shotted.  Kevin Mawae will never be on any opposing players’ Christmas list, that’s for sure.  I only saw a little of the Titans game against Houston, and I caught him getting a little extra in there.  However, it’s different when he’s on your team.  We signed John Runyan this year and Merriman formerly referred to him as the dirtiest player he ever lined up against.  In the playoff game, the injury that Antonio Gates suffered in the first half, appeared to be on a play in which he was defenseless.  Do I think these were dirty?  No, and I really don’t think the Bolts are that focused on it.  They are trying for the first time to become a team, rather than a bunch of Pro Bowl berths.  The bad blood you mention I think is just the result of a hard-fought December game that really cemented Philip Rivers as the leader of this team.  I saw that Cortland Finnegan called him out in SI a while back and I can tell you that as someone who watches the Bolts closely, Rivers is hardly a villain.  The only guy who has been that focused on him over the last few years is Cutler.  What does that tell you?  Rivers is exactly what he appears as, a coach’s son from Alabama who loves God, his family and football.  It might seem disingenuous, but it’s not at all.  Yes, Virginia, there really is a guy like Philip Rivers.

Total Titans: Is there anything about the Chargers I haven’t asked you that you’d like Titans fans to know?

Justice Is Coming: Absolutely.  Don’t look at the Bolts and see Merriman’s sack dance or a bunch of egos.  Charger fans have disliked the same things about their own team that Jeff Fisher might have been alluding to this week.  Boltheads have been calling for a tough, hard nosed team that plays with guts and poise.  Although one thing I have learned over the past few postseasons is that you can talk if you can back it up.  I am sure you guys were thinking of that when you played Pitt on the road last season.  Plaxico Burress would just be some fool that fell in the tub if the Giants hadn’t beaten the Pats.  Dislike the Chargers because they are playing your team.  You can resent all the attention they have gotten lately.  But know that this is a group that knows they have not won ANYTHING and is hopefully fueled by that.  The “most talented team” label exists only when you don’t win the Super Bowl.

Total Titans: Finally, if you’d like to make a score prediction, please feel free.

Justice Is Coming: I have never been good with predictions, since I have witnessed one win seasons I thought would be successful.  However, I think the Chargers really want that #2 seed and will bring their best.  That doesn’t ensure a win, especially on the road against a team playing just to stay alive.  However, I believe in these “nut up or shut up” Chargers.  Bolts 27, Titans 17

Thanks again to Ross for participating in this week’s Q&A session.  FYI, the press of family obligations will prevent me from doing a liveblog tomorrow, but we’ll still have the normal pre- and post-game posts.


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