The San Diego Chargers haven’t started a season with a record of 3-1 or better since 2006. The Bolts look to start 3-1 as they host the 0-3 Miami Dolphins this weekend. The last meeting between the teams was in 2009, it resulted in a 23-13 win for San Diego. Here are my keys to the game for a Charger victory.
Limit Brandon MarshallMarshall has performed well against the Chargers dating back to his days with Denver. San Diego hasn’t played against Marshall since becoming a member of the Dolphins. As a Bronco in 2008, Marshall had 24 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown in two games against the Bolts. Those stats include a September 14th match-up where Marshall racked in 18 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. Charger fans like myself are expecting better coverage on him this weekend. However, that will be tough due to the likely absence of star cornerback Quentin Jammer. Antoine Cason will probably be designated the assignment to cover Marshall. I believe the Chargers should and will double cover Marshall at times. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne relies heavily on Marshall in the passing game. It’s unlikely the Chargers will be able to hold Marshall to less than 70 yards, but the key will be keeping him out of the end zone.
Pressure Chad HenneHenne is playing for his job this season; he has started the season with a 56.5 completion percentage, 841 yards four touchdowns and three interceptions. Last week vs. the Browns Henne was sacked 5 times. Rookie Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget and all-pro linebacker Shaun Phillips will look to continue the theme of Henne being sacked. Liuget draws a tough match-up against outstanding offensive lineman Jake Long. Henne has been inconsistent in his career yet posses enough talent to pick apart this depleted Charger secondary. Henne’s inability to deal with pressure has been a kryptonite of his game since entering the NFL. Henne tends to panic when faced with pressure causing him to throw interceptions and turn the ball over.
Philip Rivers living up to expectationsRivers season has started off worse than many expected. He has thrown for 979 yards four touchdowns and six interceptions. Rivers is on pace to throw an inexplicable 28 INT’s compared to only 13 last year. Many expected this year to be Rivers break out season similar to Aaron Rogers a year ago. Rivers is regarded as one of the leagues premier quarterbacks yet struggled mightily against the Kansas City Chiefs worst overall ranked defense. This week will be a shot at redemption for Rivers. He has a good opportunity to succeed against the Miami Dolphins pass defense that stands in at 29th overall (3rd worst). I expect Rivers to not force the issue as much therefore limiting his turnovers and resulting in more touchdown passes. Rivers has the potential to be better than last year with the improvements in the running game and having Vincent Jackson back. A big key to the game will be Rivers playing up to his potential; it starts with him not turning the ball over.