As the team wings west this evening, I can't help feeling a wave of contentment knowing the Yankees were getting trounced by the Texans. I hope those front running Yankee fans will spend the next 5 months with the lasting memory of Alex Rodrigues watching strike 3 go by without taking the bat off his shoulder for the final out of the game.......ahhhhhhh 1.The SD game is been called a "trap game" by some of the media, who still don't get it. Somehow they think that just because the Pats are 4-1 and the Chargers are 2-4 that we are somehow twice as good as they are. They don't understand that EVERYONE in the league has lots of good players. That everyone can beat anyone on a given Sunday. That the margin of victory is very thin each and every week. I heard a stat today. I can't remember where exactly, but it really struck home the point that SD is a VERY GOOD team. Someone noted that in the superbowl era, several teams have had periods when they were they led the league in BOTH total offense and defense at the same time, just like SD is doing now. What was interesting was the fact that those teams had a combined record of something ridiculous like 45-4 during that time. So how can SD be 2-4? Good question, Simple answer - special teams and turn overs. What has happened to SD could happen to the best of teams if they had the same breakdowns. They have given up 30 points this season JUST through bad special teams play. They have had several brutal turn overs in their opponents red zone. Lots of yds, and nothing to show for it.(#1 in yds, #19 in points) Yet while they won BOTH their home games by over 25 points, they have lost all their games by 7 points or less....all on the road. The truth is that it wouldn't take much to have turned that record around. If we have learned anything in our years of watching this league, we should have learned by now that EVERY match up is its own entity. That what happened last week will have very little impact on what happens THIS week. So no one should be the least surprised if SD's special teams are fine, and they don't turn the ball over in our red zone. So this isn't a "trap game". Quite the reverse, its a game where clearly two very good teams are going to be on the field come Sunday, and the team that executes its game plan more consistently, and makes more "big plays" will win the game....just like every other game during the long NFL season. Now at this point, there is a part of me who wants to smack me in the mouth for spending this much time to state the obvious, but still there are many here who too often go from mad hubris to wild panic based on a single result....one snap shot in a long season. When you look at the schedule only Cleveland and Buffalo look like teams that you can "count on" winning (sorta like the 12-1 team that went down to Miami to play a one win Dolphins team in 2004 ) but you know what I mean. In the NFL there are games you can win, and a even a few that you SHOULD win, but there are no games where the other team can't win, if you don't play reasonably well. For this game. I put this in the catagory of this is a game that we CAN win. For SD, this is a game that they not only should win, but MUST win. 2. The most significant stat that I got from last week's game, was the fact we held the Ravens offense to 2 first downs in their last FIVE possessions. So for about 20 minutes this season we saw an actual shutdown, dominant, Patriot Defense. Well its a start, and that's the good news, because it was about 20 minutes more than we thought we would see at this point. 3. The bad news is that this VERY young defense is going to see the best QB its seen so far, and maybe the best they will see for the rest of the season. This is an offense that ISN'T going to settle for dinks and dunks. This is an offense designed to find the holes in zone defenses 12-18 yds down field and with Nene, Crayton and Gates a formidable 3some as targets. Almost as good as the Ravens receivers, but with a much better QB. 4. People here know I'm not much of a stat guy. I like them, but I'd much rather have SOMEONE ELSE do the looking . However on occasion I do go to NFL.com to check on something and I noticed a few things that I thought interesting, so I thought I'd share. a. Everyone one knows that we are a mainly a passing team, yet only 54% of our plays are passes b. Everyone knows we need a top notch runner, and what kind of running attack can we have when your 2 main targets are BOTH undersized UDFAs with very weird names. Yet there are 20 other teams in the league that have WORSE running attacks right now. c. AND we are averaging a pretty gaudy 4.4 ypc d. Tom Brady is a pretty pedestrian #16 in passing yds, but there are 20 QBs who have had more attempts....many more. Brady has had 166 attempts, 13 other QBs have had over 200, including Peyton Manning who has over 250 e.But if you think Tom needs an ego boost, he DOES have the 3rd best QB rating, behind only Peyton and Philip Rivers Damned that hail Mary pick at the end of the half (and it killed my FF team as well). 5. The SD defense is #1 as well. They are tied for 2nd in sacks with just over double the 10 sacks the Pats have managed. They have 2 very good corners and lead the league with allowing only an average of 166 ypg. Only 91 rushing. They have also allowed only 21 points per game, compared to our 30.6 (OUCH) 6. That last stat hurt, especially when you consider that last year's "sorry defense" allowed only 17.8 ppg Maybe Lee Boddin was better than we thought. That 30.6 ppg stat can't start coming down soon enough to suit me. 7.Now I know up until now I have presented a pretty gloom and doom series of factoids and observations, but I do believe this team is capable of beating SD. I certainly wouldn't be in the least surprised.....one way....or the other. 8 I think I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hot topic of the week, the stricter enforcement of the tackling rules. 30+ years ago I taught players to put their face masks into the chests of the ball carrier, roll your hips, wrap and lift. Like most coaches of the day, the cardinal sin was to put your head down and not see what you are hitting. It not only put your head and neck into a dangerous position, you were much more likely to miss the damned tackle. I have been on record for years decrying the poor tackling techniques in the NFL, which by and large seems to be simply to lower your head, throw your body at the ball carrier and hope for the best. Given the poor technique and increased violence of the collisions, I'm surprised more players haven't been seriously hurt. I am fine with eliminating the Merriweather hit on Heep. Hitting with the top of the helmet should be cause for immediate expulsion. Again its not only dangerous to the offensive player, but to the defensive player as well. I know spearing is already on the books, but when was the last time you saw a spearing penalty called? However what I AM afraid of is the arbitrary flag that going to be called on what I would call perfect tackles. Those where the player hits with his face mask first. I also wouldn't call anyone who makes an attempt to wrap when he makes his hit. If they want to fine people after a film review after the fact, I'm fine with it. But only the most egregious penalties (like Merriweather's) should cost a team 15 yds. Like the PI there is just too much grey area for officials. Hopefully after a week or so, this issue will subside, and the worst of the offenses will be eliminated, while the integrity of the game is maintained.....along with some better tackling techniques. 9. I'm sorry the trade deadline went by with Logan Mankins still on the team. Outside of veteran depth, I don't see the point. If the guy was SOOO pissed off at the Pats that he demeaned the owner and turned down a deal that would have made him one of the top 3 highest paid OG's in the league; why would we think he'd be mentally prepared to play a significant part in our OL I'm baffled by those who keep saying "how can you not play one of the best OG's in the league?" I don't deny that he WAS one of the best OG's in the league. But that was after he had a full off season to prepare, as well as a full training camp. Face the facts that the Logan Mankins that will arrive some time in November WILL NOT be ready to play at an elite level. I'd be very surprised if he arrived ready to play at a JAG level. Why would he? How is it in his best interest to put himself through the effort and risk to get ready to play. No! He's only here to sit on the bench and get his year's credit in then get to FA. Teams have 5 years of film on him. 3 or 4 games of poor play (assuming he sees the field) isn't going to hurt him much. The only ray of hope I can see, is if both sides are secretly talking about a doable long term deal. That is the ONLY reason I can think of not to trade him, even if were for a bag of balls. Okay, This has clearly gone on long enough.....actually way TOO long. I'll do another AFTER the game when I will have the benefit of perfect 20-20 hindsignt.....and I'll try not to over do my "keen sense of the obvious"