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Mailbag: What's Wrong with Passing Game?
Q: Danario Alexander is a beast dude! He legit? – Ma’al Hussein
A: It certainly looks that way. Alexander has the physical tools to be a top-end receiver in the NFL. The only thing that has kept him back so far has been his injury history. But when healthy in college as well as now in the NFL, he’s shown a knack for being an explosive weapon in the passing game. The Chargers look like they’ve gotten a real steal.
Q: Honestly, what do we have left to play for this year? – Taylor Winters
A: As grim as it looks, you can’t give up all hope for an AFC Wild Card berth. Far stranger things have happened over the years. A win against the Ravens sets up two important games against teams the Chargers will battle for one of those two wild card slots in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Besides that, fans should pay attention to the exciting young talent on this team. The likes of Danario Alexander, Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes, Donald Butler, Marcus Gilchrist and many others will play a pivotal role in the future of the club, so seeing what they are capable of will only help the Chargers build for the future.
Q: Please tell me what is wrong with Philip? I have backed him up and believed in him through these struggles and still think he is our guy but there has to be some reason why he isn't playing like he did from 2006 to 2010. In your opinion what could it be? – Shane Williams
A: We’ve said a lot about the struggles in the passing game this season, and it goes beyond just Rivers. Yes, he could make better decisions with the football and is pressing, but a lot of that has to do with the offense as a whole. The running backs need to do a better job of establishing a ground game to provide more balance, and the offensive line needs to improve their pass protection to give Rivers time to throw the ball. Just this past week, Malcom Floyd said he and the receivers need to do a better job with their routes as well. So the passing game issues go beyond just Rivers. It’s on the team as a whole.
Q: How's Vincent Brown doing? You think the Bolts will bring him back being that they're 3 games behind Denver (probably 4 after this week)? A wild card is still within reach, but is it worth rushing a young player back for? – TJ Jackson
A: Vincent’s recovery has been slightly slower than anticipated, but he is making progress. During practices he is no longer in the trainer’s room but is on the side field running and rehabbing his ankle. I’m not sure when he will be cleared for practice, but as soon as he is healthy, I think the team will play him whether a wild card is within reach or not. He is only in his second year, so any game experience at all this season will play dividends in the future. I don’t think the team would rush anyone back at the expense of his health, but as soon as Vincent proves he is able to play you will see him back in there.
Q: If Eddie Royal misses the game, who is our slot receiver? – Mark Mitchell
A: That’s a very good question, and to be honest, I’m now sure I know the answer to that. The last time Eddie missed a game Dante Rosario played some slot, but he has been battling a hamstring injury of his own. If I had to guess one guy I’d say Seyi Ajirotutu. I think he is most capable of filling in that role. Perhaps Ladarius Green gets some looks there as well. The team may also try to find ways to get Robert Meachem involved in three wide out sets, but he isn’t a true slot receiver as much as he is a deep vertical threat. Another option that comes to mind is Ronnie Brown. He excels at short routes out of the backfield, but the team likes him as just that – a player coming out of the backfield. It will be interesting to see how they fill Royal’s slot position if indeed he misses the game.
Q: Are the Chargers thinking of giving Ryan Mathews more carries? If not is it because of his health? – Timmy Flynn
A: Despite being hampered by a stiff neck last week, Mathews is healthy. He hasn’t gotten as many carries of late as the team has been behind and needed to air it out. Plus, the Chargers seem to have a role for the other running backs with Ronnie Brown emerging as the third-down back and Jackie Battle as the short yardage runner. Still, don’t be surprised to see a heavy dose of Mathews on Sunday against a Ravens run defense that has struggled at times this season.
Q: My bold prediction is that Ryan Mathews scores three touchdowns in a win. What's yours this week? – Ryan Towning
A: Three touchdowns for anyone is certainly going out on a limb, but I like the way you’re thinking! I’m going to say that both Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander find the end zone this week.