- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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And that's where it stopped, in a rainstorm in Miami against the Dolphins, a team that NFL insiders were predicting the Chargers would crush. The elements were too much. Humphries was intercepted four times, three of the picks setting up Miami touchdowns, and the Chargers lost 31-0. "It eats me Up," Humphries says. "I stunk, and we're not the kind of team that can walk on the field and not play our best and win."
Humphries says that the Chargers have been doing more to juice up the offense—running some no-huddle, throwing more to their backs on base downs. One of those backs could be Natrone Means, a good-looking rookie.
One thing the Chargers should be great at is rushing the passer. Added to the three in-house guys, O'Neal, Seau and Burt Grossman, were outside linebacker Jerrol Williams, a fine free-agent pickup from Pittsburgh, and eye-popping rookie defensive end Ray Lee Johnson. Playoff team, yes. One step up? Depends on how far Humphries and the offense have come.
This was the saddest thing I heard about the LOS ANGELES RAIDERS last year: "We had a team meeting, and [coach] Art Shell got into a shouting match with Marcus Allen," one player told me. "What was so depressing was that they're exactly the same type of people, great old Raiders. It shows what's happened to this organization."
Opposing players said there were names in which the Raiders just quit. Some guys, such as starting defensive end Greg Townsend, looked as though they were going through the motions. Allen, their best running back, was sitting on the bench. Their best quarterback, Steve Beuerlein, was sitting on the bench in Dallas. Former Giant Jeff Hostetler, their new quarterback, is better than what they had, but he's a safety-first guy who completes the seven-yard pass on third-and-nine.
L.A. can't help but win some games because in some areas the team is so strong: the secondary, with a fine pair of corners, Terry McDaniel and Lionel Washington; and the offensive line, with center Don Mosebar, guard Steve Wisniewski and ex-Ram LT Gerald Perry. Howie Long holds firm on a D-line in which everyone wants to be an open-field pass rusher. It's sad.
Football law: Put a great defense in enough hopeless situations and it will eventually crack. Not so with the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. In '92 the quarterbacking was hopeless, as were the offense, field position and record (2-14). But how those defensive guys hung in there, series after series. They never cracked, a tribute to two coaches, Tom Catlin and Rusty Tillman. Defensive coordinator Tillman should be a terrific head coach some day.
Who are these defensive guys, anyway? Nosetackle Cortex Kennedy, free safety Eugene Robinson and outside linebacker Rufus Porter are the Pro Bowlers. The rest are mainly over-achievers—tackle Joe Nash and end Jeff Bryant and corners Dwayne Harper and Patrick Hunter. Can they sustain the intensity for another dismal year without cracking? Who knows.?
The Seahawks were locked into taking a quarterback on the first round, and Rick Mirer will find out what it's like to play behind a line that gave up a league-high 67 sacks. I don't see much change on this unit, which had a running game at times but leaked badly when it was time to throw. All seven drafted rookies could wind up somewhere on the roster, which is what happens to 2-14 teams.
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