Know Your Packers Enemy: Previewing Packers-Chargers With John Gennaro of Bolts From the Blue

In this week’s installment of “Know Your Packers Enemy,” I talked with John Gennaro, the managing editor of Bolts From the Blue. It’s hands down the best Chargers blog I found in my search and John does a fantastic job ruling over it. You can follow John and the blog on Twitter (@BFTB_Chargers) as well.

Enough with the intros, let’s talk some Packers-Chargers.

ZACH KRUSE: First things first. What’s the vibe around San Diego right now? The Chargers still find themselves atop of the AFC West at 4-3, but is this a dejected fan base after the OT loss? What about Norv Turner? Are you as down on him as the head coach moving forward in San Diego as some of the other Chargers fans I’ve talked with?

JOHN GENNARO: Yes, yes, yes. Not just the loss to the Chiefs, but the loss against the Jets has also left a bad taste in the mouths of Chargers fans. With no wins over teams with winning records, and the Chargers constantly playing against themselves (due to turnovers and penalties) as much as they’re playing against an opposing NFL team, it’s hard to imagine this team going anywhere.

I’ve jumped off the bandwagon that typically supports Norv, although I’m not ready to fire him just yet, for one reason. Norv is here to make sure that the offense and Philip Rivers plays well. Those things are not happening.
ZK: I’d like to hear your take on Philip Rivers. Obviously, the numbers in 2011 are far off what we’ve seen from him during his career. What’s the issue? Is there an injury he’s covering up? I obviously haven’t watched Rivers at length like you have, but the tape I’ve seen from this season suggests a more labored motion than usual that could be hiding a deeper structural issue, possibly in the shoulder. That’s just my take. What’s yours?

JG: Football Outsiders did a great job of running through the theories (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2011/what-wrong-philip-rivers) as well as looking over the tape, and came to the same conclusion that everyone else has: We don’t know. It’s obvious that his footwork is messier than usual, but there’s no real reason why. He’s throwing off of his backfoot and falling away instead of stepping into his throws, but again this seems to be more by choice and panic than anything else. Outside of a possible personal problem (that I won’t speculate on), there’s no easy explanation as to why Rivers is playing so much worse than what we’ve come to expect from him.



McCarthy: Packers’ Focus Shifts To San Diego Chargers

With the bye week now in the rear view mirror, Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers have shifted their focus to the one team standing in their way of becoming 8-0: the San Diego Chargers.

In his post-bye Monday press conference, McCarthy noted that practice today was full pads—something he plans to do twice this week—and the concentration was on fundamentals and getting ready for the Chargers.

“San Diego is an uncommon opponent,” McCarthy said. “We haven’t traveled out to the West Coast this year. We are taking extra time getting ready for this game.”

There was an obvious respect level from McCarthy when asked about the Chargers and their organization, starting with head coach Norv Turner and extending down to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

“A good football team,” McCarthy said. “Norv Turner has always done an excellent job offensively, the way he challenges your scheme. I have a lot respect for Greg Manusky. He does an excellent job [defensively] and they are very well-coordinated. The Chargers have always been a talented football team and that’s no different this year. This will be a big challenge for us.”

He anticipates watching the Chargers and Chiefs tonight on Monday Night Football. The main scouting will be done with coaches film later in the week, but it will help to gauge the pulse of the team. McCarthy also noted that watching the second divisional game between the Chargers and Chiefs is beneficial, as there’s a lot to learn about a team in divisional games, especially the second time around.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s Monday press conference:

  • McCarthy isn’t talking about injuries until Wednesday. He said both Chad Clifton and Mike Neal were “getting better.” Hoping to give a better timeline by Wednesday.
  • The team was excited to promote Brandon Saine. He was impressive during training camp and earned the job. It was a no-brainer based on how he’s worked on the opponent squad. He will have the opportunity to make the gameday 46-man roster. It’s the coaching staff’s job to make sure Saine is ready for that opportunity.
  • McCarthy said it is nice to have good things said about your football team. It beats the alternative. He likes where his football team is right now, but the focus is on getting better. The Packers have more to offer as a football team. There’s a lot of confidence that if we go in week-in and week-out and play our best football that things will take care of itself. When Sunday rolls around, we need to have our best performance.