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Old 10-05-2006, 01:08 PM   #1
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Default Chargers following Steelers' QB blueprint

By Kevin Acee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
October 5, 2006


This is as good a time as any to point out that the Chargers said from the day Philip Rivers was named their starting quarterback that they would probably look a bit like the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.

It's a fine time to talk about it, because the Steelers come to town this weekend. And, also, because the Chargers do, in fact, look a lot like them.

From Marty Schottenheimer to LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers said this spring and summer that they expected to run more in 2006.

Many within the organization invoked the names of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers as a template for having success with an inexperienced quarterback. And it is a good model, for sure, since Roethlisberger won his first 14 NFL starts, the Steelers went to the AFC Championship Game that season and then won the Super Bowl last season.

?Look at Ben Roethlisberger,? Tomlinson said in March. ?He won the Super Bowl in his second year. In actuality, his teammates stepped up for him.?

What the Steelers did in Roethlisberger's first two seasons ? and especially in 2004, his first year ? was restrict his passing, relying heavily on the talent around their quarterback. Having a top-flight running game and an elite defense allowed them to control the clock and limit risks.

In Roethlisberger's first two seasons, no team ran the ball more than the Steelers. It was not even close. In 2004, the Steelers ran 260 more times than they threw, by far the league's biggest slant toward the run. In 2005, their run-to-pass ratio was easily the league's highest.

And, in case there is a single remaining football follower who has not noticed, the Chargers are running the ball a lot more this season. They lead the NFL in percent of running plays vs. passing plays, rushing on 64 percent of their snaps. (The only team close ? the Atlanta Falcons at 60 percent ? has a quarterback named Michael Vick, who is fifth in the league in rushing yards.)

?As (Rivers) continues to gather experience, they'll do more with him,? Steelers coach Bill Cowher said yesterday. ?But I think what they're doing with him is the right thing.?

Roethlisberger, who has lost both his starts this season to see his career regular-season record drop to 22-5, also knows prudence works.

?I know Philip, and I know he has confidence in himself, just like I did,? Roethlisberger said. ?When you have that confidence you kind of want Coach to say, 'Hey, let's have some confidence in you and let's turn you loose.'

?I'm still like, 'Coach, let me have a little more freedom.' But you still have to know who you're playing and what you do best. Like us, they have a very, very good tailback, and their running game is strong.?

Roethlisberger did acknowledge he felt for Rivers, because he has been there.


?We've always been a running team,? he said. ?They're probably doing the same thing with Philip. I'm sure Philip would like me to say they're protecting him a little more than they protected me, so he could throw the ball more.?
The reality is the Steelers ? like most NFL teams do every year ? threw more than they ran in the two seasons before taking Roethlisberger with the 11th pick in the '04 draft. And in Schottenheimer's (and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's) previous four seasons, only once (2004) did the Chargers run more than they passed.

With untested quarterbacks, however, Cowher and Schottenheimer share more than their Pennsylvania roots and the fact that Cowher worked for Schottenheimer in Kansas City.

Cowher, whose affection for Schottenheimer is clear, defended his former boss, who has, in fact, won 188 regular-season games, seventh-most ever.

?Marty Schottenheimer has won a lot of football games in the National Football League,? Cowher said. ?He knows what he's doing. I've been criticized for the same things. When we get a lead we don't throw the ball much. When you have backs like San Diego has in LaDainian Tomlinson and then having one of the best backups in the league in Michael Turner, I don't think it's a bad strategy to take.?
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Old 10-05-2006, 08:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Chargers following Steelers' QB blueprint

We aren't following the Steelers QB blueprint. We're playing Martyball. And losing because of it.

I just hope that Marty realizes that Rivers can be good as fast at Cowher realized with Roethilsburger. In case you didn't notice, once Cowher stopped playing Martyball, he won a superbowl. (Cowher picked up the cursed gameplan when he was with Marty in Cleveland i'm pretty sure)

It's nice to see the positive talk about Rivers though. Always love that.
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