AFC West: Tampa Bay Buccaners
A look at the Chargers' 31-13 AFC West wipeout of the Chiefs:
What it means: The Chargers showed they can hammer a bad team, and the Chiefs showed there is no reason to think they aren’t the 32nd-best team in the NFL. The Chargers are 4-4 and have ended a three-game losing streak. The Chiefs are 1-7, moving a step closer to the No. 1 overall draft pick and having to decide between Matt Barkley and Geno Smith.
Winning for Norv: With 10 days before their next game, the chances were very strong that the Chargers would fire coach Norv Turner had the team lost its fourth straight game and fallen to 3-5. It would have been a perfect time to make a move. But Turner’s team loves him and played hard for him. Turner might be safe for the rest of the season unless things unravel badly again. The Chargers are very much in the AFC playoff hunt and will be tied for first place if the 4-3 Broncos lose at Cincinnati. Give credit to Turner for keeping his team focused and credit to the Chargers for keeping their coach employed.
Rivers almost perfect, but still maddening: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers was in a slump for the previous 10 quarters, but he was brilliant Thursday night. He was 18-for-20 for 220 yards and two touchdowns with a depleted receiving crew. But he threw a terrible interception in the end zone at the end of the first half. It’s those plays that Rivers has to eliminate from his game. He still is a top quarterback, but he makes too many mistakes.
Bad streaks continue for Chiefs: The Chiefs committed four turnovers and have 29 in half a season. They had 29 all last season. It’s the highest turnover total through eight games in the NFL in 15 years. Kansas City still has not led in a game in regulation all season. The Chiefs haven’t scored a touchdown on their opening drive in 25 straight games. Folks, this stuff is historically bad.
Cassel not that bad: Yes, Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel committed two turnovers that turned into two defensive touchdowns for San Diego in the fourth quarter. But Cassel wasn’t that bad. He had his moments. Still, I’m sure the Chiefs will go back to Brady Quinn when he is cleared from a concussion. Cassel just doesn’t have the confidence of this team, it seems.
Charles not a factor: Against Oakland on Sunday, Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles had just five carries. On Thursday night, he had 12 carries for 39 yards, and that's a big reason the Chiefs couldn’t stay close. They are wasting a fine player.
Chargers run well: The Chargers’ run offense really helped. It provided a dimension that had been missing all season. San Diego had 123 rushing yards on 26 carries, and Ryan Mathews had 67 yards on 13 totes. This type of running effort must continue to help the Chargers’ passing game.
Berry makes strides: Kansas City safety Eric Berry had a solid game, and he is improving after missing nearly all of last season with a torn ACL.
Chargers strike in fourth quarter: The Chargers didn’t score in the fourth quarter in October. On the first day of November, San Diego scored 21 points in the quarter.
What’s next: The Chargers play at Tampa Bay in a matchup with receiver Vincent Jackson, who departed San Diego in free agency in March. In another reunion game, Kansas City meets Pittsburgh and former coach Todd Haley on Nov. 12 on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Yes, another prime-time game for America’s worst professional football team.
Quinn not the answer: Many Chiefs fans got their wish and saw Brady Quinn start at quarterback. His results were no better than Matt Cassel's. Quinn three two bad interceptions (one was returned for a score). I think Cassel will get the chance to start again when he is healthy.
Offensive woes continue: The Chiefs haven’t scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game dating back to the start of last season. Kansas City’s offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in the past two games. The Chiefs have not had a lead during any game. Their one win came in overtime at New Orleans.
Charles misses mark: Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles had 40 yards on 12 carries. He now has 591 yards in six games. He was vying to join Priest Holmes (2004) to be the second player in team history to have 600 yards on the ground through six games.
What’s next: The Chiefs stumble into the bye. They host Oakland in two weeks in the first game at Arrowhead Stadium since right tackle Eric Winston berated some fans for cheering when Cassel went down. It caused a national firestorm and prompted coach Romeo Crennel and owner Clark Hunt to praise the team’s fan base. It could be an interesting day at Arrowhead.
Meachem was a rotational player in New Orleans, but he has 4.3 speed and he is strong in the vertical game which is a focus in San Diego with Norv Turner and quarterback Philip Rivers. If Meachem can stay healthy, he should make an impact. He is not Jackson, but he can help this team. It's clear Turner is expecting big things from Meachem.
Another cornerback is off the market when Richard Marshall signed with Miami. Opportunities for Oakland are getting fewer. The Raiders do have interest in St. Louis’ Ronald Bartell.
Former San Diego left tackle Marcus McNeill will visit the Lions on Thursday. He was cut because the team owed him a large roster bonus and there were concerns about his neck injury that ended his season prematurely in 2011.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The Kansas City Star is reporting former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher is sticking to his guns about not coaching in 2009. Cowher joins former Denver coach Mike Shanahan as a big name who has been connected to Kansas City but who likely won't end up in Kansas City.
The Tampa Tribune is reporting former Kansas City coach Herm Edwards could be a candidate for the open defensive backs coaching job. Edwards began his head coaching career with the Jets after being the Buccaneers' secondary coach. It has been reported that Edwards doesn't want to be a defensive coordinator but would be interested in being a secondary coach if he returns to the field this season.
Here's an interesting story in the San Diego Union Tribune about the A.J Smith-LaDainian Tomlinson saga. The article basically says that there is no saga and that Tomlinson will soon be offered a restructured contract. If Tomlinson sticks to his guns that he wants to stay a Charger, he should have his opportunity to do so,
Don't believe the recent talk that Tennessee assistant Dave McGinnis was a candidate for the defensive coordinator job in Oakland. Meanwhile, it looks like the Raiders' new defensive line coach will be Dwaine Board.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
OK, let's get this out of the way. Here's one job Mike Shanahan won't be taking: The Oakland Raiders.
Other than Shanahan's former team, all other bets are on.
If Shanahan decides he wants to coach in 2009, he will have his choice of jobs. But any job Shanahan takes probably will have to come with the same power he enjoyed in Denver, where he spent the past 14 years.
Many coaches who leave an organization after a long period take time off. Shanahan could decide to go that route. He has a home in Mexico and he could enjoy a year of golf.
Shanahan would be as attractive to teams in a year or two as he is now.
Still, Shanahan strikes me as a coach who would like to get right back in the game. And that was the indication Tuesday evening from people who know him.
Among the jobs that could interest Shanahan are Cleveland, the New York Jets and Kansas City. Shanahan probably would get the necessary power in all three of those spots.
There are a couple of jobs that, if they became available, probably would entice Shanahan. Both Dallas and Tampa Bay could be fits, if coaching changes were made. Dallas could be intriguing because Shanahan and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have a good relationship and Shanahan has expressed his respect for Jones on numerous occasions.
Shanahan tried to get Terrell Owens to Denver, so he wouldn't be averse to working with the mercurial wide receiver. Also, he tried to sign quarterback Tony Romo -- Shanahan and Romo were quarterbacks at Eastern Illinois a generation apart -- as a college free agent. However, Wade Phillips would have to be fired before any Shanahan-to-Dallas talks could materialize.
Meanwhile, it is being reported that Shanahan's refusal to fire defensive coordinator Bob Slowik led to Denver owner Pat Bowlen firing him Tuesday afternoon. More details could come out Wednesday when both Bowlen and Shanahan address the media.