Merriman backpedals from comments, lauds Jones-Drew's hit
SAN DIEGO - A day later, Shawne Merriman called off the dogs.
The All-Pro linebacker caused a stir on Sunday when he questioned his teammates' commitment and said they needed a change of attitude after the Chargers lost 24-17 at Jacksonville.
Merriman's outburst gave the impression of a fractured locker room in Norv Turner's first season as coach, when the Chargers have dipped to a surprising 5-5 a year after going an NFL-best 14-2.
Merriman, who had just one tackle and was knocked on his backside by 5-foot-7 Jags running back Maurice Jones-Drew, said he popped off while still steamed about the loss.
"I was more (angry) after the game because of the fact we lost and thinking that it was a lot worse than we thought it was," Merriman said Monday afternoon. "But after looking at the tape just now I feel a little bit better. Not about the losing part, but that it actually wasn't as bad of a game."
Merriman said the loss had more to do with "little things" and "miscommunication" rather than anything sinister.
"It wasn't for lack of effort or anything like that," he said. "When you see a guy getting hit a yard or two beyond the line of scrimmage and he ends up getting a gain of five, during the game you're like, 'What the hell are y'all doing• You've got to get the guy down.' We've just got to stick with it, man."
So the Chargers apparently haven't turned into Team Turmoil.
"Sometimes I admit that my emotions get the most of me because I'm so (angry) from the game," Merriman said. "And I guess that's why the media come in with the cameras right after to make sure somebody's (angry). I definitely was ticked off after the game but I was more ticked off that we lost, than anything, and didn't fully understand how we lost."
Merriman led the NFL with 17 sacks last season but is stuck on 5 1/2. He hasn't gotten one in four games.
"I hate to lose," Merriman said. "I don't know if you call that a sore loser or what, but I'm not a good loser."
When Turner met with the media at midday Monday, he hadn't yet seen Merriman. But the coach predicted how this would turn out.
"After a game it's so emotional and these guys are so competitive, guys may say something and then all of a sudden see it the next day and say, 'Well, that's not exactly how this thing was meant to be or perceived,' " Turner said.
Just as surprising as the Chargers' record was the sight of Merriman getting knocked down by Jones-Drew, who was blocking during one of David Garrard's two touchdown passes against the Chargers.
Merriman was razzed by his teammates and will be hearing about that hit for a long time, just as the Chargers are going to be hearing about their record.
"Jeez, you would think a team never went 5-5 before. You would think that I could never be blocked. That was a good little pop 32 gave me. I could have sworn I've seen somebody get hit like that before. That's football."
Here's Merriman's explanation:
"The fullback bluffs me and they make it look like they're going out for a pass, so the fullback runs right past you and I stopped to check to see what's going on because whenever somebody doesn't block me coming in, you stop to find out what's going on, and here comes that little 5-7, 220-pound guy right behind him and caught me late going into a pass coverage.
"It was definitely a good play. I should probably send him a thank you card for (angering) me the rest of the season."
The Chargers host Baltimore on Sunday.