Week 8: Thoughts On The Chargers Offense


As we approach what should be another excellent weekend of football, I thought I'd share some thoughts on the Chargers' offense as they look to chalk up another win against the hapless Oakland Raiders.


(Photo Credit: Mike Nowak/San Diego Chargers)

TOMLINSON STILL HASN'T BROKEN THE CENTURY MARK

It's been 16 games (regular plus postseason) since Tomlinson has rushed for over 100 yards. That's basically a whole season. Each week we get a glimpse of "the old LT" and yet Tomlinson still hasn't found his Pro Bowl form. In fact, his Pro Bowl years are likely behind him - but I'm okay with that. What I do want to see is solid contribution week in and week out. If LT can get 70 yards on 18 carries, like he did two weeks ago against Denver, I'd be pretty happy. And if LT can get another 30 yards off of 3 receptions, I'd be stoked.

But what can't happen is a ground game that shows up one week, and is non-existent the next. The Chargers face the Oakland Raiders Sunday, which gives them an opportunity to build upon the things they did right against Kansas City last weekend. Make no mistake, the Chiefs and the Raiders are terrible teams, and dominating them should not be considered rites of passage into the gates of postseason. But what playing KC and Oakland in back to back weeks does for the Chargers is it allows them to gain some confidence and hopefully build some momentum against the New York Giants as they wrap-up the first half of their season. But first they must put Oakland away. Norv Turner would face mobs and pitchforks if he were to lose to the Raiders.

OFFENSE STRUGGLING ON THE GOALLINE

Something Charger fans aren't very used to; the Chargers offense is finding it hard to punch it in at the goalline. Obviously the struggles in the run game aren't helping matters much, and certainly the offensive line has lost much of it's once-feared physicality, but perhaps another reason is Norv Turner's downfield offense is stunted once it gets to the red zone. During the many training camp practices I attended, their red-zone offense reps were almost exclusively passing plays to Floyd, Jackson, and Gates. That's translating out to the regular season play calling, but they're getting mixed results.

Personally, I'd like the Chargers to go "Jumbo" more often down at the goalline and pound the rock. But stay away from the penalties please!

RIVERS HAS NEVER LOST TO THE RAIDERS

Rivers has Oakland's number, that's for sure. He's never lost to that team, and that's probably a record he holds particular pride in. As we talked about earlier this week, Rivers is playing at a Pro Bowl level but he's doing it in a conference with plenty of elite QBs. A win against the Raiders isn't high profile, but what it might allow PR to do is to pad his stats. As we all know, there are plenty of voters who are stat junkies, so adding 300 to 400 yards and a handful of touchdowns will certainly help Rivers stay in that league-leading mix.

MY WEEKEND PICKS

* Houston over Buffalo
* Chicago over Cleveland
* Seattle over Dallas
* St. Louis over Detroit
* Baltimore over Denver
* Indianapolis over San Fransisco
* Miami over NY Jets
* NY Giants over Philadelphia
* Jacksonville over Tennessee
* San Diego over Oakland
* Arizona over Carolina
* Minnesota over Green Bay
* New Orleans over Atlanta

YOUR TAKE

So what will you be watching for, in terms of the offensive side of the ball, as the Chargers host the Raiders this weekend? Want to see some different people carry the ball more? Looking forward to seeing Chris Chambers bounce back after all those drops? Should Sproles be involved more? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and lets get the discussion started.


October 30, 2009

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16 comments:

nahum said... Oct 30, 2009, 4:40:00 PM

i know one thing is for sure. when teams gameplan against LT, sproles turns out to be the greatest runner, but when teams gameplan for sproles, sproles is the worst runner, and he's only good in space. just give the ball to sproles on passing downs, especially inside the red zone, he may find a way into the endzone.

Anonymous said... Oct 30, 2009, 7:36:00 PM

I'm a long suffering Raiders fan, and I can't disagree with anything written here. The Raiders' best shot of beating the Bolts this season was opening night, and the only thing that prevented them from winning was the prevent defense. Look for a 30+ point margin of victory here for the boys in blue.

That being said, I don't believe you will ever win with Norv Turner. The window of opportunity is closing fast. Although I have no facts to support my theory, I strongly believe that Mike Shannahan will be the coach of the Chargers next season. It just makes too much sense. You have a history of hiring coaches from the AFC West (Marty Schottenheimer). Mike still hates the Raiders and Al Davis, and would love to get the chance to beat them and the Broncos twice every year. He would get more out of the O-line and the running game than Norv is capable of getting at this point in LT's career. As long as he brings in a good D-coordinator and lets him do his job, he will do very well in San Diego.

See you on Sunday.

Anonymous said... Oct 31, 2009, 2:53:00 AM

Until the Raiders dump JaMarcus Russell then they will continue to suffer. My only concerns this season have been the O and D-lines but after the KC game I'm not so concerned anymore. As long as the Chargers protect Rivers and rush the passer from both sides of Chargers linemen then I will be pleased. Everything else from the Chargers is fine. VJ is Pro Bowl bound, Gates may also be Pro Bowl bound and the secondary is playing like an excellent corps of players. I agree that Sproles is nothing more than an excellent return man and 3rd down back. Treating Sproles like an every down back will cut his career about 3 seasons short. I'm looking forward to seeing LT run for 100+ yards and score 2 touchdowns in this game. Rivalry week between the Raiders and Chargers is always something to look forward to. LET'S GO SAN DIEGO SUPER CHARGERS!

Anonymous said... Oct 31, 2009, 7:36:00 AM

Offense is great. The running game is looking better but still needs work. Glad to see progress over the last couple weeks.

My biggest concern is that this is a classic trap game. Bolts just had a big win, Raiders just got embarrassed, and Bolts play Giants next week.

Since the Raiders played extremely physical in week 1 against us, I think the Chargers will be ready come Sunday.

It's all about the trenches.

Go BOLTS!

Anonymous said... Oct 31, 2009, 7:58:00 AM

Rivers' individual stats are a non-issue, as is his Pro Bowl status.
I know it's popular to praise Rivers around here as easily an upper-echelon QB and the singular reason the Chargers aren't below .500, but there are several characteristics of his and our offense that still disturb me.
I love River's fiery competitiveness, but let's face some facts:
1. Rivers has the most awesome array of receivers to throw to in the history of the game (especially factoring in the ultra-favorable pass coverage restrictions as they now exist).
2. Rivers is slow-footed, athletically awkward, slightly slow with his release, and until this year has always been afforded between better-than-average to great protection. He's holding up well, but...
3. Rivers is working for a Head Coach and GM who has tailored the entire offense and passing game to Philip's strengths, almost to the point of excluding of the rest of the team. This is a very risky proposition, because the team has become lopsided and unbalanced now, and one or two key injuries can easily cripple them. The defense is already reeling.
Please know I obviously still enjoy watching Rivers run our offense, but I'm concerned about the relatively low yards-after-catch amounts by our wide receivers, and the continued lack of motion and misdirection like we used to excel with under Cam Cameron; all in addition to our repeated struggles inside the 5-yard line. Our run game is rated at or near last.
Our Chargers have an awesome line-up at the "skill positions" on offense yet still seem stale too often, and too much depends on the ebb and flow of River's game. He's bound to have an off game sometime (it happens to the very best of them occasionally), yet with this team in its present configuration; there is no allowance for it whatsoever. The Chargers need to develop nuance and elasticity to their offensive schemes, as well as allowing for more individual creativity by more players; or else it will come back to...(get ready for it), *haunt* them.
Happy Halloween! Go BOLTS!!!
JLM

Anonymous said... Oct 31, 2009, 2:08:00 PM

Wow, what a stupid comment this is:

1. "Rivers has the most awesome array of receivers to throw to in the history of the game"

Seriously, ..the history of the game? You must be like 12 years old to make a lame statement like that. Malcolm Floyd is one of the best recievers in the history of the game?.....LOL..Sorry dude, non of our recievers are near the top of the best ever.
__
And this has what to do with anything? And his release isnt slow. Just another bad observation by whoever wrote this.

2. "Rivers is slow-footed, athletically awkward, slightly slow with his release,"

Rivers is a stud and without a runnning game , he IS the offense.

Anonymous said... Oct 31, 2009, 2:11:00 PM

Except for Gates but ill take who Fouts got to throw to in his career over what we have now.

Anonymous said... Nov 1, 2009, 1:21:00 AM

Not so fast..., That "stupid comment" ISN'T as foolish as you might presume, and I'm far from 12-years old. Let me break it down for you, comparing our beloved receiving group from the Air Coryell era, using specifically yards-per-catch averages, AND paying special attention to the respective physical SIZES of the two groups also.
FOUTS’ Receiving Corp.
WR - Wes Chandler – 6’0” – 186 lbs. - Chandler replaced John Jefferson, and led the NFL in receiving yards (1,032) and receiving touchdowns (9) for the strike-shortened 1982 season. His 129 yards receiving per game that year is still an NFL record, but it was a shortened season. He averaged 16.44 yards-per-catch during his years as a Charger.
WR – John Jefferson – 6’ 1” – 198 lbs. – Jefferson never played on the same field with Chandler. He was certainly a great receiver, and another beneficiary of the Air Coryell system. He averaged 17.36 yards-per-catch in his three seasons in San Diego.
WR – Charlie Joiner – 5’11” – 188 lbs. – Joiner was with the Chargers for 11 seasons of an extraordinary 18-year career. During his time with the Charger’s Joiner averaged 15.77 yards-per-catch.
TE - Kellen Winslow Sr. – 6’5” – 250 lbs. – Winslow is in the Hall of Fame for being arguably the best receiving tight end to have ever played the game. Kellen averaged 12.5 yards-per-catch over his undeniably great career.
***Air Coryell-era Career CHARGER Average yards-per-catch = 15.51

RIVERS’ Receiving Corp.
WR - Vincent Jackson - 6’ 5” – 230 lbs. – Averaging 19.3 yards-per-catch so far this year, 18.6 per reception through 2008.
WR – Chris Chambers – 5’11” – 210 lbs – Chambers has struggled so far this season, with a 12.8 yards-per-catch average so far in 2009 (along with a few drops), and a 14 yards-per-catch average in 2008.
WR – Malcom Floyd – 6’5” – 225 lbs. – Although a reserve throughout his career Floyd has nevertheless averaged 20.8 yards-per-catch so far this season, and 17.2 yards-per-catch through 2008.
TE – Antonio Gates – 6’4” – 260 lbs. – A perennial All-Pro despite coming into the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Gates is averaging 13.9 yards-per-catch so far in 2009, and did a respectable 11.7 throughout 2008 despite starting the year injured.
***Average yards-per-catch = 15.37 in 2008 (Not including Naanee)
*Air Coryell-era Career CHARGER Average yards-per-catch = 15.51
*Current average-yards-per-catch = 16.7 *so far* in 2009

Average current Bolt receiver height = 6’3¼” (Not including Naanee)
Average Coryell-era receiver height = 6’1¼” (Not including Naanee)

*Special Note: F-Back - Legedu Naanee – 6’2” – 220 lbs – Naanee occupies a hybrid position; so-called F-back according to Coach Norv. In that limited role he has averaged 9.8 yards-per-catch so far in 2009, his first year of regular exposure. In limited action in 2008 he averaged only 8 yards-per-catch, but he is clearly a large, imposing receiver.

I'll call the receiving ability of Lionel "Little Train" James and LaDainian Tomlinson a "wash", but there's no doubt both are better than average receiving backs.
Point: Although the Coryell-era Charger's receivers accumulated many, many more Pro-Bowl honors to this point; their careers are over and the current receivers are ongoing, even fairly young. So don't miss the forest for the tree right in front of you.
As for Rivers; he IS slow-footed, athletically awkward, AND slightly slow with his release compared to the better QB's right now, and those points were all over his draft-day descriptions. It's obvious, even if he IS a "stud" "without a runnning game".
JLM

Mammy DeLaurentis said... Nov 1, 2009, 6:42:00 AM

So after that incredibly long winded post, your point seems to be: the Coryell-era Charger's receivers accumulated many, many more Pro-Bowl honors to this point; but since their careers are over and the current group hasn't got there yet, the current group are the most awesome array of receivers to throw to in the history of the game.

Mark said... Nov 1, 2009, 11:37:00 AM

Good post, Rob. If LT can't get 100 yards against Kansas City, he's is going to have a hell of a time gaining 100 when we play the Giants and Eagles and then Denver again. It would be nice if he could do it this week against the Raiders. The goal-line struggles I think are entirlely Norv's fault- especially in games against the Ravens and Broncos. Norv, if you're reading this, SPROLES IS NOT A GOALINE BACK. Put in LT, DUH!!

Anonymous said... Nov 1, 2009, 1:20:00 PM

Sorry to stretch your short attention span Mammy, but the point is *not* the Pro Bowl honors (although they were noted) but (and you can use your finger on the screen to help read along here) the comparisons of YARDS-PER-CATCH AVERAGES and the SIZE ADVANTAGE of the current group of our Charger receivers. Rivers has a BUNCH of VERY talented, BIG targets.
Got Capiche?
Whether or not the current group of Chargers receivers will ever garner equivalent Pro Bowl honors is irrelevant, especially since their career year totals aren't finished yet. Even a 12 year-old can understand that.
Go BOLTS!!!
JLM

Anonymous said... Nov 2, 2009, 2:11:00 PM

Chargers waived Chambers to get a linebacker.

Derrick Brooks is available and would be a perfect short term Charger.

Make it happen AJ.

Go Chargers!

Mark said... Nov 2, 2009, 2:54:00 PM

Holy cow! Chambers is gone. The one game he has a clutch catch and then we waive him? Norv gave him some praise at the news conference, but now it seems like a coded message for goodbye.

Always liked Chambers, he has had some CLUTCH catches for us while he was with us these two short years. But we did have a glut of good, young, and TALL receivers. I remember a clutch catch he had against Tennessee in a regular-season game either last season or the season before. I think Miami picks him up- as long as NE doesn't sign him.

We do need linebacking help. Siler looked a little lost out there yesterday. We'll see what happens......

Anonymous said... Nov 2, 2009, 8:11:00 PM

I think Hanik Milligan is available.

Anonymous said... Nov 3, 2009, 11:53:00 PM

Despite seeing Norv T. trying to play out the clock instead of steam rolling the Radiers. I dislike when teams play this way. It's lead to many Charger defeats and losses. I'll call it H/C N. Turner ball. This past weekend I saw awe inspiring play and unity from Charger players. It shows that they care for one another and the organization. Please excuse my fustration, it just how I feel right now. Finally, Merriman gets treated with the respect he well deserves, being the last player to come out of tunnel. He got two sacks as a result & he looks like his old-self. I hope AJ don't make the mistake of letting him go someone else will sign him like Denver or KC. KEEP IN MIND WE NEED TO KEEP OUR PROVEN PLAYER! Best of luck Chambers and thank u for being so good forand to the Chargers. I also witnessed how you made clutch plays scraficing ur body that help us make play offs in that Titan game.We should have gotten rid of that Buster. Gurden come back to the AfC west ,,,,this time as a CHARGER H/C. We need your exp., disapline, your humor and to have fun with this game. We desire not to be disrespected or be littled by AJ, Turner and co.

Lighting 72

Anonymous said... Nov 5, 2009, 3:36:00 PM

Chambers went to the Chiefs, he'll probably have a big game against us when we play them again. But then again it is the Chiefs so maybe not.

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