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By the numbers; a new beginning

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <a href="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/195/35222_600w600h.jpg"><img class="alignleft" title="LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers.com photo" src="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/195/35222_600w600h.jpg" alt="" width="182" height="254" /></a>Most Charger fans look on the next game as just a continuation of the bye week. Other Charger fans correctly point out the truth following truth; with parody running rampant in the AFC these days, any team (even the Bengals) can beat any team on any given Sunday.

    While this may be frustrating to the fans of the three proclaimed power house teams of the AFC; the Chargers (3-5), the Colts (4-4) and the Patriots (5-3), there are some other teams fans that are ecstatic right now. Two teams that were supposed to be middle of the road to good teams this year have a choke hold on the conference half way through the season. The undefeated Titans (8-0) and the resilient Steelers (6-2) are tops in the conference.

    Those teams are in the driver's seat halfway through the season and could lock up home field advantage in short order if they continue on their roll. However, good teams win in November and December. The elements start playing a bigger and bigger factor in games.

    The Chargers meet the Steelers in just two weeks, and the Chargers will be looking to get back in the hunt for the playoffs. They will have to be prepared for a hard fought game because the Steelers are for real.

    But let's not look ahead, the Chargers host the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, and have the opportunity to play their strengths to KC's weaknesses. This game is probably the most important of the second half of the season, because it is this game that the Chargers need to win in order to bolster their faltering confidence and prove that the new Defensive Coordinator, Ron Rivera is the man for the job.

    <strong>Lets look at the numbers</strong>
    According to the stats published at sports.espn.go.com, here is the tale of the tape:

    <strong>Chargers on Offense</strong>
    The Chargers rank 12th overall, 7th in passing offense, 24th in rushing offense and the Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers leads the league in passer rating at 107.8.

    Defensively The Chiefs rank 31st overall, 22nd in passing defense, dead last, 32nd in rushing defense.

    Now the Chargers have an opportunity to get the offensive game balanced here. The Chiefs will most likely not be stacking the box as much against LaDainian Tomlinson who is seemingly just hitting his stride now, after suffering a toe injury in the first game of the season. The Chargers can attack the Chief's struggling run defense and get the running game back on track.

    However the way I suggest they should go about this is not the normal Charger method. Allow me to explain, in years past the Chargers would use the run to set up the pass. Hitting the holes in the line of scrimmage hard and forcing the opposing defensive units to put more bodies in the box and defend the run. This would allow the Chargers to drop a tight end or a wide receiver into the gap behind the front seven of the defense and the secondary and get good yardage. Then when the defense loosened up, they would get another dose of the Chargers running the ball down their throats. I tell you this worked like a charm because just a few short seasons ago the Chargers running back broke the record for touch downs scored in a season.

    However times change, and as expected so do teams. The reason I suggest the Chargers consider using the pass to set up the run now, is because we have lost a key blocker in Lorenzo Neal who the Chargers released in the past off season. While they did seem to find a diamond in the rough with their undrafted rookie full back, he is no Lo'neal yet. He has the potential but Lo'neal was a road grader who loves to pop the defenders.

    Therefore in my opinion the Chargers should loosen up the defense with the pass, and set the running game up for success. This would also send a message to the rest of the league that the Chargers are not down or out, as of yet!

    <strong>Chargers on Defense</strong>
    The Chiefs rank 26th overall, 28th in passing offense, 14th in rushing offense and the Chiefs Quarterback Tyler Thigpen ranks at the bottom of the league (32nd) in passer rating at 67.6.

    Defensively The Chargers rank 26th overall, dead last, 32nd in passing defense, and 15th in rushing defense.

    At a glance you would think that Thigpen has a chance of improving his numbers against the woeful Chargers pass defense. On some levels that is the case. The Chargers have not lived up to the pre season hype on the defensive side of the ball. Shut down corners have resembled cooking utensils that separate noodles from scalding water. Some of this was scheme; however the players have to take responsibility for this as well.

    The secondary in particular did not play with confidence; they did not play with aggression. During the bye week the Chargers fired Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell, replacing him with Ron Rivera.

    Now by most accounts the defensive players are rejuvenated and excited by the changes that Rivera is bringing to the defense. The word is that Rivera is much more vocal in practice and is working hard to get the energy back into the unit that led the league in take a ways just a season ago. This will be the unveiling of the new defense. We are supposed to see a defense scheme that attacks the quarterback. This will be their time to shine; they will either solidify Rivera and the future Defensive Coordinator, or hang an interim tag around his neck with all the fans.

    The Chargers match up well in the running game. The Chiefs leading rusher, Larry Johnson is suspended. There is no real indication when the Chiefs will get him back; my bet is not soon, I would be surprised if it is this season. The Chargers should be able to handle the running attack, and let's face it, Thigpen is just what the doctor ordered for a defensive unit that needs some success to build confidence when heading into Three Rivers stadium to face the Steelers.

    I believe the Chargers will put heat on Thigpen behind an offensive line that has not played well this season. This will lead to the negative plays that the secondary won so many accolades for last season. If the Chargers can pressure Thigpen, make him move around in the pocket they will find success. To do this the defensive line of the Chargers will have to attack the gaps in the offensive line, and not try to go straight on and bull rush the offensive wall.

    I believe the Chargers will play a more aggressive defense and the D will rediscover its swagger one game at a time, starting with this one. I look for a Chargers victory. By all that is holly it had better be dominate, bruising, and an un-mitigating blowout victory!

    I predict Charger 30, KC 10.

    <strong>What is your prediction?</strong>

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