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CANEPA: Running overrated in modern NFL

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    By Nick Canepa
    November 3, 2009

    SAN DIEGO – I've always felt that perhaps the greatest key to success in life is listening, be it in marriage, parenting, business, interviewing or even politics (where the listening process rarely is heeded). Just living. When you think you know everything, that's when you should realize you don't know much at all.

    So, despite the barrage my ears receive during football season, I listen as much as I can, sometimes in agreement, often not so much. At this stage of my life, I find myself in the Battle of the Too Much Information Bulge, surrounded by experts. But I do hear you.

    Today, anyway, there are a few things I'd like to get off my auditory canals.

    I hear: To win in the NFL you must run the football.

    I hear: The Chargers run into the middle of the line on every first down.

    I hear: The Chargers should use the wildcat formation a whole lot more.

    OK. Running is nice. It helps. It's a good thing. But you need not run wild to win consistently in the NFL. A threat may be necessary, but in practice, the rush isn't needed for the playoff rush.

    The most successful franchise of this decade, New England, has not been a great running team. There have been times when Bill Belichick has ordered Tom Brady to throw on his first 20-some-odd snaps. The Colts don't need to run. Arizona and Pittsburgh, January's Super Bowl finalists, weren't proficient at it.

    The Jets lead The League in rushing. They're 4-4 after a 3-0 start. Once unthinkable, they even lost a game in which they ran for more than 300 yards. The Titans rank No. 2. They're 1-6. The Colts rank 30th. They're 7-0.

    The game has changed. The quarterback is what matters now. If your quarterback isn't any good (see Oakland), you're going to run out of paved road. If you can throw and run, as do the Saints (for now), that's great. But not many teams can, and I have yet to see a Lombardi Trophy carried down Bourbon Street.

    In the end, you go with your strength, and if it's the pass, then that has to be your meat. Using a baseball analogy, you can't be a Brad Lidge and shy away from your slider against an A-Rod because there's a man on third and you might throw it in the dirt. It's the big leagues. You can't play scared.

    “What's happening now, if you run the ball well, you see so much run-stopping stuff, you can't live with the run,” says Chargers coach Norv Turner, a strong proponent of balance. “The better you run the ball, the more consistent you're going to get, and I think we're close to getting back to where we need to be.

    “But, if you can't throw the ball effectively, you're going to struggle now in this league.”

    Turner's problem has been his team's inability to run when it really matters – in short yardage and near the end zone. There, the loss of center Nick Hardwick since Week One with a bad ankle has been a killer. Don't underestimate the value of a top center. Most underrated position in football.

    On their first possession against the Raiders Sunday, the Chargers, thanks to a 53-yard strike from quarterback Philip Rivers to receiver Malcom Floyd, had a first-and-goal from the six. They went to the rarely used wildcat formation, and LaDainian Tomlinson ran it in.

    This prompted cries to see the wildcat much more often, which isn't happening here. The wildcat works (sometimes) in Miami, only because the Dolphins can't throw and use the formation so much they've become proficient at it. The Chargers used it to confuse the Raiders, and it worked. A steady diet of that thing would be death.

    The Chargers on Monday cut veteran receiver Chris Chambers – who saved this team when they traded for him in 2007 – because he no longer was productive (and perhaps for other reasons). They now can provide one of football's tallest starting pass-catching trios in wideouts Vincent Jackson and Floyd (both 6-5) and tight end Antonio Gates (6-4). Special teams ace Kassim Osgood, also 6-5, projects to be in the receiving mix.

    When you have receivers this big and physical who know where they're going, it can be a tremendous advantage. Floyd's emergence made Chambers expendable. And there is an elite quarterback in Philip Rivers who can find them.

    As Turner points out, the rise of Jackson and Floyd – not only as big targets, but their ability to play small, as route runners – has opened up things for Gates.

    “It's more difficult for them to double-team Antonio now,” Turner says. As for Turner sending LT or Darren Sproles into the line on every first down, or to open games, pay attention.

    “We throw the ball more on first down than we run it,” Turner says with a sigh.

    Thanks for listening.
     
  2. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

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    When I think about the style of play seemingly everyone here was clamoring for, the Chargers delivered. If I see another post asking the bolts to line up almost every active wide receiver and "stretch the field" I will put my face in my palm.

    We've been doing just that and chucking bombs downfield all year. So yeah, it seems like Norv and Co. have actually been listening in that regard.
     
  3. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    I mostly agree with Canepa until he talked about Osgood catching passes. :icon_rofl:

    Nope, that would be Naanee that is the #3 WR.
     
  4. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Canepa is an idiot.

    Right now we may have to play to our strength, which is the passing game, but very few teams have success without the run game to establish dominance & control the clock.

    More drivel from the mediots. :tdown:
     
  5. Ray Dahayder

    Ray Dahayder BoltTalker

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    did you not listen to his list of teams that have won without major running games? So, you mean to tell me that a four or five yard slant pass to Gates doesn't count as much as a four or five yard run by LT? I don't really care if we throw the ball on every down, as long as we're moving it downfield.
     
  6. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    I want to hear what Trumpy has to say... :yes: :tup:
     
  7. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Just throw the damn thing and get it down field and into the end zone.:tup:
     
  8. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    The running game will NEVER be overrated. Period. Just as teams can stack the box to stop the run, they can drop more into coverage to stop the pass.

    I said that some teams have success with a pass-first mentality, but balance is what is important. Indy has won 1 SB with their pass-first game, & it certainly isn't as if they have had no running game to speak of. The Pats are the biggest aberration with regards to success with a pass-first mindset.

    Yes - right now our team is more productive in the passing game & I say bring it on. But to think that the running game is overrated or obsolete is totally absurd.
     
  9. Sandolf

    Sandolf Blue Moon Rising

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    Absurd is a polite description. For a journalist who supposedly has a sports background... a thoroughly disgusting performance.
     
  10. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Not a journalist, Sandy - an entertainer, & a poor one at that.
     
  11. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    Well, let's take a look.


    Last 8 Super Bowls' opponents:

    2008 Steelers - ranked 23rd in rushing
    2008 Cardinals - ranked 32nd in rushing

    2007 Giants - ranked 4th in rushing
    2007 Patriots - ranked 13th in rushing

    2006 Colts - ranked 18th in rushing
    2006 Bears - ranked 15th in rushing

    2005 Steelers - ranked 5th in rushing
    2005 Seahawks - ranked 3rd in rushing

    2004 Patriots - ranked 7th in rushing
    2004 Eagles - ranked 24th in rushing

    2003 Patriots - ranked 27th in rushing
    2003 Panthers - ranked 7th in rushing

    2002 Buccaneers - ranked 27th in rushing
    2002 Raiders - ranked 18th in rushing

    2001 Patriots - ranked 13th in rushing
    2001 Rams - ranked 5th in rushing


    Of the 16 teams that played in the last 8 Super Bowls, only 6 were ranked in the top 8 in rushing.

    Of the 8 winners, 3 were ranked in the top 8 in rushing.

    Let's take a look at this season. Of the 8 teams with the best records currently, 4 in the AFC, 4 in the NFC:

    Colts - ranked 30th in rushing, ranked 1st in passing
    Broncos - ranked 11th in rushing, ranked 16th in passing
    Patriots - ranked 14th in rushing, ranked 2nd in passing
    Steelers - ranked 19th in rushing, ranked 5th in passing

    Saints - ranked 4th in rushing, ranked 6th in passing
    Vikings - ranked 12th in rushing, ranked 12th in passing
    Eagles - ranked 15th in rushing, ranked 13th in passing
    Cowboys - ranked 6th in rushing, ranked 7th in passing


    Only 2 of the 8 are ranked in the top 8 in rushing.

    Note that in the AFC, our conference, 3 of the 4 teams with the best records are average or below average in rushing, but are in the top 5 in passing.

    It does certainly assert that running the ball, while desirable, isn't absolutely necessary to appear in the Super Bowl or have a great record.
     
  12. MMJ4mil

    MMJ4mil BoltTalker

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    The modern NFL is a passing league. You can thank Don Coryell for that :)
     
  13. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    I'll consider the running game overrated when TOP & wearing down an opponent with physical play doesn't count either. And twitter gets endorsed by Bear Bryant & Vince Lombardi. :lol:

    Throw all the stats that you want - balanced ball clubs with strong defenses win titles. It's not just a cliche. I'll take the views of coaches over some sports writer any day of the week & twice on weekends.
     
  14. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    I say set the run game up with our passing game.
     
  15. Holy_Bolt

    Holy_Bolt Well-Known Member

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    Currenly we set the passing game up by running on 1st down. This leaves us with a very common (for the Chargers) 2nd and nine to go! Sets up the pass everytime!
     

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