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Chargers offense seeing red with missed touchdown chances

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    The same lament was the first thing out of Philip Rivers' mouth after the Chargers' first two losses, and he has hardly stopped talking about it since.
    Because even in victory, the Chargers' performance when its offense neared the end zone portended trouble.
    “You have to score touchdowns when you get the opportunity,” Rivers has said a dozen times since the first week of September, usually with pursed lips and a shake of his head.
    The Chargers have driven inside their opponents' 20-yard line (the red zone) 18 times in five games, sixth-most in the NFL. But they have scored touchdowns in just nine of those trips, a 50-percent ratio that ranks 17th in the league.
    “Of course that's unacceptable,” Norv Turner said, adding that seizing opportunities for touchdowns inside the red zone “changes games.”
    Such a rate of failure is certainly among the chief differences between a losing record and a winning one for a team that has suffered its three losses by a total of 10 points.
    In the 26-24 loss to Carolina, the Chargers scored a touchdown and a field goal in two red zone drives.
    In the following week's 39-38 loss at Denver, the Chargers settled for a field goal on three of four red-zone trips.
    Last week, in a 17-10 loss at Miami, the Chargers scored one TD in three red-zone trips, a field goal early and a failed fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line leaving them unfulfilled late.
    “You look back at these games,” Rivers said, “and (touchdowns) would have ended them.”
    There are reasons to fear this trend could continue.
    Sunday night's opponent, the New England Patriots, brings to mind horrific red-zone memories. The last time they met, in last season's AFC Championship, the Chargers drove into the red zone three times yet failed to get in the end zone. Three field goals instead of touchdowns – after driving to the 8, 5 and 6 – were perhaps the difference in a 21-12 season-ending defeat.
    Moreover, in order to avenge that loss and stem their red-zone bleeding, the Chargers might have to play without the trio that has scored seven of their nine red-zone touchdowns this season being at full strength. Chris Chambers (ankle), Antonio Gates (hip) and LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) are all less than healthy.
    In the red zone, a successful play is about matchups. The margin for error diminishes because of the confined space. A great player or two to spread the defense's focus helps out. Without those players, scoring becomes harder.
    A team doesn't score every time it gets inside the 20. In fact, anything over 65 percent is enviable.
    Tomlinson scored an NFL-record 32 touchdowns in 2006, 24 of them from inside the red zone and all but two of those from inside the 10-yard line. It seemed the Chargers got in the end zone every time they were in the red zone that season. Actually, their success rate was a league-leading 67.7 percent.
    This year, Tomlinson has just three touchdowns and went two games before he got his first.
    Last week, Chargers fans saw something they had not seen very often. Tomlinson was stuffed from the 1 on fourth-and-goal.
    Suggesting a more creative play-call than trying to ram the ball through the left side is perhaps valid. (No Dolphin, for instance, ran with Antonio Gates when he released off the right side.) But not having Scott Mruczkowski pushed back into fullback Mike Tolbert to squelch any chance Tomlinson had to leap would have helped.
    “We'd be in the 65-to 70-percent range if we'd taken advantage of some opportunities we had,” Turner said. “We've missed four or five opportunities. We missed a big opportunity (last) Sunday.”
    For all he did so well that day, finishing with 377 passing yards and a 120.4 rating, Rivers put a large chunk of blame on himself for the Denver loss. On successive plays from the 16 in the first quarter, he missed Mike Tolbert and Chris Chambers open on apparent touchdowns, and the Chargers settled for a field goal. Another field goal was all the Chargers got in the third quarter when Rivers had two passes fall incomplete from the 5.
    When a team marches down the field and gets three points, it isn't necessarily deflating at the time. Depending on where they started the drive, the offense is sometimes pleased.
    But in the NFL, it's so often coming up just short that ends up being the difference.
    “At the time you don't say, 'Oh this is going to cost us,' ” center Nick Hardwick said. “But then you look back, and it's easy to see that cost us.”

  2. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

    Nov 16, 2005
    Nice to see they're not happy with the points that were left on the field!! :tup:
  3. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Who missed the block on that first and goal play at the five? They just left LT hanging out to dry. Someone completely whiffed on Warren, and LT had nowhere to go. Messed the whole series up.

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