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Chargers Training Camp: Life After Jackson and McNeill

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    by John Gennaro

    This morning I woke up early to do an offeseason/preseason discussion about the Chargers with Fox Sports Radio 1340 in New Mexico (audio coming later today, probably). One thing you should know about me is that I am completely incapable of speaking coherently for the first half-hour or so immediately after waking up, so to get ready for the interview I had to get up a half-hour before the thing even started. This left me with plenty of time to think.

    As I sat there contemplating what questions I might be asked, I started thinking "How will the Chargers offense look without Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill?" Before I could think up an answer myself, one came to me. It was in the voice and the words of a Chargers legend. I was remembering something he had told me last year. Suddenly, everything was clear, and I was no longer scared of playing football without our Pro Bowl WR and Pro Bowl LT.

    If you remember, or were around, towards the end of last season you remember me interviewing Chargers' great Kellen Winslow. It was the following exchange from that interview that popped into my head while pondering the 2010 Chargers offense this morning:
    If you're looking at Don Coryell's offense, the one that you were a part of, and comparing it to the Chargers' current offense...do you think one is better than the other?

    It's the same thing. It's just different terminology, it's the same thing. It's based on the same premise. Spread the field, find the mismatches and take advantage of the mismatches. Put together personnel that gives you that mismatch.

    The only difference, in our offense against the current Chargers offense, is that we didn't do as many personnel changes. For example, in my early days with the Chargers, we would start the game with two Tight Ends, two Wide Receivers and one Running Back. And from that personnel, we would run every formation that we wanted to without changing personnel. We could go to three wide, we could go to single-back, we could go to two Tight Ends, we could go to a flank position where two Tight Ends are on the same side and one's off the ball.

    We just ran everything we wanted to run from that situation, which made it very difficult for defenses to say "Okay, what are they going to do now? How do we shift personnel?" They had to go out and draft for that very specific need of "How do you stop the San Diego Chargers?" Most teams, when they bring in two Tight Ends you know they're going with a two Tight End formation. When they want to switch to three wide, you would know they were going to three wide because they'd bring in another Wide Receiver. When they want to go to an I-formation, you'd see the Fulback come in.

    Mind? Blown. Thank you again, Mr. Winslow, for your inspiration nearly 10 months later.
    The Bolts have three Tight Ends that could be starters elsewhere in the NFL, all of which are excellent receivers and above-average blockers. Kris Wilson has spent time at TE, FB and WR. Antonio Gates and Randy McMichael have spent time at TE and WR. What if the Chargers were to always have two TEs in the game? Sometimes three? What if, instead of hoping Brandyn Dombrowski can play LT well-enough, the Chargers were planning on always having a TE next to him? That would certainly give Philip Rivers more time and more options, right?
    The name of this game is versatility. Look at this:

    Antonio Gates - TE/WR
    Randy McMichael - TE/WR
    Kris Wilson - TE/WR/FB
    Mike Tolbert - FB/HB
    Jacob Hester - FB/HB
    Darren Sproles - HB/WR

    Think there might be some mis-matches in there? We haven't even factored in the mis-matches the top 2 WRs create with their size and speed, nor have we even considered how well Ryan Mathews might be running behind a line with two TEs and a FB in front of him. Hell, we haven't even started discussing former QBs Gary Banks or Legedu Naanee. These are all toys for Norv to play with.

    This year could be Norv's homage to the late, great Don Coryell. Imagine on one play, the Chargers come out with 3 TEs, with Malcom Floyd on the outside and Mathews in the backfield. On the very next play, with nobody subbing in or out, Floyd and McMichael are on the outside and Wilson becomes the FB in front of "Bam Bam" (with Gates playing TE). After that play, Wilson or Gates could slide out and the team would have 3 WRs in the Singleback formation. There's not a defense in the league that could defend all of those offensive sets with the same group of defenders, yet that is what Coryell forced teams to do and it's exactly what Norv could be thinking about doing.

    In the words of #80, "We would start the game with two Tight Ends, two Wide Receivers and one Running Back. And from that personnel, we would run every formation that we wanted to without changing personnel. We could go to three wide, we could go to single-back, we could go to two Tight Ends, we could go to a flank position where two Tight Ends are on the same side and one's off the ball."

    I'm not saying the 2010 San Diego Chargers offense will be nearly as explosive or good as the 2009 offense, but perhaps there's less here to worry about than a lot of people think. Josh Reed wasn't Vincent Jackson's replacement and Tra Thomas wasn't McNeill's, but with the addition of Randy McMichael and a slight shift in philosophy the Chargers may have found a way to replace both. A team that can be this good, and this versatile, will keep the defense on it's toes and dictate the pace of the game.

    I'm excited, how about you?
  2. bigmike.x.09

    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    ^^^ For all the chicken littles out there.
  3. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Official Hater

    Feb 14, 2007
  4. Alpenbolt

    Alpenbolt BoltTalker

    Sep 9, 2006
    Absolutely excited about our tight ends this year. A more pounding running game coupled with two tight ends on every play that can catch the ball, we will be absolutely deadly on play action. McMichael will be huge this year, I have gone on the record saying this guy will make a ton of plays.

    If Buster can stretch the field a bit to keep the middle open for those triplet tight ends VJ's absence will be mitigated.

    We have enough weapons to survive until VJ gets back in week 10.

    Sign McNeil and lets get the season started.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Concudan

    Concudan Meh... Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    I am ready for some FOOTBALL!!!!
  6. nickelbolt

    nickelbolt Fuggedaboutit

    Aug 20, 2006
    We're gonna lose every single game this year.

  7. AnteaterRaider

    AnteaterRaider Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    nice to hear a positive article for a change

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

    Jul 11, 2006
    When JJ left there was no impact on the offenses of the Bolt's and I haven't anticipated any with the absence of Jackson. McNeill is the biggest hole of the two and the two TE's may overcome that problem. I don't think we lose much with the departure of Tomlinson, I can see more of the original power running game that we didn't have due to Tomlinson. Who knows at this point, I was never down about what has transpired so far, just wait and see.
  9. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Aug 17, 2006
    The only thing I'm worried about is our o-tackle situation. The rest of the team is pretty solid. Were down to dombrowski, thomas and clarey as our only real o-tackles. With green as backup. Hmmmm. :icon_eek:
  10. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006
    Tra Thomas had his knee scoped.

    That leaves the 5th string lineman Green (6'2" 310) playing left tackle against the Bears.

    SIX FOOT FREAKING 2 INCHES with a non existant wingspan protecting Rivers blind side.

    Sticking a TE (and none of our TE's are blocking demons) to help our left tackle is just about the only thing you can do before Rivers gets annihilated.

    Oh and that leaves our right tackle to fend for his own *** and that is not a comforting thought. Even adding a second TE to help the right tackle does not inspire visions of getting it done.

    BEEF :bolt:
  11. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

    Jun 28, 2010
    You might want to re-watch tape of McMichael over the past couple seasons. Daniel Graham he's not (but then Graham is a top 3 blocking TE in the league), but he's easily a very, very productive in-line blocker... in fact it was about the only thing he was productive at with any consistency for the Rams over the past two seasons (his hands lacked greatly during his time in St. Louis).
  12. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Aug 17, 2006
    something has to give. I cannot beleive were going into the season with this o-tackle situation. Either A.j. is gonna bring mcneil in or he's got an eye out for one or two o-lineman that may be put on other teams practice squads or let go.

    Were really on the razors edge here with our o-tackle sitution as it stands. A.j. always seems to come through at the last minute. I hope it works out this time as well.

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