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Chargers vs Dolphins - scouting report

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Chargers vs Dolphins - scouting report

    After Miami's shocking upset of New England in Week 3 and back-to-back wins from San Diego to get back on solid footing, these teams must be feeling pretty good about themselves. Under the direction of new coach Tony Sparano and team czar Bill Parcells, the Dolphins appear to have made vital steps forward in the rebuilding of this storied franchise. Expectations for the Chargers are high, but traveling across the country to engage a rejuvenated club with little to lose is a potential pitfall.

    When San Diego has the ball

    The Chargers must be wondering which Dolphins defense they'll face this week: the one that overpowered the Patriots or the unit that appeared mostly out of sorts the first two weeks. But San Diego's game plan won't change much: establish the ground game with RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles with downhill power, off-tackle and perimeter plays. Even with the smallish Sproles in the backfield, coach Norv Turner hasn't hesitated to pound the ball inside.

    Miami defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni relies on an active 3-4 base scheme and a variety of two-deep man and zone coverages. The Dolphins were able to pressure the Patriots' quarterbacks into errant throws and mark up four sacks, often out of their base front. But the secondary was torched in Weeks 1 and 2, and San Diego has a dangerous passing game. QB Philip Rivers is at his best in the pocket, but he will bootleg and deliver the ball on flood patterns, fades and deep crossing routes. Pasqualoni tends to be conservative in his pressure packages, but he may counter with more blitzes and man techniques if Rivers gets too much time.

    When Miami has the ball

    The Dolphins' offense exploded against the Patriots (461 yards), and much of the credit went to coordinator Dan Henning and his single-wing wrinkle. But Miami's offensive line also was effective in base zone blocking, getting movement in the trenches and creating creases for the backs on downhill runs. The Dolphins want a physical run game to set up play-action passing, so expect Henning to continue pounding away with RB Ronnie Brown on power zone isolation plays to set the tone. Neither Brown nor RB Ricky Williams is exceptionally fast, but both have great burst to press the hole and reach the second level quickly.

    QB Chad Pennington excels at scanning the field and finding the open receiver when given time. Miami hasn't had much success stretching the field -- two of the team's top three receivers are tight ends -- so Pennington likely will continue to work the short and intermediate zones to keep the chains moving. Chargers defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell may send more pressure up the middle to flush Pennington outside the pocket, where he is less effective.

    Matchup to watch

    Chargers LT Marcus McNeill vs. Dolphins WLB Joey Porter
    After his Week 3 performance against the Patriots, Porter -- a 10-year veteran -- appears rejuvenated. He showed great quickness, agility and closing speed on the pass rush, delivering three sacks and a forced fumble. That sets up an outstanding battle with McNeill, a massive (6-8, 336 pounds) and gifted third-year player. Rivers isn't fleet of foot, so blind-side pressure could be a difference-maker for Miami. Porter brings a variety of moves (high-speed rush) and counters (inside rip and spin moves), so McNeill must be at the top of his game. The blocker has a solid kick step to gain leverage and is tough to get around when he engages early in a play. He uses his hands well and can anchor effectively when bull-rushed. Porter's best chance is to get McNeill off balance with combination moves and counters, but he'll need to use his initial quickness and speed off the line. If the Dolphins slow Tomlinson and the Chargers' ground game, the onus falls to Rivers to carry the offense -- and to McNeill to keep Rivers' pocket clean.

    Chargers Keys to

    1 Force Pennington to go deep: It's no secret that the strength of Miami's quarterback is reading defenses and accurately distributing the ball on short and intermediate passes. And it's also no secret that Pennington lacks great arm strength and the ability to power the ball on deep dig routes and fade patterns. Tighter man and zone techniques on all of the Dolphins' targets could force Pennington to take the downfield shots that aren't really his game.

    2 Maintain a balanced offensive attack: Forcing the ground game with Tomlinson and Sproles may play directly into the Dolphins' hands. Miami likely will focus on stopping the run and forcing the game to Rivers with a mixture of zone run blitzes, stunts and eight-man fronts. Turner and offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon can't get too conservative. If the Dolphins load up on the run, the Chargers need to turn Rivers loose on early downs.

    3 Win the kicking game: It's always tough to win on the road in the NFL, especially when traveling coast to coast. San Diego clearly has the more productive special teams between these clubs, and needs to show it. P Mike Scifres' strong leg and punt coverage units can maximize field position. K Nate Kaeding is very accurate, and Sproles has great vision and burst on returns. Forcing the Dolphins to drive the distance and giving Rivers a short field to work with would be huge advantages for the visiting team.

    Dolphins Keys to

    1 Make more plays downfield: Pennington has been solid while dinking and dunking and converting intermediate throws, but Miami needs to stretch the field to keep this offense headed in the right direction. The Dolphins' longest pass completion this season is a 33-yarder, and defenses eventually will catch up with them if that doesn't change. A concerted effort by Pennington, Henning and his staff should be made to get the ball downfield to WRs Ted Ginn Jr. and Davone Bess, who give this team its best chance to convert explosive plays.

    2 Stop the run, especially early: The Chargers are extremely dangerous when LT and Sproles are able to get out of the gate quickly. Pasqualoni needs to establish his unit's presence in the trenches early in the game and force Rivers to move the chains. He may need to take some chances (eight-man fronts, stunts and twists) to derail San Diego's ground game, leaving a shaky secondary vulnerable. But the alternative to occasionally exposing that group -- giving Turner a full playbook to work with -- probably is worse.

    3 Win the field position battle: Making a loaded San Diego offense go the long way this week is crucial. From a talent standpoint, Miami is overmatched. But if the Dolphins are as smart in their approach to the kicking game (pooch punts, sound coverage units, etc.) as they are on offense and defense (choosing mostly low-risk options), they can shorten the game and maintain favorable field position to give themselves a chance.

    Scouts Edge

    The Dolphins, coming off a bye week, are well-rested and feeling great about their first win. Meanwhile, the Chargers have had to come from behind to slip away with victories in two of the last three weeks. If another slow start and the cross-country journey affect San Diego, this game will be much tighter than many expect. It should be a hard-fought contest, but Miami still has plenty of improvements to make before it can regularly compete with such a stacked team. With more talent in all three phases of the game, the Chargers should be able to scrape off any rust and pull away in the fourth quarter.

  2. ntman68

    ntman68 Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    Fixed it for ya.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

    Nov 11, 2007

    so sad but so true...
  4. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005


  5. TheBeast

    TheBeast BoltTalker

    Dec 17, 2007
    Fixed :lol:

    j/k he's done well these past games but he's still not off the hook in my books (rhymes)
    no but seriously he needs to stop the running game because chad "ithrowlikea9yearoldgirl" pennington cannot throw for his life.

    Charger's need to stop ronnie brown and ricky "ismokedweedduringthebyeweek" williams
  6. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    One word-pressure.
  7. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

    Aug 8, 2006
    this scouting report makes it seem like Philip is Tarvaris Jackson or something

    It looks like the author just copied and pasted a scouting report for 2006, hasen't he seen any of the games this season were Philip has been carying the offensive load? :icon_shrug:

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