UPON FURTHER REVIEW - The Chargers Part 2

Note: Upon Further Review is brought to you by Boydy, Bshrout, Broncofan91, and KaptainKirk. It is a Scouting report on the 4 most recent games of the upcoming Broncos opponents. Four sets of eyeballs will give you a focused idea as to the happenings of the weekly enemy team. Enjoy!

Once again the Broncos meet the Chargers, this time at home. Things have changed, the world has turned, and last years mediocrity has turned into this years promise. Don’t look now, but after another slow start the Bolts have won 4 in a row and stand tied with the Broncos for the Division lead. the Broncos have lost their last 3 games and know this game is the key matchup of the season. The winner will be sitting pretty to claim a playoff berth. It's kind of amazing that the Chargers are 6-3 and surging with the league's worst running game. Scouting the Chargers Weeks 1-4 can be found here.

Due to technical difficulties, Boydy was listed as Inactive for this game.

Week 8 Oakland @ San Diego -- Bshrout

Let me start this review of the game by saying that our game against San Diego will be a tough one.  It will also be a pivotal game, not so much in regards to the standings (though that's important) but in regards to whether or not our guys can regain their confidence and their swagger.
   There are several things to consider about the way that the Chargers played the Raiders.  Using the "Stats That Don't Lie" model we can see two teams that split the four categories.  Oakland won the Turnover and Starting Field Position battles, while San Diego won the Time of Possession (by a very narrow margin) and the 3rd Down Efficiency battles.  Penalties were evenly split (Oakland 6-31, San Diego 5-40).  The biggest area of difference was in Yards Per Play.  

                            Oakland        San Diego
Total Yards            180               346
Yards Per Play       3.3                6.2
Yards Per Rush     3.7                3.3
Yards Per Pass     3.0                9.5

In terms of scoring, San Diego scored early and often, and was pretty much shut down in the 2nd half. Of course, they also shut Oakland down for most of the game. There were a number of critical plays which typified the flow of the game; they are detailed below.

Oakland Ball, 1-10-50 Russell had good protection on a pass play. Two receivers were running deep routes, the receiver on the left side of the offense was in single coverage, the one on the right drew double coverage. As Russell launched the ball, the receiver in single coverage slipped and fell. The pass sailed over both receivers and the three defenders to drop into the hands of the safety who was charging the play from 5 yards deeper than the receivers.

San Diego Ball, 1-10-SD 41 San Diego lined up in a 3 WR set, 1 RB in the backfield. The TE was in a 2-point stance. TE went in motion. Rivers made, what looked like, a half-hearted attempt at a fake hand off. Rivers rolled to his right, then made a throw of around 50 yards in the air. The WR was able to jump up and wrestle the ball away from a defender.

San Diego Ball, 1-6-Oak 6 Wildcat formation, direct snap to Tomlinson. Two offensive linemen sealed off the LDE, the rest of the defensive line was pushed to the left side of the offensive line. The FB came forward and sealed off the LB in the gap, forcing him to the left. Tomlinson was able to burst through the hole before any other defender could get there and was tackled just as he reached the goal line for a touchdown.

San Diego Ball 1-10-SD 49 2 WR set to the left, single back formation. TE went in motion to the right. Rivers took a three yard drop as the slot receiver cut to the middle. The ball was thrown slightly behind the WR. It bounced off his hands and into the air & was picked off by the DB covering the receiver underneath.

Oakland Ball 1-3-SD 3 2 WR/Single back formation. 3 down defensive linemen, 2 LBs on either end of the line. Slot receiver went in motion, reversed field and set up as though to block on a running play. Russell handed off to the RB 4 yards deep. The offensive line was able to get a good push, forcing the defenders to the outside and opening up a hole between the right guard and right tackle. Defense could not get off their blocks before the RB was close enough to fall into the endzone.

San Diego Ball 3-4-Oak 8 Shotgun formation, single back, 1 WR left, 2 WR right, TE on right side of O-line. O-line in 2-point stance. Man coverage on the 3 WRs.  RB goes in motion lining up as an outside receiver on the left. LB shifts to follow RB. At the snap, the RB remains at LOS, freezing his defender. Left slot receiver sprints for the end zone. TE charges straight up the field at a LB. Right outside receiver sprints for the end zone. Right slot receiver slides into the middle of the field. Defender covering the right slot receiver blitzes. Safety in the middle of the field fails to come over to cover the left slot receiver, allowing Rivers to hit a wide open receiver in the middle of the end zone.

San Diego Ball 3-4-SD 26 Shotgun formation, 3 receivers on the left, TE on the right, single back. Defense shows 4 man rush, and man-to-man coverage on the receivers. At the snap, the TE runs parallel to the LOS 1 yard past it. The left slot receiver runs parallel to the LOS, 2 yards past it. The other two receivers head straight up the field.  The left slot receiver draws double coverage as he sprints past the TE. Both safeties slide to the right side of the offensive line. No-one picks up the TE crossing to the left. Rivers hits the wide open TE about 2 yards past the LOS. With the defense moving strongly to the opposite side of the field, the TE is able to pick up another 28 yards down the field before being forced out of bounds.

Oakland Kick Return The returner bobbled the ball for a moment, then started up the middle of the field. 3 defenders overran the play on the returners left side.  The blockers did a good job of pushing 6 defenders to the returners right. The returner cut left then outran the initial coverage. The kicker was finally able to catch him at the last moment and drag him down and out of bounds after a 60 yard return.

What I saw in this game was a San Diego team that made very few mistakes. They played well on both sides of the ball. In this particular game, their only weaknesses appeared to be how well they ran the ball (3.3 YPR is not particularly good), and how well they defended the run. Other than that, the Chargers didn't show much in the way of weakness. --Bshrout

Week 9  Chargers @ Giants --broncofan91

The Chargers' defense has greatly improved since the last time we saw them. Their D-line is getting a lot more push and penetration. They had Manning running for his life throughout the game. Nwagbuo, the nose tackle, has gotten much better at rushing the passer but still isn't much help in the run-game. He usually got pushed away from the runner pretty easily. I wouldn't call him a liability like was against Pittsburgh, but he is still pretty average. Before the draft, I remember that a lot of us at MHR liked OLB Larry English. I was very disappointed to see him get picked by the chargers. It took him a while but he's starting to "get it". It doesn't look like it on the stats sheet but he had pretty good game against the Giants. English only had two tackles but he pressured Manning multiple times. I don't think that we need to worry about him on running downs, but we should definitely account for him when he's on the field. Merriman, however, was the complete opposite. He had two sacks and two tackles but one of the sacks came in garbage time. He was pretty well-blocked for most of the game. Something is not right with him because not only lacks the explosion that he once had, he also lacks the passion. I actually saw him walk into blockers on some run-plays. Even his "lights out" dance seemed lazy. I guess that's what happens when the league forces you to stop taking steroids. The Chargers' defensive coordinator, Ron Rivera, got very creative with his blitzes for this game. Line shifts, drop-backs, delays, you name it, he did it. They blitzed 5 for most of the first quarter but the Giants were still able to consistently move the chains with quick, short passes. Their safeties got owned on the short passes all day. The defense also struggled with inside runs. The linebackers didn't keep to their gaps and the line was pushed around with ease. 
Offense The offense played exactly like they did when we played them. Their running game was virtually non-existent. LDT goes down on first contact almost every time. He lost his balance quite a few times during this game. The O-line didn't help much either. Their run-blocking throughout the game was horrible. The line had a very tough time blocking against a bull-rush. The giants were able to consistently collapse the pocket. The Chargers seem use long passes in order to set-up the screens.

Week 10 Eagles @ Chargers --KaptainKirk

The running game that was practically nonexistent against the Giants had a resurgence against the Eagles, even though they are ranked dead last with 75.1 yards per game. LaDainian Tomlinson is responding to the news of becoming a first-time father. He had 24 carries for 96 yards and 2 TD's against the Eagles, and looks to be regaining his form.

Tomlinson scored on a 3-yard run to give the Chargers a 14-0 lead four minutes into the 2nd quarter. Midway through the third quarter he chugged 20 yards through the right side of the Eagles' defense to make it 21-6.

Vincent Jackson, who entered Sunday’s game ranked 3rd in the NFL in receiving yards, had just one catch against the Eagles. His one catch was a big one though. It came on a 4th-quarter drive and gave the Chargers a 1st down when they were clinging to a five-point lead and trying to get out of the shadow of their own end zone.  Later in the drive, Antonio Gates and Naanee had clutch 3rd-down catches as well.

Rivers threw touchdown passes of 20 yards to wide-open fullback Mike Tolbert in the first quarter and 20 yards to Legedu Naanee in the third quarter. Rivers was 20 of 25 for 231 yards and no interceptions, with a rating of 131.8.

WR Legadu Naanee's 1st career TD catch in the 3rd quarter put San Diego ahead 28-9

Chargers pass protection is beatable. They have allowed 20 sacks, which is about middle of the road. But when the Chargers absolutely have to pass protect, their blocking is sensational. Jeromey Clary (hurt ankle) has been getting some help at RT, with a TE often helping in key moments. C Nick Hardwick(ankle) is a key loss for the Chargers in this game. He calls the blocking assignments on the line, and with him, the chances of keeping Rivers upright and throwing downfield are better. LT Marcus McNeill, C Scott Mruczkowski and RT Jeromey Clary will have their hands full with Elvis Dumervil and his 12 sacks. Mruczkowski, a backup, has at least one more start in him as Pro Bowler Nick Hardwick continues to mend. Clary won't be at 100 percent, so the Chargers will use the double team to slow Elvis. In the previous matchup in San Diego, Dumervil collected two sacks.

Philip Rivers will use Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Jackson to try and test CBs Andre' Goodman and Champ Bailey. Jackson has 43 receptions for 732 yards and 7 TD's. Floyd has 16 catches and a 20.3 avg. They are both formidable sized receivers. The Broncos do rank No. 5 against the pass, but could have their hands full tracking these giants.

Legedu Naanee is a versatile player who bears watching. He has been utilized when the Chargers go to the Wildcat offense. They used this formation twice against the Eagles. A direct snap to Naanee for 10 yards, and then another to Tomlinson for 5.

The Stats that don't Lie:

Time of Possession - SD 29:37  Philly  30:23

3rd Down Efficiency - SD  5/13 - 38%  Philly 3/8 - 37%

SD won the Turnover battle, Intercepting McNabb 1 time.

Starting Field Position SD 26.1  Philly 22.2

Penalties SD  9 - 70  Philly 3 - 31

Philadelphia racked up big yardage numbers in the 1st half, but really stunk in the Red Zone. They made 5 red-zone appearances, and had to settle for FG's of 18, 25 and 25 yards on their first 3 trips after driving inside the Chargers' 10-yard line. The Eagles had a 1st-and-goal at the 1 in the 2nd quarter, but coming away with a David Akers field goal set the tone for the entire game.

Eagles RB Brian Westbrook left in the 3rd quarter after sustaining a 2nd concussion in a three-week span. Already limited much of this season with knee and ankle injuries, he suffered his initial concussion when he took a knee to the head in the Eagles’ Oct. 26 win over the Redskins. This affected the Eagles running plans significantly, since Philly chose to rely more on QB Donovan McNabb (35 of 55 for 450 yards, two TD's and one INT) than Rookie RB LeSean McCoy. The Chargers run defense limited them to 29 yards and 2.2 yards per carry.  WR Jason Avant, who had 198 receiving yards entering the game, finished with career highs of 8 catches and 156 yards. McNabb threw a 5-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin early in the 4th quarter and 6 yards to TE Brent Celek with 7:12 left to pull the Eagles to 28-23. Then San Diego's Antonio Cromartie intercepted a pass from McNabb on the final play of the game to stave off a Philadelphia comeback.

Philly was in the Shotgun for 54 out of 77 plays (70%) and went with an empty backfield often, to spread the defense. It worked, as there were no sacks for either team in the game. The Chargers were content last week to let Philly's Donovan McNabb sit back and pick apart the secondary. They thought by the time the outside guys got there, the mobile McNabb would step away from the rush.

That won't the case this week as that outside pass rush could feast on a gimpy Orton or Simms and his happy feet.This might force Orton/Simms into hot routes and not the down field stuff where Marshall or Royal can do their damage.

In Kevin Burnett's and Tim Dobbins' absence, 3rd-string ILB Brandon Siler has done a good job. Look for Burnett and Siler to rotate to keep both of them fresh. Burnett is to moving better after missing 3 games with an ankle injury. He returned last week and led the team with 10 tackles.

S Kevin Ellison's move into the starting lineup is paying off. He had 10 tackles, a QB hit and 2 passes defensed in his best game of the season.

The Chargers pass rush is led by LBs Shawne Merriman (foot) and Shaun Phillips (ankle). Neither one had a sack against the Eagles and have nagging injuries.

Special Teams
Mike Scifres had 4 Punts averaging 53.3 yards, including a 72 yarder that Jeremy Maclin had to fair catch at the 5 yard line. The Punt Coverage unit gave up one return of 6 yards and the other 2 were negated by penalties.

Darren Sproles had 4 Punt chances in the game. One went Out of bounds, one was negated by penalty, and the other two were returned 6 and 8 yards respectively.He also returned 6 kickoffs an average of 24.3 yards.

Nate Kaeding made all 4 extra point conversions. His KO's averaged landing at the 11 yard line, and the Kick coverage team allowed Jeremy Maclin an average of 17.25 yards on 4 returns and Macho Harris returned a short Kick 26 yards.

To put these into perspective, the League average for PR's is 8.5 yards, and for KR's is 22.8 yards.

OLB Jyles Tucker has been placed on IR and will be replaced on the roster by OT Corey Clark. Clark has been on the practice squad all season.

Center Nick Hardwick will not play as he rests his surgically repaired ankle in hopes of returning Nov. 29 against Kansas City.

The Chargers promoted Corey Clark from the practice squad. He is an insurance policy as RT Jeromey Clary is nursing a sore ankle that forced him from Sunday's game. All indications are Clary could play Sunday, but he also could have a setback when he returns to practice this week.

2nd string ILB Tim Dobbins is likely down one more week from a knee injury.

What This Means for Denver.

1)We have to play almost perfect football.
2)We need to put serious pressure on Phillip Rivers.  When he had time he was able to pick apart the Raiders defense.  
3)We have to be wary of over-blitzing.  Rivers quite often got rid of the ball very quickly.
4)We cannot afford to turn the ball over.
5)We have to have our offense sustain drives to keep Rivers & the offense off the field. 3 & outs will kill us very quickly.
6)We have to score early, score often, and keep on scoring as though we were being forced to come from behind.
7)Their offense has had a tendency to go dormant in the 2nd half, something the Broncos showed in the last 3 weeks as well.
8)Stopping the big play hasn't been a problem for the Chargers defense this year, but stopping 3rd down conversions is another story.

Broncos lead series 54-44-1. The Broncos used to dominate the Chargers at home, but since Philip Rivers became the Chargers' starting QB in 2006, the visiting Chargers have won two of three games.

Chargers coach Norv Turner is familiar with the defensive coordinator he will match wits with Sunday. Mike Nolan of Denver was the head coach of the Niners when Turner was the offensive coordinator in 2006.

Denver defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely spent 12 seasons in that role with the Chargers before this season.

Like they have in all 3 years of coach Norv Turner's tenure, the Chargers start slow from the gate they build momentum. It seems like the Chargers never do it the easy way, but the Chargers have started another winning streak, which is becoming a San Diego tradition. Each year the Chargers don't get serious until they don't have any choice.

The Broncos aren't out of the woods, not by a long shot, and it would be foolish to count the Chargers out on Sunday.


This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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