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Lighting Up The Scoreboard -- Week 17 -- Denver at San Diego


Ordinarily, when I want to do analysis of a team and an upcoming matchup, I look at a few games. I felt like that wasn't really necessary in this case. I watched the Week 2 game between Denver and San Diego, and saw everything I needed to see.

To wit, consider these numbers: 34 First Downs, 145 Rushing Yards, 341 Passing Yards, 486 Total Yards, 34:00 Time of Possession, 39 Points, 1 Turnover. A story was told in September, one which is very easily understood. The San Diego Chargers cannot stop the Denver Broncos.

So, all of this nonsense you hear about the Chargers being superior is just that, nonsense. It is a proven fact that the Broncos can move the ball up and down the field against the Chargers. Below the fold, we'll talk about how it gets done.

What San Diego's Defense Looks Like on Video

In a word, they're pretty lousy. They do fairly well against the run, but nobody really runs on them much, because they're very vulnerable against the passing game. In Week 2, the Chargers did a lot of dropping back into soft zones, and Cutler and the Broncos shredded them. They got no pressure, which is something the Chargers can't have.

I watched some of the Week 12 Sunday night game vs. Indianapolis, because I wanted to see how the switch to Ron Rivera had affected the defensive schemes of the Chargers. The answer is, they blitz a little more than they did early on. They are still using a 30 front, but playing like a 40 front when they blitz. By that, I mean, the rush schemes aren't that exotic, and mostly consist of overloads with the OLB and ILB to one side or the other, or both ILBs. It will remind you of what the Eagles or Giants do with their blitz packages (Rivera is a Jim Johnson disciple, like Steve Spagnuolo is.)

When the Chargers blitz, they'll man up. When they don't blitz, they'll play soft zones and try to tackle the receivers. Either way, the Broncos can beat them. I feel pretty confident of that, and I would expect that the team does too.

How to Attack The Chargers

Throw the football. Specifically, I would come out in shotgun on nearly every play, and spread the Chargers out. This was the strategy in Week 2, and it was extremely effective.

You have to be very creative with running the ball, due to the personnel limitations at RB. I would feature a lot of WR screens, and treat them as a way to run the ball. I also liked the QB sweep left play which we saw a couple times last week. Antonio Cromartie is not the most willing tackler in the world, and I am sure he'd shy away from getting hit by Clady. I think you can get 10+ yard gains 3-4 times with that.

The Chargers have a really hard time with TEs and Slot WRs. Scheffler got 2 TDs against them in Week 2, and that weakness has continued throughout the season. Nothing would be better than seeing Matt Wilhelm manned up against Scheffler again. (As a side note, Wilhelm is from Cleveland, and he and I have some common acquaintances. I've been told that he's dumber than a bag of hammers.) He's definitely the weak link of their LB corps, and should be targeted.

On the back end, the Chargers have some guys who are good players individually. Particularly, Quentin Jammer is very good in coverage, but he can't catch. Antonio Cromartie and Antoine Cason are both average in coverage, but both have excellent hands. Eric Weddle is excellent at FS, and is their best all-around secondary player in my opinion. Cromartie had a nightmare game in Week 2 against Marshall, and I would go right back at that again. I also think you can get Royal deep against Jammer, and it is definitely worth a try.

In short, the underneath stuff is always there against San Diego, and they have nobody who can handle Marshall. Running will be a struggle, but moving the ball won't be. I expect Brett Kern to have a quiet day, and I expect the Broncos to move the ball with minimal problems. If they score touchdowns instead of field goals, and they don't turn the ball over, the Broncos will win the game, regardless of what the defense does. Go Broncos!!!