Offensive Playcalling vs the Chiefs (Week 1)

It's time once again to dig into Norv's brain.  This week's game flow dictated that the running game gave way to Philip Rivers' arm as time ran out.  From Kickoff until the time the Chargers got down by two touchdowns at 21-7, the calls were balanced and slightly in favor of the pass.  Those first seven possessions saw 14 runs (45%) to 17 passes (55%).  This is what the game plan probably prescribed.  From that point on the balance predictably went out the door as stopping the clock and gaining big chunks of yardage became more important than pre-snap mystery.  Those last five nervous possessions resulted in only 12 token runs (32%) to break up the monotony of 26 called pass plays (68%).  This was quite a shame as the weather favored the ground game.

I was able to identify two tendencies to keep an eye on going forward.  The obvious tendency is that Sproles in the backfield equals a passing play.  On snaps where Sproles was in the game, the offense threw the ball 26 times (84%) and only ran five times (16%).  The bummer here is that even when Sproles gets a rare carry as opposed to shotgun pass protecting is that it got blown up anyway (see 2nd down of the final goal line fail whale).  It will be interesting to see PacStud's O-line analysis on those five Sproles runs. Fortunately on the plays where Mathews lined up in the backfield, there was good balance with 19 runs and fourteen passes (I had a sinking feeling that Mathews was going to be a run 'tell' like Osgood used to be).

The second tendency is that out of 19 Mathews running plays, he only went to the left two times (10%).  Mathews ran up the middle eleven times (58%) and to the right six times (32%).  This doesn't agree with all of our Dombrowski run blocking hype.  We never really saw Mathews get wide either.

The 'down' stats tell a rather predicable, yet unavoidable trend... with the run getting completely abandoned on 3rd and 4th down.

1st Down

2nd Down

3rd Down

4th Down












The last four calls of the game have been much discussed by the press and Norv.  I'm throwing my hat in the Tolbert ring.  I get that Mathews was probably pretty rattled from the fumble and the play fake fumble.  I think it was the right thing to go to the vets for that last possession.  With four downs and two timeouts I think they should have manned up and pounded Tolbert, he was fresh, he was pumped, he was a freaking bowling ball.

The rest:

In total there were 26 runs and 43 passes.  On the first plays of possessions we saw nine runs and only 4 passes.  Mathews saw only one 3rd down play.  The rest of the third down snaps were taken up by Sproles and that one odd Tolbert set of downs.  We'll definitely keep an eye on whether or not young Bam Bam gains any trust for 3rd downs as the season progresses.

I can try to post my spreadsheet with the analysis to a google doc if anyone cares, and I'm wide open to any suggestions on making this exercise more illuminating!

This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.

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