SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 and tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers celebrate a Charger touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium on September 19 2010 in San Diego California. The Chargers won 38-13. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Ladies and gentlemen, Antonio Gates is expected to play this Sunday for the San Diego Chargers. It's entirely possible that nobody is more excited about this than Philip Rivers. Also, with a week to lick their wounds, Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert and Malcom Floyd should all be pretty close to 100% for this game. So how will a healthy Chargers offense match up to the current Jets' defense?
Well, for one, the Jets run defense has been leaky this season. How leaky? Darren McFadden, who is averaging about 100 yards per game on the ground, ran for 171 and 2 TDs against Gang Green. Denarius Moore and Michael Bush each added a TD in that game to give the Raiders 4 rushing TDs in all. New York has given up at least 112 yards on the ground in 5 of their 6 games this season.
With Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie playing CB for them, the weakness of this Jets team is definitely not in the passing defense.
The Jets are, predictably, 3rd in the league in sacks despite having a dominant pass-rusher. That's a result of good coverage in the secondary and lots of crafty blitzes being drawn up by Head Coach Red Ryan. In this game, they'll try and get to Rivers early and often to see if they can get him to turn the ball over, either through fumbles or by throwing bad passes near either of their interception-machine corners, like he has been this season.
For the Chargers to get anything going offensively in this game, they need to execute three things:
- The running game needs to be established. Mathews and Tolbert should come out of this game with 15 carries each, unless one of them is having more or less success than the other.
- The tight ends (including Gates) and running backs need to be heavily involved in the passing game. Screen passes, quick crossing routes, anything it takes to get the ball out of Rivers' hand quickly should be utilized.
- The Bolts need to shock the world and win the turnover battle. No fumbles from the RBs or WRs, no interceptions from Rivers, and the Chargers stand a good chance of coming home with a victory.
Obligatory WR Height Matchup
Vincent Jackson (6'5") vs. Darrelle Revis (5'11")
Malcom Floyd (6'5") vs. Antonio Cromartie (6'2")
Patrick Crayton (6'0") vs. Kyle WIlson (5'10")