Playbook Confidential: Chargers vs Dolphins

Baby Giraffe on the Move!

Norv continues to roll out new aspects to the 2011 version of his offense as if he's slow playing a pair of pocket aces.  We haven't yet seen much come from previous token use of WR play fakes, four wide receiver sets, or jumbo three-TE personnel using Tyronne Green.  What we did get a new taste of this week, was Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert in the backfield together at last.  The combination of Mathews and Tolbert was used 6 times, mostly with a no TE's "20" personnel grouping; with Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Vincent Brown as WRs.  The pairing of halfbacks resulted in 5.3 yards per play (6.4 if you throw out the lone in-completion).  Continuing last week's theme of multiple formations with the same personnel group, Norv gave the defense 5 completely different looks with the combo.  I tried hassling @mathews24, @randymac81, and @jacobhester22 for a name of the pairing, but got no response.  I also tried to coax @sdutChargers into asking Norv about it.  Since I'm good for nothing, help us out by suggesting a nickname for the Mathews and Tolbert combo.

Pull up this week's log and read along at home for more on this combination and our usual batch of offensive analysis.


Possession Down Distance Ball On FB/Shotgun RunningBack Personnel Call (LRMP) Play Fake? Carrier/Rec Result
2 2 8 22 S Both 20 P N Mathews 7
4 1 10 77 F Both 20 M N Mathews 8
4 2 2 85 S Both 20 P N Jackson Inc
4 2 22 78 S Both 20 P Y Tolbert 8
4 3 14 86 S Both 20 P N Mathews 4
8 2 9 61 N Both 21 P N Mathews 5

Here's a quick review of those 5 formations that used Mathews and Tolbert together:

Shotgun was used four times with the combo-to-be-named-later.  One one ocassion when Tolbert and Mathews lined up with Rivers, Mathews ran a route while Tolbert stayed in to pass protect (makes sense eh?).  On another, there was play action to Mathews and a screen to Tolbert.  On the empty backfield version, Rivers threw a quick pass to Mathews who then bulldozed a backed-off cornerback for eight yards.


Turner also showed Tolbert lead blocking for Mathews as a fullback, and placed Tolbert in the slot on another play:

Tolbert_at_fb_medium Tolbert_in_slot_medium

The last (and most unusual) Mathews/Tolbert combo play involved both backs and Randy McMichael in a weird reverse wishbone; where Tolbert and McMichael were in front of Mathews.  The action on this play had McMichael and Tolbert running left with the screen pass going the other way to Mathews for five yards.  This was the only play involving both backs that did not use "20" personnel.


This week, the offense ran only 60 plays, right on schedule with 23 runs and 37 called pass plays (38% run, 62% pass).  There were three dud possessions in the first half, including the first two possessions overall, while the second half offense never failed to score.  Chalk one up for first half scripting and second half adjustments against the pedestrian Dolphins.

Drive Run Pass Total Yards Result
1 1 2 3 0 Punt
2 2 1 3 9 Punt
3 0 3 3 80 TD
4 2 6 8 66 FG
5 1 2 3 0 Punt
6 0 7 7 50 FG
7 4 4 8 54 TD
8 5 5 10 79 FG
9 5 7 12 60 FG
10 3 0 3 11 End of Game


All three third down runs this week were in short yardage or clock killing situations (one of which broke Jacob Hester's perfection on 3rd and 1).  Norv continues to assert the run on first down, and pretty much abandon it on the other downs.  Was it execution, or the opponent that made it work this week?

Down Run Pass Total
1st 16 11 27
2nd 4 14 18
3rd 3 12 15
Total 23 37 60


The running back playtime distribution returned to week 1 & 2 form, proving the week 3 Mathews outburst was due to injury precaution for Tolbert.  This week, Tolbert returned to his shotgun, third down, and goal to go duties.  The combo plays helped Mathews gain playing time in situations that normally belong to a healthy Tolbert.

w/ Fullback Shotgun Third Down Goal to Go Two Minute Drill Total Plays
Mathews 14 9 2 2 0 32
Tolbert 4 24 14 7 7 34
Total 17 29 15 7 7 60


The direction of running plays flipped trends with the Chiefs game, with the most successful runs going to the right this week.  We'll revisit this one at the bye and halfway points of the season for sure.

Side Rushes Average
Left 3 4
Middle 15 4.7
Right 5 5.2


This week the "21" and "22" formations were a little less balanced, favoring the run, while "12" went the other way to favor the pass.  I was delighted to see a play fake on a 2nd and 2 at the goal line out of jumbo "23", despite the incomplete pass outcome.  All three "11" runs came on first down.

Personnel Run Pass Total
11 3 19 22
12 6 9 15
20 2 4 6
21 6 2 8
22 5 2 7
23 1 1 2
Total 23 37 60


"11" continues to be old reliable on third down, while fullbacks come out to play on first down.

Down 11 12 20 21 22 23
1st 7 7 2 7 4 0
2nd 5 7 3 1 1 1
3rd 10 1 1 0 2 1


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