Playbook Confidential: Norv's Gonna Norv

Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers yells out instructions at the line of scrimmage during their game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum n Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Despite the nothing-to-lose scenario this week, Norv Turner's offense went about its usual routine and produced a tempo and output very similar to the Ravens game. Norv was content to plow Curtis Brinkley into the pile for 1 or 2 yards on first down, and then let Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates bail them out on the subsequent downs. Norv was as predicable as ever this week. Immediately following the pass interference in the end zone, while the refs were spotting the ball and before the Chargers broke the huddle, I wrote Fullback/Tolbert/"23"/Up the middle into my play log. As with most of the Chargers offensive snaps, it just didn't matter that it was predicable as Tolbert powered right between Nick Hardwick and Louis Vasquez for the score. I also noticed this week that "21" with Gates as the TE is almost always a pass, while "21" with McMichael as the TE is almost always a run; and it simply didn't matter. It wasn't until the outcome was determined that Norv unwound a little bit and gave Vincent Jackson a reverse followed by three straight fullback-dive bones to Hester. At the time I was pretty annoyed that Norv couldn't break out the bag of tricks earlier in a meaningless game, but with the developments of Norv's retention on Tuesday, it turns out his entire 2012 employment was hanging on the win.

Here's the complete play call log for the complete 2011 season. I'm somewhat proud of myself for sticking to it. Sometime in the next few weeks I'll revisit the kind of story I wrote during the bye week and roll up some season long tendencies and results. Since Norv is going to be back, it's all the more worthwhile to write a definitive summary of Norv's offense.

Drive Run Pass Total Yards Result
1 1 4 5 20 Interception
2 6 4 10 81 Touchdown
3 3 4 7 80 Touchdown
4 1 7 8 47 Field Goal
5 4 5 9 66 Touchdown
6 6 2 8 45 Missed Field Goal
7 2 2 4 99 Touchdown
8 6 0 6 56 Downs

Down Run Pass Total
1st 19 10 29
2nd 8 11 19
3rd 2 7 9
Total 29 28 57

Rushing Game:

Turner used Curtis Brinkley in the Ryan Mathews role, and split his playing time with Mike Tolbert evenly. Tolbert's bigger YPC was due to a 40 yard breakout on a very Norvellian concession run call on 1st and 20 at the 10 yard line. I really liked the perfect 50/50 split in playing time and the 50% run/pass odds that each back finished up with. I was pretty surprised to see Brinkley trusted with pass protection so much - but it makes Mathews pass protection struggles stand out a bit more.

Halfback Snaps Running Plays Passing Plays Run % YPC
Brinkley 30 15 15 50% 3.3
Tolbert 27 14 13 52% 6

Rushes Average
Left 10 11.2
Middle 13 2.5
Right 6 3.2
Overall 29 5.6

Personnel:

Norv stuck to his base groups and very obvious situations this week. I'm still looking for a "12" and "21" run/pass predictor. One thing I'm doing to look at is how 2nd down goes immediately following certain first down outcomes such as an incomplete pass or a moderately successful run (4-8 yards).

Personnel Run Pass Total
11 2 12 14
12 10 14 24
21 11 2 13
22 4 0 4
23 2 0 2

Personnel 11 12 21 22 23
1st 4 13 8 3 1
2nd 4 9 5 1 0
3rd 6 2 0 0 1

Playbook Confidential: Holiday Bowl Edition

I got to go to the Holiday Bowl this year courtesy of my Longhorn alumnus father. I noticed something going on that you could never catch watching the game on TV. Whenever Cal had the football, a coach on the Texas sideline held up a card before each play that told the Texas defenders what personnel the Cal offense had in the game. The card went up after defensive substitutions were made, so I can only assume that the card was a reminder to the players on the field that a certain subset of coached tendencies were 'in play'. It was fun for me because it made it really easy to teach my dad the personnel notation system we use here at BFTB. Cal's offense was actually really similar to Norv's, with lots of "11" and "12" personnel with a light peppering of fullback use. Texas used "13" quite a bit.

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