A Winning Formula
There's a very simple winning formula that exists in the NFL today. It goes as such:
- Run a 3-4 defense with at least 1 "elite" Safety (or Cornerback) and at least 2 elite defensive linemen
- Pair with an above-average offensive line
- Add in either an elite QB or an elite RB
Boom. You now know how to build a perennially-contending team in the NFL. This was the formula the San Diego Chargers rode to success just a few years ago, on the backs of Jamal Williams, Luis Castillo, LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and the studs on the offensive line.
For the last two years, the Chargers have struggled on all three of those bullet points. The defensive line has been pretty pathetic. The offensive line has been below-average. The elite QB hasn't been playing like an elite QB and the young star RB doesn't look like he's going to join the "elites" any time soon.
Starting with a Week 14 win over the Steelers, the Chargers were able to get at least 1/3rd of the winning formula. Adding Kendall Reyes as a starter opposite Corey Liuget has left opposing offenses scratching their head much of the time. It's opened up lanes for the Linebackers and helped the secondary a great deal.
If the Chargers want a quick turnaround with a new Head Coach, they'll have to hope that either Philip Rivers or Ryan Mathews is "elite" and work towards building an above-average offensive line to complete the puzzle. Either way, what they have now should be enough to beat the Raiders.
Wins are Meaningless
Looking through the quotes from Dennis Allen this week, he understands what this game is. A win over a division rival would be nice, but it doesn't change anything for him going forward. He's concerning himself with evaluating the team and the young players, because he's already thinking about how to improve the Oakland Raiders next season.
Norv Turner knows he won't be back next season. A win over a division rival in (probably) his last game as a Head Coach and definitely his last game as Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers would be a decent ending. He'll be playing his veterans and star players as much as possible to make sure that he goes out on top instead of with a loss to the Raiders.
In all likelihood, Matt Leinart will be the starting QB for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Leinart has started 2 games since 2007, going 1-1 in the process.
This is his first year in Oakland, and he's gotten a few passes in. He's thrown 33 passes, which is roughly a game's worth, and completed just 16 of them. He's racked up 115 passing yards and 1 interception without throwing a touchdown.
Matt Leinart is not a very good NFL QB. Carson Palmer is above-average and has been attempting to carry this Raiders' team on his back all season. Leinart will need to somehow turn into a better version of Palmer if the Raiders are going to put up any points in San Diego on Sunday, and that seems doubtful with the way the Chargers' defensive line has been playing.