When I went to watch the Giants defense, I had no idea what to expect. I figured since they got off to an 0-6 start, even with all the turnovers, that their defense had to be struggling. I was wrong. Defensively, the Giants are 5th in DVOA, & 7th in yards per play. However, they struggle to get off the field; they're 24th in opponents 3rd down percentage, allowing just over 40%. This should be a good match-up, as it's strength versus strength. Conversely, the Chargers offense is 2nd in DVOA, 2nd in yards per play, and unlike New York, they are very good on 3rd down, where they're 2nd in the league converting over 46%.
So, how should the Chargers attack this Giants defense?
There are 3 weaknesses that I noticed where the Chargers have an advantage.
- Perimeter Runs
- Getting your Running Backs in space
- Attack the middle of the field
The offensive line is able to get to the second level and create a big running lane for a gain of 18.
The next example is a run to the strong side out of another multi-tight end set, a formation the Chargers ran out of 91% of the time against the Bengals. This play features 3 tight ends.
The linebackers have a tendency to over pursue and take themselves out of the play, Jon Beason in particlar, making for a big cutback lane.
Washington had similar success.
In an "Ace" formation, the play is stretch zone left, which San Diego does run. The important part here is getting to the next level and sealing off the linebackers. Because the flow of the play, it's natural for the strong side linebacker to take himself out of the play.
If Troutman can get to the second level, something he's very good at, and seal off the middle linebacker, the Chargers could have a big day on the ground.
I should also note that the Raiders had success, though not a perimeter run, on trap runs.
Running Backs in Space
I watched the last 4 games, and opposing running backs were targeted 22 times. They had 22 receptions for 197 yards. From a receiving standpoint, none of these guys are on Danny Woodhead's level, or arguably even Ryan Mathews' level. For that reason, let's just say I'm expecting a big game from these two.
Each team that ran a screen the play went for double digits. Even on check downs to the running back, opposing teams had success.
On this play both tight ends ran curls, opening it up for a 9 yard gain for the running back.
This next play Washington just ran deep dig routes with their receivers, and the linebackers got way too much depth. No one is within 12 yards of the back. Easy 20 yard gain.
Dallas ran a play that is very successful. Playaction, then throw it to the running back who you just used as a decoy. The defense over compensates once they realize it's playaction to get back to their spots, leaving the back wide open. This play went for 22 yards.
The linemen do a nice job of executing their cut blocks, making an easy running lane for Eddie Lacy.
Attack the middle of the Field
Already an area of strength for the Chargers. From what I've seen, the Giants tend to give up plays over the middle. One of the Chargers signature plays, the "Seam/Dig" route combination, should really work Sunday. The Cowboys also ran the exact same play that Ladarius Green scored on versus the Bengals.
Here, Green Bay facts like they're throwing the swing route to the running back, they get both the linebacker and safety to bite just long enough, opening a big window up for Jordy Nelson up the seam.
Green Bay was able to hit on a couple different intermediate crossing routes. Whoever plays the slot this week has a chance to put up good numbers.
Here is a look at the Dallas touchdown I was referring to.
They fake the playaction, essentially taking the linebackers completely out of the play. The safety to Witten's side takes a few false steps towards the line of scrimmage, and that's just enough for Tony Romo to capitalize.
Dez Bryant also had a bit of success against the Giants, 9 catches for 102 yards. There will say "the Chargers don't have a receiver close to Dez Bryant."
The Chargers rookie 3rd round pick was actually compared to Bryant out of college.
Anyways, the Cowboys line up in another Ace set, with both tight ends to the same side, with Bryant to the bottom of the screen.
Romo gives a quick playaction, this allows Bryant to work the middle of the field all by himself, all he has to do is beat the corner to the inside.
Romo had options here, and wisely took the deeper route. The combination of Allen, Gates, and Green should really give the Giants problems come Sunday. Each should have a favorable match-up.
I'm not saying that the Chargers will score 40 points against the Giants because they've proven even when the offense turns it over, that they are a good defense. I do believe that there will be opportunities for the Chargers to move the ball, and that this is a good match-up for the Chargers. It looks like San Diego will have their starting offensive line playing for the first time since Week 3.The issue, like usual, will come down to when they're in scoring position, and how aggressive they'll be.
Fans have every right to believe that the offense will convert on short yardage situations. We're 12 games through, and in short yardage situations, San Diego has been stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage just 11% of the time. That's good for #1 in the league, yet, the offense still refuses to maximize each possession.
Knowing that the Giants are scoring 24 points per game in the last month, and that your defense, to put it kindly, is "struggling" it will be important for the Chargers offense to score touchdowns. I expect a high scoring game, and field goals won't get the job done on Sunday.