The Chargers returned to something approaching balance this week against the Bears. After an alarming trend of abandoning the run during the first four games of the losing streak, the offense returned to losing with a running game shouldering some of the blame. The makeshift offensive line managed only a 2.9 YPC on 17 running plays (35% of offense play calls), with the left side once again leading the way (high five for Dombro, Mooch, and Moll). Ryan Mathews was back in the saddle as a feature back, right up until the point that he fumbled. After the fumble, he was basically benched as a punishment, appearing only for one screen play that Mike Tolbert probably doesn't execute as well. The log of offense play calls and results is available here.
|Halfback||Snaps||Running Plays||Passing Plays||Run %|
The big question for offense scheming leading up to this game was what adjustments Norv Turner would make to account for his makeshift O-line. The answer was severely limited personnel selection. Norv only used his four most basic personnel groups this week. There was only a single great run play from "11" personnel. As usual there's one slightly different wrinkle; this week there was a little bit more passing with a fullback ("21" and "22") than usual. This fullback personnel passing was really successful on 5 out of 7 attempts. If Norv could combine some increased "11" and shotgun running along with more fullback personnel passing in a single gameplan we might actually get somewhere.
I'm leaving out the drive chart and overall down vs run/pass balance data this week because it is far to depressing and consistent with previous weeks.
The Broncos have an average run defense, and a bottom third pass defense. Their Tim Tebow fueled, close, tense games have resulted in their raw yardage ranks pacing their DVOA numbers. The central tension for Norv Turner this week will be the need to play mistake free football, while exploiting the weaker aspect of Denver's pass defense. Remember that the last time the Chargers played the Broncos, Norv actually ran the ball more often than he called passes - and it worked.
All VOA, DVOA, YAR and DYAR statistical values are developed, calculated and reported by Football Outsiders. Their explanation can be found here.