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Playbook Confidential: Norvember Begins!

The long awaited second half of the Chargers' schedule has finally brought on the annual change from boring and predictable offense to ... slightly less predictable offense!  This marks the week that Norv Turner finally started cashing in his season long track record of very obvious play calling. There were major breaks from September and October, including 5 shotgun runs (although they only had 3.4 YPC), a really nice play fake deep ball on 3rd and 1 (defense had no thought of anything but a dive into the middle), and aggressive passing out of the three TE "13" personnel group.  There was also a 3rd and 13 play in long field goal range that would normally be a concession run to improve the field goal chances, but turned out to be a bold pass play going for the 1st down (too bad it was incomplete).  As BFTB has been hoping to see, "11" became the primary personnel group, unfortunately this was because of the desperation comeback mode.  Ten out of 24 first downs, and four out of five touchdowns came from the "11" group.  You can mitigate some of the positives for "11" this week owing to some prevent defense coming from the Packers, but I still think this game shows "11" is the best group this season.  Another side effect of being on the wrong side of the scoreboard (and to some degree, the absence of Ryan Mathews) for the entire game was the largest percentage of called passes this season, and a continuous trend over the last four weeks of minimizing the running game.

Week Opponent Run % Pass %
5 Broncos 53% 47%
6 Jets 41% 59%
7 Chiefs 33% 67%
8 Packers 27% 73%

Pull up the log and try to figure out the game plan for the Raiders; at least we can enjoy some offensive output while we're losing.

Before we get into the usual slicing and dicing of play calling and results, I wanted to include some clips of the play fake on 3rd and 1, and another non-vanilla Tolbert-as-fulback dive out of "11".  Note the linebackers biting hard on the play fake while the DBs look bored.  Note Patrick Crayton lined up as the halfback on the Tolbert carry into what must have been a nickel defense.  Both of these plays worked great because they relied on the defense expecting one thing and getting another.


The drive chart shows two punts for this feast (five touchdowns) or famine (three interceptions) offense on eleven possessions.  You can't blame Norv this week, in which there was only one three-and-out.

Drive Run Pass Total Yards Result
1 5 3 8 80 Touchdown
2 1 2 3 2 Pick Six
3 3 2 5 21 Pick Six
4 3 3 6 66 Touchdown
5 3 7 10 30 Field Goal
6 2 12 14 84 Touchdown
7 1 2 3 -1 Punt
8 1 6 7 80 Touchdown
9 0 3 3 55 Touchdown
10 1 6 7 10 Punt
11 0 7 7 28 Interception


This week Norv, got back to aggressive passing on first down, something we haven't seen since the Patriots game, way back in week two.  The other downs were typical for this season.  The red zone was also particularly pass happy.  Norv finally called a game playing to his opponent's weaker aspect.

Down Run Pass Total
1st 11 24 35
2nd 8 17 25
3rd 1 11 12
4th 0 1 1
Total 20 53 73
Red Zone 1 7 8


The running game was pretty much the Mike Tolbert show.  I was expecting maybe a half dozen more snaps or carries for Curtis Brinkley, especially with the Monday night performance, but Tolbert must be head and shoulders above him.  I guess this would be the section to take a jab at Jacob Hester for his Jammer-and-Weddle-had-a-baby stone hands.  Outside rushing continues to outperform inside runs, but the right side was completely avoided this week.  "12" grouping proved to be a real woofer in the running game.


Snaps Running Plays Passing Plays Run %
Tolbert 69 20 49 29%
Brinkley 4 0 4 0%

Rushes Average
Left 6 5
Middle 14 3.4
Right 0 N/A

Running Personnel # Runs YPC Avg to Go Ratio
11 4 5 8.5 0.59
12 4 0.5 6.5 0.08
21 4 3.75 6.3 0.60
22 8 5.1 8.3 0.61


I already touched briefly on the BFTB love affair with the "11" personnel that was proven successful owing to a furious comeback attempt.  Norv is going to have to do something sneaky with the "22" run tendency at some point.  The only question is which opponent is going to get suckered in by that one.  I'm just hoping for a healthy running back duo to make some "20".  I am guessing Antonio Gates' workload will have to be lessened with the short week against the Raiders.  Raise your hand if you'd like to see some "10" four wide looks this week to make that happen.

Personnel Run Pass Total
11 4 25 29
12 4 17 21
13 0 3 3
21 4 8 12
22 8 0 8
Total 20 53 73

11 12 13 21 22
1st 8 12 2 7 6
2nd 11 7 0 5 2
3rd 9 2 1 0 0
4th 1 0 0 0 0


Season Long Stat of the Week:

At the halfway mark after eight games, this team has been behind the 8-ball on 50% of it's offensive plays.  Feels nice, doesn't it?

Plays Percentage
Tied 102 18%
Leading 181 32%
Behind 275 49%


Next Week (also known as two days from now):

Much like the Chiefs, on paper the Raiders look beatable via ground or air.  Norv can use either, just as long as he keeps up the Norvember tradition of increased variation.

Yards Rank DVOA Rank
Run 140 29 -1.60% 21
Pass 247 13 16.90% 23

All VOA, DVOA, YAR and DYAR statistical values are developed, calculated and reported by Football Outsiders. Their explanation can be found here.