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Playbook Confidential: Chargers vs Bills

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Running back Ryan Mathews #24
Running back Ryan Mathews #24

This week's offense was Norv Turner's perfect template of how he would like to call his execution based offense every week. They maintained an ideal 40% / 60% run to pass balance. The passing game featured heavy checkdowns to running backs (32 completions to Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert), a sprinkling of TE hits (8 completions to Antonio Gates and Randy McMichael), and just enough deep balls to the wide receivers to make space for the running game (10 completions to Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Patrick Crayton). The run/pass balance by down perfectly matches the season long stats, with a slight edge to running on 1st, an ambiguous edge for passing on 2nd, and pretty much always passing on 3rd. Everything about this offensive game plan screams simple execution with the proper set of pass catchers and a healthy, intact offensive line. (Link to play log is here).

Down Run Pass Total
1st 14 12 26
2nd 9 13 22
3rd 3 10 13
Total 26 35 61

Sticking with the theme of matching the template to perfection, Mathews saw 64% of the halfback snaps and carried the ball half of the time he was in. Tolbert came in for breathers and obvious passing downs (36% of plays) and ran just enough to appear remotely honest (six carries). Newcomer Jared Gaither had a big run blocking game along with career backup Tyronne Green for a monster 7.8 YPC on outside runs to the left. The running game in general wound up with a healthy 5.4 YPC overall, with the best runs (by run ratio) coming from obvious run situations and personnel (aka running with a fullback went well, even though the defense was expecting a run). Running from "11" personnel has been ditched, and running out of shotgun has been greatly diminished, even though it's quite successful (9.5 YPC on two tries).

Halfback Snaps Running Plays Passing Plays Run %
Mathews 39 20 19 51%
Tolbert 22 6 16 27%

Rushes Average
Left 6 7.8
Middle 18 4.7
Right 2 4.5
Overall 26 5.4

Personnel # Runs YPC Avg to Go Ratio
11 0 n/a n/a n/a
12 12 4.5 8.9 0.51
13 1 4 1 4.00
21 5 6 5.4 1.11
22 6 8.3 7.8 1.06
23 2 1 1.5 0.67

Personnel use in general came back up to the standard mix that Turner prefers when his O-line is healthy and knows the playbook. "13" and "23" personnel returned from oblivion this week. Something that was successful a few weeks back that made a return against the Bills was passing from the run tendency "21" and "22" personnel. Those two groups had 7.4 YPA on nine tries, with three first downs. 2nd down saw the biggest variation of personnel.

Personnel Run Pass Total
11 0 14 14
12 12 11 23
13 1 0 1
21 5 6 11
22 6 3 9
23 2 1 3

Personnel 11 12 13 21 22 23
1st 2 14 0 3 6 1
2nd 3 7 0 7 3 2
3rd 9 2 1 1 0 0

Season Long Stat of the Week:

For this week's season long snippet, I compiled the various personnel groups that Mathews and Tolbert have been used in. Tolbert has a commanding lead in "11" (which should surprise no one). Mathews is dominant in "12" and "21" because those are the most run/pass ambiguous groups. I was surprised to see that Tolbert has 100% of the super jumbo "23" plays while taking a backseat on all other fullback groupings.

Personnel 10 11 12 13 20 21 22 23
Mathews 1 59 197 11 7 97 48 0
Tolbert 0 185 108 6 8 38 37 10

Next Opponent:

As I mentioned last week, the Ravens present a 'show me' opportunity for this new era of Gates + Jackson + Floyd + competent Oline. Now that Turner's offense is healthy, we'll really find out what proper execution can do against an extremely good statistical defense.

Ravens Defense Yards Rank DVOA Rank
Run 86 #2 -12.10% #6
Pass 192 #5 -25.40% #1

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