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Playbook Confidential: Chargers vs Chiefs

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Caption Contest in the Comments!
Caption Contest in the Comments!

The Chargers offense ran 68 plays against the Chiefs over nine drives, totaling 28 runs versus 40 called passing plays (41% run / 59% pass).  The offense log I kept is available for your own rummaging (with the other two games filtered out, but available if you download it).  Out of those nine possessions, only five (drives 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8) were subjectively successful at moving the ball, with the opening drive being debatable for that distinction.  Drive 5 was an two minute drill affair before halftime that scored a figgie.  Drive 7 was rather un-Norv like; with a couple of passes to start, a big "11" personnel run, and two empty backfield shotgun sets out of "21" personnel (more on that later).


Drive Run Pass Total Yards Result
1 4 6 10 35 Interception
2 6 9 15 72 Touchdown
3 2 4 6 24 Punt
4 0 1 1 0 Interception
5 4 8 12 73 Field Goal
6 2 1 3 9 Punt
7 3 4 7 80 Touchdown
8 3 4 7 53 Punt
9 4 3 7 35 Turnover on Downs



You may be surprised by the fact that Norv was more deliberate with the run this week than usual (see minimal running against Vikings on 2nd and 3rd down).  The Chargers ran the ball 59% of the time on first down, 33% of the time on 2nd down, and a non-zero 14% of third downs.  To be fair, the two third down runs were a fullback dive with 1 yard to go, and a conservative eject on third and long.  17 of 19 first downs came as a result of passing plays.

Down Run Pass Total
1st 17 12 29
2nd 8 16 24
3rd 2 12 14
4th 1 0 1
Total 28 40 68


My favorite subject to obsess over, the use of Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert; took a giant left turn this week.  For one week, Tolbert lost the title of shotgun, third down, and goal line back, but was retained as the two minute drill choice.  Mathews retained his tendency to be paired with Jacob Hester while picking up all the jobs that Tolbert yielded.  The majority of running plays were also given to Mathews, who had 21 carries to Tolbert's 4.  We certainly know that Mathews rose to the opportunity, what we don't know, is that if that workload opportunity was simply based on preserving a dinged up Tolbert.

w/ Fullback Shotgun Third Down Goal to Go Two Minute Drill Total
Mathews 11 19 8 4 0 48
Tolbert 5 12 6 0 8 20
Total 16 31 14 4 8 68


Rushes to the left side had the best YPC, with the bulk of the running work going predictably into the middle.  The redeeming grace for Clary and Vasquez is that one of Mathews touchdowns came behind them (the second, sprint to the cone TD).

Direction Rushes Average
Left 7 5.4
Middle 16 4.3
Right 5 3.2


Turning to the personnel subject, we saw the continuation of the trend to slowly fold in interesting new tid bits as the season progresses.  There was increased use of Greene in a three TE "13" set, and the 2011 debut of the "10" group, also known as four wide receivers.  It would be hubris to even make the joke that Norv must read BFTB, but he really did embrace throwing the ball out of "11" this week.  Other than passing all over the place with "11", "12" and "21" carried the bulk of the load, with pretty neutral run/pass tendencies.

Personnel Run Pass Total
10 0 1 1
11 4 24 28
12 8 7 15
13 4 0 4
21 9 8 17
22 2 0 2
Total 27 40 67


Comparing Personnel and Down shows... uhm.  I have no idea what this shows other than the kind of variation you'd hope to wind up with if you scripted it.  Cue JKvandal with the brilliant insights!

Personnel 10 11 12 13 21 22
1st 0 9 8 2 7 2
2nd 0 11 4 2 7 0
3rd 1 8 3 0 2 0
4th 0 0 0 0 1 0


Here's the formation on the lone appearance of the "10" group.  The WRs were Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Patrick Crayton, and Richard Goodman.  This play resulted in an eleven yard completion to Crayton for a first down.

There was also this interesting formation that is basically five wide with "21" personnel; using Mathews and Hester split out wide to the right side with McMichael, VJ, and Crayton to the left.  This one went to VJ underneath for a first down.  Check out the near side corner respecting Mathews' speed, and Mathews telegraphing his route, which was to simply turn towards the QB and be available for a dump off.

We'll wrap up with a quick summary of those three TE sets using Greene.  The "13" personnel was used 4 times.  It was unsuccessful in twice gaining only 2 yards on 1st and 10.  It was successful the other two times, in both cases setting up a nice and manageable third and short.  The clip shows the best result for the group.  As with our Mathews/Tolbert balance, time will tell if this was simply a result of only two TEs being available in the absence of gates, or a full feature of the offense.