You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Let's take a quick look at Philip Rivers' rushing per-game averages year to year:
2006: 3.0 carries, 3.1 yards
2007: 1.8 carries, 2.1 yards
2008: 1.9 carries, 5.3 yards
2009: 1.6 carries, 3.1 yards
2010: 1.8 carries, 3.3 yards
2011: 1.6 carries, 2.3 yards
2012: 1.7 carries, 2.5 yards
2013: 1.8 carries, 4.5 yards
2014: 6.5 carries, 13.5 yards
I'm aware of the small sample size, but I'm also aware of the new San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator. Is it possible that El Capitan is being instructed to run more often?
What I've noticed this year is another wrinkle in the Chargers passing game. When there is nobody open, Philip doesn't wait for someone to get open or throw the ball away. He looks at his checkdown option (usually Danny Woodhead) and takes off if he's not open. I believe the philosophy here is that the 2.1 yards per attempt he's getting is better than zero yards and it keeps the clock running. In addition, if they're trusting him to be smart in his choices as a passer, why not trust him to be smart in his choices as a runner (i.e. sliding).
This makes it a little easier on the offensive line and also damn near eliminates "negative plays" outside of penalties and turnovers. Despite a good pass-rush in the first two weeks, Rivers has been sacked just once this year. Last season, he was sacked an average of two times per game.
I don't know that other teams have caught on to this added dimension to Rivers' game just yet, and it's been a huge boost to an offense that hasn't run the ball particularly well. Speaking of which.....
Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris held that position with the Buffalo Bills from 2010-2012, so this game is a bit of a homecoming for him. I always say that if you want to watch a player at the top of his game, watch him go up against his former team, and I think the same is generally true for coaches.
Last year, Coach D took a bunch of broken parts and somehow turned them into one of the better offensive line's in the league. This year, he's tasked with a similar assignment, but so far the output has not been quite as good. I believe all of that changes in this Buffalo game and he walks out of his former home stadium with his head held high, knowing that he led the Chargers to a win they needed.
When Mike McCoy first arrived and started speaking in vague generalities in front of the media, many mocked him for referring to the team's plan without every outlying what the plan was.
I can't give you a detailed version of the organizational plan, although I have some guesses based on the moves the team's GM and head coach have made in the last two years, but it's quite obvious what their Sunday plan is. The San Diego Chargers want to win the time of possession battle by as many minutes as they possibly can.
Winning the time of possession battle makes total sense. When your offense is on the field and their defense is on the field, it is significantly easier for you to score than it is for them to score. Also, as the ones doing the running and not the chasing (and the tackling), it's usually easier to stay fresher and healthier as a team.
The plan to win the time of possession battle is one that can work in any game against any team, as evidenced by the Chargers win over the Seahawks last week and their win on Thursday Night Football late last season against the Broncos. Even with a roster that is still full of guys signed and drafted by A.J. Smith, they have just enough talented guys to put that plan into action in the majority of their games, which is why they're a winning team.
It almost doesn't matter who the Chargers are playing (and the Bills are not anywhere near as good as the Seahawks). Their plan and personnel makes them a legitimate threat to win every game, every week, and this one is no different.