A “wild” offense
The Chargers offense can not be tamed. Before the season started, I was concerned because we were all saying the same thing.
“Philip Rivers plus Melvin Gordon plus two or three good WRs plus two good TEs plus Danny Woodhead....how can any defense stop all of those weapons?”
Then I kept remembering that we were saying the same things last season. The difference is the speed at which Rivers is getting rid of the ball again. It looks like the 2013 Chargers offense that finished 5th in the league in total yards. When Rivers hits the back of his drop, that ball is (usually) getting out within a single beat. It puts far less pressure on the offensive line that way, and the only real times Rivers is getting hit is when he’s not getting rid of the ball quick enough.
The weapons are there, the play designs are brilliant, and Ken Whisenhunt regularly has two or three guys running in the same area, with Rivers ready to pick apart zone coverage. The second Whiz or Rivers sees the defense switch to man, they simply run an underneath crossing route (like they did on Tyrell Williams’ 44 yard touchdown catch-and-run) and get yards with their freakish athleticism.
I know Keenan Allen is out for the season and I know Danny Woodhead might be gone for nearly as long, but as long as Rivers is at QB and Whisenhunt is designing and calling the plays, there may not be any way to keep the Chargers from getting down the field at will.
Even when the Jags figured out what the Chargers wanted to do (tear apart a zone) and then tried to counter the Chargers’ backup plan (crossing routes against underneath man-coverage), San Diego was ready to make them pay with a beautiful 45 yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin against one-on-one coverage.
How do you stop this offense? How do you tame it? I don’t think anyone has figured that out yet.
They learned from their mistakes
Look, I was thinking the same thing too. The San Diego Chargers played a flawless first half and were up 21-0 at the half, a lone missed FG by the Jacksonville Jaguars being the only thing that kept it from being a repeat of the 21-3 halftime score from Week 1.
This time, the Chargers didn’t let their opponent back into the game.
Melvin Gordon stayed on the field, which was essential after Danny Woodhead went down with a knee injury, and continued to get touches in the 2nd Half. Instead of playing out the clock, Ken Whisenhunt and the Chargers offense seemed determined to keep scoring.
It was only when the score read 35-0 in the 4th Quarter that the offense seemed to let off the gas and John Pagano stopped calling so many blitzes. Had the coaches operated with the same mentality in Week 1, this team could be 2-0 right now.
The Cornerbacks need a nickname
The strength of the Chargers defense is their cornerbacks: Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward, and Brandon Flowers (in that order). They’re such a dominant unit that, some time soon, they’re going to need some sort of “Legion of Boom” type of nickname.
The Kansas City Chiefs figured this out around halftime of Week 1, and started attacking the Inside Linebackers and Safeties almost exclusively, but the Jacksonville Jaguars never figured this out. This is why Blake Bortles finished with about a 60% completion rate, 4.78 yards per attempt, and 2 interceptions.
As long as that group continues to play that well, and the offense continues to build an early lead, this should be a recipe for success going forward.