The Chargers marched down on their opening drive of the preseason for a 13 play 75 yard drive. There was plenty of good from the 1st team offense. I’m not going to talk about the second, third, and fourth groups because in a dream world we never have to see them play. So I’ll just give you 1 thing I liked from each play while the 1’s were on the field.
1. Getting Gordon Going
The very first play highlighted what the offensive line couldn’t do last year. Move. They ran a stretch play wide left and it’s zone blocking where the offensive line runs left trying to create a crease for Melvin Gordon to go. It was a gain of 4 but the idea of getting Gordon to the edge is a good one.
2. Opening up the field with 2 Tight Ends
The Chargers stayed in 12 personnel the next play so Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates were on the field at the same time. They motioned Gordon into the slot. It’s a “drive route” combination. With Henry and Gates lined up to the same side Henry runs a drag route and Gates runs a deep crossing route. With Gates on the inside, naturally, 2 guys go with him leaving Henry free for a 17 yard catch and run. I look forward to seeing these two working in tandem all year.
3. Russell Okung pancake
There wasn’t much to love here. I don’t like the idea of running at Gates when he’s the sole tight end. This is where you’d like to see the team use Henry over him. Gordon didn’t seem to sure of where he was going. But the good here is Okung sealed his man nicely and took him to the ground.
4. Shot play!
Even on 2nd and 9, I like the idea of throwing the ball downfield. I get maximizing your possessions but this opens up your offense for the entire game. It also keeps the defense honest. The team is in 11 personnel with an empty backfield. Top to bottom they had Gordon and Tyrell Williams in the slot to the left. On the right they had Gates and Keenan Allen in the slot with Travis Benjamin on the outside. The match-up with Williams against a rookie in man coverage on a deep route. The ball was under-thrown. The execution wasn’t the process made sense.
5. Taking advantage of mismatches
It’s 3rd & 9 and Seattle was in their usual Cover 3 look. The Chargers were in 12 personnel with Henry isolated to the left and trips to the right with Gates, Benjamin and Williams. It was just an option route with Benjamin on a linebacker and that was an easy victory for Benjamin as he picked up 15 yards for a 1st down.
6. A...a push?
If you pause this play right as Gordon is crossing the line of scrimmage every offensive lineman has their man 2-3 yards down the field. They completely reset the line of scrimmage.
The entire 1st drive was impressive for this offensive line, albeit vanilla looks.
7. Dink and dunk
On 2nd and 6 the Chargers spread the field again. It’s a quick hitter to Gates for a gain of 5. What I like here is that Gates runs a quick curl but Allen does the same thing on the other side. I hope we see Allen in the slot a whole hell of a lot this year. 1 of those 2 will be open.
8. Gordon running through an arm tackle
The Chargers went hurry up on 3rd & 1 and gave it to Gordon up the middle. You like to see him run through tackles and pick up the 1st down.
9. Formation diversity
9 plays in and we still haven’t seen the same formation by the Chargers. This time they are in an I-formation with twins to the right. They run power to the left and each person handles their man at the point of attack. The fullback, Sean Culkin, had a nice block kicking out the defensive end. Okung caves down the DT. Henry shows the difference between him and Gates on is block and the hole is a good size of Branden Oliver for a gain of 5.
10. Taking advantage of athletic lineman
Last year when the team ran screens, it was a struggle. On this gain of 14 you saw Spencer Pulley out in front and leading the way. He had a good game.
11. Making a guy miss
I’ve been critical of Gordon in 1-on-1 situations. Thing that’s what separates the cream of the crop backs in this league. Here the Chargers run an inside zone and Williams comes down and blocks the end man on the line of scrimmage leaving Gordon 1-on-1 with Richard Sherman. The results were in Gordon’s favor.
That’s a big boy move by Gordon right there.
12. Running out of passing formations
It was a run for negative 1 as Wiggins didn’t come off of his block on the draw play. I still like the idea of running when the defense is spread out.
13. Scoring points is good
Going back to play 7 where I mentioned that Gates or Allen are going to get open over the middle. Well here Gates ran himself open and the defense forgot to cover Allen. To the left they hi-low the defense. Benjamin runs a curl to the run of the end zone and Gates runs a stick nod to the middle. Earl Thomas is late getting over and is unable to jar the ball loose from his hit.
With Rivers staring Gates down there if he would’ve looked right to Allen in the slot on a slant he could’ve thrown the ball left handed for a touchdown. He was that wide open.
A heck of a drive by the 1st team offense against one of the better defenses in the league.