While the Los Angeles Chargers didn’t leave Denver with a win this past Monday night, they certainly came out of the game with some things upon which they should be able to build as the season progresses. That said, while there is reason to be optimistic about the Chargers prospects in 2017, I think we can all agree a number of adjustments are needed in all three phases of the game.
While I’m sure the coaching staff is hard at work identifying and making these adjustments, I thought it would be a good idea to outline a few of the adjustments I’d like to see when the Bolts take on the Dolphins at the StubHub Center on Sunday. We’ll be addressing the offensive and defensive adjustments in separate articles and, as the title of this post suggests, we’ll be discussing three offensive adjustments I believe Ken Whisenhunt needs to make for week 2.
Adjustment #1: Better clock/game management
There is no nice way to say this, so I’ll just come out with it – the game and clock management against the Broncos was atrocious. This, above all else, must get cleaned up immediately if the Chargers are going to have any success this season.
I spoke about this on the Lightning Round Podcast, but I think this starts with the coaches scripting the first 15-20 plays with the offense so they aren’t unnecessarily bleeding twenty seconds off the play clock before calling each play. From there, they have to make better use of timeouts – they can’t be calling for pointless challenges and burning timeouts on the opening drive due to being unprepared. And last but not least, they cannot be giving up almost a minute of precious time in the two minute drill because they can’t get on the same page. Everything about how the offense manages the clock needs to get more efficient, and it needs to happen right now.
Adjustment #2: More Hunter Henry
Hunter Henry is much more than a blocking tight end and the fact that he was utilized as such in Denver is borderline criminal. Not only that, but the fact that Hunter only played 23 snaps to Antonio Gates’ 39 represents what I would call a flawed game plan. The coaches must do a better job of getting Henry involved, and that begins with, well, getting him on the field.
Considering Hunter is both the most dynamic tight end on the roster and the second or third best receiving option on the roster, those snap distributions need to be turned upside down. But more than that, Hunter is a crucial part of victimizing opposing defenses between the hash marks, which loosens up the running game, and we all know Anthony Lynn wants to run the ball. I suspect the coaches will get him involved early against a suspect Miami secondary and line backing corps.
Adjustment #3: More screen passes
Along with a physical running game and a dominant pass-blocking offensive line, a creative and well-timed screen game is an essential part of slowing down a relentless pass rush, but the Chargers forgot all about their screen game on Monday. Sure, Melvin Gordon was involved in the passing game (5 rec, 25 yards, 1 TD), but pretty much all of that came on check-down reads as the pocket closed in on Philip. This needs to change, and I think it will.
With another physical, aggressive front seven coming into town in the form of the Miami Dolphins, I suspect the Chargers will be looking to mix in a few well-timed screen passes to their backs and tight ends. Hunter Henry has proven he can be particularly effective in this phase of the passing game, which is why I would expect the coaches to draw up a few screens for Henry, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler at some point in the game. If done correctly, it should force the defense to be a little more disciplined in their pass rush, which may open the door for a few more big plays later in the game.
Again, while I do think there are more offensive adjustments to be made, this is a good starting point. In addition to what I expect to be an effective running game, Chargers should be more productive on offense if they find a way to better manage the clock, get Hunter Henry involved in the passing game, and mix in a few well-timed screens.
Those are my offensive adjustments, what are yours? Let me know in the comment sections…