This edition of “3 Keys” was the weirdest, and certainly hardest, to write so far this season.
Why? Because writing about how the Chargers should beat the worst team in the NFL is tough when all the answers are simply “be the better team because that is what you are.”
Discussing specifics feels wrong and unnecessary. There’s no player that needs to be highlighted. There’s no specific matchup that needs to be exploited. The Chargers are just simply the superior team and for that reason alone, they should win.
But I wrote a bunch of stuff anyway because I care about you guys and want you to get your content fill.
With that being said, here’s how the Chargers should attack the Jets on Sunday afternoon.
1.) Let Justin Herbert cook
Following Herbert’s worst outing, yardage-wise, in the NFL, many people had their opinions about what went wrong against the Dolphins. One of the biggest opponent’s of Anthony Lynn’s decision-making when it comes to the rookie passer is a guy named Warren Sharp. If you guys don’t know Warren already, he’s one of the smartest guys when it comes to the game of football and he’s always got something enlightening to say, or simply some intriguing information to share.
Here he is discussing last Sunday’s game and his overall thoughts about the Chargers offense (Hint: he hated it):
"This not a winning formula for football."— NBC Sports Bet (@NBCSportsBet) November 18, 2020
Los Angeles' run-first and often approach is limiting Justin Herbert's ceiling, and @SharpFootball says the team needs to trust their electric rookie ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/InHEcBRXqm
Like many people have echoed over the past few years when it comes to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the call for “Let Herbert cook!” has been ringing loud and clear as of late. You don’t need the in-depth numbers to tell show you that the run game hasn’t been nearly as successful compared to when Herbert is allowed to let it rip.
While I believe having the threat of the run game is important to keep defenses honest, I think the Chargers can stand to run it a bit less while maintaining the effectiveness of the play-action game. Like, instead of running it 18 times to throwing it 12, make it a bit more even. There isn’t a magic number that you strive to hit in order to establish the run, so it makes no sense to continue pounding the rock if it’s only getting you two to three yards per tote.
Lastly, the Jets are all of a sudden very thin at cornerback. They released veteran Pierre Desir, Brian Poole just hit IR after having surgery, and Blessaun Austin is tied for fourth in missed tackles this season with 11. This could be Herbert’s biggest game of the year if they don’t keep the ball out of his hands.
2.) Play any semblance of defense
There really isn’t any other way to put this one. If the Chargers can go out there and play average to good defense, they won’t have to worry about the Jets offense keeping up with them.
As of Week 11, the Jets average an abysmal 266 yards of offense per game. To put that into context to show you all just how bad that number actually is, you should know they are the only team in the NFL who averages less than 300.
Yeah, for real.
On the ground, they average 98.9 yards per game, good for 27th in the league. But it’s their league-worst passing attack that bodes well for a Chargers secondary who could use a break an easy week before facing the Bills next week. New York averages just 167 passing yards through the air, 17 yards less than the next closest team.
The Jets passing offense has a higher potential with Joe Flacco under center simply due to his superior arm strength to Sam Darnold. When paired with a player like Breshad Perriman, there’s always a chance for a passing going over the top of the defense.
In all honesty, this is the second game all season for the Jets where they’ve had all of their expected starter at wideout on the field. It’s still not the shiniest group of players, but their all respectable pass catcher, regardless. Still, it should be one of the easier outings for the defense as a whole this season.
3.) Play four full quarters of great football in all three phases
After the first two keys to victory, I struggled with a third. Mostly because the first two sort’ve covered everything and adding a third one seemed pointless. So for this third key, it’s more of a hope than a necessity for victory.
This is, at least on paper, the worst team in the NFL and the worst team the Chargers will face in 2020. If there was ever an opportunity to show that they can play four full quarters of football, without any major gaffes or mistakes, this is their best shot. After all the blown leads, after all the special teams slip-ups, the Bolts could use a game like this. At the end of the day, if you can’t go out and be dominant against this 0-9 Jets team, than where does that leave club? What does it say about the coaching staff and the player’s ability to win games, especially the easiest ones on the schedule?
Simply put, if the Chargers lose to the Jets on Sunday, heads will roll.