Chargers Editorial: Bolts Offense Lacks Deep Threat
Over the last few seasons, as Philip Rivers enters into the twilight of his career, the San Diego Chargers‘ offense has been tailored around a short passing game and running the football.
This season has been no different as the Chargers have two great possession receivers in Keenan Allen and Steven Johnson. With Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games, Ladarius Green has also provided a mismatch in the middle of field.
But something is missing in the Chargers offense.
Opposing defenses can game plan against the Chargers underneath attack by jumping routes with their corners and safeties while blitzing, knowing Rivers will have to get rid of the ball fast. The Cincinnati defense is very talented and the O-line didn’t do Rivers any favors, but they were sitting on the wide receiver screens and crossing routes all day.
When there’s not a player who can take the top off the defense the opponents’ safeties and corners can play up with no fear of being beat deep. This doesn’t allow the Chargers’ offensive game plan to work at full efficiency.
Now, some of you are saying, “But Nick, doesn’t the offensive line have to hold up to let the play develop downfield?” Great question stranger, I’d say that even having that deep threat lined up on the outside would greatly help the possession receivers and open up the middle of the field. You don’t have to bomb it deep 10 times a game, but at least take a few shots to keep the defense honest, that’s all I’m asking.
It could also help the running game by having the linebackers and secondary playing a little bit more on their heels, rather than crowding the line of scrimmage and then running the ball will open up play action and so on.
I look at a team like the Patriots, they implement a very similar scheme where they don’t have a deep threat on offense but rely on misdirection and short passing routes to dink and dunk defenses to death. The Chargers don’t have the personal (imagine Gronk on the Chargers, oo man) or coaching the Patriots do obviously, but if their not going to have a deep threat, they need to take a page out of their playbook.
Take a look at these pictures from a Brady to Julian Edelman TD pass (courtesy of the NFL YouTube channel). The Pats run a play-action fake with Edelman lined up tight to the play-action side. He’s going to run against the flow of the play and get lost in coverage by the linebackers, leading to an easy pitch, catch and run (plus dive) for a TD. The misdirection is key and a fundamental weapon for Brady and the Pats.
What are some options the Chargers have that could help them stretch the field? Well some good news came out on Monday as undrafted rookie WR Tyrell Williams passed waivers and can be placed on the Chargers’ practice squad this week. He’s 6′ 4″ 205 lbs and ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at his pro day. He could certainly take over for an aging Malcom Floyd.
Maybe his time hasn’t arrived just yet, but I’d be taking a good, long look at this guy if I’m on the Chargers coaching staff. He’s got the physical tools and with his speed, he could get behind some defenses no doubt. He’s an unknown commodity at this point, but he could be someone in-house the Chargers could look at.
He played three games in the preseason, most notably was the fourth game when he had 4 catches for 81 yards and a TD.
Free-agent acquisition Jacoby Jones didn’t play on Sunday as he deals with an ankle injury. While we know he will be returning kicks and punts when he gets healthy, he could line up on the outside and run under some throws by Rivers, and at the very least give the opposing safeties something to think about. We all saw what he did in Baltimore when he was lost in coverage.
It’s safe to assume the Chargers won’t play a defense as tough as Cincinnati every week, but in a division that has the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, I think it’d be beneficial to the Chargers’ offensive attack if they had a deep threat in their lineup. While there’s not too many options as far as personal goes, I’d like to see the Chargers’ attempt to not be as predictable and maybe throw and fake WR screen and go or some other misdirection plays that would allow the underneath routes to open up for Rivers.
Nick was born and raised in San Diego where he became a Chargers and Padres fan, attending numerous home games throughout the years with his dad. He then went on to attend college at the University of Arizona. There he earned his degree in marketing and now lives in San Francisco where he dreams of the the sunny beaches of San Diego. Bear Down.