Last week, due to some personal issues, I was unable to write my weekly piece for EVT, but this week I’m back to normal and ready to roll.
The San Diego Chargers finally finished a game last Thursday, and were able to beat the World Champion Broncos. In the process the Bolts managed to stay alive in the AFC West division race.
This week, the team travels to the south to face one of the surprises of the season, the first place Atlanta Falcons. Just like last season, the Falcons have started fast, but this season their success seem to be sustainable.
They are currently in first place in the NFC South, and last week they gave the Seahawks everything they could handle. Like we do every week, we will take a look at Atlanta’s strengths and weaknesses as the Chargers prepare to battle them in the Georgia Dome.
1. Matt Ryan
Ever since he came into the NFL, Matt Ryan has been one of the best QBs in the league. However, the last two seasons there had been some chatter that he peaked, and that Atlanta was going in the wrong direction. This season Ryan has returned to the “elite” status, he leads the league in QB rating with 121.6 and in yards with 2,076. He also plays with a lot of poise which earned him the nickname Matty Ice. The Bolts will need to get pressure on him in order to stand a chance in this game.
When Jones was a freshman at the University of Alabama, some pundits called him “Baby TO”. At the time many thought that was a bit too much, but Jones has proved to be every bit as good as future Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, but without the selfishness. This season Jones has been on a tear. He’s been the best receiver by far and he leads the league with 656 yards, including a historic 300 yard game against the Panthers. The Chargers will have a tough task keeping him contained. Casey Hayward will be a busy man on Sunday as he trails Jones most of the day.
3. The RB Tandem
In this day and age most teams use a running back by committee approach, and the Falcons may have the best group. The duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman complement each other very well. Freeman is more of an old school back, he’s big and punishes defenders. Coleman on the other hand is built in the Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles mold. He’s explosive and very shifty so it will be interesting to see how the LBs match up against him. Stopping the run has been an issue this season for the Bolts, so keep an eye on this tandem verses the Chargers defense.
1. Defensive Scheme
Football is a game of personnel. The player’s ability to execute the scheme is what makes or breaks a system. Head coach Dan Quinn was one of the masterminds behind Seattle’s “Legion of Boom”, but the scheme hasn’t been as successful in Atlanta. Desmond Trufant is good, but he’s no Richard Sherman, and they don’t have anyone as good as Earl Thomas in the deep secondary. So, in my opinion, Chargers TE Hunter Henry could have a huge day on Sunday. He is already proving to be a breakout candidate for the Chargers.
2. Starting D
Every team needs a strong pass rush to be successful, and the Falcons play a 4-3 scheme. In this scheme you need to generate pass rush with the down linemen. Unfortunately for Atlanta, neither Vic Beasley nor Adrian Clayborne have been able to live up to their draft position. In my opinion, the Chargers offense could have a big day in Atlanta. The Bolts O-line should be able to give Rivers plenty of time to go through his options downfield.
3. TE position
The Falcons have an explosive offense and can score points from anywhere on the field, but the one weak link on offense is the TE position. Jacob Tamme is nothing more than a career back up, and is not a downfield threat. So look for the Chargers to concentrate on Jones and the RBs.
So there you have it. Sunday should be a high scoring affair. Both of these offenses can light up the scoreboard. San Diego should know that Julio Jones will get his yards and that shouldn’t demoralize the defense one bit. Defensively, the Bolts should focus on stopping Freeman and Coleman. If they do that, the San Diego Chargers will leave the “dirty south” with a 3-4 record on Sunday afternoon. Go Bolts!