Thursday, November 12, 2009

Know Your Enemy - SD


San Diego started 2-3, but has now won 3 in a row. They're playing better football. It also helps that they beat KC, Oakland, and a struggling Giants team. I'm not sure what exactly to think of the Chargers. Tons of talent, but they still seem like a somewhat dysfunctional team.

The offense that was built around stud RB LaDainian Tomlinson has gone all pass, no run. Sound familiar? They are last in the NFL in yards per carry and rushing yards per game. Tomlinson hasn't been healthy for much of the year. That trend continues this week. Darren Sproles is the other RB. He's dynamic as a returner and receiver, but hasn't looked special as a runner. He does lead the league with 1,397 all-purpose yards (most as a RS). How bad is their running game? SD has 9 less carries than the Eagles. Yikes.

QB Philip Rivers is playing well. The numbers that stick out...he's completing just under 60% of his passes and also averages more than 8 yards per attempt. Anything over 8 is considered excellent. That shows you a vertical passing attack. He has been sacked 18 times and has 6 INTs.

The offense is ranked 17th in yards, but 8th in scoring. The Chargers sound more and more like us. The big difference is consistency. SD has scored 21 points or more in every game. That's impressive. The downside is that they've only scored more than 28 points once, when they put up 37 on KC. They can score, but they aren't explosive.

The Charger defense is 11th in yards allowed, but only 20th in points allowed. They run a 3-4 and things have been up and down this year. NT Jamal Williams got hurt a few weeks back and they really struggled without him. Opponents are running for 130 yards a game on San Diego.

You need to look at the Chargers D based on early in the year vs now.

Gms 1-4 ... 7 sacks ... pass defense was 20th ... record of 2-2

Gms 5-8 ... 15 sacks ... pass defense is ranked #5 ... 3-1

* The Chargers defense had a streak of 145 plays that were held to 25 yards or less broken by a screen pass to Hakeem Nicks last week.


WRs --- Vincent Jackson is having a terrific year (42-722-7). He's got good speed and great size. Jackson has developed into a very good player. Malcolm Floyd got the starting gig on the other side recently. He's a big guy with downfield ability as well. Both receivers are at least 6'5 and 225. Both guys average at least 17 yards per reception. Floyd seems to be on the left most of the time with Jackson on the right. Legeduu Naanee is a WR/TE/H-back hybrid. He's got 16 catches.

Marcus McNeill --- Tall LT at 6'7. He's allowed 4 sacks this year. Osi beat him with a good speed rush last week.

Kris Dielman
--- Starting LG. Best of the interior blockers.

Jerome Clary
--- RT gets the job done more with effort than talent. He's given up 5.5 sacks this year.

Antonio Gates --- Still an elite TE. He's having a good year (42-590-2). May not make the highlight plays of the past, but he's still a force in the middle of the field. Has a catch of at least 19 yards in each game. Long play is only 37 yards, though. Does have the 2 TDs, but they came in the blowout loss to PIT. Hasn't scored other than that. Weird.

NT --- Jamal Williams has been replaced by Travis Johnson. And Ian Scott. And Ogemdi Nwagbuo. Occasionally even Alphonso Boone will slide in to the middle. The Chargers lack one guy to handle the job so they wisely mixed in several. It isn't an ideal solution, but it is working okay.

Shaun Phillips --- Generally plays on the left side. Leads the team with 5 sacks. Athletic pass rusher. Good burst. Also has 5 FFs and he's 3rd on the team in tackles. Better rusher than cover guy. Got beaten by TE Kevin Boss for TD last week.

Shawne Merriman --- Has a pair of sacks in each of the last 2 games. That sounds good, but the eyeball test tells you he's not back to being the force he was. Got to Eli on the final play last week...but he was unblocked. The other sack came when he looped inside and got by LG Rich Seubert. Merriman doesn't lack effort. He plays hard. He uses power rush moves more than I remember from the past. On the sack vs Seubert, Merriman slanted inside and overpowered the big guy. Shawne got under his pads and drove Seubert back, then had a path to Eli. Occasionally they will move him around. Lined up over a slot receiver in one set last week and knocked the crap out of the guy at the snap. Clean, legal, and smart.

Stephen Cooper --- Leading tackler on the team. Solid player. Not a playmaker. Couple of TFLs and FFs, but no INTs or sacks.

Eric Weddle --- Impressive player. I was a big fan of his at Utah, but his first 2 years in the league were only okay. Seems like the light has finally gone on. Plays full speed. Flys to the ball. Hits well and is a good tackler. Productive. Has a sack, 3 TFLs, an INT, and 4 PDs.

CBs --- Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie are big, talented cover corners. Antoine Cason and Steve Gregory also get playing time. Cromartie has had an up and down season for various reasons. He seems to have bounced back recently. He has a pick and 3 pass break-ups in the last 4 games.



The LB unit is going to look a bit different. Akeem Jordan is out this week and the coaches decided to move guys around. Chris Gocong will slide to the middle. Moise Fokou will stay at SAM. Will Witherspoon will play WIL. Try saying that after 10 PBRs.

Gocong played a handful of snaps in the middle at the end of a game earlier in the year. I think it was vs KC. I thought Chris looked natural inside. I'm interested to see what he can do.

Spoon has spent half his career at WIL and half at MIKE. Moving outside will be just fine with him. Fokou will have his hands full. He'll be matched up against Antonio Gates on some plays. That will be a big test.


I talked about Macho Harris possibly playing in the slot. I'd completely forgotten about Dimitri Patterson. That's what happens when role players get hurt and miss time. Out of sight, out of mind. Patterson had a good summer playing CB and in the slot. He could be a solid replacement for our good friend MmmBop.

The real worry is what happens if Asante or Sheldon gets hurt and misses more than a couple of plays. Dimitri isn't a guy I'm sure I want on the field as a starting CB. I have no idea what to think of Jack, obviously. He wasn't impressive this summer, but time can make a big difference for guys coming off injury. I don't know how Ramzee Robinson fits into all of this.


Bryan Smith will start this week for JAX. Last I heard he was in St Louis. Then the Jags got him. He's played as a backup and now will start at RDE. Good for Bryan. Doesn't say much about the Jags defense, though.

Matt Ware has become a good role player for the Cards. They seem to know how to use hybrid guys down there.

Rod Hood is playing for the Titans and has 2 picks in 2 weeks.


Boyboy said...

I'm not sure how we can cover Jackson or Gates. McNabb has to be ON this week for the Eagles to stand a chance and the defense must create some turnovers. I've given up all hope that this team can eliminate the stoopid mistakes that have plagued them all year. Luckily, the Chargers are as wildly inconsistent as the Eagles. This game could come down to who makes less questionable decisions, Reid or Turner. They're both horrible game day coaches.

With all the being said, this is the type of game where the Eagles put it all together and come out with a sound victory. Nobody expects them to win since they're making a cross country trip after an emotional home loss. It's not a team that they can take for granted (like Oakland). McNabb should be loose and relaxed in sunny, southern California.

This is a big game for San Diego, with added pressure to catch Denver. I say they press while the Eagles play calm.

Philly 23 San Diego 17

T_S_O_P said...

I predict more than 1 sack for Gocong at Mike (which is the LB position in our scheme that blitzes the most..... I think)

The D help the O to a win, as does Demp's long KO return

T_S_O_P said...


Peters is questionable, any gameplan that asks us to throw 50 times and rush 15 will not be conducive to McNabb having an ON week. Let's hope the OC team have an ON week too.

Boyboy said...

@ T_S_O_P

Agreed. Plus San Diego has struggled against the run since losing Jamal Williams. Their better be a heavy does of McCoy / Weaver / Westbrook (provided he plays).

Also, I don't think their LBs have any chance of covering McCoy or Westbrook out in space. I hope the Eagles go with a heavy dose of screens, circle routes, and swing passes early on -- then go up top later on.

Boyboy said...

Huh...I used the phrase "heavy dose" twice there, didn't I? My bad.

Baloophi said...

I'm driving down for the game on Sunday. I'd bring some pads and a helmet in case things get dire at CB but I roughed up my hamstring playing in the primetime softball league so I probably wouldn't be much help anyway. Sorry guys.

But seriously (folks), our CBs might need some help even if there isn't an injury. From the few times I've caught the Chargers on TV, Rivers likes to chuck to ball down the field in the hopes his tall receivers can make a play - he's sort of the anti-McNabb in that way. Hopefully our safeties can fly into help without leaving too much cushion for Gates or, worse, a Sproles screen...

I wonder if the gameplan involves heavy blitzing (given their lack of run success) with the hopes that Rivers will be "just" off enough that we can intercept? Any idea (stats) on how well Rivers is against the blitz? He doesn't strike me as a Brees or Warner in that regard, and he's certainly not mobile like Romo...