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A Look At San Diego’s Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 8, 2011 – 10:10 am

We began yesterday with a look at San Diego’s defense, so today we’ll take a quick glance at their offense…

There are a lot of nice things you can say about San Diego’s offense. In 2010 they had the #1 total offense, #2 passing offense and #1 scoring offense in the NFL. They have one of the best young QBs in the NFL in Philip Rivers, they have the best pass-catching and field-stretching TE in the NFL in Antonio Gates and they have a beast of a WR in Vincent Jackson.

So instead of going on a 6-paragraph rant about how well San Diego’s offense has performed in recent seasons and how their continuity will give them an advantage over most teams because of the lockout this past offseason, let’s simply look at each position grouping, breakdown some of the key personnel and then talk about what the Vikings can try to do to hold this explosive offense at bay.

Quarterback: The NFL is a QB-driven league and San Diego is often times in the driver’s seat because they have Philip Rivers. In 5 seasons where he’s played in 16 games, Rivers has never had a completion percentage below 60.2%, he’s never had more than 15 INTs and he’s thrown 135 TDs. Last year, Rivers was #1 in the NFL in passing yards and #2 in both passer rating and TD passes. He’s an elite QB and a legitimate MVP candidate in 2011.

Running Back: For nine seasons the Chargers had the luxury of an every-down, every-week starting RB in LaDainian Tomlinson. But that changed in 2010, as Tomlinson left via free agency and the team transitioned to more of a dual-RB approach. The Chargers traded up into the middle of the 1st round to select Ryan Mathews and they also enlisted the help of Mike Tolbert to be a goal line and 3rd-down specialist. Their FB is Jacob Hester and he can also be a threat on offense.

Offensive Line: The Chargers are solid on the left side of their offensive line, with 2-time Pro Bowler Marcus McNeil at left tackle and 4-time Pro Bowler Kris Dielman at LG. Nick Hardwick, a Pro Bowler himself, is also solid for San Diego at C. On the right side, though, there might be a couple of question marks. Louis Vasquez starts at RG and Jeromey Clary starts at RT. Vasquez was a 3rd-round pick in 2009 and Clary was a 6th-round pick in 2006, and while we’ve categorized them as “question marks,” that doesn’t mean they won’t play well. If the Vikings were to try and expose a spot on the offensive line, though, it’s reasonable to guess that their right side is the place to start.

Tight End: From a pass-catching production standpoint, Antonio Gates is as good as it gets. Having Gates on the field is basically the same as having another WR with which to contend. In recent seasons he’s been dealing with injury, but right now he’s healthy and ready to go. I’m not sure how the Vikings plan to defend Gates, but you can be sure it’s something they’ve discussed at length ever since preparations for this game began. Behind Gates, San Diego has Randy McMichael and Kory Sperry.

Wide Receiver: The star of this group is Vincent Jackson, who measures in at 6-5, 230 pounds and is a beast to defend. He has good speed and is excellent at going up and over defenders to make the catch. Last season he played in just 5 games, but in the 2 season prior to that he had 127 receptions for 2,265 receiving yards and 16 TDs. After Jackson, San Diego features Malcom Floyd, who is another 6-5 receiver with a wide catch radius who poses problems for most NFL CBs trying to cover him. If you include Gates in this group, the Chargers top 3 pass-catchers are 6-4, 260 pounds (Gates), 6-5, 230 pounds (Jackson) and 6-5, 220 pounds (Floyd).

Defending the Chargers: Not many teams have figured out how to defend the Chargers lately, and I’m not sure what the Vikings plan to do this week. But I’d like to see the Vikings get a touch more aggressive than usual, very much like the way they attacked Eagles QB Michael Vick late last season. Rivers is an elite passer and he’s most likely going to find a way to beat any defense. With that being the case, why not go after him? A lot of times when teams go up against formidable offenses, they try and design ways to contain that offense. I’d like to see the Vikings make the Chargers find a way to cover up blitzers and pressures, rather than having San Diego force the Vikings hand. Coaches talk a lot about setting the tempo in games; I’d like to see the Vikings defense set the tempo when Rivers and Co. take the field.


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 14 Comments »


14 Responses to “A Look At San Diego’s Offense”

  1. By Touchdown on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    Blitz Winfield and use Greenway, Griffin, and Cook in coverage. Heck with Burton in as our worst corner, I think we could use Winfield or Asher Allen Blitzing Rivers, and have Burton, Cook and Griffin cover in zone. Have Abdulla play deep zone and Greenway or EJ guard the middle of the field. What about screens or swings? Have Jared and Brian cover the near back and not allow yards after catch. What do you think of my strategy?

  2. By Skol_Vikes98 on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    So …. the absolute key to this game (besides being able to score points) is front four pressure and blitz schemes. Keep Rivers off balance, make the opposing offense work, let our boys control the clock.

  3. By David P on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    Skol,

    So that does not sem like a very good game plan. What happens when the zone coverage is burned? Do you keep blitzing and hope when the vikes offense has the ball they keep it for 7-9 minutes and score TD’s?

  4. By Woodboat on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that putting worse football players on the field, regardless of scheme, is a bad idea. Having Asher Allen in uniform on the sideline makes this team worse… I don’t really wanna see him on the field.

  5. By CA Norwegian on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    I think you need to risk against this offense. If we are able to win by getting a punt or turnover playhing conservative D, that is great,. But otherwise, we will need to scheme risk and accept some burnings if the conservative D, cannot stop them for at least a FG. ‘if they score fast or slow, who cares? If we roll the dice, and get a strip sack or tipped ball for a pick 6, then the gamble is a payoff vs conservative slow death. They are going to make plays, but with gambling, maybe our D will too.

    I like the dropping in Griffen (DE) as LB in a blitz package. now you’re rushing 3 DEs. Also we stunt the DT into jamming TE Gates. Also bllitz Griffen into Gates, plus have Allen or Robison all together engage TE Gates who all overwhelm and can him on the way to QB, One less pattern to cover. It is like a front 5. Winfield and Greenway pay particular attention to short dump offs, anticipating and risking big gainers for the Interceptions.

  6. By Parody on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    I recall hearing that the best way to defend against this type of offense is to keep them off the field. Use our powerful short game to pound away, get a lot of first downs, keep the clock running, and keep the opposing offense from developing a rhythm.

    When our defense gets on the field, send them all out with 6-man blitzes. Gamble the possibility of giving up the big play and intimidate them into making a mistake. They’ll get the ball back quickly, one way or another, and keep on pounding on the Chargers’ defense.

    Using this method, a turnover or two is bound to happen, and will make the difference in deciding the game winner.

  7. By Parody on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    CA Norwegian – I like your plan. It looks like we’re both on the same mindset! That must mean it’s the right way to go. Let’s hope the coaches are thinking this way too!

  8. By Justin F on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    The Chargers WILL be a handful. They are beatable but it’s a challenge.

  9. By Frederick Jones on Sep 8, 2011 | Reply

    Betta git Marcus Sherels in da ballin’ game.

  10. By SD FAN on Sep 9, 2011 | Reply

    Minn. ONLY hope is that AP RUNS…RUNS…RUNS. other than that….ya’ll better HOPE our special teams SUCKS as bad as it did in’10….
    …if none of the fore-mentioned happens…well then….you.lose.

  11. By Rocksalt on Sep 9, 2011 | Reply

    Yes, I think the key to winning is for us to jeep their offense off the field. WE MUST STOP THEM ON 3RD DOWNS…….something we have not been good at doing……

  12. By Rocksalt on Sep 9, 2011 | Reply

    keep not jeep

  13. By Rocksalt on Sep 9, 2011 | Reply

    maybe we could load their offense into a jeep and cart them off the field

  14. By Marty S on Sep 9, 2011 | Reply

    Two keys…

    1. On offense….Exploit their weakness against the run. AD “A” gap off right center, AD “A” gap off left center, will soften them up abit which should open some things for Shanc and Percy.

    I know its not as exciting as watching deep throws all game, but this will shorten the game and force Rivers into taking chances he normally wouldn’t.

    2. On Defense…It is critical that we get pressure up the middle without using LB’rs. Not sure how we are going to do this, but we need to push the pocket back into Rivers face so that he can’t just step up/away from the two DE’s on the edge.

    Because I don’t think we have the DT’s to accomplish the second key, they will have to send a LB’r. When they do this, they must do alot better job of disguising who is coming and when, then they have the last couple of years.

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