The Chargers boast a talented team both offensively and defensively. On paper they should be a top 3 team in the nfl. Last year it was their atrocious special teams that cost them most of the games. This year, they seemed to improve that, albeit that kick return last week. So what do we have to do to stop a team that's a top 3 team on paper?
Jack's Key's to the game:
- Take away his safety blankets: This has mostly to do with Antonio Gates, but it's important to know that he isn't always his safety option. Last year Gates was injured, and Darren Sproles was his favorite checkdown option. This year, he has a healthy Gates, Ryan Mathew, and Mike Tolbert as his primaries, but how many receptions did his TEs and backfield get in the last game against the Vikings? Well their their TEs (Gates 8 for 74 yards, and McMichael 3 for 20 yards) and RBs (Mathews 3 for 73 yards, Tolbert 9 rec. for 58 yards and two TDs, and their FB Hester with 3 rec. for 13 yards) combined to get 26/33 of River's receptions. Yards and TDs wise, his backfield and TEs are responsible for 238 yards out of 335 total yards of Philip Rivers, and Tolbert himself caught both of River's 2 TDs (3 TDs if you want to count his rushing, but that's not receiving from Rivers). Taking away Gates, and his checkdowns, should be key this game.
- Spread them out: The Chargers boast an very very good front seven. We must do what we always to best. Spread them out. Use 3 WR sets, 2 TE sets, add in a few runs if need be but we must create as much receiving options as possible. We must spread their LBs apart, and create mismatches, while having our OL try and hold 3-4 man rushes. Our TEs will pose a great mis-match for them, as well as danny woodhead in the backfield. Couple that with Welker and Branch, and we should be fine. Spread their defense out, and limit blitzes.
- Create Turnovers: Last game Rivers was intercepted twice against the Vikings, and he is arguably going up against a much better passing defense. I don't know if we will get two turnovers, or two INTs for that matter, but creating turnovers will be key if we want to make a big difference this game, and get out on early leads. Its' way too dangerous keeping the Chargers in the game.
- Keep Brady up: Isn't this an obvious one? Well yeah of course, but when you are against a top defense who can get after the QB, we need Brady to dissect them, and we cannot afford to let San Diego have their way with our OL and knock Brady off his socks. It will be tough to get Brady out of his rhythm, but it can certainly happen, and against the Chargers that is something that CANNOT happen.
- Running game: We all know that we must be a balanced team. This is the last obvious one I will use, but again, it's very important for this game. If we go pass happy, the Chargers will figure us out, and intercept Brady. They are pretty much known for giving Brady trouble, so we HAVE to try and run the ball. Unfortunately, last time we played them, the top rusher for BOTH teams was Danny Woodhead for 24 yards (This also means we have stopped their running game quite nicely). If we can get a running game going, it will keep them honest, and we should have a much easier time carving up their defense.
- Red Zone defense: This is perhaps THE most important thing of the game. Hand in hand with keeping Brady up I suppose. Let's face it, we all know Rivers can drive down the field, as well as our team. Red Zone defense will be KEY in beating the Chargers, because we must prevent them from getting TDs, and keeping in pace with the Patriots. On our side of the ball, it will be very difficult to score against them in the red zone. When it all comes down to it, whoever does the best in the red zone, that team will likely win the game.