San Diego Chargers: Offense, Defense, and Special Teams All Working Together

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIISeptember 21, 2012

Chargers just need to continue to play keep away with the football
Chargers just need to continue to play keep away with the footballHarry How/Getty Images

I have a question for the San Diego Chargers. Can you guys keep it up?

I have been harping on something for years. Under Marty Schottenheimer, the Bolts routinely finished out of the top 10 in offense, yet were in the top 5 in scoring. Norv Turner's Bolts have also routinely finished near the top of the league in scoring, but with a whole lot more effort. 


The special teams, offense, and defense all played in unison to protect the football and win the field position battle under Marty. The offense was doing all the work under Norv. 

Until now.

Philip Rivers is not on pace to throw for 4,000 yards and only has one turnover, the defense is stopping teams on third down, and the special teams unit is instilling fear in return teams.

Duck, here comes a cliché!

The Chargers are working smarter, not harder. 

Instead of Rivers taking extremely deep drops and heaving the ball downfield, they are taking what the defenses are giving them. Even when Ryan Mathews and Antonio Gates return, they should continue this trend.

The Chargers are 19th in total offense, yet are averaging 30 points a game. What's wrong with that? Less highlights, more points is what I say. No one needs to see Malcom Floyd out-leaping 10 defenders for yet another highlight reel catch followed by a trip to see the training staff. 

The conservative play calling has lead to long stretches in play where the Chargers have seemingly started every drive on their opponent's 40 yard line.

The offense makes yards, the punter pins them back, the defense stops them, the return team gets the ball near midfield, and then the offense scores. Sometimes, the offense just takes it the whole way.

What has this led to?

The Chargers have scored on 12 out of their 20 drives while their opponents have gone five for 20.

Winning the field position battle is nearly as important as winning the turnover battle. If the Chargers defense continues to be as versatile and difficult to deal with as they've started out, they are going to be hard to beat. 

It's a total team effort.

The offense is taking what the opposing defense gives them, but are taking advantage of big play opportunities when they happen. The special teams are stopping big returns (for the most part), converting field goals, and forcing teams to try to prevent returns all together because of the talent of Eddie Royal and Richard Goodman.

The defense is attempting to forget last season's disastrous marriage to Greg Manusky. They've put the clamps on defense on third down and have limited big plays.

With the Bolts' offense taking what they are given and sustaining drives, the defense's third down disruptions have totally interfered with the other team's offensive flow. The Chargers didn't allow a touchdown in the first half of either of their first two games and the Chargers are averaging 36 minutes of ball control.

The offense hogged the ball for nearly 44 minutes against the Tennessee Titans, but credit must be shared with the defense for stopping them.

People forget that the Chargers were the No. 1 defense two years ago and they've upgraded their talent since then through both the draft and player development. The players also seem to be in sync with defensive coordinator John Pagano. 

Bad News

One problem area for the team is turnovers. The defense is still not creating them. That puts too much pressure on the offense to be perfect. The Chargers are +1 in the turnover battle.

Their next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, are +7 with no turnovers. A lot of the turnovers the Falcons have received have been gifts, but they haven't been willing to return the favor. 

Rivers, aka Santa, has been in a giving mood lately. He threw up a pass for grabs (which was picked off) and fumbled twice while trying to do too much against the Titans. Curtis Brinkley also had a fumble against the Titans.

Had the bounces not all gone the Chargers' way, the Titans could be sitting pretty right now at 1-1.

The Chargers must step up their game in this area, but other than that, this team is rolling.