10 Keys to the Game for the San Diego Chargers When Facing Broncos
The Chargers are coming off of an extremely disappointing loss against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday.
For San Diego, the matchup against the Broncos is vital, as a Chargers loss would place the two teams in a tie atop the AFC West standings.
With a victory on Monday night, the lightning bolts would take a two game lead over the Broncos.
Let's take a look at ten keys for the Chargers.
Hand the Ball to Ryan Mathews
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Against the New Orleans Saints, Ryan Mathews turned in an impressive 80 yard performance on just 12 carries.
Unfortunately, Norv Turner did not give Mathews nearly enough carries against the Saints. In fact, Mathews did not have a single carry in the last five minutes of the game.
He should be given the ball early and often against the Broncos.
An established run game would help Philip Rivers have a productive performance.
Rip the Ball from Demaryius Thomas
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It will be difficult for the Chargers' defense to stop Demaryius Thomas, yet there is one glaring weakness in Thomas' game that the Chargers will look to take advantage of—his tendency to fumble.
Thomas has fumbled three times in the past three games.
John Pagano's defense has been attempting to strip the ball all season, and their effort to do so against the Broncos could result in yet another Thomas mishap.
Throw Quick Passes
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With Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller coming off of the edge, Philip Rivers will have to get rid of the ball quickly on Monday night.
To make matters worse for San Diego, Jared Gaither's strained groin will likely limit his mobility.
The Chargers can't afford to have many deep drops for Rivers—unless if they're coming off of play action.
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Because the Chargers will have to throw quick passes, Eddie Royal could be a big factor against his former team.
It would be smart for the Chargers to utilize Royal often, as he should be able to get open underneath on quick, short routes.
Antonio Gates Needs to Step Up
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Until Antonio Gates starts accumulating at least 50 yards per game, the Chargers' offense will not be performing to their potential.
The Chargers need Gates to step up in order to strengthen the passing game.
Norv Turner should run a few tight end screens, as this would help Gates slowly work his way into the offense.
Shut Down the Broncos' Running Game
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If the Chargers can shut down Willis McGahee, then Peyton Manning will be forced into winning the game on his own.
Manning has the capability to win the game on his own, but completely nullifying the run game would likely lead to a San Diego victory.
Put Pressure on Peyton Manning from the Inside
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If the Chargers want to fluster Peyton Manning, their defensive linemen will have to put pressure on him from the inside.
Inside pressure will force Manning out of the pocket, out of his comfort zone. The more uncomfortable Manning is, the more successful the Chargers' defense.
Control the Clock
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Rather than throwing the ball, the Chargers need to control the clock and not allow Peyton Manning to have excessive time to operate.
If the Chargers can build a lead, they should run the clock and keep the ball out of Manning's hands.
In their last game, the Chargers narrowly edged out the Saints in time of possession, but they still allowed far too much time for Drew Brees.
Brees tore apart a tired looking Chargers defense at the end of the game.
On Monday night, San Diego can't let Manning take advantage in the late stages. Therefore, they must keep the clock running by handing the ball to Ryan Mathews.
A fresh Chargers defense in the fourth quarter would be key in securing a victory over the Broncos.
Blitz When Ronnie Hillman Is in the Game
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Southern California native Ronnie Hillman is a very talented running back, but he's still learning how to pick up the blitz.
Whenever Hillman is in the game, John Pagano should blitz and test out the rookie running back's blocking ability.
Jackie Battle Coming off of the Bench
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Jackie Battle's stint as the Chargers' starting running back has come to an end following Ryan Mathews' solid game against the New Orleans Saints.
Battle only carried the ball four times last week, but the symbolic move of making Mathews the starter should help build up Mathews' confidence against the Broncos.
Battle should only be used in short yardage situations against Denver.