Charged Up: How San Diego Can Neutralize Darrelle Revis, Jets' Defense
Both teams were odds-on favorites to be a factor in the AFC playoffs, and both disappointed fans and pundits alike by having mediocre seasons.
San Diego limped into the postseason with an 8-8 record, winning the AFC West by way of a (now yearly) Denver collapse, and New York missed the playoffs altogether, falling apart in December and finishing 9-7.
Meanwhile, the Chargers battled injuries and yet another slow start to their season before going on an impressive tear that culminated in an 11-game win streak to end the regular season.
This weekend, the teams will face off at Qualcomm Stadium, for a berth in the AFC Championship Game.
With several sub-plots lingering around the game (including the rousing but ultimately pointless "Who's the hottest team in the NFL?" debate), Charged Up decided to focus on the Darrelle Revis versus Vincent Jackson matchup.
In effect, the duel is a microcosm for one of the game's most pressing and relevant questions:
Will San Diego's high-powered offense have its way with New York's stifling defense?
The Chargers have moved completely away from being a balanced to run heavy attack, and now run a near-complete aerial scheme, with Pro Bowl QB Philip Rivers launching the ball to several worthy targets.
Arguably, none have come up bigger than Jackson this season, who is the team's leading receiver in yardage with 1,167 yards, and touchdown receptions, with nine.
Thus, it is natural that Revis will be paired with Jackson in an effort to slow down the big receiver, who had three catches for 74 yards in last season's game against Revis and the Jets.
Here are some ways that Norv Turner's offense can neutralize or limit Revis' effectiveness during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game:
Give Him the Cold Shoulder
Yeah, just ignore him.
If you haven't heard by now, the Chargers also possess a blossoming No. 2 threat at wide receiver in Malcom Floyd (45 receptions, 776 yards, one touchdown), who came on as a starter only after Chris Chambers was released.
Then there's All-Pro TE Antonio Gates, who has yet to be covered effectively by, well, anybody since he came into the league in 2003. Gates had 79 catches, 1,157 yards, and eight TDs in 2009, cementing his reputation as one of the league's best.
Further down the line the Chargers cast of no-names at WR and TE (Legedu Naanee, Brandon Manumaleuna, Kris Wilson) can also hurt you, as well as the occasional toss out of the backfield to RBs Darren Sproles, Jacob Hester, and Mike Tolbert.
In fact, Charger QBs completed touchdown passes to eight different receivers this season, spreading the ball around and showing no clear dependence on any one target.
See How High He Can Jump
Vincent Jackson is 6'5". Darelle Revis is 5'11". That's a six-inch differential.
Bolts' GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner have assembled easily the tallest receiving corps in the NFL, with Gates, Jackson, Floyd, and Naanee all topping 6'2".
Now, facing tall receivers is nothing new for Revis, as in this season alone he's squared off against the 6'3" Andre Johnson, the 6'4" Randy Moss, the 6'4" Marques Colston, and the 6'2" Mike Sims-Walker among others.
However, two of the three touchdowns Revis gave up this season were to receivers topping 6'2" (Moss, Sims-Walker), while the 5'11" Ted Ginn Jr. picked up the third on a blown coverage play.
The receiver who amassed the most total yardage on Revis this season, the Raiders' Louis Murphy, is 6'2".
While simply being taller than Revis assures no extended success, it is Charged Up's opinion that it certainly helps, with better numbers against the Jets CB coming from taller opponents.
Accustomed to exploiting secondaries with his large targets, Rivers routinely throws balls above players' heads, in spots where only his receivers can make the catch.
That would and should be the modus operandi for Rivers on Sunday against Revis or any New York defender.
Slant, Slant, Slant
Revis is a physical defender, knocking receivers off their routes and jamming them at the line of scrimmage.
Well, Vincent Jackson is also a proficient blocker, and constantly out-muscles defenders en route to big plays.
Revis is listed at just under 200 pounds, while Jackson is 230 with a longer arm reach.
Should Revis want to get physical, the Chargers can exploit that by having Jackson muscle his way off the line and then break inside for a quick slant before Revis has a chance to re-position.
Whatever the outcome of their personal duel, Jets-Chargers promises to be a strong, exciting game that will establish one clear trend.
Either the Chargers will be forced to play good defense, or the Jets will be forced to put up a bevy of points to keep up with San Diego.
In order to avoid potential turnovers and spread the ball around as per the custom, Charged Up believe's that Jackson will end the game with four catches, around 40 yards...and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, around the league...
-Talk is heating up that Oakland LB Kirk Morrison might want to ditch the silver and black for the powder blue and gold.
Yeah, okay...the Bolts have Stephen Cooper, Tim Dobbins, Kevin Burnett, and Brandon Siler at his position.
Next year's an uncapped year, so Morrison might be a restricted free agent.
And oh yeah, A.J. Smith is more likely to sign your mom to a deal (actually, that sounds something that Jeff Schemmel might do) than a potentially high-priced free agent.
-Charles Woodson won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Another Oakland escapee finds his happy ending. I guess "Silver and Black for life" isn't a mantra, it's a sentence.
-Pete Carroll is the new coach of the Seahawks.
This has nothing to do with the Trojans losing the Pac-10, going 9-4, having a deficit of talent at skill positions, and potentially facing harsh recruiting penalties from the NCAA after Reggie Bush's family "acquired" a mansion during Bush's time at USC, right?
Of course not. And Mark McGwire didn't take ster—oh, right.
-Speaking of which, Shanahan with the Redskins and Carroll with the Seahawks, days after the preceding coaches were fired.
This is getting ridiculous.
There's a blatant disregard for the rules now, and the NFL is looking the other way. Look, I get it.
Dan Snyder, Tod Leiweke knew who "their guy" was from the beginning, and they wanted to hire him no matter what.
Imagine you wanted a certain brand of TV for your living room and that brand was Japanese. You walk into the store, but a federal law requires you to look at the American TVs first.
Waste of time, right? If you had your heart set on the Japanese TV, you don't buy the other ones anyway.
Still, a rule is a rule. Interviewing the special teams coordinator from Potomac High School shouldn't exempt Washington from the rule.
How about forming a committee of viable minority head coaching candidates and NFL executives?
-Mark Sanchez failed to throw an interception and Dallas won their first playoff game since 1996.
You know what this means.
The apocalypse is near.
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