Vincent Jackson's holdout has dominated the San Diego Chargers-related headlines all offseason. This development has forced Norv Turner to do what he does best.
Be offensively innovative.
As supposedly dynamic as the Chargers offense was last season, it was very one dimensional. They were just so good at that one dimension that most fans and “experts” overlooked the two extremely glaring weaknesses.
The lack of a quick slot receiver and no outside running game whatsoever.
This season, however, the Chargers are ready to add three new dimensions to their exciting offense to make it truly explosive.
Marty Schottenheimer, I'll get you for cutting Wes Welker!
While defenses did have to deal with lightning quick running back Darren Sproles out of the backfield, they did not have to contend with a quick slot receiver.
Look at New England's success with Wes Welker, or better yet, the Chargers' success with Tim Dwight. Defending guys like that is an absolute a hassle.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had the answer to the lack of a slot threat, "Yo Vincent, go long!"
Against normal receivers, defenses would have had an easy time preventing the Chargers from completing all those 3rd and long bombs last season, but Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd regularly beat double and even triple coverage.
Single coverage was almost laughable as most defensive backs couldn't out-leap, out-run, or out-position any of the Chargers big guys.
To start for the Chargers, you must be at least 6'4" and weigh no less than 230 pounds.
With maximum protection and time afforded to Philip Rivers and San Diego Globetrotters manning the receiving spots, most defenses simply could not match up.
But with Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill joining Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson on the couch this year, the need for a quick twitch slot receiver that can make things happen in a hurry may arise rather quickly.
Enter Buster Davis.
Davis may have only seen the field one time last season, but he was a perfect compliment to Malcom Floyd. Floyd made the big plays with nine catches for a whopping 140 yards, while Davis did the grunt work picking up 52 yards on six catches against the Washington Redskins in the 2009 season finale.
Fifteen catches for 192 yards from your top two receivers is outstanding.
Davis got open extremely fast and Billy Volek found him with the football. Of course, when Davis beat the defense deep, Volek threw up a wounded duck that fell incomplete.
Yes, the 6'1" Davis has size and deep speed as well.
The Chargers rushing attack could not even come close to stretching a defense out horizontally in 2009. Running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, while quick, were simply not fast enough to beat the defense to the edge. This allowed defenders to hang out in and clog up the middle of the field.
Most teams still respected LT's reputation and allowed the Chargers the pleasure of regularly facing eight-man fronts.
No opposing defense in 2009 had the good sense to disregard LT as a legitimate threat until the New York Jets (oh, the irony) did so in the playoffs. The Jets totally ignored the edges of the line and kept their big guys inside while devoting extra men to disrupting the Chargers' passing attack.
Whether LT ran inside or outside, the Jets disrespectfully stopped him on their way to the quarterback.
The Jets were able to leave the edges of their defense exposed with no worry of being exposed.
Not so with Ryan Mathews.
The rookie running back already made a few defenders look silly as he streaked past them on his way up the sideline.
There is no choice, defenses must play wider and faster, because now they must defend the entire field.
With Mathews a threat to run it inside or outside on any play, defensive players will be doing a lot more guess work this season.
The Chargers now have three athletic pass-catching tight ends that are too big to be covered by most defensive backs and too fast for most linebackers.
That is a major matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators.
If the Chargers come out with three tight ends on 3rd and short, defenses will have no clue whether San Diego will run or throw the ball. Defenses just have not seen this type of offensive versatility from the Chargers.
You can expect to see several huge plays as the result of this formation.
It is not surprising that coach Norv Turner is very excited about this new wrinkle.
While many fans are lamenting the loss of Vincent Jackson, they forget that the Chargers' best offense came 2006 with Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker as the top wide receivers. There was no consistent vertical threat, but they had everything else.
On third down, the blitz simply was not going to get there in time, because Parker, Gates, and McCardell got open far too fast and the quarterback was able to throw the ball to the spot they should be in. Tomlinson's versatility kept defenses guessing. Will he run inside, outside, or catch the ball?
The 2010 version of the Charger attack has all the weapons. It's time to declare war on the end zone.
Kansas City beware.