Whoa, Nellie: The Chargers Rushing Attack Is Back on Track

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIIApril 9, 2017

Regardless of all the bad press the San Diego Chargers have received in the last week, they are doing some things right. 

The Chargers are 81 yards away from seven straight 2,000 yard rushing seasons as a team. 

It is probably not a coincidence that LaDainian Tomlinson is in his seventh year. 

They are also one touchdown away from rushing into the endzone 20 times or more in four consecutive seasons. 

Finally, if the Chargers score more than 19 points against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, this will be the fourth straight season they have scored more than 400 points in a season.

One of the funniest quotes on Madden comes when your running back is dominating with big runs, and John Madden blurts out "just keep giving him the ball!"  As the years have gone by, the Chargers’ coaching staff has learned this works, and Norv Turner has caught on fairly quickly.

Check out the NFL&rank=084">Chargers' rushing stats through December 24:

Carries 1-10: The Chargers rank a pedestrian 27th in the NFL with a weak 3.6 YPC.  LT is not in the top 20 backs in the league.

Carries 11-20: They shoot up to third in the league with a fantastic 5.0 YPC.  LT averages 5.1 YPC, which is also good for third in the league, behind Adrian Peterson (6.1) and Justin Fargas (6.0).

Carries 21+: They rank first in the NFL, with an astronomical 7.2 YPC.  LT averages a preposterous 7.6 YPC.

Carries 1–10 are a problem. The Chargers did a lot better on the earlier downs last season.  It has been rumored that teams were tipped off as to which direction the play was going by Lorenzo Neal prior to the snap of the football.  Whether this is true or not, the Chargers have absolutely trampled every team they have faced from the moment he was injured in Tennessee and replaced with the more athletic Andrew Pinnock. 

Some people may think that the Chargers should not bench Pinnock once Lo Neal returns.  However, I guarantee Pinnock will be benched as soon as Neal is healthy enough to return, because (unwritten rules state that) you can not disrespect a team leader like that even if it hurts the team. 

But let's be real here—the Chargers had run the Titans ragged by the time Lo Neal was injured.  Then they played the overmatched Lions and Broncos.  I could have played fullback and the Chargers would have had success running in those situations. 

Early in the season, I was confounded as to how every time the other team blitzed, they were able to take Tomlinson down in the backfield before he got started.  The Vikings called the Chargers' offense predictable—and I couldn’t dispute it, because Minnesota seemed like they were in the huddle before every play. 

While the Chargers once started every game the same way—running up the middle two times and passing on third-and-eight—they are now finding success on the ground, albeit against bad teams like the Lions and Broncos. 

It remains to be seen how successful they will be against a good team on the road in the playoffs.