The home-standing Broncos are off to a sluggish start, lugging around a 1-3 record while the Super Chargers have reversed their recent trend. San Diego has bolted (yep) from the gates to the tune of three wins in their first four games, which bodes well for a franchise that typically finishes the season well under head coach Norv Turner.
Of course, all bets are off when division rivals clash.
The Chargers have largely dominated the action and with five easy tweaks, they can continue to do so:
1. Finish Tackles
Willis McGahee has gashed the San Diego defense on several occasions, but not because the defense scheme has failed to put bodies in front of the Bronco running back. Defenders have had shots at Willis, but they've failed to bring him down.
2. Keep Feeding the Backs
This might seem to contradict my next point, but that's not gonna stop me—both running back Ryan Mathews and fullback Mike Tolbert have been massively effective out of the backfield. Whether quarterback Philip Rivers is handing them the ball directly or getting them the pigskin via the air, the result has been the same: large chunks of yards.
If Denver can't stop it, no need to go away from it.
3. Go Vertical
Sooner or later, the Broncos are going to have to bring some of their defensive backs up to help out on Mathews, Tolbert and whoever else San Diego puts out there. Those two are wreaking too much havoc. That should open up the vertical threats on the outside and Philip Rivers has the tools to exploit that opening.
And, yes, you can keep feeding the backs while still going vertical. I asked.
4. Avoid the Dumb Penalties
The Chargers haven't fallen prey to the stupids quite as often as the Broncos have, but it took two to tango during the early extracurricular skirmish. The game figures to get chippier as the day wears on and even more so if San Diego opens up a comfortable lead.
The game really shouldn't be this close so San Diego is already keeping Denver in the game to some degree (albeit a very small one).
5. Bring the Heat on Defense
I wouldn't sell out completely since there's no real reason to take huge risks, but the Denver offense has looked painfully anemic to date. The passing game is useless and that means McGahee is their only reliable option. As long as the Bolts account for him, they should be able to get creative with the rest of their defenders and pressure either Orton or Tim Tebow into critical mistakes.