AFC Divisional Buildup: Chargers vs. Pats

simplyeric

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Here's a piece I did for ITP on man / zone a few years back:
http://insidethepylon.com/film-study/film-study-nfl/offense-film-study-nfl/2014/09/29/anatomy-of-an-adjustment-chiefs-run-blocking/

King had a big year as a punt returner, but was right around average as a kick returner. His 13.8 average per punt return was 3rd of 19 qualifiers; his 23.7 yards per kick return was only 8th of 12 qualifers. Which makes sense - he's quick but his long speed was a question mark coming out of Iowa. He had a big return yesterday (72 yards) but his season-long was only 40 yards.
On the opposite side of things: with his long of 40 yards (recent game notwithstanding), and an average of 23.7, what's his "short"? And how much does he vary from his average?

Seems like, to be worth the risk, you need to push them at least 10 yards back from a touchback. So, if he only very rarely gets stopped for short gains (i.e. has a lot of stuff between the 15 and the 30), your percentages suggest that they'll end up starting on the in the high teens or better, instead of the 25, what's the point? The 18? The 15?
If he has a bigger variance (bunches of sub-15, and then a bunch of 30+), that's a different question. Then it seems like a question of how good you feel about your coverage.
 

Super Nomario

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Re LBs, the Chargers adjusted from a couple of weeks back and jammed the box with safeties. And the Ravens for 3 quarters were like, “well fuck, with our o-line line and RBs, we ought to be able to run on first AND second down.”
Hmm, you're right. Looks like yesterday the Chargers ran:

That's
CBs: M Davis 61, C Hayward 61, D King 60
S: D James 61, J Addae 61, A Phillips 60, R Jenkins 60
LB: U Nwosu 16, K Emanuel 1, H Pullard 1
DE: M Ingram 53, Joey Bosa 45
DT: D Square 32, J Jones 31, D Philon 28, I Rochell 25, T McGill 15

Very interested to see why the Ravens couldn't run on such a small group, and if there's reason to believe the Patriots can.
 

j44thor

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King typically plays in the slot. Expect him to follow Edelman around all game. That leaves our outside speed guys against some sub-par defenders.
Rookie S Derwin James was also an all-pro so they aren't exactly bereft of talent on the back-end not to mention Casey Hayward.
 

Red Averages

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Extra 2 hours? So it’s a 4 hour flight from Baltimore to Boston?

It’s not the flight it’s the jet lag. They’ll basically have kick off at 10 am. Again I’m sure they can get whatever they want for meals covered for less than the round trip fuel.
The post I was responding to had the suggestion about flying halfway between Bal and LAC and stopping... Thank you for the snark though.
 

DrewDawg

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I don't doubt his research but that seems impossible to me given how often they seem to play Indy and Pitts
You realize Brady is 2-3 versus Manning in the postseason right? 2-1 in Indy and 0-2 in Denver.

And that we went 13 years between playing the Steelers in the postseason? 2004 to 2017. We've only played them 4 times, 3 times when Big Ben, once with Kordell.
 

Ed Hillel

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We’ve only played Pitt 3 times with Brady, right? 2001, 2004, 2017. Ben twice. Seems incredible, but true.
 

RedOctober3829

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Hmm, you're right. Looks like yesterday the Chargers ran:

That's
CBs: M Davis 61, C Hayward 61, D King 60
S: D James 61, J Addae 61, A Phillips 60, R Jenkins 60
LB: U Nwosu 16, K Emanuel 1, H Pullard 1
DE: M Ingram 53, Joey Bosa 45
DT: D Square 32, J Jones 31, D Philon 28, I Rochell 25, T McGill 15

Very interested to see why the Ravens couldn't run on such a small group, and if there's reason to believe the Patriots can.
I'm skeptical that the Chargers will come out in such a small lineup against the Patriots. The reason they took their LBs off the field, outside of the reason they're not that good, is that Bradley wanted faster players who could catch Jackson in space. If they do this against the Pats, it will be an entirely different reason to do so. Lynn was with the Jets for a while albeit on offense but they could adopt a Rex Ryan-type of scheme and flood the middle of the field with safeties and corners to take away the middle of the field.
 

InstaFace

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QBs that Brady has lost to in the playoffs, from memory:

Jake Plummer
Peyton Manning (x3)
Eli Manning (x2)
Joe Flacco (x2)
Mark Sanchez
Nick Foles
 

bankshot1

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Are you insane? There's an AFC Finalist banner on the line this week!
Insane? perhaps, but I'm a purist and don't want to dilute the glorious past. I save "BEAT LA" for Magic, Kobe, perhaps LeBron, and grudgingly for Kershaw in the WS, but not for carpet-baggers from San Diego in the divisional round.

But far be it from me to be a wet blanket, so chant BEAT LA for the Carson Chargers.

I'm holding my voice and ammo dry for the Rams in the SB.
 

simplyeric

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QBs that Brady has lost to in the playoffs, from memory:

Jake Plummer
Peyton Manning (x3)
Eli Manning (x2)
Joe Flacco (x2)
Mark Sanchez
Nick Foles
A murderer's row right there. The best of the best!

Or is it more of a "which one of these things is not like the other?"?
 

BigSoxFan

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A murderer's row right there. The best of the best!

Or is it more of a "which one of these things is not like the other?"?
Thank god Blake Bortles was kept off the list. Maybe we shouldn't have been so confident about beating Rex Grossman in the 2006 SB.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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The post I was responding to had the suggestion about flying halfway between Bal and LAC and stopping... Thank you for the snark though.
The post you replied to said nothing of the sort, it said some where between Boston and KC, which where they played yesterday is basically in the middle of, there's plenty of places to find what they need.
 

Super Nomario

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On the opposite side of things: with his long of 40 yards (recent game notwithstanding), and an average of 23.7, what's his "short"? And how much does he vary from his average?
The standard deviation on his return yardage is about 8.7 yards. He had one he muffed and the LAC started the drive at the 6. On about three others (of 22) he clearly hurt the team with his return. He has some good ones. I'm not familiar enough with this kind of data, honestly, to know how unusual this profile looks, and we are talking a pretty tiny sample here.

Seems like, to be worth the risk, you need to push them at least 10 yards back from a touchback.
This is an awful big assumption. Football Outsiders has said, "A bad offense will score as many points as a good offense if it starts each drive five-yards closer to the goal line." The bar for success here is way less than 10 yards. I mean, 31/32 teams are within 10 yards of the league average in offensive yards per drive, and every D is within seven yards. If you start a drive at the 17, the mathematical expectation is negative - i.e., the defense is more likely to score than the offense. The difference between the 25 and the 21 is more than 1/4 of a point. A quarter of a point may not sound like much, but it's the difference between a league-average offense (2.00 points per drive) and the Patriots (2.27) or Steelers (2.23).

Then it seems like a question of how good you feel about your coverage.
I think this is what it comes down too. And maybe they don't / shouldn't feel good about the coverage. I don't think King presents unique problems as a KR though. PR is another story.
 

ShaneTrot

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I'm skeptical that the Chargers will come out in such a small lineup against the Patriots. The reason they took their LBs off the field, outside of the reason they're not that good, is that Bradley wanted faster players who could catch Jackson in space. If they do this against the Pats, it will be an entirely different reason to do so. Lynn was with the Jets for a while albeit on offense but they could adopt a Rex Ryan-type of scheme and flood the middle of the field with safeties and corners to take away the middle of the field.
I am really fascinated by Bradley's approach in this game. James and Jenkins are not small, they are around 220 lbs each but that is a lot of little guys to face a determined rushing attack. They also had Ingram play in the interior. Kudos to the Chargers.
 

E5 Yaz

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Re LBs, the Chargers adjusted from a couple of weeks back and jammed the box with safeties. And the Ravens for 3 quarters were like, “well fuck, with our o-line line and RBs, we ought to be able to run on first AND second down.”

Re travel. I did DC to SF for a good while. It’s a bitch. I get that these are elite athletes, but three such trips in 8 days is not going to be easy for them.
Hmm, you're right. Looks like yesterday the Chargers ran:

That's
CBs: M Davis 61, C Hayward 61, D King 60
S: D James 61, J Addae 61, A Phillips 60, R Jenkins 60
LB: U Nwosu 16, K Emanuel 1, H Pullard 1
DE: M Ingram 53, Joey Bosa 45
DT: D Square 32, J Jones 31, D Philon 28, I Rochell 25, T McGill 15

Very interested to see why the Ravens couldn't run on such a small group, and if there's reason to believe the Patriots can.
I'm skeptical that the Chargers will come out in such a small lineup against the Patriots. The reason they took their LBs off the field, outside of the reason they're not that good, is that Bradley wanted faster players who could catch Jackson in space. If they do this against the Pats, it will be an entirely different reason to do so. Lynn was with the Jets for a while albeit on offense but they could adopt a Rex Ryan-type of scheme and flood the middle of the field with safeties and corners to take away the middle of the field.
Anthony Lynn addressed this quite thoroughly in Breer's column this morning. Some insight into the coaching philosophy ... while admitting they were gambling that it would work

https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/01/07/wild-card-weekend-eagles-bears-chargers-ravens-cowboys-seahawks-colts-texans
 

simplyeric

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The standard deviation on his return yardage is about 8.7 yards. He had one he muffed and the LAC started the drive at the 6. On about three others (of 22) he clearly hurt the team with his return. He has some good ones. I'm not familiar enough with this kind of data, honestly, to know how unusual this profile looks, and we are talking a pretty tiny sample here.


This is an awful big assumption. Football Outsiders has said, "A bad offense will score as many points as a good offense if it starts each drive five-yards closer to the goal line." The bar for success here is way less than 10 yards. I mean, 31/32 teams are within 10 yards of the league average in offensive yards per drive, and every D is within seven yards. If you start a drive at the 17, the mathematical expectation is negative - i.e., the defense is more likely to score than the offense. The difference between the 25 and the 21 is more than 1/4 of a point. A quarter of a point may not sound like much, but it's the difference between a league-average offense (2.00 points per drive) and the Patriots (2.27) or Steelers (2.23).


I think this is what it comes down too. And maybe they don't / shouldn't feel good about the coverage. I don't think King presents unique problems as a KR though. PR is another story.
interesting. The yards per drive and point expectancy is a lot tighter than I thought.

Curious about this:
If you start a drive at the 17, the mathematical expectation is negative - i.e., the defense is more likely to score than the offense
Does that mean what I think it means? i.e. that if you start at the 17 the D is more likely to get a TaInt or a TaFu (or, I suppose, a safety) than the O is to get a field goal or a TD on that drive? Like, if starting on the 17 makes it more likely to result in a turnover that's one thing (turnovers may or may not lead to points on the following possession). If it actually has some statistical suggestion of points by the D-unit, that's something else, and really compounds the value of pinning a team on a kickoff.
 

Mooch

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Another shocker for me: PFF absolutely DETESTS the Chargers offensive line. According to them, LAC has the 3rd worst O-Line in the NFL this season with some particularly leaky spots in pass protection at Left Guard and Right Tackle.
 

Kliq

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I honestly don't know how much can be learned about the Charger defense from yesterday's game. The Charger's came out with a very specific game plan to stop Baltimore's unique offense and it worked. I'd doubt that they would have the same approach against the Patriots. The big thing I noticed was just how slow Jackson was with his reads when he went back to pass. If his first option wasn't open, he was screwed and his slow progression led to a lot of the pressure and a couple of turnovers, including the fumble on the final drive. The Charger's are not going to have that luxury against Brady, so I think a lot of the pressure we saw in the Baltimore game can be avoided by a better QB.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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Insane? perhaps, but I'm a purist and don't want to dilute the glorious past. I save "BEAT LA" for Magic, Kobe, perhaps LeBron, and grudgingly for Kershaw in the WS, but not for carpet-baggers from San Diego in the divisional round.

But far be it from me to be a wet blanket, so chant BEAT LA for the Carson Chargers.

I'm holding my voice and ammo dry for the Rams in the SB.
These fly forever my friend, and a win this weekend gets us one.

 

Super Nomario

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Does that mean what I think it means? i.e. that if you start at the 17 the D is more likely to get a TaInt or a TaFu (or, I suppose, a safety) than the O is to get a field goal or a TD on that drive? Like, if starting on the 17 makes it more likely to result in a turnover that's one thing (turnovers may or may not lead to points on the following possession). If it actually has some statistical suggestion of points by the D-unit, that's something else, and really compounds the value of pinning a team on a kickoff.
Much more likely a punt that puts the other team in good field position to score first. Not necessarily a defensive score (which are rare, obviously).
 

BusRaker

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I'd like to see the Pats come out with two tight ends and Develin but split Gronk out wide creating a mismatch on the outside. This is going to be the kind of game where we could really use a big back like LBGT to hammer their small package on the ground and Gordon to stretch the field. I worry we don't have either skill set to capitalize on their weaknesses.
 

dcmissle

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Another shocker for me: PFF absolutely DETESTS the Chargers offensive line. According to them, LAC has the 3rd worst O-Line in the NFL this season with some particularly leaky spots in pass protection at Left Guard and Right Tackle.
They held up adequately against a formidable front 7 yesterday. Granted, they rolled with a very conservative game plan. But that’s a mark of a well coached team. The game plans on O and D were complementary, and so long as the D held, they weren’t taking on much risk. I don’t know that Rivers forced anything all day.
 

DrewDawg

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Per practice reports, BB today emphasized picking up any loose ball on the ground after what happened in the Eagles/Bears game yesterday.
 

ShaneTrot

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They held up adequately against a formidable front 7 yesterday. Granted, they rolled with a very conservative game plan. But that’s a mark of a well coached team. The game plans on O and D were complementary, and so long as the D held, they weren’t taking on much risk. I don’t know that Rivers forced anything all day.
I think the Chargers were lousy offensively, what did they do well? They started 4 drives in Ravens territory. Their longest drive was 60 yards. If their offense was clicking they would have blown the Ravens out.
 

dcmissle

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I think the Chargers were lousy offensively, what did they do well? They started 4 drives in Ravens territory. Their longest drive was 60 yards. If their offense was clicking they would have blown the Ravens out.
Consider the opponent’s defense. They did what they had to do. They scored a TD. They collected FGs. Most importantly, they protected the ball.

Through 50+ minutes of the game, the only way they could have lost was if the Ravens defense scored. Multiple times. That changed in the last 8 minutes or so, but time ran out.

I am not anticipating Patriots’ defensive effort nearly as robust and threatening as the Ravens’. The game should be very different.
 

simplyeric

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Consider the opponent’s defense. They did what they had to do. They scored a TD. They collected FGs. Most importantly, they protected the ball.

Through 50+ minutes of the game, the only way they could have lost was if the Ravens defense scored. Multiple times. That changed in the last 8 minutes or so, but time ran out.

I am not anticipating Patriots’ defensive effort nearly as robust and threatening as the Ravens’. The game should be very different.
How many drives do you think the Chargers will start in Patriot's territory this weekend?
If TB is throwing interceptions, or there are fumbles, so be it...that's a lost turnover battle.
Look at their scoring drives:

21 Yd Field Goal
5 plays, 12 yards

53 Yd Field Goal
4 plays, 7 yards,

40 Yd Field Goal
9 plays, 37 yards,

34 Yd Field Goal
12 plays, 58 yards,

TD
10 plays, 60 yards,

47 Yd Field Goal
7 plays, 16 yards
I get what you are saying...against a stingy D they scrabbled out some points and that's just what you gotta do.
But it's not like their offense was clicking.

LAC won by 6 points. If we can manage to not be -2 on turnovers...
 

wiffleballhero

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I honestly don't know how much can be learned about the Charger defense from yesterday's game. The Charger's came out with a very specific game plan to stop Baltimore's unique offense and it worked. I'd doubt that they would have the same approach against the Patriots. The big thing I noticed was just how slow Jackson was with his reads when he went back to pass. If his first option wasn't open, he was screwed and his slow progression led to a lot of the pressure and a couple of turnovers, including the fumble on the final drive. The Charger's are not going to have that luxury against Brady, so I think a lot of the pressure we saw in the Baltimore game can be avoided by a better QB.
I think this is what we learned, and it is something: the Chargers are at least smart enough to adapt to the conditions they face rather than simply barrel ahead with the same plan, regardless of conditions. Although this is not a capacity exclusive to the Pats, it is not the norm. They made Baltimore look terrible after getting smoked by them only a few weeks ago. I'm impressed.
 

Captaincoop

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Looking back at the last few times Brady has faced Gus Bradley defenses, he has thrown for 320+ yards each time, and the only really shaky game involved interceptions by Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman in 2012.

Obviously different personnel each time (and a different Brady now), but looking at those box scores gives me some confidence.
 

BaseballJones

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Reading this article makes me fear the Chargers' defense.

"Bosa and Ingram were the definition of disruptive against the Patriots last year. Ingram had nine hurries, including a hit that resulted from a vicious spin move on Joe Thuney. Bosa had a sack while working on Marcus Cannon and generated seven more pressures.

That type of pressure combined with coverage from 2018 All-Pros Desmond King and Derwin James and 2017 All-Pro Casey Hayward . . . makes . . . life . . . difficult. Not because what they do is exotic. There are only two teams that blitz less often than them. They're just good."

They shut down a powerhouse running attack this past week in Baltimore. Then you read the above and it's like, holy crap they get tons of pressure on the QB, and they have tons of great cover guys. So if you can't run on them and you can't throw on them, how in the world can you score?

Well, it turns out that they're good but not THAT good. This season they finished #8 in the NFL in points allowed, giving up 329 points (20.6 per game). That's just behind...the New England Patriots, who finished #7 in points allowed, giving up 325 points (20.3 per game).

The Chargers are #8 in points allowed, and #9 in yards allowed. They're #9 in opposing passer rating at 89.1. That's behind the Patriots at #7, with an opposing passer rating of 85.4.

They're #12 in rush yards allowed per rush at 4.3 per carry. They're #18 in third down percentage allowed (39.1%).

So there are ways to attack them, despite all their talent.
 

Oppo

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Stopping the Ravens rushing attack was impressive, especially as they came in averaging 200+ yards/game on the ground with Jackson at QB.

Alternatively, they literally had to show zero respect for their passing game, a luxury TB will not provide.
 

joe dokes

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Stopping the Ravens rushing attack was impressive, especially as they came in averaging 200+ yards/game on the ground with Jackson at QB.

Alternatively, they literally had to show zero respect for their passing game, a luxury TB will not provide.
The Raven rushing attack was predicated on Jackson's ability to run. LA focussed on limiting him and forced BAL to rely on the "real" running backs and passing game. While Brady himself is no threat, I think Michel, White, and Burkhead (with some combination of Develin, Gronk and Allen blocking) are bigger running threats than Edwards and Dixon without Lamar. And neither one of them was close to the pass-catching threats that Burkhead and White are.
 

j44thor

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Nothing new but the NE OL is going to be huge this week. SD plays zone which means there will be soft spots but it often takes time to find those. If SD can get quick pressure with just 4 that makes for a very long day for Brady. If the OL holds up then I expect Brady to carve them up.
 

dcmissle

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The Raven rushing attack was predicated on Jackson's ability to run. LA focussed on limiting him and forced BAL to rely on the "real" running backs and passing game. While Brady himself is no threat, I think Michel, White, and Burkhead (with some combination of Develin, Gronk and Allen blocking) are bigger running threats than Edwards and Dixon without Lamar. And neither one of them was close to the pass-catching threats that Burkhead and White are.
In week 16, Chargers controlled Jackson but Edwards hurt them badly.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=401030897

They adjusted and improved over that.
 

Zososoxfan

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Nothing new but the NE OL is going to be huge this week. SD plays zone which means there will be soft spots but it often takes time to find those. If SD can get quick pressure with just 4 that makes for a very long day for Brady. If the OL holds up then I expect Brady to carve them up.
The Pats should take a play from the European Football playbook and water the field before the match. The goal would to let the field get torn up more quickly though - slow down Bosa and Co.