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Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem.

Posted: 11/18/2013 10:40 AM

Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


Below are the results of their 1st and 2nd down plays on the last series of downs on all their possessions Sunday.  It shows a disturbing fact that has been a pattern in recent games (I'm not going to list those other games, but it has been an issue for a while now).

Possessions ending in turnover, punt, field goal or end of half/game:
Turnover: 1st down (interception)
Punt: 1st down (0 yard incompletion), 2nd down (3 yard run) - 3rd and 7
Field goal: 1st down (1 yard run), 2nd down (-4 yard illegal pass penalty) - 3rd and goal at the 9
Punt: 1st down (-10 yard holding penalty), 1st down (-2 yard taunting penalty), 2nd down (3 yard run) - 3rd and 19
Field goal: 1st down (0 yard incompletion), 2nd down (3 yard run) - 3rd and 7
Field goal: 1st down (1 yard run), 2nd down (4 yard completion) - 3rd and 5
Punt: 1st down (4 yard run), 2nd down (-5 yard run) - 3rd and 11
Punt: 1st down (1 yard run), 2nd down (4 yard completion) - 3rd and 5
End of game: 1st down (0 yard incompletion), 2nd down (0 yard incompletion) - end of game

Possessions ending in touchdown:
Touchdown: 1st down (5 yard touchdown pass)

And there were several other series of downs earlier in those possessions with similar early down failures that they managed to overcome, until they had forced themselves to play "behind the downs" just too many times to be able to get into the end zone.

Want the summary?  That is 17 plays for 3, count 'em, 3 FREAKIN' COMBINED TOTAL YARDS on 1st and 2nd downs to end 9 possessions without a touchdown.  Yes, the inability to score touchdowns in the red zone is an issue.  But that's the symptom, not the problem.  This offense's problem is that they literally have been WASTING far too many 1st and 2nd down plays on most of their possessions in recent games.  It's almost like they're treating those downs as some kind of "experimental" time, or even worse, "throwaway" plays that aren't necessary for some strange reason.

It's an absolute epidemic with them.  And nobody seems to be noticing it.  But if they don't fix it, and start getting a much better rate of possessions and series playing "ahead of the downs", they're going to keep on losing.

---
"I've never been around a 24-year-old 12-year vet."

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Posted: 11/18/2013 5:40 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


Which is exactly how Norvs offense felt to me, experimenting on first drives and first downs. Then, trouble. Weird, too, considering this season we started completely opposite of this. We were unstoppable on 1st down gains (proven stat). Where did it all go? And why?


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--- 88Unbeatable82 wrote:.  It's almost like they're treating those downs as some kind of "experimental" time, or even worse, "throwaway" plays that aren't necessary for some strange reason.

It's an absolute epidemic with them.  And nobody seems to be noticing it.  But if they don't fix it, and start getting a much better rate of possessions and series playing "ahead of the downs", they're going to keep on losing.

---------------------------------------------

“I hope that someday we will be able to put away our fears and prejudices and just laugh at people.”
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Posted: 11/18/2013 6:50 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


I don't see any proof these downs are experimental. If you look at the last series of downs on a possession for any team, the yardage is going to be poor, especially when there are 30 yards in penalties. How does throwing an incompletion make a down "experimental"? How does Keenan Allen getting a dumb (very nitpicky, almost conspiratorial) taunting penalty on a successful passing play make that play experimental? 

You get stuffed on a run, throw an incomplete pass (or vice versa) and you face 3rd-and-long. Then the odds are in favor of the defense to stop you. Happens all day in the NFL. I don't see how this is unique to the Chargers.

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Posted: 11/18/2013 6:57 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


Hunter, I know you've been pushing hard that our offense isn't the problem this season. Of course, I think most of us would agree that our defense is truly horrid. No doubt.

But, honestly, can you not find any fault with this offense? With any of our play calling? None?

For me, I see lots to gripe about (even with the excuses of our OL issues). Of course I would take our offense over our defense at this point, but I'm very upset with several aspects of this year's offense, especially it's inability to get into the endzone.

HunterSTomlinson wrote: I don't see any proof these downs are experimental. If you look at the last series of downs on a possession for any team, the yardage is going to be poor, especially when there are 30 yards in penalties. How does throwing an incompletion make a down "experimental"? How does Keenan Allen getting a dumb (very nitpicky, almost conspiratorial) taunting penalty on a successful passing play make that play experimental? 

You get stuffed on a run, throw an incomplete pass (or vice versa) and you face 3rd-and-long. Then the odds are in favor of the defense to stop you. Happens all day in the NFL. I don't see how this is unique to the Chargers.

“I hope that someday we will be able to put away our fears and prejudices and just laugh at people.”

Last edited 11/18/2013 8:16 PM by shoehater

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Posted: 11/18/2013 8:52 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


I find the play calling very questionable this season. Obviously I have trumpeted the under utilization of Ladarius Green...that is without question indefensible. Running Woodhead up the middle on 3rd and short or goal line plays...is also a losing strategy. Not using Green and Gates in the Red Zone together is also another head scratcher.

I will also say that McCoy has made this offense look a lot more efficient at times and rejuvenated Rivers' career.

So this is a mix bag for me. I will just chalk it down as a first year head coach taking his lumps and learning the hard way. Problem with McCoy is he is one stubborn SOB who doesn't like to be second guessed...Oh boy! Ever get a load of his interviews after the game. HA! I think he is handling himself wrong....he doesn't need to come across so pompous. He'll learn though. Unbeatable thanks for the great post! I appreciate the time you took to break that down...Props to you!

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Posted: 11/18/2013 8:57 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


If he were winning, I'd let him have this one. But, he ain't. So I agree with you.

Chargerhonk wrote:  McCoy....he doesn't need to come across so pompous.

“I hope that someday we will be able to put away our fears and prejudices and just laugh at people.”
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Posted: 11/18/2013 9:47 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


McCoy is going through the growing pains as a first time head coach. I'll put this out to everybody who's seen and commented on this thread....would you rather still have Norv Turner coaching this team?? I know I don't!
Wherever The Fear May Be, Look It In The Eyes

Last edited 11/18/2013 9:49 PM by Boltsbacker

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Posted: 11/18/2013 9:50 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


I would like to point out that in Week 11 only three teams scored less than the Chargers...

Green Bay being led by a back-up back-up first time QB, the Jets....and of course Jacksonville.

And the Chargers weren't playing a stalwart defense.....and they were playing a game against a team who had lost to the Buffalo Bills at home recently, who aren't very good, especially on the road.

Kind of gives you a little perspective.

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Posted: 11/19/2013 12:49 AM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


Hmmm. I remember a guy named Chargerhonk trumpeting Jackie Battle last season after the former added the latter to his fantasy squad. Is there a pattern there?

Probably, but regardless, we'd all like to see Green get some more big plays. I think most of those will have to come out of a 2-TE set because Green benefits greatly when Gates is getting a lot of attention. So do other WRs.

Saying McCoy and Wiz have made the offense look "a lot more efficient at times" is a massive understatement IMO. We all know that Rivers was brutalized last year, but this year is the least hit QB in the NFL and is completing 70% of his passes. To me, that's not a "lot more efficient at times" but more like "an amazing turnaround."

I could give a rat's about McCoy not handling pressers the way some of us villagers (or BFTB -- man, they get their panties in a bunch about press conferences) would prefer.


 
Chargerhonk wrote: I find the play calling very questionable this season. Obviously I have trumpeted the under utilization of Ladarius Green...that is without question indefensible. Running Woodhead up the middle on 3rd and short or goal line plays...is also a losing strategy. Not using Green and Gates in the Red Zone together is also another head scratcher.

I will also say that McCoy has made this offense look a lot more efficient at times and rejuvenated Rivers' career.

So this is a mix bag for me. I will just chalk it down as a first year head coach taking his lumps and learning the hard way. Problem with McCoy is he is one stubborn SOB who doesn't like to be second guessed...Oh boy! Ever get a load of his interviews after the game. HA! I think he is handling himself wrong....he doesn't need to come across so pompous. He'll learn though. Unbeatable thanks for the great post! I appreciate the time you took to break that down...Props to you!

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Posted: 11/19/2013 12:58 AM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


It gives me perspective of what happens when a WR falls down on his pattern (that was a great playcall BTW -- would've been a TD or 1st-and-goal from the three) or when a QB makes a dumb illegal forward pass. Or when a rookie WR kills a drive with a questionable taunting call. 

With all that being said, why is the board railing on McCoy and Whiz and even Pagano so much more than the players who didn't execute?

How much can Pagano coach players not to jump offsides? How much can Whis coach a veteran QB to not make an illegal forward pass? How can anyone coach the entire defense not to assume another player will make the tackle. 
Chargerhonk wrote: I would like to point out that in Week 11 only three teams scored less than the Chargers...

Green Bay being led by a back-up back-up first time QB, the Jets....and of course Jacksonville.

And the Chargers weren't playing a stalwart defense.....and they were playing a game against a team who had lost to the Buffalo Bills at home recently, who aren't very good, especially on the road.

Kind of gives you a little perspective.

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Posted: 11/19/2013 9:00 AM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


wtf?????
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Posted: 11/19/2013 9:59 AM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 



shoehater wrote: Hunter, I know you've been pushing hard that our offense isn't the problem this season. Of course, I think most of us would agree that our defense is truly horrid. No doubt.

But, honestly, can you not find any fault with this offense? With any of our play calling? None?

For me, I see lots to gripe about (even with the excuses of our OL issues). Of course I would take our offense over our defense at this point, but I'm very upset with several aspects of this year's offense, especially it's inability to get into the endzone.

HunterSTomlinson wrote: I don't see any proof these downs are experimental. If you look at the last series of downs on a possession for any team, the yardage is going to be poor, especially when there are 30 yards in penalties. How does throwing an incompletion make a down "experimental"? How does Keenan Allen getting a dumb (very nitpicky, almost conspiratorial) taunting penalty on a successful passing play make that play experimental? 

You get stuffed on a run, throw an incomplete pass (or vice versa) and you face 3rd-and-long. Then the odds are in favor of the defense to stop you. Happens all day in the NFL. I don't see how this is unique to the Chargers.

I doubt anyone disagrees with Hunter that this defense is galactically pathetic.  I've even stated multiple times how this offense has it far more difficult than any of the other top offenses because it has nothing else on this team that can help it win any games.  There simply is no denying that fact (although the defense FINALLY bailed out an offensive turnover Sunday when they got a turnover right back, and gee whiz, the offense responded by scoring its only touchdown of the game as a result - imagine that).

But there simply is no denying that in recent games (and as shoe correctly points out, it wasn't an issue early in the season), this offense's play has been almost as pathetic as the defense's on most of its early downs.  Just awful.  I mean, seriously, 9 out of 10 possessions end with 3rd and 5 or longer, and 3rd and 5 on only 2 of those 9.  Sorry, Hunter, but that doesn't happen "all the time" with good offenses all over the NFL.

It's a recent problem.  And a big one.

---
"I've never been around a 24-year-old 12-year vet."

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Posted: 11/19/2013 12:36 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


Also, just for clarity, I'm not blaming this disturbing recent problem on any one person or group.  As Hunter has correctly pointed out, we can look at each failed play and find the problems lie across the full spectrum of all involved.  I'm just pointing out that I have noticed it jumping off the screen at me while watching the recent games, so I decided to look up the results of each early down play in this last game, and sure enough, it's ugly.

Actually, if I were to offer any suggestion, mine would be that when the field shrinks, because Gates will always be doubled, and the receivers are very inexperienced right now, and will likely have a much harder time getting open in the tighter spaces this early in their careers, instead of going with their "big name" targets all the time, run more misdirection plays targeted at more of the lesser known players.  Mix in more of those plays, and here's the kicker, have success with them, and the plays to your top targets should start working more often, as a result.

Just a thought, but when I saw the throwback screen to Phillips early in the game, even though it wasn't in the red zone, I though Man, that would be a great play to run down near the goal line.  Not a screen, necessarily, but have a guy like Phillips peel off an initial block into the end zone away from the direction of the play.  Same with a guy like McClain.  Things like that.  Because I honestly don't think I've seen anything like that in those situations so far this year.


Like I said, just a thought.

---
"I've never been around a 24-year-old 12-year vet."

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Posted: 11/19/2013 1:51 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


The more productive Mathews is, the more the offense will open up.

When teams have to focus on him, it gives the other players more freedom to get open.

Remember when we had both Gates and VJ. When Gates had a big day, VJ usually didn't and vica versa.

Teams can't be so one dimensional or have such limited playmakers. I think defenses pick their poison and would rather have Woodhead get 15 touches and a bunch of slow yards than one big play down field...something the Chargers sorely lack. They have no true stretch the field playmakers who can turn the game around in one play. Teams are planning around that and just letting the Chargers eventually shoot themselves in the foot...which they have been doing...from the Titans game to even Dolphins game.

The Dolphins let or should I say gave Mathews more of an opportunity to rush for yards because he usually doesn't break long runs. He actually did end up having a few long ones in that game but in the end....they won...so their plan worked.

Let Rivers throw a bunch of small passes, let Woodhead get a few over the middle.....and here and there with Gates. By that time, the other team plans on beating us to the finish line....

Bottomline...the Chargers truly need a strong running game aka tough offensive line...and also have a deep threat...then this team will be able to be way more productive on the offensive side of the ball.

BTW....Jackie Battle is a stud!

Last edited 11/19/2013 6:14 PM by Chargerhonk

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Posted: 11/19/2013 4:18 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


Where we diverge completely is this idea of "experimental" plays on first and second down.

Nine of 10 possessions ending in 3rd-and-long sounds very daunting, but it needs a closer look.

For accuracy's sake, a pick on first down and the end of the game aren't even 3rd-and-5, so we're down to 7 of 10.

Two of those were 3rd-and-5. It's a manageable down/distance. Not great, but hardly indicative of throwing away downs with experiments. I don't consider 3rd-and-5 to be 3rd-and-long, nor do I know anyone who does. 

So now, if we're looking at 3rd-and-longer-than-5, we're at 5 of 10.

Two of those were created by unforced on-field mistakes:

1) Rivers' mental mistake made 3rd-and-goal from the three into 3rd-and-goal from the 10. This has nothing to do with playcalling. In fact, if Rivers simply executes, it's a great playcall. Gates was wide open with a bunch of defenders pursuing Rivers while he was still behind the LOS. It was a play any decent QB should make. It had nothing to do with poor or experimental playcalling. It had everything to do with execution. There simply aren't many plays for a 3rd-and-10 on a 20-yard field, especially when the WRs are basically rookies. 

2) We had a 1st-and-20 after a holding call that was turned into a manageable 2nd-and-7 that was then turned into a very unmanageable 2nd-and-22. Hardly a throwaway experimental play. Just a lapse in judgment by Allen (and a somewhat trigger-happy official). 

When you whittle it all down, sure, the offense shares a huge part of the blame. But the tendency on this board is to heap the offensive share of the blame onto McCoy and Whis. I mean, people are talking about firing Whisenhunt mid-game. I just don't see it that way. I believe those two have done an outstanding job making the most with what they have. Pretty soon they're going to get blamed for dropped passes.

The Chargers, BTW, are third in 3rd-down-conversion percentage and second in total first downs (but hey, let's fire that effing OC!). That doesn't happen with experiments and throwaway plays.

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Posted: 11/19/2013 4:43 PM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


I don't disagree with a lot of what you say, Hunter, and for what it's worth, I did say it's "like" they use those downs as experimental or throwaway plays, given how pathetic the results have been recently.  I certainly don't believe that's what they are actually doing, either, just that the results have been the same.

I also agree that the fault on all those failed plays lies with all involved, not just the coaches, as I said in a previous comment.

But that's the point.  I don't care WHO is at fault.  And that was never the point of my original comment.  The league isn't going to yell "Do over" after all their failed early down plays just because they were the faults of the players, and not the coaches.  The point is that it is a very clear and definite problem that has begun happening recently, and it needs to be fixed.  Because teams that score 3 or more touchdowns a game rarely score all of them on plays of 3rd and long.  A good percentage of those touchdowns come on the early down plays themselves and some 3rd and short plays.  Sure, you have to be able to convert some 3rd and long plays.  But rarely will a team that gets itself into 3rd and long multiple times on most of their possessions score many points.  That's just common sense.

And it's also a fact that this offense has done just that in recent games.

---
"I've never been around a 24-year-old 12-year vet."

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Posted: 11/21/2013 6:40 AM

Re: Behind The Downs - the offense's unmentioned problem. 


Might just be me, but it seems like the play calling is more predictable now than in earlier in the season.  Rivers' completion on play action passes is 78.7 with a QB rating of 150.6.  Compared with Manning (the good one) of 70% and 136.2.  But Denver uses play action 29.4% of the time compared with the Bolts 12.6.  So when the Bolts are in a first and goal situation, why does it seem like they telegraph a run or a pass instead of using play action where Rivers has 5 TD's and ZERO INT's.  The Bolts don't have the horses to overpower the opponents, so they have to resort to misdirection play calling.  They did that earlier in the season but have since reverted to the Norv era.  With the emergence of Mathews and the addition of Woodhead it's time to get creative.  With a tough remaining schedule, we ain't going nowhere, so let it all hang loose.
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