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Talented Chargers Offense Stumbling

Posted Nov 23, 2012

San Diego’s offense hasn’t performed up to its potential. But it can.


The Chargers have Pro Bowlers at nearly every offensive position: quarterback, running back, fullback, tight end and on the offensive line.

The one place it doesn’t have one (wide receiver) may be the most talented position on the roster.

“One after another, every one of their guys [is a threat],” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “I can start listing them, but we would probably run out of time. They have a lot of great players.”

However, the talent on paper hasn’t translated to the field yet this season.

The Chargers rank 17th and 22nd in the NFL in average passing and rushing yards, respectively.

Across the board, San Diego’s weapons are having off years by their own standards.

Quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown 17 touchdowns, but also 14 interceptions. His passing yards per game are down and, if the season ended today, his quarterback rating (87.6) would be his lowest since 2007.

Running back Ryan Mathews has been banged up throughout the year after breaking his clavicle and then having a stiff neck. He’s seen a drop in his average rushing yards per carry (4.1) and yards per catch (6.8).

Tight end Antonio Gates is on pace for his fewest receptions and yards in a full season since his rookie year (2003). The veteran has seen his average yards per catch dip the past two years as well.

The Chargers lost wide receiver Vincent Jackson to free agency this past offseason and signed Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, but neither have lived up to the billing.

Meachem has just 14 catches for 207 yards and Royal has 16 grabs for 134 yards. They share three touchdowns between them.

“People get caught up in X’s and O’s, and the strategy you use and all that,” Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner said. “Ultimately, this league comes [down] to guys going out and making plays and beating guys and having playmakers. … We are not making nearly as many big plays as we have in the past.”

San Diego also has had major problems with turnovers and sacks.

The Chargers' 22 turnovers are the third most in the league just behind Philadelphia and Kansas City. Their 26 sacks allowed are tied for seventh most in the NFL.

"I’m sure they feel if they can clean that up they can play really well," Harbaugh said, specifically about the turnovers. "So, we’ve got to take that into account.”

San Diego does have the potential to break out.

Top wideout Malcom Floyd is having his best season yet with 43 catches for 639 yards. He’s their top playmaking threat.

Floyd’s been recently joined by Denario Alexander, a 6-foot-5 wideout who was cast off by St. Louis after two years and has caught fire as of late. He had five grabs for 134 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago against Tampa Bay. He posted seven catches for 96 yards and two scores against Denver last week.

So San Diego still has two big speedsters on the outside that will be a challenge for Baltimore’s defense.

The Chargers proved they can put on an offensive fireworks show last year when they put up 34 points and never punted.

“This team is dangerous. This team is very dangerous,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We definitely can’t make it a seven-on-seven contest. We definitely have to play some better defense [than last year]. We can’t let [Rivers] get real comfortable back there.”

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