San Diego needs to finish drives
Posted Jul. 21 at 05:37 AM
Occasionally, you’ll see red zone stats show up. Around here, we prefer to look at just the attacking half of that area – inside the 10-yard line. Once a team gets inside the 10, it’s clearing switching gears, moving out of its regular offense and trying to get the ball in the end zone.
And by putting together these inside-the-10 numbers ourselves, we also include 2-point conversion attempts. Those are meaningful plays – 2 yards away from the goal line with 2 points riding on one play.
And with those numbers in front of me, I can hardly believe how poorly San Diego played last season.
Philip Rivers inside the 10
11 of 34 passing, 7 TDs, 1 sack.
That’s 32 percent passing, worse than any other team. This one is puzzling to me, because the Chargers completed a league-high 82 percent in that area the previous year, with Rivers going 13 of 16, with 9 scores. Note that Rivers had a far more limited role the previous year; the team ran the ball so well that season (when LaDainian Tomlinson dominated) that Rivers didn’t have to pass as often.
LaDainian Tomlinson inside the 10
31 carries for 63 yards, 8 TDs; 2.0 per carry
That’s not awful – 2.0 per attempt may sound bad, but it’s actually slightly above average for that part of the field. But Tomlinson was at a different level the previous year, when he carried 44 times for 128 yards (2.9 per attempt) and 23 TDs in that area.
Vincent Jackson inside the 10
They threw 7 passes his way. He didn’t catch any of them. The previous year, they went 3-for-3 going to him, all for scores.
Antonio Gates inside the 10
He caught only 2 of 10 passes thrown his way inside that area. The previous year, he caught 4 of 6, with 3 TDs.
Chris Chambers inside the 10
Four pass attempts resulted in one completion, which went for a TD.
What’s it all mean? To me, I think the team needs to get much better play in that part of the field out of Philip Rivers. He’s got adequate receivers at his disposal; he’s got to turn more of those plays into touchdowns – if the Chargers are going to challenge the Colts and Patriots in the AFC. But I’m not sure he’ll be able to do that; Rivers hasn’t emerged as a top-flight quarterback yet, and now he’s coming back off an ACL surgery that limited his work in the offseason and may affect his confidence.
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