Keys to the Recent Success in Chargers Playoff Run

San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson (21) scores a touchdown on a 16-yard run in the overtime period of an NFL football game to give the Chargers a 23-17 win over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007. Tomlinson ran for 146 yards in the game.

The Chargers have won 3 straight and are on their way to clinching the AFC west and locking up a playoff spot. After a frustrating start to the season filled with questionable coaching and scheming along with a truckload of underachievement, the Bolts are almost back.

The key to their success on offense has obviously been giving LT more than 20 carries a game. It is almost unbelievable that it took Norv Turner almost half a season to learn that the San Diego offense lives and dies by LT, and most often lives. San Diego is 6-1 when LT carries the ball more than 20 times this season and 2-4 when he gets 20 or fewer carries.

Especially with the recent struggles of QB Philip Rivers, it is essential that the Chargers continue to hand the ball to LT and let him lead the Bolts through the final stretch of the season. It’s quite simple; The more LT carries the ball, the more success he will have, the more success LT has, the more opposing defenses have to load the box which opens things up for Rivers and his WR’s. Despite some analyst’s doubts Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson are a solid group of pass catchers.

The key to San Diego’s success on defense has been blitzing more than one LB at a time. Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips are almost unstoppable when both are blitzing from opposite ends of the line. San Diego started to do this more frequently following their loss to Jacksonville in week 11. In the 3 games since the loss to the Jaguars the Chargers have tallied 13 sacks, an average of 4.3 a game. Throughout the first 10 games, when the Chargers rarely blitzed more than 1 LB at a time they totaled just 21 sacks, an average of 2.1 a game. San Diego has averaged twice as many sacks since they started blitzing more than one LB at a time. They must continue to pressure the QB with 5 and 6 man blitzes. Now that Merriman looks like he will miss some time it is even more important for the Chargers to continue blitzing to compensate for the loss of one of the leagues best pass rushers. Leave the DB’s in single coverage and make them earn a paycheck.

The Chargers seem to be finding their rhythm at the perfect time and are gaining momentum as they make a push for the playoffs. There is no doubt that the Chargers have enough talent to play with any team in the league, but there are question marks surrounding their consistency and coaching; two things that are necessary to make any sort of playoff run.

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