I decided to look back at the Chargers at Packers game for my week six adventures in film, which was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Both teams used more just the five linemen formations with their tight ends detached than I remember seeing before, and both teams were more effective on offence than defence. It is hardly a ground breaking insight that this game featured two of the best quarterbacks in the game, but they were impressive in different ways this week.
The only place I can start with in this game is the Chargers offence and the franchise record breaking performance of Phillip Rivers, who threw for five hundred and three yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He accomplished this with forty-three completions from a mammoth sixty-five attempts. The Chargers did a better job of protecting Rivers in this game, but this was because they spent virtually all of the game in shotgun formations allowing Rivers to survey the defence and get the ball out quickly. In the first half they used 12 personnel extensively, with tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green lining up in various spots as both receivers and tight end. In the second half they moved more to 11 personnel until Keenan Allen injured his ankle nearly ten minutes into the third quarter, when they returned back to 12 personnel. It is remarkable that in only forty minutes of game time, Allen amassed fourteen catches from fifteen targets for one hundred and fifty seven yards. However, Anotnio Gates and Malcom Floyd also chipped in with ninety-five yards each, whilst Danny Woodhead chipped in with sixty-three yards of his own through the air. The Chargers were unable to run the ball effectively through most of the game, so it is not surprising they had such high passing numbers, particularly when they were having so much success.
The Packers defence had been doing better this season, but whilst they stood up in the running game, their pass defence obviously struggled. They were unable to get their pass rush to Rivers in time, only getting three sacks despite generating seventeen QB hits, but Rivers was just getting the ball out too quickly. The coverage also struggled at times, on one play in the second quarter, the Chargers’ slot receiver dragged one of the two deep safties in to cover him, allowing Keenan Allen to catch a huge deep ball having got a step on Sam Shields. On the very next play Allen demonstrated more amazing body control to get two feet down so not all of the passing yards was due to coverage, but you don’t give up this much yardage if you are playing well. Going back to the pass rush, Clay Mathews flashed once as he split the left tackle and left guard, whilst Julius Peppers pressured from the right and having sent five the Packers got the sack as a team, but there were simply not good enough to disrupt Rivers sufficiently.
If the Packers defence really struggled, their offence was good if not as exceptional as you might expect. They used many more personnel groupings than the Chargers, and they were using Richard Rodgers, who is listed as a tight end, all over their formation as both tight end and full back. He may have only caught two balls, but he was heavily involved in their offence, but the real worry for this team is that they are banged up at receiver and the lack of Jordy Nelson is possibly beginning to show. They were able to rack up one hundred and thirty-three yards in the running game, but sixty-five yards of that came from the James Starks’s first quarter touchdown run. However, if you take that run out of the equation they still averaged four yards per carry, but they only ran the ball seventeen times in total. The real problem was that the Packers only had the ball for twenty-two minutes, and Rodgers threw an uncharacteristic sixteen completions form twenty-nine throws, gaining two hundred and fifty-five yards and two touchdowns. Neither team was good in the red zone in this game, which is surprising and tells its own story.
The Chargers defence did better against the pass than they have done in previous weeks, but were not inspiring. They did manage to get three sacks, but did not get a lot of other pressure and the sacks they did get was when they sent five rushers and were able to push the pocket up the middle. That said, defensive linemen Corey Liuget did cause some problems up the middle and was rewarded with a sack. The secondary may have done better in this game, but safety Jahleel Addae over committed to stopping James Starks’s run up the middle and got caught up by the line, which is why Starks was able to break it to the outside and get all the way to the end zone. In fairness it is hard to know how he is coached to play the run in this situation, but no one could get across to the side in time to stop the touchdown.
This was a very entertaining game to watch, and the Chargers came very close to tying the game up at the end of the fourth quarter, marching the ball down the field, but ultimately were unable to punch the ball into the end zone to force the game into overtime. They will do better against lesser opposition, but whilst the Packers may not be as dominant as they looked in the first couple of weeks, they are still unbeaten and look set to be amongst a handful of teams preparing to push deep into the playoffs.t