This season, the San Diego Chargers offense has focused more on the short and intermediate passing game. To an extent, it has worked pretty well as the Chargers have done a good job sustaining long drives and converting on third downs. However, even with a new focus, every offense should at least have someone with the ability to stretch the field and pose as a big-play threat.
Wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who has averaged 17.3 yards per catch in his career, provided that threat and showcased his big-play ability against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 before a scary neck injury forced him out indefinitely. The Chargers definitely missed him last week against the Tennessee Titans.
Though Philip Rivers turned in a pretty good performance in a losing effort last week, he couldn’t get the ball to his wide receivers and primarily threw underneath to his backs and tight ends. His 20 completions went for just 184 yards, as he relied heavily on Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead in the passing game. When he was able to hit his wide receivers, they were of the short variety and totaled just 41 yards on five completions.
Eddie Royal, who is by far the Chargers’ most productive receiver right now, has the speed to stretch defenses but primarily works underneath in the slot and won’t run the routes Floyd ran. Meanwhile, Vincent Brown isn’t a speed guy and runs a 4.68 40-time, while rookie Keenan Allen clocked a 4.71 in the 40 on at his pro day. Allen is more likely a 4.5 or 4.6 guy now that his knee is healthier, but still won’t beat corners straight up with speed.
This doesn’t mean that these receivers can’t be productive in this offense, but they don’t have the luxury of a deep threat making life easier for them. With a deep threat on the field, defenses have to account for him and play their defenders back, allowing players running underneath routes to operate with more space.
Floyd is likely out for roughly a month or maybe even longer so the current receivers will have to step up and make things happen with yards after the catch. Sustaining long drives with the short passing game can definitely a good thing, but at the end of the day, points on the board is what matters. Scoring touchdowns with big plays is certainly an effective way at doing that.