Coaches always stress the importance of a balanced offense. Regardless of the level of competition, having a run-pass ratio that isn’t skewed too far in one direction or the other is crucial to having an offense that functions at peak efficiency. For the San Diego Chargers this season, that dedication from the new coaching staff in Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt has been the vital element to the Bolts finding harmony when they have possession of the pigskin.
Nearly every team in the NFL leans more toward the pass-heavy tendency nowadays in a league so geared toward airing it out. The Bolts were particularly fond of the aerial attack in 2011 with 58.4 percent of their offensive plays going via the skies, but in 2012 that moderated somewhat to 56.23 which ranked dead in the middle of the league at 16th. The number may still be relatively similar at 56.4 percent in 2013, but this season the Chargers pass the ball the 9th most out of the league’s 32 teams.
Though some might believe that quarterbacks are more successful the more times they get to drop back and sling it, that’s actually far from the truth as Philip Rivers has struggled in recent years when asked to throw at such a high rate. This season that has turned around quite remarkably with an outstanding 73.9 completion percentage through seven weeks. Having a stronger running game certain has something to do with that increased success as Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, and Ronnie Brown have each put their own mark on the San Diego offense.
When Norv Turner was calling the shots in San Diego, the chances were that his play-calling would consist of a first-down run followed by two passing plays. That type of predictability really hurts the efficiency of an offense. Gaining yards against opposing defenses is difficult enough without them knowing what’s coming, but when there is an element of certainty to the upcoming play it gets even more difficult.
The vibes around the Bolts have definitely played a part in the team’s turnaround thus far, but it’s arguable that the biggest difference is the change in play-calling. Maintaining that ability to keep opposing defenses off-balance will be vital for the Chargers to continue their early string of success into the season’s second half.