With victory just one yard away at the end of regulation against the Washington Redskins, the San Diego Chargers decided against using their power running game to try to get that final yard, opting to run once out of the shotgun and throw twice, both falling incomplete. This questionable playcalling very well could have cost the Bolts the game. However, for whatever reason, the Chargers were reluctant to use their running game throughout the entire game.
The Chargers ran the ball just 14 times between Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews compared to 46 passes. Normally, a run to pass ratio like that is associated with trailing by two or more scores. However, the Bolts only trailed by two scores for less than three minutes of the entire game and even led for much of it.
In their previous two games, victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chargers used a balanced offense to control the clock, keep the opposing offense off the field, and keep the opponent’s defense on their heels. In those two games, Mathews made the most of his opportunities and notched consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Against the Redskins, who ranked near the bottom of the league in run defense, Mathews was only handed the rock seven times, despite averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The Bolts got away from what was working for them, and it may have cost them in the end.
By dropping back to pass nearly every single play, it puts way too much on Philip Rivers’ plate and makes for a one-dimensional, more predictable offense. We’ve seen Rivers try to do too much in the past (his entire 2011 and 2012 seasons are evidence of that), which led him to force the ball to his receivers, resulting in interceptions. Against the Redskins, he threw two picks.
The Bolts need to get back to running a balanced offense, particularly if they are able to run it successfully, like they were against the Redskins. This Sunday against the Denver Broncos, the Bolts will need to run the ball successfully in order to control the clock and keep Peyton Manning on the sidelines. Of course, Rivers too will also have to be at the top of his game in order to outduel Peyton.