The San Diego Chargers were able to convincingly win the time of possession battle for another game this season. However, unlike in the past, this didn’t equate in a win against the Denver Broncos. Not only did the defense allow big plays which shortened Denver’s drives, San Diego’s offense was able to methodically chew clock and move down the field, but were unable to convert in the redzone.
The Chargers’ short passing game can be a very effective tool in controlling the clock and giving the defense much-needed rest, but unfortunately can’t always be counted on to score points. By slowly moving down the field with short gains, converting on multiple third downs is key for the playcalling to work. The Chargers have a 47% conversion rate on third downs this season, which is good for second in the league behind the Broncos. However, asking your offense to consistency convert three or four third downs on a drive when every NFL team converts less than 50% of their third downs isn’t a recipe for success.
The Chargers have proven they can move the ball and win the time of possession battle this way, but have stalled far too many times in the redzone this season. Against a juggernaut offense like the Broncos, you can’t expect to win by kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.
Despite having the personnel geared towards a short passing game (an aging Antonio Gates and possession-type receivers in Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen), the Chargers still need to mix in more vertical routes to give Philip Rivers the option of throwing deep to score. Scoring touchdowns needs to be the primary focus when the offense steps onto the field, not simply controlling the clock and keeping the opposing offense off the field.
Of course, deep-threat receivers Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander would’ve been perfect for this, but are unfortunately out for the season. Still, Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt can’t use this as an excuse and will need to figure it out with the personnel they have.