Most fans just watch the game and base their emotional opinion on what they see initially. I, on the other hand, don’t finish games until two to three hours after the game, as I am constantly rewinding the game and finding out the “source” of the play, not the result of it. In this segment, I’ll try to bring you into my realm and see what I look for during these games. For example: Initially, I rarely watch the glorified skill positions (running back, wide receiver, tight end) on any given play and rarely give the skill positions credit for touchdowns gained, as I am usually more focused on what the offensive line did to provide that very opportunity. Our Chargers take on the in-state rival Raiders tonight and here are the areas I will be focused on, as I feel they will contribute most to the outcome:
Nick Hardwick vs. Tommy Kelly:
Where it all starts. Oakland’s defensive line is massive and are as nasty at the point of attack as it will get. If Nick Hardwick handles this match-up often and early, it will give Norv the confidence to run his trap and power plays. Also, by controlling the middle, the left guard (Green) and tackle (Harris) can focus solely on their jobs and not have chip Kelly first then resume assignment. If Kelly gets the better of Nick, it will force Norv to run outside and eventually become pass-oriented. No production on the trap and power equals little bite on the playaction fakes, which will make Philip a sitting duck in the pocket.
Tyronne Green vs. Richard Seymour:
Seymour’s two-tackle output over a two-game span in 2011 would lead you to think that this match-up should be a cakewalk. Nothing could be further from the truth. Next to Kelly, Oakland uses Seymour to crash at your best interior lineman. It’s easy to absorb some of the impact early. The problem is after an hour of it, it becomes hurtful and you begin to look for ways to “avoid” it. Green was treated like a ragdoll last year lined up over Seymour, as Richard’s 6’6″ frame allowed him to see clearly over Green and simply toss him aside to get to the play. If Green can’t handle Seymour early, Oakland will gap press and fire its linebackers up the A and B gaps (where Philip likes to step up) often. Trouble usually ensues shortly after.
Donald Butler vs. Darren McFadden:
We didn’t get to see Darren McFadden last year as he was hampered by injury in our match-ups. Butler, slowly coming into his own, will have every opportunity to showcase his ability in this game. He will be responsible for cleaning up after Spikes “clogs” the gap, meeting McFadden shortly after that. It is imperative that Butler wrap up and take down on contact. Any broken tackles and extra yards given will give Oakland’s signal callers the confidence to keep churning; we don’t want that. In the match-up in San Diego last year, Oakland fed Micheal Bush for 157 yards on 30 attempts and 85 yards on three catches. That was Michael Bush, people. McFadden is a lot sharper, a lot quicker and finishes off runs just as well as Bush does. Oakland has obviously changed coordinators but I doubt the focus will change much as I expect 25-28 carries for Darren tonight. Donald Butler had six solo tackles in that very contest but will definitely need to be closer to the 10 tackles he put up in the season finale to slow down DMC. If these two are acquainted often in the middle, on Oakland’s Power Plays, it will force the Raiders to call runs to the seven and eight holes, which plays into the hands of our fast flowing defense.
Randy McMicheal vs _________ :
The reason I left that blank is Randy will have to make a decision on the play and will really have to determine what block will be most beneficial to the playcall. Let me give you an example:
Shotgun Normal Form: Randy is motioned in from the left slot to the backfield. At the snap, if Green and Hardwick (mentioned earlier) handle their assignment, then he won’t have to focus inside and focus attention on be edge rusher off of Matt Shaughnessy’s hip.
On that very play, if one of those two are having trouble in their assignments, then McMicheal will be left with a decision via the playcall. If the play is designed to get downfield and most of the wide receiver routes are in the latter half of the route tree, then his assignment is to supplement the middle and allow Rivers to step up into pocket, allowing the edge to run up the line (ball should be out by the time he is there).
If the play is intended to gain ‘chip’ yardage, then he allows Philip to get into that 3-step-drop by chipping the edge rusher, not focusing so much on middle pressure. You see, it sounds easy, but in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to “think” about what the correct play to make is as you only have about 1-2 seconds to make up your mind.
As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment below if there is a match-up I left out. Go Chargers.