So you already saw What Went Wrong? with the week 13 match up against the Bengals. Here are some of the things that went very well, things that we need to do again to dismantle the Bengals offense and trample their defense. Bolt up!
1. Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen dominated this game. He finished with 8 catches for 106 yards. He caught 80% of the passes thrown his way, and not all of them were easy catches. Philip Rivers was finding Keenan Allen on crossing patterns all day and the Bengals just couldn’t stop it. Unless Rivers gets pressured, Allen will almost always be in a position to make a catch. Allen did have a bad fumble in the 4th quarter though, which is a somewhat excusable rookie mistake. But, in the playoffs, Allen must not make this kind of mistake or else the result will be much worse.
2. Ladarius Green
Green didn’t have a catch on Sunday against the Chiefs after that first TD early in the !st quarter. His involvement in the offense has been spotty to say the least, but Rivers hit him for a beautiful 30 yard touchdown against the Bengals in week 13. Green is a nice weapon against the Bengals. Their linebackers are strong and athletic, but not quite fast enough to keep up with Green, who has receiver-like speed. On his touchdown, Green beat NFL leading tackler, Vontaze Burfict, right down the seam for an easy catch. The Chargers need to get him involved from the beginning of the game. If anything, his speed and versatility will tire and distract the Bengals linebackers and secondary.
3. Passing to the Runningbacks
Rivers was only sacked twice in this game, but he was under pressure almost the entire game. What saved him from getting sacked on most of those pressures was the outlet passing to Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. They finished with a combined 44 yards receiving from outlet passes alone and even picked up a few 1st downs. Cincy’s pass rush hasn’t slowed down at all, so Rivers must be on his toes and looking for those checkdowns to extend drives and keep the offense form moving backwards and losing momentum.
1. Interior Pressure
Cam Thomas was getting good pressure on Dalton all day. Not to mention Reyes and Liuget. Dalton really struggles against pressure from up the gut and we actually did a really good job of creating that pressure in week 13. Interior pressure is what led to that huge hit Jahleel Addae laid down on AJ Green in the 1st quarter. What we didn’t do well enough is cover the receivers on short patterns that Dalton can complete quickly and easily. When we force him to take shots downfield with pressure in his face, that is when he struggles the most. We have the ability to do that on every play, especially with the beat up Cincy O-line.
2. Deep Pass Defense
This is a big one. Andy Dalton threw 4 picks last Sunday, and most of them occurred when he tried to air it out deep to AJ Green or Marvin Jones. We defended the deep ball fairly well in week 13, holding AJ Green to a long of 28 yards on a broken play. The one play that Andy Dalton really tried to throw downfield, he completely missed AJ Green and the pass landed right in Eric Weddle’s lap. The D-line got some good interior pressure on that play and Dalton completely missed his mark. When Dalton faces interior pressure, his accuracy drops significantly, especially on deep balls. That deep pass is half of then Bengals offense, and luckily for us, the Chargers’ best player will be waiting in center field for any errant passes.
3. Eric Weddle
Speaking of, Eric Weddle had a great game against Andy Dalton because their offense revolves so heavily around the long pass. Weddle had no one within 10 yards of him on that interception, and he will be deep in the backfield A LOT on Sunday. Weddle was also the guy that picked up a forced fumble and ran it back 20+ yards and gave the Chargers a chance to score. Weddle will have to play the game of his life on Sunday to give the Chargers a shot, and I trust that he will.