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Chargers Injuries: The Cause or Result?

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I have been thinking a lot about the Chargers injuries.  Especially since some think that McCoy might keep his job based on the fact that the Chargers injuries are the cause for the loses, but what if it is the other way around?  What if the injuries are the result of poor coaching and lack of talent?

the Chargers play in a way to get hurt.  They are trying to avoid punches instead of delivering them.  They send undersized guys to fight against the other team’s giants

One of the things that leads me to believe this is the number of injuries in consecutive years. How can a team suffer so many injuries so many years in a row?  A few are just freak things, like Danny Woodhead’s ankle last year or Allen’s kidney this year.  But the amount of other injuries just seem unexplainable. A lot of people want to point towards the strength and conditioning coach of the Chargers, but that does not seem right to me.  These guys are professional athletes, they now how to keep their bodies in shape.

So what if the injuries are being cause by lack of talent on the line and poor play calling and scheming.  Can these things lead to injuries?

To start off lets ask two questions:1. If someone punches another person who get hurt more, the puncher or the one who was punched?2. If a 300 pound man and a 200 pound man are traveling at the same speed and collide who gets hurt more?

With those questions in mind think about football and how each team is set up.  You basically have 3 sets of people on a football team: heavies, mediums and lights.  On an offense running play you want your heavies (lineman) to negate the defensive heavies (lineman) and even progress to the second level and take out some of the opponents mediums (LBs), then you can have your medium (RB) go against some of their lights (CBs).  That is the theory behind a successful run play.

So a lot of football is about getting your larger class of player to go against a smaller class of player.  I know its not a perfect analogy for every play but a lot of it rings true in football.

Now, lets look at the Chargers defense.  They play a 3-4, so already we have replaced a heavy with a medium.  On top of that the Chargers heavies lack talent.  So on a typical play the Chargers mediums are often called to take on the opponents heavies.  And sometimes like on Sunday you see 3 middle linebackers, the third one being Eric Weddle.  The Chargers moved a light up into the box to help out with the run.

Is this a big deal?  Probably not on a play to play basis, but stretch it out over several hundred snaps and go back to our two questions above.  If a 200 pound man and a 300 pound man collide, they both probably feel the collision, one probably more than the other but it is most likely not noticeable.  However if you do it two hundred times the smaller man at some point is not going to get up.

Now look at the Chargers defense where we are asking mediums to consistently take on heavies.  It is no surprise that a lot of them end up limping off the field.

Let’s take a quick look at the offense.  The Chargers almost never run power and almost never use a full back.  Stacking the box with heavies and big mediums seems like a foreign concept to them.  Even most of the TEs are there to catch passes and not to block.  The whole running game is predicated on a medium (or a light – Danny Woodhead) out dueling a medium.  Or when running the draw play it is based on confusing the heavies so the medium or light can slip by them.  When it works its clever, but when it fails you have a heavy teeing off on a smaller player.

Is it any surprise that we went through 4 running backs last year?

If I was to ask, ‘How do the Chargers impose their will on other teams?’ Most of us would chuckle or stand there with a puzzled look on our faces.  One might even come up with the answer, “Phillip is going to pass the other team to death.”  It sounds weird but basically that is it.  We would not say these things about our Chargers: We are going to run the football down the opponent throats.  Or … We are going to stack the box and blitz, blitz, blitz.

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Why do we not say those things?  Because of talent, scheming and play calling.  Which brings us back to TT and McCoy.  TT has failed to put the big uglies (heavies) on the team and McCoy has failed to bring schemes and plays where the Chargers are bringing the hurt instead of taking it.

Lets go back to our punching question. If a guy punches someone in the face two things happen.  The puncher gets some pain on his hand and the other guys gets some pain in his face, but they both probably survive the exchange.  Do it 25 times and one guy has a sore hand and the other guy is not getting up off the floor.

The bottom line is the Chargers play in a way to get hurt.  They are trying to avoid punches instead of delivering them.  They send undersized guys to fight against the other team’s giants.  And while some of this works on occasion over the long run of a season all it does is put guys on the IR and amounts to loses.

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