The Chargers succeed when they move to a fast tempo, why not use it more?
This is not just the case for the Chargers, the Green Bay Packers had a similar problem in 2018, and it caused their offense to spiral out of control. They would try and establish a running game, they would try and move the ball slowly and dominate the time of possession, they would fail, and then they would put everything on Aaron Rodgers to get them back into the game. We are seeing something very similar from the 2019 Chargers.
Without Gordon, the offense had their foot on the gas. Throw to Allen, run to Ekeler, throw to Allen, throw to Ekeler. When you scheme around those two, the offense naturally will speed up due to the energy they bring to the field, you want to keep them in a rhythm. Now, the Chargers have thrown it out the window and tried to establish a slow running game with Gordon, only turning up the tempo late in the game when all seems out of reach.
There was a prime example of the tempo of the offense increasing before halftime against the Titans, and it naturally came from a mix of Ekeler, Allen, and Mike Williams. Oh so shockingly, this drive led the Chargers to a touchdown before halftime. Surprise, surprise. Yet, once the third quarter hit, it seemed to regress back to trying to establish something that wasn’t there, despite Tennessee being up. This is a puzzling situation the Chargers offense is in, and every time the tempo is turned up, the entire feel of the game changes.
All of that said, would it really help to play a fast tempo all game? Don’t be so sure. Chip Kelly had a similar theory with the Eagles years ago. It worked for all of one season and then fell apart. His team always tired, his defense always giving up big plays due to more opportunities for the opponents. That said, there is something to be said here.
A team’s tempo is decided by the personnel. If a team is playing better in a fast tempo offense due to the personnel on the field, and playing awful in a slow tempo offense with that personnel, then you stick with the first option. It is a no brainer. A reason Kelly struggled to maintain that fast tempo in his third season with the Eagles is that he flat out just did not have the personnel to run it. It takes a certain roster. The Chargers have that roster and need to take advantage.
Even now, as this is being written, Lynn is stating that the tempo needs to slow down and they need to control the tempo through the running game. This is a bad sign, and something the Chargers are stubborn with despite the losses coming because of this slow tempo. It seems the Chargers are truly stuck with that Mike McCarthy mentality.