3TFO: Chargers @ Buccaneers, Week 10
As the annual ‘fire Norv Turner’ chorus makes its way through San Diego, the Chargers coach will do what he can to save his team’s season, and his own job. Quarterback Philip Rivers leads the Chargers into Tampa Bay in the midst of an up-and-down season. In the team’s four wins, Rivers has a rating of +7.8. In the same amount of losses, Rivers’ grade plummets to a -5.9. It’s not hard to see that the fate of the Chargers could easily be decided by the play of their quarterback.
The Buccaneers also come into this contest at 4-4. However, they are coming in hot, winning three of their past four games and averaging an astounding 36 points per game over that span. The offense has exploded, largely due to new receiver Vincent Jackson and rookie running back Doug Martin. With their young signal-caller Josh Freeman playing well, the Buc’s offense has turned into a dominating force as of late.
Vincent Jackson vs. Chargers Secondary
After the Chargers lost their star wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, last offseason, hoped to replace quality with quantity. Jackson will have his chance this weekend to prove that they made the wrong choice. While his replacements in San Diego, Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem, struggle, Jackson has thrived. He is our sixth-highest rated receiver and ranks second in Yards per Route run with 2.65. He also leads the NFL in yards on deep passes. He has hauled in 10 passes for 408 yards and two touchdowns on passes thrown 20 yards or more in the air. Fellow wide receiver Mike Williams has seen a career revival after a rough second season, largely due to the attention teams give to V.J. The Chargers will have their hands full with the player that spent the past seven seasons in San Diego.
Pass coverage has not been one of the strengths for the Chargers this season. Antoine Cason has allowed 450 yards on the year, and a QB rating of 105.9. Quentin Jammer has been solid in coverage but has been flagged a team-high five times. To help stop the deep ball, free safety Eric Weddle will need to have a big game. Weddle has allowed only 0.22 yards per snap in coverage, tied for second-lowest among safeties. Over 79% of his snaps have come as a free safety, (more than 8 yards beyond the line of scrimmage) so he will be in charge of neutralizing the deep passing game.
Doug Martin vs. Chargers Run Defense
The passing game for the Buc’s has been impressive, but it’s been the run game that has carried the offense for the past few weeks. Despite the awful nickname, the ‘Muscle Hamster’, Doug Martin, has been on a tear. Even after losing one of the top offensive linemen in the game in Carl Nicks, Martin torched the Raiders’ defense for over 250 yards. With 47 missed tackles in 174 touches, he leads the league in Elusive Rating with a mark of 95.2.
The Chargers counter with one of the league’s stronger run defenses. Second-year player Corey Liuget has shown major improvement on his rookie season. Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin has played only 201 snaps but has been the team’s strongest run defender with a rating of +7.6. Donald Butler looks like he could be on the verge of breaking out in his young career, as he leads the team with 17 stops in the run game. The Chargers will need everyone on defense to step up in order to stop what has become a juggernaut of a rushing attack.
Philip Rivers vs. Buccaneers Secondary
It’s no secret that Rivers has the talent to carry his team, but he has been inconsistent in recent games. A large reason for his struggles has to do with how he has been handling pressure. He has been under pressure on 34.6% of drop-backs, the ninth-highest of all QB’s. His accuracy percentage in such situations (excluding throwaways and spikes) is 59.1%, good for 22nd among passers. The combination of Rivers being under pressure so much, and the fact that he has not performed well under pressure, has made for a frustrating season.
When Tampa Bay recently traded away Aqib Talib, it had more to do with off the field concerns than his talent on the field. The signing of Eric Wright is one that puzzled us because of the large contract, but he has been decent as one of the team’s starting cornerback, with a coverage grade of +0.5. Ronde Barber really appears to be excelling in his new role at safety. He has been the best of all Tampa Bay defenders in pass coverage. He has played over 300 snaps in coverage and has allowed only 20 receptions. He also has three interceptions to only one touchdown allowed.
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