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A Balanced Offense Key in Titans Game
If based purely on statistics, the Tennessee Titans defense presents the toughest test for the Chargers’ offense to date. They rank 12th in total defense (323.0 ypg), 11th in passing (221.5 ypg) and 13th in points allowed (19.5).
“I think they play well defensively,” said Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. “In watching what they did against Pittsburgh, they essentially shut Pittsburgh down. They really played well against them. They fought last week against the Texans. They had to drive the ball at the end of the game, the Texans did, just to tie it up and get into overtime. Their front is playing well. They’re physical and they do a good job of pressuring the passer. That ties in with the back end. Those guys have confidence. We’re going to have to be good in our releases. We’re going to have to be good in getting those contested catches when they come up. We’ve got to make some plays.”
So how do the Chargers prepare for a tough test on the road for the second consecutive week?
According to the team, they must remain balanced. Luckily, Whisenhunt says balance on offense is one of many areas he’s been pleased with over the first two games.
This remains particularly true for how the running backs have been deployed early this season. Ryan Mathews has 29 of the team’s 51 rushes, averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Danny Woodhead has recorded nine carries for 27 yards and is tied for the team lead with 10 receptions for 53 yards. Then there is Ronnie Brown, who is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on eight attempts while recording three receptions.
“I think we were pretty upfront about how we were going to play them,” Whisenhunt said on Thursday. “I had said how all the guys have done good things for us. Fozzy Whittaker is in that mix too even though he hasn’t gotten in a game. If you just look at the preseason and the way those guys performed, it’s been good. I hope it keeps defenses off balance just because of the rotation. All those guys can do different things for us, but yet they can all play in any of those packages. I think (Running Backs Coach) Ollie (Wilson) has done a great job as far as substitution with those guys. A big part of it is having a feel and we certainly have packages geared toward each one of those guys.”
Another positive sign is that the balance Whisenhunt talks about isn’t just limited to the rushing attack. It has also been prevalent through the air as well, which he hopes carries over this week against Tennessee.
“I think we can mirror some of what we did in the last game,” he said. “We had a number of guys make contributions. Eddie (Royal) had three touchdowns and naturally that stands out, but Antonio Gates played well for us. Vincent (Brown) had a couple of contested catches that were big for us. Malcom (Floyd) had 100 yards before he went out. If we can continue to spread it around, Danny and Ronnie also made plays for us. It helps us as an offense and that’s what we need.”
According to Head Coach Mike McCoy, it is unlikely Floyd plays this week as he recovers from a sprained neck. The Chargers depth will be tested, but according to Whisenhunt, he thinks guys like Keenan Allen and Seyi Ajirotutu have what it takes to step in and fill his big shoes.
“I think we know a little about (Ajirotutu) just because he has history here,” he said. “He did a nice job for us coming into training camp. He had to carry a lot of the burden against San Francisco in that last preseason game, because we were so thin at receiver and he did a nice job of it. Keenan answered the bell when Malcom went down in the game. Malcom goes down and Keenan makes a big catch on third down. It’s good to see him do that. With a young player, the challenge is to make sure you stress them to keep doing it.”