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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Broncos
The San Diego Chargers pay their annual visit to the Rocky Mountains when they face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field on the NFL Network’s Thursday
A Look Back At Last Week
The Bolts pieced together their most dominating win of the season, firing on all cylinders to earn a 37-14 home victory over the New York Giants. Offensively, Keenan Allen caught two touchdowns while Ryan Mathews ran a career-high 29 times. On defense, San Diego forced a season-high three turnovers. Together, they played the brand of complementary football Head Coach Mike McCoy is always talking about.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
San Diego is coming off one of their most complete offensive performances of the season, which is saying quite a lot since they have been one of the best units in the NFL this year. The Chargers scored on seven of their 10 offensive possessions. One of the three they didn’t score on was a clock-killing drive at the end of the game. The Bolts scored on all five possessions inside the red zone (three touchdowns and two field goals) and had four scoring drives that were in excess of 10 plays (two touchdowns and two field goals). The Chargers went 10-of-15 on third down for the game and converted nine of their first 11. Three of their four touchdowns also came on third down. The center of this complete offensive performance was in fact the man under center, Philip Rivers, who posted a season-high 137.4 passer rating.
On Offense for the Broncos
While the Chargers rank near the top, the Denver Broncos boast the most prolific offense in the NFL this year. Peyton Manning has thrown for a franchise-record 45 touchdowns so far, which is a total that already ties for the fifth most in NFL history for a single season. He is five touchdowns shy of Tom Brady for the most passing scores in a single season. He also needs 26 attempts to tie Dan Marino for the second most in NFL history. The Broncos also feature a balanced run game led by Knowshon Moreno. He needs 27 rushing yards to equal his career high (947) set during his rookie season in 2009. Moreno is also just 80 yards away from posting the 20th 1,000-yard rushing season in team history.
On Defense for the Chargers
Defensively, the Chargers broke up a season-high 11 passes and intercepted two others a few days ago vs. the Giants. They finished the game with a season-high three takeaways and have a total of seven in the last three games. That matches the team’s total in the first 10 games of the season combined. The Bolts also held New York to 3-of-8 on third down (38%) and won the time of possession battle, 36:56 to 23:04. Of the 10 times the Giants possessed the ball, three ended in punts, three in turnovers and a seventh ended on downs, capped by a fourth-down sack by Corey Liuget and Thomas Keiser. The Bolts also had two of their top linebackers back in the fold, including the season debut of Melvin Ingram and the return of veteran leader Jarret Johnson.
On Defense for the Broncos
Denver’s defense comes through when it’s needed the most, and that’s in the fourth-quarter. They have forced an NFL-best 14 takeaways in the fourth quarter this season and own a plus-six margin over the final 15 minutes of the game. They also boast a fierce pass rush, headed by Von Miller. Despite being suspended for the first six games of the season, he has totaled the 10th most sacks (35) in a player’s first three years in NFL history.
This will be the 108th all-time meeting between the Chargers and Broncos. Denver leads the series, 58-48-1 and has won the last four, including a 28-20 win over the Chargers on Nov. 10 at Qualcomm Stadium. Prior to Denver’s current streak, the Chargers had won four straight over the Broncos.
By the Numbers
For the year, the Chargers rank fourth in total offense (400.5 yards per game), fourth in passing (288.7 ypg), 20th in rushing (111.8 ypg) and 13th in points (24.3). The Broncos rank first in total offense (465.6ypg), first in passing (341.2 ypg), 12th in rushing (124.4 ypg) and first in points (39.6)
Defensively, the Bolts rank 28th in total defense (382.5 ypg), 28th in passing (266.7 ypg), 19th in rushing (115.8 ypg) and 11th in points allowed (22.4). Denver ranks 25th in total defense (374.2 ypg), 29th in passing (274.3 ypg), seventh in rushing (99.8 ypg) and 25th in points allowed (26.5).
Milestones on the Horizon
Keenan Allen needs one more touchdown catch to have the second-most in a season by a rookie in team history. Allen is currently tied with Don Norton with five. The team record is 13 and was set by John Jefferson in 1978.
Antonio Gates is third on the team’s all-time receiving list with 9,097 yards. He needs 107 to pass Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner (9,203) for second.
Philip Rivers needs 118 yards for his fifth-career 4,000-yard season. Rivers’ four 4,000-yard campaigns are most in team annals.
Rivers has 26 touchdown passes and needs four more to record his third-career 30-touchdown season. Last Sunday against New York, Rivers got to 26 and extended his franchiserecord streak of 25- touchdown seasons to six. In doing so, he joined Peyton Manning (13) and Drew Brees (8) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 25 touchdowns in at least six consecutive seasons.
Ryan Mathews is eighth on the team’s career rushing touchdowns list (18). He needs two to pass Tim Spencer, who ranks seventh with 19 and three to pass Mike Tolbert, who is sixth with 20.
Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy came to the Bolts from Denver where he spent the last four seasons (2009-12) as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator, in addition to serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach during his first season in 2009. McCoy’s last two seasons (2011-12) were spent working under Broncos’ Head Coach John Fox.
Defensive Coordinator John Pagano and linebackers coach Joe Barry are both natives of Boulder, Colorado. They both played high school football at Fairview High School in Boulder, where Pagano’s father, Sam, was the head coach.
Secondary coach Ron Milus came over from Denver with McCoy, having spent the 2011-12 seasons coaching the Broncos’ secondary. Prior to that, Milus coached the secondary for Fox in Carolina during the 2009-10 seasons. This last stint in Denver was the second of Milus’ coaching career. For the 2000-01 seasons, Milus coached the Broncos’ defensive backs and in 2002, he coached their nickel backs.
Assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman spent the 2010 season as a defensive assistant in Denver.
Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal was a second-round pick of the Broncos in 2008. Royal played his first four seasons in Denver before signing with the Chargers in 2012. During his time with the Broncos, Royal caught 206 passes for 2,107 yards and nine touchdowns, while also returning two punts and a kickoff for touchdowns.
Defensive end Kwame Geathers’ uncle, James “Jumpy” Geathers, played for the Broncos from 1996-97.
Broncos’ Head Coach John Fox served as the Chargers’ secondary coach from 1992-93 under former Head Coach Bobby Ross. Fox also was a graduate assistant at San Diego State. He attended both Southwestern CC and San Diego State, and is originally from Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb.
Broncos’ tight ends coach Clancy Barone held the same position with the Chargers from 2007-08 and offensive consultant Alex Gibbs was the Chargers’ assistant offensive line coach from 1990-91.
Broncos cornerback Quentin Jammer signed with Denver as a free agent in 2013 after spending his first 11 NFL seasons with the Chargers. Jammer was the Bolts’ first round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft and in 11 seasons racked up 727 tackles and 21 interceptions, including a team-high three in his final season in 2012.
Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips is another former Charger who signed with Denver as a free agent. A fourth-round pick in 2004, Phillips played nine seasons in San Diego and left as the team’s second all-time leader with 69.5 career sacks.
Denver also features former Chargers guard Louis Vasquez, a third-round pick in 2009, who played for the Bolts from 2009-12.
Running back Ronnie Hillman graduated from San Diego State University.
Wide receiver Wes Welker began his career as an undrafted rookie with the Chargers back in 2004.
NFL Network (Simulcast on KFMB-TV, Channel 8 in San Diego) – Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Mike Mayock (analyst), Alex Flanagan (sidelines)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst)
All Chargers radio broadcasts are now being streamed live on the team’s official website, www.chargers.com. XTRA Sports 1360 Broadcasts with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Hank Bauer (analyst) will begin two hours before kickoff and continue for 90 minutes of postgame coverage after the game ends.
For a unique, one-of-a-kind look at the Chargers, be sure to tune in each week to Chargers Insider on Fox Sports San Diego. The half-hour program will be the go-to destination for fans that want behind-the-scenes coverage and unique features on the team. This week, Chargers Insider airs on Wednesday at 8:30pm PST as well as on Thursday at 8:30am and 3:30pm PST. You can also catch the show on Saturday at 11:35pm on KFMB, Channel 8.