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Key Matchups: Chargers at Jaguars
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Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars:
“You see him getting better. You see a guy that handles the game a lot different from the rookie year. You see him making a lot of plays leaving the pocket. He throws the ball down field well. They have a great running attack with T.J. (Yeldon), and it gives them different types of weapons. You see them growing into a very good offensive unit.”
2. Churn Out Chunk Plays – Boasting one of the most explosive offenses in the league all year long, Philip Rivers and company were stagnant for the first time last week. Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich described it as an outlier, and is eager to see the offense get back on track. Malcom Floyd is one player who can help as the Bolts are hopeful to get the big-play weapon back from his shoulder injury. The Chargers were unable to carve out chunk plays last week with just one single play above 17 yards. Meanwhile, Floyd is one of the best in history in creating those explosive plays. His 19.5 yards per catch average is the third most in the league for receivers with at least 20 receptions this season while his 17.3 career average is fourth in team history. Reich noted how getting Floyd back in the fold should help balance the attack:
“Malcom is a big play guy. Anytime you have a big play receiver, it just loosens things up. To be able to mix things up to do all the things that we do, to have a really efficient short to intermediate passing game, but then yet still have that really deep threat, I think it just helps everything. In this league against defenses you play, you have to be able to find chunk plays out there. That’s always been Malcom’s trademark. He knows how to make those big plays, so it is good to have him back.”
3. Aliens vs. Allens – While the Chargers wide receivers have notably adopted an “Alien” nickname, the Jaguars wideouts are led by a pair of Allens. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are one of only two WR tandems in the NFL with at least seven TDs each (New York Jets’ Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker). In addition to their seven scores, Robinson has caught 50 passes for 871 yards while Hurns has 44 receptions for 716 yards. With their home run potential, Pagano emphasized the need to limit the Allens:
“(They have) big play capability. Seven touchdowns each. They are guys that make plays downfield and do a great job of catching the ball where the ball’s thrown up in the air. Such big time receivers, and they have big play ability, so you have to be aware of that.”
4. Use Familiarity to Bolts’ Advantage – Sunday marks the third straight season the Chargers face the Jaguars. In fact, it will be the fifth meeting in the last six seasons, meaning they know each other better than any other team outside their division. That familiarity can be a two way street, for as much as the Bolts know the Jaguars personnel and tendencies, Jacksonville has the very same insight on San Diego. Thus, Reich explained the importance of the Chargers using their familiarity to a greater advantage than the Jags:
“It has been (almost like playing a division opponent). We played a couple other teams that play their scheme, so there is some familiarity with their scheme and some of their players. Of course, the same goes for them with us. I just think they are playing very good football right now, so this should be a good challenge for us.”
5. “Find a Way To Win” – Through all the key matchups, pre-game preparations and in-game decisions, the Bolts simply just need to find a way to win. Having not tasted victory since Oct. 4, Philip Rivers explained how the team just needs to dig deep and do whatever it takes to come out on top. Should that be the case, number 17 explained why there is nothing wrong with being excited and “fired up” despite the record:
“It will be OK if we find a way to win this game to be excited and fired up for winning a football game. We always talk about it. It’s hard to win in this league, and we certainly have lived that. How hard it is because we haven’t done it. That’s why I think (you) push the record aside and push all those things aside. We’re playing a football game. Let’s find a way to win it. Let’s have a heck of a time in the locker room, the ride home and be excited about just winning. See if we can start to build that. It’s contagious. Losing is, too. So I do think let’s be excited about playing this one game as if it is our only one left and see if we can find a way to win one on the road.”