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Big plays a focus

Posted Sep 30, 2011

The Chargers’ offense under Head Coach Norv Turner has a reputation for churning out big plays downfield. There haven’t been many through three games, but San Diego feels it’s a matter of time.

SAN DIEGO – The Chargers’ offense wants more and the Dolphins have given up too many.

San Diego has thrived on deep passing plays in recent years with Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and whoever else is targeted. It’s part of Turner’s offense. The best way to score a lot of points is to get them easy – in one or two big plays.

But Malcom Floyd’s 36-yard reception at New England is the only catch longer than 30 yards by a Chargers receiver this year. Running back Ryan Mathews had a 37-yard catch-and-run.

Turner estimates the Chargers have missed two good opportunities to connect on pass plays well beyond 40 yards.

“Those are hit or miss, and we’ve usually been so good at hitting them,” Turner said. “I think those plays will come.”

Miami, by contrast, has allowed several big plays. New England’s Wes Welker can claim a 99-yard touchdown reception after a catch-and-run against the Dolphins to open the season.

Tom Brady also completed a 46-yard pass to Matthew Slater during a 38-24 win and Matt Schaub completed a 43-yard pass to Andre Johnson on Sept. 18. Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Josh Cribbs last week proved crucial in a one-point Browns win.

“If I had to pick one thing that’s hurting us, it’s the big plays,” Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said he doesn’t expect the drop-off by his defense (6th in the NFL last season) to continue for much longer.

“The fundamentals aren’t as good because of the amount of time that was taken off (during the lockout),” Sparano said. “That being said, I’m sure that soon enough the cream will rise to the top and the best defenses in our league will start to catch up.

“Our defense is one of them. We were one of the best in the league a year ago and we’ve taken our lumps a couple weeks here but we’re starting to play better. The more these guys are together and the more they’re practicing, the better they’re getting.”

It’ll be up to the Chargers to make the Dolphins’ defense wait one more week for a turnaround, though San Diego won’t base its entire game plan on hitting 40-yard bombs.

“We’re not going into any game thinking we’re going to live on those,” Turner said. “I think when you get those it’s a bonus (and) I think Miami has a very good pass defense.”

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