According to most coaches, Week 1 is the hardest week of the season to game plan for. There is no tape to scout besides a handful of series from the preseason, so many teams look at the previous year’s film to learn about an offense.
However, as offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt pointed out when asked if Houston’s defense was tougher to game plan for since it is opening week, there is no film of the Chargers on offense.
A whole new staff means a whole new system, hopefully one that the Texans haven’t seen before.
“I hope it is (that way) for them because of not having tape of this offense,” Whisenhunt said. “You can go back and look at games from last year and look at the preseason and you could compare, but it’s always a little more difficult the first game just because you don’t know for sure what they’re going to do. There’s nothing on tape when the bullets are real like they are in the first game.”
One player who the Chargers have plenty of tape on is J.J. Watt, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. You could be sure that Whisenhunt is paying close attention to the game changing defensive end.
“If you’ve got any ideas let me know, I’m looking for any help in that area,” he joked. “He’s very good. I’ve got a lot of respect for a guy that plays the way he plays. We certainly as an offense have to be aware of him. It’s going to be a battle, but our guys are working hard on communicating and working on their technique and understand that they’re going to have to battle at some point during the game.”
One way to help neutralize a guy like Watt who led the NFL in sacks last season with 20.5 is to establish a strong ground attack.
“The run game always helps,” Whisenhunt said. “It keeps you ahead on downs. I think one of the things with this team is a lot of third-and-longs show up, and that’s when it’s really tough. They do a nice job with their rushes and their twists putting pressure on the quarterback, so a running game can help that. That’s something that we had limited success in the preseason with. So we know it will be tough going against these guys with their scheme of defense, but we feel good about where Ryan (Mathews) is, where our running backs and Danny (Woodhead) and Ronnie (Brown) and some of the things that we can do. Hopefully that will translate into having a good night Monday.”