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Beware the Chargers RBs Out of the Backfield

Posted by Eric Allen on October 21, 2011 – 2:57 pm

It was a busy short week in Florham Park, N.J., after the Jets’ Monday night triumph over the Dolphins. As we look ahead to Sunday’s critical game between the 3-3 Jets and the 4-1 Chargers, let’s empty out the notebook.

Bolts Backs Are Pass Game Threats

Since LaDainian Tomlinson arrived in New York, you’ve always been inclined to think about Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ vertical passing game first in regards to the SD offense. But Ryan Mathews, a second-year back out of Fresno State, is averaging an impressive 4.9 yards a carry and has scored three times on the ground in 2011. The Chargers are ranked ninth overall in rush yards per game at 122.8 per contest.

So the rush attack is solid, but Mathews and Mike Tolbert are paying dividends in the passing game as well. In fact, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote this week that the backfield pair are on pace for more combined yards (1,574) than any RB tandem in history and their pace of 154 receptions would put them only four fewer than the total that the Jets’ Richie Anderson and Curtis Martin combined for in 2000.

“They have a lot of weapons on their offense,” said ILB David Harris. “When they’re not throwing the ball downfield to Vincent Jackson and [Antonio] Gates, they have good running backs who come through the line and are checkdowns for Philip Rivers. He does a great job of finding the open receiver. Their two running backs are first [Tolbert: 28 catches, 231 yards, 2 TDs] and third [Mathews: 20-261] on the team in receptions, so they’re the main focus of their offense. We have to do a good job of keeping them in check.”

Third-Down Spotlight

While the Jets’ defensive struggles against perimeter runs have been noted time and time again, the Green & White quietly are tied for third in the NFL with 17 sacks and tied for second with 14 takeaways. Mike Pettine’s unit also leads the NFL in third-down defense (28.6 percent conversion rate by opponents) and they’ll be challenged by a Chargers offensive unit that also paces the NFL (56.5 percent).

“It’s a good matchup for both teams to try to stop each other,” said CB Darrelle Revis. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We’ve been great on third down and we’ll see on Sunday.”

Tomlinson’s Charge

If you’re at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, you would be well served to keep your eyes on LaDainian Tomlinson. Not only will he get the start against his former team but he could provide an emotional spark early for the Jets.

“I’m super excited,” said WR Santonio Holmes. “I hope he rushes for more than 200 yards on Sunday, and it will definitely be my duty to make sure I block those guys down the field so he can get his job done, just to show those guys that they let go a valuable aspect of their team, a leader, and a guy who’s a future Hall of Famer.”

While Tomlinson might not don a C on his jersey, make no mistake that he is one of this team’s most important leaders.

“I think his leadership carries around the locker room,” Holmes said. “It shows on Sundays before the game. Even the little things that he comes and talks to me about as far as running some routes and the way he has to run these specific routes that we run in practice. He comes and talks to me a little bit. We share a lot of information on how to be more of a leader on and off the field without having to do too much. I think that carries a long way around this team and everybody here respects him.”

Special Teams: Advantage, Westy

It has been overshadowed again this week, but perhaps the Jets’ biggest advantage headed into this AFC contest is on special teams.

The Jets are first in the NFL in average drive start after kickoff returns (28.0) while the ‘Bolts are 29th (24.4) in covering kicks. Conversely, the Green & White kick coverage unit ranks third (19.4 average drive start) while the Chargers returners are 21st (21.1).

“I’m expecting them not to kick it back there as much — just like last game,” said Joe McKnight, who is averaging a ridiculous 44.1 yards a kick return.

Percy Harvin of the Vikings got the Chargers season under way in ominous fashion, racing 103 yards for a score on their first play of the 2011 season. The Chargers have also been porous covering punts, but the problem is Norv Turner’s crew has only booted it away 12 times in five games. Mike Scifres, who has a decent average of 46.3 yards, has seen opponents average a whopping 18.8 yards on their six returns.

“Every team we’re going to play is going to come with their ‘A’ game. We just have to come with our ‘A’ game and expect anything,” McKnight said. “They’re probably going to come out and try to kick it different ways, try different things. You just have to be ready for it.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 21 Comments »

21 Responses to “Beware the Chargers RBs Out of the Backfield”

  1. By scjoe on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    It will be the same ol problem, who is going to cover their RBs coming out of the back field and who will cover their TEs? Maybin and Westerman have the speed to get it done but not the experience covering the backs and the TEs. I don’t think their WRs will pose as many problems as their backs and TEs. Offensively, the Jets better be ready coming out of the gate, if they start midway through the 2nd quarter, as been the pattern, it may not be good enough Sunday.

  2. By IRA on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    EA, Some good numbers man its been awhile since anyone has mentioned the combo of Curtis and anderson catching the ball from that 2000 season. I am not too worried about SD’s WR’s its the RB’s and the LB’s covering them that could be a big problem. I would think they will cheat with safeties or other CB’s covering these two. They are just too fast for our LB’s.

  3. By wayne on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Everyone here knows it already, but to hear that RBs are 1 and 3 in receps has to raise concerns. Gates is expected to play as well. If nothing else will OCCUPY coverage.The sacks stats won’t hold up here, this QB gets rid of ball too fast, as does next week’s QB……Fix this issue in coverage or it will be the reason for losing not only this game but a playoff spot…..Next 3 opponents use TEs and RBs extensively……………………………….Won’t need to look past next 3 games to determine playoff fortunes.

  4. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Well, the problem at S with respect to RBs and TEs has been there almost since Rex got here but once again he’s let his emotions get in the way of coaching. Leonhard’s no way a starter in the NFL and the way Smith’s playing he might not be a starter on some of the better college teams. But I’m more optimistic about our young LBs, I’d like to see a lot of them play. They’re a lot faster than some of the guys we’ve been starting, including Scott who doesn’t look that good at times this yr. Along the lines of what I said last week about how few guys we have that are really untouchable, I wouldn’t mind seeing Harris with all new LBs next yr. Sorry, but that’s the kind of season this is shaping up to be so far. These next 3 games are the season.

  5. By IrishJets39 on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Happy to see LT, getting the start I hope Rex has Joe McKnight in the mix as well would like to see McKnight get some carries as well in running the ball.

  6. By SCfromNY on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    I really like Rex but also feel he likes his “guys” to much. With all the passing a really good safety is a must and I am hearing next years draft is loaded with safetys.

    What we really need is a true “change of pace” back. Smaller and really fast like we used to have with Leon Washington. You know to go wide and make YAC with screens. WAIT . . . we have McKnight. We just don’t use him.

    For NY history minded, remember what happened when the Giants dumped the first rounder Wolfolk and switched to Morris? Great things.

  7. By Danny on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Brodney pool played a solid safety last season and has better size and speed then E. Smith so why is he not starting at safety. Rex gotta stop playing favorites and do what’s best for the team. This si almost as confusing as to why Shotty is still our OC

  8. By kk on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Not sure if anyone caught the Revis Franseca thing but Franseca proved once again so that he is a stooge. We’ve got your back Revis, you’re the best corner in football period!!! then you have this guy who wore black socks in gym telling you what is real, please give it up. The Jets should just boycott FAN why go where you’ll be disrepected, aren’t they supposed to be a NY radio station.
    Time for Franseca to hang up his mike he’s always been a know it all and one of nothing!!!

  9. By Karan on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    I hate Mike Francesca, such a ****talker, glad Revis told him off.

  10. By Clarke W. Griswald on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    There’s definitely just cause for all the criticism of the Jets, but we all know that if the Jets can somehow find a way into the playoffs, they will be a more dangerous team than they were in ’09. All they need to do is make it to the dance, then who knows. Yes home field advantage would be a nice luxury. You never know, in ’09 everyone was talking about what a joke the Jets were, how Rex should just shut his mouth, blowhard, blah, blah, blah. Sound familiar? If they can somehow squeak into those playoffs, the Jets will be a good playoff team, with some chemistry together. I don’t know I guess I’m feeling Jets proud since I hate Mike Francesa so much and I want them to win the Super Bowl more then ever.

  11. By cgb on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    eveyone seems to think the problem sunday will be covering the rb’s out of the backfield. and possibly the te’s.I dont see that as much as a problem as i do the offense. shotty still going with scripted plays, instead of looking at the defense and runningv plays based on what he is seeing on the field. i dont now for sure .but thats what he said at his news conference. how could the rest of the offensive staff let this happen.

  12. By cgb on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    scripted plays … its nice sounds like there doing a lot of practice. seems ridgid to me. like not mixing up running play. always the same back shonne running between the tackles. lets play to the strength of our roster, then look at the weakness of the defense and find out whats working . the scripted plays sounds like moses coming down from the mountain god said… oh i mean shotty said thou shall run these 10 scripted plays. do you wonder why we start off slow?

  13. By Christopher on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    I feel a little better knowing LT is starting, but you know the first play of the game is a run with LT up the middle. Maybe Shotty mixes it up and play action quick slant to Burress, maybe Keller.

    We need Matt Mulligan to step up, this guy is getting way too many penalties. The injury to Cumberland has definitely hurt the offense, and of course, we didn’t go get a TE. We need our WRs and TEs to stop dropping the ball. Start making those 3rd down catches, past the first down marker.

    Sanchez is going to need time when a play breaks down and use his feet to extend plays or run the ball. Sanchez is our leading yds/att rusher.

  14. By Christopher on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Terminator needs to be in there more, the run game had definitely taken hit because we are not using him enough. Take Mulligan off the field, and get Conner in. Maybe use Ducasse as an extra lineman/TE, since he has to be on the roster.

    The defense definitely concerns me, but the play of the young guys may help mask some of the issues. Maybin may be my second favorite D player, next to Revis. I’m pulling for him. Scott must step up and make some plays. Leonhard needs to be more consistant. Smith needs to deliver the big hits, I know safety has become more of a coverage role, but big hits can still change a game. Ellis looks promising, glad he is getting on the field, those long arms may help our tackling up front.

  15. By Christopher on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Finally, Cro, play smart, please do not repeat your 4 penalty game. Be phyiscal but be smart. You let Marshall make you look like a fool, then made himself look like a fool running out of bounds.

    The science thing on Cro is amazing, but he doesn’t always use the ability. I know x-factor was discussed, well mine is Cro, he has the ability to kill a team, or completely dominate a game. The Cro we get could push the game either way.

    X-factor runner-up, LT, if he lights up the Chargers, especially early, it will make Sanchez’s job a whole lot easier. McKnight also falls in as an x-factor, KR. PR, DB, RB, WR, obviously can change a game, can he capitalize on his limited opprotunities.

  16. By Christopher on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Oh, and I do agree, the next 3 games determine the season, lose any of them and the season is essentially over, unless some sort of miracle happens again like in 09.

  17. By dreamwolf on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    i’d be really frustrated to have rex ryan as a coach in my city. he’s always yappin and counting his chickens before they hatch. you guys should call for the end of ryan as a head coach. he’s really just a solid defensive coordinator who puts on a show for the media. the jets need a hard nosed good old smash you up the gut punch you in your face kind of coach like marty schottenheimer.

  18. By kw65fan on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Marty Schott…schott…schott…OMG…please Wolf…one is enough. Smash you up…LOLOL…far from being that type of a coach. Can’t stop laughing…oh sure, make it a family thing like the Shanahans in DC. OH please NOOOOO.
    Gotta get Poole in the game..he is faster and quicker than both of our safeties. Played excellent down the strech last year as he picked up the defense schemes andhe can hit. Never forget the hit he gave in preseason…and they gave him a penalty for it…was a clean hit…but lights out.
    LT will be on fire. Wouldn’t suprise me if he is over 100 yards. down their throat Rex…don’t let up. I see a close game..27-24…GO JETS..!!!!!!

  19. By Clarke W. Griswald on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    The day Rex gets fired for another shotty is the day I stop watching football all together.

  20. By kw65fan on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    Amen Clarke….dreamwolf must be a Browns fan…or Chiefs…probably Chargers and dreams of good ol Marty….great in season coach…horrible playoffs. he had a record of 200 wins and 126 losses…but in playoffs he choked with a 5 and 13 record. Big shoes for Brian to fill and he can’t even do that as a OC. I spit out my meatball across the table and almost hit the wife when I saw that comment.

  21. By kw65fan on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    Hmmmm….almost got that score correct…Way to go Jets…first of many hopefully of all around good game by everyone. Revis with another one and little Revis (Wilson) with a pick off. Guy has been playing lights out. Haven’t heard much of him playing you say…That is why…covering his receiver like a blanket practically all season long…and he is only getting better. Where the heck has Bart Scott been…seeing missed easily 3 open field tackles and on the goal line TD by SD…he is just standing there. Not showing anything last couple of games at all.

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