I watched every offensive snap of the Chargers last game from two angles of coaches film, along with a bit of their last home game from these angles as well, and have crafted my opinion of what it will take to avoid a repeat of last season and beat them.
The Chargers aren't a mystical quagmire. They are pretty simple. The ones that can beat us in this game are US. The huge advantage that we have over our situation last year is that we are wary of them and not taking them for granted. I believe this, and the defensive momentum from the Steelers win, will catapult us to even a watershed victory.
1.) Attack Phillip Rivers from the first second. The guy is leaking turnovers. His decisions are hurried and rash and he clearly has a mindset problem. If he is made uncomfortable, he will mess up badly. If he is given time and allowed a rhythm, he is very dangerous. The Denver game was much closer on the scoreboard. SD didn't score offensively until the game was well in hand, in the 2nd half. That's because Denver harassed Rivers. We can do the same.
2.) Watch underneath routes early. When Denver discouraged them, San Diego abandoned this strategy. Rivers seems to like going downfield, no matter the consequence--that is, when he is rattled.
3.) Prioritize deep Safety help early. Against KC, Rivers had two long completions right off the bat, and they scored right away. If we are disciplined underneath and disciplined up top, we can pressure Rivers and rattle him. Maybe bait him, because...
4.) Ed Reed will have an interception or two. Rivers' fast gun decisions are highly baitable. Esspecially over the top. Reed should be able to goad him into an INT. It will take patience.
5.) Ryan Matthews is only slightly above average. He runs hard and sees well, but showed me nothing outstanding. They will try to run him, though. Yet, it seems totally predictable when they do, because...
6.) The Chargers run a lot out of Shotgun, but there is a key. Watch the RB's motion after the snap. If he glides towards the QB, key run. They did not play action this motion ONE TIME vs. Denver, if I recall correctly. Especially early on, we should sell out to stop this, according to the keys. The sellout will force Rivers' hand--even if they do adjust, a sellout will generate pressure and perhaps an errant throw or sack. Obviously, if they start to playaction this, we back off of this strategy. This is all about dictating an early feel in the game that Rivers struggles to recover from.
7.) Let Pees be historic Pees. Kudos to him for improving this unit and moving upstairs. He has done a great job in that way. He has beaten San Diego in some much more volatile situations, in the playoffs, when they had L.T. and were dangerous. Now they have a 'lesser L.T.' and are not nearly as dangerous. Do the same things to beat them.
8.) Forget the media road hype. It all comes down to record, and we're 3-2 on the road. Also, we beat Pitt on the road. Nobody does that like we do. They were hot and we stopped them in their strength. All the press about 'road woes' are just hype. Expect to destroy this sub par team!
9.) Rivers is a deep thrower, not a behind-the-shoulder thrower. His aim is to beat you deep and he is very good at his deep accuracy when in rhythm. This is why we must not go for double moves, play tight, and stay over the top. All. Game. Long.
10.) Attack the edges with no letup. V Run or v pass, they have a real weakness on the edges. Attack them, force Matthews inside, use speed to get to Rivers and force him to be him this season. Show the NFL that we appreciate Reed's suspension being lifted--time to send a message!!