Chargers Offense Getting More Balanced

Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn has been preaching for a more balanced offense since he was hired for the job in 2017.

Last season, the Chargers struggled to consistently run the ball, but led the NFL in passing so it was difficult to achieve the balance on offense. With Charger quarterback Philip Rivers and a talented group of receivers, the choice was easy.

As offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said, “You can't ignore the fact that we have guys like Travis (Benjamin) and Tyrell (Williams) and Keenan (Allen) and our two tight ends, even our backs who do a good job out of the backfield. You just have to mix those things in."

The Chargers ended up passing 58% of the time on offense in the 2017 season. But in their recent preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Whisenhunt got a better "mixture" of the offensive attack that he wants.

The Chargers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 24-14 behind a ball-control offense that rushed 37 times for 176 yards. The Chargers threw just 19 passes in the game and easily controlled the clock.

Quarterback Rivers completed six of seven passes for 62 yards in the first quarter. Backup quarterback Geno Smith completed six of eight for 85 yards and one touchdown, the reception a beautiful leaping catch by wide receiver Mike Williams in the corner of the end zone to give the Chargers a 21-6 lead in the third quarter.

The Seahawks countered with a big-play offense led by quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw for 193 yards in the first half against the Charger defense. Wilson completed passes of 29, 45 and 52 yards to help get the Seahawks in the red zone on three different occasions in the first half, but the Charger defense stiffened and Seattle came away with only six total points in the first 30 minutes.

It was a “classic example of a bend-but-don’t-break defense," Coach Lynn said. "Normally we don’t see deep balls going over our heads like we did today, but they didn’t let them in the end zone, and that was the most important thing.”

The play of the game came late in the second quarter on a punt return. Chargers returner J.J. Jones caught a Seahawk punt at the Charger 28-yard line, took a couple of steps to the right, made a couple of tacklers miss and exploded up a hole in the middle for a 72-yard return for a touchdown. That gave the Chargers a 14-6 lead going into halftime.

But the Chargers' ball-control offense was the key to the outcome and a good sign going forward. The Chargers signed Mike Pouncey, a three-time Pro Bowl center known as a good run blocker. They added Virgil Green, one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL.

Those two free-agent signings could be the key to getting that Chargers running game going and achieving the balance to the offense that will be important in a playoff run.

The running attack against the Seahawks was led by Detrez Newsome, an undrafted free agent out of Western Carolina. Newsome had 78 yards rushing on 19 carries and also caught three passes for 22 yards.

Newsome topped the Chargers in total yards through the first two preseason games. He has a decent shot at making the 53-man roster, especially if the Chargers decide to keep four running backs.

The Chargers begin their regular-season schedule Sept. 9, facing the Kansas City Chiefs.


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