Public service announcement.
Justin Herbert is on the cusp of being talked about in the top 5-7 quarterbacks in the National Football League. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s dive into this Chargers offense, and as you can tell Justin Herbert will be a big part of it.
The Chargers passing offense is not the Chargers passing offense we’ve been used to over the Phillip Rivers quarterbacked years. In week one against a stout Washington Football Team offense, the Chargers offense put up 424 total yards, 334 which coming through the air, and 90 coming on the ground.
They were in shotgun on 49% of their offensive snaps (24th in the league), under center on 49% of their snaps (eighth in the league), and in pistol-formation 1.3% of the snaps (17th in the league). They ran play-action on 29% of their snaps against the Football Team (12th in the league), and used shift/motion at or before the snap on 43% of their snaps, which ranked out near the bottom of the league. They were pretty even across the board in their personnel groupings, lining up with at least two running backs on the field on 8.0% of their snaps, and at least two tight ends on the field for 8.0% of their snaps. That leaves them in 11, 10, or spread grouping the remainder of the time.
For the Justin Herbert led offense, you’ll see them use a high percentage of 11-personnel groupings with Austin Eckler, Jared Cook, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jalen Guyton all on the field. In this grouping, the offense can attack the Cowboys defense in multiple ways with speed (Eckler and Guyton), route-running (Allen), big-play shots (Cook, Williams, Guyton), and mismatches (pretty much all of them). When looking at the Chargers offense, not one player stands out as a huge weapon to the casual fan, but Keenan Allen is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the game. His ability to create separation on all three levels of the field without having any sort of elite trait is one of the more impressive things to evaluate when watching the Chargers offense. While Mike Williams career hasn’t been what many have hoped for, his size, physicality, and ability to create the big play is a tough matchup for the Cowboys CB2’s and CB3’s who lack both of those traits.
One of the more interesting matchups of this game is Austin Eckler on the Cowboys linebackers. It will be interesting to see how Dan Quinn schemes things up on Sunday in Los Angeles to help limit Eckler’s impact on the game. With Micah Parsons likely seeing more snaps rushing the passer due to situations going on with Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence, Keanu Neal and Leighton Vander Esch may get put in more one-on-one situations with Eckler in the passing game, which favors the Chargers by a lot. Hopefully Jabril Cox gets a shot at covering Eckler on third downs, if we see struggles from Vander Esch and Neal in coverage against one of the better receiving threats at running back the NFL has to offer.
With Bryan Bulaga ruled OUT for the game on Sunday and placed on the IR list, the Cowboys depth at defensive end will actually get a decent shot at getting after Herbert. With rookie Rashawn Slater on one side and one of Storm Norton, Trey Pipkins II, or newly-signed Michael Shofield on the other, the Cowboys can’t lay another goose egg in week two, like they did in week one.
At the end of the day this game is going to come down to the quarterbacks, and both teams have great ones running their offenses. Herbert looks as poised, confident, and aggressive as we’ve seen in a young quarterback in some time. He’ll have a great chance on Sunday to win the game for his team against a bad Cowboys defense that is going to be even worse off in week two than it was in week one. If the Cowboys want to give the Chargers offense some problems, it’ll likely have to come from Dan Quinn scheming somethings up that’ll confuse Herbert post-snap and force him into some bad decisions. Because on paper, this matchup heavily favors the Chargers (this is something we could be saying a lot in 2021).
We discussed what the Cowboys need to do if they want to win this game and learned about the Chargers from our friends at Bolts From The Blue on our official pregame show this week.
You can watch it all below, plus make sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of the videos that we put out!