The advantages of the spread offense are twofold: 1) it spreads out the defense and makes it cover more of the field; and 2) it allows the offense to dictate the tempo of the game and forces the defense to adjust accordingly.
The spread offense often features four or five receivers, something the Bolts are well equipped to do for the first time this millennium. Starters Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson are complemented by promising sophomores Buster Davis and Legedu Naanee, as well as blocking specialist Kassim Osgood.
WR Buster Davis
Another benefit of the spread offense is that it places the quarterback in the shotgun. That will prevent Rivers from making many five- or seven-step drops, which put pressure on his surgically repaired knee.
Rivers isn't the only star to benefit from the spread offense. The wide-open attack also opens vertical rushing lanes for LaDainian Tomlinson and gives him more space in which to operate.
This attack is not without its weaknesses. It runs counterintuitive to the ball-control principles of Norv Turner's offense. It also can also hinder the inside running game, as the offense replaces the blocking skills of Brandon Manumaleuna and Andrew Pinnock with those of Davis and Naanee.
There's also the increased risk that comes with any pass-happy offense. As the cliché goes, only three things can happen when a team passes the football and two of them are bad.
Because of that, don't expect the Chargers to lean on the spread offense in 2008. But with Gates out of action early in the season, this option is an intriguing way to inject an explosive element into the passing attack.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.