Key Matchups in Week 12

As the Chargers plan for today's game with the Miami Dolphins, several factors could prove the difference between victory and defeat. Among them are how the Chargers offense gets the tight ends involved in the action, and how well the Chargers defend the short passing game.

Josh Norman returns to the Chargers this week after missing the past four games with a strained calf. Now the Chargers have two legitimate tight end receiving threats as Norman plays in two tight end sets with Stephen Alexander. Norman, a rookie out of Oregon, is a converted wide receiver so he knows how to get open and with his 6'2, 236 pound frame he can create mismatches in coverage.

The Dolphins secondary is outstanding and they will focus most of their coverage as a man-on-man unit against the Chargers receivers outside hoping to keep 8 men in the box. If the Chargers can exploit that early by having Norman release from the line they make get the mismatch they want. With fakes to LaDainian Tomlinson that may just give Norman the extra step he needs to get open and make a big play.

The Chargers have been stout against the run this year, so we take that as a given come every Sunday. It is not as simple as that but we can expect that to be a focus as the Chargers face Ricky Williams.

A trend that has not fared as well is the passing defense. With Ray Lucas starting again in place of the injured Jay Fiedler, Lucas has gained confidence in the short passing game before spreading out and connecting on intermediate and deep routes. If Lucas develops a rhythm early on it could pose a huge problem as the Dolphins go to play-action-pass.

Williams is an under rated pass receiver. Lucas will look to get him the ball on screens and in the flat with space to maneuver. The Chargers are known to drop into 2-deep coverage allowing that extra room to become big plays.

Among those who have built a rapport with Lucas is Randy McMichael the Dolphins rookie tight end. McMichael has been a force regardless of who the quarterback is and finds way to get open against mismatches. Covering the big target will go a long way in minimizing the effectiveness of Lucas.

We have said it before but the Chargers must develop a bump at the line mentality. Currently it is too easy fore receivers to run free and have perfect timing with the quarterback. As Jammer gets more playing time he should bring that mentality and style of play to the Chargers defense. Right now the defense is getting burned in pass coverage. It only takes one play to make or break a ball game.

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