Chargers Midseason Report: Offense

With the season now at its midway point, SDBoltReport.com breaks down how the Chargers have performed over the first eight games and forecasts what's ahead for the next eight -- and possibly more. Part I of this series examines the offense.

When the Chargers Run

First-Half Review

San Diego's running game has been an unmitigated disaster. The Chargers rank last in the league in rushing at 69.6 yards per game, a good 10 yards behind the next worst team. That's inexplicable for a team with two halfbacks making more than $6 million this season.

LaDainian Tomlinson, 30, has gotten old fast. He missed two-plus games with an ankle injury, but even in his five full games played, he's averaging 46 rushing yards (3.0 ypc). LT has posted at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his eight seasons, but both of those streaks figure to end this season.

Second-Half Forecast

There's no easy escape from San Diego's offensive unbalance when each rush nets 3.1 yards and each pass nets 7.76. However, the Chargers must develop some semblance of a running game if only to keep defenses honest and help with time of possession.

It would be terrific if the Chargers could play Michael Bennett, who showed renewed power and explosiveness throughout the offseason. Bennett is likely the team's best every-down back at this point, but the backlash that would go along with benching LT -- both in the public and in the locker room -- would more than offset the benefits of such a switch.

When the Chargers Pass

First-Half Review

Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates have carried the Chargers -- as well as countless fantasy football teams. Rivers ranks in the top-10 in yards per game (280.6), TD passes (14) and passer rating (94.6). Jackson ranks third in receiving yards (722) and has already tied his career-high in touchdowns (seven). And Gates is quietly having one of his best seasons; he's caught at least five passes in seven of eight games and is on pace to top 1,150 receiving yards for the first time in his career.

Despite the gaudy numbers, there are some concerns. Rivers has already been sacked 18 times, the eighth-highest number in the league. Jeromey Clary has allowed 5.5 of those sacks and is a turnstile at tackle. Also, it remains to be seen if Malcom Floyd can become a more consistent contributor now that he's moved into the starting lineup; to this point, he's yet to prove he can be more than a deep-ball specialist.

Second-Half Forecast

The Chargers could become even more dangerous through the air if Floyd and Legedu Naanee continue to develop. Naanee's role could see a particularly sizable bump if the Chargers use more Wildcat formation.

The imminent return of C Nick Hardwick should help, as well, as he is one of the NFL's best at picking up blitzes up the middle.



What do you expect in the season's second half? Talk about it in the message boards.




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. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


SD Super Chargers Top Stories

","mobileBody":"When the Chargers Run

First-Half Review

San Diego's running game has been an unmitigated disaster. The Chargers rank last in the league in rushing at 69.6 yards per game, a good 10 yards behind the next worst team. That's inexplicable for a team with two halfbacks making more than $6 million this season.

LaDainian Tomlinson, 30, has gotten old fast. He missed two-plus games with an ankle injury, but even in his five full games played, he's averaging 46 rushing yards (3.0 ypc). LT has posted at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his eight seasons, but both of those streaks figure to end this season.

Second-Half Forecast

There's no easy escape from San Diego's offensive unbalance when each rush nets 3.1 yards and each pass nets 7.76. However, the Chargers must develop some semblance of a running game if only to keep defenses honest and help with time of possession.

It would be terrific if the Chargers could play Michael Bennett, who showed renewed power and explosiveness throughout the offseason. Bennett is likely the team's best every-down back at this point, but the backlash that would go along with benching LT -- both in the public and in the locker room -- would more than offset the benefits of such a switch.

When the Chargers Pass

First-Half Review

Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates have carried the Chargers -- as well as countless fantasy football teams. Rivers ranks in the top-10 in yards per game (280.6), TD passes (14) and passer rating (94.6). Jackson ranks third in receiving yards (722) and has already tied his career-high in touchdowns (seven). And Gates is quietly having one of his best seasons; he's caught at least five passes in seven of eight games and is on pace to top 1,150 receiving yards for the first time in his career.

Despite the gaudy numbers, there are some concerns. Rivers has already been sacked 18 times, the eighth-highest number in the league. Jeromey Clary has allowed 5.5 of those sacks and is a turnstile at tackle. Also, it remains to be seen if Malcom Floyd can become a more consistent contributor now that he's moved into the starting lineup; to this point, he's yet to prove he can be more than a deep-ball specialist.

Second-Half Forecast

The Chargers could become even more dangerous through the air if Floyd and Legedu Naanee continue to develop. Naanee's role could see a particularly sizable bump if the Chargers use more Wildcat formation.

The imminent return of C Nick Hardwick should help, as well, as he is one of the NFL's best at picking up blitzes up the middle.



What do you expect in the season's second half? Talk about it in the message boards.




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. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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