Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Oct 2010

ESPN AGS: Raiders over Chargers

Just how bad are the San Diego Chargers on special teams this year? Really, really, historically bad. So bad, we had to invent a stat comparable to herpes.

Posted by: Vince Verhei on 12 Oct 2010

7 comments, Last at 15 Oct 2010, 5:06pm by Scott C

Comments

1
by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/12/2010 - 9:19pm

The Chargers problems are strange. I might have expected a drop-off in the kick coverage because Osgood left, but they've actually been awful in four separate areas:

1) Blocking on punts. I don't understand this one. How does your scheme/personnel change so much that you can't block the guys in front of you? All three blocked punts were caused by guys running free up the middle, not coming from the edges.

2) Long snapping. With long-time Charger David Binn on IR, the Chargers have been bringing in free agents off the street. The first two have joined Binn on IR, so the Chargers are now on their 4th long snapper of the season.

3) Kick returns. Sproles has looked incompetent in returning both kick-offs and punts. This isn't anything new either, since he didn't do much last year either. The Chargers need to replace him with Goodman on kicks and Crayton on punts.

4) Kick coverage. Missed tackles and not staying in lanes. Who would have guess that Kassim Osgood would be more valuable to the 2010 Chargers than Vincent Jackson?

2
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 11:05am

I totally agree, but I think 1 and 2 are closely related. The blocked punt against Jax was a bad snap that Scifres took too long to haul in. But the two against Oakland, it's less clear. The Raiders clearly saw a mismatch opportunity with Applewhite, which makes sense. The first time, he got steamrolled. The second time, he got steamrolled, after Hester committed himself elsewhere.

You can't blame it on fatigue. The errors have mostly happened at the beginning of the game and just after halftime. You also can't blame it on a lack of focus. Spillman was playing for his job, and lost it. Applewhite and Hester are both starters, playing ST in order to help the new guys along. Perhaps Richard Goodman and his speedy legs will help with punt coverage and kickoff returns. Perhaps some of the schematic problems can be coached out.

Here's an interesting question: is there any relationship between the decline in the Chargers' coverage and the banning of 4-man blocking sleds? Denver used to do a lot of those, and last year, the first year without them, they ran two back at San Diego.

3
by tuluse :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 11:23am

Long snapping. With long-time Charger David Binn on IR, the Chargers have been bringing in free agents off the street. The first two have joined Binn on IR, so the Chargers are now on their 4th long snapper of the season.

To borrow from Bill Simmons, that has to be historically bad luck.

7
by Scott C :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 5:06pm

Correction:

FIFTH long snapper. They got a new one this week.

4
by are-tee :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 3:31pm

"Scifres the punter since 2003.."

Not to split hairs, but Darren Bennett was still the punter in 2003. Scifres was drafted in'03, but didn't start punting until 2004.

5
by Randy Edwards (not verified) :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 7:46pm

The article doesn't mention the hectic turnover at Long Snapper. I'm not sure how much of an impact that's had, but we're now on our fifth long snapper of the season, after having David Binn start every game since the mid 90s.

You also missed an excellent opportunity for an STD joke (David Binn dated Pamela Anderson for a few years. Fill in the rest).

6
by redwards :: Wed, 10/13/2010 - 8:08pm

Here's another interesting number:

The Chargers are the first team in history to lose three games in one season in which they outgained their opponent by 150+ yards.

Their yardage margins in their three losses were: 192, 247, and 227