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08 Nov 2006

Every Play Counts: Martyball

by Michael David Smith

Marty Schottenheimer believes in simplicity. He has never wanted an offense that does anything fancy, either in his previous stops as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Redskins, or in his current role as coach of the San Diego Chargers. Schottenheimer just wants to put a tough fullback in front of a good running back and have his offensive linemen block the men in front of them.

His offensive style has earned the name Martyball, and that has become a term of derision among people who think Schottenheimer isn't creative enough, that his play calling is too conservative, and that his teams can't win big games. But after watching San Diego's offense on every play of their 32-25 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday, I don't buy any of that. I saw a running attack that doesn't need to be creative because it's very effective without being flashy. I saw an offense that, if anything, should have been a little more run-oriented. And I saw a team that is capable of winning big games: the Chargers are Super Bowl contenders.

Schottenheimer and Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron started the game exactly the way anyone who has watched the Chargers would expect: LaDainian Tomlinson ran up the middle for gains of seven and four yards on San Diego's first two plays. What I liked best about those plays is that center Nick Hardwick overpowered Browns nose tackle Ted Washington even though Hardwick was giving up close to 100 pounds.

For most of the game, though, Hardwick was the one member of the offensive line who didn't win his individual battles. On one play when running back Michael Turner ran up the middle for no gain, Washington easily threw Hardwick to the ground and met Turner in the hole. On a later handoff to Tomlinson off right tackle, right guard Mike Goff and right tackle Shane Olivea both blocked their men, but Hardwick couldn't keep Washington in place, and Washington showed better movement than you'd expect for a guy who weighs close to 400 pounds in running down the line and stopping Tomlinson for a gain of four.

In addition to Hardwick, one other Charger struggled in his blocking: tight end Antonio Gates. On a second-and-10 later on that first drive, linebacker Chaun Thompson stopped Tomlinson for a gain of just three yards when Gates didn't sustain his block. Gates is one of the league's best receiving tight ends, but he was inconsistent as a blocker on Sunday. He mixed plays like the missed block on Thompson with plays like Tomlinson's next run, when Gates went in motion to the left and threw the key block on the play, dominating Cleveland safety Brian Russell and springing Tomlinson around the left end for a gain of 19. (Rookie left tackle Marcus McNeill also had a nice block on that play.)

On San Diego's first nine offensive plays, Tomlinson had five carries for 36 yards, and it looked like we'd see another effective installment of Martyball. But then a curious thing happened: The Chargers got away from their bread and butter. Over their next 25 plays, the Chargers called 20 Rivers passes, four Tomlinson runs and one Turner run. It was a bizarre decision, and it didn't work, as the next seven San Diego drives ended with six punts and a fumble. It was almost as if Schottenheimer wanted to demonstrate to his critics that a pass-heavy offense would fail.

Fortunately for San Diego, that all changed late in the third quarter, when the Chargers started a drive at the Cleveland 41-yard line, gave Tomlinson the ball on the first play, and Tomlinson ran up the middle and untouched to the end zone. On that play, Tomlinson was in an empty backfield; San Diego lined up with two tight ends (Gates and Brandon Manumaleuna) and twin receivers to the left, then motioned one receiver, Vincent Jackson, to the right. The handoff was a simple run straight up the middle, but the key to the play was the way McNeill and left guard Kris Dielman dominated their men, vacating the spot where Tomlinson ran. Plays like that -- simple in design but strong in execution -- are what define Martyball.

McNeill and Dielman both had great games and look like all-pro candidates. I chose Goff on my all-pro team last year, but Sunday Dielman looked like the better guard. Goff sometimes has trouble getting to the second level. On a second-and-3 handoff to Tomlinson, Goff helped out briefly on Washington but then failed to get to his man, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who tackled Tomlinson. Goff is a mauler, while Dielman has the agility to engage linebackers.

The 41-yard touchdown came with fullback Lorenzo Neal on the sidelines, but many of San Diego's most effective runs came with Neal lined up as a lead-blocking fullback. Neal doesn't make spectacular plays, just fundamentally sound ones. Take San Diego's first play of the second half. Although Tomlinson's run went only three yards, Neal's block was a textbook example of what a fullback should do. Cleveland outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley was lined up to the right, and Neal was on the left in the offset I formation. Wimbley came on a run blitz, and Neal stopped him dead in his tracks. He didn't knock Wimbley down or drive him back. He didn't have to. He just stopped him from getting close to Tomlinson.

On another play, a first-and-10, Neal had a great kickout block on linebacker Matt Stewart. Again, it wasn't the type of play that makes highlights, it was just the kind of play that gets the job done. In that respect, Neal is kind of a microcosm of the Schottenheimer offense. Late in the game Cleveland's linebackers began to shadow Neal wherever he went, thinking the handoff to Tomlinson would surely follow. San Diego made a nice adjustment to that on a second-and-3 in the fourth quarter, when Neal went in motion from left to right. Both of Cleveland's inside linebackers pursued in Neal's direction, assuming that the Chargers would run behind him, but instead Tomlinson ran to the left and picked up 10 yards relatively easily.

Once the Chargers get a lead, Martyball is a great way to protect it, and when a play works for the Chargers, they don't hesitate to go back to it, often calling the same play on consecutive snaps. When the Chargers had the ball on their own 39-yard line with a 24-18 lead and 4:12 left on the clock, they ran the same play three straight times: Neal leading the running back through the hole after lining up in the offset I to the left, with Manumaleuna providing the key block on the left side of the line. It worked perfectly: Tomlinson gained 32 yards, then Turner replaced him and gained 21 yards, then Tomlinson came back in and sealed the win with an eight-yard touchdown. As a clock management enthusiast, it bothered me that both Tomlinson and Turner ran out of bounds, but the runs were brilliantly designed.

In fact, as I watched those game-clinching runs, I couldn't help but think about one NFL team that would have a particularly difficult time stopping them: The Colts are the favorites to come out of the AFC, but if there's any way to attack them, it's with a straight-ahead running game. If San Diego meets Indianapolis in the playoffs, this could be the year we see Martyball in the Super Bowl.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 08 Nov 2006

56 comments, Last at 11 Nov 2006, 4:24pm by jay


by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:55pm

Great piece. Thanks. In the mid-to-late 80s, Marty's Browns were my adopted AFC team (I was absolutely crushed by the two playoff losses to the Broncos). If the Cowboys aren't going to win it all, I'd love nothing more than to see Marty's Chargers as Super Bowl champs.

by Doug Farrar :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 12:58pm

Great work as always, MDS.

"Late in the game Cleveland’s linebackers began to shadow Neal wherever he went, thinking the handoff to Tomlinson would surely follow. San Diego made a nice adjustment to that on a second-and-3 in the fourth quarter, when Neal went in motion from left to right. Both of Cleveland’s inside linebackers pursued in Neal’s direction, assuming that the Chargers would run behind him, but instead Tomlinson ran to the left and picked up 10 yards relatively easily."

If that isn't a ringing endorsement of Neal's blocking ability and consistency, I don't know what is.

by Tally (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:31pm

LT does have a tendency to run out of bounds. Sometimes it does frustrate me to see him not try to tough out the extra yard or two and run down the clock when necessary. But then I remembered one article on this site that looked at the effects of taking a hit inbounds versus avoiding hits by going out of bounds, and am thankful that LT might prolong his amazing career by avoiding unnecessary contact.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:34pm

Great article MDS. Are we getting an Every Team Counts article any time soon?

by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:41pm

Great job! I love EPC.

The only thing that I wonder about is why LT seemed to have so much trouble in games 2-6. He seemed to be getting met in the backfield a lot, producing many runs of the 0-2 yard variety. That would seem to be an indictment of the offensive line, but the interesting thing was that Turner seemed to have no trouble gaining huge chunks of yardage behind the same line against the same teams. One thing I heard from the local newspaper was that the coaches felt he was dancing around in the backfield too much, and that they started to call more "hit the hole quickly" type of plays in the St. Louis game. It would be interesting to see a comparison of the blocking in the last two games compared to earlier in the season, to see if they are just blocking better for LT or if the play-calling really has changed. I suspect that it has more to do with some crappy run defense from the Rams and Browns than anything else.

by turbohapy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 1:43pm

I agree that taking unnecessary hits is one of the biggest mistakes in football. But when trying to run out the clock, you could do a Marvin Harrison style dive to avoid getting hit with any real force and still keep the clock going.

by Tally (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:03pm

Re #5: Actually, I thought that LT was NOT patient enough in games 2-6 in hitting the hole; he would often barrel in where there was no opening, hoping to get what yardage he could. I thought he might have done well to have waited a bit for an opening to develop before charging in.

Also, it looked to me that LT was facing more eight man fronts than was Turner, but that was only an impression and I hadn't charted that data. Teams seemed to be playing the pass more when Turner was in the backfield than when LT was. Often, LT would be split out wide when Turner was playing H-back, possibly preventing the defense from stacking the box.

by dman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:11pm

Sorry boys, but the best player in the history of the game Jim Brown said, and I quote "You have to stay inbounds. Going out of bounds is a sign of weakness". Don't know about you guys, but IMO whatever Jim Brown says about playing RB trumps all.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:39pm

Re: 7

I didn't see this game, but would guess given that the Browns were playing their #5 & #6 corners that they didn't show many 8 man fronts. Anybody that got to see the game know if this was the case or not?

by Peter (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:46pm

8: Then again, Jim Brown didn't have 250 pound linebackers who can run a 4.55 gunning for his chest. Sometimes people forget how much smaller and slower everyone (except Jim Brown) was compared to their position counterparts of today.

Emmitt's the one who told LT to avoid the hit and run out of bounds. Do you want to argue with what he has to say about RBing?

by Richard (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:53pm

Great piece. Fans are too critical of Martyball. Also, thanks for the focus on Neal. That guy is a beast.

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 2:56pm

1. I've said it a few times here before, but it bears repeating. Marty Schottenheimer does not have a lot to do with offensive playcalling. I can't even remember the last time he had a headset on, so I don't see how he could be calling the plays. Sure he decides in critical situations where to go for it or kick, call a timeout, pull the guy who just false started 20 times in a row. But I find it far fetched to think he signs in the plays or something.

2. Also, I read in a couple of articles about the Browns and Rams games that they call a lot of counter and misdirection plays because the defenses were very aggressive in their pursuit. LT was quoted as saying that's how he got his big runs.

by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:04pm

I just did a Getty Images search of pictures of Marty Schottenheimer from 2006 games. He's wearing a headset in most of them. As I mentioned, he has an offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, but Schottenheimer plays an integral role in determining what plays San Diego runs.

by theory (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:24pm

Loved the analysis of the Chargers' run blocking.

I wouldn't call that game "Martyball" though, I'd call it "taking advantage of the 28th-ranked DVOA run defense." Martyball is refusing to pass the ball even though run obviously isn't working just because you've got an "insurmountable" 6 point lead. See: Raiders week 1, Ravens week 4.

After the Ravens game, Marty and co. seemed to realize that their strategy was indeed stupidly conservative, and rode Philip Rivers' arm to a win over the Steelers and their tough run defense in week 5.

by Mwana Uta (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 3:44pm

There was a great piece of play by Gore towards the end of the 9ers game this week - he was running along the touchline inside the 2-minute warning, defending a 9-3 lead, and he sees the safety coming, so he slides feet first, thus avoiding the hit and staying in bounds. I'm surprised you don't see it more often.

by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:07pm

Does anyone know the rule on when the clock runs or stops after going out of bounds? It seems like early in a game the clock still runs even after going out of bounds but late in the game it stops. Am I just imagining things or is this true?

by Mnotr (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:16pm

Lorenzo Neal is not only a great blocker, but a great name. I should start a word .doc to keep track of great football names. Mack Strong is definitely on it, as is Rock Cartwright.

by Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:18pm

Martyball works great against the Cleveland Browns. Anything works pretty well against the Cleveland Browns. You've got to look at the Ravens game, as theory said above, to see where the problem lies.

Continually running the ball into a stout defense throwing a bunch of guys in the box and daring you to pass is the problem I have with Martyball. (While it's still a game, that is; if the Bolts are up by 21, I don't care what the playcalling looks like.)

To Schottenheimer and Cameron's credit, since the Ravens loss, that hasn't been an issue--despite what several local scribes spouted about an old dog not being likely to learn new tricks after Baltimore. The Chargers also did this several times last year, which is what made the Ravens loss so frustrating to me.

With a crappy QB and skill position players, I could see why a team would die with the run, but the Chargers have some horses and Rivers is solid. I'd like to read MDS' analysis of the playcalling in the Ravens game.

by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 4:29pm

Re 16: IIRC the clock stops on out of bounds plays only in the last 2 minutes of the first half and the last 5 minutes of the second half.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:01pm

That is exactly what the Digest of Rules says.

Of course, the NFL doesn't make its official rule book available publicly, so we can't know for sure (without asking Markbreit or someone like that) but it's a safe bet that something that's listed so simply probably reads the same way in the rule book itself.

by John (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 5:18pm

Martyball isn’t a nickname for his offensive style. It’s a nickname to describe running up the middle 3 times for no gain when you are up by 1 point with 59 minutes to go, trying to preserve a win.

by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:10pm


In addition to Mack Strong, some of my favorites are:

Alge Crumpler

Richie Incognito

Plaxico Burress (honestly, who names their kid "Plaxico"?)

Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (Having both a hyphen and an apostrophe, along with eight syllables is cool)

D'Brickashaw Ferguson

What are some other really good ones?

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:19pm

Jerametrius Butler is a pretty good one, I think. And don't forget the legendary Babatunde Oshinowo.

by karl (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:26pm

Going to agree with 21 while not agreeing - he runs a great offense and team in general as evidenced by his overall record. What kills me about marty ball is his being conservative (and willing to punt the ball instead of go for a first down) when the clock becomes important: specifically with small leads with less than 6 minutes left on the clock in either half. At this point, it's important to keep the other team off the field - you need to be slightly more aggressive in your playcalling to get first downs.

That being said, the guy is still a great coach and his offense is one of the best in the nfl. But the same could be said of andy reid and mike holmgren. These guys run great offenses (and teams in general) but fail to make the necessary adjustments in clock management at the end of halfs - a problem that is sorely exposed when they face their best opponents (ie: in the playoffs, superbowl, or when you're covering against the giants for 3 quarters and than totally crap the bed as eli manning and crew puts on another one of their harlem globetrotters basketball exhebitions!)

Come to think of it I think these three coaches actually live just to lose bettors money on the most heavily gambled games. So they're doing they're jobs just right.

by karl (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:27pm


by Parker (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 6:27pm

Jim Brown may be right, but with LT2 anchoring my fantasy football team, I'd gladly sacrifice .5 ypc if it helps his chances of playing again next week and next year.

Oh, and tell Jim Brown that playing 12 and 14 game seasons and quiting after nine years is a sign of weakness. Just don't tell him that I said that.

But seriously, Brown averaged 291 touches a year over his 9 years. LT2 is averaging 409 in his 5.5 years. THIS IS NOT A KNOCK ON JIM BROWN. Just an observation that LT2's work load has been stunningly high up to now. If going out of bounds once in a while is even a small part of the reason he can do that, then more power to him.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:23pm

Nowhere to put this.

On the espn website, a link at the bottom is offering "Free Tatum Bell Jersey". It took me a bit to realize that it wasn't related to Free Rock Cartwright!

by theory (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:23pm

#18 Dave - I think an additional factor in the Ravens game was the coaches not fully trusting Rivers yet. That game forced the coaches to trust him going forward, if for no other reason than the fact that they'd never make it through the AFC playoffs with that kind of game plan.

#24 Karl - I think you missed the point of the other Martyball posts. It's the fact that he tries to sit on a small lead EARLY in the game that's the problem. You can not try to start running the clock out in the 2nd quarter with a 6 point lead. You can not play for field goals in the middle of the 3rd quarter when you still only have a 6 point lead. In the past few games, the Chargers offense has been much more aggressive and actually built up big leads, allowing Marty to really run the clock down when that 6 minute mark is reached.

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:33pm

Best football name ever has to be Lion's QB Chuck Long.

by Dot Sunowitz (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:38pm

San Diego leads the NFL in scoring at 31.0 points per game. Since the first game of the 2004 season only the Colts have scored more points. The Colts have scored 1,193 points over the last 40 games, while San Diego has scored 1,112, a difference of only 81 points over the last 40 games.

Actually, Marty hardly ever wears a head set. Cameron calls 99 percent of the plays. This is what Mike Martz said about Cameron last year:

"Cam and I are products of the same system, and (Oakland coach) Norv Turner, too,'' Rams coach Mike Martz said. "So we have the same kind of exposure. Everybody takes that (Don Coryell) system, and puts a little bit of a different twist on it because of your personnel.

"The one thing you have to say about (San Diego's) offense, is they're very disciplined. That's a very well coached football team.

"The quarterback (is) exceptional and very efficient. Of course, they've got (Tomlinson). The receivers that they've added to their roster. ... what they do, I look at very closely, because they're very creative, and (Cameron) is very specific about what he's trying to accomplish.

"He's not just kind of shooting darts like some people would think about some of the stuff that we do with motion and shifts,'' Martz added. "He's very specific about what he's trying to attack and very accurate with it. I think he's probably one of the best ones around. I really do. I think he's very good."

Game after game this year opposing players have talked about how San Diego showed them something offensively that they had never seen from them before.

by Doug Farrar (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:41pm

Hard to top Blenda (Blenda?) Gay and Fair Hooker from the NFL's past, but the more recent Craphonso Thorpe is certainly an all-timer.

Best football name ever: Bronko Nagurski. What else could it be?

by gmc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:42pm


You missed LaDainian Tomlinson...


Tiki Barber
Samari Rolle
Quentin Jammer

by Dot Sunowitz (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 7:58pm

The primary reason San Diego got unbalanced in favor of the pass this past Sunday was uncharacteristic penalties on first and second down. On three of their first six possessions they found themselves in 1st and 2nd and quite long because of holding and false start penalties. This is an offense that is usually extremeley balanced.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 8:29pm

Zach Crockett has a pretty good FB name too. (better if it was a K and not an H)

Man, FBs get all the cool tough-guy names. No fair. Time for a QB named "Chainsaw Hacker" or some such. A 5-9 175 lb WR named Rocky Stonecrusher.

Actually, anybody remember the LB Michael Stonebreaker? (played at ND in collega and I think Chicago in NFL). Man, that name belongs in the "hit in the nuts" thread, don't it...?

Indy also runs a basic offense--they have like a dozen plays--perhaps I exaggerate, but the number is WAY less than the Skins playbook, and they just select the appropriate play based on the D look and execute them very well.

Not looking forward to Martyball meeting Dungyball if it happens in the playoffs, though, because M'ball's strength is D-ball's weakness. Unless Indy lets SD get a lead.... then SD goes into a coma and Manning brings them back at the end. "Aha! Had you just were wanted you, up by 6 with two minutes to go!"

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 8:35pm

29: Chuck Long is excellent for a QB, but too easy for the press to ride him after a 4-INT game "Chuck Wrong???"

How can you mess with the name Bronco Nagurski, and if you did, what team of surgeons would put you back together? (Okay, maybe "Cowboys Break Bronco" could be one headline....)

Dot, CRAP! New stuff every time... That sounds like BB's defense in NE. They must have very smart players to keep it all straight.

by Crabbie (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 9:59pm

The one thing I noticed and found very interesting/peculiar about the Chargers' offense against the Browns was that the Chargers would occasionally motion Neal out wide, or even line him up there. He's also a very good pass-catching fullback and makes a great hot read, but he's also very slow and absolutely not (IMO) capable of doing anything useful when lined up fifteen to twenty yards away from the main formation.

I was hoping that this article would address this, as the whole thing just seemed very weird to me.

by Tally (not verified) :: Wed, 11/08/2006 - 10:38pm

I agree. It seems like a LOT of preparation for one big play (Chargers have motioned Neal out wide all season, but only capitalized on the Browns defense ignoring him on that one play). Neal was actually a moderately effective checkdown option in past years, but Rivers hasn't been going to him much this year.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:35am

27 That is very funny. I read it that way as well. Had me laughing for quite some time.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:36am

I was like 'that Jersey doesn't say "Free Tatum Bell" on it...what a ripoff'.

by yunzer (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 11:23am

Few footballer names can compare with the greatness that is:
Craphonso Thorpe

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 1:02pm

Am I the only one that thinks Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala's name is even cooler because his first name is just simple "Chris".

Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala *greater-that* (stupid html) Babatunde Oshinowo

And D’Brickashaw Ferguson was destined from birth to be an offensive lineman. There is no other profession where the name D'Brickashaw would be appropriate.

by Flux (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 1:06pm

thanks to post 33, since I read in the recap that SD was hounded by bad penalties during the first half, and this article makes no mention of that, or why SD was throwing so much.

I know Every Play Counts is just about a given game, but this one felt pretty superficial. Opponent strategies obviously differ, and just because Cleveland wasn't bright enough to stuff the run and make SD beat them with the pass doesn't mean other teams aren't.

Most readers probably remember the SD loss in Philly last year when Philly blocked a FG in the 4th quarter and ran it back for the winning TD, and in that game Philly stacked the line and held Tomlinson to some woeful numbers, and Brees couldn't get it done through the air. There's a reason Martyball is ridiculed; playoff losses, and when your offense is simple and you're playing a top opponent who has a week or two to prepare and the game is sudden death, schemes can shut down simple running attacks. Unless you've got some other explanation for Marty's playoff winning % being so dramatically lower than his regular season %?

by SJM (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 1:46pm

Re: #8

I'm sorry, Jim Brown retired before he was 30 (not for injury reasons, but still.) Show me a guy who played for 14 years AND always stayed in bounds. There's a reason Shaun Alexander never got hurt before this year.

Other great names:

D'Qwell Jackson
Jerrico Cotchery
Tishumenga "Tim" Biakabutuka

by joe (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 2:57pm

RE # 22 Alge Crumpler's first name is Algernon.

And Martyball works - its all in knowing when to resort to it.

by Vyse (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:12pm

Sean D got OWNED by MDS.

by Dave (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 3:36pm

The Chargers are the most overrated team in football. Look at their schedule... only two teams they've played actually have winning records at the mid-way point of the season. And, wouldn't you know it, those are the same two teams the Chargers lost to.

All they've done is beat up on the likes of the Browns, Raiders, and 49ers. Their best win was at home against the .500 Rams. And based on this, people have them beating the Colts in the playoffs? Insanity.

Let's see the Chargers prove they can beat a good team before we start the Super Bowl talk.

by theory (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 4:44pm

#46 Dave - read FO's Guts and Stomps article again, then check out Cold Hard Football Facts' 2005 Final Quality Standings. If you can still say that beating a "good team" is the best indicator of future success in the NFL... well just watch last year's Jags-Pats playoff game again then.

by Dot Sunowitz (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:24pm

How are the Chargers overrated? They lost at Kansas City on a last-second field goal at the horn and at Baltimore, a game they dominated but were afraid to put the ball in Rivers's hands. In their six wins, including one over the defending Super Bowl champions, they've outscored their opponents 208-88.

I think why most people that know anything about football think they are Super Bowl contenders is because they have fewer weaknesses than just about any other contender. They are extremely solid in all three phases.

by Dot Sunowitz (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 5:28pm

Also, in terms of being overrated, last year's Chargers team won at Foxboro and at Indianapolis. In the last two years the Chargers have beaten Indianapolis, New England, N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh and the Steelers. Seven of their nine losses over the last two years have been by a TOTAL of 20 points.

by underthebus (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 7:15pm

On the opposite spectrum,
Worse names:
Dick Butkus
Scott Player
Ryan Leaf
BJ Askew
Donald Driver

by Dave (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 8:32pm

theory (and others): I know that the popular excuse for Marty not putting the ball in Rivers' hands during the Ravens loss, and that's a risk.

But it's a better risk than hoping all eight stout defenders in the box have their legs fall off to enable Tomlinson to get free, or whatever it is the OC and HC were expecting by continue to do what they were doing.

That's the criticism most people have of the strategy Schottenheimer's offensive game plans... they can be way too risk-averse. They're like the prevent defense of offenses, and that leaves no margin for error.

by Mnotr (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 12:35am

I like Sinorice Moss and Quadtrain Hill.

by Pete (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 12:24pm

Martyball looks like a real winner againist the Colts defense. The Colts depend on their normal pressure for opponents to score. With the Colts offense this is normally a safe assumption. The colts have their back 7 and the speed of their line (sometimes with help) to pressure the QB.

However, Indianapolis can be very weak against the run. What coach has the dillegence to keep running the ball? Marty, of course. The Patriots gave up on the run and Brady had a poor day (for him, especially) and what happened? Last year, can you name two teams who kept running the ball against Indy? Perhaps San Diego (first Indy loss) and Pittsburg (Indy loss in playoffs).

by dje (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 5:09pm

As a Colts fan, the team I hope to avoid in the playoffs is San Diego. Both the offense and the D could pose serious problems for the Colts. The offense was the potential to wear the Colts D down while chewing up the clock and keeping Manning off the field. The defense is one of very few in the league that I think can pressure Manning while only rushing four.

by Atul (not verified) :: Fri, 11/10/2006 - 8:45pm

best name for a punter? Hunter!

by jay (not verified) :: Sat, 11/11/2006 - 4:24pm

As others have pointed out (51, 18 among others), the knock on Martyball is not running the ball, but running the ball ineffectively because the defense is stacked against it. In the Ravens game, the play calling became very run oriented and the defense adjusted and the offense stalled out.

Vs. Cleveland, the Browns could not stop the run. So keeping at it made perfect sense, but running effectively is not the curse of MB. The curse is that, despite evidence you need to be more balanced and creative, Marty kind of wants to will his way to an effective running game even in the face of evidence that it is not working. The evidence of the close losses is pretty strong. It does not work.