San Diego Chargers: Numbers lie

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
2:25
PM ET
The San Diego Chargers' perplexing 2010 season has been dissected countless times.

We all know the silly details: The Chargers are 2-4 despite leading the NFL on both offense and defense. The Chargers have outgained their opponents by more than 1,000 yards, but horrible special-teams play and miscues on offense have undone this team.

The Wall Street Journal has some interesting details that make the Chargers’ place in the standings even more mind-boggling. In the article, it was noted that since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, only eight other teams led the league in both offense and defense during any week of any season. Until this year, none of those teams had a losing record.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Things don’t get any easier for the Chargers. The easy part of their schedule is over. Their next three opponents -- New England, Tennessee and Houston -- are a combined 12-5.

Against the Patriots, the Chargers will need to improve in some areas if they want to avoid dropping to 2-5.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the game could come down to the Chargers’ success passing the ball and stopping New England’s passing game.

San Diego has had success blitzing quarterbacks this season. But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is very good against the blitz. When rushing five-plus defenders, San Diego’s opponents have a passer's rating of 51 and have completed 50 percent of their passes. Against that defense, Brady has a passer’s rating of 93.3 and has completed 66.7 percent of his passes.

Offensively, the Chargers have struggled against team when opponents rush six or more defenders. The Chargers were strong in those situations in the past two years.

This season, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has completed 38.1 percent of his passes and has thrown one touchdown against six or more pass-rushers. In the past two seasons, Rivers completed 52.3 percent of his passes and tossed nine touchdown passes.

That may change in Week 11 when holdout Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson returns. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Jackson and Rivers were one of the best long-play combinations in the NFL the past two seasons.

Rivers targeted Jackson 36 times on pass plays of 31 yards or more in the past two seasons. That was the fourth highest in the NFL. Jackson’s 16 receptions in that period were the most in the league as were his 729 yards.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has an interesting look at all the NFL standouts who used to play for the Chargers. The Chargers are clearly fine without these players as the great rankings show. But perhaps those players would help change the bottom line: their record.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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