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Chargers HC Brandon Staley Is Pushing The Envelope

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The NFL has been changing and evolving over the years, as it has become more of a pass-friendly league through the past decade or two.

Part of that evolution has been the offensive philosophy on fourth down, which was, until recently, strictly a punt-only situation.

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But now, more and more teams are going for it on fourth downs, and Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is one of the men who is leading the way in that department.

Last season, his team went for it on fourth down 34 times, which was third in the NFL.

But the Chargers went for it on 31.5 percent of their fourth downs, the highest percentage in the league.

Staley explained his mindset regarding such situations in an interview with Daniel Popper of The Athletic.

“There has to be a fearlessness to play in this game, and what I wanted to establish was that,” Staley says. “The history of this team when I got here, it was like someone’s going to get hurt, they’re going to blow a lead, something catastrophic is going to happen. There’s this ‘Chargering’ thing. There’s all of these external factors that I know in my life, they’re just all excuses. They’re just all excuses.

“And so, how do you change that? Well, you have to do things different, you have to have a different approach. … Our mindset’s going to be on us, it’s not going to be on the opponent. It’s going to be on us. So creating that fearless mindset of, we are going to be aggressive, we’re going to put the ball in our hands, we’re going to trust our guys to make plays.

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“If we lose, we’re going to do it on our terms, not someone else’s terms.”

There is certainly an argument to be made for leaving your offense on the field during a fourth down, but some feel the Chargers overdid it last season, and in doing so, possibly cost themselves a playoff berth.

 

Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword?

For most of the NFL’s century-plus history, teams usually only went for it on fourth down if it was in a desperate situation at the end of a game where it was down to its last chance.

But over the last several years, that has been changing, as fourth-down attempts have been rising, as have fourth-down conversion rates.

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Analytics, which have taken over multiple team sports over the past decade-plus, has been a big factor in this change in philosophy.

Staley is absolutely right when he says that fearlessness must be present in order to win in the NFL, even more than in baseball, basketball, hockey or any other team sport.

But sometimes, one’s aggressiveness can go from his greatest asset to his greatest flaw, as it can be a double-edged sword.

With quarterback Justin Herbert running and gunning his way to a Pro Bowl appearance in just his second pro season, L.A. forged an 8-5 record and had a real shot at finishing first in the AFC West.

Its next contest in Week 15 versus the Kansas City Chiefs was billed as the that would likely decide the division winner.

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But in the first half, the Chargers failed to convert on two fourth-down situations inside the Kansas City 10-yard line, and they trailed 14-10 at intermission.

They failed on another fourth-down conversion attempt in the second half, and given that they lost 34-28 in overtime after leading 21-13 in the fourth quarter at one point, those failed attempts look bad in retrospect.

Then came the season-finale versus the Las Vegas Raiders, which was a doozy.

The Chargers converted six of seven fourth-down attempts, but the one they failed on was one even Staley may have wanted to take back.

The argument in his favor is that Herbert is an MVP-caliber QB who is turning into a clutch signal-caller, as evidenced in that contest against the Raiders.

But even with someone as talented as Herbert on your side, sometimes a bit of caution is a good thing.

The post Chargers HC Brandon Staley Is Pushing The Envelope appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Deebo Samuel, 49ers' defense shine in win over Rams: 'He delivers''

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“He delivers for us in our biggest moments at all times, especially against that damn team,” Mike McGlinchey said of Samuel. “He’s just such a stud.”



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The Broncos Add Experience To Their Backfield

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The injury woes for the Denver Broncos continue to pile up.

First, it was Tim Patrick who suffered a season-ending ACL injury during their practice in early August.

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Now, the Broncos will lose another valuable player on offense as running back Javonte Williams also suffered a season-ending ACL injury during their Week 4 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

The team addressed the hole in their roster by signing his replacement.

NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero tweeted, “The #Broncos are signing RB Latavius Murray off the #Saints’ practice squad, per source. With Javonte Williams out for the season, Murray now joins Melvin Gordon and Mike Boone in the Denver backfield.”

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Murray Brings Experience To Denver’s Backfield

The Broncos will be the fifth team Murray will play for in his ten-year career.

He had two stints with the New Orleans Saints, the first in 2019 when he signed a four-year, $14.4 million contract.

Murray stayed with New Orleans for two seasons before joining the Baltimore Ravens last year.

The Ravens acquired him after losing J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to season-ending injuries.

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He returned to the Saints as a member of the practice squad and was elevated to the active roster on October 1.

Murray was re-assigned to the practice squad, giving Denver the chance to sign him.

The sixth-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft also suited up for the Minnesota Vikings and the then-Oakland Raiders.

The Broncos will need Murray’s experience to help elevate their struggling offense.

Denver scored 23 points in their loss to Las Vegas and a combined 27 points in their two wins.

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Meanwhile, Williams finished their Week 4 game with ten carries for 28 yards.

On the other hand, Melvin Gordon committed his fourth fumble of the season, resulting in a defensive touchdown by Raiders cornerback Amik Robertson.

The Broncos will try to bounce back in Week 5 when they face the Indianapolis Colts.

The post The Broncos Add Experience To Their Backfield appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Chargers’ Defense Is Still Problematic Despite Week 4 Win

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(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

 

After a head-scratching 38-10 humiliation in Week 3 at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles Chargers were looking wobbly with a 1-2 record.

But they got back on track on Sunday by defeating the struggling Houston Texans, 34-24.

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Los Angeles’ offense looked strong, as Justin Herbert had his usual strong game despite fractured rib cartilage, Austin Ekeler had a total of 109 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage and wide receiver Mike Williams had 120 yards.

However, there is still reason for concern, as the Chargers’ defense had some troubles against a Houston offense that is rather weak.

If they don’t rectify their defensive deficiencies soon, they could end up with additional losses in games they should’ve won, which could end up costing them a playoff spot.

 

The Chargers Gave Up Too Many Big Plays

Last season, when Los Angeles missed the playoffs, its defense was perhaps the biggest culprit.

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It finished 23rd in total yards allowed and 29th in points allowed, and its run defense was particularly problematic.

To sew up that hole, the Chargers went out and signed defensive tackles Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, and they also traded for star pass rusher Khalil Mack.

They also bolstered a secondary that needed improvement by bringing in J.C. Jackson, a young and rising cornerback who made the Pro Bowl last year while leading the NFL in passes defended.

But so far, all these new additions haven’t paid off the way many thought they would.

Through Week 4, the Bolts are 20th in yards allowed, 29th in passing touchdowns allowed and 30th in points allowed.

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After running out to a 21-0 lead on Sunday, they allowed Houston to get within 27-24 on the back of several big yardage plays.

One play that stood out was a 75-yard run by running back Dameon Pierce that resulted in the Texans’ first touchdown of the game.

Notice all the missed tackles and blocks on that play by L.A.

The Texans aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, as they rank 17th in points scored and 29th in total yards, and their running game is especially weak.

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But L.A. allowed Pierce to gain 131 yards and score a touchdown on 14 carries.

How much of this was its problems on defense, and how much may have only been due to complacency and inattention after running up such a big lead?

 

The Chargers Are Missing Some Pieces

The glaring absence on Sunday for L.A. was Joey Bosa, it’s four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher who suffered a groin injury in Week 3 and will be out for at least several weeks after having surgery.

In some ways, its defense was able to apply pressure on Houston quarterback Davis Mills, as he threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.

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Mack had one of those sacks, and he has been as good as advertised this season, as he is sitting on five sacks, five tackles for loss and seven QB hits thus far this year.

The Chargers seem to have the players they need to have an air-tight defense – it’s time for them to pull their full weight.

The post Chargers’ Defense Is Still Problematic Despite Week 4 Win appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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