Whisenhunt on the Efficiency of the Run so Far

Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt addresses the media about the efficiency of the run.

Opening Statement:

“Before we get started, I'd just like to say something about the tragedy in Thousand Oaks. That was awful. Certainly, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the friends that were affected with that. That was just a terrible thing.”

On the rushing attack:

“You know, I think our linemen always — that group, when you have success running the football, they feel good, and that's important. I mean, let's face it. It's much easier to run block than it is to drop back and pass protect on some of these guys. It makes it a lot easier for the rest of us when we want to throw it because they don't get mad because we don't run it enough. I think probably the most important thing is maybe it makes us a little more versatile. When you have a credible threat in the run game, it helps you oftentimes in the play-action game where we've hit some of our big shots, plus it keeps you moving the chains a little bit easier. When you have second-and-shorter situations or you get in chunks like we're getting in the run game, it's good for us. Also, I think it's a little bit harder for defenses when you do that because you're — it's not easy to run the ball in this league. Our guys have been doing a good job with it up front, and we've had a number of different guys that are contributing. You know, it's not just the running backs, it's the receivers, it's a lot of guys. Yeah, I think it has really helped us.”

On if RB Melvin Gordon III is running more physically this year:

“You know, I think he kind of picked up where he left off last year. He's getting better and better, and he's always — to me — been a pretty violent runner. I think what he's really doing a great job with is ball security and how he's working finishing off some of these runs. I think the scheme, he's obviously more comfortable, and listen, you've got to give credit to those guys up front. They're doing a good job. There were a couple holes in the game last week that were big that you maybe could have run through. I don't think you would have gotten quite the distance, but you could have gotten through it.”

On how the running game provides confidence to the offense:

“You know, it's good. There have been a couple games where we haven't run it as great and we've compensated for that with the pass game. We've thrown it. I think we've had a good mix. You know, I just — that's one of the things, like I said, in this league, it's not always easy to do, and it's a credit to our running backs and to our line. It does, it gives you a lift. When you hit a couple of runs, when you break out for a 10-yard gain, it does, it gives you a little — I hate to say it so cliché — it gives you a little pep in your step, and I think that's a good thing”

On Oakland’s rushing defense in the last game:

“They played well. They did a good job against us. They played very aggressively. They were physical. You know, they did a nice job against us. You know, that's happened to us a couple times this year where we haven't been as effective as we would have liked to have been running the football, and hopefully we can — we work every week trying to put together a plan that we feel like is a good attack against our opponent, and hopefully we can execute it, but I have a lot of respect for the way those guys played us. Four minutes left in the second quarter, it's [tied at three points each] and we hadn't done much. We hit a couple of runs early, but it was tough after that. That's something obviously that we'd like to do better, but they did a nice job against us.”

On Raiders DTs P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst:

“They played it well. They're physical guys. They play their technique well, they anchor well. If you're not good with your technique, if you're not good with your double teams, if you're not good with your technique steps on these guys — first of all, it's hard to move them, and second of all, they can get off blocks. Hurst especially, he's a good young player that's quick, has some quick lateral movement and is always working. They've always had a good group of guys behind that could run. Their backers, they always seem like they're fast and they're big and they can move, so sometimes against those kind of fronts, you've got to be really precise in what you're doing and how you attack it. You know, sometimes you have success and sometimes you don't. We ran it early in the game last time. We had a couple of runs early, but it certainly wasn't great after that.”

On the number of play-action plays run this season:

“You know, I think it's really just kind of a feel. Every game is a little bit different. Sometimes it's what you're incorporating with your runs. You know, you'd like to run it every time, but you do have to run it some just so that some of that works. I think what happens, too, a lot of times is we'll have maybe a check to get out of it if it's not the right look, and when we're fortunate and you've got a quarterback like Philip [Rivers] that can do those kind of things, then sometimes that will take you out of it.”

On QB Philip Rivers taking care of the football but being efficient throwing into tight windows:

“Well, when you've got some guys that are doing a good job underneath, you know, like you've got [RB] Melvin [Gordon III] and Austin [Ekeler] — Austin has made some big plays when he's thrown the check-downs, too, and so has Melvin and our tight ends and even some of the schemes that we use that are underneath schemes where we're getting them to shallows or quick-routes underneath. You know, he does a great job with that. I think one of the things as you say, ‘Oh, he gets rid of it quick,’ but a lot of it's progression based and what we're trying to do when we attack a defense. I think one of the best things about what we've done — and I'm not talking about our team — is having to go against [Defensive Coordinator] Gus [Bradley] in that defense, and we spend all spring and summer trying to figure out ways that we can get things to be successful because it's so competitive against our guys. I really think that helps us in preparation for the season. You know what, you're talking about different defenses, but just the idea of how we're going to approach the plan that week sometimes those things work out. We called quite a few of them in the game last week, we didn't get the look and we threw it underneath or checked it down — and then there was a couple like you think back to Cleveland where, shoot, we threw those two bombs back-to-back. That did work. Every week is different and a lot of it is based off of how they're playing us, but it's because our guys — I think it’s because we were able to be flexible because our guys are smart. They're able to line up in different spots. We can do different things with them and we've got a quarterback that can make it work. You know, hopefully we can keep going with it.”

On the balance of where to go with the football being second nature to Rivers:

“Well, we've been doing it so long, this kind of type thing, that it's just kind of what we are. I think we all are trying to achieve the same thing and trying to create balance, and hopefully we can continue with that.”