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Jets' aggressive defense may backfire against Rivers

5) Philip Rivers and the Chargers' offensive line

5) Philip Rivers and the Chargers' offensive line

Only five teams allowed fewer sacks than the Chargers in 2009. That, combined with a cornucopia of rushing and receiving options, helped Rivers to the third-best QB rating (104.4) in the NFL. Rivers, drafted in the same class as the Giants' Eli Manning, showed his maturity as a quarterback, slinging just nine interceptions all year, including only three in his last eight games. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Everyone in New York knows Rex Ryan loves to blitz. And with Darrelle Revis covering the opposition's best receiver, it provides a nice security blanket in the secondary.

But against Philip Rivers, the Jets may want to rethink their aggressive tactics.

Rivers had a 103.7 passer rating this season when he was blitzed, the third-highest among those blitzed more than 150 times, with 15 touchdown passes (he threw 28 total TDs).

“Philip sees things awfully quick and he does get the ball out," said Chargers coach Norv Tuner to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "When you’re confident and good you look forward to the blitz, because it creates not only 1-on-1s but … it creates seams where you can make big plays.”

Given Revis does his job containing San Diego's leading receiver, Vincent Jackson, the 1-on-1s the Jets will have to worry about are Kerry Rhodes covering Antonio Gates and Lito Sheppard on Malcom Floyd.

Floyd averaged 17.2 yards per reception, fourth in the league, and had 13 plays of 20+ yards, while Gates averaged 14.6 per catch, which was second to the Jags' Marcedes Lewis (16.2) among tight ends. So the downfield threat is certainly there.

Said Rivers in a conference call with the New York media: "One thing we do is we get the ball out. We push it down the field, but I try not to stand back there holding onto the ball very long."

Which brings me to another problem with consistent blitzing: running backs escaping into the flat for big gains. Chargers running backs amassed 82 receptions and seven touchdowns on the season. Darren Sproles accounted for 45 catches for 497 yards and four scores (including an 81-yarder). Though many people think LaDainian Tomlinson is the second biggest threat out of the backfield, it's actually fullback Mike Tolbert, who totaled 192 yards receiving with three TDs.

The Jets blitzed on 297 passing plays, second-most in the league, during the regular season. They held opposing QBs to a 53.8 passer rating on those plays, but only recorded 32 sacks (tied for 18th in the league), including just 17 on downs they blitzed. So Rivers doesn't have to worry too much about getting pummeled on Sunday. That being said, he still respects the No. 1 defense in the NFL.

“It’s as good a blitz package and scheme as we’ve faced this year,” he said. “We got a heavy dose of it when we faced Baltimore. Philadelphia presented some challenges, and this group does a lot of different things that we have to be ready for.”

 

Here are a few other interesting stats from Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune...

-The Chargers and Jets had four common opponents this season — Oakland, Tennessee, Miami and Cincinnati. The Jets were 4-2 against those teams (both losses to Miami), while San Diego was 5-0.

-The Chargers are the only team in the NFL to reach the divisional round each of the past four years. They've reached the AFC title game just once.

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