Commentary

Ready for a record passing night?

Originally Published: November 20, 2010
By Ron Jaworski | ESPN.com

"Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski breaks down the matchup between the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers.

It's pretty much official that the NFL has become a pass-happy league. There were 13 300-yard passing performances last week. Quite simply, running games are not essential. Teams might run a bit late in a game with a lead to kill some time, but other than that, most offenses are pass first and second. As an old quarterback, it's a lot of fun to watch. You're watching football and suddenly the points are really flowing. It's often like a basketball game breaks out.

[+] EnlargePhillip Rivers
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesPhilip Rivers has been without most of this top targets this season, but it hasn't mattered.
The Broncos are an enigma right now. They cannot run the ball, yet they have amazing success with … play-action. QB Kyle Orton is 52-of-77 for 927 yards, four touchdowns and one interception on play-action passes. That's a QB rating of 120. Play-action is deceptive. And it means no empty backfields or spread formations. The protection is in place and plays have time to develop. The Broncos have taken advantage of it, too -- Orton has 10 passing plays of 40 or more yards, though not all have been off play-action.

The Chargers' Philip Rivers is also having a very good year. He's really come into his own. As much as any quarterback in the league, he makes his offense go. He is simply great in the pocket, and he knows where everybody is supposed to be. The Chargers have had injury problems at wide receiver this year, and their No. 1 guy, Vincent Jackson, has yet to play because of a contract dispute. Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates has been hampered this year by injuries. Yet, the Chargers have had five different guys with 100-yard receiving games this year. WR Seyi Ajirotutu had 111 yards against the Texans. Yes, I had to look him up. He's an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State. But Rivers knows the offense and can throw to an open guy as well as anyone in the league.

No two teams exemplify the passing trend more than these Broncos and Chargers. If Norm Van Brocklin's NFL record of 554 passing yards in a game were to fall this year, it could be this Monday night.

Ron Jaworski

NFL analyst / writer
Ron Jaworski is one of the most popular and knowledgeable analysts covering the NFL today. Since joining ESPN in 1990, the former standout NFL quarterback has covered the league from virtually every angle -- sideline reporter, game-site reporter, host and both studio and game analyst. From 2007-11, Jaworski occupied one of the most coveted positions in sports as a Monday Night Football analyst.