The lead up to the Raiders and Chargers Monday Night opener is getting thick. Both teams have had months to prepare for one another and tweak and re-tweak their game plans and rosters. Each trying to pull out a few surprises for the other. It's both an advantage and a disadvantage.
On one hand, as I said, there is plenty of time to prepare. On the other hand, both teams have new players and therefore new plays to incorporate those players. And so with all the planning, neither teams really knows for what they are preparing.
But if you ask either team, they'll tell you they are just going to be what they have always been.
"We really haven't [changed offensively]," said Philip Rivers. "Our offensive system and what Norv and this staff and what we've ran, coach Turner's been running it for, you know, 25 years plus so it's still the same. Certainly you want to put the skill players in the position to do what they do best so there's always tweaks from year to year but for the most part we're carrying on like we have been."
Dennis Allen agrees the Chargers will be who they have always been.
"Coach Turner does a great job of calling the game," said Allen. "He really stresses your defense and your rules and they're a vertical passing game. They like to get the ball down the field and they've got a lot of weapons to get the ball to. So we've got our work cut out for us defensively trying to keep the ball in front of us."
But what are the Raiders going to do to combat this dynamic offense?
"We're going to do what we do," said Allen. "You can't reinvent the wheel every week. You've got certain thinks that you do, certain concepts that you think are effective and that's what we're going to do. And we're going to try to do the best we can to get our guys prepared to execute our game plan against what San Diego likes to do."
Norv Turner agrees that Dennis Allen will do what he's always done and that Allen knows what he will do. Although he says he won't do that and Allen won't do that either.
"You always start from the standpoint of preparing for the personnel that are on the field," said Chargers head coach, Norv Turner. "Then the next step is certainly the scheme and it's a scheme that's similar to what they did in Denver so it's something we're familiar with and they certainly are familiar with us. I do believe they do a great job of mixing the defenses and taking advantage of their personnel.
"I think we will be a mix of a lot of things we've done in the past. I think John [Pagano]'s experiences with the guys he's been with and his background is you're going to do what you have to do to match up with the team you're playing. We want to be a complete defense that has flexibility and is hopefully unpredictable."
Your thoughts, Dennis Allen?
"Oh I'm sure they're doing their homework. No different than we've done our homework. I'm sure they're looking at everything they think we could possibly do and trying to get a gauge on what they're going to see Monday night. It's always a chess match and both staffs I'm sure are doing everything they can to figure out what the other team is going to do.
"It's a challenge. Obviously the game is played by the players out on the field but part of the way we compete as coaches is we try to see if we can put together a gameplan that makes it hard on them to execute. When I say them I'm talking about the other team executing.
So, you see, The Chargers will do what they have always done and they know Dennis Allen will do what he is known to do. The Raiders will stick to what they do best and know the Chargers will do what the Chargers have done for years.
But at the same time, the Raiders will change their game plan to face the Chargers and they know the Chargers will also change what they do to tailor to them. The Chargers will switch things up to confuse the Raiders and know the Raiders will be unpredictable.
Does your head hurt yet? Good. That's gamesmanship. And it's what a veteran coach like Norv Turner and a young first time head coach in Dennis Allen both play very well. It is played on the field, in the media, and every day since the schedule was released in April.
This game can't get here soon enough.