"What's up, ground? I'm not afraid of you." (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
1. Kevin Burnett might kill somebody
I completely understand now why Kevin Burnett is always hurting his neck: He is a missile in a man's body. Although he was only credited with 2 tackles yesterday (that doesn't seem right...), they were the two loudest hits the Chargers defense made.
So much for Darrell Stuckey or Steve Gregory being the fearsome hammer in the middle of the defense, Burnett has locked up that responsibility along with being the play-caller, the blitzing MLB, the guy who is normally covering the opposing team's TE, the run-stopper and the defensive leader.
Kevin Burnett is playing at a Pro Bowl level. He leads the team in tackles, is only 1 behind Shaun Phillips for the lead in sacks and leads all players not named Quentin Jammer or Antoine Cason is defended passes and interceptions.
2. At least Patrick Crayton isn't playing behind Roy Williams
I don't know if anyone realizes how bad things got with the WRs yesterday. Let's do it in the form of a math equation:
6 WRs (I'm including Antonio Gates) - 1 WR (Legedu Naanee) = 5 WRs, but 1 that should never get on the field (Richard Goodman). Starting the game with 5, the team then lost Antonio Gates to an ankle injury. 5-1=4. Then they lost Malcom Floyd to a hamstring injury. 4-1=3. THREE. Outside of Randy McMichael and Kris Wilson, who are more TEs than WRs (unlike Gates), the receivers Rivers had to throw to were Patrick Crayton (with the team for a month and a half), Buster Davis and the aforementioned Richard Goodman. I like each of those guys, but Peyton Manning couldn't win with that receiving corps.
So, with Naanee, Gates and Floyd out, Patrick Crayton (who has obviously been playing catch-up this season) was pushed into the role as #1 WR on the team and actually came up big. While that should help accelerate the bond and trust between himself and Rivers, the optimal spot for him to be in this offense is either as the #2 or #3 WR.
3. Ryan Mathews might be a star already
For anyone who thinks that this team is "still waiting for Mathews to break out", allow me to show you some simple statistics (I know, it's early and I'm doing a lot of math.....it won't be that hard, I promise.).
Current YPC Leaders:
- Christopher Ivory (6.3)
- Jamaal Charles (6.3)
- Arian Foster (5.5)
- Ahmad Bradshow (5.3)
- LaDainian Tomlinson (5.3)
- Tim Hightower (5.2)
- Ryan Mathews (5.1)
Mathews has been the 7th best RB in the league thusfar, in terms of efficiency, and has done it behind a rag-tag offensive line (missing LT for 5 games, RG for 2 games) and with limited opportunities. "But he fumbles more than those guys!", you're probably saying. Wrong, I say. From that list, the only RBs with less fumbles than Mathews this season are Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster and LaDainian Tomlinson.
This offensive attack, the players in it, should work the way it was planned to. There is enough talent in the running game, with Ryan Mathews, to create balance. The issue this season, and it's one that was there for a lot of games last season as well, is that the Chargers dig themselves into an early hole with bad defense and special teams and then have to pass their way out of it.
|vs STL / 10.17.10||Rushing||Receiving|
4. Antonio Garay is still a monster
With 6 games under his belt, Antonio Garay has now tied himself for the most games he's played in one season in the NFL. However, he's never approached numbers like this.
Previous Best Season (2007): 6 games, 5 tackles
Current Season: 6 games, 17 tackles, 2 sacks
Garay playing well at the Nose Tackle position is a big reason that Jacques Cesaire and Luis Castillo are having good years. The strength of that 3-man defensive line is a big reason that Stephen Jackson did not have a great game (3.8 yards per carry) and why Sam Bradford was chased out of the pocket consistently (6 runs for 8 yards). This team is one or two good outside rushers away from being able to hold contain on opposing QBs after the pocket is blown up by the defensive line.
|vs STL / 10.17.10||Tackles||Sacks||Interceptions|
5. Eric Weddle!
Okay, this might be a stretch, but there weren't 5 things that stood out as good for this game. Since Steve Gregory's suspension, it appears Weddle has flip-flopped roles and gone from the coverage Safety to being the in-the-box guy again.
We always said, over the last two seasons, that "It's never good when your Safety leads the team in tackles". Well, Weddle ended the day with 11 tackles(!) and the next closest Charger was Stephen Cooper with 6. The biggest reason for this was simply that Weddle is the best tackler on the team.
Eric should really teach a class on proper tackling technique, or at the very least a tape of his game yesterday should be shown to young defenders as training on how to take down guys that are bigger than you.