Each week, we give special recognition for San Diego Chargers players and coaches that performed above or below expectations.
Here's where I buy/sell all the Jeromey Clary hatred.
When Clary is good, which is about 50% of the time this season, the whole offensive line is very good. Philip Rivers was sacked just once against the Chiefs and their dominance in pass protection opened up the running game as well, where even Le'Ron McClain was opening up running lanes. When Clary is bad, the whole offensive line is typically very bad. Rivers gets no time to throw and the running game goes nowhere.
For some reason, Jeromey Clary is really good against the Chiefs in 2012. Maybe this is because, as Mike Mayock pointed out, Justin Houstin doesn't have any real pass rushing "moves". He doesn't have a speed rush, a bull rush a swim move or a spin move. He just tries to push the lineman back a step, and then slithers by him in whichever direction looks more open. That won't work against Clary, who might be the slowest offensive Tackle in football but has good technique and balance, and didn't last night.
Philip Rivers - 18/20, 220 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Here is how the Chargers fared in the last 5 games in which Rivers threw less than 30 passes:
- 31-13 W over Kansas City Chiefs
- 37-20 W over Kansas City Chiefs
- 38-26 W over Oakland Raiders (2011)
- 34-13 W over Baltimore Ravens (2011)
- 29-24 W over Denver Broncos (2011)
I continue to stress that while Rivers is a very good QB, he should not be asked to throw the ball 30 or 40 or 50 times the way that Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are. He's not that type of QB. Philip is more like Eli Manning. He's great when he's not being asked to do too much and can be terrible when he is. Last night, he wasn't, and he threw just 1 bad pass all night. That's the same Rivers that took the 2006 squad to a 14-2 record and it's nice to see him again, if only for a game.
Running Backs - 23 carries, 125 yds (5.4 YPC)
The San Diego Chargers running game against the Kansas City Chiefs was working fine. With the offensive line holding off Tamba Hali and Justin Houston on pass rushing situations, the Chiefs were alternating between bringing blitzers (to try and help the pass rush) or dropping more guys into coverage (to try and help the secondary). That equaled more running lanes and, once Glenn Dorsey left the game with a calf injury, everyone was getting good yards.
Mathews ended up with just 15 touches for the game, which could be a point of criticism, but it's fine because Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown were being equally effective with their touches. All three guys averaged at least 5 yards per carry and Brown added 35 receiving yards to boot. Solid game from an odd rotation of backs.
Wide Receivers - 8 catches, 137 rec yds
Philip Rivers entered this game with just three Wide Receivers. Those Wide Receivers were Malcom Floyd, Seyi Ajirotutu (signed this week) and Danario Alexander (signed last week). Not exactly former first-round pick Robert Meachem or former Pro Bowler Eddie Royal....or were they?
I'll say this. The Chargers passing attack last night looked like 2010. Rivers was throwing to a bunch of no-name receivers that were fighting for, and diving for, balls thrown their way. There was not a chance in hell the DB was going to get his hands on the ball. That may be part of the reason that Rivers went back to throwing to "an area near the WR" instead of trying to fit the ball into a tight window. The result was beautiful, but we must not forget that the Chiefs pass defense is really bad and they were missing one of starting CBs.
Darrell Stuckey - 2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
Congratulations, Mr. Stuckey. You have finally earned the title of "Kassim Osgood's rightful replacement". Please feel free to die your hair blonde and tell people that you could play WR in the NFL.
Jarret Johnson - 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
If you hadn't seen the game last night and I told you that the Chargers sacked Matt Cassel just once last night, who would you assume got that sack? Johnson would probably be the 6th or 7th guy that I guessed. I guess he can be a pretty good pass-rusher when nobody blocks him.
As per usual, Johnson, Donald Butler and the defensive line almost completely shut down the Chiefs rushing attack. Jamaal Charles finished with 3.3 yards per carry and a neck injury. Peyton Hillis finished with 2 yards per carry.
Donald Butler - 9 tackles, 1 defended pass, 1 attempted murder
It's a good time to be a Chargers fan for one reason: Watching Donald Butler. He's faster and smarter than he was last season, and that sometimes leaves him in situations where he can launch himself at opposing players. When he does that, he seems to leave nothing but carnage in his wake.
Butler was every last night, tipping passes (which lead to Dexter McCluster getting hit really hard by Atari Bigby), knocking Jamaal Charles out of the game, and beating blockers to shut down running plays. He showed himself off to be a Pro Bowl caliber player in front of a national audience.
Eric Weddle - 7 tackles
It feels weird to come out of a Chargers/Chiefs game without a story about Eric Weddle forcing a Matt Cassel turnover, but whatever. Weddle was still great in deep coverage and was (shockingly) one of the first defensive players in on each run play.
Demorrio Williams - 2 tackles, 1 INT, 1 def TD
Williams has, somewhat unfortunately, taken most of the starter's job away from Takeo Spikes (who can't cover anybody anymore). Luckily, Williams as been pretty good and continued to be pretty good against the Chiefs.
Nobody. I mean, maybe Rich Bisaccia because he kept letting Eric Weddle field punts, but that's nitpicking.