The Chargers, for about the third time in 2013, got a huge win that looks like it could turn their season around. This win leaves new head coach Mike McCoy breathing a little easier after getting a lot of heat from fans for his sometimes frustrating coaching style. At 5-6, the Chargers are very much alive, but then again so is half of the AFC. Instead of looking into the millions of scenarios for how they can get to the postseason, I'll take a look back on some observations for week 12.
Good: Run after the catch. Philip Rivers threw for 392 yards against the Chiefs, but only 174 of it was in the air. The Bolts totaled 218 yards after the catch, including 82 from Keenan Allen and 49 from Ladarius Green. The Chargers' weapons on offense may not be what we all expected, but they are coming up big this season.
Bad: Speaking of weapons, Vincent Brown was targeted once. In what many (including myself) thought would be a breakout year from the third-year receiver, Brown has only been targeted 50 times in 387 routes. His 0.86 Yards per Route Run (according to Pro Football Focus) put him over half a yard behind the next-lowest Charger -Eddie Royal- and more than a yard behind Keenan Allen's 2.08.
Ugly: The Chief's pass rush. The Chiefs lost superstar linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston early in the game, and the defense did not respond well. Replacement OLB's Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses totaled 1 QB disruption on 55 rushes, after Hali and Houston nabbed 4 on 19 rushes. Sure, the outcome of the game probably would have been different if these two played the whole game, but I will not feel sorry for a team's injuries going up against this Charger team that has experienced plenty of trouble with that this season.
Good: Donald Butler had his best game of an injury-riddled 2013. He was aggressive and all over the place. He notched a pair of hurries and a batted pass while blitzing, and led the team with four stops (PFF). In a contract year, Butler will need to finish strong to give this defense a fighting chance.
Bad: Ladarius Green's snap count. Yes, he played in a career-high 30 plays. No, that is not enough. Green has a Yards per Route Run of 4.48, which is astronomically high (and of course, unsustainable). Gates' YPRR is 1.72, which is actually solid, but there is no reason for Green to see fewer than half of the snaps Gates does, or that he should receive less saps than the struggling Vincent Brown. Yes, they play different positions, but Green showed on his 60 yard touchdown catch and run that he is a very dangerous weapon. Even without the 60-yarder, Green is averaging over 19 yards per catch. I don't care how, but Green needs to be on the field more.
Ugly: The secondary. This is nothing new, but its as frustrating as ever. Derek Cox was only targeted 3 times, but all 3 were caught for 75 yard. Shareece Wright was flagged twice for pass interference. Jahleel Addae, an undrafted rookie who has played over 200 snaps, allowed a catch and missed a tackle on a play that went for 22 yards. They simply need more depth and talent, which is not a fixable problem this late in the season.
Good: Danny Woodhead. The former Patriot has been impressive since day one. He scored a pair of touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, and had two big catch and run plays on the game winning drive. He is currently tied for second in PFF's halfback rating with +14.1. He now has 59 catches for 469 yards, both tops at the running back position. This is one of the best free agent signings in the NFL.
Bad: Manti Te'o defending the run. Te'o probably had his best overall game and was solid in coverage, but he is still not making plays in the run game. He lacks aggression and technique when it comes to tackling, as Jamaal Charles so rudely pointed out. He needs to put it all together and have a strong finish to help his prospects for the future.
Ugly: The pass rush. If you had to guess who would total the most QB pressures for the Chargers against the Chiefs, who would have guessed Reggie Walker? Walker moved outside and played the bulk of his snaps at OLB, and totaled 4 hurries. Nobody on the team had had more than 2 QB disruptions. Kendall Reyes hasn't played like he did at the end of last year, Corey Liuget's season is looking a lot like his rookie season, and injuries have wiped out the depth at edge rusher. Someone on this front seven is going to have to step up and get to the quarterback if this team is going to make a run. Reviewing week 12, what was Good, Bad, and Ugly about the Chargers?Reviewing week 12. What was good, what was bad, and what was downright ugly?