Bolts and Dolts: Ryan Mathews carries Chargers over Chiefs, into Playoffs

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

In the final regular season game of the year for the San Diego Chargers, which of their players performed above (or below) expectations?

Bolts

Ryan Mathews - 24 carries, 144 rush yds, 2 catches (3 targets), 11 rec yds

Did he miss a block that caused Philip Rivers to get sacked? Yes, he did.

Was he the only player on either side of the ball that showed up to play against the Kansas City Chiefs' backups? Pretty much.

Mathews finished the season with 1,255 rushing yards (career high) and 7 touchdowns (tying his career high). He played in 16 games and fumbled the ball only twice. During the last month of football, you could argue that no Chargers player has been playing at a higher level or has had a larger impact on the team.

Eric Weddle - 14 tackles (9 solo), 2 tackles for loss, 1 carry, 2 rush yds

If you've been following closely for the last few seasons, you know about Eric Weddle and fake punts. Weddle is on the punting unit mostly to analyze the defense/situation and decide whether or not to call a fake punt. I don't know that he's ever called it unsuccessfully, but I do know that the responsibility falls to him and not the coaches.

I was sitting next to BP from LobShots yesterday. About 5 seconds before the ball was snapped for the punt, he said "I hope Weddle is smart enough to go for the fake punt here." He knew. He's been paying attention.

A lot of people want to give Mike McCoy credit for the call. I'm giving it to Weddle, but I'm not going to comment on his "giant balls". I'm going to commend Eric on his intelligence. He understood the situation. He, the leader of the Chargers defense, was reasonable enough to realize that the San Diego defense was probably not going to stop the Chiefs offense for the win. In 10 KC offensive drives to that point, the Chargers had given up 3 touchdowns, 1 field goal and 1 missed field goal.

Many football players are wired to think that they can succeed when logic says that they can't. They need to believe the impossible can happen. On this day, Eric Weddle believed the defense wasn't going to get it done. He put his faith in the offense, and in the element of surprise, and won the game for the Chargers. That's a leader.

Honorable Mention: Philip Rivers, Ladarius Green, Eddie Royal

Dolts

Vincent Brown - 0 catches (1 target)

Where was Vincent Brown yesterday? The Chargers were obviously looking to throw 15 yard passes, which is his specialty, and he was going up against the 4th or 5th best CB on the Chiefs for most of the game. Every time I looked at him, he was completely and totally blanketed.

If there is one kink in the armor for the Chargers offense, it's Brown. The running game is great, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal have been fantastic, and the tight ends have been solid as well. Brown has had good spurts here and there, but he just hasn't performed the way that a 2nd WR needs to.

Personally, I'm happy to see that Royal finished with more offensive snaps than Brown did yesterday. I still don't know about playing Royal on the outside, and I think the coaches try to put him in the slot as much as they can, but putting Brown out there seems to be wasting a spot on the field most of the time.

The Chargers Defense

All of them.

The only person getting any pressure was Eric Weddle, and that shouldn't be his job. The outside linebackers were dominated by the backup offensive line.

Cam Thomas, who is probably the 4th best defensive lineman on the team, looked like the best defensive lineman on the team. That's only half of a compliment. Corey Liuget paid someone else to wear his jersey for him yesterday while he hung out on the beach, I'm sure of it.

The secondary is atrocious. Shareece Wright as a starting CB was a good idea for an experiment, but it has not worked. Not at all. He needs to go back to being the 4th CB.

Donald Butler and Manti Te'o were out of position most of the game, and missing tackles on top of it. The entire Chiefs' offensive gameplan seemed to be to catch those guys off-guard with misdirection and it worked for pretty much the entire game.

The simple fact that, 17 weeks into the season, the defense still doesn't have a clue of how to stop a QB that can run faster than a defensive lineman is appalling.

This defense can look really great sometimes, which is insane because I'm pretty sure I've seen high school teams that could put up 30 points against them at other times.

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