Roundtable: The San Diego Chargers defeat the Philadelphia Eagles

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Bolts from the Blue staff members tell us their thoughts on the Chargers' 33-30 victory over the Eagles.

Alright, fellas. Hit me with your thoughts on the Eagles-Chargers game. All thoughts are welcome, but I am curious if this game changed your outlook on the season at all.

There's only one RULE - keep it under 350 words. (Emphasis added for Nick.)

Nick Shepherd :

I missed this game live, but I did watch an abbreviated replay later already knowing the result. Thank god this is how it played out, because I might have had a heart attack when Mathews fumbled. A few things I noticed on the replay:

  1. Our corners are not nearly as bad as everyone would like you to believe. Gilchrist is much worse than anyone has described, and I've seen him called a "fucking dumpster fire."
  2. The gameplan on D was executed perfectly. Pagano dared DeSean and Vick to beat us over the top. Yes, they did this, but they did it to the detriment of nearly everything else - the run game disappeared, and there were hardly any underneath passes. Vick is so inaccurate deep and outside that this strategy will nearly always work against him.
  3. Dwight Freeney should probably end up in the Hall of Fame.
  4. Philip Rivers looked great. He even threw one crucial ball away (more on this later this week).
  5. Ryan Mathews is so great before 7 yards, and then so lost in the open field.
  6. Antonio Gates holds the ball like he's in a dunk contest.
  7. Related: Where is Ladarius Green? Why is he not playing more?
  8. Last week, our playcalls were pretty much dictated by our personnel. Ryan Mathews in the game? Run. Woodhead in the game? Pass. Brown in the game? Why, exactly?

This week Whiz called plays against type. Woodhead ran it a fair amount, Mathews caught a few passes and Brown continued to consume oxygen that should be used by other, more useful backs.

I think you've redeemed yourself from last week, Nick. I'll take the demerit off your transcript. You're welcome. What does our representative from Texas have to say?

SDNativeinTX :

I will confess to being one of the pessimists that thought the Bolts would lose. As always, the team winning was one of the best parts of the week, and as a football lover, WOW!!! - what a fun game to watch! Here are my thoughts from the game:

Negatives

This team's secondary is bad. Really, really bad - last season's O-line bad. I am not sure what is up with Eric Weddle. He is usually so consistently good that when he has a bad play or whiffs on a coverage or a tackle, it is more noticeable than it is for others. He has not been awful like the other members of the secondary, but he has not made plays with the frequency that I like. I'll write it off as him trying to do too much at this point.

Mathews not getting benched for the fumble was a great call by the coaching staff. A big part of football involves confidence and being able to put bad plays into the rearview. The coaching staff showing this man that they still believe in him was excellent leadership in my opinion. If enough people tell Mathews that they are confident in his abilities and that he is a top-shelf NFL running back, he may start believing it and playing like it. He has the physical tools to do that, but health, ball handling, and tentative play have been issues so far. Ryan, you're good enough; you're smart enough, and doggone-it, people like you!

It is not every week that the defense will face players like Vick, McCoy, and Jackson. That is a good thing. For all the talk about the emphasis on defense going into the season, allowing 61 points in the first two games is not a sign of a defense ready to carry a team.

Positives

I am liking this O-line more and more. Even DJ Fluker looking really bad on one play against Conner Barwin can be forgiven with the overall body of work he put out during this game. Rinehart is looking like a steal in the FA market this year.

Rivers reminded all of us of 2008 and 2009 when he was the offense for this team and it was one of the best in the NFL. If he is able to do most of that against a top-shelf defense or two this season, I will be back on the El Capitan Bandwagon. A few more games like that, with zero interceptions, will make good eyewash for some of the plays we saw in 2011 and 2012.

Allen looked good. His first NFL catch was a tough one and he looked like he belonged out there. Again, let's see what he does against a real defense, but his first action was encouraging.

Golly gee, Robert, you've done it again.  That's a doggone good review you've got there. Who's up next, y'all?

AvengingJM :

Aside from games against Duke and assorted trash from the ACC I don't think that Philip Rivers has ever played a better game than the one in Philadelphia on Saturday. Am I wrong*?

*Rhetorical. I am right.

Nobody does it quite like AJM. Nobody.

Superduperboltman :

This was a game the Chargers could have easily lost. Thanks to Philip Rivers being just slightly better, they managed to pull off the win.

I liked seeing Rivers throw the ball 47 times. John Gennaro may like to stress that Rivers is a "game manager," but many people, me included, like to think of Rivers as a true quarterback, able to win games by throwing 25 times or 40, as was the case against Philly. All he needed was an improved offensive line and a gameplan that works with the players around him. I mean, look at the receiving corps: An undrafted veteran at the back-end of his career, a couple of young third-rounders, a talented free-agent pick-up who was considered a "washed out" former second round pick, and an old basketball player who's still dominant after ten years. All of whom are "injury-prone" and, at least individually, considered to be average at best. Now that Rivers can actually complete a five-step drop without having pressure in his face or a collapsing pocket, he can do what he does best: Use his brain, and his still-accurate and strong-enough arm. I do wish Ladarius Green would play in favor of John Phillips, and I also hope to see Keenan Allen. He looked decent, but not great. Remember he was going against some of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL.

Defensively, I was disappointed in absolutely everyone not named Dwight Freeney, Eric Weddle, Donald Butler, and Corey Liuget. In fact, had it not been for Freeney's ability to get pressure, the Chargers probably would have lost. Melvin Ingram needs to come back soon. Manti Te'o needs to play, period. And most of you know that I love to defend the defensive coordinator, because in this case, he had a good gameplan. The players just executed poorly and I think it's hard to argue against it. It was evident with the secondary's poor coverage and the front seven's lack of push against the run. That concerns me with three consecutive games coming against teams that could try to do the same damage running the football. Regardless, after two games, it looks like the last two Green Bay Packers seasons. This team just needs to outscore the opponent more than they need to try and stop them defensively. That may not result in a 15-1 season like it did with them in 2011, but at best it could be like their 11-5 season last year. Or we could wait a few more games to assess this situation realistically.

FINALLY. It only took four tries before someone kind of answered my one and only question. I guess it could have been worse. Fearless Leader is up next. Buckle up, kiddos.

John Gennaro :

This game basically summed up why I flip-flopped on my season predictions after the Cardinals-Chargers preseason game. Give Philip Rivers a strong running game and time to make adjustments at the line, and you have yourself one heck of an offense. I think I made the point on "Gennaro-ly Speaking" that Peyton Manning (and his coaches) have rode this formula to the playoffs (or at least respectability) for years now. It's refreshing to see it being used in San Diego.

THAT BEING SAID....we should temper our excitement. This was the 32nd ranked pass defense last season in terms of DVOA. They were missing one of their starting cornerbacks, and their secondary is maybe even thinner than San Diego's. The pass rush looked pathetic and the blitz-heavy play-calling from their Redskins game, which led to most of the early turnovers by Washington, was nowhere to be seen. The Chargers gameplanned to take advantage of Philly's poor secondary, poor pass rush and kept their offense off the field. I hope that Philip Rivers and the passing offense can look that good every week, but I'm not going to start predicting it just yet.

Kudos to the coaching staff for building a gameplan around their opponent's weaknesses, something that Norv Turner failed to do quite often.

Tempering excitement is no fun, but I suppose you're right. It's still very, very early. On to the next one.

Jason Peters :

My main takeaway from Week 2 was that we really didn't learn much new about the team compared to Week 1. The offense is powered by Rivers playing effectively, and the run game handled by a committee of Mathews, Woodhead, and Brown. On defense, the front seven is effective stopping the run, but the pass defense is truly terrible.

The pass defense is a big, big concern. We saw against Houston that if the offense blinks, the defense cannot preserve the lead it built. Outside of two turnovers at the end of the first half, the offense did not falter against Philadelphia. Only one Chargers drive failed to move into field goal range.

The coaches put together a terrific game plan for the offense. On defense, the game plan was good, placing Weddle in the box to stop McCoy and bring pressure on Vick. The execution was terrible, especially by the deep safety, whether it be Gilchrist or Addae.

I think we'll see some more regression as we move on. The pass defense will improve, and the offense will cool off somewhat. What we've seen so far is the Chargers can go score-for-score with any team. We might see a lot of Dan Fouts-era Chargers scores of 42-38 in the future.

Thank you, Jason. I see you're tempering your excitement as well. Obviously all of you have already learned your lesson with this team. Last but certainly not least, our international correspondent.

David Marver :

That's more like it. Apparently the football gods have heard of mercy...or are REALLY going to screw with us in the upcoming weeks.

Philip hasn't lost it; that's what we should remember most about not only this game, but about the way McCoy and Whisenhunt have given him full freedom to call what he wants at the line, whenever he wants, through two weeks. They haven't gotten to where they are in their careers by being stupid, and McCoy's experience with Peyton should speak volumes in how he's handling Philip similarly.

Last week, we complained about how Mathews was on the sidelines in the fourth. This week, Mathews was on the bench in the fourth, but we were all served a giant piece of STFU pie with how well the offense moved without him. I love reminders of why I'm not an NFL coach.

Those football gods are tricky. Very, very tricky. Alright, that's all, folks. Please vote below and, as always, tell us what your thoughts are in the comments. Let the good times roll.

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