After a loss it's always difficult to find 5 good things that happened in the game. You want to focus on all the things that went wrong and why the team lost. You want a cry and complain and scream for heads to roll. However, in this game there was a lot that went right in addition to all that went wrong. The good things this team is doing on a weekly basis is getting Chargers fans excited, almost as if we're sitting around saying "Eliminate the mistakes and this team is a juggernaut."
The best thing the team can do is learn from the mistakes, rely on experience and move forward. This is now the third straight year where they're in a bad situation early in the season, but the sooner they can get past this the sooner the entire fanbase can stop worrying about "early season woes" and start watching the Bolts climb the AFC West standings.
1. The one-who's-name-must-not-be-spoken was not missed
Let's look at the San Diego Chargers top receivers in yesterday's game:
- Antonio Gates - 7 rec, 109 yds, 1 TD
- Malcom Floyd - 6 rec, 97 yds, 1 TD
- Buster Davis - 3 rec, 82 yds
- Patrick Crayton - 3 rec, 57 yds
- Legedu Naanee - 3 rec, 53 yds
Not one of those equals out to an average yards per catch of less than 13.3. That's amazing. Patrick Crayton is obviously getting more involved each week, Buster is getting more confident (and Rivers is getting more confident in him) and Naanee seems to be getting better each week. Mix in the wildcat and a decent running game and this is a nightmare of an offense to prepare for (if they could stop turning the ball over).
2. The running game
Even without Ryan Mathews, and with Mike Tolbert spending half the game looking a little freaked out by his early fumble and his helmet popping off every time he got hit, the running game put up average-to-above-average numbers.
- Mike Tolbert - 17 carries, 73 yds
- Darren Sproles - 1 carry, 16 yds
3. Patrick Crayton, punt returner
- Crayton - 2 punt returns, 11.5 yards per return, longest return is 13 yards. 2 fair catches.
- Darren Sproles - 5 punt returns, 6.6 yards per return, longest return is 13 yards, 3 fair catches.
So we switched to a guy who looks more comfortable fielding punts, he seems to have a better idea of when to fair catch the ball, and we've just about doubled the amount of yards we'll get per return? Be still, my heart.
For those wondering, Sproles career average punt return is 8.4 yards while Crayton's is 9.6.
4. Inside Linebackers
I know I've spent the last two weeks really getting on Stephen Cooper, but I can't say enough about how good the pair of Kevin Burnett and Brandon Siler have been at ILB for the Chargers. Similar to the Donnie Edwards/Randall Godfrey pairing that Chargers fans loved, Burnett is a great all-around LB and Siler bring the pain with big hits, run-stopping ability and the occasional terrifying blitz.
- Burnett - 5 tackles
- Siler - 5 tackles, 1 sack (for a Safety)
5. Defensive Secondary
Quentin Jammer still has it, and Antoine Cason is showing everyone he has it too. These guys are good, and Steve Gregory and Eric Weddle do all the right things to make sure the talent and effort on the outside is not wasted. Even Donald Strickland made a couple of big plays in this game, including an almost-INT that would've changed the dynamic of the game completely.
This has been going on for three weeks now. Just another reason this team seems very close to turning it around and being really good.