Philip Rivers - 22/26, 285 pass yds, 1 pass TD
I hesitated to put Rivers here. At this point, 84% completion rate, a passing TD and almost 300 yards without a turnover is pretty much what we expect from Philip when he's going against teams like Jacksonville. However, Rivers deserves some special recognition for what he's been able to accomplish with the players around him. Just a quick reminder:
Starting Offensive Line
LT King Dunlap
LG Chad Rinehart
C Nick Hardwick
RG Jeromey Clary
RT D.J. Fluker
Offensive Line vs. JAX
LT D.J. Fluker
LG Johnnie Troutman
C Nick Hardwick
RG Rich Ohrnberger
RT Jeromey Clary
On top of that.... the starting WRs this season were supposed to be Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander. Instead, they are rookie Keenan Allen and missed-all-of-last-season Vincent Brown.
This is like the 2010 season, except without the historically bad special teams play. That team was 2-5 after seven games before finishing 9-7. This is where I remind you that, if the playoffs started today, the Chargers would be the sixth seed.
Ryan Mathews - 21 carries, 110 rush yds, 1 rush TD
Good news and bad news here.
The good news is that Ryan Mathews got his 20+ touches, ran for over 100 yards, picked up a touchdown and didn't fumble the ball away or get injured at any point.
The bad news is that the offense is as predictable with Mathews as it was when Norv Turner was calling the plays. Ryan was in for 35 plays yesterday, and only 7 of those were pass plays (against the Colts, just 14 of his 41 snaps were pass plays). That means that 80% of the time Mathews was on the field, the team was running the ball. The coaching staff doesn't trust him to pass block, they apparently don't like his hands as a receiver, and he's essentially being used as if he were Jackie Battle.
That, right there, is the reason for all of our anger over the way Mathews is used. He's not in on goal-line situations (typically) because the team wants the defense to as least respect the passing game. He's not in the "hurry-up" offense because he limits the plays Rivers can check to. He's not in the two-minute offense because those are typically "passing situations".
76 of Mathews' 117 touches (65%) this season have come on first down, including both of the touchdowns that he has scored. Mathews is, apparently, the guy that makes "1st and 10" into "2nd and 6". He's the guy that burns clock in the fourth quarter. He's not the potential MVP or All-Pro that we all envisioned when he was selected in the first round, or at least that's not how the coaching staff has been using him.
As far as power running backs go, Mathews had a pretty good day in Jacksonville.
Danny Woodhead - 9 carries, 29 rush yds, 1 rush TD, 4 catches (4 targets), 47 rec yds
13 touches for 76 yards and a touchdown? That's what Woodhead was signed for. This actually reminds me an awful lot of the stat line I came to expect from Darren Sproles in his last year with the Chargers (2010), when he was splitting time with Mathews. It's not yet my expectation from Woodhead every week, but it's where the team wants him to be and he accomplished that goal for yet another week.
Eddie Royal - 4 catches (4 targets), 69 rec yds, 1 rec TD
Eddie found his way back to the end zone!
I've been trying to wrap my head around Royal's 2013 season for a few weeks now. He started off as the hottest receiver in the league and then completely disappeared. Then, just when I gave up on ever seeing him do anything ever again, he finishes this game as the team's leading receiver and has the only receiving touchdown.
My best guess is that Royal wasn't getting much respect to start the season. Opposing teams were putting their third or fourth-best cornerbacks on him in man coverage and offering no safety help at all. Once they saw that Royal, with Ken Whisenhunt's help, was good enough to beat those cornerbacks and get into the end zone consistently. Defenses shifted, putting better corners against him and occasionally offering safety help, and Royal was once again rendered useless.
My theory isn't really based off extensive film-study on Royal, although that might happen this week since there's no game to look forward to next weekend, but the fact that he showed back up against a Jaguars team that has nothing but third and fourth-string cornerbacks and safeties that don't know what "over-the-top help" means. Either way, great game by Eddie. He, along with Keenan Allen, fits the mold of "quick receiver that can create yards after the catch" that this offense seems to like for its WRs.
Were they perfect? No, but they played admirably considering the circumstances. Based on how this season has gone I think this should be the offensive line going forward:
Fluker is the best left tackle on the roster and you're probably not finding someone better than him via free agency. Troutman has earned a starting job, let him keep it with this rotation. Rinehart has experience at RG, he played there last year under Joe D. in Buffalo, so he'll be fine. Maybe look for another backup interior lineman.
Clary actually graded out positively on PFF for his time at right tackle yesterday. It was his first positive grade of the season. Did he pick up a couple of penalties? Yes. Did he dominate the Jaguars pass rushers on more than a few plays? Yes. Is he good enough at RT to win with? Absolutely. And, most importantly, is he a better right tackle than he is a guard? Yes!
The injuries and the bye week come at the perfect time to reshuffle the offensive line and let everyone work with Coach D at their new positions for a few weeks before facing the Redskins.
Jahleel Addae - 5 tackles (5 solo), 1 sack
This is how little John Pagano respects Chad Henne's arm: Jahleel Addae played 24 of the Chargers' 62 defensive snaps. No, he wasn't replacing Eric Weddle (who played all 62) or Marcus Gilchrist (who played all 62), Pagano just had three safeties on the field for about half of San Diego's defensive snaps. Cam Thomas, the team's starting nose tackle, was out there for 28 snaps (or, 4 more than Addae).
Addae's job was pretty simple, actually. While Weddle and Gilchrist took turns playing deep coverage and playing man-coverage on Marcedes Lewis, Addae blitzed. He blitzed to stop the run, he blitzed to put pressure on Henne, and he finished tied for the team lead in tackles. This plan doesn't work against a QB that can read defenses, get the ball out quickly and beat corners over-the-top with deep throws. I wouldn't expect to see it employed again this season.
Thomas Keiser - 3 tackles (3 solo), 2 sacks, 1 pass defended
You really can't have a better game than Keiser did. He rushed the passer 32 times and ended up with 2 sacks and 5 hurries, and he wasn't absolutely atrocious against the run either. My guess is that he takes some snaps away from Larry English when Jarret Johnson gets healthy, or works in a rotation if Melvin Ingram is ready to come back, after the bye.
Corey Liuget - 1 tackles (1 solo), 1 sack
There's the big man I remember from last season. My goodness, Corey was dominant yesterday. When I think about yesterday's game, all I see is Liuget repeatedly breaking through double-teams to scare the hell out of Chad Henne or break up a running play. He got 5 hurries out of Henne in addition to the one sack, and by the end of the game the Jaguars offensive linemen were terrified of him.
Johnny Patrick - 4 tackles (4 solo)
Patrick is a bad cornerback and a worse tackler. He was targeted 8 times by Chad Henne and gave up 6 catches for 94 yards. He was also targeted by the Jaguars Offensive Coordinator, who tried to run the ball or throw WR screens at Patrick as much as possible, counting on the missed tackle that came almost every time (PFF credits him with 3 missed tackles, which led the team).