The Chargers' talented duo at running back had a very solid game. Ryan Mathews (+1.1) averaged 4.2 yards per carry, and had a 39 yard run negated by holding penalty. He scored his second touchdown of the year, and forced two missed tackles. Danny Woodhead (+1.6) did not do as much damage as usual as a receiver, catching only 4 passes for 17 yards, but he did catch Philip Rivers' only touchdown pass of the game. He also ran the ball well, totaling 4.5 yards per carry on 6 rushes.
Antonio Gates continues to struggle, and many (including myself) are wondering when it will be time for Ladarius Green to see a big increase in playing time. Gates finished with an overall grade of -2.7, thanks to a -1.0 pass blocking grade (he was embarrassed by Shaun Phillips on a sack) and a -2.4 run blocking grade. He has a -11.1 rating over the last 5 games, and his run blocking has plummeted to -11.1 on the season. Only 2 tight ends have a lower run block grade, and his overall grade is good for 21st at the position. Ladarius Green, on the other hand, has a +4.5 PFF rating on only 122 snaps. He has made big plays in the passing game and not been a liability blocking. The Gates/Green situation draws comparisons to the L.T./Michael Turner situation that Charger fans are so familiar with.
The offensive line, that held up so well at the beginning of the year, is beginning to look like a liability once again. All starting offensive lineman finished with a negative rating, as Rivers faced pressure on an eye-popping 52.8% of dropbacks. The group allowed 17 total pressures, which isn't going to cut it if the offense wants to keep performing at a high level.
Where to begin...
It wasn't all bad on Sunday, OLB Thomas Keiser nabbed a QB hit and four hurries to lead the Bolts' pass rush. Tourek Williams played as many snaps on Sunday (46) as he did all season and managed to make a big play stripping the ball from Peyton Manning and giving the Chargers a turnover and an easy chance to score. Cam Thomas (+1.3) made 3 stops in the run game, and Lawrence Guy (+0.7) continues to make an impact on tiny snap counts, only seeing the field for 9 plays.
And then there was everyone else. San Diego's coverage rating was -10.7 as a team, and it showed. Shareece Wright (-3.9) got burned, as he allowed 7 catches for 108 yards and 3 touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas alone. Manti Te'o (-1.6) still looks lost and indecisive, and Eric Weddle (-1.2) continues to post poor grades in his new role. He was PFF's top rated safety in 2012, so the new use of Weddle is baffling to me, regardless of how bad the rest of the defense is. Overall, unless the Bolts get to the quarterback for a sack, cover your eyes and look away when they actually release the ball.
Peek to next Week:
Well, the Miami Dolphins rushed for two yards in their loss to Tampa Bay Monday night, so that is a good sign for Charger fans. Center Mike Pouncey (+7.0) has had a terrific year except for one game, but the rest of the offensive line is questionable, especially without Richie Incognito. The Chargers front seven has been able to get pressure on the QB in recent weeks and the trend should continue in week 11.
Miami's defensive line will be a huge test for whoever the Chargers have starting next week. Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, and Cameron Wake all have pass rush grades of at least +11.1 on the season. With Miami's suspect linebacking corps, the Chargers should rely on their rushing attack and quick, three-step drop passing. Rivers will have to find mismatches (LADARIUS GREEN!) and hit them quickly before the Dolphins' fierce pass rush takes over.