Branden Oliver - 26 carries, 101 rush yds, 1 rush TD, 4 catches (5 targets), 23 rec yds
Okay, I'm buying in. Branden Oliver is the real deal. I'm not sure if he'll ever be a starting RB, and I don't know that he could replace Ryan Mathews next year, but "Bo" is good enough to regularly be on the field for the San Diego Chargers. Even when Mathews returns, I think Oliver has taken the "3rd down RB" role away from Donald Brown and could soon prove to be the team's best option as a goal line RB as well.
This wasn't Oliver coming in and beating up a Jets team in the second half of a blowout game. He was the starter, his 30 touches were more than anyone not named Philip Rivers, and he was a big reason San Diego was able to win the game.
Malcom Floyd - 5 catches (7 targets), 103 rec yds, 1 rec TD
In six games, Malcom Floyd has topped 50 receiving yards four times and has topped 70 receiving yards three times. He also has three receiving TDs. As the main deep threat in an offense that usually relies on short passes, those are numbers that you wouldn't really expect. Those are the numbers I was hoping DeSean Jackson could have brought to San Diego when I pushed for the Chargers to sign him this offseason.
In short, Floyd is the #1 receiver in a very good passing offense. Without him, the Chargers are basically in the same position the Patriots are, trying to beat teams while never picking up more than 10 yards in any given play. He's been crucial, and is playing better than he ever has. The fact that Rivers can throw a deep ball to Floyd whenever the defense covers him one-on-one and there's a 80% chance Malcom comes down with it must drive opposing coaches nuts.
Ladarius Green - 4 catches (5 targets), 60 rec yds
See? Nothing to worry about. Everyone who has been so concerned about where Ladarius has been in this offense got to see what happens when the Chargers adjust this week.
The Raiders focused a lot of their attention on trying to stop Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal, and Antonio Gates. Those being the team's three biggest receiving threats so far this year. Philip Rivers countered by hitting Malcom Floyd deep and Ladarius Green on medium-range passes, and the offense just kept humming along.
Eddie Royal - 2 catches (2 targets), 49 rec yds, 1 rec TD
It's getting to the point where I probably should expect this type of game from Eddie Royal. In fact, Royal is averaging 54 yards and almost 1 receiving TD per game this season. Still, it's amazing how much better he is with the Chargers than he was with the Broncos.
Jason Verrett - 6 tackles (6 solo), 2 defended passes, 1 interception
I have absolutely no issue with Verrett remaining the starting outside CB when Shareece Wright returns from injury, because he is 100% ready to be an NFL starter. He makes big plays, provides fantastic coverage, and does the little things to help the guys around him. It won't be long before opposing offenses start game-planning their defense away from Verrett.
Eric Weddle (Special Teams Player)
That is to say, this is not a criticism of Weddle on defense, where he was mostly fine. However, his decision to fake a punt on 4th & forever, and the execution of the fake, was abysmal.
The Chargers actually tweeted out a picture of Weddle warming up his throwing arm before the game started, and I was wondering "Why would he be doing that?"
I never want to see Eric Weddle throwing a football ever again.
Dwight Freeney - 1 tackle (1 solo)
I get it. The Raiders play dirty, and they were going after Freeney's knees every single time he tried anything but an up-high bullrush. Even then, it seemed like there were a few times where they were setting up the chop block and Dwight disengaged to avoid it.
Still, Freeney protecting his body for most of the game is what led to San Diego having no pass-rush at all. Melvin Ingram isn't around to help, and Jerry Attaochu had plenty of rust on him (and it showed). Freeney is the team's pass-rush right now, and the Raiders took him out of the game completely.
Philip Rivers' hero complex
I was certain that an ugly interception was coming. They need to run a drill in practice where Philip gets hit with a stick whenever he holds on to the ball for more than three seconds.
Here it is, lined out as simply as possible....
The offensive line is built to run-block, and pass-block for a very short period of time.
Philip Rivers does not trust his run game to be effective because it has not been, for the most part.
Rivers is holding on to the ball for far too long, waiting for receivers to come open down the field, because he feels it is up to him to make the offense work.
Rivers is putting extra pressure on the offensive line, asking them to do something that they are not built to do, and putting himself at risk as a result.
Earlier in the season, Rivers would run for 3+ yards or whatever the defense would give him after spending three seconds in the pocket. Now, he's sticking around and tempting fate. It's the reason the sack numbers are climbing and it's something that, hopefully, the coaches will address soon to start pushing back to what it was earlier this year.