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Bolts & Dolts: Ryan Mathews is here to save the San Diego Chargers

Each week, John Gennaro looks over the box score of the previous San Diego Chargers game and hands out cheers (Bolts) and jeers (Dolts) for players that performed above or below expectations. This week, he looks at the team's close win over the 0-10 Oakland Raiders.

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Ryan Mathews - 16 carries, 70 rush yds, 1 catch (1 target), 5 rec yds

We hoped that Ryan Mathews would fix everything for the San Diego Chargers and he kind of did. Behind a still-terrible offensive line, Mathews was able to put up one of the best statistical games of the season on the ground for San Diego. He consistently turned negative plays into positive plays, and he helped the Chargers win the time of possession battle.

Simply put, Mathews was the best player on the Chargers roster and played less than half of the offensive snaps. I can't wait to see what he can do when he's back to 100%.

Kavell Conner - 9 tackles (6 solo), 1 sack

It's amazing to think that Conner was out there splitting time, getting 29 of the team's 60 defensive snaps, because he was seemingly in on every tackle. He picks up 5 'stops' in just 29 snaps, which is absolutely unreal. He was a star all game long and a big reason the Oakland Raiders did not get into the end zone.

Ryan Carrethers - 3 tackles (3 solo)

Another part-time guy, playing on just 25 snaps, the rookie reminded Chargers fans what the defense looks like with a legitimate Nose Tackle in the middle of the defensive line. He had 3 stops in those 25 snaps, and stopped the Raiders running game almost by himself.

Melvin Ingram - 4 tackles (2 solo)

Super Melvin was welcomed back from the Injured Reserve list on Saturday and played on 54 of the team's 60 defensive snaps on Saturday.

For whatever reason, the San Diego Chargers defense is significantly better with Melvin Ingram on the field than when he is off it. The Raiders did plenty to beat themselves on the offensive side of the ball, but Melvin Ingram did a great job of making plays otherwise.

Donald Butler - 3 tackles (3 solo), 1 tackle for loss

Donald Butler has lowered my expectations for him so much that playing an above-average game on 50% of the team's defensive snaps is deserving of praise. He played a heady game and made the plays that came his way. His pass coverage was pretty decent against TEs and RBs, too.

Mike Scifres - 9 punts, 42.2 yards per punt, 5 punts down inside opponents' 20

Mike Scifres is a wizard and that was one of his best games. He was arguably the team's best defensive player on Sunday, which is incredible.


Philip Rivers - 22/34, 193 pass yds, 1 pass TD

I know Passer Rating is an antiquated stat, and I know "QBR" is slightly flawed, but I'm going to used QBR here for a second.

Looking at Rivers' game stats, it's easy to see that a QBR of 80 is "good" and anything above that is "very good". So far this season, he has a QBR of 80.5. However....

Rivers' QBR in Chargers wins: 82.8, 88.4, 91.9, 94.5, 93.4, 50.7

Rivers' QBR in Chargers losses: 59.0, 79.9, 78.8, 19.8

Simply put, Rivers needs to be at least "good" for the team to win....unless they're playing the Raiders (50.7). Also, being "good" isn't enough to beat good teams like the Broncos and Chiefs.

Yes, the offensive line was terrible, but Philip needs to realize that and factor it in. Audible out of passing plays when he sees blitzes and get rid of the ball quickly on every passing play. He's still playing as if he has time to wait for plays to develop and for guys to get open, and that's what lead to at least one of those sacks.

If Rivers' is so hurt that he can't give better than a 50 QBR performance behind this offensive line, the team and its QB need to adjust its gameplan and possibly their game day roster.

Shareece Wright - 4 tackles (4 solo), 1 defended pass

The Raiders, like every team for the rest of the season, know that the Chargers' secondary was terrible last season. Things were better with new blood like Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett in there, but now that Verrett is out for the year, teams will simply attack whomever is playing opposite Flowers.

Wright was thrown at 10 times, more than twice any other Chargers defender, and gave up 5 catches for 102 yards. That included big plays to Kembrell Thompkins and Mychal Rivera. Yikes.

Offensive Line/Coaching

The San Diego Chargers offensive line was the biggest strength of their 2013 playoff team. It's been the biggest weakness of their 2014 team, and could be the thing that keeps them out of the playoffs.

I expected, coming out of the bye, dramatic changes to the offensive line. Changing nothing and expecting different results seemed like madness, but that is exactly what Coach Joe D and Mike McCoy did. It's no wonder the results did not change.

That being said, everyone that isn't named King Dunlap was terrible on the Chargers o-line, and Dunlap was somewhere just below average. What happened to an offense built around hiding the deficiencies of this group?

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