What a huge win for the Chargers on Sunday. Even though not many expected taking down the defending champs after a rough loss in week 1, it doesn't seem to come as much of a surprise. In any case, this is a much better week for Bolts fans.
Reasons for Optimism
Offense Back in Sync
Week one featured a strange mix of play calling, dropped passes, and simply a team that did not seem ready to compete. Mike McCoy seemed to turn that around quickly. Philip Rivers had a phenomenal performance, making the Chargers only the second team to score 30 points against Seattle since 2012. Antonio Gates' 3 touchdown performance was complimented by Eddie Royal making plays in space and Keenan Allen beating Richard Sherman a few times. An excellent showing in week 2 for the offense.
I wrote a couple months back why Dwight Freeney is one of the most valuable Chargers, and he is proving to be just that so far. A hit, 2 hurries, and a sack that stopped a Seattle drive early in the game showed Freeney is still the most explosive player on the front seven.
Melvin Ingram also stepped up in a huge way with the best game of his young career. He helped fill in for the late scratch Jarret Johnson (congratulations on the baby, by the way), as he made plays against the run as well as a pass rusher. Ingram has shown the inability to finish big plays in the past, so hopefully this is the start of a breakout season for the former first-round pick. Overall, you have to be satisfied with this position group considering how much they struggled last year.
The Chargers have already played of their toughest games of the season. They head to Buffalo next week to play the 2-0 Bills, but I am not buying in to them quite yet. After week 3, the Bolts face the Jaguars and the Jets, neither of whom has shown a whole lot this year. Those games are followed division opponents Oakland and Kansas City. The Raiders have looked even worse than we thought they would and the Chiefs could be headed for a downward spiral with the offseason losses and injuries we have seen so far. The victory over the Seahawks shows that the Chargers should win the next 4 games, but I guess we all know what happens when you make assumptions about this team in San Diego.
Reasons for Concern
The Offensive Line
The Chargers' offensive line is the only position group that truly gives me concern long term. DJ Fluker looks like a different player than last season, and not in a good way. Nick Hardwick is lost for the season, and Johnnie Troutman is the worst starter on the team. Put me in the camp that is ready to see Chris Watt as the starting right guard. He showed more ability to pick up blitzes/stunts in the preseason alone that Troutman has in the last 2 seasons.
The Chargers need to be able to run the ball successfully to close out games. It's what they do. However, so far the O-line has struggled against the run. Maybe they were overwhelmed by the NFC West defensive fronts, but they will have to face some more tough defensive lines if they want to make a playoff run. They certainly have a tall task of getting the ground game going, especially with Ryan Mathews out for at least a month.
Injuries Starting to Pile Up?
The week after the Chargers lose long-time center Nick Hardwick for the season, Ryan Mathews suffers an MCL sprain that could put him out more than a month. Brandon Flowers missed the contest against Seattle due to a groin injury that he apparently suffered only a few days more, and Jahleel Addae still hasn't come back from his hamstring injury. San Diego is better able to handle injuries than they were last year, but its never good to see this many valuable contributors down so early in the season.