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Bolts & Dolts: Philip Rivers' Best Game Ever?

Which San Diego Chargers players performed above, or below, expectations in the team's 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers?

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


Philip Rivers - 43/65, 503 pass yds, 2 pass TDs

When you're trying to explain to your future children and grandchildren how great Philip Rivers was, this is the game to show them.

Against what was thought to be the league's best passing defense, Rivers was absolutely perfect. There were no mental mistakes, there were only one or two inaccurate passes (which seemed weird because of how surgical he was otherwise), and he was playing without an offensive line and without any real receivers besides Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen (before the injury).

To put it bluntly, Rivers is an offense all by himself. The fact that he threw it 65 times without turning it over means that he's playing about as well as he ever has.

Actually, is this Rivers' best overall game?

Not his most efficient game, that one is obviously going to be one of those games where he threw about 18 times and the running game and defense did the rest, but his best game.

Let's limit it to games where he threw the ball more than 40 times. Surprisingly, there are a lot of those. 28 of them, to be exact.

I think we can get rid of all of the games in which he had less than 400 passing yards, and any games in which Rivers threw a pick. That gets us from 28 all that way down to three games, and it also gives us an answer to our question.

Yesterday's loss to the Packers is probably not the best game of Philip Rivers' career. That game was probably in 2013, after a serious injury to Malcom Floyd in Philadelphia, when Rivers threw for 419 yards, 3 TDs, and no turnovers while completing 76.6% oh his passes in a last-second 33-30 win over the Eagles.

That being said, the fact that we're even talking about Rivers having one of his best games ever behind this offensive line, at 33 years old and with his 8th child due to be born any day, shows you just how amazing Rivers is.

Keenan Allen - 14 catches (15 targets), 157 rec yds

Oh, what could have been! Had Allen not gotten hurt, this was definitely going to end up being the best game of his career, and one that Chargers fans remembered forever. It's worth noting that the red zone offense probably stood a better chance of scoring at the end had Allen still been in the game.

I love how Allen responded after the game when asked why he seemed unguardable, saying "They tried to play me in man." Granted, Allen wasn't going up against Darrelle Revis, but it's fun to think that team's need to scheme to stop him, otherwise he'll just catch the ball 20 times for 200 yards.

Antonio Gates - 9 catches (16 targets), 95 rec yds

Is this what I'm supposed to be expecting from Gates? Maybe. I wasn't exactly surprised by anything Gates did on Sunday, but I'd be lying if I told you a few weeks ago that I thought Antonio was going to return in Pro Bowl shape and Pro Bowl form.

Denzel Perryman - 8 tackles (7 solo), 1 tackle for loss

In his first NFL start, Perryman led the team in tackles and provided the first bit of excitement (without a turnover) that the defense had seen since....Shawne Merriman?

I am of the opinion that the only Chargers player that may have had a better defensive game than Perryman was Jason Verrett, and I will blow a gasket if I see Manti Te'o and Donald Butler back getting the majority of the snaps next week.

Corey Liuget - 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 sack

First, it was nice for Liuget to finally show up. I know he does this every year, playing 3-4 great games and mostly coasting through the rest, so I shouldn't be surprised....but I will say that Perryman's presence on the field seemed like it had Liuget fired up and playing at a pre-big-contract level. Just one more reason to keep the rookie on the field.

Jerry Attaochu - 3 tackles (3 solo), 2 sacks

I don't want to overstate this, because the Chargers' pass rush was mostly crap yesterday. Just about every sack the team had was a coverage sack, but Attaochu is doing something special and that needs to be highlighted.

Attaochu has played in five games this season and has 4 sacks. Assuming he plays every game the rest of the season and continues on that pace, he'll end up with either 18 or 19 sacks.

(Author's Note: I'm terrible at math. It's actually 12 sacks.)

Now, that probably won't happen, but it goes to show you just how good he's been. Last year, the only players with more than 17 sacks were J.J. Watt and Justin Houston.

Attaochu deserves credit for his motor in this one, and for finding creative ways to get his numbers and to get to Aaron Rodgers when the QB held onto the ball too long. These are the type of games that you need in between the dominating performances to get your stats to those ridiculous levels.


Melvin Gordon - 7 carries, 29 rush yds, 2 fumbles (1 lost)

Let's look at the last three Chargers first-round RBs and compare them through the first six games of their careers, shall we?

  • LaDainian Tomlinson - 152 carries, 544 rush yds (3.58 Y/A), 7 rush TDs, 10 catches (13 targets), 90 rec yds, 4 fumbles (3 lost)
  • Ryan Mathews - 63 carries, 297 rush yds (4.71 Y/A), 1 rush TD, 10 catches (13 targets), 63 rec yds, 2 fumbles (2 lost)
  • Melvin Gordon - 78 carries, 299 rush yds (3.8 Y/A), 13 catches (16 targets), 86 rec yds, 4 fumbles (3 lost)

So, what have we learned? Mostly, that we're all idiots.

Gordon isn't Mathews because, at this point, he's not as good as Mathews was. Not in any sense of the word.

Also, Gordon isn't Tomlinson because, at this point, he's not as good as Tomlinson was. SEVEN TOUCHDOWNS! In his first six games as a pro! On a bad team! That man just had a way of ending up in the end zone.

The good news here is that Gordon's fumbling problems are no worse than LT's, and he straightened his out in his first real NFL offseason. Also, despite missing half of the game yesterday, Gordon is already healthier than Mathews (who missed one of his first six games as a pro with an injury).

The bad news here is that Gordon was a trainwreck against the Packers. He seems to be regressing, and is now so indecisive with the ball in his hands that there's a better chance of him getting tackled for loss than for gain. He needs something to wake him up.

Melvin Ingram

I bet you're wondering why I put stats next to everyone else's name and not next to Ingram's.


That's why.

Melvin Ingram was on the field for almost every single defense snap and had less tackles than a CB that Aaron Rodgers was purposefully avoiding (Jason Verrett) and an offensive lineman (Kenny Wiggins).

That's not just bad, that is impressively bad. You have to try pretty damn hard to not at least run into a tackle when you're in the box for 45+ snaps.

Donald Butler - 4 tackles (2 solo)

Here's some quick math that might make you vomit.

First 3 Seasons (average season): 90 tackles (70 solo), 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, 1 defensive touchdown

2014: 73 tackles (45 solo), 1 sack, 3 fumble recoveries

2015 (projected): 69 tackles (34 solo), 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries

Those projected numbers count on Butler being healthy and starting all season long.

To put it bluntly, Butler's performance this year is not any better than last year, and it's still embarrassing. A guy with his talents and playing his position should be able to get 85+ tackles in his sleep, in addition to making plays in coverage. I wonder if he doesn't have some sort of degenerative injury that he's never going to recover from, or if it's all mental, because the guy is only on the field right now because of his contract. He's hurting the team more than helping, at this point.

Brandon Flowers

You probably noticed Flowers' name is missing from that list of defensive stats above as well. That's because he, too, had zero tackles or impact on the game.

Or, rather, he had an impact. Just not a positive one.

John Pagano has completely misused Brandon Flowers this season, after using him to near perfection last season, but that's not all that's wrong here. I am firmly in the camp with those that think Flowers is injured. He's a sure thing to get burned twice per game every game this season, which is a bad look for a guy that just got paid a bunch of money.

Jacoby Jones

The $5.5 million man who was brought in to spice up the return game continues to disappoint.

Now that he's healthy, Jones might actually be hurting the team more than when he wasn't healthy. He took 3 kick returns out on Sunday, averaging 18.5 yards per return, and returned 2 punts for NEGATIVE SEVEN YARDS.