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You knew this would be the first one, didn't you?
The San Diego Chargers' first round draft pick put up the type of numbers we were used to seeing from Ryan Mathews in 2013, when he was paired with Danny Woodhead for one of the league's most lethal backfields.
In fact, let us revisit my favorite stat from that year...
When Ryan Mathews gets 15+ touches, the 2013 Chargers are 9-5.
When Danny Woodhead gets 15+ touches, the 2013 Chargers are 1-2.
When Mathews and Woodhead combine for 30+ touches, the 2013 Chargers are 8-0.
8-0! It's no wonder the coaching staff would try to reclaim some of that magic by drafting Gordon and making him a focal point of the offense.
So, how are the 2015 Chargers doing?
When Melvin Gordon gets 15+ touches, the 2015 Chargers are 1-1.
When Danny Woodhead gets 15+ touches, the 2015 Chargers are 1-0.
When Gordon and Woodhead combine for 30+ touches, the 2015 Chargers are 1-1.
Eh, too small of a sample size to get anything from it (yet).
Still, Melvin Gordon was fantastic on Sunday. He was everything he has been advertised to be and more. What I was most impressed with was his speed, because we knew the power and the vision were already there. He really does appear to have the skillset to be one of the league's best Running Backs right away.
Yes, Philip Rivers threw two inexcusable passes at the end of the game. One ended up an interception and the other would've if Malcom Floyd weren't one of the league's better Defensive Backs when he wants to be.
That being said, for being surprised by the defensive looks the Bengals were throwing at him and playing behind a patchwork offensive line....Rivers played pretty well!
While the NFL is certainly changing, I think 65% completion percentage is still the mark of an "accurate" QB. With Ken Whisenhunt calling his plays, Rivers flirted with 70% (finishing with 69.5%)...
Through two games in 2015? Rivers is completing more than 81% of his passes! If you use PFF's Accuracy % stat, which doesn't count dropped passes, throw away passes (out of bounds), batted passes, and focuses purely on how accurate a QB actually is with his throws...Rivers is 91% accurate. Less than 10% of his throws could be described as "inaccurate"...
To give you an idea of how crazy that is, Aaron Rodgers is behind him...at 84.3%. That's not even close!
Rivers may be dealing with a lot right now, and he's more than willing to pick up an interception while trying to score a last-second TD (he obviously doesn't care about his own stats), but he might be playing the best football of his entire career right now. He just needs the rest of the team to get on his level.
After a loss as sloppy as last Sunday's, it's very easy to focus on all of the things that went wrong and all of the players who played poorly. Those that can still catch attention for a good individual performance in a poor team effort are usually those with the ball in their hands (see the QB and RB above). Usually, a lineman doesn't get shouted out for a good game in the loss, but these are special circumstances.
Corey Liuget was fantastic on Sunday. Not good, fantastic.
I saw it during the game, in real time, and then saw it again when I watched the game tape. Not only was Liuget getting double (and sometime triple) teamed, by blockers, but it still wasn't enough to keep him from disrupted any run that came anywhere near him.
Seriously, it was a joy to watch Liuget busting through a combined 600+ lbs of NFL offensive linemen to smash into Jeremy Hill and/or Gio Bernard. This is, until the Bengals realized that it was futile to try and just started running the ball away from him, with great success.
Liuget, unfortunately, is not going to have his name called a whole lot in a positive way this season. He's playing with a bad group of defensive linemen, which means he can be focused on relatively easily, and he's not much of a pass rusher (which means he's about half the play J.J. Watt is, at best, but that's still really good). What he can do is shut down an entire half of the field for the opposing ground game, but even that isn't enough because the rest of the defense can't cover the other half of the field.
Still, when we're looking for good things from the Bengals game, it's worth it to spotlight the best defensive performance of the day.