The Chargers have now played 1 quarter of their 16 game season, and boy has it been a rough ride. Here is a look at what has transpired thus far.
Let’s start with the bad news
Their record currently stands at 1-3, which has them firmly in last place in the AFC West.
Injuries. The team has lost Keenan Allen (ACL), Danny Woodhead (ACL), Branden Oliver (Achilles), Manti Te’o (Achilles), Stevie Johnson (ACL), all for the season. And those are just the 5 most notable names, the team currently has 14 players (and $21.4 million in cap space) on the Injured Reserve.
The injuries don’t end there however. Jahleel Addae has a broken clavicle and is out for what will likely be at least 6 more weeks. Antonio Gates hasn’t played or practiced in 2 weeks with a hamstring injury. Same for King Dunlap with migraines.
Bosa Watch. Rookie Joey Bosa has yet to have a full go in pads in practice and has not gotten close to being active on game day.
Head “Coach” Mike McCoy has picked up right where he left off last season. The team he “coaches” still cannot finish games. San Diego has held a lead in the 4th quarter of every game this season, including a 13 point or more lead in 3, and have only managed to win 1 of them.
The Good News!
Young players are stepping up and looking good for this team. Dexter McCoil, Jatavis Brown, Hunter Henry, and Spencer Pulley are all rookies that for one reason or another are getting reps and making the most of them. All 4 of them are making big plays and looking like upgrades over the vets they are playing for.
Melvin Gordon is a new player this year. He is confident, he’s running smart, he’s running strong, his pass blocking is improved, and he has 6 TD’s in just 4 games.
Free Agents on defense are paying off in a big way. Brandon Mebane, Caraun Reid, and Casey Hayward have all 3 made splash plays and have been big upgrades over last year.
Tyrell Williams is (slowly) emerging. He still needs to get over the drops, but he has been good.
Offense - B/B- - Philip Rivers has been consistent and good this year. He has missed a few reads and held on too long a few times, but there has been a revolving door at tackle this again year. The WR’s have done a decent job at trying to fill the huge hole left with KA out for the year, heck even Dontrelle Inman put up a 100 yard game this week. MG3 has been much improved. Hunter Henry and Sean McGrath have been solid contributors, especially run blocking, and Henry has been stepping up with Gates out. The line has been decent, but nothing to write home about and injuries are starting to mount again.
Defense - C+/B- - This defense hasn’t been terrible, but they could be much better. The CB’s have been pretty outstanding this year, especially considering the hard time the front 7 has had getting pressure. Outside of Verrett getting beat by T.Y. Hilton all day vs the Colts, they have minimized deep passes, forced turnovers, and done a decent job in run support. The defensive line has been solid but really need a player of Joey Bosa’s caliber out there. The linebackers have been learning on the fly with team captain Manti Te’o going down and Denzel Perryman being banged up, but Jatavis Brown is a playmaker and has infused some much needed athleticism at the LB spot. The safety play has been decent, but they could use either more help from pressure up front or a real playmaker in their group.
Coaching - D- - The coaching all around has been flat out bad. The team cannot close in the 4th quarter. They’ve been making mental mistakes with penalties on 3rd downs and fumbles. They still, for the probably 10th year in a row, have a problem with tackling. They still can’t make any adjustments in the 2nd half of games to keep up with other teams who have been making adjustments. Red zone play calling has been questionable. Still having issues with when to use time outs. Still too quick to punt or kick the FG on 4th down rather than take a risk once in a while.
All in all, there is a lot to improve on going forward and not a lot of time to do it because:
- The Stadium vote is in a few weeks and the team is already facing an uphill battle with voters, not to mention the fact that the Rams not only have a head start in LA but are 3-1 to start the season
- If McCoy can’t show some improvement soon he is gone
- The Chargers’ opponents for the next quarter of the season are a combined 14-2
- 3 of the next 4 games are division games