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Ten observations from the Titans game...According to Hoyle

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The Chargers found a way to win a must-win game Sunday against the Titans, but what can we take away from this game as it relates to the rest of the season. Jamie shares his 10 observations...according to Hoyle.

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Thanks to a mostly efficient offense and a very opportunistic defense the Chargers beat a game Titan's team 43-35 on alumni weekend and I think we can all agree it was the most fun we've had watching a Bolts game in a long time. I know it was definitely the most fun I've had watching them since Mike McCoy arrived.

While I'm not convinced this is the win that fuels a second-half playoff push, I do think we saw a number of positives come out of this game.  In fact, I would argue we saw a number of positives come out of the game for the second week in a row regardless of whether or not this win propels the Chargers to a playoff berth.  Here are my observations from the Titan's game...

Melvin Gordon is the Chargers offense.  That's right, MGIII has become the primary catalyst for the Bolts offensive attack.  Don't believe me?  Fine, don't take my word for it; let the 52 touches for 384 yards (7.37 yards per touch) and one touchdown he posted in his last 90 minutes of football speak for themselves.  This is Gordon's offense, and it's a necessary evolution that should serve to make the Chargers better and prolong Philip Rivers career...

Of course, Melvin is dependent upon the offensive linemen to open holes for him and, since the start of the third quarter in Denver last week, that's exactly what they've done.  I thought the offensive line did a fantastic job of caving in a very good Tennessee front seven on a regular basis on Sunday, and that goes double for the interior trio of Franklin, Slauson and Fluker, whom I thought played their best game of the year...

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?  Ken Wisenhunt showed a wrinkle we hadn't seen before by repeatedly using Antonio Gates, who is hardly known for his blocking, as a LEAD BLOCKER for Melvin Gordon.  Perhaps the only thing more surprising than seeing Gates lead Gordon through the hole was seeing him spring Melvin for multiple big gainers with textbook blocks. If it caught us off guard, I can only imagine how ill-prepared the Titans were for it...

And speaking of being unprepared, I'd like to give Dick LeBeau a huge shout-out for trying...and I stress the word trying...to cover a future Hall of Fame tight end with 290-pound outside linebackers in the first half.  Granted, Gates has had a hard time getting separation, but they may as well have asked Jurrell Casey to run with Gates...nice game plan...

Hell didn't freeze over and pigs may or may not have flown, but one thing we know for certain is the Chargers finished a game by running the ball down Tennessee's throat.  Leading by 8 with 2:45 left in the game the Chargers ran the ball 6 times for 58 yards, including a 47-yard sprint from Melvin Gordon on a key 3rd and 6.  That's how you redefine your offensive identity and it's an indication of just how good this running game can be...

I predicted the Chargers would shift Kyle Emanuel to inside linebacker on the podcast last week and it proved true.  While I think his lack of coverage skills could be a problem if he has to spend a lot of time inside, I thought he acquitted himself well against the run.  He did a job job of reading his keys, coming downhill, and finding the ball carrier.  I'm not saying he's a star in the making at that position, but I do think he looked pretty good...

All Korey Toomer does is make plays.  Another week in the books and all he did was log 9 tackles and ANOTHER forced fumble.  He had his struggles trying to cover Delanie Walker, but you can say that about a lot of linebackers in the NFL.  Considering he was languishing on the Raiders practice squad a mere six weeks ago, not only would I say he continues to make the most of his opportunities, but he makes it easier for Tom Telesco to part ways with that Te'o guy after this season...

I said last week I expected the turnover train to continue and the defense responded with THREE more turnovers.  Not only that, but they scored two more defensive touchdowns, giving them three in the last two weeks.  Even in the absence of consistent pressure on Marcus Mariota, the secondary confused the second-year quarterback, jumped several routes, and made plays when they needed to.  They were productive and entertaining in spite of giving up 35 points and they continue to be worth the price of admission...

Corey Liuget made a play!  I repeat, Corey Liuget made a play!  The good news is, his first quarter tackle for loss provided key third down stop and gave the ball back to the offense; the bad news is the Chargers $50M defensive end/tackle has made a total of 5 tackles in his last 200 snaps.  Yes, you read that right...5 tackles in 200 snaps.  At this rate he's going to make about $500,000 for every tackle he makes in 2016...ouch...

Brandon Flowers may have had his best game as a Charger on Sunday.  The veteran corner, who responded to a big money deal with an awful 2015 season, was all over the field with 5 tackles, 2 TFL, two passes defensed and what amounted to the game-winning pick-six.  He did have a couple blown coverages, but he more than made up for them with his work in the run game and, of course, the huge interception. Like the rest of the corners, BFlo is clearly feeding off of the recent work of the front seven...

So, to sum it all up, I'm thrilled with the newfound commitment to the run, love the new-and-improved, more physical version of Melvin Gordon; and am really enjoying the big-play capabilities of this defense.  Between the running game and the turnover train on defense, I believe this team is finally learning how to win and doing a nice job of developing traits we'd normally associate with a playoff team.  It's just a shame they need to work so hard to overcome the McCoy affect each and every week.

That's the Titans game according to Hoyle...let me know what you saw/thought in the comments section...