So... now what?
Are the Chargers a really good football team (like the first half of the KC game and the Jags game suggests) or a bad one (like the second half of the KC game suggests) who took advantage of playing an even worse team? Personally, I'm leaning towards the former, but we'll have to wait until after the Chargers
beat play the Colts next week to make more of an educated guess.
So, what do we do in the meantime? We review individual performances from the Jaguars game! It feels great to be able to talk about a win after the train-wreck last year. Speaking of trains...
1: Tyrell Williams
"This is a station announcement. Attention, all passengers. The 1:25 PM Tyrell Williams hype train calling at all stations to Canton is now ready to depart. Please mind the gap between the receiver and the Jaguars defense."
Before the Jaguars game, I was trying really hard to not go overboard with the Tyrell Williams hype. Alright, I was about as successful at that as Donald Butler was at - well, anything - but I was trying. I'm not going to try anymore. He's the real deal.
I'm not going to say Williams is perfect because he isn't. His routes - while significantly improved from last year - still need work, and he has to learn to use his size better when going up for jump balls. But he's also exactly what the Chargers need.
In the NFL, defenses have to respect speed by sitting back deeper. The Chargers have a lot of speed at WR, with Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams possibly forming the fastest duo around. A defense sitting back deeper opens up the underneath routes. What do the Chargers love to run? Shotgun draws. (I'm kidding - it's underneath routes). When Tyrell Williams gets going, his long stride means there aren't many players around who can keep pace with him. He's not going to replace Keenan Allen (no one is) but Tyrell Williams showed on Sunday that he's going to give the Chargers offense an explosiveness that they haven't had for a long, long time.
Per Next Gen Stats, the @Chargers had two players among the top 5 fastest speeds on TDs— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) September 19, 2016
Travis Benjamin 22.17 MPH
Tyrell Williams 20.23 MPH
2: Travis Benjamin
Good things come to those who wait. The Chargers haven't had a 'burner' at WR recently (unless you count Tevin Reese - which you shouldn't). Now they have two. Benjamin was on fire against the Jaguars, with 6 catches for 115 yards and 2 TDs.
When the team announced the signing of Benjamin, I was excited, but also slightly apprehensive - after all, the Chargers 'deep ball' guy has usually been a bigger bodied WR (think Malcom Floyd), and throwing to a speedster is a completely different ballgame. I needn't have worried. Benjamin's style suits Rivers even more than Floyd's did.
We saw it in the Jaguars game - Rivers almost can't overthrow Benjamin. If it's in bounds, he's going to be under it. He's one of the fastest players around (Benjamin, not Rivers), and Sunday showed us just how dangerous he can be when used correctly. His chemistry with Rivers will only build with time, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Benjamin pushing close to 1,000 yards this season.
3: Hunter Henry
If you're disappointed that Hunter Henry has been quiet in the first two weeks, stop. In my mind, he's been the most important player on offense aside from #17. He's caught just one pass for 20 yards, I know. He's still vital to this team.
It's pretty much a given at this point that rookie TEs never contribute in their debut season. Except when they do. Hunter Henry hasn't been active in the passing game. Instead, he's been busy absolutely clearing people out of the way to open up running lanes for Melvin Gordon. According to PFF, Henry is the best run blocking TE in the entire league so far this season. As a rookie! Don't worry about the passing game. He'll be involved sooner rather than later (especially with the loss of Danny Woodhead for the season).
In my opinion, a TE who can block as well as catch is possibly the most valuable thing an offense could have (outside of QB). The defense has no idea what's going to happen. Henry could open up a running lane on one play, before heading downfield to catch a ball the next. After the first two games of the season, I'm sold on the Hunter Henry pick. He's going to do big things in this league. In some respects, he's already started.
4: Caraun Reid
I love the NFC North. The Bears released Matt Slauson without much of a valid reason, and he's become a crucial part of the Chargers early success in running the football. The Lions did likewise with Caraun Reid, and he is playing out of his skin so far. A rotational DL who'd have easily been a starter on this Chargers team a year ago, Reid has been one of the most impressive players on the entire defense.
Do you remember in the 2014 game against the 49ers when Eric Weddle forced a fumble and Sean Lissemore sprinted 25 yards downfield to recover it, ultimately setting up the Chargers for a game winning FG in OT and keeping their playoff hopes alive? That's the effort Reid gives on every play. Only difference is he's actually good at football.
Switch on the Jaguars game, and you'll see #91 flying about, making tackles downfield on receivers and doing things that linemen shouldn't be able to do. That's not the only thing he's good at, though - Reid has been more than dependable against the run, and he's been fairly consistent at putting some pressure on the QB. Simply put - Tom Telesco, coupon god. Reid is an absolute steal. He's carved out a significant role for himself on the team, and deservedly so. Now it's up to John Pagano to keep finding ways to rotate him into the fold. (Knowing Pagano, he'll end up dropping back into coverage while Drew Kaser blitzes from the sideline, but we can hope).
5: Dexter McCoil
The ex CFL-standout is going to get his chance to shine. After Jahleel Addae broke his own collarbone, it's pretty clear that McCoil will be the one to take his place as a starting safety for the foreseeable future. Adrian Phillips has been inactive on gamedays, Darrell Stuckey is being used strictly as a Special Teamer (as he should be) and Adrian McDonald is yet to be called up from the Practice Squad. Unless they're sticking Dontrelle Inman back there some more, it's McCoil's job.
You know what? He deserves it. He was far and away the most impressive player in preseason, and he virtually forced the coaches to give him meaningful playing time in the first two weeks. The truth is, we don't know what McCoil can do as a starter in a meaningful game. But he's earned a shot to show us. Now it's time for him to take it.
1: Danny Woodhead
I don't have anything funny or cute to say. Woodhead is 31, and he's just torn his ACL. He broke his leg in Week 3 two years ago and missed the rest of the season. He tore his ACL back in 2008. This could be the end of his NFL career. I think he'll be back ready for next season, but I'm sceptical that he'll be anywhere near as effective as he has been in the past. He might not even be with the Chargers. His contract is up at the end of the season, and the Chargers might decide that a 32 year old coming off a torn ACL with a significant injury history just isn't worth the risk.
Get better soon, Danny.
2: Jahleel Addae
Hey, how about an injury I have very little sympathy for? Jahleel Addae is quite possibly the most reckless player I've ever seen on a football field. He happily launches himself head first into opponents and is a danger to both himself and others. I'm genuinely worried about his health.
The good news is that his latest injury isn't a head related one. That doesn't mean it wasn't stupid. He launched into Denard Robinson with a massively late hit on the sideline and ended up breaking his collarbone in the process. Late hits are never acceptable - but when you're absolutely blowing out the opposition in the fourth quarter? All the head trauma may have knocked loose a few brain cells.
All of which means he's now lost his starting job to Dexter McCoil while he's on the shelf. McCoil is a very, very promising player. Addae's stupidity may have cost him his job.
3: Derek Watt
For any people out there defending Derek Watt (I mean the comments, not literally every single Chief and Jaguar, who did that with ease), sorry. It's only 2 weeks in, but things do not look good for the FB right now.
He was drafted to make life easier for Melvin Gordon. I supported that decision. The only problem is, that's not how it's panning out. Melvin Gordon ran plenty of plays without Derek Watt in against the Jaguars, and he did just as well without him there as he did with him. In fact, he probably did better without him.
Derek Watt played 14 snaps against the Jaguars. You may argue that FBs don't get used much in the NFL anymore. It's a valid argument. The only problem is that Sean McGrath - the #3 TE - played 22 snaps. 17 of these were as a run blocker. Not only did McGrath play more snaps as a run blocker than Derek Watt, but he also does a much better job of it, too.
When you have two people doing the same job, why pick the inferior one? Personally, I'd try out Sean McGrath as an H-Back/TE hybrid and ignore Watt completely, but I'm not in charge, so Watt will continue to see playing time. For now.
4: Dontrelle Inman
I'm not here to bash Dontrelle Inman. I actually quite like him. The problem is, the Chargers are using him wrong, and that's making his stock slide. A lot.
Inman is a good #4 WR. That's his ceiling. You could argue that he's worse than that, but I'd be comfortable with Inman at WR #4. Only in the first two weeks of the season, he's been the snap leader at WR for the Chargers. Like I said, I like Dontrelle Inman. I'm probably one of his biggest supporters. And, as a Dontrelle Inman fan, the only world he's a #1 WR in is on Madden. Only after you bump all his stats up to 99. Even then, it's a stretch.
He's been blatantly getting outperformed by Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. The Chargers might view him as their #1 WR, but I don't know many #1 WRs who open the season with 1 catch for 6 yards before following that up with 1 for 7. He's clearly not performing in the role the coaches want him to, which means he's going to slide down the depth chart. And, honestly? That's a good thing for him. Inman isn't a starter. As a #3 WR, however, he could find success as more of a role player. The Chargers could do a lot better than Inman at WR #3. But they could also do a lot worse (Robert Meachem, anyone?)
5: Joshua Perry
"Wait, why's he complaining about Josh Perry? I haven't seen him do anything wrong yet."
Well, you probably haven't seen him do anything wrong yet. You know why? He's yet to play a snap on defense. Alright, no big deal, he's a rookie. Except Jatavis Brown - who was picked a round later than him - already has 50 snaps to his name on defense.
Even when the Chargers were blowing out the Jaguars, Josh Perry couldn't find his way onto the field. But do you know which LB did get snaps ahead of Perry? Nick Dzubnar. I'm not going to find Dzubnar's 'highlight' reel because just watching him be completely lost at MLB makes me uncomfortable. Instead, I'm going to ask why Perry is below Dzubnar on the depth chart.
This isn't a big deal yet. It's 2 weeks into his rookie year. He's contributing on Special Teams. But to not receive any snaps in a blowout - even when a clearly inferior player does? It's something to watch out for moving forward.