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Bolts & Dolts: An Underwhelming Offense Leaves the Chargers Lost

Which San Diego Chargers players are most responsible for the team’s loss to the Colts? Which ones had good games despite their teammates? It’s time for this week’s Bolts & Dolts!

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

It has been quite some time since my last Bolts & Dolts, so allow me to explain briefly what this is.

Bolts & Dolts was something I came up with years ago as a way of passing out cheers & jeers to San Diego Chargers players that performed above, or below, my own expectations. It’s heavily based on statistical output, but what I saw with my own eyes is certainly factored in.

Without further ado.....


Hunter Henry - 5 catches (5 targets), 76 receiving yards
Say what you want about Hunter Henry, and I know that most Chargers fans are very high on him as the eventual replacement for Antonio Gates, but coming in and immediately filling the shoes of one of the five greatest Tight Ends ever in your first start is a difficult thing to do and I saw almost no dropoff in performance from that spot.

If anything, the dropoff in performance was due to not having a TE as good as Henry on the opposite side of the line. The two-TE sets were working really nicely until Sean McGrath got involved.

Caraun Reid - 1 fumble recovery, 1 def TD
Nice hustle, kid.

The Inside LBs of the future - 16 tackles (13 solo), 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss
Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown will be the Chargers’ starting Inside Linebackers for the rest of this season and probably going forward for the next few years (assuming there’s not a new Defensive Coordinator in town changing up the defense and the players). In their first extended time on the field together, they made each other a lot better and finished as the team’s two leading tacklers. They also each nabbed a sack of their own.

Josh Lambo - 3/3 FGs
Yes, he had an extra point blocked. No, it’s not his fault. Yes, he was and continues to be absolute nails. He’s made 83% of his field goals so far this year and I wouldn’t be surprised with him finishing the season with a better percentage than that.

Casey Hayward - 3 tackles (2 solo), 1 interception
Hayward is giving Jason Verrett a run for his money as the team’s best Cornerback, and I don’t say that lightly. Hayward might already be the best defensive signing Tom Telesco has ever made, as he continues to affect games by creating turnovers regularly. Imagine where the Chargers would be without him and you’ll understand why he gets a Bolt for this one.


Philip Rivers - 26/39, 330 pass yds
First, let’s make some excuses for Rivers. Here’s a list of what he didn’t have on Sunday, on the road, against the Colts:

  • Starting Left Tackle (King Dunlap)
  • Starting Tight End (Antonio Gates)
  • Best Receiving RB (Danny Woodhead)
  • Top 3 receivers from 2015 (Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, Malcom Floyd)

That’s six (SIX!) things working against Rivers, in addition to it being a road game. It showed, as a semi-rattled Rivers never got comfortable in the pocket, rarely set his feet before throwing, and never seemed to get on the same page with the guys he was throwing to.

Gone are the days where a nervous Rivers turns the ball over numerous times and kills the team’s chances for a win, thank goodness, but he can’t be expected to be super-human in these situations either.

Melvin Gordon - 16 carries, 35 rush yds, 1 rush TD, 4 catches (7 targets), 43 rec yards
Give him credit for not being a trainwreck in the receiving game, I guess. 2.18 yards per carry isn’t going to get it done, but Gordon was severely hampered by not having Dunlap and Henry to run behind on the left side (and, eventually, by running behind what looked to be an injured D.J. Fluker). This game is a testament to Gordon not being the type of player that can create offense on his own, but few Running Backs are that type of player. That’s why you shouldn’t draft one in the 1st Round.

Chargers Receivers
About the last thing Philip Rivers’ needed, throwing to a group he’s not exactly used to throwing to, is guys taking their eyes off of the ball. Travis Benjamin finished the game with two fumbles, Hunter Henry added one of his own, and Tyrell Williams couldn’t seem to reel the ball in on short receptions. These guys did the offense, who needed some help, no favors at all.

Chargers’ Defensive Line
This one is going to be a bit vague, but someone has to take some blame for the way Frank Gore was torching the San Diego front seven in the first half of this game. The Chargers want to win games by getting an early lead and building on it and being unable to stop Gore (who isn’t very good) kept them from being able to do that.

Where has big-time free agent signing Brandon Mebane been? Why does Corey Liuget seem to show up for some quarters and go quiet for others? Why can’t the team get consistent play from the OLB spot opposite Melvin Ingram? It’s so frustrating, and it leads to an inconsistent performance from the defense.

Speaking of....

Jason Verrett - 3 tackles (2 solo)
This might be the last time Verrett ever gets a “Dolt”, but he deserved it on this one. It’s obvious that part of John Pagano’s gameplan was to leave his star Cornerback on T.Y. Hilton, and it was obvious early on that was a very bad call. Hilton is obviously better than the Chargers realized, and Verrett did all he could to slow him down but came up short.

Hilton finished with 174 receiving yards and a touchdown on 8 catches (11 targets). That’s embarrassing, and what it really showed off was just how little help the Safeties are providing for the CBs. Dexter McCoil and Dwight Lowery barely got any screen time, even when Andrew Luck was throwing the ball on every down. Good job, good effort, fellas. I think Eric Weddle would’ve helped in this one.