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The Los Angeles Chargers found their new identity in a win over the Oakland Raiders

The Chargers needed to change their formula to start winning games, and now they’re playing to their own strengths more often.

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Chargers’ 17-16 win over the Oakland Raiders felt transformational.

It was the team’s first road win against an AFC West opponent in three years. The last time they won on the road was in Oakland was in Week 6 of the 2014 season, with Philip Rivers just barely out-dueling rookie QB Derek Carr in a game filled with passing yards and points. The Chargers won that one 31-28 and probably thought that the next time they beat the Raiders it would play out much the same.

I’m here to tell you that, to my eyes, the Chargers figured something out yesterday. They figured out who they are supposed to be. They figured out what their identity needs to be for them to win games.

Despite having Philip Rivers behind center, the Chargers are now built to be a ground-and-pound kind of team. On the back of recent 1st Round draft picks like Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Melvin Gordon, and even Mike Williams (a WR that specializes in winning jump balls more than getting open), the Chargers need to start thinking of themselves as the Baltimore Ravens or Denver Broncos in terms of style and identity.

It may not be the pretty offense that we’re used to seeing, and I’m still terrified of watching this house of cards crumble if Melvin Gordon gets injured, but the coaches are finally coaching to the strengths of the roster instead of to the history of Rivers and Whisenhunt.

In the last two wins, the Chargers have terrified opposing defenses with their pass rush and forced turnovers. They haven’t been great on capitalizing on those turnovers yet, but the offense has been playing a ball-control style that relies on heavy doses on Gordon and Henry to slowly plod down the field and get just enough points to win. Add in points off turnovers and small wins turn into blowouts.

I like it! Not just because it appears to be working, but because it makes it appear like Tom Telesco had a plan all along when building this roster. Now, let’s see if the Chargers can do it better than the Broncos can this weekend.