Coming into the game at 3-5, the Chargers were actually still very much in the playoff race and a win would have had them within one win of a playoff spot. With today’s hideous loss, they are all but eliminated and future wins will only serve to hurt next Spring’s draft position.
Denzel Perryman: Playing in his first game o the season after missing the first nine weeks due to injury, Perryman was a monster. He was everywhere on defense. He did not singlehandedly hold Leonard Fournette to 33 yards on 17 carries but he might as well have. He completely changed the complexion of the defense and he had more run stops in his first game than Hayes Pullard had this season.
Austin Ekeler: The rookie undrafted free agent was in many ways the only reason the Chargers were able to score any points in this game. He had two receiving touchdowns of over 20 yards. The great LaDaian Tomlinson never did that in his career. The last time any running back did it in the NFL was in 2013. Ekeler also had some of the toughest runs we have seen from a Chargers running back in years.
Philip Rivers: The 37-year-old version of Rivers is not the player that we saw become the best quarterback in franchise history. His arm strength is not what it once was. His mobility is poor. And his decision-making which was once a strength is now good for at least two “should have been picked off” throws per game. His insistence on forcing the ball to Travis Benjamin in coverage is insane, and he’s not exactly making up for that elsewhere. Both of his touchdowns were short easy passes to Ekeler who did all of the real work to score.
Melvin Gordon: The former first-round pick looked bad. He was unable to break tackles. He made a habit of running parallel to the line of scrimmage. One-on-one in the open field with a defensive back he predictably lost. At the end of the game when he should have been the obvious choice to grind out the clock, the coaching staff felt they had to rely on their rookie undrafted running back instead.
Ken Whisenhunt: The Chargers offensive coordinator may not have the greatest assortment of talent in the league to work with, but he is getting about as little from that talent as you could possibly imagine. Today, Derek Watt had more targets than Hunter Henry. That is completely unacceptable. Henry is the best weapon they have on offense and he needs to be more involved.
Austin Ekeler: Despite being the best player on the field for much of the game, Ekeler also nearly lost the game on his own when he fumbled on the first play of a drive that at worst should have burned the last of the Jaguars timeouts and at best should have won the game.
Tyrell Williams: If you only look at the box score you might think that Williams had a good game. I assure you he did not. In the middle of the 2nd quarter, Williams was open down the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown. Philip Rivers hit him in stride right in the numbers. Williams failed to get a hand on the ball and it bounced off his chest for an incompletion.
Special Teams: The Chargers special teams once again let them down. This time it was a 56-yard fake punt for a touchdown that did it. The Jaguars ran a trick play they had already run once this season and the Chargers were unable to do anything to get in its way. That score was all the Jags could muster for most of the game and it was a big part of why they were still in it late.