No one is thrilled with a 14-7 win over the lowly Jets, I get it. The Los Angeles Chargers were sluggish, sloppy and didn’t execute well for most of the game, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some positives to be taken from a key road victory. And, now that we’ve all had time to digest what we watched, this seems like as good a time as any to talk about some of the details from the game that could carry over into Sunday’s tilt with the Oakland Raiders of Las Vegas.
The truth is, there were some positive performances on both sides of the ball; a couple of which came from somewhat unlikely contributors. That’s why we’re going to look at offense and defense in separate posts this morning, starting with my six offensive observations….
For the second consecutive week, Melvin Gordon was the catalyst for what little offense the Chargers could muster. He contributed as a runner and a receiver and his inclusion in the red zone offense helped finish both scoring drives. Perhaps more impressively, Melvin showed a level of patience, feel and vision I didn’t think he possessed on a handful of his runs. Melvin’s high ankle sprain couldn’t have come at a worse time because he was clearly gaining confidence when the team needed him most.
Someone give Sam Tevi a game ball. No, seriously, give it to him. Sam wasn’t perfect and he didn’t come without his struggles early in the game, but he settled in beautifully and made some key blocks in the running game despite the Jets throwing everything they could think of at him. I thought Tevi looked light on his feet, used his hands well, and showed an ability to recover despite being put in some unenviable positions.
I thought Philip looked out of sorts for the second consecutive week. He looked visibly uncomfortable in the pocket, appeared to be seeing ghosts at times, struggled with his footwork, and wasn’t terribly accurate. I don’t know if he’s feeling the pressure of a late-season run, doesn’t trust his line, or both, but he looks more like the shell-shocked quarterback we saw the first four weeks of the season than the guy who had won seven of nine going into the Kansas City game, which is worrisome he was only hit four times, wasn’t sacked and had a number of clean pockets from which to throw.
Ken Whisenhunt did an outstanding job of scheming Antonio Gates open. The Jets employ a lot of zone coverage at the second level of their defense, so Whis designed some simple, yet effective, hi-low concepts that forced the New York linebackers to release Gates into the intermediate void between the linebackers and the safeties, who were usually occupied with either Keenan Allen or Travis Benjamin farther down the field. Really good work on his part.
As one might expect, the Chargers are back to struggling to get their plays and protections called. They had largely cured this problem during their recent four-game winning streak, but Philip Rivers is back to using every second on the clock as he gets his (mostly) inexperienced offensive line ready for whatever blitz the defense might be throwing at them on a given play. It’s frustrating and it comes at the expense of any kind of a rhythm, but it’s a necessary evil – particularly against a creative and aggressive Jets defense.
I’m done with the Chargers kicking game. It sucks and it isn’t suddenly going to become an asset. It’s time to think outside the box – this team should be going for it on any manageable fourth down inside the opponents’ 35 and, for better or worse, punting it away on any fourth down outside of the 35. No more 40+ yard field goals. Please, Anthony Lynn, for the love of God…stop torturing us and kidding yourself, we all know how these field goal attempts are going to end.
Well, there you have it, those are my offensive observations from Sunday’s game in New York. As you can see, I thought there were some positives to be taken from this game, not the least of which is the work of Sam Tevi and Melvin Gordon. Was I thrilled with the final score? Not in the least. But they did enough to win, and that’s really all that matters.
What were your takeaways from the game? Share them with me in the comments section below…