Heartbreak. Sadness. Torment. It isn’t easy being Chargers fan. After almost climbing back from a 17-point deficit, the Broncos blocked Younghoe Koo’s game-tying field goal attempt.
Early on, this might have been the ugliest performance for a Chargers team in recent memory. The offense was being dominated in trenches and the defense was being shredded by a former seventh round pick.
The Chargers showed fight however and made it feel like a comeback was a real possibility. Yet again teasing the fan base to believe that victory was a possibility.
The loss featured a handful of good, a lot of bad, and enough ugly to be concerned for the rest of the season.
Melvin Gordon was phenomenal tonight. The Chargers offense revolved around him and he made plays in both the running and passing game. Gordon put together a solid night as he ran for 54 yards and snagged five passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Gordon rarely had much room to run, but he broke a number of tackles to barely get the ball back to the line of scrimmage. The effort was there for Gordon, but with no help from the big guys up front, it’s hard to expect him to have a game breaking play.
All things considered, a fine performance.
Trevor Siemian did make Joe Bosa look like a fool on his touchdown run, but Bosa was able to make an impact. He finished the game with six total tackles, one tackle for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
Along with Melvin Ingram, Bosa was a major factor the entire game. He dominated both Denver tackles and was a factor in the run game. Games like this have become commonplace for Bosa. He’ll likely be featured in this category often in 2017.
Ingram earned his paycheck this week. After signing a lucrative extension, Ingram may have had the best game of his career Monday night. He finished with 1.5 sacks and more quarterback hits than one can imagine.
Although he may have just missed a bunch of sacks, he forced Siemian to rush passes and put his teammates in a better position to succeed.
Simply put, Ingram was a force.
Gus Bradley’s Defense
Gus Bradley and his 4-3 scheme didn't look great in the season opener. The Chargers dropped an interception or two and had opportunities to change the course of the game early.
Unfortunately, the defense didn’t show up until late in the fourth quarter with a pair of major turnovers that brought life back to the team.
Without a strong finish, almost the entire defense deserved to be in the “ugly” category. The Chargers cannot afford to let sub-par quarterbacks like Siemian look this good.
Adjustments must be made at the linebackers position as the unit looked overmatched in the passing game. When the elite quarterbacks come to town Bradley will have his hands full.
In his return the field, Allen looked rusty. He dropped an easy first down catch early and couldn't deliver for most of the game. On what looked like a pass interference on Bradley Roby, Allen tried to sell the penalty rather than try to catch the ball. Which led to an easy interception. That turnover gave Denver all the momentum, putting the Chargers in a big hole they couldn’t climb out of.
Yes, Allen caught a late touchdown pass, but he consistently ran poor routes and caught a handful of passes short of the sticks. If Allen is going to be a true number one receiver, he needs to be a reliable go-to option on third down.
The offensive line
It isn't a good sign when Tyrell Williams had one of the best blocks of the night. The second Philip Rivers dropped back to pass he faced pressure. It's early, but the bad offensive line play might be the major flaw for Los Angeles. If it weren't for a few desperation throws by Rivers, the Chargers may not have scored at all in the first half.
As the Chargers began their fourth quarter surge, the offensive line wan’t making things any easier for Rivers. Time and time again Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett were in his face trying to throw off his rhythm.
There’s no question that the offensive line was re-vamped. Still, it has shown no signs of improvement.
If Hayes Pullard is going to be on the field as often as he was in week one, the Chargers need to sign someone. Trevor Siemian attacked him all game and Pullard had no answer.
He hasn’t been on the Chargers for very long and he made a terrible first impression. Jatavis Brown and Korey Toomer didn’t look great, but Pullard looked overmatched. Unheralded tight ends Virgil Green and A.J. Derby combined for 78 yards, playing a major role in Denver’s offensive gameplan.
Teams are already taking notice of the Chargers’ weak link on defense, time to make adjustments, Gus.
The Pair of Potential Game-Tying Drives
On the Chargers first attempt to at worst tie the game, Los Angeles displayed some of the worst play calling. Tossing the ball deep on two straight plays which led to a pair of incompletions. Then attempting a screen pass on third and long for a minor game.
The second try was just as futile. The Charger had about two minutes to gain about 25 yards to get into comfortable field goal position. It took the team a minute to gain 10 yards.
Yes, the team was able to get Koo in a position to send the game to overtime, but the Bolts had a chance to win the game with a touchdown. The clock management and play calling were so poor in the final minutes that it’s a miracle there was an attempt at a field goal.