The past seven days were chalk-full of cautious optimism as the entire fan base waited with baited-breathe as the Chargers took on the Cleveland Browns in what could have been a trap game to the highest degree.
To our disbelief, the Chargers exploded for 38 points against a defense that was nothing to shake your finger according to the national media.
Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt drew up his best gameplan to date as he manipulated the Browns’ best defensive players and exploited obvious mismatches from start to finish.
It obviously helped that the Browns were down a handful of their top receivers which, in turn, totally floundered any attempt to try and get the ground game going that ranked 5th in the NFL prior to Sunday.
The craziest takeaway of them all? The Chargers were able to do most of their damage on the ground without the help of Philip Rivers and the hot-streak he has been riding through the season’s first six weeks.
This week, a young play-maker finally broke out in a major way while a veteran continued his downward spiral into oblivion.
Without further ado, here are the players who SURGED forward and those who ultimately stayed STATIC.
CB Desmond King
He did it. He finally got his.
The second-year cornerback out of the University of Iowa, who has been making a name for himself in the slot, collected a pair of interceptions off of the Brown’s Baker Mayfield which helped the Chargers limit any possible garbage time touchdowns once Cleveland was forced to abandon their rushing attack.
The turnovers were the first of King’s sophomore season and actually place him in the team lead with two while a plethora of other players currently sit at one, including the likes of Melvin Ingram and Derwin James.
Up to this point, King and the rest of the secondary have been, for lack of a better term, lackluster in their play. Casey Hayward hasn’t resembled the player who was named the #1 cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus in 2017, nor the one who led the league in interceptions during the 2016 season.
But thanks to the rejuvenated pass rush, the Chargers getting to the quarterback at a much larger rate which has visibly aided King and the rest of the secondary. In the last five games, the Chargers have recorded eight interceptons, with one in each game and three games of 2+.
Desmond King II earned the highest week 6 grade among all #NFL CBs (93.4).— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) October 15, 2018
King was targeted 8 times and, but snagged 2 interceptions as well as a pass-breakup. Baker Mayfield had a 35.4 passer rating when targeting @blaqbadger14 (video via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/rAZ9ev1pxs
King has also allowed the special teams unit to take a few strides forward as he has added another spark to the team as a consistent return specialist where he has already made a handful of plays in the third phase of the game.
RB Melvin Gordon
Gordon has really started to become the player that the team and fan base has wanted him to be over the last couple weeks.
After a stellar rookie campaign, Austin Ekeler has collected a chunk of the touches out of the backfield and has consistently found himself putting up much more efficient numbers game in and game out.
Over the last three games, Ekeler has reverted to taking a little more of a backseat while Gordon has gone on to record two of his seven career rushing performances with over 100 yards while scoring five (4 rushing, 1 receiving) of his total nine touchdowns on the season.
Melvin Gordon is the first Chargers player with 3 Rush TDs in a game since Ryan Mathews in 2010 pic.twitter.com/0DtunYLGrI— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 14, 2018
After Sunday’s three rushing touchdown performance, Gordon is on pace to score 24 total touchdowns this season. That number would put him tied with John Riggins (1983) and Priest Holmes (2002) for the sixth-most touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.
S Jahleel Addae
After Addae got his second penalty on the same drive, I was ready for him to benched and then left in Cleveland as the rest of the team went home together. His pair of penalties put the Chargers in a situation that kept them in the shadow of their own end zone for far too long and he was lucky that the Browns only scrounged up three points after all that time on the Bolts’ side of the field.
This is far from Addae’s first time being elected to this list. He has been a constant presence in the Static section and will continue to make appearances until he decides to stop being a liability in coverage.
According to Pro Football Focus, Addae is currently the #62 safety in the league, a far-cry from his partner in the defensive backfield, Derwin James, who sits as the fourth-highest graded player at the position.
K Caleb Sturgis
This is a little bit of a cop-out but with how well the entire team played against the Browns, it’s really hard to come up with a second player that was lackluster and I don’t like to force these sorts of things.
Sturgis makes this list as the most sensible pick because as a kicker, if you can’t kick, you’re obviously worthless and not being on the field to do your one job is definitely the definition of taking a step in the direction.
Rookie kicker Michael Badgley out of the University of Miami was signed as a “security blanket” and just might be staying for the long haul after he was lights-out on Sunday. He went 5-of-5 on extra points and made his lone field goal attempt of 44 yards.
After Anthony Lynn stated that they might let Sturgis heal up some more and continue to roll with Badgley, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Sturgis never kicked a ball for the Chargers again.