Well, that was boring…
(Ducks to avoid in-coming projectile)
Hang on a second - let me finish before you lash out in a fit of blind rage. What I meant to say was that was boring in the best possible way.
Granted, the Los Angeles Chargers 20-6 victory over the hated Raiders wasn’t exactly sexy, and they didn’t hang 40 on them, as some predicted, but they ultimately overcame a sleepy first half to win a divisional game that was never really in doubt.
You can poo-poo this win if you want to, but from where I sit, the Chargers dominated most of this game, avoided costly mistakes, and really didn’t have to extend themselves or dip too deep into their bag of tricks to do it. That bodes well for this team moving forward.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at my five observations from the Raiders game:
· Derwin James, Adrian Phillips and Jatavis Brown were everywhere: This trio of Chargers defenders accounted for 29 tackles in filling in the injured Denzel Perryman. James was outstanding in coverage, provided A+ run support and also got after Derek Carr as a pass rusher. Phillips and Brown were absolutely relentless in run support and were the definition of sideline-to-sideline linebackers on Sunday.
· MGIII grinds the Raiders into pulp: Melvin Gordon was the offense in Oakland. He accounted for 165 yards and a touchdown on 23 touches, including 14 touches for 127 yards from the 3:33 mark of the second quarter until the end of the game. He fueled both of their touchdown drives and effectively ended the game with his 66-yard touchdown catch-and-run at the beginning of the third quarter.
· A plan for Nwosu: Uchenna Nwosu was pretty quiet in his first extended action last week, and it was due in large part to a lack of a plan as a pass rusher. This week, Gus Bradley helped Nwosu by drawing up a handful of stunts and twists with interior linemen and it paid off with fairly consistent pressure and a half-sack. It was a nice bit of coaching by Bradley, who is clearly looking for ways to help the second round pick find his way to the quarterback.
· Rivers was out of sorts: I know people are going to be quick to defend Philip, and that’s fine because it comes with the territory, but I thought Rivers looked out of sorts in Oakland. He was uncomfortable, even jittery, in the pocket and made some awful decisions with the game still in doubt. The interception he threw to former Charger Marcus Gilchrist, for one, was about as poor a decision/play he’s made all season, and there were a few others that were just as bad on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, he has been outstanding for most of the season, and is clear MVP candidate, I just think it’s something worth monitoring with big games looming in December.
· Chargers adopting Lynn’s toughness, grit and resilience under fire: I know, it sounds corny, but hear me out. This team has faced a great deal of adversity this year (slow starts, poor third down play, inconsistent red zone play, unreliable kicking game, key injuries, late game adversity) and still sits at 7-2 the week before Thanksgiving. To their credit, they continue to scratch and claw for every inch they get on the field, which is awfully reminiscent of what their head coach has gone through during his 26-year career as a coach and player.
Well, there you have it; those are my observations from Sunday’s game in Oakland. I, for one, am enjoying the sudden abundance of boring games that are rarely in doubt, and hope for more down the stretch. This team feels like it’s building toward something big, and the fact that they continue to win games when they still clearly have plenty of room for improvement is encouraging, to say the least.
We have stumbled upon the bizarro universe my friends, and I, for one, don’t want to go back. Here’s hoping this becomes the new normal.