For the first time in almost two months, the team, and its’ fan base, did not get to celebrate victory Monday following their 23-22 loss to the Denver Broncos.
In a game that looked to be a hot mess from the very beginning, the Chargers floundered their way to their worst performance of the season as they seemed to do everything in their power to avoid leaving StubHub Center with a win on Sunday afternoon.
The Chargers were far away better than the Broncos in several key stats, including time of possession, total plays, and total yards. However, the Broncos did essentially everything they needed to, when they needed to, to come out on top.
For the first time since week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bolts failed to record a sack. To add some insult to injury, the defense also failed to log a single tackle-for-loss or turnover. Alas, the Chargers continue their streak of being unbeaten when they give up one or zero turnovers.
On an individual level, the players also produced their worst graded game of the season, according to Pro Football Focus. You also know it was quite an anomaly when guys like Old Man Gates and Michael Davis are the highest-graded players on the entire team.
(extremely deep and long exhale)
It was a very forgettable performance by a team looking to stay hot until the toughest part of their schedule arrived. I just hope the team embraces that massive kick to the groin and understands going forward that, however they prepared for the Broncos, is not going to cut it going forward.
Here’s to the final six weeks of the season and what could amount to a make-or-break stretch for Anthony Lynn and Co.
TE Antonio Gates
I don’t know about the rest of you, but Sunday’s performance by Gates was magical in the same way a unicorn is, but maybe like an older, less agile unicorn.
Gates actually played a major role in keeping the Bolts alive while the rest of the team racked up penalty after penalty. Most of his 80 receiving yards came on money downs when the team needed a big play the most. His 6-yard score was the second of the season and almost helped put the Broncos away as the score was 19-7 in middle of the third quarter.
Antonio Gates turned back the clock in the #Chargers match up with the #Broncos on Sunday.— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) November 20, 2018
1. Antonio Gates - 85.7
2. Michael Davis - 79.2
3. Keenan Allen - 76.1
4. Casey Hayward Jr. - 69.4
5. Russell Okung - 68.8
His five catches and 80 yards receiving were both season-highs while his score was his first since week 4 against the San Francisco 49ers.
It’s always a great sight to see Gates has still got it, especially in crucial moments in important games. If anything, this performance helps the Chargers as its proof that #85 still deserves a good amount of attention when he is on the field.
RB Melvin Gordon
Gordon makes yet another appearance on the Surge list as he continues to be a bright spot in each and every game this season. Gordon has developed and progressed in each season since his lousy rookie campaign but this year might be his biggest step of them all.
Where Gordon has improved the most is his ability to stuff the staff sheet regardless if opposing teams sell out of stop him on the ground.
The highest graded running backs in the NFL so far this season. pic.twitter.com/Y7vTarx5L6— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 20, 2018
In week two against the Bills Gordon recorded season-lows in carries and rushing yards with nine carries for 28 yards. However, he still caught six passed for another 38 yards to go along with three total touchdowns on the day (1 rushing, 2 receiving).
In week 5 during their first contest against the Oakland Raiders, Gordon rushed for just 58 yards on 19 carries but caught another four passed for 62 yards. It just doesn’t matter what you try to take away, Gordon has found a way to break through and that’s the biggest reason why Gordon is finally able to have a case for being one of the top running backs in the league.
Against the Broncos, Gordon had 69 yards rushing on just 18 carries. But just like he has all season, he made up for the lack of rushing through the air by catching six passes for 87 yards which wound up being good for second on the team in receiving yards in that contest.
S Jahleel Addae
I’m not sure what to say about Addae at this point that hasn’t already said dozens of times by me or the rest of the Bolts From The Blue staff.
On Sunday afternoon, if there was a big play broken off by the Broncos, Addae was sure to be seen in the vicinity, usually lying on the ground after whiffing on the tackle or running five yards behind as he struggled to keep up with any of the Broncos’ skill players.
Luckily, the Broncos were forced to punt several plays later, but one of the most boneheaded plays made by Addae was the holding call on WR Emmanuel Sanders that erased a momentum-shifting interception by S Adrian Phillips.
Following the interception by OLB Von Miller, Addae looked allergic to contact as he consistently stay back away from the action in obvious run situations. Even when his starting position was in his own end zone, he waited and waited on his reads and kept himself out of any chance of helping in run support.
It’s just so apparent that he does not belong on the field and I’m not sure how long Coach Lynn can save him from his inevitable benching.
QB Philip Rivers
Over the last several weeks, Rivers’ play has been on a decline. It hasn’t been dramatic, but steady nonetheless.
For the first time this season, Rivers threw multiple interceptions in a game. The first of his interceptions was a fairly frustrating play as he seemed to force the ball to WR Tyrell Williams who was matched up with the Broncos’ best CB in Chris Harris Jr.
His second interception was more of an incredible play by Miller than a knock on Rivers. With the defender playing well off of Benjamin and the defense showing tons of pressure, getting it out to Travis as quick as possible was the right call. But there’s a reason Miller is a generational talent.
Rivers' second interception is understandable when you see what he was seeing. #22 is playing well off of Benjamin and its' the right call given the defensive look. However, Miller is a generational talent and he showed why by sniffing out this screen. pic.twitter.com/NYGlQPdJPn— It could be worse than 7-3 (@ZoneTracks) November 21, 2018
This just goes to show how much pressure from the edge can really mess things up and take Rivers out of his zone. This offensive line is still better than the 2015 and ‘16 lines but there still appears to be ghosts haunting #17 years later.