After a loss, these are obviously much less fun to write as it forces me to look back on the game and realize just poorly things went from the first whistle until the last.
I give myself a day or so to reflect on what I saw, how I felt, and to allow my fandom to simmer down before I start spouting off my opinion in order to avoid any potential shot at coming off as a homer or anything similar.
After the last few seconds on the clock ticked away, it was quite a struggle to peer through the muck in order to find a player or two who actually played well despite the outcome. I found one fairly quickly, to be honest. But the second one feels like pulling teeth.
Speaking of pulling teeth, that’s not a bad way to describe what the offense felt like when it was trying to move the ball into Ravens’ territory. I think they crossed mid-field once, maybe twice? Not counting the fumble recovery to start the second half obviously.
It was a masterful performance by the Baltimore defense and I believe this was simply a team, match-ups and all, that the Chargers wanted to avoid if they had a chance. I mean, just think about it. The offense thrives on running the football with a quarterback that runs faster than most receivers and has the vision of a great running back. The Chargers do not have athletic defensive tackles that can stop the run and the Bolts’ linebacker group isn’t built to handle the Ravens’ combination of athleticism and power, plus what they can do out of heavy sets was inevitably the downfall when the Chargers don’t have the means to defend it.
Guys like Hayes Pullard, Kyle Emanuel, and Jatavis Brown had no chance.
On the bright side, the loss was irrelevant to the Chargers’ future as they already punched their ticket to the playoffs last week. And maybe, just maybe, this incredibly humbling throttling by the Ravens will end up being the last wake-up call that this team needs as it heads into their first postseason appearance since 2013.
S Adrian Phillips
From the very start of the contest, Phillips looked like his pro bowl selection the premium gas he needed to take his play to the next.
It was expected to see a lot of Phillips in this game, in and around the box, to allow the defense the added athleticism needed to contain Jackson as much as possible. The former UDFA paced the team with nine total tackles on the night which included a tackle for loss against Jackson outside of the pocket.
Phillips wasn’t the best in coverage but he played his role to the best of his ability, with grit and intensity, and unsurprisingly found his way onto this week’s Surge list.
DT Brandon Mebane
Mebane’s presence in the middle of the defensive line was a welcomed sight in a contest in which the team needed him the most. As you can see below, Mebane came out of Saturday’s contest with the highest game grade on the entire team. Even more impressive is that he was the only one to find himself above a 75.0, placing himself well-above second place with an 87.5.
Defensive players round out the top 5 on a day where the offense couldn't get rolling. Top 5 #Chargers grades vs the #Ravens:— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) December 23, 2018
1. Brandon Mebane - 87.5
2. Michael Davis - 74.8
3. Uchenna Nwosu - 74.7
4. Casey Hayward Jr. - 73.7
5. Darius Philon - 71.2
Mebane wasted no time in flashing for the cameras as he played the key role in stalling the Ravens multiple times in the red zone to help preserve a one-score game. In all honesty, this might have been the 33-year-old’s best game of the 2018 campaign.
In fact, Mebane’s six total tackles was good enough to be tied for third on the team from the defensive tackle position and ties his season-high that he achieved during both the Rams and Titans games.
S Jahleel Addae
Just shoot him straight into the sun.
There’s nothing else that needs to be said about this one.
Getting him off the team would do absolute wonders for the mental health of the team, the fans, and, most importantly, myself.
The entire offense
There is a reason that the top-five player grades given out by Pro Football Focus all belonged to defensive players this week.
The offense was flat and, like Coach Lynn stated in his post-game presser, simply out-coached.
The offensive line will inevitably get the most flack for the unit’s performance as they collected a healthy dose of holding penalties during some of the game’s most crucial moments.
Holding penalties, including one by the captain Russell Okung, were killer.
A pair of back-to-back penalties by Keenan Allen that negated two instances of clutch heroics by Rivers was also tough to beat as the biggest kick in the balls on the evening full of them.
It’s obvious this wasn’t the Chargers’ best game of the season. In fact, it’s essentially a toss-up between this and the Broncos game as the most dreadful eye-sore spat out by Ken Whisenhunt and company.
Only up from here, right?