Man, does it feel good to write this up following a win, and after a pretty solid one, at that.
The Chargers came out and, at least in the first half, did what everyone expected of them. Putting up four touchdowns and strolling into halftime with a 28-6 lead that they would never relinquish.
We are only two games into the 2018 regular season and the Chargers’ rookie class has already exceeded most people’s short-term expectations. On a defense full of play-makers, it seems like the only ones making splash plays have been the newest of Chargers up to this point.
Are you a fan of foreshadowing? Because if so.....
S Derwin James / LB Uchenna Nwosu / LB Kyzir White
Holy Shmoley...did you guys see what these rookies did on Sunday?
If you didn’t let me throw out the dirty stats for you:
White - 4 total tackles, 3 passes defensed (led team), and an interception that helped shut down Buffalo’s late momentum.
Nwosu - 3 total tackles, a tackle-for-loss, and his first career sack which came after he logged just two snaps against the Chiefs in week one.
James - 8 total tackles (led team), a sack (leads the team with two) , and a pair of tackles-for-loss.
Derwin James rushed the passer 11 times in Week 2 generating 5 pressures, more than twice as many as any other safety in the league.— PFF LA Chargers (@PFF_Chargers) September 18, 2018
He played 31 snaps in the box as well as 11 at free safety. The rookie is an incredibly versatile player. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/YcPbJ6ql7p
If you throw on the tape, you would actually see several plays where James should have had another sack or two. In the first quarter, James penetrated so fast on a blitz that he tackled Bills quarterback Josh Allen before he had a chance to hand off to LeSean McCoy. Due to the play being a run by design, James was only credited with a tackle-for-loss.
Later in the game, James and Nwosu committed a rookie blunder at the same time as they both whiffed on a “gimme” sack of Allen.
This play had me screaming. This was the second time Derwin refused to breakdown, causing him to miss a sack, and Nwosu whiffed as well.— Michael Peterson (@ZoneTracks) September 18, 2018
The rookies both could have added at least another .5 sack but I guess just chalk this up to a rookie blunder. pic.twitter.com/a9h0vd2VBh
Although this play might incur some cringes from the audience, it luckily didn’t define their play on Sunday.
Overall, it was a stellar performance from this rookie trio. Both the coaching staff and fan base should excited as hell about these guys, regardless of how small the sample size is.
WR Mike Williams
Although he had just two targets against the Bills, Williams did everything he could to maximize his limited opportunities.
On his first catch of the game, Williams caught his first touchdown of his career. The play, as we would later find out, was drawn up specifically for Williams when the team got into the red zone. Williams pulled in a beautiful pass by Philip Rivers, holding on to the ball while getting smashed between two Buffalo defenders before he hit the ground. For fans, this was exactly what everyone has been waiting to see from last year’s first-round pick.
His second and last target of the day was a catch for a first down where Williams lost his helmet due to contact, showing once again what he can do with his large, powerful frame.
Melvin Gordon (as a runner)
I made this one highly-specific because there weren’t really a ton of poor performances in this game for the Chargers but it’s still a large enough problem that can’t be ignored.
For what I believe to be the first time in their time together, Austin Ekeler received more carries than Gordon in a game. Also, in what shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody, Ekeler was once again much more efficient with his carries as he took his 11 carries for 77 yards while Gordon managed just 28 yards on nine carries. Take out his touchdown run of 20 yards and Gordon averaged just one yard per carry.
Thankfully, due to his elevated prowess as a receiver and his nose for the endzone, Gordon was able to doll-up his performance against the Bills but those who dig deeper will still uncover a problem that Gordon hasn’t been able to shake, even in his fourth year as a pro.
DT Brandon Mebane
Mebane’s place under “Static” is not so much for his performance taking a step back, but for the fact that it’s been far too long since he showed any signs of taking a step forward. Week after week the observations and comments about Mebane’s play remain roughly the same.
“He gives up ground far too often.”
“He can’t hold his ground anymore.”
“He offers no penetration.”
Over and over these statements are recyled and I can’t help but think “the writing is on the wall” for the veteran. Mebane’s poor performance is only highlighted by the elevated play of the youngsters around him. This year’s third-round pick, defensive tackle Justin Jones, flashed the ability to collapse the pocket and create pressure up the middle.
Who else do you guys think surged forward with their play on Sunday? Who do you think stayed static, or even took some steps back? Let’s talk about it.