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Surge or Static: What in the world did we just watch?

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

So, about last night...

I’m really not sure what we witnessed on Sunday night, but it definitely did not resemble a competent professional team playing a game of football. In fact, everything about it looked pretty amateur.

The coach seemed like an amateur. The players played like a bunch of amateurs. They also managed to lose to an amateur.

But alas, this is a legitimate professional football team full of professionals who all get paid somewhere between six and eight-digit salaries to do what they do.

So, like, why aren’t they playing/coaching like it?

Now, I didn’t play in the NFL. I did, however, play at the Division 1 level. If I EVER went a game playing the way the Chargers have the last few weeks, there would be a number of come-to-Jesus meetings.

The coaches will never admit it. The players won’t ever say the words we want to hear them say because that would just be a “bad look”, but here are the facts (for the record, I’m not trying to rant, but these are facts*):

  • Last night’s performance was the epitome of EMBARASSING.
  • This defense is NOT GOOD. They aren’t missing anyone but Derwin James, Melvin Ingram and Adrian Phillips. Those players, no matter how good they are, do not make-or-break this defense.
  • The Steelers flat-out had their way with the Chargers offensive and defensive lines. As grown men, I would be LIVID.
  • Anthony Lynn is single-handedly killing all momentum/synergy within this team by playing Melvin Gordon over Austin Ekeler. When asked about Melvin Gordon’s productivity the last two games, he said “Nothing to do with Melvin Gordon. We have to open up more running lanes.” That is such a lie that it makes me sick. While it’s true that EKeler didn’t run for a bunch of yards the first four games, he still managed a healthy YPC while averaging well over 120+ yards from scrimmage.
  • The team hasn’t been able to average more than 2.4 yards per carry since they played the Houston Texans. Even then, they were just average at 4.1 per tote.
  • The offensive tackles are some of, if not, the worst duo in the NFL. DO NOT think like ESPN’s Eric Williams and state that just because Rivers “has been sacked only once in two games” means that they are doing their job. That is one of the most idiotic statements from an actual NFL beat reporter that I have heard in quite some time. That fumble return for a touchdown early on in the game was caused because Rivers freaked out due to an impossible amount of pressure in his face so soon after the snap. These tackles are HORRID and the team did ZERO in attempting to mitigate the situation.
  • Hunter Henry is as phenomenal as he ever was and it feels so good to have him back.
  • What in God’s green earth is going on with the enormous amount of missed tackles this season? Thomas Davis hasn’t added much of anything to this defense. Jatavis Brown looked like he was tacking ghosts out there.
  • How badly did Michael Badgley twist the truth about his groin injury that he went from missing a game or two to now being out the first third of the season?

And I could go on and on and on about why this team makes you want to throw your head through a window but you guys get it. Of course you understand. We have all been riding this self-deprecating carousel together for as long as most of us can remember.

Oh wait. Just before I get into this week’s Surge or Static players, I have one more fact to share.

Ready for this?

Since 2006, Philip Rivers leads the NFL in passing attempts while down one score and under two minutes left in the game. After last night’s game, Rivers has 214 such attempts.

In second place? Joe Flacco with 160 attempts. That’s 54 more passing attempts than the next closest person. But at the same time, you all aren’t surprised, are ya? This is essentially what the team deals with on a weekly basis.

With all of that being said- and boy do I feel much better- here are the players that either “surged” forward with their play last night or took a step back and stayed “static”.

Surge

TE Hunter Henry

What a return by the heir to Gates’ throne.

After missing the last four games due to a tibia plateau fracture, Henry was the recipient of nine Philip Rivers passes and he managed to turn those into eight catches, 100 receiving yards, and a pair of scores.

Those trips to the end zone were Henry’s first touchdowns since the 2017 season after he missed the entire 2018 campaign with a torn ACL.

Henry’s return to the lineup is huge for the passing game as it gives Rivers a reliable third receiving option after Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. I would say he is fighting Austin Ekeler in their as well but after the last two games, Ekeler has been an afterthought in this offense.

Hopefully this is the start of an amazing season for Henry. He definitely deserves it and there’s no other player on this offense I’d like to see have a career-year in 2019.

WR Mike Williams

Williams wound up leading the team in targets for the second-straight week but finished second on the team in catches (5) and receiving yards (72) behind Hunter Henry.

While Williams has yet to find the end zone, he has been huge on third down conversions and in any other moment where the Chargers have to keep the chains moving.

Williams currently has 19 receptions for 303 receiving yards and zero touchdowns in 2019.

WR Jason Moore

After wide receiver Andre Patton succumbed to an injury last week, former UDFA out of Findlay (Ohio) University was promoted to the active roster and got the chance to play meaningful snaps against the Steelers.

Moore caught both of his targets for 43 yards, including a long gain of 32.

It was an impressive debut from the rookie, especially in a game where the pressure was all the way turned up for the majority of the game. Moore got loose on a streak route and hauled in the long pass to help the Chargers march downfield, helping set the team up for one of Hunter Henry’s two touchdown passes on the night.

At 6-foot-2 and roughly 210 pounds, Moore easily fits the type of receiver that Rivers prefers to throw to. Can you say “replacement for Travis Benjamin”?

Static

QB Philip Rivers

The year might as well be 2015 because this whole season is giving me a wicked case of deja-vu. The Chargers keep finding themselves in close games, questionable decision-making is running a muck, and Rivers is chucking bombs to Travis Benjamin in double-coverage with 90 seconds left in games with all three timeouts.

Rivers is now sitting at nine touchdown passes to six interceptions. His 16-game pace is 24 touchdowns to 16 interceptions.

Now if any of you are thinking, “why is Rivers on this list? It’s not his fault he’s getting pressured under 0.5 seconds every snap!”, then hold on. Relax.

I understand that it’s not Rivers’ fault that his offensive line is atrocious. In fact, he wouldn’t have made this list if it wasn’t for his weird propensity to play hero-ball when hero-ball isn’t necessary. All this does is stomp-out any hope the team has for a comeback before they even get started.

A normal quarterback would work the sticks and understand what he can and can’t do. In recent situations like he experienced last night, Rivers trots out there and looks like he could care less about willing the team to victory. If anything, he just looks completely deflated and would rather end the game sooner than try to stretch it out any further.

He knows it’s a wasted season and he’s not afraid to show it.

WR Travis Benjamin

He dropped a ball. Again.

You all know how I feel. Let’s move on.

HC Anthony Lynn

C’mon, Lynn. What are you doing? More Melvin Gordon this week? After last week’s debacle?

I don’t know if he has money on Gordon’s stats but he sure as hell is coaching like it.

And keeping Travis Benjamin on the field for more than zero snaps? It’s like he wants to get a top-10 pick in next year’s draft.

I really don’t have words for Coach anymore. He doesn’t look a thing like himself this season and fans are practically grovelling for the Anthony Lynn of old. Where is the flexing? Where are the rigtht words at the right time to get this team in the mindset they need? WHERE IS THE PASSION WE COULD ALL FEEL SINCE DAY 1?!

It’s just not there anymore. We’ll see how things for the third-year coach when he finishes with his first sub-.500 record as a head coach.