Less than one week where the Chargers looked like a completely different team and played their most complete game in recent memory, they fell right back down to Earth against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.
The Chargers started fast on offense with a chunk play to Austin Ekeler after he was lined-up as a wide receiver. After a four-yard tote by Melvin Gordon, Rivers was sacked by rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell for his second sack of the season.
On the ensuing third-and-long, Rivers air-mailed a pass to a wide open Keenan Allen up the left seam and it was picked off by safety Eric Harris and returned for 59 yards. Luckily the Chargers defense stiffened-up and the Raiders only left with three points.
On the very next drive, Rivers threw a short pass to tight end Hunter Henry but he lost his footing and Harris was once again able to step in front of the pass. This time, however, he returned it for a pick-6.
So once again, the Chargers found themselves down by two scores early on in the first quarter. This was the same issue that doomed them against the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whenever you hand someone two turnovers and 10+ points in the first, that’s usually a death sentence.
Although the Chargers came back to take the lead one before half and again with four minutes remaining, they couldn’t stop the Raiders offense when they needed it the most. Running back Josh Jacobs broke off an 18-yard rushing score with a little over a minute left in regulation and that wound-up being the nail in the coffin for the Chargers as they lost 26-24 after a final drive that included eight passes for zero yards,
Oh yeah, they also let time run out with using one of their three timeouts still remaining.
It looked like the end of every other crushing loss that Chargers have become accustomed to and it swiftly swept the warm-fuzzies away that were still floating around from last Sunday’s win over Green Bay.
It was a mixed-bag, to say the least. At this point, the team is 4-6 with a date in Mexico City with the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs prior to their week 12 bye. Following the bye, their remaining games include another go-round with the Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs, with match-ups against the Vikings and Jaguars.
At this point, all hope for a playoff appearance might be diminished. All the team can worry about is the next game on the schedule, and I think the fan base may have to do the same to limit the frustration/depression/etc.
With that being said, here are your Surge or Static players of the week.
OLB Melvin Ingram
Finally getting out from the shadow of Joey Bosa’s recent dominance, Ingram broke out and had his best game of the 2019 season with a pair of sacks that helped the Chargers crawl back from an early deficit.
Ingram looked revitalized and the extra help that the Raiders were sending to chip on Joey Bosa seemed to free him up to wreak havoc in the Raiders’ backfield.
Ingram finished the game with a season-high seven tackles, two tackles-for-loss, and two sacks with a pass deflection.
RB Melvin Gordon
Gordon put together his best game of the season following his breakout performance of 2019 last week against the Packers. He went over 100 yards rushing for the first time this season, finishing with 108 yards and two scores on the ground with a single catch for 25 yards.
The fifth-year back looked much more like his 2018 form, seemingly getting stronger and more explosive as the game wore on. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and that helped the Chargers consistently move the ball down the field and win the time of possession battle by almost 10 minutes.
The Chargers continue to drop more games than win them since Gordon has returned to the lineup, but with his recent play, it seems the blame is getting shifted onto other variables.
TE Hunter Henry
Henry had an impact in this one from the very beginning. He helped move the chains and was the catalyst to the Chargers’ early comeback to take a 14-10 lead in the second quarter after he caught the team’s first touchdown of the night.
However, Henry was a non-factor in the second half, finishing with just four catches for 30 yards and the score. I’m not sure why he wasn’t utilized more in this one especially when the Chargers could have benefited from keeping a drive or two alive in order to limit the Raiders time to mount their own comeback.
Overall, Henry has been an instant catalyst for this offense since his return and if they can get some more consistent play from another pass-catcher that isn’t a running back, this offense could finally start winning games instead of simply keeping the team in the fight.
QB Philip Rivers
This year, unfortunately, has been one of Rivers’ more “up-and-down” seasons. A week after he pitched an efficient game and led the Chargers over the Green Bay Packers, he came out against the Oakland Raiders and tossed a trio of interceptions.
Although one was thrown due to Hunter Henry slipping on the grass, the other two were inexcusable. The first interception was a pass that sailed over the head of a wide-open Keenan Allen during the team’s first drive of the game. His third and final turnover was the last play of the game where he chucked a ball to the receiver in double-coverage near the right sideline. It was picked-off by safety Karl Joseph.
But that final play is what I want to focus on. Rivers’ decision-making and execution was...awful. How awful? Check out this statistic by ESPN’s Ed Werder:
How poor was the organization and execution on #Chargers’ final possession vs #Raiders? Philip Rivers became the 1st player to go 0-7 or worse passing on the final drive of a game in at least the last 40 seasons, per @EliasSports— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) November 8, 2019
I feel like I’ve said this far too many times this season, but I’m going to say it again: When the Chargers lose, they usually lose in historic fashion.
I mean, what kind of fact is that? Really? Forty years have gone by and no quarterback has ever gone 0-7 or worse in the final drive of a game in that time span? Seriously?!
Of coure it was the Chargers. Of course it was the same team that couldn’t rush for more than 40 yards in four straight games, either. That was historically bad in its’ own right, as well.
At what point do we really start holding Rivers responsible for playing this type of frantic, erratic football in situations that require him to be the most poised, under-control player on the field? At what point do all the things he’s done for this franchise start to melt away and leave his current play lying bare on the table for all to judge?
OT Trent Scott
He’s just bad. Plain and simple. He can’t stop a nose bleed, nonetheless an above-average pass-rusher.
In a game that featured one of the worst group of edge players in the league, the Chargers allowed a rookie defensive end to triple his sack total from the entire year up to this point and let Rivers get taken down five times on Thursday night. For a guy who has an immense amount of playing experience compared to Trey Pipkins, who played almost every snap at left tackle following the Russell Okung’s groin injury, he hasn’t shown the development and progression needed to stick with this team.
Expect the Chargers to go heavy on the offensive line in next year’s draft, specifically at the offensive tackle spot.