We are little over 24 hours until the Chargers take the field in the 305 against the Miami Dolphins who are coming off a historically-abysmal three-game stretch.
The Chargers are also coming off an abysmal three-game in their own right, having blown three straight 10-point leads in the second halves to find themselves 1-2 heading into Sunday.
Anthony Lynn and Co. have been outscored 27-3 in the second half of the last two games and desperately need a boost of confidence that could easily come in the form of this Miami defense. They’ve allowed an average of 44.3 points per game and it would be a monumental lapse in preparation if the Chargers were to fail to find the end zone at least three times on Sunday.
With that being said, aside from looking for a ton of points, here are the three things I’ll be watching closely when the Chargers take on the Miami Dolphins tomorrow.
1.) Will the Chargers play down to the level of competition?
The Chargers have been known to play down or up to the competition they face on any given Sunday.
Last year, they came out of the locker room fairly sluggish against the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. After trailing in both by 10 points, the Bolts were able to flip the switch and exit with victories.
This was also the case against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their second match-up with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The last time the Chargers faced the Dolphins, their quarterback was a recently un-retired Jay Cutler and they didn’t have a notable player aside from Jarvis Landry and Cam Wake.
The Chargers still managed to somehow lose that game, as well as several other close-calls to help start Anthony Lynn’s head coaching record 0-4.
We won’t know what Chargers team steps onto the field until after the opening kickoff, but I don’t think this 2019 squad can stand to start slow against an opponent as desperate for a win as this abysmal Dolphins team.
Also, have you guys seen the injury report? This might be the most bare-bones team I’ve seen around Philip Rivers in some while. No Mike Williams. No Justin Jackson. Potentially no Casey Hayward, either.
2.) Which receiver gets increased snaps with Mike Williams OUT?
As of Friday’s injury report, Mike Williams will not play against the Dolphins on Sunday due to a back injury. This comes with increased concern as Williams missed most of his rookie season for the same injury. He was also coming off a lingering knee injury so all of this doesn’t bode well for Williams’ potential breakout season as the Bolts’ WR2.
With the third-year receiver out, the team will have to look for Dontrelle Inman or Travis Benjamin to help carry the load. And for the sake of all of us, I truly hope it’s more of the former than the latter.
The team could also promote Andre Patton from the practice squad or choose to give Geremy Davis some more play, as well.
Either way they decide to go, there’s a really good chance that Keenan Allen has another monster day as he is essentially the only trust-worthy receiver left on the team, and that includes the tight ends.
3.) Can the pass rush get sparked against one of the worst teams in NFL history?
Last week, one of the biggest themes going into the team’s match-up with the Houston Texans was that the defensive line was going to have a field day against the opposing offensive line. It was well-documented that Deshaun Watson had been the most-sacked quarterback since the beginning of 2017 and the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were SURE to live in the backfield.
This ended up not being the case at all.
The Chargers brought down Watson just a pair of times, with sacks going to Brandon Mebane and another split by Bosa and Thomas Davis.
Two sacks was definitely not the number the team was hoping for.
Following the game, Aaron Reiss from The Athletic pointed out that Watson was only pressured on 13.6 percent of his dropbacks that day, good for a career-best in that category.
So let’s back-up one second. The Chargers, with their ELITE pass-rushers, pressured Watson on the LOWEST percentage of his dropbacks, EVER.
You can’t make this stuff up. The pass-rush has been bad and they need a confidence boost in a bad way.
Enter the Miami Dolphins and their revolving door of a front five.
Three linemen who have started on the right side joined the team following the slate of preseason games, meaning they haven’t had a lot of time to gel as a unit. Last week, left guard Michael Dieter, their 2019 second-round pick, had to bump out to left tackle following an injury and struggled mightily.
As of this moment, Jesse Davis, who injured his elbow last week against the Cowboys, will be back in the lineup with an elbow brace, according to Dolphins reporter, Joe Schad.
Their starting five on Sunday will most likely look like this:
- LT Jesse Davis (Former offensive guard out of Idaho)
- LG Michael Dieter (2019 2nd-round rookie)
- C Daniel Kilgore (31 years old)
- RG Danny Isidora (Vikings 5th-round pick in 2017)
- RT Julian Davenport (2nd year out of Bucknell)
Just on paper, this looks like the weakest unit the Chargers will have faced all year. But that hasn’t stopped them from not taking advantage of the situation thus far.