Hello Everybody, and welcome to the very first #VictoryMonday of the 2019 season! And lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait that long, either.
Yesterday, as most week one games are for Chargers fans, was STRESSFUL.
If you guys haven’t been keeping track, that’s the first week one match-up the Bolts have one since 2015, when they beat the Detroit Lions.
Prior to that, according to Philip Rivers in his post-game presser, the Chargers didn’t win the opener in 2013 and ‘14, either.
The Chargers absolutely gutted-out this victory in a match-up that easily could have slipped away from them, especially when you consider how unstoppable the ground game was for Indy. Colts running back Marlon Mack went for a whopping 174 rushing yards on 25 carries and a single score, with over 90% of that production coming in the second half.
The defense obviously needs to clean things up, including their rampant amount of missed tackles. But the Chargers wont likely face an offensive line like the Colts’ for awhile, making their progression over the next few weeks that much easier to see.
There were some obvious standouts yesterday, and unfortunately just as many duds.
With that being said, here’s your first edition of the 2019 Surge or Static series!
RB Austin Ekeler
What a way to stake your claim as the Chargers’ top running back!
With all of the Melvin Gordon holdout talk behind him, and only real football in front, Ekeler put together a dazzling performance, both through the air and on the ground.
After more than four quarters of action, Ekeler finished with 58 rushing yards on 12 carries, including the walk-off score, to go along with 96 receiving yards and two more touchdowns. Altogether, he tallied 154 yards from scrimmage and was the catalyst for a Chargers offense that featured a pair of wayward tackles left to protect Philip Rivers.
With a middling Lions defense on tap for next Sunday, expect to see more of Ekeler doing his thing.
WR Keenan Allen
Year-in and year-out, Allen is always one of the more underappreciated wide receivers in the NFL. He has 199 catches over the last two seasons, without the blazing speed or the create-a-player size.
Whether or not he is being fueled by a chip on his shoulder, Allen was white-hot on Sunday, making an impact in the passing game from start to finish. He finished with 8 catches on 10 targets for 123 yards and a critical score where he out-muscled a Colts defender near the goal line.
From consistently moving the chains to coming up with clutch catches during the final drive, Allen was everyone, doing everything he could to put the Colts away. Expect more next week, even if he draws the Lions’ Darius Slay in coverage.
LB Drue Tranquill
Even without a hefty amount of snaps this week, Tranquill made one of the plays of the day when he shot through the punt protection and blocked a Colts kick,
It was a massive momentum-shifter and exactly the type of start the Chargers’ special teams unit needed to start this season. After far too many years of mediocre coverage and return on punts/kicks, it was about time someone finally stepped up.
I’m not sure if the blocked punt will lead to more snaps for Tranquill, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the field more after the horrendous tackling by the team, yesterday.
LB Thomas Davis
Davis had a game-high 14 total tackles on Sunday afternoon, but in this case, that statistic is an extremely misleading number.
Davis was around the ball a lot, yes, but that doesn’t always mean he’s making stops near the line of scrimmage or coming up clutch on third downs. In this case, Davis was cleaning up missed tackles by others and was usually chasing Colts players because of a blown assignment.
Davis also missed a tackle, after Adrian Phillips already missed a tackle attempt, on T.Y. Hilton’s second touchdown of the day. I’m not sure if Davis assumed Phillips had him down, but the 15-year veteran oddly overran the receiver which allowed Hilton to squirt 12 up the sideline to score, bringing the Chargers lead down to two.
It wasn’t the most assuring performance from a guy who was supposed to come in an imediately upgrade this position. Last year, the Chargers use of Phillips as a linebacker and having guys like Kyzir White and Jatavis Brown made this group very fast. In all honesty, Davis looked slow. Too slow, actually. At first I thought it was just me, until the texts from my fellow writers came in stating the exact same thing.
Is the veteran really circling the drain? Probably not, and week one is way too early to make crazy assumption, but this wasn’t the best start to the season for Davis.
CB Desmond King
Now this is a name we didn’t see too often in this section last season.
King, the team’s dynamic return man and heralded slot corner, fell victim to a unfortunate conundrum when he muffed a punt at the end of the third quarter. Luckily for him, the Colts were unable to turn the situation into points as 46-year old Adam Vinatieri missed his second field goal of the day.
I don’t think this will affect King’s chance to return punts in the future, however. He has made more than his fair share of splash plays in that spot so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves if you happen to be calling for someone else to return kicks.
Entire Run Defense
When the first half was all wrapped up and the players trotted in to the locker rooms, the Chargers had done their job, limiting a good Colts running game to just 26 yards rushing at the halfway point. They were also allowing just 2.7 yards per carry. Also very good.
However, the Colts had apparently found a weakness to exploit against the Chargers defense, and boy did they exploit the hell out of it.
The Colts came out of the half and run the ball up, down, and all around the Bolts front seven. By the end of the third quarter, the Colts had over 140 rushing yards. Most of that came on one play when running back Marlon Mack raced 64 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown to bring the Chargers lead back to eight.
By the end of the game, Mack finished with 174 yards on a hefty 25 carries. As a team, the Colts finished with 203 total rushing yards on the Chargers.
That is.....so not good. After spending three of their first four draft picks in the 2019 draft on defensive players, their run defense honestly looked even worse. And yes, there is something to be said about Denzel Perryman missing the game and how much he affects this run defense, but those numbers are still horrendous with a capital H.
Something needs to be fixed and fixed now.