Much like the picture-quality from a pirated online broadcast of the Chargers-Dolphins game that many fans were likely watching on Sunday afternoon, the first place Bolts have painted a fuzzy, unclear picture of who they are through the first quarter of the season. On the one hand, they are 3-1, off to their best start in the Norv Turner era, and are alone at the top of the AFC West. On the other hand, they have failed to dominate in any of their three wins against teams that are a collective 1-11 at this point in the season.
The Chargers played their best game of the season against the Dolphins, winning 26-16. It was not exactly an impressive performance, but it was a win, and easily their best win yet. Far from the mistake-filled squeakers that we saw last week against the Chiefs and previously against the Vikings, the outcome of this game never seemed to be in question, even as the Dolphins kept it close.
Considering the number of injuries on the Dolphins, including the loss of their unimpressive starting quarterback early in the game, a 20-point win or a defensive shutout would have been a welcome change from the first three-games of the season. But considering the number of injuries on the Chargers, including inactive starters and guys who had to play through their various ailments, I would place this win in the “solid-performance” category, their first of the year.
Is this team good enough to beat the likes of the Packers and Lions later in the season? Probably not...at least not the team we have seen in the first quarter of the season. But Sunday’s game gave me some hope. Eliminating the huge mistakes and learning how to run the ball to eat up the clock in the second-half should go a long way toward instilling confidence in both the team and the fans. If the Dolphins' Brandon Marshall cared enough to catch the ball, would this have been a different game? Perhaps. But the Chargers are getting better, and they usually don’t hit their stride until the fifth or sixth game of the season. Could be perfect timing for our Bolts.
Offensive Production. Although a 300-yard passing game is more the expectation in this day and age, combined with 100+ rushing yards and no turnovers, and the absence of Antonio Gates and the loss of Vincent Jackson for much of the game, you have to be content with the Chargers offensive production.
Vincent Jackson. Again, lost for most of the game with a leg injury early in the second quarter, Jackson still managed 108-yards on three receptions, and a touchdown coming on the most phenomenal catch-and-run of his career. The price to sign Jackson is only getting higher- sign him to a long-term deal now!
Ryan Mathews. He is looking better and better as the season progresses. With 149 total-yards from scrimmage, he has earned the starting RB spot going forward, and should only get better.
Nick Novak. The Chargers replacement kicker was 4-4 on field goals, is perfect on the season, and is booming kickoffs like we haven’t seen in the Nate Kaeding era. Anyone else looking forward to a Wally Pip-scenario in the future?
Defensive Turnovers. With two interceptions (which should have been three), the Chargers defense seems to be improving each week. And with three straight road games looming on the horizon, this unit is looking like it could start playing up to expectations when we need them to the most.
Fumbles. The fact that the Chargers did not turn the ball over on offense doesn’t mean they didn’t try. Both Mathews and Mike Tolbert dropped the ball, not even including Tolbert’s almost-fumble in the end zone following his leaping score in the third-quarter. Luckily both drops were recovered by the Chargers- they can’t count on being that lucky in the future.
Penalties. Eight penalties for 80-yards is hardly a winning-statistic, though the major concerns were the interception-nullifying pass-interference penalty on rookie Marcus Gilchrist and the personal foul penalty on Jeromey Clary. Clary’s foul was hardly an intentionally aggressive foul, but a post-whistle shove is a shove, and it killed a probable-touchdown drive.
Blackouts. We live in an age where it is nearly impossible to stop the streaming of any broadcast online. I heard rumors of a number of different sites broadcasting the Chargers-Dolphins game, as well as every other NFL game. The quality is not always there, but I would expect it to improve every season. If the NFL wants to have better control of their product, they need to get rid of the blackout policy. There has to be a better way.
Did you see the game? What was the good and the bad from the Chargers win over the Dolphins?
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