Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the one who is in the wrong because I expect so much more from this team. I mean, the Chargers won Sunday, 29-24. That should be good enough, shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t it?
Coming into this season, I never would have imagined this team would be 4-1 at their bye week. Scratch that. I imagined it, kind of like I imagine world peace or steak and lobster dinners that pay you to eat it. Never gonna happen. Regardless of what they should or shouldn’t do, early season success is not the Chargers' style. I became used to their stumbling and bumbling to a 2-3 record. Stumbling and bumbling to a winning record? I’m just not sure what to do with that.
The Chargers sit at the top of the AFC West, and you can’t take that away from them. Beyond that, I don’t know what to say.
Optimistically, there is still time for the defense to gel and become a more consistent unit. And many of the injuries that have plagued the Chargers early could be healed in the coming weeks.
The pessimist in me can’t get past the 4-15 record of the opponents they have beaten this year, a stat that is meaningful only because the Chargers had such difficulty in beating those bad teams.
One quick stat that sums up my concern for the Chargers at this point in the season. The Chargers scored 6.25 more points (on average) than their 4-15 opponents in their four wins. They are scored less than a touchdown more per game than these bad teams, who all rank in the bottom half of the league in total offense and rank 15th or worse in scoring.
Blame it on injuries. Blame it on new faces. Blame it on bad coaching. Whatever the problem is, things are going to get a lot harder following the bye week.
On to the good and bad of Sunday’s win:
Ryan Mathews- With 125-yards rushing, he is living up to his first-round-pick billing, a complete back who can run it inside or out, and who is dangerous on the ground or catching it out of the backfield. And I think his best is yet to come. Even better, the offense combined for over 200-yards rushing on the day.
Jacob Hester- Due to the fact that the Chargers carry fewer running backs/fullbacks on the active roster on game day than almost every other team in the NFL, the Chargers fullback had to carry the load after injuries to Mathews and Mike Tolbert, with their starting tightend filling in at fullback. And Hester stepped up to the challenge. He got yards when they needed them, and most importantly, he held on to the ball. And I hope he never has to do it again.
Nick Novak- 5-5 on field goals, with a strong leg on kickoff. Nate Kaeding is already brushing off his resume.
Donald Butler- Four tackles and an interception, and another consistently solid performance. The front seven did not do much this game, but Butler has more than proven has value as a former third-round pick.
Five Sacks- And here I thought this offensive line was better at pass-protection. Sure, that is a problem shared with your tightends and running backs, but together they have to be better. You can’t beat your tougher opponents with the pass protection we saw on Sunday.
Front Seven Defense- The Chargers had zero sacks. That sucks. Worse, the front seven gave up almost eight yards per carry to Broncos running back Willis McGahee. That’s embarrassing.
Red Zone Offense- Four of Novak’s five field goal came with the ball in the red zone. On only one drive did the Chargers throw the ball more than they ran it when within 20-yards of the end zone in Denver. That’s nothing new- opposing defenses know as well as you and I do that Norv prefers to run when he gets close to the goal line. Injuries don’t help, but perhaps that predictable play calling is why they have become a red zone disaster this year?
Lot of questions to be answered in the next two weeks. Can the Chargers get healthy? Can they play better, regardless of who is healthy? Do they have enough to beat the likes of the Packers, Lions, Bills, and Raiders? Share your thoughts below!
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