Chargers Take Care of Business
By: Andy Bishop
For the first time this season the Chargers did what they needed to when they were expected to. Their 24-6 win over the hapless Jaguars wasn’t dominating. It wasn’t pretty. But, bottom line, it was a victory.
Even though the Chargers were playing the worst NFL team since the 2008 Lions, there were plenty of reasons for them to slip up—a short week, an early game across the country and a banged up offensive line to name a few. But the Bolts held it together and grinded out a win for the second week in a row.
Here are the bright spots from Sunday’s win:
Life In the Backfield: Ryan Mathews put forth another fine effort in Jacksonville as he continues to run hard, and more importantly, stay healthy. After week 7 he is the 10th leading rusher in the league and is on pace to eclipse 1000 yards on the season. On Sunday, he found the end zone for the first time in 257 carries. It is clear that Mathews isn’t the home run threat many were thinking he would be in the NFL, but he gets the tough yards. He seems to have found his role in the offense.
Danny Woodhead continues to be a great sidekick to Mathews. He continues to be the type of backfield weapon the Chargers have been missing since Darren Sproles. He can block and run the rock when needed. Most importantly, however, he is a great pass-catching back that can pick up those all-important first downs. This was best displayed against the Jaguars on the third-quarter 26-yard screen pass that moved the chains.
The O-Line Shuffle: The Chargers were close to desperation on the offensive line as they lost two of their starters, King Dunlap and Mike Remmers. Rich Ohrnberger came in to play right guard, which moved Jeromey Clary to right tackle. D.J. Fluker then had to switch to left tackle.
For all the change up, the line performed well. It continued to consistently protect quarterback Philip Rivers, who had himself another clean game. It also owned the line enough to allow Mathews the necessary running room. The offensive line was the biggest concern heading into the season and it has endured several injuries week-to-week. A big credit goes to o-line coach Joe D’Alessandris who has held this ever changing unit together in 2013.
A Tough Defensive Front: This was the best performance of the 2013 season by the Chargers’ front seven. And while it was indeed the Jaguars, it will give the team a lot to build on. San Diego finished with six sacks collectively and held the Jags’ offensive to 78 yards rushing.
The front line consistently put pressure on QB Chad Henne, which made for an easier day in the Chargers’ secondary. While it still allowed 318 yards passing to Henne, a lot of those came in the second half when the Chargers had a mostly secure lead. Going forward, it will be essential for San Diego’s pass rush to have continued success as the secondary is still in a growing process.
San Diego now heads into its bye week with its first winning record of the season at 4-3. Believe it or not, if the season ended today the Bolts would have the final wild card seed. We are a long way from the playoffs, so it is senseless to look that far down the road. But to this point the Chargers have shown that they are a playoff caliber team.
The bye comes at the perfect time for the Chargers to heal some of their wounds and to essentially prepare for the second half of the season. They still have a long way to go, but their play the past few weeks has instilled confidence within the organization. The Bolts appear to be going in the right direction.