In part one of my analysis of the San Diego Chargers offense I covered the quarterback, running back, fullback and tight end positions. Simply by using their stats and past history I gave a number of points per game I expect that group to get every week. Today I break down the rest of the offense, looking at the wide receivers, offensive line and coaching staff.
The most hard to read of all the skill position groups, the wide receiver position has been long on potential but short on production and consistency. Injuries have decimated the wide receiver corps year after year.
Keenan Allen is leader of the wide receiver group who have dubbed themselves the ‘Aliens’. Allen was off to an amazing start in 2015, hauling in 67 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns in his first eight games. In a game against the Baltimore Ravens, Allen lacerated his kidney when he landed on the ball while catching a touchdown, ending his season. He was on pace to shatter the Chargers’ single season record for receptions (100) held by Ladainian Tomlinson and the break the NFL record for receptions in a single season (143) held by former Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison.
Now armed with a brand new four-year extension in hand Allen is locked in through the 2020 season. Allen has established himself as a star on the rise and will be taking the field with a chip on his shoulder after the way his 2015 campaign ended. In 37 games he has caught 215 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 touchdowns.
However, the success of the receiving corps will be dependent on Allens’ supporting cast.
Getting Allen help was a priority heading into the offseason and the first splash the Chargers made into the free agency pool was acquiring former Cleveland Brown Travis Benjamin. The 5’10” speedster caught 68 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. Aside from a knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of the 2013 season, Benjamin has only missed the first two games of his NFL career with a tweaked hamstring.
In his four years in the NFL, he has established himself as a dangerous return specialist. At the 2012 NFL Combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds and it has carried over into the pros. As a punt returner, Benjamin gained 324 yards on 28 attempts. Of those 28 attempts, four returns were over twenty yards and one was a 78-yard touchdown return. By comparison, the Chargers had 20 punt returns for 84 yards as a team last season. Their longest return was 18 yards.
Benjamin automatically legitimizes the punt return game and now gives the Chargers what they haven’t had in years, a wide receiver with the speed to take the top off the defense. At 26, Benjamin is just beginning to enter his prime. This signing could trumpet a revival of the vertical passing game that we haven’t seen since the height of the Tomlinson era.
In his first season with the team, Stevie Johnson showed excellent chemistry with Rivers. Johnson was second among wideouts catching 45 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Hamstring and groin injuries caused him to miss seven games, including the last five games of the 2015 season. The nine-year pro is a dynamic receiver who has shown he can make an immediate impact if he can stay healthy.
Dontrelle Inman started in seven of the 14 games he appeared in last season. The CFL import continues to improve as he caught 35 balls for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Heading into his third season he will become a bigger part of the offense, likely assuming the role formerly held by the now-retired Malcom Floyd. Moving off the bench into a full-time starting role should greatly increase his numbers across the board.
Tyrell Williams can be penciled in as fifth on the wide receiver depth chart at the moment. Williams made his presence felt in the final game of the 2015 season against the Denver Broncos with a two reception for 90-yard performance, highlighted by burning Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib on a scintillating 80-yard touchdown catch. Those were his only stats of the 2015 regular season. Signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft he spent time on the active roster and practice squad. He has the size (6’3″, 205), speed (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds) and agility (39.5-inch vertical jump) to be a dominant pro wide receiver. Will he live up to his potential going into his second season?
The rest of the receiver field is comprised of undrafted free agents and second-year pros. Unless a veteran is brought in, this is the group that will likely start the 2016 season.
Points-per-game expectation: 6
All the new additions to the skill positions mean nothing if the offensive line can’t provide continuity, open holes for the running backs and allow Rivers enough time in the pocket to throw the ball. That has been a large task that has fallen woefully short in those categories in the last number of seasons. In the last four seasons Rivers has been sacked 155 times, 40 times in 2015. The running game was dead last in touchdowns (4) and 31st in yards (1,358) last season.
Last season the offensive line had 25 different combinations due to injury. This season San Diego boasts the biggest projected starting offensive line in the league, but can they stay healthy? Veteran free agent Matt Slauson was brought over from the Chicago Bears to finally stop the turnstile at the center position. Lining up next to him will be guards Orlando Franklin, D.J. Fluker and tackles King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. Concussions, knee and lower leg injuries were the downfall of this group last season. What will they do differently to stay on the field this season? The success of the season rides on it.
Points-per-game expectation: -4.
As frustrating to watch as the play on the field at times were the decisions of the coaches in key game situations. Last season the Chargers lost four games by three points. Eight of their twelve losses were by a touchdown or less. More often than not the staff played not to lose instead of playing to win. Head Coach Mike McCoy and then offensive coordinator Frank Reich called conservative games, focusing on short to intermediate routes in the passing game and running almost exclusively out of the Pistol formation.
The playcalling was predictable and did not attack downfield enough to make opposing defenses concerned about getting beat deep. Injuries played a big part but so did not having the personnel to execute that type of game plan. Blame can be laid at the feet of those in the front office for lack of quality depth once the injuries started mounting.
Thankfully, Reich is out and Ken Whisenhunt returns to take his place. Whisenhunt parlayed a successful 2013 season as the Chargers’ OC into a head coaching position with the Tennessee Titans. Not coincidentally, 2013 was the last season the Chargers made the playoffs.
Whisenhunt is intent on revamping the run game first and foremost. The Pistol formation will be scratched in favor of having Rivers back under center and using short drops. Expect to see a return of the power run game highlighted by Watt and Gordon in their familiar college roles. In 2013, Whisenhunts’ running attack averaged 122 yards per game and Rivers was fourth in the league in passing with 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns.
If McCoy trusts Whisenhunt with the playcalling duties the Chargers should be able to take advantage of a last-place schedule and return to the playoffs as long as the team can stay healthy at key positions. It is a positive sign that the front office reached out to Whisenhunt and bring back a system that worked with this group of players. His track record speaks for itself going back to his days in Pittsburgh, then leading the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII to coordinating the Chargers offense to its only payoff appearance in the last six years. Until McCoy steps away from the playbook, I remain skeptical.
Points-per-game expectation: -2
In all, my points per game expectation went like this: QB (14), WR (6), TE (4), RB (6), OL (-4) and coaching staff (-2) for a total of 24 points per game. Until the offensive line proves they can stay on the field and the offense is shown to be run through Whisenhunts’ headset instead of McCoys’ will I believe they won’t be a detriment to the team. Right now I believe those factors will cost the team one touchdown per game.
The 24-points per game are an improvement over the 20 points per game the Chargers averaged last season (26th in the NFL in 2015) and is on par with Philip Rivers’ lifetime average. Over his career, the Bolts average 25.6-points per Rivers start. That number has been as high as 27-points per game during the Tomlinson years.
This team has all the tools for a worst-to-first turnaround. The question is can they do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The Chargers have released the injury report for their Week 12 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bolts are hoping to win their first game on the road in 2015. Although there are a couple of big names who won’t play or may not play, the team is getting relatively healthier.
- D.J. Fluker OG (Concussion)
- King Dunlap OT (Ankle)
- Sean Lissemore DL (Concussion)
- Corey Liuget DL (Foot)
- Jahleel Addae SS (Concussion)
- Antonio Gates TE (Hip)
- Ladarius Green TE (Ankle)
- Malcom Floyd WR (Shoulder)
- Manti Te’o ILB (Ankle)
- Eric Weddle FS (Groin)
For what seems like an every-week tradition, the Chargers will be without two starting offensive linemen (Fluker, Dunlap).
The Fluker situation is a bit scary, seeing as he suffered two concussions in only five days. The former first-round pick has had concussion problems in the past. The long-term ramifications of the most recent head trauma is unknown at this time.
Kenny Wiggins is expected to step in and replace Fluker at right guard.
Left tackle Dunlap is going to miss another game due to an ankle ailment. He has been off and on the injury list all of 2015. Though reserve lineman Chris Hairston has filled in admirably, he does not compare to healthy Dunlap.
Defensive end Corey Liuget is listed as questionable, and he may miss another game after leaving the loss against the Ravens in a walking boot. Due to the fact that he is the team’s best defensive lineman, the front seven has been struggling without Liuget in the lineup. Actually, fact of the matter is, the front seven has struggled even when he is in the lineup.
The fact that wide receiver Malcom Floyd is listed as probably goes a long way in showing how much this team means to the veteran.
After tearing his labrum against the Bears, Floyd has pushed through the injury, and it appears as though he’ll be ready to go. M-80 has been quoted as saying that he does have full range of motion, but he will need to be careful to not land on his injured shoulder.
Although the team is headed in the right direction health-wise, the same cannot be said for their performance on the field. The team is looking for its first victory in its last seven games.
After Tuesday turned out to be an extremely eventful day as far as transactions are concerned for the Chargers, the team is back at practice Wednesday as they prepare to take on the Chicago Bears at home on Monday night.
The Bolts have completed the first half of the 2015 regular season by going 2-6, losing four games on the final drive, minute or play.
Losers of four in a row and five of their last six, it is hard to justify this team winning too many more games going forward. That being said, do you believe in miracles? Because that is what it will take for the Chargers to find a way to finish this season strong, perhaps even squeaking into the playoffs.
Stranger things have happened.
Despite the fact that the team is entering the “softer” side of their schedule, San Diego has not shown that they can win even when they are expected to do so. The struggles of this team have been widely documented on this site.
I would like to skip right past the fluff and get right to the question in the title.
You know the drill. Place your vote on the poll and leave a comment below justifying why you voted the way you did.
Thanks in advance for voting and commenting.
It is that time of the week again, Chargers fans. The team has released its weekly injury report.
Some of the “usual suspects” find their names listed as out or questionable, but there is one new addition that is sure to change the way the defense runs its game plan on Sunday.
CB – Craig Mager (Hamstring)
OLB – Tourek Williams (Foot)
FS – Eric Weddle (Groin)
ILB – Manti Te’o (Ankle)
WR – Keenan Allen (Hip)
LT – King Dunlap (Concussion)
TE – Antonio Gates (Knee)
RB – Melvin Gordon (Ankle)
OL – Chris Hairston (Ankle)
WR – Stevie Johnson (Hamstring)
OL – Chris Watt (Groin)
SS – Jahleel Addae (Back)
OLB – Kyle Emanuel (Shoulder)
OL – D.J. Fluker (Ankle)
OG – Orlando Franklin (Ankle)
That places 15 players on the injury report for Week 7.
Free safety Eric Weddle will miss his first start since 2009. The three-time All-Pro is arguably the best player on the Chargers’ defense. It goes without saying that he will be missed, and his absence puts a lot of pressure on all of his fellow members of the secondary.
With Te’o listed as doubtful, it appears that rookie Denzel Perryman will get his second-consecutive start. Last week in his first start of the season, Perryman led the defense with eight total tackles and a forced fumble.
Due to the absences of Weddle and Te’o, it will be interesting to see which defender receives the green-dot helmet used as the defense’s communication device to the sideline with defensive coordinator John Pagano.
In what I believe is the most disheartening news on the injury report, both Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen are listed as questionable. Having just come back from a four-game suspension, Gates has had back-to-back nine reception contests, adding two touchdowns. Allen has continued to shred opposing defenses, leading the league in receptions (53) while standing at third in receiving yards (601).
Early reports are stating that Allen is likely to play despite his questionable status. Gates, however, does not appear to be in the same boat, as many fear that he may end up missing Sunday’s game against the hated Raiders.
Sticking with weapons being at the disposal of quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Stevie Johnson is in jeopardy of missing his third game in a row. That being said, after being a limited participant on both Wednesday and Thursday, he was a full-go in Friday’s practice.
Prior to suffering a hamstring injury, Johnson was proving to be a reliable target for Rivers in the passing game.
The offensive line appears to be getting left guard Orlando Franklin back this week. Though he was struggling a bit to get acclimated to the blocking schemes in San Diego, he will be a welcome addition to the starting lineup. Fluker, like Franklin, is listed as probable and he will be starting next to right tackle Joe Barksdale — the only opening-day starter to start every game this season.
Rookie running back Melvin Gordon is making his first appearance on the 2015 injury report. He suffered an ankle injury during last week’s loss to the Packers. I feel his pride may be in worse shape than his ankle, as he fumbled twice, losing one, and was also denied a touchdown for the sixth consecutive game.
All in all, the injury report has lengthened but it seems as though the team is getting healthier along the offensive line. The offense is still struggling to open up any semblance of a hole in the running game, but has done an impressive job of keeping Rivers clean in the passing game. Getting some starters back should help in both areas.
The defense will be worth keeping an eye on this week, seeing as Weddle is out and Te’o will be joining him in street clothes come Sunday. This situation provides a great opportunity for some of the reserve defenders to come n and make their mark, showing they deserve more playing time.
It is imperative that this team finds a way to get healthy as it enters the more favorable part of their schedule. With the exception of Denver, not one team left on the docket has a winning record.
Coach Mike McCoy and company have their work cut out for them. Now is the time for the coaching staff to prove that they are better than their 2-4 record shows.
The Chargers have announced the game status of each of their players that are on the team’s injury report.
Once again, the offensive line will be without major starters. Another starter on the O-line — that quite frankly shouldn’t play while dealing with an ongoing ankle issue — is listed as questionable.
- LT – King Dunlap (Concussion)
- CB – Craig Mager (Hamstring)
- DL – Darius Philon (Hip/Thigh)
- C/G – Chris Watt (Groin, Concussion)
- OLB – Tourek Williams (Foot)
- WR – Stevie Johnson (Hamstring)
- LG – Orlando Franklin (Ankle)
- RG – D.J. Fluker (Ankle)
- OL – Chris Hairston (Ankle)
- ILB – Manti Te’o (Ankle)
- OLB – Kyle Emanuel (Shoulder)
When looking at the depleted mess that is the offensive line in San Diego, two opening-day starters will not play in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers (Dunlap, Watt), while both Franklin and Fluker are listed as questionable.
Franklin hasn’t played in two weeks after being carted off the field with an ankle ailment. Fluker has tried to gut out multiple contests while limping on, off and around the field. He is whom I mentioned above that it may have served him better to rest, allowing him to fully heal.
Just for kicks, reserve lineman Chris Hairston did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He was a limited participant Friday. He has filled in decently, though it sure would be nice if he didn’t account for multiple penalties each time he sees game action.
The wide receiving corps will most likely be without Stevie Johnson again. Hamstring injuries are very tricky and players dealing with them should not be rushed back. Although it would obviously be great to have him available to play, the return of Gates can help alleviate some of the stress of him not playing.
The newest and biggest concern regarding the injured Chargers is the fact that Te’o did not practice in any kind of capacity this week. Despite leading the team in both total tackles and missed tackles, the third-year inside linebacker will be missed more than some would like to think. His replacement, second-round draft pick Denzel Perryman, will be asked to step in should Te’o not be able to play. Kavell Conner will see the field more often than he has recently, as well.
It will be interesting to see which player on the defense would then don the green-dot helmet with the defense’s communication device in it. Last ear it was free safety Eric Weddle. But with 2015 seemingly being Weddle’s last year with the team, the Bolts decided to give Te’o the honor this season.
One thing of note worth pointing out is that not one member of the Chargers’ secondary is on the injury report, save Mager. After Addae camped out there for the better part of a month and Flowers and Verrett took turns missing time, it is great to see the defensive-back unit of the Chargers’ defense healthy and ready to roll.
They need that health, and a bit of luck, as they are set to face one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Aaron Rodgers.
Due to the fact that the Chargers versus Pittsburgh game is on Monday night, the team did not have to release their Week 5 injury report until today. Although it looks a little better than it did last week, there are still some concerns on the offensive line and in the secondary.
- G – Orlando Franklin (Ankle)
- WR – Stevie Johnson (Hamstring)
- CB – Craig Mager (Hamstring)
- OLB – Tourek Williams (Foot)
- LT – King Dunlap (Concussion)
- SS – Jahleel Addae (Ankle)
- CB – Brandon Flowers (Concussion)
- WR – Malcom Floyd (Concussion)
- OL – D.J. Fluker (Ankle)
- WR/KR/PR – Jacoby Jones (Ankle)
- CB – Jason Verrett (Foot)
- OL – Chris Watt (Groin)
- OL – Chris Hairston (Ankle)
Obviously, as mentioned in the title, the offensive line is still banged up and expected to be without its starting left tackle (Dunlap) and starting left guard (Franklin).
Though Watt is listed as questionable, his groin injury was initially thought to be pretty serious. If he does play, he could see time at right guard, depending on the health of Fluker, as reserve center Trevor Robinson has done a fine job in place of Watt.
Fluker has been nursing an injured ankle for the better part of a month. He has gutted out some performances as of late, but one could wonder as to whether or not it would have been wise to rest him, allowing him to fully heal.
After finishing the win over the Browns with only two available wide receivers, the Bolts are again looking at slim pickings at the wideout spot.
Stevie Johnson will miss Monday’s game with a hamstring ailment. His numbers will be difficult to replace, especially considering that Rivers looked his way quite often.
Dontrelle Inman, 25, will be pressed into action again, helping to pick up the slack for the missing Johnson, and possibly Floyd should he not be cleared to play due to a concussion suffered in the second quarter last week.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see the team promote Javontee Herndon from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Herndon could also help in the return game should Jacoby Jones not be able to go again.
Speaking of Jones, he was a limited participant in practice for the second day in a row. The 2015 free-agent acquisition has not played in a game since injuring his ankle during the Week 1 victory over the Detroit Lions. If healthy, Jones would be a welcome addition at both kick returner and punt returner.
The Chargers’ special teams unit is averaging just over 20 yards per kickoff return, while they have totaled a league-worst five punt return yards.
To put it lightly, that is beyond pathetic.
Three of the team’s four starters in the secondary are listed as questionable. Flowers, Verrett and Addae being hurt leaves only Eric Weddle as a starter that is guaranteed to play on Monday.
In the last two weeks, first Flowers in Week 3 and then Verrett in Week 4, the team’s cornerbacks came into the week listed as probable, yet, neither ended up playing in those respective weeks. Verrett was on the club’s 46-man active roster last week, but he did not even suit up, as he was in street clothes for the game. Flowers left last week’s contest with a concussion.
It goes without saying that the Bolts would be far better off if they had both Flowers and Verrett healthy and in the starting lineup. It is going to be interesting to see if the extra day off helps ensure they get back into game action.
Nickel corner Patrick Robinson has done a solid job filling in for the injured starters, proving that he was a great pickup in free agency this offseason. One can only wonder how the defensive backfield would perform if all four starters were healthy, but Robinson has made his share of impact plays during their absence.
The Chargers may not be the most-injured NFL team, but it sure seems like it. The adversity they have had to overcome has already become a bit overwhelming. It is up to the coaching staff and the veteran players to keep this team focused, concentrating on improving and stacking up wins as the season progresses, regardless of who is out there on the field.
Missing the playoffs again is not an option.
Thank you very much for reading.
The Chargers’ Week 4 injury report has been released by the team.
Needless to say, it is not very encouraging.
*Note – This is the injury report that is listed on the team’s official website, Chargers.com. It slightly differs from what other media outlets are reporting.
Here it is.
OT – King Dunlap (concussion)
LG – Orlando Franklin (ankle)
WR/KR/PR – Jacoby Jones (ankle)
CB – Craig Mager (hamstring)
OLB – Tourek Williams (foot)
OL – Chris Watt (groin)
S – Jahleel Addae (ankle)
TE – Ladarius Green (concussion)
OL – D.J. Fluker (ankle/chest)
CB – Jason Verrett (foot)
CB – Brandon Flowers (knee)
OL – Chris Hairston (ankle/knee)
I’ll be breaking down what these injuries mean to the team in a separate article. It goes without saying that everyone has a right to be concerned.
The Chargers released their updated injury report on Chargers.com on Wednesday.
Prior to breaking down what it means to the team, here’s the report.
Did not participate:
- S Jahleel Addae – Ankle
- OL D.J. Fluker – Ankle
- WR/KR/PR Jacoby Jones – Ankle
- OL Johnnie Troutman – Arm
- OL Chris Watt – Groin
- OLB Tourek Williams – Foot
- TE Ladarius Green – Concussion
- OLB Kyle Emanuel – Shoulder
- OL Chris Hairston – Knee
The initial timetable on Fluker’s return made it seem as though he would miss a serious amount of time; as much as six weeks. But reports have come out that his time on the sideline will not be as long as expected. This is great news seeing as Hairston had a miserable game against the Bengals, being beaten multiple times and drawing a couple of flags. Hairston, despite a knee ailment, was a full-go at practice as mentioned above.
After watching the Chargers’ defense force Cincinnati to a punt due to a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive in Week 2, Keenan Allen muffed the punt, allowing the Bengals to recover inside the 20-yard line. Although Jacoby Jones hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire with his returns in the offseason and season opener, it would be great to have him back there, at least to secure the ball and get the Chargers’ offense on the field. Jones suffered an ankle injury against the Lions in Week 1. His return date has yet to be determined.
On paper, it appeared that safety Jimmy Wilson filled in admirably for the injured Addae. I am not, by any means, going to sit here and say that he had a bad game, but it looked as though defensive coordinator John Pagano changed up his strategy in the secondary. Could this have been due to the fact that Addae was not available? It is hard to say, but I sure would like to see Addae back on the field making plays.
Though he struggled against a stout Cincinnati defensive line, seeing that Watt is injured is troubling. The offensive line has already been banged up, and don’t get me started on the injury issues the hogs upfront faced in 2014. Watt is still learning his role as the team’s starting center. That being said, Mike McCoy and Frank Reich named him the starter for a reason. If for some reason Watt is unable to go this Sunday in Minnesota, reserve center Trevor Robinson is more than capable of stepping up and starting.
As expected, both Johnnie Troutman and Tourek Williams were non-participants in today’s practice. Troutman should be inching closer to health as his diagnosis has him being available to return by about the fourth week of the season. Williams is still a wait-and-see type of scenario. The outside linebacking corps surely could use him.
Finally, the news that tight end Ladarius Green showed up to Chargers Park with concussion-like symptoms is very alarming. If he does indeed have a concussion, this would be a third concussion-related report on Green since being blown up by former Patriots’ cornerback Brandon Browner last season in Week 14. Green laid on the field after taking the hit from Browner. The play drew a 15-yard penalty.
With Antonio Gates continuing to serve his four-game suspension due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the fourth-year tight end is crucial in the success of the San Diego offense. He has already made his mark through two games, catching 10 passes for 121 yards and one touchdown. Green was shutout of the end zone in 2014. He is on pace for career highs in all receiving categories should he get back on the field.
On a bright note, it is good to see that rookie outside linebacker Kyle Emanuel was a full participant today. He played a major role in the team’s win over the Lions in Week 1. Allowing him to rotate with Jerry Attaochu keeps him fresh and should enable him to continue to make an impact.
The Chargers and Tom Telesco boldly moved up two spots in the first round of this year’s draft to select running back Melvin Gordon out of Wisconsin. The team traded its first- and fourth-round picks in 2015 along with their fifth-round selection in 2016 in order to obtain the 15th overall pick.
The former Badger was a little underwhelming during the offseason and preseason, leaving some media pundits and bloggers – not anyone on this site – to prematurely call the drafting of Gordon a mistake.
When No. 28 wasn’t being impatient, he was being too patient, hesitating behind the offensive line looking for holes. His playing time during the preseason was limited to 20 carries. There truly wasn’t much NFL tape to go off of when it came to breaking down the rookie’s running ability at this level.
Gordon’s NFL debut against the Lions saw him carry the ball 14 times for 51 yards for an average of 3.6 yards per tote. He added three receptions for 16 yards in the team’s 33-28 victory over Detroit. His longest carry of the day went for 14 yards. The 22-year-old had an impressive touchdown scamper called back as he spun out of a tackle only to have his forearm touch the ground, causing him to be down by contact.
Overall, his first game in the league was decent, but not spectacular.
In a Week 2 loss to the Bengals on the road, Gordon flashed some of the ability that would justify his drafting in the first round.
His first run from scrimmage was good for a career-high 26 yards on the team’s opening offensive play of the game. He would later top that mark with a 27-yard-run.
The rookie reeled off three runs of 20 yards or more. This performance led to the most explosive runs – carries in excess of 20 yards – for a Chargers’ running back since 2007. The player that accomplished that feat eight years ago was LaDainian Tomlinson, finishing the game with four explosive runs of his own.
Gordon appreciated the fact that multiple runs of that nature in one game don’t come easily.
“It felt good,” Gordon said via The San Diego Union-Tribune. “It always feels good to break one. You don’t get many in the League. When you do, you try to make the best of them.”
The first-year ball carrier finished the Week 2 contest with 16 carries for 88 yards and one reception for 10 yards. Although he has yet to reach the end zone, you can see the youngster starting to figure it out.
The San Diego offensive line is still working on building cohesion. With D.J. Fluker being injured in the season-opening game, veteran Chris Hairston has stepped in at the right guard spot. Free-agent acquisition Orlando Franklin is manning the left guard position after playing predominantly at right tackle during his time with the Broncos. Second-year lineman Chris Watt has struggled a bit while adjusting to playing at center. Another free agent, Joe Barksdale is still learning the blocking schemes under offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris.
In time, and with a healthy Fluker returning to the lineup, the offensive line will get on the same page, gelling as a cohesive unit. This will, in turn, allow bigger holes for backs like Gordon to churn out yards on the ground, and allow time for quarterback Philip Rivers to sling the ball to his impressive receiving options.
Melvin Gordon has only played in two NFL games. As much as the young man must work on his patience as a ball carrier, the fans must also be patient in waiting for him to develop and prove his worth.
I have a feeling that people will be praising the first-round selection of Gordon for many years to come.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The Chargers lit it up at the Q after being down 21-3 against Lions at halftime, coming back to win 33-28.
The San Diego offense had a sudden surge in the second half after only putting three points on the board through two quarters. It all started with Philip Rivers. The 33-year-old completed 83.3% of his passes on Sunday (35-42). He threw two touchdown passes to tie Dan Fouts’ team record (254) for most touchdowns thrown for over a career. He threw for a whopping 404 yards. Not a bad start to the season for the 12-year veteran.
The Chargers offensive line did a decent job. They started off shaky in the early portions of the game, but meshed well as the game wore on. There were also two injuries to this line, D.J. Fluker and Joe Barksdale. Although those seem like key losses, their replacements did a solid job at protecting Rivers. Fluker sustained a high-ankle sprain and looks to be out about 4-6 weeks. Barksdale is expected to return this week.
Rookie Melvin Gordon had 14 carries for 51 yards, averaging 3.64 yards per carry. Gordon almost scored his first touchdown as a rookie, but it was called back because his elbow touched the turf when trying to spin out of tackle. Gordon also fumbled the ball, turning it over to the Lions. All in all, it wasn’t a bad debut performance.
Danny Woodhead also had a nice game, toting the rock 12 times for 42 yards. He averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Woody managed to score two touchdowns on the ground. It was nice to have him back after losing him to a season-ending injury early last season.
Keenan Allen was huge this game! Allen had 15 receptions for 166 yards. He tied the team record for receptions in a single game. Allen didn’t score any touchdowns, but he sure helped the team move the ball down the field. The 23-year-old also popped a ball up that Rivers threw at his back shoulder; it was intercepted and taken back for a pick-six.
Stevie Johnson proved to be a nice offseason addition. He recorded 6 receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, averaging 13.6 yards per catch. Johnson ran a great inside route and took it to the house with his lone diving touchdown. He will definitely be an asset to the already prolific offense.
Ladarius Green had a good game, stepping in for the suspended Antonio Gates. Green registered five receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. Green came through in the clutch when the Chargers needed to move down the field to get into the red zone.
Lastly, Malcom Floyd. Floyd had a bit of a disappointing game having only one catch that went for 29 yards. Rivers also tried to target Floyd in the endzone, but that pass was well underthrown and ended up being intercepted by the Lions’ secondary for Rivers’ second pick of the game. Truth be told, there is only one football to go around, so to speak.
When every player is healthy, this is one of the most prolific offenses in the league. The offensive line took a while to mesh, but when they did, they were able to open holes for the running back and protect Rivers. With stable blocking upfront, the Chargers can move the ball down the field with a great deal of poise.
Next up is the Bengals. Let’s see how the offense can do against a good defense on the road.
Thanks for reading!
Rick Reiff, Jr.