“The only stat that matters is the final score.” – Chargers fans after the team’s 21-13 win over the Broncos, probably
The Chargers invited the Denver Broncos to San Diego for a Thursday Night Football game in San Diego this past Thursday.
The Bolts entered the game on the heels of a 10-game divisional losing streak which dates back to November of 2014. The game would mark their third divisional contest of the ’16 season, as the Chargers fell to the Chiefs in Week 1, allowing what would be one of the biggest comebacks in Chiefs’ history, and the Raiders in Week 5, falling flat on their faces in another game that they were in until the closing minute.
It was incredibly difficult to find anyone outside of the occasional die-hard Chargers fan that was picking the Chargers to upset the defending Super Champion Broncos. The scarce few I did find were using the game to gain leverage in Pick ‘Em via an upset pick, knowing that they could take the Chargers and hopefully get lucky with a San Diego win, while being fully aware that they would be one of the only selectors to do so.
As you all know by now, despite the usual late-game debacles, the Chargers held on to beat the Donkeys by a score of 21-13.
As expected, blunders late in the fourth quarter almost cost the Chargers a victory; for example, no one EVER wants to see Kenny Wiggins attempt to catch a punt, kickoff or anything else involving the game of football; unless there is an interception or fumble and he is “catching” the recovering defender, preventing them from making a bad play for the offense even worse.
The Chargers’ 2016 rookie draft class highlighted the victory for the team, as first-round pick Joey Bosa, second-round pick Hunter Henry, fifth-round pick Jatavis Brown and sixth-round pick Drew Kaser all had solid performances.
Though Bosa’s boxscore — one tackle — may lead the casual fan to think he was a non-factor, those of us who watched the game saw him wreak havoc all over the field, setting up a campsite on the Broncos’ side of the line of scrimmage.
Henry, albeit in only his sixth career game, set career-highs in receptions (six) and yards (83). He also scored a receiving touchdown for the third consecutive game.
Even the most clueless of football fans walked away from the Week 6 win knowing that Brown had a huge impact on Thursday. Notching 14 total tackles, one sack and a forced fumble, Brown showed that he certainly belongs in the NFL. The organization should be very pleased with the production of their fifth-round ‘backer. He is only going to get better with more playing time.
Punter Drew Kaser had a miserable Week 5, but we’re going to move past that for the sake of everyone’s sanity. In Week 6, Kaser was back to being the strong-legged punter he was during his Texas A&M days, booming multiple punts with solid hang-time, while placing multiple kicks inside the opposing team’s 20-yard line.
All in all, if we’re being completely honest, the Bolts most likely don’t win this game if it weren’t for the output of these four youngsters, and the future is bright for each of them.
Before moving on to PFF grading the Chargers, it is worth noting that cornerback Casey Hayward did a phenomenal job while covering Broncos’ wideout Demaryius Thomas.
Broncos’ quarterback Trevor Siemian targeted Thomas four times while he was covered by Hayward on Thursday, completing just one pass for only six yards.
In short, Hayward added to what has already been an impressive season for the Chargers, locking down one of the league’s premier receivers in Thomas.
The former Packer has already managed to snag three picks in 2016, leading the team in interceptions.
Below is how ProFootballFocus.com graded the Chargers’ offense and defense.
Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers 67.9
Rivers calm under pressure
Philip Rivers wasn’t extremely productive, but he did have a mistake-free game in terms of turnover-worthy plays. He had some inaccurate throws and on passes outside the numbers and 10-plus yards downfield, he was just 1-for-5 for 18 yards. Rivers was actually at his best when he was under pressure. On his nine targeted throws, he completed eight of them including the Chargers’ lone touchdown of the game.
Top offensive grades:
T King Dunlap, 78.4
TE Hunter Henry, 73.1
T Joe Barksdale, 71.7
HB Melvin Gordon, 68.1
QB Philip Rivers, 67.9
Offense scores just enough in win
On several occasions the Chargers sustained long drives only to stall and have to settle for short field goals. Left guard Orlando Franklin threw Broncos’ DL Jared Crick to the ground on one play that helped spring HB Melvin Gordon for a 48-yard run, but otherwise the Chargers’ running game was largely ineffective. Gordon’s long run went for more yards than his 26 other carries combined (46) and he averaged less than 1.8 yards per carry on those 26 runs. Not a single Chargers player finished with an above-average run-blocking grade. While Hunter Henry struggled as a run-blocker, he had a solid game receiving, with six catches for 83 yards, both career-highs, and a touchdown for the third consecutive week.
Top defensive grades:
ILB Jatavis Brown, 85.5
ILB Korey Toomer, 84.6
OLB Melvin Ingram, 82.2
DE Joey Bosa, 82.0
NT Brandon Mebane, 80.7
San Diego rookies make big impact
This isn’t your 2015 Chargers run defense or anything close to resembling it. San Diego finally has the horses up front to not only limit a run game, but stop it in its tracks. Outside of a few runs late in the game, the Broncos running backs had nowhere to go for most of the game. A big reason for their defensive success was the rookie duo of Joey Bosa and Jatavis Brown. Brown had a huge sack and forced fumble down the stretch while Bosa was consistently applying pressure throughout the game with five hurries and a hit.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown
Dave Booga Peters