Week 9 analysis: Chargers rewarded for perseverance
Not only did the Chargers shock the majority of the country this week but they finally seemed to be firing on all cylinders. In fact this was a great team win in all three phases of the game. I mean I knew it was only a matter of time as this franchise are notorious slow starters. Not to mention I had a feeling that if they could tread water until they were able to get back a bunch of injured player that they could very well be alright after all. In fact they are only a few players away from being at full strength minus Forrest Lamp and Dontrel Inman. This is a short week with a Thursday night match up so ill keep this short as well.
This was the first week with a new offensive play caller after the firing of Ken Whisenhunt. This was also the first time the team’s offense had run effectively especially in the run game. Some diffrences that I was able to pin point was the fact that they had Austin Ekeler in the slot but actually let him run routes. Do this more often and the team will get maximum production and use of Ekeler’s talents as he is a very versatile talent. Under Whisenhunt he had lined up in the slot as well except would be sent in motion ¾ of the time being used as a motion flanker in order to create misdirection. However after a while all this did was allow the defense to realize that this was nothing more than cheap tricks. Another difference I saw was a delayed screen. Where before the team was running countless variations of the screen to exaughstion, this time around we actually disguised it by having Melvin Gordon starting the play looking like an extra back field blocker then right as protection broke down he then rolls out as a receiver. By doing this it makes it very difficult for a defense to get a read on what the running back may be doing as defensive players have already keyed in on an assignment. It also makes it very difficult to cover in the flats if the defense isn’t in a zone scheme. The offense totaled 159 rushing yards this week when in the previous 3 games they had less than 40 per game. It’s no secret that a successful running attack lead’s to heavy time of possession and being able to control the clock and the pace of the game. I look forward to seeing how the new offensive coordinator evolves moving forward.
On the defensive side of the ball Melvin Ingram who looked fully healthy paired with Joey Bosa played at their absolute best. It’s no secret that when these two are healthy they are one of the best pass rush duos in the NFL. It helps that the team has been getting better play from the middle of the defensive line ironically with its two starters out. While Damion Square and Slyvester Williams didn’t have quit the week they had last week against Chicago they have been plugging there gaps effectively. In this defense when your nose tackle can utilize the two gap technique effectively it allows the team to be able to get away with just rushing 4 down players and dropping 7 in coverage. This worked so effectively that Rodgers only had 30 passing yards in the first half. The fact that Roderic Teamer was out with injury may have been a blessing in disguise. I hate to say that as I like the way he plays, it’s just he needs time to develop so he was forced out there prematurely. Jaylen Watkins filled in nicely at strong safety. He is much more experienced and less likely to blow his assignments like we saw with Teamer. Another reason I say this is having only two healthy safeties on the roster also eliminated a lot of the shallow dime defense that was getting them in trouble. In fact when the team needed an extra deep coverage guy they went to rookie linebacker Drue Tranquill who himself is a converted safety. This will also help speed up the rookies development as a hybrid player moving forward.
The team also excelled in the special team’s aspect. In fact the very same Drue Tranquill who has been playing great on special teams all year came up with a huge block punt that put the team in prime scoring position. It was also the season debut of the team’s starting kicker and self-proclaimed “money badger” Michael Badgley. Badgley was 4 out of 5 in his season debut with a long of a 43 yarder.
On a short week the team cannot afford to celebrate for too long. They must move right on to focusing on the much hated Raiders and try to extend this winning streak to 3.