So again, Boltheads, like every week here on Rock The Bolt, it´s time to recap and grade the Chargers´ performance on game day. We´re in week four, so this meant San Diego Chargers against the Kansas City Chiefs. Sounds like a big time match-up to me!
Division games are always heated and much fun to watch. But because of that painful Chargers loss last year at Arrowhead, many fans looked at this match-up as “payback time!” And damn, it was sweet revenge, as the Chargers beat the Chiefs 37 – 20! How about that!?!
Okay, let´s start off with the offense:
After last week’s crappy offensive performance against the Atlanta Falcons, I really wasn´t sure what to expect from the Chargers´ O-Line, Philip Rivers and his receivers. But it was great to see our guys doing well on their first drive, and ending it with the first touchdown score of the day.
But what a shock right at the beginning of the drive: Ryan Mathews got benched and Jackie Battle was starting the game! As a No. 24 fan I wasn´t too happy about that. But based on Battle´s performance in the first quarter, Turner obviously made the right decision to start him. Battle had two nice first downs right before Rivers completed a four-yard pass to Eddie Royal in the end zone, and he scored a touchdown after the Chargers recovered the first (but definitely not last) fumble of the day by Jamaal Charles.
On the second Chargers drive and especially in the second quarter, Ryan Mathews was given the chance to prove that he´s not a man to be benched on the sideline. But damn, did he fail on that! He was stopped early in his rush attempts and he let a screen pass go through his hands and “kicked“ the ball out of bounds afterwards.
And what about the passing game in the first half?
Well, Rivers threw a four-yard touchdown to Eddie Royal. Antonio Gates, Ronnie Brown, and Jackie Battle had some nice first downs. But despite all of that, I wasn´t too impressed with the Chargers’ passing game. Rivers, especially, made some poor decisions on his pass attempts. I don´t want to come down on him too hard, but without the tremendous help from the Chargers defense and the huge mistakes by the Chiefs´ offense (five turnovers in the first half!), I don´t think Arrowhead would have become as quiet as it did in the first half.
And still the same old story: Rivers just can´t connect with Robert Meachem. Rivers always has been known as the man who lets his receivers look better than they actually are. But it seems these two guys just can´t get it done. And on top of that, Rivers threw his only interception of the day on a pass attempt to Meachem. Damn, I guess Vincent Jackson has to teach Meachem something about comeback routes.
On the other hand, why do I come down so hard on them? With a halftime score of Chargers 27 – Chiefs 6, there just has to be a smile on a Boltheads´ face, right? Yes right, I did have a big smile on my face and I think I was in good company on that one. But it´s also fair to mention that the offense scored “only“ 14 of that 27 points.
But come on, what about that third quarter? You gotta be kidding me! Did anyone see a Chargers “offense” on the field? I doubt it! They couldn´t get a single first down! They went three-and-out three times and only managed a total of 13 yards! And what stuck out the most? The Chargers couldn´t get ANYTHING going in that quarter, and Ryan Mathews didn´t even get the chance to help them out!
Battle had a very good first quarter – and a solid fourth quarter in which he scored his second and the Chargers´ last touchdown of the day – but just like Rivers and his receivers, he couldn´t do anything to get this Chargers motor running. That quarter definitely wasn´t fun to watch.
And thank God No. 24 could show in the fourth quarter what he can bring to that offense. He “wasn´t allowed” to score a touchdown like Battle, but he gained some nice first downs.
So, at the end of the day, Ryan Mathews had 16 touches with 82 yards from scrimmage (61 rushing) and Jackie Battle had 19 touches with 81 yards from scrimmage (39 rushing) and two touchdown scores.
But wait! We cannot close that section without taking a look at our (former?) problem child: the Chargers´ O-Line. Listen to this: Jared Gaither is BACK! How cool is that? Come on, how long did we have to wait for him to check in to that left side of the line? Here´s the answer: TOO LONG! Mike Harris did all he could, but as I mentioned in my previous article, he just plain and simple isn´t ready to be a starter in this league – not yet!
And what did Gaither add to the Chargers offensive performance? Let me answer it again: more protection for Philip Rivers on his blind side. Right off the first Chargers drive it was obvious the O-Line was complete again. They really looked good – Rivers had time to throw, and the running backs had lanes to run through (more often than not).
But just like the whole Chargers offense, Gaither and the O-Line struggled in the second half of the game. Philip Rivers was sacked two times via the left side of line in the third quarter, and of course had already been sacked once in second quarter (but with plenty of time for Rivers to throw the ball).
However, I want to give a salute to Jared Gaither here: Welcome back, Big Lazy, we´ve missed you badly!
So there was good and bad in the Chargers´ offensive performance as following stats show:
- The Chargers converted only three of their twelve third-down attempts;
- Philip Rivers passed the 25,000-yard mark in his 104th game. Only six players have done it in fewer games than Rivers – Not bad, Phil, not bad!
Offense Grade: C
Alright, let’s talk about the Chargers´ special teams.
The Chargers (and thus we Boltheads) had been confronted with shocking news already, only days before the match-up: Nate Kaeding out due to a groin injury during Friday afternoon’s practice! Losing your kicker 48 hours before game day is no fun at all. So how to work out a Plan B with only two days left?
Well obviously no problem for the Chargers, as they seem to be the only team with interest in Nick Novak. They just hit that speed dial on their phone and asked Nick if he´s ready to kick some Chiefs ass. And as we all could see, he did kick it pretty well! With three converted field goals of 24, 47 and 45 yards, and of course four extra point kicks, he had a pretty busy and successful day. So, still nobody else interested in Novak´s services? I guess that´s just fine with the Chargers organization.
I wanna mention Mike Scrifres here too. Last week he had a very crappy punt which led to a touchdown by the Falcons on their following drive with only three plays. This Sunday he again had a punt of which he can´t be proud (36 yards), but despite that he actually had a decent game.
There weren’t big returns, either by the Chargers´ or by the Chiefs. But Eddie Royal nearly gave the Chiefs a chance for a second turnover as he fumbled the ball after a punt by Chiefs´ Colquitt. Luckily Darrell Stuckey was able to recover it. If the Chiefs would have recovered the ball, it would have been easy for them to make it a one score game in the third quarter (after a halftime score of 27 – 6!).
Special Teams Grade: B
Now let’s get to the guys on the defensive side of ball.
Holy Charger, what a day for our defense! They forced six turnovers and five of them in the first half. That´s the most takeaways the Chargers have had in the first two quarters in at least 22 seasons! This sounds pretty awesome to me!
The first mark was set by Eric Weedle (who else?) as he intercepted a pass attempt by Matt Cassel. The Chargers ended their following drive with a 24-yard field goal by Nick Novak.
But we didn´t have to wait too long for the next defensive big play: A fumble by Jamaal Charles forced by Corey Liuget and recovered by Shaun Phillips. On that following drive the Chargers offense was able to score a touchdown (Jackie Battle).
Early in the second quarter Shaun Phillips finally got to the quarterback and sacked Matt Cassel. He fumbled the ball but unfortunately the Chiefs recovered it.
And then AGAIN! Jamaal Charles fumbled the ball after a nice tackle by Vaughn Martin and this time Corey Liuget came up with the recovery. But on their following drive the Chiefs were able to force a turnover themselves by intercepting a pass by Rivers intended for Robert Meachem.
On that next Chiefs´ drive, the Chargers defense didn´t look too good. Matt Cassel completed some nice passes and of course Jamaal Charles beat the whole Chargers defense and scored a touchdown with an outstanding 46-yard run.
One could think this must have ended the big Chargers defensive show in the first half. But no, not if Donald Butler is on the field! After a nice hard hit on Chiefs´ Cray, he picked off Cassel and returned the ball from the 21-yard line straight to the end zone. Late in second quarter even Antoine Cason picked off a pass by Matt Cassel intended for Dexter McCluster.
In the third quarter, Donald Butler kept it going. He stopped Charles early in his rush attempts and triggered the second quarterback sack of the day by the Chargers defense.
But I want to add another name on the plus side of the list here: Melvin Ingram! He was so close to sacking Cassel several times but just couldn´t finish well. But he looked very aggressive, had five tackles (one for loss), and once again a defended pass.
Now let’s get to the sixth and last turnover forced by the Chargers’ defense. Taking a closer look at this big play, what name has to be mentioned here? Of course: Quentin Jammer! The veteran with the number 23 is still rocking the field! He forced Chiefs´s Draughn to fumble the ball and Atari Bigby came up with the recovery. In addition to that, he had eight remarkable tackles. I´m really glad to say Quentin Jammer had a great game!
Anything negative to point out here about the Chargers´ defensive performance?
Well despite his interception (with some help by Dexter McCluster), Antoine Cason had some weak moments where he got beat by the Chiefs´ offense several times. And I didn´t see too much of Jarret Johnson. There also have been some unnecessary penalties, but nothing that affected the game too much (unlike last week).
So, to make it short: Jamaal Charles was limited in his performance, and we got to see solid pass rush and six forced turnovers by the Chargers defense!
Right on! Keep it going guys and bring back that AFC West crown to where it belongs!
Defense Grade: A-
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my article and please feel free to comment below.
Get ready for the Saints! Bolt Up!