Monday night in Oakland was quite a battle. Yes the Chargers won and yes the youngsters of the Bolts performed, but to win a championship you must not settle for a win. A win is a win no matter how you slice it and the Chargers should be happy that they left the Coliseum with a win. Monday night was not a Championship performance.
Oakland looked sharp in the opening drive of the game. That is until Melvin Ingram made his presence felt. A pass completed across the middle that Melvin missed the tackle led to a Ingram pop on Rod Streater causing a fumble, which resulted in a Raiders turnover. If that weren’t enough for the Raiders not only did they have 4 more turnovers, but were held to 45 yards rushing. McFadden definitely let frustration show. After getting popped consistently by a hungry Chargers line backing corps McFadden found himself in the face of his foe more often then not.
The Chargers offense showed to be no better though. We won’t even talk about the rushing game that was non-existent (32 yards), or the Red Zone offense that was pretty terrible (1-5 33%). What I want to recap is Philip Rivers play last night. Philip Rivers did a lot of great things last night one of them was ball security. Rivers didn’t throw a pick last night and that helped a lot more then people think. I also believe he was playing a little too cautious. Rivers had a wide open Malcom Floyd in the end zone and threw wide for an incomplete pass away from the corner back. He needs to gain the confidence to deliver it in the gut and not worry about the corner backs. So in essence I feel as if he should be a little more aggressive and confident. New season, new slate, new numbers. You can’t erase the past, but you can fix the future. Gates also dropped a pass that he catches 9 out of 10 times which would be Rivers second touchdown pass.
The offensive line needs to get comfortable and you could tell that it got better as the game went on. In the first two drives it looked as if it were going to be a long night for Rivers and the Chargers. It looked like a hot knife (Raiders defense) was going through butter (Chargers offensive line). The offensive line would settle down, gain confidence, and impress. The rookie Michael Harris, an undrafted Free Agent, in particular showed off what he could bring to the table. Harris showed pretty good technique and showed the NFL why they shouldn’t sleep on him. Nick Hardwick put in a solid game as the rest of the offensive line did. Charger fans can only hope that things will solidify like they did in Monday nights game through out the whole season.
Nate Kaeding was the super star for San Diego as he went a perfect 5 for 5. Nate showed off his well healed hamstring by nailing two 40+ yard field goals. As if Nate Kaeding wasn’t special enough, Dante Rosario had a blocked punt for the Bolts in the 3rd quarter. The ball was eventually covered up at the Oakland 8 yard line. The Chargers would have to settle for a field goal which could have hurt them in the long run. Special teams made an impact which hasn’t been the case in the past few years for San Diego, if they can build off Monday the Chargers offense will be able to find themselves in great field position all year.
Overall, the Chargers defense and special teams earned the victory for the San Diego in Oakland. The offense will have to step it up and gel faster unless Mathews gets the green light this week. His absence was definitely visible Monday night. San Diego has a lot to build off of though. This is a team, if they get on the same page, can do a LOT of damage on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side? Just eliminate stupid penalties that keep drives alive. The NFL has to deal with the replacement refs too, so you can’t use that as an excuse. If the defense plays smart ball, work to improve, and get off the field on third downs the AFC West better watch out. A new Sheriff will be in town and could be looking for more quarterback soup.
With the performance seen on Monday night, is it fair to say they are a Championship contender? No, we will have to sit, wait, and see how they make improvements and adjust to different teams. They do posses two qualities of a Championship team, a solid defense and solid special teams. If the offense can exceed expectations we could see this team in February. It’s only 1 week out of 19, no one should get too far ahead of themselves. IF the Bolts can improve each week though, we could be ready to witness something extremely special this year.