Now it’s time for that lively look at the game gone by. In this segment i try to keep it fun and light so let’s get started….
Phillip Rivers – Is he “fixed” yet? Rivers has gotten a reputation for not being elite, had his leadership questioned by fans and recommended to be traded off because he doesn’t play defense or catch the balls. Look, when PR screws up, it’s obvious. Like the pick six against Tampa Bay last year. He should have thrown it away. No question, that was “ALL” on him. Against the Texans he had a good first half and couldn’t manage to get his Jedi mind trick to work on the Texans D or use the force to help his receivers hang onto the ball. So I guess that was on him as well. Or am i deflecting his responsibilities? The bottom line, PR was 36/47, 419 yards, 3 TD, and NO INT. He had 76.6% completion percentage and a 124.3% passer rating. If memory serves me correctly, Coach McCoy said before the season started, Rivers would complete 70% of his passes. This is not being hype on PR, these are the facts. What was the difference? Catches. The receivers held onto the ball, which extend the drives, which created more passes. Jonah Lee did a write-up on this: Chargers Receivers Need To Play Better
Defense – Get out of the Zone! You brought in Cox, who is a good man-2-man player and stick both him and Wright in zone? Yet you bring into Freeney to a 3-4 and adjust your line to go “four down”. If your going to adjust to your players, do it “ACROSS THE BOARD”. Case in point, Pagano switched to man and played some coverage, late in the 3rd quarter, and the DB defended passes from Johnson and Hopkins, which forced a punt. Then they went back to “zone” and the Texans drove down the field in the fourth. Coach McCoy has adjusted the plan to play to his players strengths on offense, I would like to see that applied to defense. It’s a passing league now, as they say, so the importance of disrupting the timing between WR and QB is essential. Play 5-10 yards off, Schaub and Vick will take that all day, to the tune of 346 an 428 respectively. Now the lighter side. I believe the absence of Manti and Taylor are limiting the options of what they want to do or can do on defense, more than they have let on. Manti lead in college as a Linebacker with 7 INT, he can play pass coverage as well as the run. Taylor is actually really good in run support and can hit. This is the key, that is the “versatility” this team was missing last season, now Weddle is covering up for it again. So they are relying on other players to give help over top, instead of Weddle, because they need him to come down.
Pass Rush – Still looking for it. I need the Chargers to make up there mind, 3-4 or 4-3? If it’s 3-4, stand Freeney up and move him around to attack the weakness in protection. That is how you run the system. ILB, OLB, right side or left it doesn’t matter, this was designed by Phillips to keep the O-line off-balance. Part of the key is Ingram. Without him and not re-signing Phillips has again hand-cuffed what they can do. Then again, I’m not the expert, figure it out Pagano.
Fumbles – Ryan didn’t secure the ball. Worse. He lost it in the “redzone”. For RM24 to be successful he needs to limit these and not get “complacent”. To add fuel to the fire, I hope it isn’t contagious because Fozzy and Gates seem to have caught it too. Thank God for Darrell Stuckey! So why should we give Gates a pass and not RM24 or Fozzy? Well the argument is Gates hasn’t done it since 2008. I say that’s pretty good. Here’s my counter, “He should know better than that”. Turnovers have been an issue on this team and the best time to be aware of “ball security”? Is in the redzone, on the road, with a team that can put up 30 points on your defense, that is not playing well. Gates and Mathews alone, probably left 14 points on the field.
O-line – Gave up “ONE” sack. No bad for team with “No O-line”. An NFL AM podcast analyst said the team would be 3-13, because they had no O-line. Again do your research. They protected well, Phillip was hurried and even knocked down a few times but there was no one quick fix solution. The offensive scheme has helped, the players that were brought in and drafted have helped. Bringing in players that can help convert third downs helped. The biggest thing, they have put the play calling in “Phillip Rivers” hands. Wasn’t he before? Nope. The play would be sent in and PR would audible. PR was calling those plays, JUST LIKE MANNING IS. The difference that helped the O-line, have you noticed how the O-line seems to take its time to snap the ball, instead of being in a hurry? That’s because PR has time call out checks to the defense. This helps because he knows where the ball in going, based on what the defense is given him. The O-line also blocked RM24 for 16 carries for 73 yards. That is a good improvement from last week.
All in all this team not only looked good, or good enough, they found a way to win. On the last drive they did what they needed to do to get back something they lost. Being mentally tough enough to finish a game, and get the win. That should not be something we as Charger fans should not be hesitant to embrace. That was something that was the norm around here. Getting back to that should be a good sign, this team is moving in the right direction.