Last night, we all sat back and watched our favorite team put the moves on Andrew Luck, and the 4-1 Indianapolis Colts. It was the perfect boost of confidence for fans & players alike! Especially after going into Oakland, and having their worst performance of the season. It was a home win, and a much needed conference win. The win tasted a little sweeter than most, as it was on Monday Night Football, and came at the expense of a very good team. The Colts are in first place in their division, and are a top ten team, by most standards. Beating good teams hasn’t always been easy for the Chargers over the last few seasons. It was most definitely a complete team win. However, here are some folks that I was impressed with last night.
John Pagano: After weeks of playing soft & predictable defense, Pagano finally ramped up the play calling. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that he was playing his brother, Chuck Pagano. The blitzes were coming from everywhere, and it clearly had an impact on Andrew Luck, who went 18 of 30 for just 202 yards! He had ZERO TD’s, and a game ending INT. The run defense got better, as well. Trent Richardson was held to just 40 yards in the game, and didn’t even sniff pay dirt.
Nick Novak: The best player of the night was Nick “The Kick” Novak! I haven’t always been confident with the man’s leg, as it seems that he has a great deal of trouble kicking it out of the back of the endzone on kickoffs. I honestly cringed, and covered my eyes when he kicked that 50 yarder to seal the deal. Much like his predecessor, he has been solid in the regular season during his tenure. He is earning every penny of that contract extension he got. Now, if we could just get him into the playoffs… we could see how he does under pressure.
Ryan Mathews: This guy takes a lot of crap from fans, and it isn’t totally undeserved. But, I have to give credit, where credit is due. Breaking a hundred yards last night was exactly what the doctor ordered, and came just in time. I was honestly surprised to even see that he was back at practice so quickly after suffering a concussion in Oakland last weekend. He ran hard all night, and pounded the rock right up the Colt’s gut. When he broke off runs up the sideline, he was gashing them for yards! What was more impressive was that he didn’t even get the redzone carries. I hope his performance motivates Whiz to give him more carries, as Woodhead isn’t a redzone back, and it has shown the last two games. Ryan has been running hard for this team. Let’s reward him with some opportunities to get TD’s…. JUST MAKE SURE YOU HOLD ONTO THE BALL, RYAN!!!
Keenan Allen: Just look at that smile in the picture above… You think he’s happy about last night? That touchdown catch was a thing of beauty. He was manhandling the Colts secondary last night, making key catches, and blowing up CB’s & safeties! It was awesome to see him fighting for yards, and pushing a pile of tacklers with those strong legs. If there was any concern about his knee, it looked pretty good to me on that play. The way he is stepping up, with our top two receivers on IR, is a huge contribution to the team. He is acting like an all pro, and will put that Raider-hat BS to sleep permanently with performances like that. He is my favorite draft pick from his class, and I didn’t even want to draft a WR.
Derek Cox: OK, I admit that I have been hard on Cox, and I don’t feel bad about it. I stand by everything I have said about him, so far. I get the soft coverage scheme is Pagano’s fault. But, if he IS supposedly a “man corner”, like everyone keeps saying… don’t forget to bump Heyward-Bey at the line, and give him a free release the first time you get lined up in man coverage! You are not a rookie, or second year guy. He got very lucky that wasn’t another DeSean Jackson type TD. Heyward-Bey just plain dropped it. However, the reason I am putting Cox on this list isn’t for his overall performance, which sucked IMO. It is for his INT at the end of the game to seal the deal. We had just two turnovers going into the game (which is pathetic), and we desperately needed a key takeaway. We saw Gilchrist drop a key INT a few games ago. Wright ALMOST had one last night, too. Furthermore…. for those of you who remember the Marlon McCree debacle… there is nothing more important than knowing when to go down on a game ending play!!! McCree cost us (and a lot of good Chargers) an opportunity to bring home a championship. So, thank you Derek Cox for not being… well… McCreeish.
As many on this site have pointed out, this season has been a roller coaster. The ups and downs are frustrating. Watching the same defense employed for 5 weeks, without changes is as maddening as it gets! Last night, we finally saw Pagano put the pedal to the metal, and keep it there. He DID get soft again in the fourth quarter. But, hopefully that is something he will see on tape, and quit it. Best of all, the game was won, and we don’t have to have another week filled with angry posts, and trolls rubbing it in our faces. A win is a win, and Jacksonville awaits.
If we can go into the bye week with a 4-3 record, we return to a Redskins team that has been struggling mightily. We’ll have had time to heal up the injured, and (crossing my fingers) possibly see some Brandon Taylor action!!!! If the D keeps playing like this, he will have an opportunity to take some of the pressure off of Weddle. Right now, Weddle’s wings are clipped…. Let our Ball Hawk fly!!!
Keep Bolting Toward Excellence!