ESPN released their Power Rankings on Tuesday morning for this past week and honestly, I’m offended. The Chargers are ranked 4th on the list, just as they were last week… and the week before… and also the week before that. Has ESPN been watching San Diego’s 9-game win streak?
Ever since they lost at home against to Broncos way back in October, they have seemed unstoppable. Yes it’s obvious that the Saints, Colts, and the Vikings records are better than that of the Chargers, but the Chargers are looking like a more complete team.
Passing:Philip Rivers is nearly flawless over the past 9-game win streak, throwing 4 interceptions to his 15 touchdowns and averaging a 101.07 passer rating. Phenomenal. One of the reasons for this hot-streak that Rivers seems to be on is because he is feeling more confident in the pocket, only being caught in the backfield 7 times since week 7. Compare this to the first 5 games the Chargers played this season, where Rivers was sacked 15 times. This new-found time that Rivers has allows him to find his huge receivers down field.
Vincent Jackson has mad hops (SD Union Tribune)
Receiving:The Chargers receivers are huge. And by that I mean both tall and strong. Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Antonio Gates are all ex-basketball players, meaning they can all jump, box people out, and can catch in traffic. This is what we have seen from them in the last few weeks and I have enjoyed watching them do it every time. You see Philip wind up to throw it deep and this thought pops into my head, ‘alright move the chains up 40 yards.” Rivers has tons of confidence in his receivers to do this and honestly, he should. These are three outstanding players who are having career high seasons.
Rushing:I have to admit I believe LT is not the same running back that he used to be. He isn’t making the huge up-field cuts that he used to a few seasons ago, but he is still a great running back. His goal line dives are still very effective in scoring (except for the fumble against the Chief’s). He will get 3 or 4 yard runs here and there which help move the team up the field. Darren Sproles has been an incredible player this season. You always think he is going to get stopped at the line when the huge linemen fall on his 5’6″ body, but somehow, he slides out and gains an effective amount of yards. I know it’s not exactly rushing but it’s pretty close; Sproles’ and Mike Tolbert’s screen plays are nearly unstoppable. Against the Browns in week 13, Norv Turner ran a screen play to Tolbert which resulted in a touchdown. A drive or two later, he ran the exact same play, but to Sproles, and it had the same result. The Chargers may have one of the lowest ranked running game in the league, but they have an amazing passing game to make up for it and they effectively use their running game to mess up the opposing defense just enough and gain necessary yards.
Brandon Siler celebrates with Antonio Cromartie after a pick 6
Defense:The Chargers spotty defense has come under fire. They give up the short gain pass yards and their run defense isn’t exactly what it used to be. So I have to agree with the critics. The Chargers defense is not 100% reliable… BUT, they make the big plays when they need to. For example, the goal line stand against the Cowboys this past week. Marion Barber had been running all over the entire game but on these four plays, Barber didn’t go anywhere. This is all due to the amazing pass rushing of ILB Brandon Siler, great back-field defending and blitzing of Saftey Stephen Gregory, and outstanding all-around play of ILB Stephen Cooper. These three players have definitely had their presence felt by the quarterback. I hope to see these players still playing strong for weeks to come.
This is a very complete team and they should be ranked higher than 4th. I am looking forward to playing the colts in the AFC championship game. I’ve discovered that Peyton Manning’s weakness is a Chargers Bolt and I will be happy to see that this still holds true.