After suffering a gut-wrenching loss in Week 1, the Chargers are looking to build on a 27-point performance so they can end up on the other side of the win-loss column this week.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a young talented team, but this is a more than winnable game.
Aug 28, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) rests on the sidelines in the game with the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers come into this week a man down, but it is much more than that. Ken Whisenhunt said in the offseason that Keenan Allen was going to be the focal point of this offense, and we saw that when he had accumulated 63 yards in only the first quarter and a half of the season–that is all gone now. The Chargers shut down after Allen went down and this was concerning, but we have had a week to figure this out.
The Chargers still have plenty of threats in the passsing game including one that the Jaguars compare to a chicken running around, Danny Woodhead. In order to win, we must use different formations and plays that will create favorable matchups all over the field. Spreading the wealth will be important in keeping the Jaguars off balance and from deciphering who any of Philip Rivers’ new favorite targets are. With the lack of depth at corner, I expect to see plenty of passes outside to our variety of wideouts. Also, Rivers will be looking to expose the LB corps in the passing game as he does against every team, so look for Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry to be featured more than last week. Rivers and Gates feasted on that in the two team’s last meeting, connecting on two touchdowns (which was also a Keenan Allen-less team). As amazing as this sounds, it only happens if the defense is kept honest.
We need Melvin Gordon to show he can be consistent this week and pound the football. The Jaguars’ goal is going to be to make Rivers uncomfortable, and it’s definitely an effective one. The Chargers have to run the ball through Malik Jackson and Roy Miller, so it will not be a walk in the park; but if they can move the ball on the ground, they will definitely keep the defense on its heels, susceptible to big plays.
The Chargers defense will have their hands full once again, facing a young QB in Blake Bortles, who has a plethora of receiving options to choose from. Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas and Marquise Lee are all threats in different ways that will need to be contained, not to mention RB T.J Yeldon’s presence in the backfield. The Chargers struggled down the middle last week, and I expect the Jaguars to fully try to take advantage of that. The speedy Lee and TE Julius Thomas pose huge threats, and again we need Manti Te’o and Dwight Lowery to come through in coverage and help stop teams from going to a nickel and dime offense through the middle of the field.
Although Robinson is a freak of nature at wide receiver, our secondary has shown nothing to be afraid of. Jason Verrett went to war with Jeremy Maclin in Week 1 and even wrestled an interception from under his arm, but the real guy to look out for is Casey Hayward. He recorded two pass breakups against KC and played very well. He could definitely make his presence felt with a strong performance against either Hurns or Robinson.
The team is going to be without Joey Bosa again, and the defensive line had some questions after last week. Most of the sacks occurred when the Chargers were rushing their original three or four guys up front, without extra blitz help. This was what was keeping Alex Smith and Company under so much duress in the first half, but in the second half the line was simply not generating the same pressure, which led to Smith having all the time he needed to find his man and pick us apart. They need to sustain pressure from start to finish in order for our defense to be productive.
Sep 11, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers place kicker Josh Lambo (2) kicks a field goal during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 33-27 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The special teams unit has a lot to prove this week at home after a disastrous first outing. Punter Drew Kaser will be looking for redemption after punting for as little as 17 yards last Sunday. Josh Lambo cannot miss field goals late in games either, but this goes for the entire team when I say they have to finish and play four quarters. We saw last week what happens when you only play three quarters. No lead is safe and the foot cannot come off the gas at any point in the game.
If the Chargers want to be a playoff team, they have to win at home and need to have a short-term memory. Bottom line: This is a game a playoff team wins, and that is how we let the world know we’re not the safe bet to lose anymore.