After the first three games of the 2016-17 season, the San Diego Chargers are 1-2 heading into Week 4. Although the record isn’t great, you can make the case that the Chargers could easily be 3-0 at this time, which is a familiar tune to most Chargers fan.
The Bolts have struggled in both losses to finish the games, another thing familiar to the fans. Even though there is a lot to complain about, the Chargers have shown some positive improvements, especially with some position groups. With that being said, let’s take a look at where the offense stands.
When assessing Philip Rivers this year, and almost every year since Mike McCoy has taken over, it’s incredible to see how much Rivers does with so little at his disposal. It seems like every year either a key wide receiver goes down, a running back gets injured, the offensive line is playing bad or hurt, or just a mixture of it all. But every year he comes out and makes the best of what he has, and he’s doing the same this season.
So far, Rivers has five touchdowns to zero interceptions while also throwing for 789 yards. Now although these number don’t jump off the stat sheet, it is key to remember that Rivers has dealt with having both his top-two wide receivers out for the season, Antonio Gates being hobbled up and Danny Woodhead, a safety net for Rivers, end up on injured reserve. Rivers is doing the most with what he can and not forcing the ball to make a play which could lead to turnovers. Although it is all heroic and as a fan it feels good to have a franchise quarterback, but what’s the whole point of having one if the Bolts continually each year fail to provide him with the proper weapons to work.
Watching Melvin Gordon, it’s amazing to see what a difference a year and training with Adrian Peterson in the offseason makes. Gordon has looked like a completely different player this year. He’s hitting the holes with much more power, he’s reading defenses and his open lanes much better and in general looks like a much more confident individual as opposed to last season. Things are looking up for Gordon and he could very well be on his way to a Pro Bowl season if not at the very least his major breakout season.
Gordon already has 194 rushing yards and four touchdowns in three games, and although his yards per carry (3.6) can improve, these first couple of games have been key in showing that Gordon is the guy who can carry the load as a starting running back. As for the rest of the group, both Branden Oliver and Woodhead are on IR, which leaves the Chargers with 2013 second-team All Pro kick returner in Dexter McCluster, who we have yet to see what he has left in the tank, and undrafted rookie Kenneth Farrow, who has received only limited amount of snaps. It is a solid group that is headlined by Gordon, so it will be interesting to see how much of a load hetakes from here on out.
It’s hard to assess a group that has lost its top starters in the span of almost a month, but that is the case for the Chargers as they would lose Stevie Johnson (torn meniscus) and Keenan Allen (torn ACL) and replace them with a mixture of Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman. So far the wide receivers have played at an adequate level but not enough to really propel the offense to the heights that it could’ve reached if the top wide receivers would’ve stayed healthy.
Williams has potential to be a player like Malcom Floyd but isn’t there yet. Benjamin is a speedster who one week could get 100 yards receiving and a touchdown, and the next week only have one catch. Inman has almost been non-existent when it comes to making an impact on offense. Wide receiver is a position of need either in free agency or the draft, but it needs to be addressed because without Allen no one draws the proper attention to take away from other weapons on offense.
The tight end group is a solid one headlined by future HOF Antonio Gates, promising second-round pick Hunter Henry and run-blocking tight end Sean McGrath. Although Gates is aging, he’s still a solid receiving threat. So far Henry has looked solid even though he had a rookie fumble against the Colts, and Sean McGrath has looked like a good blocker.
The offensive line has been relatively solid. They’ve given up six sacks so far throughout the first three games, which isn’t bad but isn’t good either. They’ve opened up some holes for Gordon as well, which is encouraging. The line has been solid but not great as King Dunlap continues to show up on the injury report and they are yet to have a game where they truly dominate the line of scrimmage. With that being said, it’s good that for the most part the line is healthy, but their could be better play from the group. Also, I expect the Chargers to be looking for Dunlap’s replacement this upcoming draft because of his inability to stay on the field.
The offense, when healthy, is a talented one that not only can throw the ball with intermediate threats like Allen and Johnson, but can also hit you with the deep pass with players like Benjamin and Williams. Also, with Melvin Gordon’s apparent emergence, the ceiling for the offense looked high; but with the mixture of injuries and some inconsistent play, it hasn’t lived up to its potential. It is yet to be seen whether these problems get fixed this season, but look for some pieces to be added during the offseason.