Every week I’ll pick one player who I believe will have a breakout performance. Week 6’s player prediction involves RB Melvin Gordon.
Prediction: Gordon has 150-plus total yard, two-TD performance.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon scored zero touchdowns last season. The 2015 first-round pick has seven total touchdowns through five games in 2016. He actually leads the league in touchdowns.
Great Odin’s Raven! What a complete turnaround for the former Wisconsin Badger, one that I predicted might I add. Gordon has looked confident. He’s breaking tackles and is even doing a good job catching the ball and pass-blocking.
Gordon has 299 yards on the ground and an extra 122 yards through the air. He already has 26 total first downs (20 rushing and six receiving) in five games compared to the 41 total first downs he had in 14 games a season ago. Even better, Gordon has stayed healthy.
It’s going to be a tough task against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have one of the best defenses in the league, which is one of the reasons why they are 4-1 and tied for first in the AFC West. But it’s their secondary that scares me. Their front seven features pass-rushers in Von Miller (6.5 sacks) and Shane Ray (three sacks), but the team as a whole hasn’t been dominant against the run.
They rank 22nd in rushing defense, allowing 4.1 yards per carry and six touchdowns, which is tied with four other teams for fifth-most in the league. According to Football Outsiders, Denver’s defense is No. 4 overall in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), but their rush rank is 20. If the Chargers want to win this game, they need to run the ball down the Broncos’ throats.
And I believe the Bolts can do it. Rookies Hunter Henry and Derek Watt have been a big boost to the running game. With the way they’ve been blocking, Gordon can find the crease and use his speed to pick up big gains, like what he did on his 24-yard run against the Oakland Raiders, which was his longest run of the season.
Derek Watt with an INCREDIBLE block for Gordon. Hunter Henry doing a fine job as well. And he's a great pass-catcher..love it.
— Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) October 9, 2016
The offensive line’s play is KEY in this game. As of now, right tackle Joseph Barksdale and left guard Orlando Franklin are questionable for Thursday’s game; they need to be on the field for Gordon to have success. With third-down back Dexter McCluster also listed as questionable, the Chargers are going to keep feeding Gordon the ball–he just needs the room to run wild.
But there are two negatives with Gordon’s performance thus far: His fumbles and his yards per carry. Gordon fumbled twice this year, and both fumbles came at a bad time (fourth quarter) and gave momentum to the opposing team (the Chargers lost both of those games). He’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry, which isn’t appealing either. San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Gehlken commented on the running game during last Sunday’s game against the Raiders.
Melvin Gordon nabs TD grab, but Chargers' run game on major dry spell. Past five halves entering this one: 45 carries, 94 yards, 3 TDs.
— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) October 9, 2016
Gordon rushed for his first career 100-yard game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. Ironically, that’s the only game the Chargers won this season. The running game is key to success–that, and not self-destructing in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos are riding high with their vaunted defense, but Gordon could be the key to dismantling the Chargers’ divisional rival–just like the Falcons’ running backs did to Denver last Sunday.