Coming into a Week 14 matchup against the Carolina Panthers, the San Diego Chargers had no room for error as they were hoping to keep their paper-thin playoff chances alive. Unfortunately, there were errors, and plenty of them, as the Chargers suffered a 28-16 loss in Carolina.
Although it’s hard to believe after watching, there were some positive takeaways from this game. However, just like a lot of the other games this season, there were plenty negatives as well. Let’s take a look at some of the good and bad from Week 14.
Good: Casey Hayward
Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward has been arguably the best free-agent signing this season. He was again tasked with guarding the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver, this time Kelvin Benjamin. Hayward excelled again, as Benjamin was held to only one reception for 11 yards. This comes a week after Hayward was responsible for Tampa Bay Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans. Evans only managed three catches for 38 yards on the day. Hayward’s numbers from this game won’t reflect how good he was, but he definitely did his job in containing Benjamin.
Good: Dontrelle Inman
Dec 11, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Dontrelle Inman (15) celebrates with tight end Antonio Gates (85) after making a touchdown catch in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
In a season where he wasn’t expected to see much action, wide receiver Dontrelle Inman has certainly made the most of his opportunity. On Sunday, he totaled six catches for 71 yards, including an impressive 19-yard touchdown grab. In a season where almost all of the Chargers’ receivers have battled injuries, Inman has remained reliable and healthy. At this point, being healthy is good enough.
Good: Kenneth Farrow
After Melvin Gordon was carted off in the first quarter of Sunday’s game, the Chargers needed undrafted rookie running back Kenneth Farrow to carry the load for the rest of the afternoon. Coming into the game, Farrow played a total of 57 offensive snaps. Sunday was a little different for Farrow, as he played 55 snaps in the game alone. He was able to compile 55 yards on 16 carries. The numbers aren’t exactly anything to rave about, but Farrow did a pretty solid job behind a mediocre offensive line. With Danny Woodhead at 31 years old and coming off an ACL injury, a few more solid performances from Farrow will at least give the team something to think about for the backup running back job.
Bad: Offensive Line
Outside of the safety position, the offensive line has been the biggest liability for this Charger team. Carolina’s front seven was able to apply pressure on Philip Rivers seemingly the whole game. They were getting to Rivers at ease, forcing two fumbles and recovering both. Not to mention, there were little to no holes for Gordon or Farrow to run through. With an aging quarterback and a young running back, the offensive line plays a huge role in whether this team succeeds or not. On Sunday, they showed part of the reason why this team isn’t there quite yet.
Bad: Travis Benjamin
Travis Benjamin struggled to make an impact yet again on Sunday. He totaled no catches on three targets and had a run for a grand total of -2 yards. Benjamin was rarely on the field and it wasn’t because of injury. He’s had a rough first year in San Diego due to a PCL injury, and more importantly his drops. To be fair, he was brought in to complement fellow receiver Keenan Allen. When Allen went down, he was tasked with a bigger role and to this point he hasn’t been able to fill it. There’s still more games, but Benjamin was bad on Sunday, as he’s been for a good portion of the year.
Bad: Melvin Ingram
Similar to Benjamin, Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram was bad on Sunday as well. Ingram, who’s in a contract year, struggled to generate any pressure or make any impact plays. He had no sacks, two solo tackles and three assisted tackles. Ingram’s sack drought is now at three games, with his last one coming against Miami in Week 10. Not that good for a guy playing for a new contract.
Ugly: Philip Rivers
The guy I’d least expect to earn honor has done just that. Rivers’ ugly performance was one of the worst I’ve ever seen from him. Granted, he didn’t have much help from his offensive line, but some of the decisions he made were nothing short of horrific. Rivers was intercepted three times, and it’s really hard to blame anyone for the picks besides him. He never gave his receivers any kind of chance on all three. He was also forced into two fumbles, making that five turnovers on the day. Rivers is definitely still one of the best quarterbacks in the game, but Sunday’s outing was definitely one to forget.