Los Angeles Chargers first quarter stock report
By Travis Wakeman
The offensive line is still offensive
It was no secret that the Chargers had one of the league’s worst offensive lines in football over the last couple of years.
During the offseason, the team’s prized free-agent signing was Russell Okung, despite him being terrible for the Broncos last year. They also used high draft picks to bring in Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney.
The result? The line is still terrible.
Lamp was lost for the season during training camp and Feeney was the player responsible for allowing the blocked field goal in the season opener. In pass protection, the line just doesn’t hold up. Rivers seems to be under pressure nearly every time he drops back and the running game hasn’t been any better. Melvin Gordon is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.
Despite how bad the offensive line has been, the team still waived former third-round pick Max Tuerk on Tuesday.
Head coach Anthony Lynn suggested that Feeney and Michael Schofield will begin to rotate in with the starters going forward, trying to keep the line fresh, as reported by Ricky Henne of the team’s official website.
There aren’t any indications that this group is going to get a whole lot better, which coincides with the way the rest of the season could and likely will go.
Austin Ekeler needs more snaps
Austin Ekeler has gone from undrafted free agent to a player on the roster bubble to one of the most dynamic players on the team.
He needs more snaps, and in the same report from Henne, Lynn suggests that is going to happen.
“You can put him in that mix since every drive he’s in the game, we move the chains”, said the coach.
Ekeler has been used primarily as a kick returner and third-down back. He has lined up next to the quarterback in a shotgun formation on every offensive snap he’s had, and he almost always goes out as a receiver out of the backfield. As a result, he’s caught five passes for 47 yards. But I’ve wondered aloud why he doesn’t get more opportunities to carry the ball.
On Sunday against the Eagles, he finally did. All he did on the play was break it open for a 35-yard touchdown in what was arguably the team’s most exciting play all season.
This kid is a game-changer. I’ve been saying it since they signed him following the draft. He’s more dynamic than Branden Oliver and can elude elite defenders in open space.
The Chargers must get the ball in his hands more often, and hopefully that is the case going forward.
The coaching staff is struggling
Though he’s off to an 0-4 start, it would be unfair to write off Lynn already. However, his coordinators deserve plenty of criticism.
The Chargers boast one of the league’s most impressive offensive-defensive coordinator combinations, at least on paper. Both Ken Whisenhunt and Gus Bradley have head coaching experience, but they’ve both struggled in calling games this season.
Bradley, who helped shape one of the league’s all-time dominant defenses in Seattle, has a defense that can’t stop anything. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars—coincidentally Bradley’s former team—have given up more rushing yards through four games than the Chargers.
The team currently ranks No. 23 in overall defense, though against the pass, the team has had its moments. That said, the defense has forced just two turnovers in four games.
On the offensive side of the ball, Whisenhunt just can’t seem to get the team into a flow. Rivers has been frustrated, as evidenced by a play against the Eagles in which the Chargers were set to go for it on 4th-and-7 from around midfield. Whisenhunt and Rivers had some sort of communication issue getting the play in and the play clock expired. Rivers blew a gasket.
Both of these guys need to step it up, because their making Lynn look really bad.