Los Angeles Chargers: Top 5 takeaways from a shutout win over the Broncos
The Los Angeles Chargers extend win streak to three with a dominant performance over their division rival.
The last time the Chargers had a three-game win streak? In November 2014. The Chargers won three games between November 16 and 30. Their current streak could not have come at a better time, as the team started 0-4.
The question now is, how long can they keep this up? Before we get to the discussion of extending the win streak, let’s talk about the game against the Broncos.
1. The defense was superb.
Wow. I’m still a little stunned about the defensive performance from this team. They absolutely suffocated the Broncos’ offense in this game. Now I know what you’re thinking: Trevor Siemian isn’t really good, the Broncos’ offensive line is suspect and they have a few injured wide receivers. I know. But the Chargers haven’t pitched a shutout since 2014.
Over the course of this three-game win streak, it feels like the defense is only getting better. Very few offensive lines can seem to handle Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. They are forcing the defense into some bad passing situations. The run game could never get going consistently in any of the games against New York, Oakland or Denver.
I haven’t seen a Chargers’ defense play this well and this consistently. They’ve strung together some great performances, and while there are still concerning issues, like dropped picks we need to have, Gus Bradley and Anthony Lynn deserve all the credit in the world.
2. Remember that time Kevin Harlan called Travis Benjamin a “dynamic returner”? Well…
Last week in the game against Oakland, commentator Kevin Harlan (love his voice by the way) called Travis Benjamin a “dynamic returner” while he was waiting to receive a punt from Marquette King. It seemed like a joke at the time. The Chargers have had poor special teams for a while, and that goes from kicking and punting all the way to returns. The Chargers haven’t had a punt return TD since 2012. Travis Benjamin changed that yesterday with an explosive run to the house in the first quarter off of a punt.
He also had a great TD to seal the game at the end to put the game out of reach for the Broncos on a long run to the end zone on a third-down pass from Philip Rivers. Benjamin was a huge deal for the Chargers in this game, and he gave them a huge advantage with his punt return.
3. Special teams all around was excellent.
The Chargers finally put together a great special teams performance and has seen how it can pay off. It wasn’t just Benjamin, it was Drew Kaser punting balls deep, Nick Novak not missing on extra points, not allowing kick returns and putting our offense in good starting field position. I mean seriously, I’ve never seen a better punt in my life than this absolute beauty from Kaser.
Drew Kaser of the LA Chargers may have just kicked the Greatest Punt of All-Time. pic.twitter.com/d7R9zxy9P8
— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) October 23, 2017
The Chargers struggled in their four losses with special teams. They missed field goals with Younghoe Koo, could never get anything going on the return game and gave teams great starting field position on returns with bad tackling. On Sunday, they reaped the fruits of their labor with great special teams play.
4. The offense struggled, but it was against the Broncos.
The Chargers’ offense struggled in large stretches in this game, primarily in the third quarter. They didn’t score a touchdown in the first, but they did get down to fourth-and-goal and came incredibly close to tacking one on there.
You also have to remember that the Broncos have allowed 19.4 PPG going into this game. They are probably the best defense the Chargers will play all year. When you play a team that has an elite defense like they do, it can become a grind-it-out game that doesn’t look pretty. You just have to find a way to win.
Now, if the Chargers struggle like this against the Patriots on offense, I think it becomes a topic of concern. But when you play a good defense, you just have to play it out and wait for your time to strike. You also have to minimize turnovers, which the Chargers did well.
5. What is the Chargers’ running back situation?
In my opinion, I think its clear to say that the Chargers’ running back situation will solely depend on performance. Melvin Gordon played incredibly well against the Giants and Raiders, but he’s struggled with the Broncos’ defense his entire career. It’s also worth nothing that other than the Giants, no one has had success against Denver running the ball.
Austin Ekeler didn’t have that many carries, but he did average 5.4 yards per carry with a receiving TD on a swing pass from Rivers. I expect Gordon to bounce back with a great week in New England, especially because I don’t see him having a bad week against a defense that has struggled throughout the season.
The Chargers have won three straight games to save their season when it seemed like it was all over. The calls for firing Lynn, drafting a QB and kicking Rivers out the door and moving back to San Diego seemed to have quieted. Well, maybe not that last one. But what once seemed like a doomed season for the Chargers after an 0-4 start has turned around to a season filled with hope at 3-4. They have a chance to get back to .500 going into the bye.
That game of course is against the Patriots, which is always a challenge. But you also have to remember that the Patriots have played some close games where they’ve struggled to win, like against the Jets, Texans and Buccaneers. The Chargers may be punching up, just because it’s the Patriots, but this is going to be a fairly close game with how the Chargers are playing.
This game could also have playoff implications. Playoff implications! Man, I didn’t expect to be saying that Week 4, but here we are.