Los Angeles Chargers: Top 5 takeaways from a dominant win over the Redskins

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3. The Ekeler halftime snafu

CARSON, CA – DECEMBER 10: Running back Austin Ekeler
CARSON, CA – DECEMBER 10: Running back Austin Ekeler /

This was a bit confusing. Just looking at it from Austin Ekeler’s perspective, you can clearly see that he tried to bite off a little more than he could chew by trying to run to the end zone with very little time left. I think he’d even admit it was a rookie mistake for sure. Granted, I’m probably also not writing about this right now if he gets six on that play. The team was also lucky the game was basically out of reach at 23-6 because of how dysfunctional the Washington offense was.

But I don’t really get it from the refs’ perspective. The Chargers had a timeout left and Ekeler goes down with at least one or two seconds left on the clock, likely 1.5. Was there not a referee somewhere near Anthony Lynn, or was Rivers not screaming “TIMEOUT DADGUMMIT” in his southern accent loudly enough? Jokes and rookie mistake aside, it does seem like the timeout should’ve been able to be called. But I guess I maybe understand why they didn’t allow them to.

4. The defense has serious playmakers and seems to improve every week under Gus Bradley 

I’m still in a little bit of disbelief about what I see in this defense sometimes. Keep in mind that this defense is virtually made up of all the pieces of last year. Really everyone other than Desmond King and Tre Boston were on this team last year. I can’t think of a scenario in evaluating this defense where I don’t come to the conclusion that Mike McCoy and John Pagano were seriously incompetent.

And I don’t want to rag on Pagano either, as he had the number one overall defense in his time with the Chargers in 2012. But seeing the dramatic jump in quality almost overnight in how this defense plays is primarily because of different rotations and different schemes as opposed to different players. Putting Melvin Ingram on the line, cycling in Jatavis Brown differently, unusual schemes with corners and safeties sometimes, etc. are things that have changed the defense for the better.

The team now has a +11 turnover differential (+15 in the last nine games), and it’s hard to believe that this is primarily the same unit as last year, minus players like Manti Te’o or Brandon Flowers. A lot of it came down to coaching and cutting the fat from the defense.