It is common for teams to evaluate their seasons by quarters, and in their just-finished third quarter, the Los Angeles Chargers did well.
One could say they did very well, except that the Kansas City Chiefs have done better over the season to date. The loss to the Denver Broncos may be the one regret of the season. The Chargers may beat the Chiefs next week, achieve a 12-4 record, and still end up as a Wild Card entry to the playoffs.
Q3: This Quarter
Chargers went 3 – 1. They lost to the Broncos, but beat the Oakland Raiders, set a passing record beating the Arizona Cardinals, and made a statement on national TV with a record-breaking comeback against the at-home Pittsburgh Steelers.
Third Quarter Weaknesses
A PATTERN OF PENALTIES
The one loss to the rejuvenated Broncos was the Bolts’ worst performance in penalties. The following two games, they improved, but in the first 12 games of the season to date, too many penalties are a distressing pattern.
Seven starters gone since the beginning of the season.
CHARGE(RS) OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE: Attrition
And the hits kept coming. This quarter brought season-ending injuries to stand-out run-stuffing linebacker Denzel Perryman, and defensive lineman Corey Liuget. The Chargers are demonstrably softer against the run with their absences.
And then there’s former hero Joe Barksdale who left his teammates in the lurch by retiring in immature fashion: not bothering to show up for practice. Maybe he had an album to debut. Maybe he had a golf date with Jared Gaither. Each guy got a huge contract and lost interest in working for a living.
Can we, however, say for sure that we would not do the same? Who knows. As for myself, my financial advisor says that I will be able to retire comfortably in just two years. Two years after I’m dead.
In any case, that’s three more starters out for the rest of the season in this quarter alone. Add to that list the starters Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett in preseason, Caleb Sturgis and Drew Kaser being cut, that’s SEVEN STARTERS GONE from opening day, plus the very promising Kyzir White.
Third Quarter Strengths
Derwin James, Apex Predator. Just call him ROY: Rookie Of the Year
After the first eight games, simply getting a guy who can kick a ball between two uprights was a big turnaround for the team, after an embarrassing circus that started last year and followed the Bolts around through the first half of the season.
Mike Badgley missed his first try at a game-winning field goal, got blocked his second, and hit the third– all three with a Steeler or six offsides. The kid stays in the picture. The whole special teams play, including Desmond King, had a growth spurt this quarter.
This quarter saw the much delayed return of Joey Bosa. and he made his presence felt in all three games he played. I chuckled to hear eastern media on TV say “He will help their defense”. Gee, ya think? That’s like saying King Kong is a rather large primate.
Keenan Allen had only one touchdown through the first eight games. This quarter, he got his touchdown jam on. For example, before the Pittsburgh game, the Steelers devised and worked a plan for their defense to stop KA-13. That was their strategy: stop Keenan. And they couldn’t.
THE WAR HORSE
Melvin Gordon got even better. This juggernaut can make four extra yards simply while falling, with thre defenders draped on him.
THE BLACK PANTHER
Derwin James is an apex predator. Brains and athleticism and size. The national media has taken notice, a runaway Defensive Rookie of the Year. Maybe his nickname should be ROY.
Rivers is the Most Valuable Player to his team, and maybe to the league. It is not his fault the team has a devastating running attack that takes away the need for him to throw for 300 yards a game.
Look at his passer rating. The Philadelphia Eagles won without Wentz last Super Bowl. The Chargers without Rivers, however, could not win a bake-off with a manatee.
I hope RIvers leads the Chargers to a trophy this year, and the Chargers electrocute the Chiefs and the Saints and the Pats en route to the victory parade.
Justin Jackson in a few successive plays knifed the Steelers defense so quickly, they just stared and gurgled and gave up the lead.
Gates seems to have cleared the runway and the treetops and is gaining altitude and speed, as he racks up 2-point conversions and can still get open. He has deceptive slowness.
FOURTH QUARTER PROGNOSIS
The Chargers need to defeat the Chiefs and take three out of four, at minimum, to grab the division title from Kansas City. But it is not playing on the road as a Wild Card that we should fear.
It is injuries.
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- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
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Total Offense: Chargers have crept up to rank fifth in points per game
Total Defense: Chargers in points surrendered per game, 7th — and all six of the defensive teams above them have a worse offense.
Net-Point Differential: In the AFC, Los Angeles now ranks second in net points, only trailing where Kansas City is chief.
Quarterbacks: Rivers is now just 1.3 points behind Patrick Mahomes in Passer Rating — although catching Top Gun Drew Brees is nigh impossible. Also, New Orleans’ rushing game is equal to the Chargers’, so objectively, Brees’ passer rating, yards, and other comparisons in context, in my mind, makes Brees the logical MVP –under the criteria established. However, if RIvers gets the One Ring, will he care?
BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR THE BENGALS GAME
Chargers go without Gordon, and he is not needed.
Virgil Green gets some good looks.
Justin Jackson sees playing time. Austin Ekeler needs some naptime for nicks.
Pass completions are spread out and the Bengals are spread too thin.
Chargers by 17+ over Sin City.
Put your predictions in Comments below.