We are mixing it up a bit with the report card, highlighting the top five best and worst Los Angeles Chargers from this week’s game.
After the final seconds ticked off the clock on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-17 win against the Chargers, analytics site FiveThirtyEight listed the Chargers’ playoff chances at 11 percent. This extremely sobering stat may pull Chargers fans even deeper into the despair that has been the overall theme of this 2019 season.
In this week’s report card, we will give a few reasons for optimism as well as a few players who earned more than their fair share of the blame for the defeat.
Top five players for the Chargers:
5. Justin Jones, defensive tackle: B
All this being said, Jones finished leading the team in tackles with eight and continued to be an oppressive force up the middle. It is hard to find positives in a loss to a third-string quarterback that spent the beginning of the year on the practice squad, but Jones’ performance will do.
4. Mike Williams, wide receiver: B
Williams had a solid effort with a concluding stat line of five receptions for 72 yards. The highlight of the night came on a 1st-and-10 with 9:14 in the fourth quarter when Williams took a quick bubble screen and gutted out an 11-yard gain, juking and weaving through defenders to earn the first down.
3. Drue Tranquill, linebacker: B+
The rook got another bump in snaps this week and rewarded the coaches for their faith. Five tackles, three of them solo, including a tackle for loss in the effort.
He had one of three total tackles for loss in this contest and improves this defense not only with his own play but also by keeping Thomas Davis and Denzel Perryman on a rotation that helps mitigate the veterans’ workload.
2. Rayshawn Jenkins, safety: A
Jenkins had a career day in the loss, earning a 91.8 game score from Pro Football Focus, tied for third-best for a defensive back in Week 6. Jenkins got the team’s lone turnover, intercepting a deep Hodges pass intended for wideout Johnny Holton.
Jenkins has been commended by the coaches and bemoaned by the fans for the past few weeks, so hopefully, a performance like he had in this contest will earn the third-year defensive back some more appreciation with the fans.
1. Hunter Henry, tight end: A+
Welcome back, Henry. The tight end did his best to single-handedly carry the offense, going for 100 yards on eight catches and finding the end zone twice.
This offense is clearly an entirely different animal with Henry in the lineup.
Chargers: Bottom five performances
5. Melvin Gordon: C-
Gordon caught headlines earlier this week for claiming that the solution to his poor starting performance is the lack of carries. Maybe he is right, maybe giving Gordon 20-25 carries a game would help increase the 2.3 yards-per-carry average he managed in Week 6.
That is, of course, hard to do when you find yourself down 24-0 after the first drive of the second half. The Chargers simply aren’t afforded the luxury to hand it off more in games like this.
4. Uchenna Nwosu: C-
After a very encouraging Week 5 turnout, Nwosu was brutal in this game. With 36 snaps logged and not a single pressure against the third-string Hodges, what was expected to be a vaunted pass rush has desperately struggled in the absence of Melvin Ingram.
3. Roderic Teamer: D
Undrafted free agent Teamer has had a really solid rookie year so far, but this game against Pittsburgh will surely not be remembered as one of his better moments.
Teamer was targeted in coverage four times and surrendered completions on every single target, albeit for only 30 yards. This effort earned him a measly 62.2 coverage grade, per Pro Football Focus.
2. Michael Schofield III: D-
All five members of the Chargers’ front five deserve some blame for this ugly loss. Schofield earns the honor for his part in the early turning point of this football game, the Devin Bush fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Schofield allowed his man to blow by at about the same time that the snap reached Phillip Rivers’ hands, forcing Rivers to make a poor decision.
It is brutal putting Rivers as the primary reason to blame in the defeat? Is this how No. 17 ends his career?
Simply put, Rivers was the main factor in the loss. Turnovers, unnecessary risks, and a QBR of 14.9. The startling fall from MVP candidate to liability has been heartbreaking for Chargers fans to watch.
Where do we go from here? Tough to say. Clearly the offensive line’s play has reset the clock in Rivers’ head and is forcing the ball to come out far sooner than he would like. But Rivers’ draft class buddies Ben Roethlisberger (injured) and Eli Manning (benched) offer quick reminders that we might be witnessing the end of the Rivers we know and love.