The LA Chargers defeated the Indianapolis Colts 20-3 on Monday Night Football and clinched a spot in the playoffs as a result. This is the first time that the Bolts have made the playoff since 2018 when quarterback Justin Herbert was a sophomore in college.
Monday night's win was rather mundane but it was still a professional win. Los Angeles may not have blown the Colts out of the water as some expected but they were able to coast to a rather easy victory in which they were never trailing.
Clinching the playoffs is far more exciting than the game itself but there were still some observations from this game — both at the micro and macro level.
5 observations from the Chargers win over the Colts:
1. This defenes might be legitimately great
Yes, it is the Indianapolis Colts and they are not an offensive powerhouse. That being said, holding a professional football team to three points that were only scored because of the Chargers' own mistakes and penalties is a pretty great day at the office.
It extends past just this game, though. The Chargers have allowed 18.9 points per game since the bye week. For the first time in Brandon Staley's tenure, we are starting to see the elite defensive mind that was praised when he was with the Rams.
The best part? The team could be getting Joey Bosa back next week against the Rams, making this defense even better as a result.
2. Michael Davis has been THAT GUY
Michael Davis has been a big reason why the Chargers' defense has played so well since the bye week. He once again had a great game for the Bolts and finally got rewarded for his play with a Nick Foles pass that fell right into his hands for the interception.
3. The Chargers have figured something out on third down
The Chargers held the Colts to a goose egg on third down in this game (0-10). This also is not an anomaly. Los Angeles has the best third-down conversion rate on defense over the last three games. This is a huge turnaround from last season.
4. The Chargers need better play-calling in key spots if they are going to make any noise in the playoffs
The Joe Lombardi dynamic of this team has been covered by just about every Chargers site on the internet. It is clear that he has not maximized Justin Herbert and this offense despite it being one of the most talented groups of offensive players in the league.
The scheme is not going to change. The philosophy is not going to change. It is way too late in the season to expect those things to happen. A starting point that the Chargers can focus on instead is play-calling in key situations.
Every Chargers fan is sick of seeing the team run stick with routes right at the sticks on third down or in the red zone. You cannot have a quarterback like Justin Herbert and not be able to throw the ball in the red zone.
Celebrate tonight, but get into the film room this week and figure it out because this is a team with serious potential.
5. Brandon Staley deserves a round of applause
So many Chargers fans were calling for this guy's job all season. He has not been perfect but Brandon Staley led the most injured team in the entire league to clinch a playoff spot in Week 16. That is insanely impressive.
Brandon Staley is not going anywhere, nor should he. If the Chargers are ever going to win a Super Bowl they need a head coach who establishes a culture and builds something up. It is not going to happen overnight.
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The resiliency shown by the Chargers this season was a massive first step in this process.