…to beat the Raiders. I don’t care if they had lost four in a row (actually I do, because I hate them). But it doesn’t take away from the accomplishment of beating them, especially in Oakland. Derek Carr was rusty after being out? That hasn’t stopped the Chargers from losing in the past. In fact, the only the Bolts have beaten Carr was the game in 2014 where Verrett made a nice pick. Oakland was already in field goal range and Carr got a little greedy. But the Chargers were lucky to get out with a win and they were exposed later on that year. The Traitors took the opposite trajectory after that game. You already know this so why am I bringing it up? Because it explains why winning on Sunday was a big deal.
Did the Chargers benefit from the missed extra point? Fuck yeah. Every team that has beaten the Bolts has taken advantage of their mistakes in the kicking game. Had Rivers not mounted that drive (he’s put the team in position to come back against Denver, Miami, and the Giants), Nick Novak’s miss would have decided the game. Especially in this era of parity, it doesn’t take much to separate the winners from the losers. That’s why the inability for Novak to reach the end zone is a problem. I know the goal last week was to keep the ball away from Patterson, but the kick to open the second half was abysmal. I wish such attention was paid to Patterson on that touchdown run, which was almost uncontested. I also wonder how long it takes before Benjamin returning punts goes the way of the Jacoby Jones experiment. I’m sure the shitty blocking has something to do with the fact that neither of those guys sucked as badly before they got to the Chargers. However, the poor field position comes back to haunt this team week after week.
But they DID win on Sunday and that shouldn’t be discounted. As I said, Rivers has led them back four times this season even if missed field goals negated two of them. For years after 2009, Rivers would unevitably end the game with a turnover or a failed comeback attempt. So his accomplishments this year shouldn’t be discounted. I still couldn’t root for Oakland on Thursday, although I know that their beating KC helped the Chargers’ slim hopes for a playoff spot. I saw the hit on Carr and I can’t believe Marcus Peters is still getting away with his shit. Peters had some boneheaded plays against the Chargers this month and I can’t imagine Reid isn’t tired of his act. He’s not THAT good a corner. Then again, they have Hill doing crazy things and his record off the field would have kept most teams from picking him up. I know AJ Smith would never have drafted him even though all his guys ended up doing stupid shit AFTER they were acquired. Tom Telesco claimed to be “a good Catholic” in his first press conference so maybe he’d also have shied away.
Telesco was on the sideline in Oakland and Rivers gave him a quick high-five after Novak’s field goal. With the Raiders win against KC, the Chargers are “in the conversation” for now. Jack Del Rio claimed that he knew what plays were coming on that final drive. That’s no shock since Wisenhunt has been more vanilla than ever. It was good to see Henry get so involved but like Gordon he’s good enough to excel even when the opposition knows what’s coming. At least the Chargers did try a little misdirection last week and even employed a wide flip to Gordon.
Rivers has also shown some real mobility this year. He got himself out of some trouble and even ran for a first down. That also helps at least keep the defense honest. If they know he’s not going to run under pressure and probably just throw it away it really puts the offense at a disadvantage. Williams’ fumble was particularly frustrating since it seemed like the Chargers were on their way to scoring. This is why I often beg for guys to just go down after the catch. I know it denies the possible benefits of the “YAC,” but I’ve been scarred since Tony Martin post-’94.
I don’t know if Anthony Lynn is growing as coach, but it was nice to see him go on 4th down. Being 1-4 might make you think differently, but McCoy seemed like he might start to grow some balls and then he immediately reverted back to pussyball. Melvin Gordon has looked so good over the last two weeks that maybe Lynn felt a little more confident. It’s not like the run blocking has been that much better–Gordon’s been making most of this happen on his own. The best play of the day was his stiff arm OUT OF BOUNDS. He hurdled a guy, dove into the end zone, and picked up a huge 3rd down to give Novak (thankfully) a chip shot for the win.
I pointed out last week that it’s amazing he’s held onto the ball after all these physical runs. Last week I was just happy to see him not get hurt. After the aforementioned hurdle, Rich Gannon pointed out that usually that type of move ends with an injury. Gordon is listed as questionable on Sunday with a shoulder injury so hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Keenan Allen also showed up on the injury report so Mike Williams may end up playing more. His one catch was a big 3rd down conversion. Liuget also missed most of the second half with a back issue. He’s a bust anyway. His one good play was when he was on top of the running back as soon as he got the ball. That being said, the run defense is still shitty, but like the rest of the squad seemed to step up in the second half.
Trevor Williams has been a nice surprise. He was getting a little mouthy, but I guess that’s supposed to show confidence in a cornerback. Addae continues to look for the big hit as opposed to making a play. His play on the goal line looked clean, but he usually gets called for that since he’s often guilty.
If the Chargers have any hope of salvaging the season, they have to finally win a game in LA. Nuff said.
This installment of JIC is dedicated to my daughter Sarah who turns 11 today.
Daddy loves you more than the Chargers even if that’s not saying much.