San Diego Chargers’ Playoff Hopes Walk The Plank

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

As you know, the San Diego Chargers lost their 7th game on Sunday. But what did we learn?

Joey Bosa earned another sack, and consistently occupied two+ offensive lineman. His overall stat line wasn’t as impressive as it had been in previous weeks (two tackles, one sack, one TFL), but he was still very good.

When Bosa signed his contract at the end of training camp, I wrote a profile, here is an excerpt:

So how good is Joey? And for a similar question; how good will he be? Chew on this: according to ProFootballFocus.com Joey Bosa was the #1 graded pass-rusher both 2014 and 2015 and he was the #1 or #2 graded run-stopping DL in both years as well. People compare Bosa to J.J. Watt, which really isn’t fair to either player, but without any hyperbole Bosa was the superior player in college.

It’s also worth noting, while discussing Joey Bosa vis-à-vis J.J. Watt, that Watt only notched 5.5 sacks in his rookie season. In fact, Houston fans were so frustrated with selection of Watt he was routinely booed until he dominated in Houston’s playoff game his rookie year and scored a touchdown on pick-6. The next year Watt registered 20.5 sacks. Again, I am not saying Bosa will become a J.J. Watt-level player (Watt is basically already guaranteed to be a Hall of Famer) but while I’m saying the comparison isn’t fair, it’s an easy one to make.

It’s worth noting, Bosa has as many sacks in eight games as Watt had in all 16 games of his rookie season. I don’t expect Bosa to average 17.25 sacks over his next four seasons (which is what Watt did in his 2nd through 5th seasons), but I do expect further development and lots of success for Joey B. He’s a good one, folks.

Melvin Gordon is becoming ELITE at running back. I saw a tweet awhile back (three weeks ago or so – I looked but couldn’t find it) that said Gordon is leading Cowboys’ rookie RB Ezekiel Elliot in yards after contact. Elliot has more yards because of the vastly superior OL, but Gordon is quietly demonstrating that he is among the best RBs in the NFL.

This team really misses Brandon Mebane. Tampa’s OL devoted a lot of resources to stopping Bosa (which mostly worked). When Mebane is on the field with Bosa teams have to pick their poison. Bosa will get his, but the defense is not the same without Mebane on the field.

Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers’ defense also misses Jatavis Brown. Brown is far and away the best coverage LB the Chargers have. Jameis Winston targeted their TE, Cameron Brate, nine times vs. San Diego. He’s never had more than seven targets in a game and only had 41 receptions (averaging fewer than 4 per game) before Sunday. The Chargers paucity of coverage linebackers and quality safeties make tight ends particularly dangerous against San Diego’s defense and makes Brown absence all the more glaring.

Pass rushers need to finish. Despite Bosa’s brilliance, the Chargers are tied with three other teams for 26th place with 21 team sacks. Only Melvin Ingram (6.0) has more sacks that Bosa’s 5.5. Ingram and some of the other pass rushers need to get home and finish more often. At least twice Ingram got to Winston, but Jameis was able to get free and make a play. Part of that is Winston’s size, strength, and athleticism, but it happens too often.

Philip Rivers said publicly in the postgame press conference that he was not pressing. In fact he dismissed the idea; wouldn’t consider it. Sorry, Phil, we love you, but you are pressing. You don’t have enough time because of a suspect OL. And thanks to a bunch of injuries, you’re not entirely confident in your receivers’ abilities to get open and/or catch the ball once you throw it. It’s clear you’re pressing. But we don’t blame you.

Even though I think the Chargers need to fire Mike McCoy and search for a new head coach, I do not think they should tank for a higher draft pick. They’re not going to draft top five (they’ll probably draft in the 9-14 range), and as such, creating a culture of winning is more important than any single player they may miss out on by drafting two or three slots higher.

Thanks for reading.

@PickinBolts

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Peter Friberg
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