In a season that San Diego Chargers’ fans would surely just as soon forget, there is still an opportunity to use each game as a learning experience. After starting the season 3-8, the one thing that is clear is significant changes should be in the offering in the off season. For now, the Chargers need to play out the season and get a reading on who fits and who needs to go.
This past Sunday, the Chargers came away with a rare victory as they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-23. Here are five things that transpired during the game that should provide some insight as to what the Chargers need to consider for 2016.
- Just Rivers being Rivers – One problem the Chargers haven’t had this year is leadership at quarterback. In a year when team support has been minimal, Philip Rivers has looked spectacular. On the season, he has thrown for 3,511 yards (2nd in the NFL) and 23 touchdowns against only 8 interceptions. Considering he has been remarkably consistent over his career, he is still on target for one of his best seasons. Clearly, no change is needed here.
- Playing the Field – All season long, the Chargers have suffered from poor field position. They currently rank last in the NFL for starting average field position at around the 21-yard line. In this game, a couple of key breaks allowed them to start with an average field position of around the 32-yard line. The Chargers need to focus on moving the ball a little better and taking chances to create more turnovers that will help improve starting field position.
- The Future Looks Good for Two Rookies – The Chargers’ top two draft choices from the 2015 draft finally started showing the progress needed to assure coaches they can contribute in the future. Top choice RB Melvin Gordon out of Wisconsin had the best game of his short career with 60 yards rushing only 14 carries. It is important to note he is finally starting to look like the back who once rushed for over 400 yards in a single game. On defense, 2nd round choice LB Denzel Perryman out of the University of Miami Fla. had a season high seven tackles. It’s very encouraging he proved to be a disruptive force as he was meeting runners in the backfield. Continued progress for both these players is the key.
- Making it Count – In prior games, the Chargers have had difficulty scoring from the red zone, often settling for field goals. In this game, they scored three TDs from the red zone and added a field goal. That’s what you have to do in the NFL if you want to win football games. With RB Gordon improving, the Chargers can hope to continue being more efficient with scoring opportunities.
- Giving Up Big Plays on Defense – All season long, the defense has been guilty of giving up big play after big play. In this game, they still gave up seven plays of over 20 yards. The team needs to focus on putting defensive players on the field who understand the concept of containing the offense.
By looking at these and other lessons, there is a reasonable chance that Chargers’ coaches can start addressing the team’s future in order to find a way back into the playoffs. As they say, history is a good teacher.
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