The Los Angeles Chargers extended their winning streak to six after a dominant win against the struggling Raiders in Oakland, with key performances from Melvin Gordon and Derwin James.
So, I think we can give James defense rookie of the year. Let’s end it. James had seven tackles in the first quarter (!), as well as a tackle that got them a huge stop on the Raiders on 4th-and-goal. James also had a monster defensive pressure on a Raiders running back who was blocking for Derek Carr that allowed Isaac Rochell to get a sack.
The pressure he can put on the quarterback and runners out of the backfield, as well as his great tackling and coverage on receivers is monstrous. He plays with a physicality that isn’t too common in the NFL anymore.
As much as I respect what fellow rookies like Bradley Chubb and Darius Leonard are doing this year, it’s clear that James is the DROY. He may even be the best all-around defensive player on the team.
Should we all send thank you letters to Mike Badgley? The Chargers’ kicker is still, through three games, 100 percent on field goals and PAT’s. It feels so nice to not get nervous on 35-yard field goals or PAT’s anymore. It’s a great start for Badgley so far, especially since it’s his job to lose now post-Sturgis.
I do have a little bit of doubt still since Badgley hasn’t had to kick in a late game situation or take a particularly long field goal (his longest so far has been 44 yards). But as long as keeps hitting, there’s no reason to be worried.
Not enough can be said about the insane season Melvin Gordon is having. Among running backs, Gordon is second in yards from scrimmage, only behind Todd Gurley. That’s some pretty good company to be in. It’s easily Gordon’s best season, even topping last year, which I thought was his previous career year. He’s scored a touchdown in every game except Week 1 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.
One of the crucial things about Gordon’s game is not just the explosive play he’s making, but his efficiency. His career high in yards per carry before this season was 3.9. This year, he’s getting 5.4 yards per carry. The difference may not seem significant, but it really is. He’s also on pace to smash his single-season receiving yards record from last year.
The Chargers have had good luck with injuries so far, but the loss of Denzel Perryman changes that. Hayes Pullard and Nwosu played well enough, but Perryman is a huge part of this defense.
The Chargers struggled with getting pressure in their first two or three games without Joey Bosa. Since then, it’s been a non-issue. Melvin Ingram, Darius Philon, Rochell and James have been getting to the quarterback pretty consistently. Now it’s a situation that when Bosa comes back, watch out. And being at 7-2, they can afford to wait a little bit till he’s fully ready to go.
The Chargers did have some miscues. Tyrell Williams dropped a short catch while wide open on third down. That was a problem area for the Chargers-third down. They were 2-10 on the day. On the season, the Chargers are at 34 percent on third-down conversions. That’s 27th in the league.
Now, for a top offense like the Chargers, what that means is that they’re often not letting it get to third down on a lot of drives, and that’s true. They’ve faced the second-fewest third downs in the league. But come December, and come playoff time, if the Chargers do make it, they will need to convert third downs. Now is the perfect time if you’re Anthony Lynn and Ken Whisenhunt to get all of that sorted out at 7-2 before a playoff run.
The Chargers got a good, defensive win against a struggling division rival on the road. They are now 4-1 on the road, and I’d really say 5-1, since one of their “home” games was in London. The defense looks stout. The offense, even with their struggles on third down, scored enough to keep the Raiders out of striking distance for the whole game. Philip Rivers, Gordon and Keenan Allen stayed hot on the offense, while James and Ingram were huge on the defense.
The Chargers (finally) will head home for the first time since October 7th. The Denver Broncos, while struggling, are better than the Raiders. Vance Joseph is coaching for his job. I think this ends up being a closer and tougher game than it initially looks on paper. But, the Chargers should still win. If they do, they’d hit 8-2, and be one win shy of their win total from last year with six games left to go.