QB – Philip Rivers – B
Rivers had a pretty efficient game and only made 3 pretty bad passes, 1 he tried to force to Royal in the endzone, 1 he underthrew an open Meachem deep and another to Meachem was picked off. Other than that he had 2 TD passes and completed 78% of his passes. While he wasn’t outstanding, Rivers did more than enough to win the game, and not enough to lose it.
RB – A
Jackie Battle got the start in the game this week and led the team in carries with 15, as well as picking up both a rushing TD and a receiving TD. He only averaged 2.1 yards per carry but averaged over 10 yards per catch picking up 42 yards on 4 catches. Ryan Mathews had limited carries but showed outstanding burst and quickness, averaging just under 5 ypc and finished the day with 82 total yards on 16 touches. Ronnie Brown had 0 rushes but had 3 very nice catches for 50 yards. This unit as a whole performed very well and accounted for 2 TD’s and 0 turnovers.
FB – B-
LeRon McClain had a very quiet day, which for a fullback is a good thing. The fact that Mathews was able to get just shy of 5 ypc and Battle was able to spring for a few big runs shows he was taking his man out. However McClain did fail to convert on a 3rd and 1 which was one of his two carries for the game. The big guy needs to be able to get those short conversions when called upon.
TE – B
Antonio Gates was the only TE to catch a pass and finished with 3 receptions for 59 yards including a beautiful 33 yard catch and run. He also extended the opening drive by drawing 2 pass interference penalties from Eric Berry. Dante Rosario continues to do well on special teams. This unit has to improve in 2 areas: 1) Edge blocking and 2) 3rd down receiving. Ryan Mathews is pretty dang fast and even he has a hard time getting to the edge right now. The Chargers lead the league in 2 or more TE sets (52% of offensive plays) so McMichael and Rosario need to seal better to help break Mathews for some long runs. As for 3rd downs, all 4 of these TE’s are above average receivers and all of them are big, tall bodies. They have to find a way to get open past the 1st down marker on 3rd downs.
WR – C
Besides Malcom Floyd it looks like we don’t have any WR’s. Floyd pulled in a 21 yard catch making it his 7th straight game with a catch of at least 20 yards, but added only one other catch for 2 yards. Eddie Royal was the only other WR to make any catches and he managed only 16 yards and a TD on 3 catches. 39 yards total from our WR’s is not enough, not by a long shot. If this team wants to beat contenders Meachem and Rivers are going to have to get on the same page, and Royal and Floyd need to step up. I know Rivers likes to spread the ball around, but if our WR’s got open a little more Ronnie Brown would not be the team’s 3rd leading receiver and we wouldn’t have any more quarters like the 3rd quarter this week where the offense only managed -1 yard. Vincent Brown is severely missed on this unit.
OL – C+
The line was again inconsistent Jared Gaither returned to play his first game since last season, and while he was very good on some plays, he gave up his first sack as a Charger and was visibly winded on long drives and near the end of the game. The run blocking by the whole unit was better than it has been, but still not where it needs to be. On short yardage situations they got almost no push which made things very hard for McClain and Battle. A bright spot to note here however, was that Nick Hardwick absolutely manhandled Chiefs 1st round pick Dontari Poe. Every time I looked Hardwick was pushing Poe 3 or 4 yards away from the hole and 2 or 3 yards downfield.
DL – A++
If the DL that played on Sunday shows up every game, the Chargers will be in the playoffs and possibly the Superbowl. The Chargers DL dominated the Chiefs OL. Corey Liuget was playing like a maniac. He forced a fumble and was extremely disruptive. Cam Thomas showed great push and consistently had his guy (sometimes guys) 4 or 5 yards deep in the backfield. Rookie Kendall Reyes once again looked very athletic and disruptive. Aubrayo Franklin was very solid and drew multiple double teams. That brings me to Vaughn Martin. Those of you who follow me on twitter (@boltfanindenver) know that I have been calling out Mr. Martin every game for his poor play, inability to get off of blocks, inability to draw a double team, and general lack of effort. Well Sunday Vaughn Martin finally answered those calls. Vaughn drew multiple double teams, forced a fumble, had a sack, and was generally all over the place. Keep it up Vaughn….please! This unit gets my game ball and they did it without Antonio Garay. If they play like this next week it won’t matter that our CB’s suck, Drew Brees wont have time to throw it.
LB – B+
Overall the LB crew played great. However, There were too many missed tackles and too much over-perusing of the ball carrier to earn an A. Donald Butler continues to play like the best MLB on the team, and possibly in the whole AFC West. He racked up a half sack, a pick 6, and 6 tackles. Shaun Phillips got another sack and a forced fumble and has now matched his sack total (3.5) for all of last season. Rookie Melvin Ingram continues to display great athleticism and the timing and instincts or a savvy veteran. He is still just a hair away from getting a few sacks and batted down another pass at the line of scrimmage for the 2nd straight week. Ingram is far more disruptive than his stats show so far this season. Larry English even got in on the mix this week grabbing half a sack and has been reliable when rotated in. Takeo Spikes had 2 tackles and had a decent day. Demorrio Williams has been all over the field for the Chargers and added 5 more tackles in this one. Jarret Johnson did not record a tackle in this game and had a very quiet day. Antwan Barnes also had a quiet day with only 1 tackle and no sacks.
CB – C
Quentin Jammer was again decent, but not great. He drew 2 penalties and got beat for a 37 yard pass that was luckily called back due to a penalty on the Chiefs. He mad some solid tackles in this game and forced a fumble, however he continues to be average at best in coverage. Antoine Cason was terrible. Remember that playoff game vs the Jets that we pretty much lost because Antonio Cromartie stepped aside and let Shonn Green run for a long TD? That was Cason on Sunday. He seems to be afraid of contact. He starts out every play 7-12 yards off the line of scrimmage, even on 3rd and less than 7. When his guy does make the catch, he doesn’t attack and make a tackle, he squares up and waits for either help to arrive or for the guy to get to him. While he did come down with an INT off of a tip, he was completely at fault for the Bowe TD late. He bit hard on the double move and left Bowe all alone. With Vaughn Martin’s performance today Cason is now my least favorite player on the team. He shows moments of goodness but most of the time is almost too frustrating to watch.
S – A
Eric Weddle grabbed a nice 1 handed INT and Atari Bigby is still flying all over the field. They are starting to build some good chemistry back there and are picking up the slack for our terrible CB’s. They aren’t a liability in coverage and neither of them gave up any deep passes on Sunday. Weddle even almost came down with the onside kick at the end. These two are playing very well especially when you consider how mediocre the CB’s are.
P – B
Is something wrong with Mike Scifres? A touchback? Not pinning it inside the 20? That shank last week? Maybe I am expecting too much because he has been so amazing the last few years but he has only been Good lately.
K – A
Nick Novak came in on 3 days notice and had 3 field goals including 2 from 45 yards+. With rumors coming out today that Kaeding’s injury might be worse than originally thought, Novak could be kicking for us for quite some time.
ST – B-
The Chiefs averaged almost 27 yards per kick return and 13 yards per punt return on Sunday. They came very close to breaking a couple of those for much bigger returns as well. The Chargers on the other hand averaged 25 yards per return and only had 1 punt return attempted. It wasn’t a bad game for the return teams, but it was very close.
Coaching – C
After a great 1st half the Bolts came out flat and vanilla in the second half. Norv let up too much and didn’t keep the team motivated through half time. Tackling was also terrible in this game and fundamentals like that fall on the coaches. The reason teams like the Patriots win all the time is because when they have a lead they don’t let up and they keep pushing. Norv needs to keep going full bore even when we are up by 3 or more scores.