Monday, 21 October 2013

NFL 2013 Week 7: Chargers 24, Jaguars 6

To quote Chris Rock, the Chargers did what they were supposed to do on Sunday, going to Jacksonville and beating the hapless Jaguars 24-6, in a relatively unexciting game.  The Chargers were unimpressive in their win, and I fear this is the end of the line for their moderately surprising start to the season.  The creampuffs are behind us, after the bye week the real schedule starts, and it won't be all Raiders and Jags anymore.

There's another reason for my pessimism to endure, in spite of consecutive wins, and that's the concussion suffered by left tackle King Dunlap, his second this season and third in his pro career.  Not to be a broken record, but King Dunlap's presence on the line has solidified last season's disaster zone into a remarkably effective unit, all things considered.  When he was knocked out of the game, D.J. Fluker switched from right to left tackle, and Jeromey Clary moved back to his former position at right tackle from right guard, and Rich Ohrnberger took over at right guard.  With chip blocks from the tight ends to help out D.J. Fluker, this patchwork line was enough to 'contain' the inept Jags pass rush.

However, with road games coming up against Washington, the Dolphins and the Chiefs, and home games against the Broncos and Bengals, any prolonged absence from Mr. Dunlap will sewer any chance the Chargers have of winning.  Already depleted on defence, the offence, meaning Philip Rivers, has to produce if they are to have a shot, and that starts by protecting him from the predations of the Cameron Wakes and Von Millers they'll face in the near future.

The positives were the same as last week's: strong leadership from Philip Rivers and his decision making, effective passes and low-risk approach; decisive running from Ryan Mathews who again piled up 100 yards and finally scored a touchdown, his first since the middle of last season's schedule; a no-name defence that mixed up blitzes to apply pressure on besieged Jags quarterback Chad Henne.

A pleasant surprise was the effective play of the defensive line, after a couple games of relatively quiet performances.  Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget were actually noticeable in this one, blasting through the line and disrupting plays in the Jags' backfield.  How much of this was attributable to the horrid O-line they were facing is a good question to ask, but again, this was an opponent ripe for the picking and the Chargers line responded.

A shocker was how well the linebackers played, while missing Jarret Johnson and Donald Butler.  Someone named Thomas Keiser had two sacks.  Larry English continued to try to live up to his first-round draft pick status.  Just how bad are these Jags anyway?  Wasn't Justin Blackmon and the return of Marcedes Lewis supposed to make these guys dangerous somehow?

So a win in the bank for the Chargers, and a milestone for Philip Rivers who reached 30 000 yards passing in his career.  A nice job by all, a well-earned week off due to the Week 8 bye, until the real shelling starts in Washington on November 3.  We'll see how many bodies we have back by then, against a reviving Robert Griffin III and his boys who hung 45 points on the competent Bears defence.  On the road.  An additional two more weeks of RGIII rehabbing his knee and gaining confidence and mobility does not bode well for us.

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