Chargers vs. Jaguars: Takeaways from San Diego's 24-6 Win over Jacksonville
The Chargers held Jacksonville to two field goals and racked up 24 points of their own in their fourth win of the year, and Mike McCoy's team is now preparing for a much-needed bye week following some key injuries in Sunday's win.
Here are today's takeaways from a decisive win against Jacksonville that capped off an impressive week starting with a win over the Indianapolis Colts the previous Monday.
Offensive Line Banged Up
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The health of the offensive line has been a major concern early in the year, but things took a drastic turn when King Dunlap suffered his second concussion in four weeks. Mike Remmers, who was signed off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad on Oct. 9, came in relief at left tackle but was quickly carted off the field after suffering an ankle injury.
The losses of Dunlap and Remmers left San Diego with just five active offensive linemen for Sunday's game with the Jaguars, and the shuffling of players quickly ensued—something the team had hoped to avoid.
D.J. Fluker, the Chargers' first-round draft choice, was forced to move over to the left tackle spot and Jeromey Clary, who started 14 games at right tackle in 2012, filled in on the right side.
Depending on the long-term health of Dunlap, the Chargers are now in a position to find help on the waiver wire. There are currently just two reserve players capable of playing tackle on the active roster in Steve Schilling and undrafted rookie Nick Becton.
Chad Rinehart, who started the first three games of the season at left guard, has also been missing from the starting lineup as he recovers from a toe injury that he suffered in Week 3.
The focus of San Diego's upcoming bye week will be getting the offensive line healthy enough for a Week 9 matchup with the Washington Redskins.
Ladarius Green Making Good on Playing Time
Ladarius Green, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, saw limited action his rookie season with the Chargers, but the second-year tight end has come on strong in Ken Whisenhunt's offense.
Antonio Gates has been heavily targeted by Philip Rivers through the first half of the season, but with defenses giving extra attention to the veteran tight end, Green has benefited from looser coverage on his end. The arrival of John Phillips from Dallas hasn't hurt Green's playing time all that much either.
Green had three catches for 73 yards on the season and added another 40 yards on two catches against Jacksonville on Sunday.
Green was one of the last draft choices made by former GM A.J. Smith before his eventual firing, and his progress is a good sign for his future as new GM Tom Telesco continues to rebuild the team.
Manti Te'o Taking Responsibility of Defense
Donald Butler (groin) has not played since Week 2, and his absence allowed Manti Te'o to handle the responsibility of relaying the signals on defense for a second straight game.
Since his regular-season debut against the Dallas Cowboys, Te'o has grown more and more comfortable in his role and continues to see more snaps. The second-round pick out of Notre Dame came into Sunday's game with 13 tackles and left Jacksonville with another four, including one for a loss.
Ryan Mathews with Back-to-Back 100-Yard Games
Ryan Mathews had one game with 100-plus yards rushing in his rookie year, four in 2011, none in 2012 and now has two in 2013. His career has been inconsistent to say the least, but Ken Whisenhunt hasn't given up on the former first-round pick.
Mathews had a season-high 22 carries for 102 yards in Monday night's win over the Indianapolis Colts, and the fourth-year back followed that up with 21 carries for 110 yards and a score against the Jaguars.
The rushing touchdown was Mathews' first of the season and his first since October of last year. The efforts made to push the run game have paid off quite well since the Chargers put up a measly 36 yards rushing in a loss to the Oakland Raiders.
San Diego has chalked up a combined total of 305 yards rushing in its last two wins, which should prove the run game is an aspect the team cannot afford to stray from.
Eddie Royal's Resurgence on Offense
Since his Week 1 performance of two touchdown receptions against the Houston Texans and three against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week, Eddie Royal had been held scoreless leading up to Sunday's game and had just eight catches, but the veteran receiver became more involved in Sunday's win, with four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Royal had been dealing with a toe injury, which he suffered last week against the Colts, and the emergence of Keenan Allen had limited his targets as well. Still, Royal has been effective when healthy and remains a top target in San Diego's offense.
Keenan Allen Still Going, Making Case for No. 1 Receiver
Keenan Allen wasn't able to pick up a third straight game with more than 100 yards receiving, but the rookie continues to be a focal point of the passing game. Allen established himself as a No. 1 receiving candidate in Monday night's win, and while he didn't get the big numbers against a middle-of-the-pack pass defense, he still produced on offense and allowed other targets to get open.
Allen caught three balls for 69 yards and tied Antonio Gates for most targets (6) in Sunday's win over Jacksonville. The third-round pick out of Cal is playing with a chip on his shoulder after he was passed on in the first two rounds of the draft despite showing first-round potential.
Defense Sacks Chad Henne 6 Times
With Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson out for San Diego, the defense still managed to explode for six sacks on Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne.
Larry English, Corey Liuget, Reggie Walker and Jahleel Addae each had one sack in Sunday's win, and Thomas Keiser led the team with two.
With Freeney done for the year and Johnson still nursing a hamstring, it was nice to see the defense still get pressure. Is the recent success of the defense a result of John Pagano's aggressive scheme, or is it possible this group of reserves is getting better?
Philip Rivers with Another Near-Perfect Game
Aside from his rough outing against the Raiders, Philip Rivers has been keeping pace with the league's elite quarterbacks, and some may argue he's right there with Peyton Manning in terms of how valuable he is to his team. Rivers completed 22 of 26 passes for 285 yards and one touchdown against the Jaguars in a near-perfect day for the former Pro Bowl quarterback.
Rivers has now thrown 15 touchdowns to just five interceptions through the first half of the season and continues to prove his consistency from week to week. Through the first seven games of last season, Rivers had thrown 10 touchdowns to nine interceptions and San Diego was 3-4 at the time.