Week 2 Report Card: Grading The Chargers Perfomance Against Jacksonville Jaguars
The San Diego Chargers were looking to put the thoughts and reminders of their week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs behind them.
The Chargers were excited to be home at Qualcomm Stadium in front of a near sell-out crowd, on what could only be described as a beautiful September, Southern California day.
Let's take a look how the Chargers scored on their report card against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Philip Rivers continued his performance from Monday night with a spectacular 300-yard and three touchdown day.
Rivers continued to show why he is the leader of the Chargers, and in my mind an early candidate for MVP.
Granted we are only in week 2 and there is plenty of football still to be played, but with the first two games of the 2010 season under his belt and over 600 yards in passing, Rivers is looking sharp.
I would have given a letter A grade for Rivers, but there was those two interceptions he threw. Don't get me wrong, those interceptions weren't his fault. The passes were on the money, and the receivers could have got them, however it was just one of those days were the ball was tipped and a defender happen to be in the right place at the right time.
I can't wait to see what Rivers will do when faced against Seattle's defense. I think Norv Turner did a better job of play calling Sunday against the Jaguars than he did last Monday night against the Chiefs. It was a nice mix of screen passes, short passes, long passes, and play-action.
Running Backs, A+
What was suppose to be a sweet home opener for Chargers running back Ryan Mathews turned sour when the rookie went down late in the first quarter with what Chargers training staff are calling a right ankle sprain.
Mathews, after leaving the field with some help from Chargers training staff, was carted off the field after having the cleat on his right foot removed. Mathews would return to the Chargers sideline, but the team didn't want to take any chances with their coveted first-round draft pick.
Enter fullback Mike Tolbert.
Tolbert, aka the human bowling ball took it upon himself to completely shred the Jaguars run defense. Improving on the few touches he had in the game against Kansas City, Tolbert ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chargers now realize they have a solid back-up with Tolbert, rather than having to worry about small yet speedy Darren Sproles taking a majority of the hand-offs.
With the extent of Mathews' injury still uncertain, it will be interesting to see how the Chargers rushing offense will prepare for next weeks' game in Seattle.
Wide Receivers, A+
Chargers quarterback once again looked to his new number one receiver Malcolm Floyd to help pick apart the Jacksonville Jaguars loose secondary.
Floyd, put up some spectacular numbers far better than what he endured during the Chargers loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night.
However, Floyd wasn't the only one to get in on the action.
Legedu Naanee also had another great game including a play out of the Chargers "WildDog" formation with a direct snap to Naanee who then handed the ball off to Darren Sproles for a 15-yard gain.
Chargers fans were once again introduced to Buster Davis, a former first-round draft pick that has spent the last 4 seasons pretty much warming the bench, but now seems to be emerging in his new role as the Chargers third receiver. Another hand weapon for Philip Rivers to throw too.
Newly acquired Patrick Crayton also got his hands on a pass from Philip Rivers during a two-minute drill in the waning minutes of the first half, however I don't agree with the jersey number the Chargers issued Crayton, number 12. Most any Chargers fan would immediately recognize that number with quarterback Stan Humphries, the only quarterback to lead the Chargers to their first and only Super Bowl.
Tight Ends, A+
Antonio Gates picked up where he left off in Kansas City and proved to be Philip Rivers go to guy once again.
Rivers found Gates five times for 57 yards including two touchdowns. Making plenty of fantasy football owners really happy.
Gates continues to a formidable weapon for the Chargers, not only as a receiver but as run blocker as well. He didn't find himself triple covered like he did in Kansas City and was once again able to use his height and size to catch those hard to reach passes.
It's hard to find new topics to discuss about Antonio Gates, because week in and week out Gates continues to amaze us on the field.
Will Seattle be able to find a way to keep Gates from making plays? We will find out next Sunday, and my money will be on Gates continuing to make big plays.
Offensive Line, A-
The Chargers offensive line looked like a well oiled machine on Sunday, which was a complete 180 from the dysfunctional, uncoordinated line they were when the played Kansas City last Monday night.
The offensive line came out fired up. They were creating holes for the running backs and providing excellent pass protection for Philip Rivers.
I would have given the offensive line an A+. however they did give up one sack to Jacksonville's defensive line.
Brandyn Dombrowski, who is going to be under lots of scrutiny as the season goes on, had another solid game and right tackle Jeromey Clary who was definitely under the microscope after his not so impressive performance on Monday night had a good game as well.
Hopefully, the offensive line will be able to feed off this last performance and continue to play well.
Defensive Line, A
Amazing what a difference six days makes. The Chargers defense, playing on a short week after, looked as if they were a completely different team.
I don't know what happened at practice during the week, but it looks as if Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera lit a fire under the rear-ends of his front three lineman.
The Chargers defensive line was keeping the Jaguars offensive line on their heels, creating havoc for the Jaguars pass offense and stopping the one of the most talented running backs in the NFL, in Maurice Jones-Drew. The defensive line stopped Jones-Drew dead in his tracks.
I hope the Chargers defensive line keeps playing with the same intensity they played with against the Jacksonville Jaguars, if they do the defensive line will be unstoppable.
The linebackers shut down one of the most explosive running backs in Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jones-Drew was held to 38 yards on 12 carries for 2.6 yards per carry average, and he was kept out of the end-zone. Many fantasy football owners aren't going to be happy with that productivity.
The Chargers linebackers did a great job at stopping the run and creating havoc for the Jaguars offensive line by putting pressure on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.
The defense also welcomed back a familiar face in Shawne Merriman.
While Merriman didn't get the start for Sunday's game, he became a force once he entered and the defense looked to the leader they have been without to get them fired up.
Missed tackles that had been an issue during the Chargers Monday night loss in Kansas City, didn't seem to be one on Sunday.
The Chargers secondary showed considerable improvement from Monday nights game.
Antoine Cason had an amazing game for his first start during a home opener, and it didn't take long for the emerging defensive back to show his skills.
With ten minutes left in the first quarter and Jacksonville moving the ball to near mid-field, Cason correctly judged an under-thrown pass by Jaguars quarterback David Garrard for an interception. Cason would return the ball 21 yards to give the Chargers good field position.
Cason, would grab another interception in the early minutes of the second quarter and on the Jaguars next series, Cason would force a fumble that would be recovered by Kevin Burnett as Jacksonville was driving towards the end-zone once again.
Strong safety Steve Gregory followed up his performance from Monday night with another solid showing. Gregory lead the Chargers secondary with eight solo tackles and five assisted tackles. Gregory is proving to be a valuable asset not only as a solid run stopper, but as a solid pass coverage man as well.
Special Teams, B+
Special teams looked totally different than what we had seen on Monday night.
I would have given Special teams an A letter grade, however there was one blemish on an otherwise flawless record.
A blocked punt.
Granted the Chargers are without special teams veteran David Binn who was placed on injured reserve in the middle of the week after sustaining a season ending hamstring injury.
The Chargers were in a scramble to find a replacement and signed ex-New York Jets long snapper James Dearth, however Dearth injured his foot in practice on Thursday and was placed on IR as well. The Chargers placed two long snappers on IR over two days.
Dearth's replacement, Ryan Neill was on a expedited learning curve, and it showed with a bad snap and the subsequent blocked punt, but seeing as how that was Chargers punter Mike Scifres only time spent on the field. It definitely could have been worse though.
Next Game: Seattle Seahawks, A
Week 3 for the Chargers finds them travelling to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Seahawks and new head coach Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks will be looking to rebound from the 31-14 walloping they received from the Denver Broncos on Sunday, so the Chargers will need to remain sharp and focused in order to improve to 2-1.
With the Ryan Mathews injury situation still uncertain, the Chargers may rely heavily on Mike Tolbert to carry the bulk of the rushing load.