The San Diego Chargers bye week is here, which obviously means there will be no football this Sunday for the fans of the team.
In the spirit of the bye week, we figured it would be a good idea to grade how each position has performed up to this point for the team.
Many key injuries have stunted the flexibility of the offense. Steven Johnson, Jeff Cumberland, Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead, and Keenan Allen were all going to see significant playing time with the first-team offense. Though the team has been victimized by injuries, they have managed to be a productive unit. Here are their grades.
Phillip Rivers has been outstanding so far this year. I know he stunk up the joint last Sunday against Miami, but overall he’s been lights out. You have to take into account the fact that he’s playing without his security blanket, WR Keenan Allen. RB Danny Woodhead is also out, and even without those two key players, he is presently third in passing yards. He is presently at 2,886 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season, with 11 picks. His interceptions are up this season, but that is probably due to the fact he has a bunch of new faces in the receiver group. All in all not a bad year from the veteran QB. You cannot pin the troubles of the team on him. He has contributed.
Last season proved to be very tough for rookie Melvin Gordon, but in his sophomore season he has proven all doubters wrong. He has found the end zone 11 times so far this season after failing to score once last season. He still needs to improve in running between the tackles, because he still looks to bounce runs to the outside way too often. In the NFL, that type of running style will not work. The running back from Wisconsin is making the adjustments though, and not enough can be said about his character. He has excelled in pass blocking this year as well, and is also a threat out of the backfield on passing downs now. Melvin Gordon has truly made the jump to productive NFL running back.
Derek Watt and Kenneth Farrow round out the backfield. Watt has looked decent in his rookie campaign, but the team is still learning his abilities. Farrow has done well, coming virtually out of nowhere to become Gordon’s backup after the injuries to Oliver and Woodhead. He is a down-hill type runner who can also be used in the passing game. The 23-year-old was a nice find by the Chargers. Dexter McCluster had a brief cameo with the team before going down for the season with a freak injury suffered at home. It has been that kind of season for the Bolts.
This unit has been hard to grade. On one hand they’ve looked completely overmatched against a great pass rush, but they’ve been excellent in run blocking. Some of that can be attributed to Ken Whisenhunt‘s system, but to me, the fact that the unit has been healthy is the biggest factor in the level of play they’ve shown so far. If they can continue to stay healthy, look for Slauson, and maybe Fluker, to get some Pro Bowl consideration.
In this day and age of football, you need mismatches in order to stay ahead of defenses in the NFL. For years the Chargers have had one of the premier tight ends in the history of football in Antonio Gates, and although he started slowly because of injuries, he’s been back to his typical level in recent weeks. But what should have Charger fans excited for the future is the fact that Hunter Henry looks like a star in the making. He still has to learn the nuances of the position, but once he does, there’s no question that he will be a star in this league for a long time.
This position has been hit hard by injuries. When the season started, everyone was excited about Keenan Allen running underneath routes and Travis Benjamin taking the top off the defense. But Allen tore his ACL in the opener in K.C. and Bejamin has been on the shelf for the past few weeks. That has the position desperately thin. Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams have had their moments, but they’re not talented enough to be the primary choices for Rivers. All in all the unit has been productive, but without a true stud WR, the Chargers are limited in what they can do with the ball.
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