After losing the “battle of L.A.” to the Rams last week, the Chargers bounced back to get to .500, with a 29-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
It was far from plain-sailing for the Bolts as they couldn’t get out the gate in the first quarter, but managed to recover to pick up an important victory. Lets divulge in some talking points from Sunday.
The Chargers couldn’t have started worse. Firstly, from the third play from scrummage, Philip Rivers overthrows Keenan Allen and gets picked off by Antone Exum. The defensive back would take it all the way for 6. On the team’s third drive, they started to get going, including a 4th down conversion in their own territory. However, they stalled at the 49ers’ 36-yard line, setting up a 54-yard field goal attempt for Caleb Sturgis. The former Eagle missed, wide right, and the Chargers were still pointless. After finding themselves 14-0 down, they could finally hit back. Rivers found Gates, who had the freedom of half the endzone, for his first touchdown of 2018. Then, more kicking woes. Good snap, good hold, just bad kicking. Sturgis would go on to miss ANOTHER extra point, and at that point it got embarrassing for everyone. In the end, it didn’t cost them, but on another day, it’s 5 points the Chargers could have needed. Something must change.
On to some positives. Derwin James was arguably the best player of the field on Sunday. 7 combined tackles, a sack, 2 pass deflections, a tackle for loss and a game clinching play – not bad. James showed all the attributes on Sunday; athleticism, speed, range, physicality and timing. His play to essentially end the game just displays the effect he can have on the Chargers defense now, and in the future. A big time player, making big time plays. With the Chargers up by 2, and 3 minutes to go, James, rushing from the edge, gets to QB C.J. Beathard in a flash. He manages to effect the throw, and the ball flies straight into the grateful hands of Isaac Rochell. The majority of James’ plays happened in and around the line of scrummage. This is where the Chargers have a problem. Jahleel Addae is being forced to play as the deep safety, which his skill set is not suited too. Even when Addae has been further up the field, he has not shown anything like his 2017 form. With no genuine free safety on the roster, this could become a bigger problem for the coaches as the season progresses.
Positive Special Teams?
Good special teams play is a rarity within the Chargers organization within recent years. They may have found a punt returner, however. JJ Jones has had the role for first three weeks after winning the job in preseason, but was a healthy scratch on Sunday. With Travis Benjamin back healthy, that was be the obvious choice, but the Chargers coaches surprised us. Kick returner Desmond King took the duties and impressed. Just before the half, he broke a return for 56, only to be stopped “illegally” by the 9ers kicker, a penalty that should have been called. Usually when King receives kick offs, nine times out of ten there is no return. So moving him to punt return, gives him a proper chance to show his wiggle and burst.
That’s just a few things I picked up on in the Chargers second win of the season. The team stays at home for week 5, as they face division rivals Oakland Raiders.
– Thomas Herd is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter