Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers finally won in Miami. It is the first time the Bolts beat the Dolphins in Miami since 1982. The game was unnerving for Chargers fans as the Bolts gifted the Dolphins their first lead of the season, but Los Angeles would eventually find their groove and put away the Dolphins in the second half. In the victory the Chargers displayed flashes of the dominant force they were a year ago. Although the Dolphins are not the greatest team to test one’s strength, the Chargers performance is a stepping stone in the right direction.
Chargers fans should be very pleased with the distribution to the wide receivers. This season the offense has been heavily reliant on Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen, and the two playmakers have been producing at amazing rates. It has also allowed defenses to adjust and focus on preventing those two from getting the ball. The biggest struggles for the Chargers offense have come when Ekeler hasn’t been able to get the ball in space or when Keenan Allen was denied the football. That lack of distribution transformed into tunnel vision for Philip Rivers and eventually resulted in two losses. Sunday against the Dolphins was different. Ken Whisenhunt quickly acknowledged the problem by allowing role players like Dontrelle Inman to step up, and it was obvious that Whisenhunt was in his play calling zone. The momentous play calling translated on the field as the offense just looked fluid and functioned better. To successfully call plays on an injured team is a great sign, and Melvin Gordon’s return helps expand the play book. The offense should be having healthier drives moving forward and are bound to hit their peak when Russel Okung, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry return.
The lack of production between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram has to be concerning. It is rare for the two to be on the field at the same time, and many felt they would be off to a dominant start. Coming into the game Bosa and Ingram only had 2.5 sacks combined, and Melvin Ingram suffered a hamstring injury before he had a chance to get another. Ingram is now expected to miss a few weeks, but at least the defense had success when blitzing. Once Ingram was sidelined, Gus Bradley dialed up multiple successful blitzes in the second half. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come because the injured secondary of the Chargers has been picked on for the better part of the season. The lack of a successful pass rush plus an inexperienced secondary have resulted in an unacceptable amount of receivers, tight ends, and running backs to get completely wide open. Let’s hope Ingram’s absence can elicit a spark in Bradley to call more blitzes and creative fronts for better production from the league’s top edge rushers. Most of the team’s success last year came from having extra defensive backs like Derwin James in the box. James’ injury undoubtedly hurts, but there are plenty of capable playmakers that can fill his spot for the time being. Desmond King had 2.5 sacks, and one of them came on a coverage sack where he met Josh Rosen at the goal line; however a defense cannot thrive with the majority of sacks coming from defensive backs. The whole defense has been underwhelming thus far.
It was exciting to see the Chargers finally put in their young talent. Forrest Lamp had my attention immediately. Even though he played a small sample size in garbage time, Lamp looked like he could easily start for this team. He has progressively earned more playing time over the past two weeks, and I’m convinced he needs another shot to audition for a starting role. There were also flashes of Nasir Adderly, Drue Tranquill, Jerry Tillery, and Andre Patton on the field. I would love to see more opportunities for these young men, but I am particularly excited for Patton to earn a solid role as a slot receiver. The recent injury to Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin’s inability to catch a potentially game tying football has opened up a huge door for Patton. He displayed great ability in the preseason and can have an emergence similar to Keenan Allen who came in for an injured Malcom Floyd. Patton already has more yards than Benjamin, and many feel he has a higher ceiling.
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