The Los Angeles Chargers walked away from Sunday victorious in typical thrilling fashion. It was the first time the Chargers have won their season opener since 2015, but the victory did not come without any losses. From injuries, glaring weaknesses, and strengths we shall take a look at the overall first impressions of the 2019 Los Angeles Chargers.
Old reliable Philip Rivers was his regular nothing short of amazing self. Rivers had to deal with an inconsistent pocket and go against a good defense, but was still able to do an efficient job racking up 333 yards, three touchdowns, and a passer rating of 121.3. Rivers and Keenan Allen did not miss a beat, and the two looked impressive as ever. Allen was unstoppable and looks poised to have a career year, but the real star on Sunday was Austin Ekeler. Ekeler compiled 154 yards from scrimmage along with three touchdowns and has all of the highlights to show for it. What is even more impressive is that he appeared to improve his ability to run between the tackles. Ekeler’s growth as a runner up the middle should scare defenses considering that his career was built upon being used in space and on the outside. Ekeler’s continued growth and production proves he has the potential to be an elite running back. I truly believe his best level of play can be compared to the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and James Connor. Assuming Gordon returns, the Chargers have an argument for the best backfield in all of football. It might be the best Chargers backfield since Tomlinson, Turner, and Sproles.
The biggest disappointment was the inability to stop the run. In the playoffs last year, the Chargers were run all over by the Patriots, and they ended up spending the whole offseason trying to correct the run defense. Then the second half of Sunday happens, and the defense comes out flat and was embarrassed. Simply put, the Chargers have too much talent and playmakers on defense to not be an effective run stopping team. Maybe the Chargers are missing Derwin James more than I thought they would. It was still only week one and the Colts have a great offensive line, however Gus Bradley is too good of a coach to allow that type of performance on Sunday.
In the victory, Hunter Henry suffered a tibial plateau fracture to his left knee and there was no timetable given for his return. Michael Davis also suffered a hamstring injury, and his return is not specified either. Davis’ injury leaves the Chargers shorthanded at corner back, and the team has responded by signing former 49er Dontae Johnson. Henry and Davis now join Derwin James, Russell Okung, Denzel Perryman, and Melvin Gordon on the list of key players that are designated to return. Luckily the Chargers have favorable games for the first half of the season. After which these key players should return for a strong playoff push. Historically, injuries have been the downfall of this team, but it may be a blessing in disguise to have these impactful players return at full health later on in the season.