For the first time this season, the Los Angeles Chargers were victorious as they defeated the New York Giants (0-5) 27-22 to improve their record to 1-4. Here are some Chargers takeaways from the road win.
Week Five Los Angeles Chargers Takeaways
Chargers Show Toughness in Ugly Win
In by far their ugliest game of the season, the Chargers managed to survive double digit penalties en route to a narrow victory.
The penalties (the Giants also had double digit penalties) were not the only factor that made this game ugly. Both team’s offensive line’s struggled to keep their quarterback clean. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers managed to get the ball away in time consistently. Rivers avoided being sacked, but he was hurried on most plays and faced pressure constantly. Giants quarterback Eli Manning wasn’t as successful evading the pass rush. The Chargers defense sacked Manning five times. Manning also fumbled late in the fourth quarter, which led to the Chargers seizing the lead.
Injuries also played a significant role in this game. While the Chargers remained healthy for the most part, the Giants lost many key players to injuries, including receivers Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham Jr. It was particularly painful to see Beckham Jr, widely considered one of the best players in the league, to be carted off the field, visibly in extreme pain. Beckham Jr. still made his mark on the game, finishing with five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Chargers Running Game Comes Alive
For the first time this season, Chargers star running back Melvin Gordon broke the 100 yard mark, totaling 105 yards on 20 carries (a solid 5.2 yard per carry). He was also extremely effective in the passing game, snagging six catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns, including the go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Gordon has struggled this season, looking somewhat hesitant behind a suspect offensive line. In week four against the Philadelphia Eagles, Gordon managed only 22 yards rushing on ten carries. The offensive line still struggled to provide Gordon with running lanes in this game, but it didn’t seem to matter. Gordon often plowed ahead, breaking multiple tackles frequently as he carried the team to multiple first downs. On other plays, he used his speed to outrun the defense to the sideline, and made defenders miss throughout the game. This is how Gordon played all last season, and he earned a pro bowl nod. Hopefully, this game signals a return to that aggressive playing style that enables him to be successful.
Chargers Defense a Strength at Times, a Weakness at Others
Overall, the defense performed well enough. They still look pretty ineffective against the run. However, they piled up five sacks. Their two turnovers (a forced fumble and recovery by defensive-end Melvin Ingram and interception by safety Tre Boston) essentially won them the game.
Essentially, it seems the defense does a couple of things well, and a few other things very poorly. They are one of the best pass rushing teams in the league. Ingram already has 7.5 sacks on the season, adding two of those in this game. 2016 rookie of the Year Joey Bosa also had two sacks in today’s game, bringing his season’s total to 4.5. They are also fairly good in pass coverage, though they struggled against the Giants. Casey Hayward, one of the best corners in the league and the 2016 leader in interceptions, allowed two touchdowns against the Giants, one of them to Beckham Jr.
This defense really struggles against the run, and it showed today. The Giants typically do not run the ball well, ranking 31st in rushing coming into this game. That didn’t matter as the Chargers 31st ranked run defense surrendered over 100 yards to the Giants running game. Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman excels at defending the run, but he has been out since early preseason. His return could be as early as the end of October. However, the Chargers need to figure something out before then.
The Charges will face their division rival the Oakland Raiders (2-2 heading into week five) in week six. Derek Carr, who injured his back against the Denver Broncos in week three, is expected to play. The Chargers first pick in the 2017 draft, receiver Mike Williams, is also expected to play. Fans have been anticipating his arrival, delayed by a herniated disk in training camp.
While this game was a good start, the Chargers have a long way to go to make the playoffs.