I felt really good about the Chargers chances before their Thursday Night Football matchup and I made it known on the latest episode of Bleav in LA Football. The matchup between the Bolts defense and the offense of the Raiders was the foundation of my confidence. The defense held the Raiders out of the end zone until Derek Carr hit Alec Ingold right before halftime. Philip Rivers threw a pick-six to safety Eric Harris early in the contest to get the Raiders their first touchdown.
The Chargers put together back-to-back scoring drives to start the second but the ebb and flow of the now Shane Steichen-led offense was painfully obvious. It is now time to discuss the realistic future of Rivers and the Chargers. He threw three interceptions and made multiple bad throws throughout the night. On the final drive where the Bolts only needed to get into field goal range, they gained zero yards. Rivers took unnecessary shots down the field and looked wildly inaccurate.
Tyrod Taylor and rookie Easton Stick are the current options sitting behind the 16-year veteran. Tyrod is one of the best backups in the league but I am not actually saying that Rivers’ short-term future needs to be talked about, but whether or not Phil is the best option moving forward beyond 2019. There are some intriguing quarterbacks in the free agency pool next year. Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and even Chargers 2004 draft pick Eli Manning have contracts expiring with their current teams. The one I think Tom Telesco should go all-in on? Teddy Bridgewater.
Man, if your a Chargers fan, Thursday left a really bad taste in your mouth because it was a game that Los Angeles not only needed to win, but should have won. Now they sit at 4-6 with a huge uphill battle to make a run at the playoffs. But then again, if your a Chargers fan, you’ve read this story and seen this movie before.
But back to Thursday. Let’s start with some positives.
Melvin Gordon definitely appears to be back in full form. The player that many fans wanted to ship out at the trade deadline now looks like a commodity that Tom Telesco should really explore extending this offseason if the price is reasonable. Gordon finished with 22 carries, 108 yards, and a touchdown against the Raiders. What was more impressive than his stats, however, was his running style. He looked very fluid and decisive in his running attack, hitting holes with consistency and explosiveness. He racked up some big gains and looked like his old self breaking tackles. I really liked what I saw out of Gordon.
Overall, I thought the defense played pretty well. They finished with three sacks (two by Melvin Ingram) and played well against the run. Rookie sensation Josh Jacobs was held to just 71 yards but had the game-winning touchdown on a critical down.
Due to costly turnovers, they were put in tough situations, but the D was able to hold their own and really made the Oakland offense look rather pedestrian for most of the game. The defense is trending up.
Now to the negative.
I feel like a broken record, but the offensive line needs a major overhaul, or maybe just a change in scheme. They gave up five sacks on the day and allowed pressure on their QB all game. LT Russell Okung left early in the contest and it just goes to show how important he is to this unit. The one bright spot has been Scott Quessenberry, who stepped in at center for the injured Mike Pouncey. He has excelled in run blocking and has been formidable in Pass-Pro.
One thing that can help a struggling offensive line is a mobile quarterback that can extend and expand the pocket. Unfortunately, at this point in his career, that is not going to happen with Philip Rivers.
Speaking of the All-Time great, Rivers had another doozy of a game as he cost his team points again. He finished with three interceptions, one was returned for a touchdown and the other was in the red zone on what could have been a Chargers touchdown, a 14-point swing.
It can’t go without saying what Rivers has meant to this franchise, but due to his play thus far a potential change should at least be a conversation. As I mentioned, how you help a struggling offensive line is with a more mobile quarterback. Well, Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick both sit on the depth and do just that.
If this is Rivers’ last season on the gridiron and/or in a powder blue uniform, I would love to see him ride off gallantly, but at some point, you have to look at the future. Could we see a change?
I don’t think it’s likely, but with the team heading to the bye week before a date with Kansas City in Mexico City, anything should be on the table.