One week can make a massive difference in the NFL and that is certainly the case for the Los Angeles Chargers. They dominated the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, winning 26-11, and now have back-to-back wins for the first time this year. The fans are finally seeing signs of the Chargers returning to the form of last season, which carried them into the playoffs.
Sunday saw the debut of new Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen and the Chargers offense looked completely rejuvenated with him calling the plays. So far in 2019, the Chargers have struggled to make first downs and have seen their drives stall. But this was not a problem against the Packers as the Bolts managed to gain 24 first downs, compared to only 11 the week before.
Crossing routes were relied upon heavily in the play-calling by Steichen. This played to the strength of quarterback Philip Rivers, who has historically preferred to throw the ball quickly to his tight ends or running backs crossing the field. In the past, this has seen players like Antonio Gates and Darren Sproles excel; now it is time for Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler to shine.
Although this was a much better offensive performance by the Chargers, they will still be worried about their red zone efficiency, having managed to score a touchdown on fewer than 50% of red zone possessions. Instead in this game, the Bolts relied heavily on kicker Michael ‘Money Badger’ Badgely, who was playing his first game of 2019 after returning from an injury. Badgely was called upon to attempt five field goals in Sunday’s victory and he managed to convert four of those.
For a second consecutive game, the Chargers pass rush was excellent. Led by star players Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, LA recorded three sacks and seven quarterback hits. This limited Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to only 161 yards and one touchdown.
Last week, Rodgers threw for 305 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs so to halve his production is a massive positive for the Bolts defensive unit. They’ll need to replicate this performance in the upcoming weeks to better their playoff hopes.
Next up for the Chargers is a massive AFC West grudge match in Oakland against the Raiders on Thursday night. With both teams sitting on four victories each, this is a close match-up between two AFC Wildcard candidates.
Feature Picture – Credit: John McCoy/Getty Images