I’m not surprised to see this question pop up at this point in the season. It’s understandable after following a offseason that was chalk-full of pundits and analysts Chargers T-Shirts
, alike, staking the claim that the Chargers’ had the best group of wide receivers heading into the 2018 season.However, that claim is losing some footing after three-straight weeks of single-catch performances for Mike Williams prior to last Sunday’s zero-target game versus the Oakland Raiders.After a slow start to the season, Tyrell Williams has definitely upped his productivity/efficiency and Keenan Allen finally got back into the endzone for the first time since week 1 against the Chiefs.Are the Chargers’ wideouts really overrated? I personally do not think so. In fact, I think it comes down to a few key stats.The Chargers are near the top of the league in terms of total offense per game but find themselves near the middle or bottom in passing statistics such as Passing Attempts Per Game, Total Passing Attempts, and Passing Yard Per Game where they rank 30th (out of 32), 24th, and 13th, respectively.So it is not so much that the Chargers’ wideouts are underperforming but that the team hasn’t thrown it nearly as much as some of the other top teams. With Melvin performing at such a high rate on the ground, Rivers hasn’t been asked to sling it nearly as much as Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, or Jared Goff.Pancakes, fasho.Also https://www.chargersfanstore.com/hats
, I still think Derwin James has a lead on Desmond King as the team’s defensive MVP. King has the interceptions and the lone pick-6, but James has the better all-around stats. He has an interception to his name, 3.5 sacks, and he leads the team in tackles.As a rookie safety, you can’t get much better than that.Honestly, I don’t think anything with this game, good or bad, would cause me to lose faith in this team for the rest of the season. Even if it was a blowout, I would not lose faith. Would I be extremely pissed and use every ditry, filthy, disgusting word in the dictionary to help myself vent my frustration? No s***.But after seeing the Buffalo Bills embarrass the Minnesota Vikings at Minnesota earlier this season, I gotta keep in mind that crazy things can happen any given Sunday.My worst case scenario for this game, however, would be a complete shutdown of the run defense.Case Keenum is not going to put the team on his back in this one. If the Broncos are looking for a victory Chargers Hoodie
, it will have to be delivered on the back of Phillip Lindsay. I don’t know how plausible that scenario since the Broncos are now down one of their starting guards and center for the foreseeable future.As I look over the Broncos’ roster, I don’t see many glaring holes within it. With a top-ten pick, teams will usually look for the important positions such as quarterback, offensive tackle, edge rusher, and cornerback. However, the Broncos are fairly solid at all these spots (minus QB but that can’t be my choice).I think the Broncoswould be wise to take one of the top OTs in the draft in order to groom behind Jared Veldheer as the former Arizona Cardinal is currently on the wrong side of 30.A guy like Alabama’s Jonah Williams or Ole Miss’ Greg Little would be an excellent choice. While Williams has a higher floor, Little would provide elite athleticism for the position and most of his issues can be coached up once he is out of the Rebel’s pass-happy offense.I wouldn’t mind this move, actually. Adrian Phillips has grown in his role as that dime linebacker after his first season seeing major action in 2017. He looks like he put on some weight and better prepared his body for the things the coaches have asked of him. It is such a shame to see Kyzir White slowly disappear into irrelevancy following a bright start to the season but Phillips has done a phenomenal job of allowing the defense to not skip a beat. Now without MLB Denzel Perryman on the year, the middle of the Chargers’ defense is going to look much lighter going forward. LB Jatavis Brown is only 225 pounds and Hayes Pullard is not much more at 230.If the linebacking core is going to get smaller regardless, I’d prefer to gain some extra MPHs, in return. Sunday night is going to pit two of the top teams in the NFL against each other in primetime with the Chargers traveling to the east coast to take on the Steelers at frigid Heinz Field.Both team’s possess explosive offenses with a plethora of play-makers scattered throughout each roster.This game, however, is special for a few other reasons.Sunday night’s matchup also includes two sets of brothers: The Watt brothers and the Pouncey brothers.Mike Pouncey is the Chargers’ newest pivot while Maurkice has been the Steelers’ starting center since he was drafted. Derek Watt was drafted in the sixth-round by the Chargers in 2016 while T.J was selected in the first round of the 2017 draft. This will be the first time that the Watt brothers have played against each other as professionals.You also can’t forget that Sunday’s quarterback matchup is another battle between two of the top quarterbacks drafted back in that vaunted 2004 draft class with Philip Rivers facing off against Ben Roethlisberger.The last time these two teams met was also during primetime but the Steelers were being led by Michael Vick instead of Big Ben. That game was a heart-breaker in the truest sense for Chargers fans.After Josh Lambo hit a career-long 54-yard field goal to give the Chargers the lead Doug Flutie Color Rush Jersey
, Vick, along with Le’Veon Bell, marched right down the field before Bell took in the walk-off touchdown to elevate the Steelers over the Bolts.For the most part, that game is still seared into my memory and this week’s game has obviously brought up some unwanted nostalgia. But everyone knows that the best way to forget bad memories is to replace them with better ones. This Sunday, I hope to do just that.1.) Will the Steelers get back to James Connor and the ground game?Through the first nine games of the season, it seemed like the Steelers were willing to run Connor into the ground in order to prove a point to spite Le’Veon Bell. From weeks one through 10, Connor received 18.8 carries a game with a high of 31 during their week one matchup against the Cleveland Browns.Following their week nine bye week, there was a significant drop-off in his totes per game as he has only averaged 11.6 carries in his last three games. In those games Connor has only scored a single touchdown while averaging just 44.3 rushing yards per game.Although the Chargers’ run defense has improved quite a bit since last season, they were exploited in the red zone against the Broncos who scored three times on the ground. That literally doubled the amount of rushing touchdowns allowed by the Bolts on the season. Even after that down performance, the Chargers are still tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the fourth-least amount of rushing scores allowed with six.The Chargers unfortunately rank a bit lower in rushing yards allowed per game as they let up 107.5 yards per game which is good for 13th-best in the NFL.The team might be in for another game of keep-away if the Steelers decide to keep themselves ahead of the chains while converting third-and-short after third-and-short, which are situations where Connor’s skill-set can really flourish.2.) How will the secondary handle one of the best WR duos in the league in Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster?It’s been well-documented this season that the secondary has had their fair share of struggles following a stellar 2017 season.After collecting 11 interceptions over the last two seasons, Casey Hayward has yet to record a single pick through the team’s first 11 games of this year. Trevor Williams, the usual starter across from Hayward, has been dealing with a nagging injury over the past couple weeks but was in Coach Lynn’s doghouse prior to that when he was benched for second-year cornerback Michael Davis.Williams had a an interception earlier in the year but the majority of their interceptions stem from some of their youngest players on the team like Desmond King Trevor Williams Color Rush Jersey
, who leads the team with three picks, and Derwin James, who snagged his second interception last week against the Arizona Cardinals.Brown and Smith-Schuster are both among the top-20 in a plethora of receiving categories, which include catches of over 25 yards, yards after catch, and receiving yards per game.Luckily for the Chargers, they are tied for sixth in the league with three other teams in passing touchdowns allowed with 16. They are also eighth in the league in terms of passing yards allowed per game with 227.The difference here will be how Big Ben performs while in the red zone. He currently leads the NFL with four interceptions thrown in the red zone while having the third-worst passer rating from inside the 20-yard line (72.4).3.) Will the offense look much different without Melvin Gordon?The biggest theme of this week’s game has been the ensuing absence of Melvin Gordon for at least a few weeks after he suffered a MCL sprain against the Cardinals.Many have pondered how the offense is going to look and how much is actually going to change without the team’s workhorse back. If I had to put money on it, I do not believe Coach Lynn will have to change much at all with Ekeler as his starting back. If there is anything to take away from the Titans game in London, it’s that Ekeler wasn’t able to flourish in a prominent role and like much of us expected.Ekeler is more than capable of doing everything that Gordon can. He is among the top-5 in yards after contact and can be a hassle on the ground and through the air. Some may argue that Ekeler’s efficiency stems from his complimentary role to Gordon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the coaching staff give rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome a good amount of carries while still utilizing Ekeler around the formation. In the end, I feel pretty good about Jackson stepping into a much larger role after lengthy career of running the ball in the Big Ten. After all, he was a four-year starter at Northwestern where he became one of nine players in conference history to run for 1,000+ yards in each of his our seasons on campus.I like his experience and I don’t believe the stage will be too big for the rookie.