And just like that; BUMP! We’re back down to earth.
A 4-1 streak in the 5 weeks leading up to this clash had a lot of hot-take artists (myself included) very excited. Seattle was being tipped for the playoffs. Expectant fans were studying the schedule, whimsily predicting our wins, losses, potential tiebreakers and playoff opponents. But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that.
There’s no shame in losing to the Chargers. I see them as probably the 3rd or 4th best team in the AFC, putting them 5th or 6th overall. But this felt like a regression. Even in the loss to the Rams (the better of the two LA teams), we showed promise. The Offense could compete and the defense was making key stops. This week, it was like watching last year’s stuck-in-the-mud offensive group.
Anyway, let’s do some analysis.
Melvin Gordon is a different class of back. He’s probably the most electrifying running back in the league not named Todd Gurley. So these guys had their work cut out. Another obstacle to contend with is Phil Rivers and his quick-rhythm passing. We really didn’t have a lot of time for the D-line to make plays. In spite of this. Frank Clark and Jarran Reed managed to chalk up some sacks and the workrate of the big fellas up front was first class.
That being said. There were far too many big holes for Melvin Gordon to run through and our boys got pushed around a lot in the run game.
Bobby Wagner does not switch off for a second. Once again leading the team in tackles. He also proved a force in the passing game, chalking up 3 defended passes in a vintage performance. Complemented by KJ Wright on the weakside, and Barkevious Mingo (still love the name) also making a more understated effort. I feel this group is peaking, as KJ Wright gets more gametime under his belt. With hard hits, relentless workrate and first class athleticism, they get my joint-highest mark of the week.
There were too many big gains for Melvin Gordon, but I think a lot of that is to do with the runner’s class and the great blocking by the LA linemen. It could have been far worse than 113 yards but giving up 7.1 ypc is not a great stat line when facing any running back.
One thing I’d like to see from this group moving forward would be a little more blitzing from the strong side. Mingo is an underrated pass rusher and I’d love to see him get into the backfield a little more.
That was a tough game. With both starting safeties missing snaps, and a pinpoint passer playing behind a solid offensive line, our defensive backs were always starting on the back foot. I think Tedric Thompson has performed admirably since Earl Thomas’ injury, but there is definitely a drop off in performance (as you’d expect when you lose a perennial all-pro).
That’s not to say he didn’t make plays, because he did. But there were two key missed plays that led to LA’s second TD, the first wasn’t solely on him, but he was first on the scene to tackle Keenan Allen, who was wide open for a huge gain. Then he whiffed on the tackle, giving up yet more yardage. The very next play, he missed another tackle on Melvin Gordon as he raced into the end zone for a 34 yard gallop. Again, not saying it’s all his fault, but you feel Earl Thomas would make those plays.
Play of the night from this position group came from Tre Flowers. After being caught out of position on an end zone bomb from rivers, he made a wonderfully athletic play to deflect the ball away from an end-zone bound Tyrell Williams. Overall a mixed bag.
Now then, this is where my disappointment really lies. After a perfect game against Detroit last time out, Russell seemed to go back to Weeks 1 and 2 of this season. Whether the play calling was to blame, with a distinct lack of short, rhythmic passes to move the chains, I can’t really tell. What I did see though, was a Quarterback trying too hard to make something happen.
Russell’s performance was reminiscent of his week 2 tilt against the Bears. He held the ball too long, lost major yardage on sacks (2 sacks went for 13 yards EACH), and threw a pick six at a critical juncture. There could have been another pick too, were it not for poor hands on the part of a chargers Linebacker near the end of the second quarter.
Throws like this are uncharacteristic of late. I do think that Russ wasn’t helped by the loss of Chris Carter to a hip injury (sigh). He does, however, need to shoulder a significant amount of the blame for this loss. I’ll give Russ some credit though, there are very few quarterbacks in the league who could have led two scoring drives in the last six minutes against this Chargers team, and he very nearly became one of them.
Chris Carson is looking more and more like a feature back in this offense. Early in the game, the second year man made some really nice runs for chunk gains, and anchored a ground game that propelled the team to an early lead. Were it not for his hip injury, I feel the final result may have been different.
I genuinely think that Chris is the most important part of our offense right now. Our performances hinge on establishing the run early, and though Mike Davis is a good complementary back, I’m hesitant to say he can carry the load alone. Rashaad Penny made some nice plays, but we’re going to need Carson healthy for the rest of the season to make a serious run at the playoffs.
Oh David Moore. I’ve been singing your praises over the past few weeks, and you’ve deserved it. But that final play!! Can’t be too harsh though, we shouldn’t have been relying on that to take the game to overtime in the first place. But man if he’d made that catch. On the whole, it was a pretty nondescript day for the receivers. Doug Baldwin looks to be getting back to full health but it was a quiet day all in all. Nick Vannett is becoming a safety blanket of sorts in the middle of the field, almost in the mould of Zach Miller. And Ed Dickson is proving to be a nice complimentary piece.
We haven’t been throwing the ball much of late, so every play means something for this group if they want to make a difference. A lot of the incomplete passes weren’t on these guys, and aside from a couple of drops, it was an O.K day.
A weird one. The guys gave up four sacks this past Sunday. For the first time, however, I feel they’re not the main culprit. They were victims of Russ holding the ball too long, and playing a great LA pass rush, even without Joey Bosa. Germain Ifedi got blown past by Melvin Ingram for his sack but he’s not the first lineman to have that happen to him and certainly won’t be the last.
The play is improving but we’re still giving away silly penalties. This group isn’t the turnstile they used to be, but there’s still work to do. It was nice to see that Joey Hunt stepped in well once we lost DJ Fluker late in the game. We finally have a little depth at this key position group.
Not perfect, with a missed field goal from 50 plus yards, but heck, we’re better than the Chargers!!
A disappointing result, and with the Rams in LA next week, we’re in danger of slipping out of playoff contention. Personally I think we’re going to have to either beat Kansas City at home or Carolina on the road, as well as Green Bay and Minnesota to stand any chance of making the playoffs. Both will be tough. But let’s not let our support waiver, not that I’d expect it to, EVER. GO HAWKS!!!