Here’s what we learned in the Chargers 30-13 win Sunday against Washington:
1. The defense isn’t one-dimensional
The Chargers, at least early in the season, were defined largely by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The team’s top pass rushers were the easiest players to notice. They were in the backfield, hitting the quarterback, forcing incomplete passes, interceptions and sacks.
But as the season has gone on — and it was clear against Washington — there’s been a more complete defensive effort in achieving domination.
On Sunday, Desmond King continued to show that he’s a big play waiting to happen. Casey Hayward locked down the receivers in his direction. Adrian Phillips and Jahleel Addae were physical tacklers despite being undersize. Corey Liuget dominated one-on-one blocking. Denzel Perryman took on a physical running back and stopped him for losses.
Sunday was the third straight time the Chargers held an offense to less than 300 yards. Though Bosa and Ingram have a big hand in that success, they’ve had plenty of help.
2. The offense isn’t one-dimensional
During the Chargers’ current four-game winning streak, Philip Rivers has been terrific, finding receivers open all over the field. On Sunday, he took shots deep, hitting Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams on plays longer than 55 yards.
But it’s not just the passing game.
The Chargers were much more efficient in the running game, getting production from Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, a one-two backfield punch that the team’s getting more comfortable with.
Add in trick plays — the Chargers’ third phase of offense — and the team was unstoppable in every aspect Sunday. They had a big reverse run for Travis Benjamin and a flea flicker for a big gain to Allen.
After trying to find balance throughout the season, the Chargers have suddenly taken off in the past month.
3. The coaching isn’t one-dimensional
Anthony Lynn has the Chargers’ respect because of his honesty.
Early in the season, he made it clear that he wasn’t afraid to call players out when they made mistakes. He did in the preseason. He did it in Jacksonville. He did it Sunday.
It’s helped his message land in the locker room — what he says, he feels. And that’s helped him retain a certain authenticity.
But it’s more than just messaging.
The Chargers’ defense continues to call the right plays, dialing up the right blitzes at the right time. The offense, which struggled with predictable play-calling earlier this season, all of the sudden looks fresh and exciting. And the special-teams units have made strides as the season has gone on.
On Sunday, the Chargers showed that they’re an improved team — and that’s not just because they have a coach that tells the truth.
Things aren’t that one-dimensional.