What we learned from the Chargers’ 45-10 victory Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
THIS OFFENSE CAN STILL BE PRODUCTIVE: Playing against an opponent that appeared to be almost defeated by the end of the first half, the Chargers finally took full advantage of a reeling defense. The Jaguars had allowed 200 rushing yards in three of their last four games. The Chargers didn’t reach 200, but they did gain 195 on 30 attempts, an average of 6.5 yards per rush. They finished with 525 total yards on 58 plays, which is 9.1 yards per snap. “I think this is what we’re capable of when we’re a healthy football team,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “Moving forward, this is what we expect to see.” Philip Rivers finished with 314 yards passing and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor added a touchdown pass to tight end Virgil Green. Along with Austin Ekeler’s 112 yards receiving, Keenan Allen added 83 yards on five catches and Mike Williams 63 on two grabs. “If we could protect [Rivers],” Lynn said, “we felt like we could move the ball through the air against their secondary.” The Jaguars finished with only one sack.
RIVERS MIGHT NOT BE AS DONE AS PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT: For the first time since a Week 9 victory over Green Bay, the Chargers quarterback did not turn the ball over. Rivers finished a very efficient 16 of 22, throwing for three touchdowns. “I think that is the most important stat,” Lynn said of the absence of turnovers. “When we take care of the football, this is what we do.” Rivers had thrown eight interceptions in the previous three games. The Chargers punted only twice on a day when they scored six touchdowns. The 45 points were the most for a Chargers team since a 45-10 win over Arizona on Nov. 25, 2018. “It felt good all around,” Rivers said. “You know, a bit too little, too late in terms of our postseason hopes and our expectations coming into the season. But we still talk about finishing strong, and you’ve heard me say many times that ‘everything matters, every game matters,’ even though there’s no playoff implications. So, it was good to get a complete team win and a lot of the guys touched the football and contributed.” As a bonus, Rivers celebrated his 38th birthday on Sunday.
EKELER IS GRACIOUS — EVEN AS A HISTORY-MAKER: He joined Lionel James as the only member of the Chargers to gain 100 yards both rushing and receiving in one game, doing so on just 12 touches. Afterward, Ekeler gave a nod to just about everyone he could think of, including the coaches and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, who called the necessary plays to get Ekeler over the dual 100-yard marks before he was removed from the blowout win. “I thank them for that,” Ekeler said. “I thank my teammates, as well, for having my back and supporting me, for sure. Opportunities like these don’t come very often. You gotta take advantage.” Lynn said he was made aware of the history Ekeler was approaching during the game, but said he encouraged Steichen to “just call plays to win the game,” Lynn explained later. “I don’t care about no stats. But he ended up getting his stats anyway, so I was happy for him.”
THIS DEFENSE DESERVES A BETTER FATE THAN 5-8: History will remember the personal-best performances of Ekeler and Rivers. But history will forget the fact the Chargers actually trailed at one point Sunday. Jacksonville went ahead 3-0 with an opening drive that lasted 14 plays, netted 67 yards, and consumed more than half of the first quarter. After that, the Chargers permitted the Jaguars only 185 total yards as the defense continued to play admirably in this otherwise lost season. The Chargers also limited Jacksonville to two for 13 on third-down conversions after allowing the Jaguars to convert their first two. Rookie linebacker Drue Tranquill finished with eight tackles. Derwin James and Thomas Davis had six apiece. Joey Bosa had two sacks, giving him 10.5 for the season.