In a game with two stacked, star-heavy rosters to open out the season – we did it. This meant a lot, considering what happened the last time the Chargers faced Las Vegas. Furthermore, we won a game that our teams of previous years would’ve blown. While our victory shouldn’t be a HUGE surprise, as the Justin Herbert era has garnered wins against loaded teams before (cough, cough, CHIEFS) – but, anything can happen in Week 1. “Anything” happened, indeed. Our Defense did a complete 180, and played lights-out most of the game. Even still, Davante Adams torched us for 141 yards. Justin Herbert didn’t have a great game (to his standards). Austin Ekeler wasn’t much of a factor. Mike Williams was ZERO factor. And yet, we still won. So, how did we do it?
Chargers Role Players
We all know our roster is stacked, but in the AFC West – so is everyone else. It’s the guys between the big names that will win you big games. Look at what Gabe Davis did for the Bills before he was a “big name”. And for the Bolts, it was the role players who came through. Sure, Khalil Mack had 3 sacks. Yeah, Herbo threw for 3 TD’s. But, the reason we came away with a dub was because of what everyone else did. I’m talking about Drue Tranquil with the pick. I’m talking about DeAndre Carter with the TD catch. With JC Jackson out, Asante Samuel Jr. came through. With Keenan Allen going down, DeAndre Carter, of all people, had a day! Even Gerald Everett and Joshua Kelley contributed with some key 3rd down conversions. This is what we needed. Unexpected players stepped up, and it proved to be crucial.
We Brought the Pressure
Pressure is key, especially with not-so-mobile QB’s like Derek Carr. Whereas someone like Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen might have escaped and created – Carr was flustered. And it showed. Want to know how we had three interceptions? The guys up front. Look at what won us the game – a strip sack by Khalil Mack. While Bosa didn’t have a game up to his standards, you can expect that when you’re getting double-teamed. However, we used this to our advantage, as the “other guys” were able to get home. And, even though we weren’t sacking Carr every time, we were in his face, and it led to poor decisions. To have three interceptions without JC Jackson is phenomenal. Davante Adams had a day – but if JC was locking him up, and we brought the pressure? This game wouldn’t have even been close.
New-Look Chargers Run Defense
Josh Jacobs ran for 6 yards in the first quarter. I repeat, SIX YARDS. Compared to what we saw last year, it was like the skies parted! Granted, we still held the Raiders’ rushing attack to 64 yards all game – but the second half was a whole different story. Josh Jacobs came out with a full head of steam. They were running up the field like it was nothing. Their O-Line was gaining ground. It appeared as if we were showing our true colors. Sure, there are factors to consider – the heat, and the first game of the year – but it was scary. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take 64 any week – but the beginning of the second half nearly gave us PTSD. Our tackling was much, much more solid – and our guys rallied to the ball. Hell, I even saw Kenneth Murray in there a few times! This was a test against a mid-level back, but it showed promise…
While Davante Adams went beast-mode on us, we did shut down Hunter Renfrow and kept Darren Waller at bay. Sure, our Offense wasn’t as explosive as we all expected, but I think we can count on them to get it together. Mike Williams was a non-factor, so let’s keep an eye on that. We don’t have too much time to celebrate, with the Chiefs match on Thursday, let’s take it one game at a time.
Stay tuned for my next article, “What We Need to See in Week 2 Against the Chiefs” – where I’ll discuss the not-so-great aspects of the game. But hey, now’s a time to celebrate. We got the dub, and things are looking good…
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