Week 5 is here, and the Chargers find themselves back on track after a 2-game skid. The Chiefs were a worthy opponent, and the Bolts put up a good fight. But the Jaguars game? That was something else. I get it, they’re a much better team than they have been, but the lack of effort was what really hurt the most. Then, last week, us Chargers fans watched the Offense go crazy, and the Defense almost lose it. A loss would’ve hurt more than comfortable to even think about. But alas, the Chargers held on.
Now, the Chargers travel out to Cleveland for a bit of a mystery of a team undergoing a placeholder Quarterback and a shell of their formerly playoff-bound roster. But, there’s no doubt that the Browns are still a respectable squad. Chubb and Hunt alone could take down the Chargers. Thus, the Chargers, who were a pre-season Super Bowl contender, find themselves only favored 2.5 points.
Will they beat the spread? Most likely. This game could very well be a cakewalk on the way to smooth sailing ahead – back on schedule for the aspiring Bolts. Yet, there still needs to be certain things that happen in order to do such. Here’s what I think those keys are:
The Chargers Need to Block Myles Garrett
Sure, he’s injured – but even with one hand tied behind his back, he’s one of the best pass rushers in the league. And to make matters worse, our tackles are some of the WORST in the league now with Slater out. If Myles Garrett comes anywhere near Storm Norton, it’s almost a guaranteed sack – or a holding call that sends us backward. Plus, it’s not just the impact on THIS game, either – it’s an even scarier sight when you take Justin Herbert’s already-shaken body into consideration. But, one game at a time. Luckily, as mentioned, we won’t be facing Garrett at full speed, and there’s always a chance for double-teams, especially when there isn’t anything too scary on the other side of the Browns’ D-line. Or linebackers, for that matter. Regardless, things could get messy if Garrett begins to take over. Sort of like what Micah Parsons has been doing for the Cowboys – one single, dominant rusher can go a long way. And the Chargers need to take that into account, whether he’s battered up or not.
The Chargers Must Stop the Browns Run Game
Again, focusing on the Browns’ best – it doesn’t take a deep dive into the statistics to see that Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt pose a dangerous threat against a mostly-shaky Chargers run Defense. What’s even scarier, is that Chubb is a physical runner (as is Hunt, for that matter). The reason why it’s scary? Because the Chargers Defenders have a terrible habit of not wrapping up. Sure, it’s gotten much better – but I think most of us Bolts fam would agree that it’s still a sensitive subject. But, staying on the positive side, the greatest significance there is that if we stop the run, it’ll cause the Browns to become one-dimensional. And that’s a dimension we can live with. Jacoby Brissett is one hell of a back up, but isn’t doing too hot as a starter. Furthermore, Amari Cooper is definitely playing better, but he also can’t dominate a game to victory (knock on wood). If the Bolts can make the Browns pass-heavy, the Chargers will come out on top.
The Chargers Need to Score Early, and Score Often
Sure, this one is stating the obvious – but with how the Chargers’ Defense has been playing lately, it’s integral that Herbert and company strike first. Furthermore, it’s been a common theme throughout recent Chargers history to blow leads. Either that, like us fans even saw earlier this year, was the lack of taking advantage of stops. That’s what was scariest. It’s as if the Defense gets too comfortable, when in reality – it should be quite the opposite. When you can afford to bring the house, you should. You have the luxury of Murphy’s Law where the blitzes don’t “get home”, and coverage is blown. However, even with our improved quality of Defensive Backs, this is an area that should be emphasized. Bosa’s absence hurts the Chargers immensely, but luckily there’s still Mack, Joseph Day, and Jackson who have proven to be effective. And this responsibility to take chances goes the other way, too. If, and when, the Chargers get a lead – that’s where shots can be taken! Too often we fans have seen Lombardi and Staley go into game management mode, which is contrary to the whole “culture” Staley is pushing. I get it, LA don’t want to push Herbert’s body too much, but that doesn’t mean a green light to give up. And if so, the Chargers better hope Ekeler is still cooking from last week – and if he is, it’ll be a much easier path to victory.
What a surprise, Run Defense is the objective here. However, it’s been quite evident that the Chargers have revamped their run D into a respectable corps. Yet, it’s not just the run D – there are plenty of other factors in play, as well. Hell, for all we know (and how the year’s gone thus far) – David Bell could have his coming out party. Jacoby Brissett might go for 300+. Who knows?
But that’s just football – for better, or for worse. You gotta love the surprises unless it happens to you. That’s where the coaching, the scheming, and the game-planning come into play. I won’t pretend I’m any smarter than Brandon Staley – so I’d like to assume he’s got the gang preparing for Chubb, Hunt, and Garrett. And now, it’s time to put that plan into effect. Here’s to hoping the Chargers begin playing like the contenders we all thought they’d be. We saw in Week 1 that it’s possible, and Sunday could be the day the Bolts get back on track…