With their full complement of offensive weapons back it was supposed to be time to shine for the Jacksonville offense. 353 yards and a measly six points later and it’s back to the drawing board. The way Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense methodically marched up and down the field though it looked like they had the firepower to outscore whatever the Jaguars put up. San Diego showed its most balanced attack of the season, rushing for 158 yards and throwing for 276. It was also the second straight week the Chargers held their opponent in single digit points. Even though they are tied for a wild card spot as of now, two early season close losses in conference are killing the Chargers chances in their own division
With the win the Chargers improve to 4-3, but still have quite a bit of ground to make up on the 7-0 Chiefs and the 6-1 Broncos. They’ll have their bye next Sunday and then travel to Washington after that. With the loss the Jaguars drop to 0-7 and have now been outscored by 146 points on the season. Next week the 5-2 49ers come to visit Jacksonville.
San Diego – Three Performances of Note
Rivers (+2.6) flat out was not missing his targets on Sunday. The Chargers’ quarterback completed 22 of 26 passes and of those four misses, one was a batted pass, one was a throw away, and yet another he was hit as he threw. That means that on Rivers’ targeted passes, he went 22 of 23. The lone misfire occurred late in the third quarter on a hitch route to Keenan Allen where cornerback Will Blackmon got away with quite a lot of contact (Allen’s helmet literally came off). Even though 95.7 accuracy percentage wasn’t the best we’ve seen this season (it was second), it was still a masterful performance from Rivers.
Injuries to the Chargers offensive line resulted in a much different look for the latter half of Sunday’s game. After King Dunlap and Mike Remmers both went down with injuries, D.J. Fluker was shifted to left tackle while Jeromey Clary moved to right tackle and Rich Ohrnberger came in at right guard. While Clary didn’t allow a single pressure in his move back to his former position, Fluker took his lumps against some of the quicker defensive ends in the league. Jason Babin beat the rookie multiple times with a spin move when Fluker would overset to try to adjust to Babin’s speed. Fluker was also beaten with a pure speed rush by Andre Branch that resulted in Rivers being hit as he threw. After grading positively in pass blocking every game this season Fluker finally had a bad game switching to the left side with a -2.8 pass blocking grade.
Filling in Nicely
With Jarret Johnson inactive for the second straight week, Thomas Keiser was once again filling in at outside linebacker. This time, however, Keiser would not disappoint. The third-year defensive end out of Stanford had a career day rushing the passes. He picked up two sacks and five hurries for a pass rushing grade of +2.7. In his 14 career games prior, Keiser had failed to record more than three total pressures in a game. Keiser did his work exclusively from the right side going up where he played all 49 snaps matched up against Cameron Bradfield.
Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note
Mistake after Mistake
They say that good teams find a way to win and bad teams will find a way to lose. The latter couldn’t have been truer on Sunday. The Jaguars played far better than the 18 point deficit which they would eventually lose by, it’s just that they couldn’t capitalize on any opportunity handed to them. The list of mistakes is long and hard to look at. Sen’Derrick Marks (-0.9) personal foul penalty after a 2nd-and-24, Cecil Shorts two dropped potential touchdowns, Justin Blackmon (+0.1) failing to drag his toe, Brad Meester (+0.2) snapping the ball before the offensive line and Chad Henne were ready on a 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter, and Henne taking two sacks to push the Jaguars out of field goal range. Those plays are the reason why the Jaguars only put up six points despite gaining over 350 yards and averaging 6 yards per play.
Pasztor’s Pass Blocking Prowess
With rookie first round selection Luke Joeckel out for the season with an ankle injury the Jaguars have turned to Austin Pasztor to protect the right side of the Jacksonville line. In three games this season, the second-year tackle has shown a pass blocking proficiency beyond his years. Against the combination of Larry English and Kendall Reyes Pasztor allowed one hurry all day for a pass blocking grade of +2.6. In 190 snaps this season he has yielded four total pressures, good enough for the fourth best Pass Blocking Efficiency among tackles at 97.5. For an undrafted free agent in just his second season the results so far have been astounding.
No Challenge from Secondary
As impressive as Philip Rivers was on Sunday, the Jaguars coverages were equally unimpressive. A vast majority of Rivers’ completions were to receivers that were completely uncontested. Whether it was slant routes with completely free releases or zone hitches with incredibly late defenders, there were almost no catches that one would describe as contested. The Chargers receivers combined for 159 (out of 285) yards after the catch and broke six tackles. Alan Ball (-3.4), Geno Hayes (-5.5), and John Cyprien (-1.6) were the main offenders for a defense that had very few positive plays through the air.
– The Jaguars can thank wide receiver Mike Brown and his +1.5 screen block grade for their success on wide receiver screens. The Jaguars ran five such screens and gained a total of 36 yards with the shortest of the bunch going for 5 yards.
– Rivers’ average depth of target was just 5.7 yards, 2.3 yards lower than his season average.
– Antonio Gates caught six balls with the longest going for just 7 yards.
PFF Game Ball
Completing an ultra-efficient 22 out of 23 targets, Philip Rivers willed his offense to this win. Rivers made one huge mistake at the end of the first half, but was without a doubt the best player on the field throughout the rest of the game.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner