DEN-SD grades: Chargers rookies shine in low-scoring win
San Diego Chargers 21, Denver Broncos 13
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Chargers’ 21-13 win over the Broncos:
Quarterback grade: Trevor Siemian, 40.5
The book is out on Siemian
Teams are figuring out the Denver quarterback: Force him to throw deep. And chances are he still won’t. Even with the Broncos behind late in the game and needing multiple scores, Siemian still refused to throw anything other than underneath routes. On the day he completed only one of his nine attempts targeted 10-plus yards down the field. Those are abysmal numbers and the Chargers exploited it by squatting on underneath routes and giving Siemian nowhere to go.
Top offensive grades:
C Matt Paradis, 79.9
RB C.J. Anderson, 77.5
TE John Phillps, 74.4
FB Andy Janovich, 70.5
RB Devontae Booker, 70.5
Disappearing act for Thomas
One would think that, with 53 passing dropbacks, the Broncos’ highest-paid receiver would be featured heavily and put up some legit numbers. Instead he did the exact opposite and actively hurt the Broncos on his 10 targets. He had a crucial drop midway through the third quarter that could have turned into a first down, and the Broncos would be forced to punt two plays later. Then he had the (for all intents and purposes) game-ending fumble with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter. It was Thomas’ fourth drop and second fumble on the year in what’s been a lackluster start to his season.
Top defensive grades:
ILB Brandon Marshall, 87.4
OLB Von Miller, 84.3
CB Bradley Roby, 77.9
DT Sylvester Williams, 76.7
OLB Shaq Barrett, 76.4
Defense makes stops when it counts
It was an interesting night for the Denver defense. At times they struggled to get off the field as San Diego went on several long drives. But when it came down to needing to make a stop in the red zone, they were able to buckle down and get the top. After the Chargers’ opening drive, they made it to the red zone on four more occasions, yet Denver held them to field goals each time and allowed just 19 points. Von Miller and Brandon Marshall led the way on defense, particularly against the run where they combined for eight run stops. Bradley Roby had his first two pass breakups of the year. The Broncos were able to pressure Philip Rivers on 38 percent of his dropbacks, but were only able to convert that into one sack on the night.
Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers 67.9
Rivers calm under pressure
Philip Rivers wasn’t extremely productive, but he did have a mistake-free game in terms of turnover-worthy plays. He had some inaccurate throws and on passes outside the numbers and 10-plus yards downfield, he was just 1-for-5 for 18 yards. Rivers was actually at his best when he was under pressure. On his nine targeted throws, he completed eight of them including the Chargers’ lone touchdown of the game.
Top offensive grades:
T King Dunlap, 78.4
TE Hunter Henry, 73.1
T Joe Barksdale, 71.7
HB Melvin Gordon, 68.1
QB Philip Rivers, 67.9
Offense scores just enough in win
On several occasions the Chargers sustained long drives only to stall and have to settle for short field goals. Left guard Orlando Franklin threw Broncos’ DL Jared Crick to the ground on one play that helped spring HB Melvin Gordon for a 48-yard run, but otherwise the Chargers’ running game was largely ineffective. Gordon’s long run went for more yards than his 26 other carries combined (46) and he averaged less than 1.8 yards per carry on those 26 runs. Not a single Chargers player finished with an above-average run-blocking grade. While Hunter Henry struggled as a run-blocker, he had a solid game receiving, with six catches for 83 yards, both career-highs, and a touchdown for the third consecutive week.
Top defensive grades:
ILB Jatavis Brown, 85.5
ILB Korey Toomer, 84.6
OLB Melvin Ingram, 82.2
DE Joey Bosa, 82.0
NT Brandon Mebane, 80.7
San Diego rookies make big impact
This isn’t your 2015 Chargers run defense or anything close to resembling it. San Diego finally has the horses up front to not only limit a run game, but stop it in its tracks. Outside of a few runs late in the game, the Broncos running backs had nowhere to go for most of the game. A big reason for their defensive success was the rookie duo of Joey Bosa and Jatavis Brown. Brown had a huge sack and forced fumble down the stretch while Bosa was consistently applying pressure throughout the game with five hurries and a hit.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown
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