By Dave Thomas
With four losses in four weeks, the Los Angeles Chargers limp into the Meadowlands in New Jersey this coming Sunday for a date with the equally hapless New York Giants. Short of the game ending in a tie, something has to give.
When you looked at the Chargers’ schedule on paper before the start of the season, you more than likely had to circle a win or two in the first month of the season (including Oct. 1). As it turns out, this team is one of only a handful of winless clubs heading into the first full week of October. Yes, things can only go up from here.
Where’s The Running Game?
In breaking down the stats through four games, one glaring area is the lack of a steady running game.
Through the first month of the season, the Chargers have rushed as a team for 270 yards, with opponents grounding out 654 yards. Given some backs can easily churn out 100 yards a game and even come close to 200 yards, Los Angeles having a total of 270 in four games is not a good sign.
With the Los Angeles running game sputtering at times, that has left veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and his receivers having to pick up the bulk of the offense.
In the first four games, Rivers’ numbers are not atrocious, but certainly not ones that will jump off the page at you for all the right reasons. Rivers has thrown for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns to go along with four interceptions.
Keenan Allen has been healthy through four games, proving he can put up solid numbers when operating at or close to 100 percent. Allen has 24 receptions for 334 yards. Teammate Tyrell Williams is also off to a good start, hauling in 16 passes for 238 yards to date.
Can’t Keep Opponents From Scoring
Although they are certainly not the worst ‘D’ in the league, the Bolts have been giving up more points than they’d like. Through four games, opponents have scored 20 or more points in all but one contest, with Miami tallying 19 in its win over Los Angeles.
As they get ready to face the struggling Giants, the Chargers will look to put the clamps on Eli Manning and Co. In his four games to date this season, Manning has led a Giants squad that ranks 30th in the league in points scored with a meager 15 ppg.
The Giants have a brutal 59.2 yards per game rushing total through the first month. On the flip side, they are seventh in the league in averaging 265 yards passing each contest.
So the numbers tell the story pretty well heading into the fifth week of the season.
If Los Angeles can keep Manning in check, thereby forcing New York to rely on the run game, the Chargers have a good shot of bottling up New York’s offense. Then again, this is Eli Manning they are dealing with. As he has shown throughout much of his career, the two-time Super Bowl winner seems to be at his best when others are doubting him.
As for the Chargers, the doubts are already there after the first quarter of play this season (12 games remaining). While no one expected this team to contend for a Super Bowl this season, most probably expected the Bolts to have one or maybe even two wins by now.
On the bright side, the Chargers are playing on the road the next two games (Giants, Raiders). In doing so, they won’t be embarrassed with the lack of “home” fans at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Through three “home” games to date, that venue has looked like anything but a home field advantage for the Bolts.