Los Angeles, CA (CBSLA)- It’s not often that you see a team fire an offensive coordinator after a win. But that’s exactly what the Los Angeles Chargers did this week in moving on from Ken Whisenhunt following a 17-16 victory over the Chicago Bears.
The move would certainly seem to be warranted based on the Chargers’ performance on that side of the ball this season. The team ranks 23rd in the league in scoring (19.6 PPG) and 28th in rushing averaging just 69.5 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. NFL On CBS analyst Boomer Esiason points to that lack of running the ball, or even attempting to, as one of the reasons for the move. And, in the aftermath, he believes the team will return to the ground game.
“You have to continually try to run the ball, especially with Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon,” said Esiason. “If they fire an offensive coordinator, it means that they don’t like the fact that they aren’t trying to run the ball enough. They are going to get back to that. That is going to be a big part of their staple this game.”
By this game, Esiason is referring to Sunday’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers. Winners of four straight since a Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay looks to be the best team in the NFC and in the conversation for best in the league. The Packers defense did show some cracks against the run game in that loss to Philly, and the Cowboys and Raiders had some success on the ground as well.
But, even if the Chargers are able to get the running game going, they are going to have to keep up with the Packers offense, which has been, Esiason notes, on fire in the last three weeks, thanks in large part to the play of their star quarterback.
“Aaron Rodgers is playing great football once again,” said Esiason. “His performance in Kansas City this past weekend was nothing short of brilliant. That is the Aaron Rodgers, combined with a run game and a quality coach calling the plays, that is the danger team that everybody has to worry about.”
Last week against the Chiefs, Rodgers threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. The week prior, against the Raiders, Rodgers was even better, eclipsing the 400-yard mark, with five touchdown tosses. He has done all of this without his top target in wide receiver Davante Adams, who has missed the last four weeks due to a toe injury. Adams has been back at practice this week and could return to the lineup on Sunday.
The offense has been explosive and, despite some struggles at times against the run, the Packers defense has been much improved. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine oversees a unit that ranks 11th in scoring defense (20.4 PPG) and features a ferocious pass rush, thanks to the duo of Preston and Za’Darius Smith. The Smiths have combined for 15 sacks this season. On the back end, corners Jaire Alexander and Kevin King have blanketed receivers, breaking up a combined 19 passes with four interceptions.
It is that combination of improved defense and an offense in full rhythm that has Esiason seeing this as a tough game for the Chargers to win. And, he mentions one other factor that he believes plays to Green Bay’s favor.
“Remember, even though they are playing in L.A., this game will be like a Packer home game,” said Esiason. “The Packer fans will flock to L.A. to see this game.”
Kick off between the Chargers and Packers is set for 1:05 p.m. Pacific Time on CBS.