John Woz, Jr. | October 20th, 2019
The matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Tennessee Titans features two teams with 2-4 records. Last season’s matchup was a closely run game at Wembley, London. Both teams are desperate for wins as the season approaches the halfway point.
The Chargers aren’t looking anything like the team many expected to make the playoffs for a second year. Chargers football has been painful to watch this year. The opposition has outscored the Bolts 38-0 in the first half this year.
It hasn’t been entertaining for Titans fans either. Head coach Mike Vrabel benched Marcus Mariota in the week six loss at Denver. Vrabel’s introduction of Ryan Tannehill didn’t kick-start the offense, who were shutout by an improving Broncos team.
Chargers are in a Flat Spin
It’s frustrating to read mock draft posts predicting Tom Telesco will draft Philip Rivers’ successor in the first round. Telesco needs to address the offensive line in next year’s draft, how he goes about that is anyone’s guess. Rivers isn’t getting the protection he needs, and the offense is stalling.
Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen flew out of the gates at the beginning of the season but the last two games have been ugly. Ekeler has had eight carries for 21 yards through the past two weeks. Seeing those numbers is insanely frustrating, but it gets worse. Allen had three monster games in the first three weeks of the season, but the wheels have come off. Allen had 11 receptions for 99 yards in weeks four through six. Those numbers won’t win football games.
The return of Hunter Henry was about the only positive for the Chargers in last week’s defeat to Pittsburgh. Henry had 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns, but he’s struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.
The absence of Derwin James and Melvin Gordon is being felt. The versatility of James brought balance to the secondary. Joey Bosa is carrying the load and he must have a big game on Sunday if the Bolts are to come away with the win.
Don’t Blame Rivers
So, who is to blame for the ‘flat spin’? Injuries haven’t helped the Chargers cause, but the buck stops with the front office and the coaches. Rivers, Gordon and Allen are proven players at their respective positions. The Chargers haven’t addressed the offensive line, and that’s unacceptable. Don’t point the finger at Rivers.
Trent Brown stuffed Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in last season’s defeat to New England. Brown left the Patriots only for the enemy to sign him. Did the Chargers front office have their eyes shut when they saw Brown’s overwhelming shutdown of the pass rush? The play calling and game management stink, however, they’re fixable facets of the game.
Finding a Place for Gordon
Gordon’s return to the locker room should have been a positive for the franchise but his presence hasn’t translated to productivity on the field. Gordon has had 20 carries for 49 yards in two games. his lack of productivity is another negative situation on the field. Ken Whisenhunt has had several weeks to figure this out. Surely Gordon’s form has to improve, it needs to, and quickly.
Chargers Injury Update
Nasir Adderley, Justin Jackson, Justin Jones, and Brandon Mebane have all been ruled out for the game while Ingram is doubtful. Russell Okung won’t be activated this week and will have to wait till next week to make his season debut.
Both the Titans wins came against the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons. The Titans have the number eight ranked defense in the league, and they don’t give up too many points. A solid front-seven will provide a tough test for the Chargers.
The biggest concerns for Tennessee are on the other side of the football, especially at quarterback. Mariota’s days are numbered in the NFL and Tannehill doesn’t have the ability to lead the franchise to a winning season. Pro Football Focus grades Tannehill a 64.2 on the season.
Harold Landry has four sacks on the season, he’ll apply plenty of pressure to the Chargers offensive line. Cornerback Chris Milton did not practice on Friday. Linebacker Cameron Wake is questionable, and the Titans will miss his presence if he is out.
Watch Out for Wide Receiver A.J. Brown
Brown is an under the radar rookie, the Titans drafted him in the second round of the 2019 Draft. The season couldn’t have started better for the former Mississippi receiver, he had a 100 yard-game against the Browns. The Bills and Broncos shut Brown down, but anything can happen against a struggling Chargers secondary.
Chargers fans want to see Rivers being able to air the ball to Allen deep down the field, they want to see Gordon and Ekeler running the football hard. Sunday’s matchup is another game the Bolts should be winning. How many times have we said that?
The AFC West is competitive, and the Chargers look like the weakest team in the division. It’s how you finish the season that counts. The Chargers will win the game by 16-10.
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