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NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
Which team is the true San Diego Chargers?
Good luck figuring that out.
Are they the Chargers who beat the Indianapolis Colts, 19-9, on Monday night?
Or the team that laid the stinker in Oakland the previous week?
Let's say they are what they showed on Monday night, and if so, is a bit of a run in the future?
The 3-3 Chargers could be 5-3 in three weeks. After disposing of the favored Colts, they now face the Jaguars. True, the game is in Jacksonville. It's also true the Jaguars haven't won a game yet - losing all six contests so far by double-digits.
The Chargers get a bye after their Florida visit, and then it's another road trip. But it's one to Washington, and the Redskins are hardly scaring many rivals these days.
But that's all to be determined. What is clear is that a massive rebuilding project which is being directed by new general manager Tom Telesco and coach Mike McCoy could be ahead of schedule.
"An outstanding team effort," McCoy said about the Colts victory.
Just where the team is in the rebuilding process is the question. The answer, for now, is it stands at 3-3 and has had a shot to win all six games.
That's a long way from where many thought they would be as this new era of Chargers football begins. The mystery is where they are headed.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
-- ILB Manti Te'o tied for a team high with five solo tackles Monday night as he continues to play more after suffering a foot injury this summer. Te'o, with ILB Donald Butler out, was also wearing the defensive headset, which shows the coaches have confidence in him getting people lined up in the right spots.
-- QB Philip Rivers was pleased that the team won and it came without him having to throw for 400 yards. The Chargers had balance and leaned on an effective running game.
"It's a mentality to win any style of game," he said.
-- K Nick Novak converted on four field goals Monday night, and none was more important that his final one from 50 yards which iced the win for the Chargers. "You're only as good as your last kick so I try and get out there and do the job."
He did save the best for last.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- OLB Jarret Johnson (hamstring) wasn't able to play Monday and is listed as day-to-day.
-- ILB Donald Butler (groin) was hurt late in practice last week and wasn't able to go Sunday. He is day-to-day.
-- DE Corey Liuget (leg) left Monday night's game and his status will be updated later in the week.
-- G Chad Rinehart (toe) didn't suit up Monday and could be down another week. Johnnie Troutman started in his place.
-- ILB Andrew Gachkar had three tackles as he filled in for Donald Butler. Gachkar usually makes his mark on special teams.
-- DE Kendall Reyes had a big sack in the fourth quarter and played one of his better games of late. Reyes has picked up his play over the last couple of weeks.
-- CB Derek Cox did something no other Chargers secondary member had done all year: He intercepted a pass, the team's first since NT Cam Thomas got one on the first defensive play of the season. Cox was among the few expensive free agents the Chargers brought in during the offseason.
REPORT CARD VS. COLTS
PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Philip Rivers had a great night, although his numbers weren't eye-popping. But what he did do was play smart and be satisfied with the underneath completions instead of forcing the other things. Keenan Allen continues to blossom with his second-straight 100-yard game. The pass protection was decent -- just one sack although there was some pressure. But the key here is Rivers, and him not turning the ball over.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Ryan Mathews had one of his better games of his career Monday. He rushed for over 100 yards for the first time since 2011 and was able to keep the balance in the offense. Run-blocking was keen, especially up the middle as there was where Mathews did most his damage.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- Any time Andrew Luck is held without a touchdown pass, the pass defense is doing something right. Luck, to be fair, didn't get many chances as the Chargers hogged the ball, and he was plagued by dropped passes. But there was just enough pressure but on him and the Chargers were strong on third downs.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Trent Richardson went for a score and over 120 yards the last time the Chargers saw him when he played for the Browns. But this time he was held under wraps as he gained but 40 yards on 10 carries and no scores. The inside play of DT Cam Thomas and ILBs Manti Te'o and Andrew Gachkar can't be overlooked. The entire line, really, played well.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Get four field goals and have your punter consistently help win the field-position battle and you get an 'A.' Nick Novak was true and the coaches showed they trust him when going for a 50-yarder with the game in the balance on a fourth-and-inches. Still not much from the return game, but the legs carried the day in this game.
COACHING: A -- Overmatched in talent and showing a long injury list, few gave the Chargers a shot. But kudos to Mike McCoy for playing keep-away from Luck by hogging the ball. And defensive coordinator John Pagano had just enough, and exotic, blitz packages to get a win over his big brother, the Colts' Chuck Pagano. Team balls usually go to players; the coaching staff deserves one as well.