It was there for the taking too... The Chargers had a mixed bag of backups along the offensive line because of injury, Philip Rivers' best wide receiver in Keenan Allen was out, and their run defense was among the worst in the league. They were on a cross-country trip and playing an early game. Their head coach, Mike McCoy, is on his way out in a matter of weeks. And the Jaguars had a legitimate shot at the playoffs and AFC South crown.
And now that the pressure was actually on, they shit the bed.
What did we learn today?
1. Blake Bortles was having a bad game... until he wasn't
Through the first three quarters, Bortles was making more bad plays than he was good plays. His interception at the end of the first that led to a Chargers touchdown and two penalties where he threw past the line of scrimmage showed there was something wrong with his awareness and decision-making. His red zone passes also left a lot to be desired. That's not say he was the only thing wrong through the first three quarters. Play-calling was confusing, the offensive line wasn't making holes in the run game, and the pass coverage broke down several times.
But just like Bortles, he got better as the game went on and limited his mistakes from the end of the third quarter on.
2. The red zone play-calling is weird
There's really no other way to say it. I'm confused by Greg Olson's reluctance to run T.J. Yeldon or Blake Bortles in the red zone. Those inside runs near the end zone were open to us if we only spread the formation, but we didn't. Between the 20-yard lines, we get yards in bunches. Inside the red zone, we clam up... as though we're afraid to turn the ball over. I don't get it.
3. This pass rush needs to go
When the game was 24-19 in favor of the Chargers, Philip Rivers ran for two first downs. Ran. Philip Rivers. RAN. The pass rush did absolutely nothing today and Andre Branch and Chris Clemons is the worst starting LEO combination in professional football.
The Chargers started an offensive line that looked like a randomly generated group of dudes out of Madden 2011. Did we get any pressure? Any sacks? Force any errant throws or turnovers? No? Cool. Pretty glad we only blitzed once today.
4. Paul Posluszny (again) played his ass off
There is no player more important to the run defense than Posluszny. I thought Sen'Derrick Marks' injury would be more debilitating than it turned out to be. He'd make the defense better, but he's not the most important player on that side of the ball... and MVPoz's performance today proved that. He's the most aware, most game intelligent player on the field.
5. Philip Rivers torched our secondary
Honestly. It looked like we were playing prevent defense the entire game while losing. I get that zero pass rush is going to adversely affect the secondary's ability to do its job, but there were broken coverages and bad plays galore. Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray look like the same dysfunctional person. Even Davon House got beat by Antonio Gates on an early touchdown.
Philip Rivers finished with 300 yards, four touchdowns, and a 67% completion percentage. I don't care how much you preach against box score scouting... that's awful.