JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 20: Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers is tackled by Josh Evans #26 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at EverBank Field on October 20, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The Chargers beat the Jaguars 24-6 on Sunday in Jacksonville. That's what is supposed to happen when you're playing a winless team. But, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley revealed a bit of the national perception of the Chargers in his post-game media session.
"The three most dangerous words in the NFL," said Bradley, who is still looking for his first win as a NFL head coach, "are 'I've got it' and I think we felt like 'We're making strides, we've got this' and that's not how it works."
Let me reiterate, this is the coach of a team with zero wins talking about his players' attitude about facing the Chargers. I'm not one who usually plays the disrespect card, but this is a fairly obvious and scathing indictment of the Jacksonville Jaguars roster's perception of San Diego's professional football team.
Of course, immediately after that statement, Bradley said this:
"If we had that mentality then we got punched right in the mouth."
Pretty much, yes.
The Chargers scored on four of their first five possessions and would have done 5-for-5 if not for their adventures at the end of the first half, when they had first and goal from inside the Jags' five yard line THREE TIMES and failed to get any points. A pair of Jags penalties in the end zone on passes towards Keenan Allen, and an ill-advised scramble by Philip Rivers, left points on the board at the end of the first half.
"It looked like I was just going to walk in," said Rivers. "I know it's a gamble, but it didn't look like a gamble. It (the hole in the line) closes in a hurry when you're not fast."
When Rivers is throwing the ball like he is, he doesn't have to be fast. Philip completed 22 of 26 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown (to Eddie Royal, his 6th of the year) without a turnover. In the process, he went over the 30,000 passing yard mark for his career. Only 38 quarterbacks in history have done that.
"The first thing that comes to my mind is how many guys are involved in that happening," said Rivers. "You don't throw for 30,000 yards to yourself. It's such a credit to the team."
Ah, yes, back to the team. The Chargers team that many winless Jaguars players thought would provide their first win. Sure, the Jags made mistakes like dropping balls in the end zone and missing blocks and dropping snaps and forgetting to cover future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates (seriously, that happened once in the first quarter). And yes, the Chargers missed a lot of tackles in the secondary and, as head coach Mike McCoy admitted, got far too conservative in the 4th quarter when they tried to run out the clock instead of just putting the game away with a couple more scoring drives.
The bottom line is, the Chargers were superior in every phase of the game. Not to trumpet a win over the worst team in the NFL, but the Bolts did what they were supposed to do.
They did not turn the ball over, they forced a turnover, they sacked Jags quarterback Chad Henne six times, and they did not allow a touchdown for the second straight game (and tenth straight quarter). The last time the Chargers franchise held teams out of the end zone for two straight games was the first two games of the 2002 season.
The Bolts have two in a row, are 4-3 on the season heading in to the bye week, and most amazing, are right in the thick of the playoff hunt.
If the rest of the NFL hasn't noticed the stark improvement of the Chargers like the Jaguars did not we just might get to see the Bolts play 17 (or more) games this season.