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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Browns
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The San Diego Chargers hit the road for the last time in 2016 when they head to Cleveland to take on the Browns on Christmas Eve. Kickoff is set for 10:00am PT.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Always an explosive player, Philip Rivers has taken the Chargers’ vertical game to new heights this season as he has already thrown a career-high 15 completions of at least 40 yards. For the year, number 17 has completed 304 of 494 passes (61.5%) for 3,795 yards and 29 touchdowns for an 89.8 passer rating. The Bolts also own the top pair of tight ends in the league as Antonio Gates has 40 catches for 399 yards and five touchdowns while Hunter Henry’s caught 32 passes for 435 yards and is tied for the NFL lead at the position with seven TDs. Meanwhile, Tyrell Williams leads the team in catches (59) and receiving yards (925) along with six touchdowns as well. On the ground, Melvin Gordon is three yards shy of 1,000, but it is not known if he will suit up after missing the last game with hip and knee injuries.
On Offense for the Browns
Quarterback has been a revolving door for Cleveland this year, but Robert Griffin III figures to make his third straight start after returning from injury. RGIII has completed 41 of 82 passes (50%) this year while also rushing 20 times for 116 yards and two TDs. No matter the quarterback, Terrelle Pryor has emerged as a dangerous threat at wide receiver, catching 67 passes for 877 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground, Isaiah Crowell has carried the rock 163 times for 746 yards (4.6 ypc) and five TDs, followed by Duke Johnson with 65 carries for 326 yards (5.0 ypc) and one score.
On Defense for the Chargers
Joey Bosa continues to make his presence felt, recording sacks in back to back games to now lead the team with 7.5. The rookie has also totaled 36 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 35 pressures, nine QB hits and one forced fumble on the year. Melvin Ingram is on Bosa’s heels with 7.0 sacks of his own, 38 pressures and 22 QB hits. Meanwhile, Denzel Perryman paces the defense with 73 total tackles while Casey Hayward leads the league with seven interceptions.
On Defense for the Browns
Inside Linebacker Christian Kirksey has been everywhere for the Browns this season, ranking fourth in the league with 126 tackles. Emmanuel Ogbah paces the team with 5.5 sacks while Jamie Collins has made an impact since being acquired midseason from the New England Patriots. Finally, Joe Haden continues to prove he’s a lockdown corner, guarding the opposition’s top wideout while leading Cleveland with three picks.
The Chargers lead the all-time series 15-8-1. The Bolts defeated the Browns 30-27 at the Q in 2015, but their last victory in Cleveland came seven years ago with a 30-23 win in 2009.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank 13th in total offense (353.9 yards per game), eighth in passing (257.6 ypg), 26th in rushing (96.2 ypg) and fourth in points (26.1). The Browns rank 30th total offense (306.3 ypg), 28th in passing (209.4 ypg), 25th in rushing (96.9 ypg) and 31st in points (15.7).
Defensively, the Bolts rank 18th in total defense (352.7 ypg), 22nd in passing (257.0 ypg), ninth in rushing (95.7 ypg) and 29th in points allowed (26.1). Cleveland ranks 31st in total defense (400.8 ypg), 15th in passing (245.1 ypg), 31st in rushing (155.7 ypg) and 31st in points allowed (29.1).
Milestones on the Horizon
Antonio Gates is two touchdowns shy of tying Tony Gonzalez (111) for most by a tight end in NFL history.
Philip Rivers’ next 300-yard passing game will be the 51st of his career, which would tie Dan Fouts’ franchise record.
Rivers has thrown for 3,795 yards this season and is 205 yards away from an eighth-career 4,000-yard season. His seven are fourth in NFL history.
Rivers has thrown 29 touchdown passes this season. He needs one more for a ﬁfth-career 30 touchdown season, which would be sixth-most in NFL history.
Melvin Gordon is the NFL’s seventh-leading rusher with 997 yards this season. He needs just three yards for the 20th 1,000-yard rushing season in franchise history and ﬁrst since Ryan Mathews had 1,255 in 2013.
Should Gordon reach 1,000 rushing yards, he’ll become just the 11th player in franchise history and ﬁrst since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008 to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in a season.
Gordon has 12 combined TDs on the year, and with three more, would mark the ninth time a Charger has 15 or more in a season. LT did it six times, while Chuck Muncie and Lance Alworth did it once.
Gordon has 1,416 total yards from scrimmage this season (997 rushing and 419 receiving), to rank ﬁfth in the NFL. With 84 more yards, Gordon would record just the 15th 1,500-yard season in franchise history.
Tyrell Williams needs 75 yards for a 1,000-yard season. Should he get there, it would mark the 36th 1,000-yard receiving season in franchise history.
Should Williams reach 1,000 yards receiving and catch 10 touchdown passes, it would mark just the 16th time in franchise history and the ﬁrst time since 2005 (Antonio Gates).
Matt Slauson’s next start will be the 100th of his career.
Mike Windt’s next game will be the 100th of his career.
Josh Lambo has hit 49 career ﬁeld goals, seventh in franchise history. He needs one to reach 50 and move into a tie for sixth on the franchise’s all-time list with George Blair (1961-64). Lambo has hit 23 ﬁeld goals this season and 37 of 41 point after tries. He has scored 106 points this season.
Noteworthy vs. the Browns
On Dec, 19, 2004, the Chargers clinched the AFC West title with a win over the Browns on an 18-degree day that felt like minus-10 with the wind chill factor. It was the fourth coldest game in franchise history.
In 2009, Antonio Gates set a career-high with 167 receiving yards in a game at Cleveland. In 2004, Gates helped the Chargers clinch their ﬁrst AFC West title since 1994 with a career-long 72-yard touchdown catch.
Josh Lambo kicked his first NFL game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock in last season’s 30-27 win.
In that same game, Philip Rivers was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week and FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week after completing 23 of 38 for 358 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions (118.1 rating).
Dontrelle Inman had a season-high 88 yards on three catches, including a season-long 68-yard catch-and-run to the Browns’ one on a 3rd-and-5 play last year.
Melvin Ingram recorded his first career sack in 2012 against the Browns.
Playing for Denver in 2015, Ronnie Hillman rushed for a season-high 111 yards against the Browns.
Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin was a fourth-round pick of the Browns in 2012. Benjamin spent four years (2012-15) in Cleveland, scoring 13 touchdowns while racking up 3,142 all-purpose yards.
Tight end Antonio Gates played college basketball at Kent State in Kent, Ohio. He played two seasons there and helped lead the Golden Flashes to back-to-back Mid-American Conference championships and the Elite Eight of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Gates ended his career as the sixth-leading scorer in school history and in Feb. 2010, he returned to the Kent, Ohio, campus to have his No. 44 jersey retired by the school.
Punter Drew Kaser was born in Toledo, Ohio and prepped at Walsh Jesuit High School in Stow.
Defensive end Joey Bosa and linebacker Joshua Perry both attended Ohio State. Perry is from Lewis Center, Ohio where he attended Olentangy High School.
Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt spent 1999 as the special teams coach in Cleveland.
Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson spent 2005-06 as the Browns’ offensive line coach.
Strength and Conditioning Coach Kent Johnston joined the Chargers in 2013 after spending three seasons leading the strength and conditioning program for the Cleveland Browns.
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Rick Lyle joined the Chargers in 2013 after four seasons as the assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Browns. He is a former NFL player who played in Cleveland from 1994-95.
Browns defensive back Jamar Taylor is a San Diego native who attended Helix High School in La Mesa.
Chief Strategy Ofﬁcer Paul DePodesta spent ﬁve seasons (2006-10) with the San Diego Padres, ﬁ rst as a special assistant for baseball operations and then executive vice president.
Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter spent seven seasons in San Diego as assistant offensive line coach (2006), offensive line coach (2007-11) and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (2012).
Senior Offensive Assistant Al Saunders was the Chargers’ head coach from 1986-88 after serving as wide receivers coach from 1983-84 and assistant head coach and receivers coach from 1985-86.
Know Your Opponent
CBS (KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego) – Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Solomon Wilcots (analyst)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Nick Hardwick (analyst)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego)– Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Tony Alvarez (analyst)
All Chargers radio broadcasts are now being streamed live on the team’s official website, www.chargers.com. XTRA Sports 1360 Broadcasts with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Nick Hardwick (analyst) will begin two hours before kickoff and continue for 90 minutes of postgame coverage.
Download the Chargers Official Mobile App for live game coverage, stats, and game day news.