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Mailbag: The Biggest Misconception About the Bolts

Q:  You agree ranking almost dead last against the run was why we missed out on the playoffs?  Tell Tom and Lynn they need to fix this ASAP. – Frank Williamson

A:  First off, yes, the run defense has to improve going into next year.  However, I don’t agree that this was the reason the Chargers missed the postseason. In fact, I think this is the biggest misconception about this team.  First off, it’s important to note that yards per carry is a bigger indicator of performance against the run than total defense.  After all, the amount of times a team runs the ball against the opponent is indicative of the flow of the game, as teams who get behind early will be run against more.  Take the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos for instance, who trailed in games early and often in 2017.  Those two teams were the best in the league at yards per carry against, yet Cleveland had zero wins while Denver had only five. Meanwhile, of the 10 teams who gave up the most yards per carry, seven made the postseason.  The only teams that didn’t were the Washington Redskins and your Chargers.  And when you look at the Bolts, they also had a winning record but missed out on the playoffs due to tiebreakers. The other seven teams rounding out the bottom nine in the league are the Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars. So, for obvious reasons, the team’s struggles against the run were not the reason they missed out on the postseason.

Q:  Very much enjoyed the stats and milestones you posted earlier. You have any others that slipped through the cracks? – C. Punua

A: For those that don’t know what Mr. Punua is referring to, it’s this article about historic stats and milestones achieved in 2017.  It’s been a few weeks since I compiled it, and there are a few new ones I found.  For instance, Philip Rivers was sacked on only 3.0-percent of his drop backs, which was by far the fewest in the NFL. Only four quarterbacks were below four percent, with the next closest QB at 3.6.  Also, Melvin Gordon proved to be a true bell-cow as he had the fourth-most offensive touches in the NFL (342).

Q:  It’s Mock Draft season, Henne.  When are you going to post your first one? – Terry Lopez

A: Stay patient, Terry. Rumors are you won’t have to wait too long…

Q:  Do you think it’s wise for us to draft another versatile running back to take the load off Melvin Gordon? – @KateScott_300

A: I don’t think that would be a bad idea, but the team also has a capable back for that role in Austin Ekeler.  As noted above, Gordon took on a massive workload in 2017.  However, he’s the type of back that seems to get better the more he touches the ball, so it’s a tricky question.  Still, it’s undeniable how effective teams have been with multiple backs shouldering the load, such as the New Orleans Saints (Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara), the Tennessee Titans (DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry), the Minnesota Vikings (Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray) and the New England Patriots (Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis) to name a few.

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