Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers’ 31-20 win over the Buffalo Bills, presented by Select Physical Therapy.
1. One Heck of a One-Two Punch – It’s hard to envision a better tandem at running back right now than Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. The dynamic duo was at its finest in Buffalo, spearheading an impressive offensive performance. Gordon tied a career-high with three total touchdowns. His first was a 20-yard run off a counter in which he went untouched into the end zone. Gordon’s next two scores came in the second quarter via a pair of TD receptions. And then there’s Ekeler, who ran for a career-high 77 yards on only 11 carries for an eye-popping 7.0 yards per carry. In addition, the second-year running back added three receptions for 21 yards. Philip Rivers knows better than anyone how important it is to have a one-two punch as he’s seen it firsthand over the years. After the game, number 17 said this pair has a chance to be as good as any of them:
“These guys have a chance. I don’t want to slight them in any way - I love these two. I also don’t want to slight the other guys that sustained it, but these guys have a chance to be something else. Now I’m telling you, the two of these guys, they can be like those others (like) when we had those kinds of combinations. There’s no doubt they’re dynamic guys the way they catch it, run it and the way they’re different. They’re not the same. It’s been fun to kind of see how that whole thing can grow. There’s no telling how many plays we can run with those two on the field together.”
2. Pass Rush Arrives – The Bolts lamented their inability to get to the quarterback in the season opener as they notched only one sack. Well, the pass rush returned in Week 2 as the Chargers brought Josh Allen down five times. Melvin Ingram led the way with 1.5 sacks, followed by Derwin James (1), Uchenna Nwosu (1), Jatavis Brown (1) and Damion Square (0.5). In addition, they also had eight QB hits on the afternoon. Even though they were pleased with the performance, Ingram believes it can be even better:
“I feel like we got good pressure (but) we can always have more. I feel like we got good pressure, (but) we have to get back in the lab and keep practicing. We still have to try and get to the quarterback. If every passing play isn’t a sack, we can always get more.”
3. Red Hot in the Red Zone – After finding the end zone in their two trips into the red zone in the season opener, the Chargers also hit pay dirt each of the four times they got inside the 20 in the first half at Buffalo. They returned to the red zone in the fourth quarter, scoring yet again on a 24-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal. The Bolts have certainly been red hot inside the 20-yard line, and Rivers credits their success to the number of weapons they have on offense:
“The ball has been spread around down there, and we’ve just finished. It's something we’ve talked about all offseason, (and) we’re going to continue to be creative because we’ve got guys down there that we know teams are going to try to take away. I think the thing we’ve done very well early is we’ve not waited. Let’s go score right now. We had that 2nd-and-4 from the nine. Let’s not try to get it to 1st-and-goal. Let’s get it right now. There’s just a little more of, ‘we’re going to get in the end zone right now’ instead. We’re doing a nice job of that.”
4. Rookies Make Their Mark – The Bolts spent their first four picks on defense in the 2018 NFL Draft. All four are making major contributions early in their careers. First-round pick Derwin James was a whirlwind once again against the Bills, leading the team with eight tackles while also recording one sack, two tackles for loss and one pass defensed. Meanwhile, second-rounder Uchenna Nwosu recorded his first NFL sack while fourth-round pick Kyzir White hauled in his first career interception as part of three passes defensed. Third-round pick Justin Jones didn’t fill the stat sheet like those three, but he has emerged as a major cog in the defensive line rotation. In fact, Jones’ 30 snaps were the second-highest of any interior defensive lineman, trailing only Darius Philon. Still, despite their early success, each rookie knows he still has a long way to go until he reaches his potential. Just read what James had to say:
“We’re growing. None of us are at our best football yet. I feel like we’re still (working). The thing about our group, especially our group that came in with Justin Jones and everybody, we all said that we wanted to come in and change the culture and change the program. I feel like we’re heading in the right direction because we’ve got the right guys and the right leaders in front of us. They’re just guiding us. We’re just learning, soaking everything in, and I just feel like our best football is ahead of us.”
5. Far from Perfect – There’s clearly ton to be excited about from the Bolts’ first win of the season. However, as Rivers noted after the game, it was far from a perfect performance. After racing out to a 28-6 lead at halftime, the offense stalled for large portions of the second half. The Bolts rushed for 104 in the first half but totaled just three yards over the final two quarters. Meanwhile, after throwing for 178 yards in the first half, the Chargers totaled only 78 through the air over the final two quarters. Still, Rivers wasn’t discouraged. In fact, he thinks it will help keep the Bolts hungry as they head into Week 3:
“There were a lot of goods today, but I think there was just enough negatives that make us walk out of here just a little bit unsatisfied, which is good because we know we’ve got a heck of a challenge coming next week (with the Rams).”
Five Tips to Selecting Running Footwear
Footwear change is always a consideration in order to decrease or prevent injury. However, each person is unique in running style which makes footwear selection a unique buying experience. Each person should consider transitioning slowly into their new shoes to slowly adapt to them as you would with new orthotics.
- Change your shoes as often as the wear indicates! Look at the bottom and inside of your shoes for excessive wear that changes the shape of the shoe. This is a better indicator of a need for change than the amount of miles you have run!
- Everyone has a unique running style which makes footwear a unique choice for each person. Discover what shoe works best for you!
- Lightweight or minimalist footwear reduce load at the knee but increase load at the ankle. They reduce impact to the body but should only be considered in an experienced runner.
- Supportive or neutral footwear with increased cushioning improve running economy but require more metabolic energy compared with minimalist shoes.
- Incorporate core, gluteal and foot strengthening exercises into your training regimen to help prevent injury!
For more healthy running tips, or to request a complimentary consultation, please visit Select Physical Therapy today!