Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' 35-23 loss to the Rams, presented by Select Physical Therapy.
1. Where's the Pressure? – After logging five sacks in Buffalo, the Bolts were unable to muster much of a pass rush. Brandon Mebane recorded the team's lone sack on the day as Jared Goff had all day in the pocket. An inability to affect the quarterback is also a worst-case scenario for the secondary as it allows opposing wideouts the time needed to shake free and get open. Add that all up and it's easy to see how the Rams mustered 521 yards of total offense, including 350 through the air. After the game, Head Coach Anthony Lynn lamented the team's inability to get after Goff:
"We didn't put enough pressure on the quarterback. I think in the first half (Goff) was completing about 90 percent of his passes…We have to figure out a way to get pressure on the quarterback. That's what's missing right now."
2. Third Down Failures – Equally culpable for the disappointing defensive performance was their failure on the money down. Games are often won and lost based on third down conversions, and on Sunday, the Rams were 8-of-11 on third down, converting at a 73 percent clip. As a result, the Bolts forced only one punt all game and lost the time of possession battle, 34:16 to 25:44. Thus, many on defense put the onus for the loss squarely on their shoulders, best summed up by Derwin James:
"It was on us on defense. We couldn't get a stop this game. I think we made them punt one time. Offense put up enough points. This one is on the defense."
Still, the defense's performance was uncharacteristic, which is why they are fully confident they will bounce back in no time. Once again, James best encapsulated how the unit feels as they move on to Week 4:
"We see where our defense is. We just have to continue to get better. Our offense is one of the best in the league. Going against that defense today, I feel like they did a good job. Like I said, we have to get stops as a defense, look at the film and just get better. It's a long season, we still have a long season to go."
3. Mike Williams Keeps Soaring – Mike Williams has been an absolute stud through the first three games of the season. As good as he was in Weeks 1 and 2, his performance against the Rams took things to another level. Williams put the Bolts on the board in the first quarter with a lunging, over-the-shoulder 42-yard touchdown grab from Philip Rivers. He found the end zone again in the third quarter with his team facing a 4th-and-2 from the Rams' 20-yard line. Rivers went through his progressions and found Williams downfield, who broke a tackle and crossed the goal line for his second score of the day. The second-year pro led the team in receptions (four) and yards (81), averaging 20.3 yards per catch to go along with his two touchdown snares. To his credit, Williams remains humble, stating he is simply doing his job:
"I'm making the best of my opportunities. Every time the ball comes my way, I feel like something good comes from it. So, I've just got to continue to get better. Come out here Tuesday, Monday watch the film and get better from there."
While Williams refused to gloat, Rivers was emphatic in his praise for number 81:
"He's come along. He's going to continue to do this. Gosh, he played big and strong. Made some big plays, a handful of big plays. Obviously, the touchdowns. And, he's only going to continue to be more and more of a factor for us."
4. Turnovers Turn the Tide – The Chargers forced two takeaways on the day. First, Brandon Mebane stripped Todd Gurley on the game's opening drive, and Desmond King pounced on it to give the Bolts their first forced fumble of the season. However, the offense couldn't capitalize as they immediately went three-and-out. In the second quarter, James picked off Goff in the end zone, giving the offense the ball at their own one-yard line. Once again, the offense couldn't get a first down, leading to a blocked punt and recovery by the Rams for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler both fumbled in critical situations. Down eight, the Chargers opened the second half with the ball and were marching down the field when the wideout fumbled in Rams' territory. Three plays later they capitalized as Goff hit Cooper Kupp for a 53-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, Ekeler fumbled while fighting for a first down on 4th-and-7. The Rams took over at their own 12-yard line with 4:41 left in the game, stringing together a trio of first downs as the Chargers never got the ball back. Overall, Rivers mentioned that first drive in which they couldn't capitalize on the turnover as part of their early struggles that led to the loss:
"We had the turnover (we forced), and then we had a couple early possessions where we just didn't get going. We didn't get going, and once they got the two-score lead, we never could really get it back to one."
5. Special Teams Struggles – Mistakes in the kicking games bit the Bolts in a big way. The first miscue came following Williams' first touchdown, which looked like it would tie the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter. Unfortunately, Caleb Sturgis missed the extra point, setting a tone in which the Chargers would find themselves scratching and clawing from behind the rest of the game. And then there was the blocked punt in the second quarter that the Rams managed to recover in the end zone for the touchdown. While there were bright spots on special teams, Lynn explained that it simply wasn't good enough:
"Our players are our players. We can't go flipping out. We're not making a change there (with personnel). We've just got to get better and we're going to do some things differently.There are areas where it looks really good. The coverage looks really good. It's just the mistakes here and there that hurt you in a game like this. But, don't put this all on the special teams, because if you're backed up (like we were before the blocked punt), if you get out, that could be a different situation."
Five Tips to a Winning Foam Rolling Routine
Using a foam roller is a great way to help you warm up before your sport or help with your recovery afterward.
- Ease into the stretch to allow the muscle to relax. If you try to push as hard as possible, the muscle may tighten up to resist the pressure and you end up even tighter.
- Once you find a tight, sore area of the muscle, stay on that area for 5-10 seconds instead of using constant motion to "iron" out the tightness. Allow your body to gradually sink into the foam roller to maximize the stretch.
- Larger muscles, like the quadriceps or hamstring muscles on the thigh, may benefit by breaking the foam rolling into two-to-three zones instead of one long continuous muscle. Working on multiple smaller areas will help target the tight muscles more effectively.
- Try using the foam roller in different angles. By shifting your body at different angles, you may find some tight areas that you've been missing.
- Incorporate a vibrating roller, such as the HyperIce Vyper or HyperSphere, to add another dimension to your stretches. Vibration has been found to be effective in help loosen up tight muscles and increase circulation especially during recovery after exercises.
For more foam rolling tips, or to request a complimentary consultation with Select Physical Therapy, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com today!